Problems of having poor, rural communities value, manage, and benefit from local natural resources has been an ongoing concern in the development literature. The Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) is one attempt to deal with such problems. Our study evaluates the extent to which CAMPFIRE conforms to principles contained in the original CAMPFIRE Guidelines of 1991. These early principles were meant to guide the devolution of proprietorship over wildlife to Rural District Councils (RDCs) to manage wildlife with and on behalf of local communities. In so doing, these early principles are linked to the contemporary governance theory. Our evaluation is based on data collected in Chapoto Ward, Mbire District, in northern Zimbabwe, from January to March 2017 using in-depth interviews with heads of households, key informant interviews and a focus group discussion. These were complemented by document analysis. Our evaluation shows that the principles have not been fully followed because CAMPFIRE was implemented as a strategic compromise between communities and RDCs since devolved community rights were not legally supported at the time. We suggest that policy and legislation changes be made to redesign community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) into a more robust model that enhances the full devolution of rights over wildlife and benefits to promote democratic governance and ensure bottom-up accountability.