28 December 2005
Again challenging United Nations efforts to relieve Zimbabwe's homeless, the
Harare government is demanding that U.N. officials tear down a prototype
emergency shelter built at a transit camp outside the capital, complaining
that it is substandard.
Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo ordered the U.N. to destroy the model home
built at Hopely Farm east of Harare, one location where families and
individuals displaced by the government's May-July slum clearance campaign
have been gathered. Many are living in the open with little more than
plastic sheets to fend off the elements.
Sources at the United Nations Development Program said a showdown is looming
as the U.N. Habitat agency, which collaborated with the Zimbabwean
government in the design and construction of the controversial model home,
objects to demolishing the structure and has proposed simply to modify the
building as may be required.
The U.N. seeks to build 2500 homes under an agreement reached with Harare.
U.N. country representative Agostinho Zacarias, responded to government
objections to the shelter by noting that government-appointed technicians
helped design it.
The government has also demanded that the U.N. build homes with at least two
rooms for families affected by the operation it first named Operation
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Boniface
Chidyausiku, Harare's U.N. ambassador, about the dispute, and sought
perspective from Herman Honekom, parliamentary liaison officer for the
Africa Institute of South Africa.
Thu 29 December 2005
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has blocked the police from
investigating ruling ZANU PF party spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira who is
accused of embezzling funds from the party's printing company.
Shamuyarira, a close Mugabe ally, is the chairman of Jongwe Printers,
a ruling party printing company in Harare and also oversees ZANU PF's
propaganda weekly newspaper, The Voice.
Sources close to the developments said State Security Minister Didymus
Mutasa, whose intelligence ministry is alleged to have spread its tentacles
on the country's shrinking private media, had sought to invest billions of
dollars into The Voice newspaper as part of its wider project to take over
newspapers in the country.
But during talks with The Voice editor, Lovemore Mataire, Mutasa found
out that the company's finances were in shambles.
Management at The Voice, who were seeking Z$15 billion from Mutasa's
ministry, also failed to account for another $17 billion which had been
forwarded to the company by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last year.
"Meetings between Mutasa, his senior officers handling the acquisition
of newspapers and Mataire revealed that Jongwe Printers and The Voice had no
financial records at all and were broke.
"Mutasa then blocked the deal, complained to Mugabe that Shamuyarira
had mismanaged company affairs and suggested that Shamuyarira be removed as
company chairman before the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation spy
agency) could pour in money.
"He went further behind Mugabe's back and asked the police to
investigate how Shamuyarira had handled Jongwe Printers' affairs," said the
But Mugabe summoned both Shamuyarira and Mutasa and ordered a
cessation of hostilities between the two during the ZANU PF conference two
weeks ago after getting wind of information that Mutasa had already
approached the police. Sources said Mugabe wanted to clean up the mess
before it could get out of hand.
"Mugabe halted the investigation before it could get anywhere. Mutasa
and Shamuyarira have never been buddies and yet they are Mugabe's closest
confidantes. So Mugabe had to call a ceasefire," said the source.
Shamuyarira refused to comment on the matter while Mutasa denied that
there was a rift between the two.
"I am the secretary for administration and it is my duty to check on
the progress of party arms. That should not imply enmity or interference.
But there has never been all that you have talked about," said Mutasa.
But sources said after the meeting called by Mugabe, Mutasa's ministry
was now expected to pour in $15 billion into the ZANU PF publishing company.
"The money should be made available anytime now. Negotiations are on
what role the intelligence agency would play at the Voice. Mutasa wants to
have a say on who edits the newspaper as well as plant his own people as
reporters," said the source.
He added that Mutasa and some senior party officials wanted the CIO to
grab control of The Voice in order to influence editorial content in light
of the bitter succession battles going on in ZANU PF ahead of Mugabe's
expected retirement in 2008. - ZimOnline
Thu 29 December 2005
HARARE - The South African government on Tuesday deported by air 160
Zimbabweans for breaching the country's immigration regulations.
