Cape Town – A prominent Zimbabwean farmer who has pledged to donate wild animals towards President Robert Mugabe’s birthday bash says the donation is just “a drop in the ocean” compared to what the veteran leader has done for him.
Tendai Musasa, a quiet but pompous wildlife farmer, has donated two elephants, two buffalos, two sables, five impalas and a lion worth a combined $120 000 towards Mugabe’s 91st birthday party set for 28 February.
“What is an elephant? it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what we got from the president in the form of 12 600 hectares of land. We know it’s not enough but it’s just a gesture for his values which we uphold dearly,” he told News24.
Musasa’s donation has evoked anger amongst conservationist who have branded it as “unethical”.
The chairperson of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force Johnny Rodrigues was recently quoted as saying he was not in favour of anyone donating wild animals for a celebration or any other reason.
“They have been doing this for years now. Every time there is a celebration…, several elephants and buffalo are killed for the celebrations. This is totally unethical and should not be allowed,” Rodrigues was quoted as saying.
But Musasa maintains “it’s a perfect gesture”.
Mugabe was born on 21 February. His birthday party is set to be held in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
The two elephants Musasa is donating towards the bash will be shot on Tuesday and the meat would be stored ahead of the celebrations.
Musasa says he is thinking of adding a third elephant and a second crocodile.
“There may even be three elephants and I am thinking of adding another crocodile. The President has done much more for us and we see him as our father, our provider and our hero,” he says.
Musasa is himself a virtual socialite in this resort town that is home to one of the world’s top natural wonders.
As chairperson of Woodlands Wildlife Conservancy – which spans over 12 600 hectares of game rich land – his task is to spearhead the conservancy and hunting activities of this game farm. He owns the conservancy together with 118 other people, mainly war veterans, government officials and game rangers among other people.
The conservancy was taken over from its former white farmer who was chased away in 2000 at the height of Zimbabwe’s land reform.
All the attention is on Musasa now and a storm is brewing over the control of the conservancy, with some members accusing him and his mother of misappropriating nearly $200 000 in proceeds from the game farm. These are allegations denied by Musasa’s board.
But come Saturday, Musasa will have the chance to meet Mugabe, his hero, when the nonagenarian appears in the town for birthday celebrations.
At least 20 000 people are expected to attend the celebrations – where Musasa is expected to present the long serving leader with a lion and crocodile trophy.
Hotels in Victoria Falls are slowly filling up ahead of the lavish bash and traders are expecting bumper business. However, those hosting government officials fear that the government may not own up.
“Hotel rooms are filling up but we may have problems with payment from government officials as we have experienced problems in the past,” says an executive with one of the hotels.