What's Happening in Zimbabwe's Save Valley Conservancy?


Published: October - 2012

I previously reported about some problems in Zimbabwe's Save Valley Conservancy this past July. The hunting on the Savuli Ranch there was disrupted in June when locals moved into the hunting block and vandalized the camp. Arrests were made and a High Court order was issued stating that the disruptions must stop. But trouble in Savuli has continued and is related to challenges faced by the entire Save Valley Conservancy.

The disruptions in Savuli were caused by agents of Shuvai Ben Mahofa, a female war vet and former legislator. Mahofa was among 25 senior Zanu PF officials and retired military officers who were illegally granted 25-year leases on lands in the Save Conservancy by National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Director General Vitalis Chadenga, who died on September 5, 2012. Chadenga was not entitled to issue such leases on private property, which is what a conservancy is. He later issued hunting licenses and quotas to those individuals and withheld them from the conservancy owners.

A High Court ruled that Mahofa's claim is illegal and instructed that the operations of Forever African Safaris, the legal owners of Savuli Ranch, should not be interfered with. Regardless, Mahofa has allegedly evicted Forever African Safaris and has contracted another operator to run hunts there. A third order of contempt from the High Court was served, but Mahofa continued operating on Savuli.

Then on September 12, 2012, President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe at a Zanu PF politburo meeting chastised the military officers and Zanu PF officials involved in the Save Valley land grab. Mugabe ordered them out. I have that from Willie Pabst, a German citizen who is vice chairman of the Save Valley Conservancy and owner of the Sango Ranch. It was also reported in various local newspapers, including the Zimbabwe Independent.

"President Mugabe made it clear to everyone, including the German ambassador, that the conservancy is not subject to land reform or indigenization, but rather to community involvement," Pabst told me in a telephone conversation at press time. (As a German citizen, Pabst's........(continued)

 
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