The deportations, described as "unique" by a Zimbabwe government
official, were meant to ease congestion at the Lindela deportation centre in
Johannesburg with more Zimbabweans set to be flown home this week.
"Deportations have been by road or by train to Beitbridge (border
post), but this time around, because trains are not available for
deportation, the South African home affairs (department) decided to deport
our people by air," a Zimbabwe government official told state radio in
"They (the South African authorities) don't want to keep Lindela full
to the brim during this holiday time. They want to make sure people are
moved out of that place because we've had cases of deaths at Lindela due to
overcrowding," said the official.
At least three million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the country's 12
million people, are living outside the country the majority of them in South
Africa after fleeing hunger and political persecution in Zimbabwe.
But most of the illegal Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa are
routinely rounded up and deported during the festive season only to trek
back to the country because of the bitter economic crisis in Zimbabwe blamed
on President Robert Mugabe's policies. - ZimOnline
December 28, 2005, 17:00
Zimbabwe officials have detained more than 160 Zimbabweans who were deported
from South Africa as illegal immigrants, state radio has reported. Regional
officials estimate that up to two million Zimbabweans have sought economic
refuge in neighbouring South Africa in the face of a long-running political
and economic crisis, which Robert Mugabe's critics say has forced a quarter
of Zimbabwe's 12 million people abroad.
Earlier in the day, Zimbabwe state radio said South Africa, which has been
routinely deporting illegal immigrants by road or rail, had yesterday taken
"the unusual step" of deporting more than 160 people by air, and these
people were now being held by state authorities for questioning. "The
deportees, some of whom did not have travel documents, were flown into
Zimbabwe last night and are currently in police custody at Harare
International Airport pending clearance," it said, adding that some of those
deported had claimed that they had been tortured on the plane.
The deported men and women had been held at Lindela Camp outside
Johannesburg and included Zimbabwean civil servants who claimed they had
been arrested in South Africa despite having legal travel documents, the
radio said. There was no immediate comment from Zimbabwe police or
A spokesperson for South Africa's department of home affairs confirmed that
Zimbabweans had been deported by air yesterday, but said this was not
unusual. "We deport people by air from time to time," Nkosana Sibuyi said,
adding that he had no information about any allegations of torture on the
brief flight from Johannesburg to Harare. - Reuters
Mail and Guardian
Fanuel Jongwe | Harare, Zimbabwe
28 December 2005 12:29
Zimbabweans are heading for a dismal new year, with food
shortages and an economic crisis expected to worsen while prospects for
political change appear dimmer than ever, analysts say.
While President Robert Mugabe's government is forecasting growth
of up to 3,5% in 2006, economists and ordinary Zimbabweans are bracing for
"The problems we've had in the last seven years will definitely
follow us into the new year as the economy continues shrinking," independent
economist John Robertson told Agence France Presse.
"If anything next year will be tougher for the majority of the
people because presently the government has absolutely no clue or strategy
to turn around the economy," said Lovemore Matombo, president of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn for most of the last
decade, plagued by runaway inflation, unemployment hovering above 70% and
chronic food and fuel shortages.
On the political front, a split in the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) has severely weakened the party that posed the
most credible challenge to Mugabe's 25-year rule.
"Prospects are gloomy politically especially with tensions in
the opposition MDC party which have dealt a setback in a force that was
capable of confronting the government," said political commentator Bill
The MDC is to hold its annual congress in February next year and
judging from the squabbling currently dogging the party, the gathering could
put the final nail in the coffin.
In the coming months, United Nations food deliveries are
expected to reach more than three million people in what was once the
breadbasket of Southern Africa.
The government blames the food deficit on drought but analysts
say the seizures since 2000 of white-owned commercial farmers for
re-allocation to landless blacks has dealt a crippling blow to agriculture.
"Harvests are going to be poor because most farmers got inputs
late and that means more foreign currency will be used to import food we
should be producing," said Robertson.
Among ordinary Zimbabweans, the mood is depressingly bleak.
"We are all literally living from hand to mouth, hardly
affording to buy basic things like lunch at work," said Harare township
teacher Patrick Maonwa.
"I foresee a difficult year ahead because government does not
seem to be a solution for the galloping inflation," said the teacher.
Petrol attendant George Musa, who for most of this year has been
working three days a week due to an acute shortage of gasoline, does not
hide his pessimism.
"There is really nothing to say, there is nothing positive to
predict about Zimbabwe these days.
"Politically, where can change come from, there is no more
opposition to talk about," he added.
Memory Chimutengo sells electronic parts in an increasingly
difficult business environment.
"Early this year, I used to give my clients quotations valid for
15 days, now those quotations are valid for less than 12 hours because
prices are so volatile that they can change within hours," said Chimutengo.
"There is not even a flicker at the end of the tunnel," she
Zimbabwe has become increasingly isolated from its former
trading partners in the West following presidential elections in 2002 which
foreign observers said were rigged.
"Economically, unless we rejoin the international community and
make amends with the countries we isolated ourselves from, our problems will
remain with us," said Saidi. - Sapa-AFP
From SW Radio Africa, 27 December
By Tererai Karimakwenda
The rains that have pelted Zimbabwe for the last few days would normally
have brought much joy to those growing food on the commercial farms and on
little plots along the roadsides around the country, but for many this year,
they have brought little benefit. Much of the land has not been tilled and
shortages of fertilizer and seeds have limited agricultural activity. Farm
evictions continue daily and acute signs of hunger are already visible on
the faces of farm workers and their children. By the time harvest season
arrives, millions more will be facing starvation and some, if not many, may
have died already. John Worsley Worswick of Justice for Agriculture gave us
an update of the situation on the farms. He had just returned from a farming
area south of the capital, where he talked with marginalized farm workers
who are already showing signs of acute hunger. Worswick said the chefs
taking over commercial farms are keeping some of the farm workers, but
condemning them to virtual slavery. An entire family can sometimes work the
whole day just for a cup of tea and slices of bread. Farm workers originally
from neighboring countries are also being targeted, and many have no
families back home to return to. They are also facing starvation now in the
squatter camps they are forming. Worswick told us there are roughly 200
commercial white farmers still on their properties trying to hold on. But
there is a total breakdown of the rule of law, with the police and army
being the major perpetrators of offences.
Worswick had reports of evictions this week from Mashonaland West. Farmers
were kicked off illegally in the Chegutu and Kadoma areas. Property was
looted there as well and auctioned off to benefit the police. Court orders
to return all stolen equipment and property are being ignored. Worswick
agreed with a farming official who has called it ethnic cleansing. Last week
a group of policemen and soldiers were caught on camera by a British
television news crew, looting civilian possessions at a farm as the owner
looked on helplessly. The ITV news footage showed police and army officers
stealing whatever they could handle from Peter Hennings' farm while he
watched with his son Greg. Farmers in the area told us the equipment wound
up at an auction which raised funds for the police. As for the Hennings,
they immediately became homeless and are reported to have fled to South
Africa to join the rest of their family. Additionally, hundreds of workers
from the farm are now also without a home or a job. This has been the plight
of many Zimbabweans while Robert Mugabe continues to pay lip service to the
rest of the world, publicly condemning the evictions and blaming them for
the food shortages. But no arrests have been made and there has been no
attempt to protect productive farms. In fact the most productive properties
have been the recent targets.
Sunday Times, SA
Wednesday December 28, 2005 12:50 - (SA)
By Dingilizwe Ntuli
ALTHOUGH Zimbabwe has been plagued by a five-year economic decline, the
recession has not kept revellers at home.
The nightlife is like a seductive sorceress exuding warmth and indolence.
