MASVINGO — Zanu PF bigwigs who grabbed formerly white-owned conservancies in Masvingo province were recently given 25-year leases and annual hunting quotas by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Some of the beneficiaries have previously been accused of wantonly slaughtering game in the conservancies at the expense of sustainable conservation.
Those who were given leases included Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Stan Mudenge, Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke, former deputy minister of Youth Shuvai Mahofa, Chiredzi North MP Ronald Ndava, Chiredzi South MP Ailess Baloyi, Livingstone Chineka and Enock Porusingazi.
They paid US$350 for the hunting quotas licences.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Director General, Vitalis Chadenga said the move came after negotiations with white owners after attempts to foster co-ownership failed.
“Government spared conservancies from the fast-track land reform programme to get orderly transfer in the wildlife sector,” said Chadenga.
“We then formulated the Wildlife-based land reform programme but we have not been successful in getting old and new conservancy owners working together, hence we are issuing these 25 year-leases to new beneficiaries,” Chadenga.
He said the eight-year impasse between the former owners and new black farmers had left the animals in the sanctuaries at the mercy of poachers. The poachers, said Chadenga, targeted the Black Rhino.
The 25-year leases come at a time when new owners are being accused of failing to live up to the capital intensive venture, leaving dangerous animals like lions to stray to surrounding areas of human habitation, killing cattle and posing a threat to humans.