Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
A PROMINENT farmer, Tendai Musasa has donated game meat and a lion trophy worth a combined $120,000 towards the 21st February Movement celebrations.The gesture by Musasa of Woodlands Farm, has, however, drawn the ire of the community which alleges the donation was not transparent.
The farm, situated outside Victoria Falls town, has been at the centre of a wrangle pitting Musasa and his mother Judith Maphosa on one hand and close to 120 beneficiaries of the land reform on the other.
The villagers accuse Musasa of imposing himself and clandestinely exploiting resources at their expense without remitting money to the community as expected.
Organisers of the 21st February Movement, an event meant to mark President Mugabe’s 91st birthday, said they were yet to receive the donation. They said they were still to follow up on the pledged items.
Musasa said he donated two buffaloes, two elephants, a lion, two sables and five impalas.
“It was a resolution made by the board to donate towards the 21st February Movement. We are donating two elephants, two buffaloes, and we will be presenting a trophy lion to President Mugabe. This is our way of supporting the function and to ensure a celebratory mood in our community as well,” said Musasa, in a telephone interview from Bulawayo.
He said the sables and impalas donation will be subject to availability.
Musasa said the board felt the donation whose combined value is $120,000 would be a perfect present to the President.
“The total value is $120,000. This reflects the money we get annually and we thought this would be a perfect gesture. At the moment we are making arrangements with the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to slaughter these animals a few days before the day. We are also liaising with the hotel that will keep the meat,” he said.
Quizzed about the complaints made by the villagers, Musasa said those in dispute were enemies of the President.
“We’re a board and we have a social responsibility fund and we cannot be calling meetings on everything. They (the villagers) will be told about it. No sane person will dispute the donation when they are beneficiaries of the land reform programme whose architect is the recipient of our donation,” said Musasa.
Woodlands villagers said they were not aware of the donation as they were not consulted.
They said the community had planned to hold a meeting to discuss how they were going to contribute towards the 21st February
Movement and were shocked to hear that a pledge had been made on their behalf.
Villagers said the animals involved were part of their annual hunting quota and donating them meant no income for the whole year.
They said they were powerless because challenging the donation could be misinterpreted as unwillingness to participate towards the celebrations.
“Musasa wrote a letter of donation and everyone expressed shock that a community like ours can make such a huge donation. No meeting was held and people did not know anything about this until recently when news started to spread. We understand he has also donated $1,000 cash,” said a villager who preferred anonymity.
The villagers said Musasa was withdrawing some of the animals to be hunted, thereby reducing their income.
Alderman Elias Mzamba who is councillor for the area said he was not aware of the donation.
“We didn’t know about the donation until Monday when we were told that Musasa has pledged. We are being told that he’s talking to different ministers about it but the problem is that these animals are from our hunting quota as a community. We have always been forced to take a back seat because Musasa brings in names of party elders,” said Alderman Mzamba.