Armed men have allegedly invaded Mapare Resort Centre close to Birchenough Bridge in the lucrative Save Conservancy, which has most of the big five game, it has emerged.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), in a news alert, alleges that the armed men, who were accompanied by a Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) official, invaded the popular resort last Thursday claiming to be the new lawful occupiers.
“The invaders, accompanied by one who identified himself as Mudendi allegedly from ZimParks, approached the resort owners and gave them two hours to evacuate the premises,” ZPP said.
The resort centre, which has conference facilities, is owned by Edmore Marima.
Marima was unreachable on his mobile phone yesterday.
Marima’s wife, who was at the premises, said the men, despite claiming occupation, had no government documentation to prove their claims.
“The six had no eviction notices nor letters from the government, nor did they bring any form of documentation from the Provincial Affairs minister to substantiate their claims,” Marima’s wife told ZPP.
ZPP said the family was still in distress when it called on Monday and was informed that the matter had not been reported to the police because the law enforcers had in the past allegedly not attended to reports.
ZimParks public relations manager, Caroline Washaya-Moyo yesterday could not comment on the matter, saying she was in a meeting.
“I am in a meeting at the ministry (Environment, Climate and Water Resources) and can you kindly email me the questions so that I may attend to them?” she said.
Save Conservancy lies adjacent to Gonarezhou National Park and, at its peak, was a premier wildlife resort that attracted tourists from Europe and the United States of America.
Since the chaotic land reform programme of early 2000, conservancies have witnessed an upsurge in the number of poaching, especially of elephants and rhinos. The tusks and horns are traded on the black market and most exported to China and other Asian markets, where they are popular for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities.