By George Maponga
Government has started kicking out Zanu-PF heavyweights and senior military officials from Save Valley Conservancy in Chiredzi after serving them with letters cancelling the 25-year leases they were issued under the wildlife-based land reform programme. Most beneficiaries in Save Valley were senior Zanu-PF politicians from Masvingo.
Cabinet ordered the withdrawal of their leases at the recommendation of the Zanu-PF Politburo in May. This was after the Politburo accused most of the beneficiaries of “double-dipping” as they also owned A2 farms elsewhere.
Among the beneficiaries allegedly given the boot from Save Valley Conservancy is former Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke, Zanu-PF Central Committee member Shuvai Mahofa, Politburo member Nelson Mawema, former Chiredzi South Member of Parliament Ailess Baloyi and his former Chiredzi North counterpart, Ronald Ndaba.
Major-General Engelbert Rugeje is understood to have also been served with an eviction letter.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti on Monday confirmed that Government withdrew all the 25-year-leases given to indigenous beneficiaries at Save Valley.
Minister Bhasikiti said Government expected beneficiaries to accept the withdrawal.
This follows a meeting between the beneficiaries and Minister Bhasikiti and Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere recently where the decision to remove them from Save Conservancy was explained.
“Government has withdrawn all the 25-year leases that were issued to indigenous beneficiaries at Save Valley. Most of the beneficiaries were accused of double-dipping as they owned farms elsewhere. I cannot name the individuals issued with letters of withdrawal but I know that all the leases were withdrawn,” Minister Bhasikiti said.
“I do not expect that they (beneficiaries) will give us any problems. I hope they will concentrate on the other A2 farms they have.”
Minister Mbhasikiti said the withdrawal of the leases would benefit communities around Save Conservancy.
Baloyi confirmed receiving a withdrawal letter.
“I received my letter of withdrawal last month (August) and some of my colleagues have also been receiving their own letters from the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. We have not yet made a decision on the next plan of action but we are going to appeal to Government against the withdrawal. It is a tricky situation and we cannot accept the withdrawal unless some of our questions are answered,’ ’he said.
Baloyi said they wanted to know why only beneficiaries from Save Conservancy were being affected when others were benefiting elsewhere.
“We want clarification on why it is only us (beneficiaries at Save Valley) who are being targeted. There are similar operations in Mwenezi and Matabeleland North, so why target us only at Save Valley?’’
While other beneficiaries could not be reached for comment, Major General Rugeje said he had not received any letter.
“I have not received anything. In fact, I was out of the country I only came yesterday(Monday). I do not know anything,’’ he said.
Five of the beneficiaries, including Major General Rugeje, took Government to the High Court in July this year demanding to be issued hunting quotas at Save Valley Conservancy for the 2014 season. The Herald