Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe’s long-time mistress Oppah Muchinguri has clashed with his wife Grace Mugabe’s henchman Jonathan Moyo over elephant hunting licences, Now Daily has learnt.
The dispute is seen as an extension of the fight by the two women to influence debate over who will succeed the ageing and ailing despot.
Muchinguri recently cancelled elephant hunting licences granted to characters linked to Moyo, infuriating the Zanu PF politburo member and higher and tertiary education minister who recently crossed the floor to Grace Mugabe’s side.
Moyo’s ally Alois Ndebele, the chairperson of Tsholotsho rural district council in Moyo’s Tsholotsho North constituency complained on Sunday to vice president and Grace Mugabe hitman Phelekezela Mphoko that Muchinguri had summarily cancelled a quota for the council to hunt 70 elephants. The hunt was expected to raise $2.1 million to be used for the construction of a stadium.
Ndebele told Mphoko that Muchinguri had nullified the deal, which had personally been approved by former environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, a close buddy of Moyo’s and fellow member of Grace Mugabe’s G 40 faction angling to propel the first lady into the presidency.
Muchinguri confirmed that the hunt had been stopped, but not on factional grounds as alleged by Ndebele, who is a member of the Zanu PF central committee.
Muchinguri said the new board she appointed at the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority had cancelled elephant hunting in Tsholotsho after more than 120 elephants were killed by cyanide in early 2015. She also said Zimbabwe had been allocated a national quota to kill only 500 elephants annually by the United Nations Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The parks department board had independently taken the decision not to allow Tsholotsho council to kill 70.
Moyo has been named by conservationists as the kingpin of an ivory poaching and smuggling syndicate bankrolled by the Chinese mafia. The minister is known to be close to Li Song, the Chinese owner of a front company called Eagle Trading, identified as the main buyer and smuggler of poached ivory in the Hwange national park area which borders Tsholotsho district.
The clash with Muchinguri, one of the most powerful women in government, has already backfired for Moyo after the state media was forced on Tuesday to retract a story attacking her.
Zanu PF insiders claim that Muchinguri has a daughter with Mugabe, Tanya Rushesha. She regularly clashes with Grace Mugabe during Zanu PF politburo meetings.
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