Subdued by the authoritarian government's policies by day, the capital
Harare transforms itself into a dazzling entertainment of restaurants and
bars at night.
Its most sophisticated nightlife district is the Avenues, next to the
central business district and President Robert Mugabe's fortified official
Popular with both executives and ordinary office workers, the Avenues is
sleazy, chaotic, crowded and vibrant but fairly safe.
In fact, during the recession, the Avenues has experienced a growth in
drinking and live music dens.
The music is everywhere and time seems an endless pulse of rhumba and the
local sungura beat.
But all the revellers you see out carousing in the Avenues pay by expense
account, because the prices are ridiculously high.
You need millions of Zimbabwe dollars to enjoy a night out.
One pint of lager costs about Z$100000 and, with the largest denomination
being a Z$20000 note, you need a suitcase full of money to have a good time.
The clientele in most bars is mainly giggling office girls and people who
trade foreign exchange and fuel on the thriving black market.
Others simply spend remittances from relatives in the diaspora.
Few people own wallets in Zimbabwe nowadays. Suitcases have replaced them
for carrying money since inflation hit triple figures.
Because bars and restaurants have no space to store suitcases, revellers
need cars to carry their money. Walk carrying a suitcase and you'll become
the target of criminals.
Still, while Zimbabwe continues heading for the abyss, Harare's vibrant
nightlife continues to be the mistress of pleasure for the lucky few.
By Lance Guma
28 December 2005
A crippling shortage of bank notes ensured a miserable Christmas for
most Zimbabweans as banks struggled to meet customer withdrawals over the
festive period. Not helping matters is the country's hyper-inflationary
environment, which means more bank notes chase fewer products. The prices of
most goods are now in hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwe dollars and
speculation is already rife that new Z$50,000 and
Z$100,000 dollar notes are going to be introduced in the New Year.
Lionel Saungweme in Bulawayo, reports of long winding queues at most
banks in the country's second largest city, as customers scrambled for the
few bank notes available. The availability of money aside, it was even
clearer that not many people splashed out on Christmas parties as in
previous years signalling a decline in their standard of living. Areas like
Bulawayo however witness the almost annual ritual of Zimbabweans who work in
neighbouring countries coming back home with flashy cars and household
Saungweme says it's almost an annual advertisement of how green the
grass is over the other side of the border and more and more people are
motivated to follow suit and leave the country. Amidst the grinding poverty
the majority go through, a small minority manage to display the riches of
having to leave your own country to work elsewhere.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Wednesday, December 28 2005 @ 01:04 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
Another top UN envoy is set to visit Zimbabwe to study how the
world body could mobilise humanitarian relief for victims of President
Robert Mugabe's controversial operation restore order. Zimdaily heard that
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed U.N. Under Secretary General
for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari to travel soon to Zimbabwe to study
how the world body could expand cooperation with Harare.
Mugabe has not yet agreed to Gambari's visit but during the just
ended Zanu PF conference he intimated that he would not be entertaining any
more envoys from Annan's offices charging that they were hypocrites.
Gambari, a Nigerian, was named under secretary for political affairs in June
after serving as under secretary general and special advisor on Africa,
promoting U.N. and international support for African development, including
through the New Partnership for African Development, or NEPAD.
He was Nigeria's permanent representative to the U.N. before
joining the Secretariat in 1999. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has
made a number of efforts to promote a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.
Zimdaily understands that Gambari has been asked by Annan to "study the
scope of the recent eviction of illegal dwellers, informal traders and
squatters, and the humanitarian impact it has had on the affected population
and how best the UN could expand cooperation with Harare," said an official
in the UN country team.
Under Mugabe's orders, bulldozers midyear razed dozens of
dwellings in Harare, prompting protests at home as well in some world
Zimdaily understands that Gambari will be required to write a
report on his findings and present it to Annan.
