MWENEZI – Some 200 villagers who lay claim to the Majingwe Wildlife Conservancy in Mwenezi have engaged a lawyer to fight National Parks and Wildlife Authority which they allege is trying to wrestle their project from them.
Majingwe Wildlife Conservancy Chairman John Magovanyika confirmed the wrangle in an interview with The Mirror and alleged that the Wildlife Authority is trying to bring in an investor to hijack their project.
Magovanyika said that the villagers were allocated Majingwe Farm by Government during the fast track land reform programme in 2002 and they have offer letters to it. He said they realised that the farm had wild animals and they subdivided it, creating one section for wildlife, another for their cattle and another for tilling.
"We then invited the National Parks Department to come and help us make an animal count and manage the wildlife section since we didn't have the relevant knowledge. They joined us but now they are jealous because the project has grown and they are threatening to evict us from the farm and bring what they call an investor," said Magovanyika.
The villagers have since engaged Chinawa Law Chambers to handle their case and the law firm has since written to the Ministry of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage in Mwenezi to intervene in the matter.
Mwenezi District Administrator Rosemary Chingwe confirmed the wrangle and referred questions to the National Parks Department.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Masvingo Regional Manager Luke Njiva confirmed the wrangle but said that it was being handled at the national headquarters. The letter by the lawyers was also copied to the CEO, Mwenezi Rural District Council.
"After inviting the National Parks, it is now seeking to remove the community from the farm and handing it to someone they are referring to as an investor. The community ordinarily is resisting this," reads part of the lawyer's letter to the Minister.
Magovanyika said the villagers are not going to allow their conservancy to be taken over.
"We are not going anywhere, we are waiting for the Government and the Police to come and evict us. We are the real owners of Majingwe Farm and the Parks Authority should stay away from us. They now see that our project is flourishing and they want to evict us, but that is not going to happen," he added.