Several government officials, diplomats, ZANU PF members from the Marange apostolic sect and bureaucrats have settled inside the highly protected Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy (MBRC), reported The NewsHawks.
They include President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s brother Patrick, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, and the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda.
Sibanda moved into the conservancy area in 2002 to occupy Bem 3 Farm which is located at the entrance to the wildlife sanctuary.
The Parks and Wildlife Act (Chapter 20:14) prohibits human settlements or agricultural activities on conservancies, unless with the express authorisation of an Act of Parliament.
However, at present, no such law has been promulgated to legalise the settlements, not even a statutory instrument.
The conservancy is situated in the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe constituency on the 35-kilometre peg along the Kwekwe-Mvuma road, on the left side of the dusty strip road.
It was established in 1987 when farmers owning 14 pieces of land came together to pursue wildlife business on space totalling 63 113 hectares.
The conservancy is geographically located on 10 wildlife ranges, namely Moreena, Mazuri, Mahamara, Chinyika, Circle G, Dunlop, Twin Springs, Bemthree, Estrange and Sebakwe Recreational Park that was “donated” to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) by resettled farmers.
The Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy was previously known as the Greater Munyati Conservancy and is home to eight black rhinos and an unknown number of animals also coming in to browse from adjoining game parks nearby.
Elephant, kudu, eland, impala, bushbuck, waterbuck, buffalo, hippopotamus, wild dog, leopard, cheetah, brown and spotted hyena are found in the Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy as a whole.
In 2019, Environment minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu tried to stop the settlements after Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Larry Mavhima had made a request to allocate land in the conservancy.
However, Ndlovu’s directives were ignored as intensive farming is now being practised in the conservancy.
Patrick Mnangagwa reportedly grabbed a piece of land that forms part of Twin Springs, one of the farms that make up the MBRC.
He has partnered with Gweru-based businessman Douglas Kwande, also known as DCK, who is into livestock and extensive farming.
Other prominent people now occupying the rhino conservancy include Clive Mphambela, the Finance ministry’s chief director.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, David Douglas Hamadziripi, the country’s former permanent representative to the United Nations, Chitsaka Chipaziwa, as well as Zimbabwe’s current ambassador to the UN, Albert Ranganai Chimbindi, were all allocated land in the Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy.
Air Commodore Marcelino Jaya, who is based at Josiah Magama Tongogara Air Base in Gweru, has also settled in the conservancy.
In an interview with The NewsHawks, Midlands Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Larry Mavhima, who chairs the Midlands committee which allocates land in the province, denied any wrongdoing. He said:
This is not a banana republic. We are also not in the Stone Age era where I can just do what I want. There was a process which took over two years for people to be settled there.
We had committees and different ministries were involved. If the old farmers are aggrieved, they must say the law which was broken and go to court. They must not report their issues to the newspapers.