The East African
As a Kenyan who lived under the single party days - I am enjoying my freedom
of speech and the rising economic prosperity in our current pluralistic
democracy - I am angered by Africa's reluctance to speak out honestly and
act bravely against President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Dictatorship has
been the major internal factor that perpetuates poverty in Africa.
It does not make any sense for Africa to pretend that criticising an African
dictator openly is tantamount to betraying the "black race." After all, it
is the black Africans in Zimbabwe who are suffering the most. That is where
the real betrayal lies - refusing to help fellow Africans rid themselves of
leadership that causes them suffering. The Zimbabwe crisis has nothing to do
It is not a "black versus white" conflict as Mugabe would like the world to
believe. It is a conflict between right and wrong. When one points out this
truth, it should not be construed to be an attempt to "impress the West."
If I was given the responsibility of instituting land reform in Zimbabwe,
instead of destroying perfectly productive farms that are now lying fallow -
waiting for the fertile topsoil to be washed away forever - I would have
turned the farms into companies and given the landless black peasants shares
in them, which they would not be allowed to sell for at least 10 years.
This would enable both blacks and whites to work together for mutual
benefit. White Zimbabweans would retain an incentive to continue farming and
black Zimbabweans would get money to send their children to school and have
the time to learn commercial farming. This is the more constructive way of
dealing with the land issue instead of destroying the country's economy as
Mugabe has done.
Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. If the African Union
hopes to stop being a mere talking shop, and if Thabo Mbeki's "African
Renaissance" is to become a reality, Africa must not be afraid of insisting
that Mugabe relinquishes power. Zimbabweans are dying because of our moral
Wednesday, December 28 2005 @ 01:10 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday
scoffed at attempts by his senior lieutenants to dismiss him from the party
on allegations of willful violation of the party's constitution. The MDC
rebels convened a national disciplinary committee meeting weekend that
endorsed the decision to expel Tsvangirai who they earlier on claimed they
had suspended. The meeting also dismissed national chairman Isaac Matongo.
Both Tsvangirai and Matongo did not attend the hearing.
Tsvangirai, who said he was continuing doing his duties unhindered,
yesterday dismissed the move, saying only the party's congress due next year
was vested with such powers. "The MDC constitution allows nobody except
congress to dismiss the president," Tsvangirai said. "Like I have said
before resorting to unconstitutional tactics that play in the hands of
ZANU-PF reflects the desperate and immature state of mind gripping my
Tsvangirai conceded that there were now "irreconcilable
differences" between those who supported a boycott of the Senate poll and
the camp that fielded candidates, led by MDC Secretary General Welshman
Ncube. He charged that the rebels were driven by self interest. Zimdaily
understands that Sibanda recused himself when Tsvangirai's case was being
heard but only came in as a witness while Josphat Mudzumwe acted as
"The vice president, Mr Sibanda recused himself as he felt there
might be conflict of interest and we accepted that," MDC deputy
secretary-general Gift Chimanikire said yesterday. Sibanda was only called
when it was required to establish whether there was a national council
meeting in October that resolved not to participate in the election, said
Chimanikire. He was also asked to testify whether what Tsvangirai said at a
Press conference about the outcome of the national council meeting was a
true reflection of what had happened on the ground.
Speaking in a separate interview, Tsvangirai's spokesman William
Bango dismissed the expulsion saying the disciplinary committee was not
properly constituted and as far as the party is concerned, Tsvangirai
remains the legitimate leader of the party. "It is a joke of the year,"
Bango said. "Tsvangirai is the legitimate leader of the MDC and if these
rebels are fighting for the name MDC they can have it because this is not
about names but a democratic struggle to remove Mugabe from power." Two
weeks ago, the high court nullified attempts to suspend Tsvangirai, saying
only the party's congress had the right to do so.
SIXTEEN people perished while 101 others were injured in 73 road accidents
countrywide between Monday and yesterday morning, bringing the holiday death
toll to 35 and making this the bloodiest period since the festive season
began, police said yesterday.
