Wild animals scare Masvingo villagers

MASVINGO - Masvingo wild animals straying from Save Valley Conservancy that was recently taken over by Zanu PF big wigs and securocrats are threatening the lives of thousands of villagers and their livestock in surrounding areas.

The Daily News on Sunday has received reports from terrified villagers in parts of Bikita, Gutu and Zaka which are close to the valley. Predators such as lions, leopards and hyenas are wreaking havoc after straying from the Conservancy that some say are poorly managed by the new owners.

Villagers say they are living in fear as the free-roaming predators have since started devouring their livestock.

“We are under siege here from wild animals coming from the conservancies. Most of us have lost our livestock to the dangerous animals. We are now afraid they could end up attacking us,” said Taurai Mupazhiri from Bikita’s Mkanganwi village.

Some of the Zanu PF bigwigs who grabbed part of the Conservancy include Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge, Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke, former Youth deputy minister Shuvai Mahofa, Health deputy minister Douglas Mombeshora,  Manicaland strongman and Zanu PF central committee member Enock Porusingazi and  Chiredzi North MP Ronald Ndava.

Some of the securocrats who have also taken over the rich wildlife sanctuary are lieutenant colonel David Moyo, major general Gibson Mashingaidze, retired colonel Claudius Makova, assistant commissioner Connell Dube, major general Engelbert Rugeje, brigadier-general Livingstone Chineka and Masvingo provincial intelligence officer identified only as Chibaya. A villager from Gutu, Sekayi  Nhundurwa, said residents are concerned about losing their cattle and donkeys which they use as draught power during the agricultural season.

They have since appealed to local authorities to deal with the menace. “We hear that the conservancies are now under new ownership and management and they are failing to keep the animals in their sanctuaries. They are now a danger to our lives. Right now our livestock are being attacked and we will be left with nothing yet the agricultural season is upon us.

The ultimate result would be continued food shortages for us and our families,” she said.

Efforts to get a comment from Masvingo provincial governor Titus Maluleke were fruitless as he was not reachable on his phone.

Last week, mainstream MDC MPs from Masvingo took Maluleke head-on during a cross-party peace building meeting and accused him of leading the conservancies grab.

“We are not amused by the way you and your counterparts in Zanu PF took the conservancies in Save. The grabs are very dangerous to the economy of the province and the nation at large, as you know that several communities in Zaka, Bikita, Gutu and Chiredzi were benefiting from the operations of those areas but now we are having serious problems of wildlife plunder by you, the new owners,” said MDC Zaka West MP, Festus Dumbu.

The Save valley conservancy debacle has since drawn the attention of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Vice President  Joice Mujuru, while international blocs such as the European Union have also expressed concern over the issue. - Godfrey Mtimba


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