Home » Governance » Mahofa Appointment Sends Shock Waves

MASVINGO — The appointment of Zanu PF Masvingo Iron Lady, Shuvai Ben Mahofa (74) as the new Provincial Affairs minister has sent shock waves across the province and left major companies and Save Valley conservationists quacking in their boots.

There are fears that she might seal the fate of the worldwide acclaimed wildlife sanctuary, which she had invaded along with many other Zanu PF bigwigs three years ago.

Mahofa replaced Mwenezi East MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, who was fired last week for his alleged links to deposed former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who was accused of trying to topple President Robert Mugabe.

Mahofa, the Gutu Senator, who also served in government for 22 years, is a beneficiary of the controversial 25-year Save leases awarded by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority in 2012.

The leases were, however, revoked by Mugabe, but some of the beneficiaries stayed put at the conservancy, the biggest in the world.

Among the party stalwarts who got the leases and hunting quotas is the late Higher and Tertiary Education minister Stan Mudenge, former Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke, former Chiredzi North MP Ronald Ndava, ex-Chiredzi South MP Ailess Baloyi, Livingstone Chineka and Enock Porusingazi.

Some of the Save Valley conservationists who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals, said Mahofa’s appointment was bad news for them as she can push for the takeover of the sanctuary.

“Here is someone who at one time invaded the conservancy, before President later intervened to stop them. And the same person is now a Provincial Affairs minister. Obviously, she will try to use her influence to pursue her interests,” one of the conservancy owners said.

Unlike her predecessor, Mahofa is a hardliner.

At her welcome rally held on Wednesday at Benjamin Burombo Building, Masvingo — which houses her offices and those of several government departments — Mahofa was quick to take aim at companies that have not fulfilled their pledge to the Masvingo Community Share Ownership Scheme.

These are Save Valley, lithium producer Bikita Minerals, sugar producer Tongaat Hullet, Lennos Mine, Renco Mine and Murowa Diamonds.

“My first priority is to make sure that these companies honour their pledges and own up as they made a pledge to the President. They cannot continue to take people for a ride,” she said.

Sloganeering at the same event, she said: “Pasi nevanonyima vamwe minda.”

If the statement is anything to go by, this will be bad news to Tongaat Hullet, which Zanu PF said should cede 20 000 hectares for distribution to indigenous out-growers.

Several people on social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter, also queried the rationale behind her appointment, with some doubting her capabilities. But Mahofa said she was equal to the task and pledged to “work with everyone”, while getting hand-holding from her mentor, former Masvingo Governor Josiah Hungwe, who is now Psychomotor minister.

“I came knowing that the province has problems. But I will be equal to the task. I will ask Comrade Hungwe to help me as I cannot tackle them alone. It takes all of us to solve the problems. My aim is to take Masvingo back to its prime position in the country,” she said.

Hungwe also said he has confidence in Mahofa.

“We are happy with her appointment and we want to thank President Mugabe. We are optimistic that she will deliver as she is a pragmatic person who listens to the people,” Hungwe said.

Many, however, said they had developed a wait-and-see attitude.

Mahofa is not new to controversy and has been sucked in many scandals.

At one time during the famine in 2005 in Gutu, she stood accused of stopping non-governmental organisations from distributing food hand-outs in the area, saying they were distracting people from coming to Zanu PF rallies. At another time she was accused of diverting a haulage truck-full of maize meal meant for hungry villagers.

Her daughter was also embroiled in a farmhouse wrangle that turned fatal and the relatives of the deceased dumped the body at her home at Gutu Mpandawana growth point.

She also stands accused of grabbing a married man, the late army captain Madombwe, who deserted his wife and children.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard