Victoria Falls Reporter
A NEW board of directors has taken over the running of Woodlands Conservancy outside Victoria Falls amid revelations that the 118 villagers who benefited from the land reform programme had gone for 19 months without receiving their dividends. The conservancy rakes in more than $100 000 per year from safaris hunting concessions.
The new board, led by Engineer Tendai Musasa took over the running of the conservancy from the board that was previously chaired by Mr John Sianaga.
Other new board members are Mr Morgan Dube, Mr Dadani Ndlovu, Mr Imagine Chikotsi, Mrs Rosemary Ndlovu, Mr Kenny Lunga, Mr Josephat Phiri and Mr Sibusiso Mpofu.
The new board was introduced to the villagers during a meeting at the conservancy at the weekend.
Addressing the villagers, Eng Musasa said they had taken over the running of the farm after considering the plight of villagers.
“President Mugabe gave us this land, he gave us this natural resource but you have not been benefiting because of some people who were busy lining their pockets at your expense. We are now taking over and you are going to receive your first dividends before Friday,” he said.
In an interview, villagers said they hoped that the promised windfall would change their lives after years of living in poverty.
“Hunters have been coming here but we were never paid our dividends. This is our conservancy and we are supposed to benefit from the animals,” said a villager, who only identified himself as Mr Ndlovu.
In February, the villagers signed a petition to dissolve the old board of directors leading to the appointment of a new board.
The new board comes at a time when the infrastructure at the conservancy is on the brink of collapse following years of mismanagement.
The dams are dry because the pumps are not working, the fire guards were not being maintained and the roads are in a state of disrepair.