By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
23 May 2014
A lucrative wildlife ranch in Mwenezi is at the centre of a fight between its owner and senior army and police officers who are demanding a substantial amount which they claim to be part of their ‘shareholding and dividends.’
A report in the NewsDay newspaper on Friday said the three service personnel and three headmen want Darryl Collett, owner of the Mjingwe Ranch, to pay them $500,000. Collett operates the Ranch with an investor partner from South Africa, Alastair Forsyth.
The group claim they invaded the wildlife farm two years ago and that the money owed to them is from the profit made so far since 2012.
Those after the farm are Brigadier-General Josphat Kudumba, Police Assistant Commissioner Elliot Muswita, Army Captain Solomon Ndlovu, headman Peterson Mhizha Mudumo, Raphael Shoko and Finger Tapera.
The daily paper said the six ‘settlers’, through their lawyers, demanded that the Mjingwe owners vacate the farm this week. They threatened the owners with eviction if they didn’t go.
The settlers have produced a 25-year lease from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. However two weeks ago ZANU PF’s politburo rescinded all offer letters granted to top party and army officials for land in the Save Valley Conservancy and surrounding areas.
The same politburo meeting, chaired by President Robert Mugabe, also resolved to remove all beneficiaries of the wildlife-based land grab from properties that were meant to be protected under Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs).
Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme told us there is a sense that some of the Ranches being protected with the blessing of the politburo belong to or are being run by owners who are pro-ZANU PF and have funded the party at some time.
It remains to be seen whether the Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti will manage to remove all those offered 25-year leases for conservancies by May 30th, as he was tasked by the politburo to do.