MASVINGO — The Save Valley Conservancy saga has taken a new twist with the boisterous former fighters of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle demanding pieces of land in the acclaimed wildlife sanctuary.The demands were part of the resolutions made here by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) on the sidelines of a meeting with their national leadership two weeks ago.
The war veterans, who have never missed an opportunity to ask for favours from government for their role in liberating the country from colonialism, are also demanding that allies of former vice president, Joice Mujuru, who were leasing some of the conservancies be flushed out.
The war veterans were part of a group comprising members of ZANU-PF’s youth and women’s leagues that orchestrated Mujuru’s ouster last December.
With ZANU-PF now under a new-look leadership, there has been a torrent of demands from ZNLWVA memebrs.
ZNLWVA national secretary general, Victor Matemadanda, confirmed the war veterans want to be part of the action at Save Conservancy.
The animal sanctuary is in the south-eastern part of Zimbabwe.
It is the largest private conservancy in the world.
Created in 1984, the conservancy combines 24 adjacent farm properties totalling 3,200 square kilometres.
“The Masvingo Chapter has made several resolutions which they want forwarded to the President. Among others, they resolved that conservancies should be re-distributed. There are still gammatox members and whites in conservancies,” said Matemadanda.
Gammatox is a term used to refer to Mujuru and her allies.
It was first coined by ZANU-PF’s former secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa in reference to sell-outs that were thought to have infiltrated the party.
Save Conservancy is now being run by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority after it was declared part of the vast Gonarezhou National Park.
Predominantly white-owned at independence in the late 1990s to 2000s, influential ZANU-PF chefs wriggled their way into the conservancy about two years ago.
In September last year, government intervened by kicking out numerous ZANU-PF bigwigs who were plundering the conservancy in Chiredzi after they had been controversial awarded 25-year leases.
This was on the advice of the party’s top decision-making body, the Politburo, following findings and recommendations from a report by a committee which had been set up by President Robert Mugabe in 2013.
Among those booted out of the conservancy were ZANU-PF heavyweights in Masvingo province, Shuvai Mahofa, Titus Maluleke, Nelson Mawema, Ailess Baloyi and Ronald Ndaba.
Since its invasion by ZANU-PF officials, fences between properties have been removed and a perimeter fence has been constructed to protect and manage large mammals in a contiguous habitat.
The Save Valley Conservancy is engaged in projects such as intensive Rhino protection, private game safaris, limited hunting concessions, and multi-species research into the viability of mixed wild and domesticated animal populations on common land.
The conservancy generates income through high quality/low density wildlife tourism.
Several lodges are located throughout the conservancy for people interested in photographic safaris.
Hunting safaris are also conducted for the purpose of cropping over abundant species.
Live animal sales provide animals to other public and private game parks.
This wildlife land use option returns more per hectare in foreign exchange generation, job creation and economic diversification for the conservancy and surrounding communities than any other land use option.