Authoritative sources told the Independent yesterday that Wildlife and Natural Resources minister Francis Nhema, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director-general Vitals Chadenga, and Campfire director Charles Jonga visited Domersville Farm in Marondera on Wednesday to resolve the issue, but failed.
Nhema had reportedly asked for the intervention of Mashonaland West governor Aneas Chigwedere, the area legislator and Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Tracy Mutinhiri and Zanu PF Mashonaland East chairman Ray Kaukonde, to evict the invaders.
The scheduled meeting between Nhema, his delegate and the three provincial leaders, the sources said, flopped after Kaukonde, Mutinhiri and Chigwedere did not turn up as they allegedly viewed the eviction of the farmers as a move to pursue Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s agenda.
Kaukonde, Mutinhiri and Chigwedere are reportedly Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s allies in the deeply divided Zanu PF where Mnangagwa and Mujuru’s husband Solomon are rivals.
“Nhema’s efforts to evict the families from the Domersville Farm were in vain because his Zanu PF counterparts were not cooperative,” said the source.
The Zanu PF supporters occupied the wildlife rich Agos Farm, which is under Domersville Ranch, threatening wildlife at Elderado, Imire and Matope Farms in the province.
Government sources said wildlife farms invasions were a threat to the game population with reports of settlers poaching the animals.
“We wonder why ministers from Mashonaland East did not support Nhema,” said the official. “It’s sad that the ministers are playing politics instead of addressing the issue with urgency. The invasions in Marondera must be stopped.”
Nhema, Jonga and Chadenga, sources said, approached the invaders to persuade them to leave the property, but faced stiff resistance.
“The families who occupied the farm told Nhema and his delegation that they were waiting to be allocated land by the Marondera district administrator,” said the source.
Chadenga yesterday confirmed that he received reports of wildlife farm invasions in Mashonaland East, but insisted that he did not see the settlers during the visit with Nhema.
“We will monitor the situation and if necessary, we will deploy game rangers,” he said.
Domersville Farm boasts of plains game – zebras, giraffes, waterbucks and impala.
Nhema yesterday confirmed that he visited Domersville Farm, but downplayed the farm invasions, saying he was assessing a Campfire project.
The chaotic land invasions, which began in 2000 and were spearheaded by war veterans, are blamed for the collapse of the agriculture sector.
Kaukonde could not comment as he was said to be in a meeting while Chigwedere and Mutinhiri were not reachable.
The invasion of wildlife farms in Mashonaland East comes against the backdrop of rampant poaching and looting at Denlynian and Tamari Wildlife sanctuary in Beitbridge.
The land invasions have benefited Zanu PF supporters at the expense of experienced white commercial farmers. Efforts by white farmers through the courts to reclaim their properties have failed as President Mugabe’s cronies defy court orders.