via Zimbabweans scared of whites: Charumbira 16/04/2014 NewZimbabwe
ZIMBABWEANS did not vandalise national highway property including fences which ensure animals do not stray onto the roads because they were petrified of white commercial farmers, Chief Fortune Charumbira claimed Wednesday.
Speaking at a workshop on traffic problems stemming from stray animals and the effects of the land reform programme on the country’s road carnage, Charumbira, president of the Chief’s Council, said stiffer penalties were needed to curb the scourge of stray animals on the country’s highways.
“Before the land reform programme Zimbabweans were terrified even to touch the fences around commercial farms owned by the whites.
“But now that the farms are owned by blacks they have turned on their own and vandalised everything including stealing the fences along the country’s roads,” said Charumbira.
“It is a very bad attitude we have because we seem not to have respect and regard for our own and the property that protects our people. The stray animals have caused massive suffering through accidents on our people.”
Transport Minister Obert Mpofu, who was guest of honour at the workshop, said the country’s roads have been turned into death traps by stray domestic animals.
“We have witnessed many lives being lost as a result of domestic livestock which have been left to roam freely onto highways resulting in most parts of our road network being turned into death-traps.
“This has the potential of affecting business due to limited hours of traveling as night driving has become extremely hazardous,” Mpofu said.
Mpofu echoed Charumbira’s sentiments that there was a mind-set problem with Zimbabweans who he said seemed to respect whites more than their black counterparts.
“While penalties during the colonial era were very low and remain in place, the colonialists were ruthless in the enforcement of these laws including meting out capital punishment.”
He added: “Government needs to review existing laws with a view to creating stiffer penalties for people whose animals would either have strayed or caused accidents because we have witnessed an uncanny behaviour by rural people who deliberately drive cattle onto roads with the aim of looting from accident scenes,” said Mpofu.
Mpofu said traffic accidents and the resultant deaths place a premium on the country’s economy and the family unit following the loss of bread winners as well as important human resources.
While the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe could not provide figures, an official said there had been a marked increase in the numbers of stray animals along the country’s roads.
“In this regard, we will consider all options of raising funds including increasing some of our fees to ensure that all major roads are properly fenced and that livestock owners are held responsible in order to reduce the road carnage,” Mpofu said.