Between 9am on Thursday last week and 9am on Monday, 19 people had been
killed in road accidents and 270 others injured on the country's roads.
The death toll since Thursday now stands at 35, while the number of those
injured has risen to 371.
"In the last 24 hours, 73 accidents were reported, resulting in 16 people
being killed and 101 being injured. Police issued 4 948 tickets raising $232
million in fines," said police spokesman Inspector Andrew Phiri.
"Masvingo and Matabeleland South recorded the highest casualties with five
each, while two people died in Mashonaland West Province. Harare,
Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Bulawayo provinces recorded one death
Of the 35 people who died in accidents since the festive season began, nine
died in Matabeleland South, eight in Masvingo and seven in Manicaland.
Five people perished in Mashonaland West while Mashonaland Central,
Mashonaland East, Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands and Matabeleland North recorded
one death each.
"The majority of the accidents were caused by negligent driving, speeding
and negligent pedestrians," said Insp Phiri.
He said police would continue maintaining a heavy presence on the country's
roads in a bid to protect human life and enforce road rules.
Insp Phiri said the roadblocks mounted by police had been very effective
given that most of the fatal accidents occurred on minor roads where
deployments were not pronounced.
Last year, a total of 49 people were killed while 467 were injured over the
Christmas and New Year holidays.
Meanwhile, the Traffic Safety Council has expressed concern over increasing
accidents during the public holidays and warned motorists to take extra care
on the roads to avoid fatalities.
In an interview, TSC Product Development and Product manager, Mr Nyasha
Magirigide, said his organisation was disappointed with the number of
accidents which have been recorded this festive season.
"We are quite disappointed with the level of accidents which have been
recorded so far. What is worrying is that despite campaigns every year to
educate motorists on how to avoid road accidents, we still record more
fatalities on the roads," he said.
Mr Magirigide said speeding remained the greatest cause of accidents and
said motorists must drive carefully considering that most roads were wet due
to the rains.
"Motorists must be more cautious since most of the roads are slippery and it
would be difficult to avoid accidents when driving at high speed," said Mr
He said his organisation and the Zimbabwe Republic Police would continue to
work together to ensure that motorists are educated on the need for safe
TSC, together with various other organisations, launch awareness campaigns
each holiday to give tips on how to avoid accidents during holidays.
This year's festive season campaign was launched on 20 December under the
brand "Safety First - There is no second chance".
"We are going to increase our campaign programmes and we want to make the
awareness campaigns an ongoing process. We are not necessarily going to wait
for holidays to carry out such campaigns," said Mr Magirigide.
Wednesday, December 28 2005 @ 12:42 AM GMT
Contributed by: Reporter
The vibrant labour body, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade union(ZCTU)
is lobbying for a $12,9 million basic salary for a lowest paid worker in
Zimbabwe. ZCTU did this through the Tripatite Negotiating Forum. The TNF was
resumed after long differences between the government and the labour union.
Wellington Chibhebhe, secretary general of ZCTU said the target salary
should be implemented at the beginning of 2006.
"Workers are now living pauper's lives in our country, we ca not
let that go on, the suffering is enough", Chibhebhe told Zimdaily. The
government and the employers confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) are against
the ZCTU proposal citing viability problems to already struggling public and
private sector. The Public service commission is currently paying the
majority of employees a range of between $2 million to $4 million dollars.
Latest statistics from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) indicate that a
family five now need a whooping $14,9 million dollars to survive in
Presenting the 2006 budget, Finance Minister Dr Herbert Murerwa
indicated that 'salaries will only be increased if there is restructuring in
the civil service'.He was implying to a possible retrenchment drive. The
minister set the doom tone as 2006 heralds. The private sector is equally
troubled with indications that many companies are not opening after the
Christmas shut down until and unless they get the necessary and adequate
28 Dec 2005 01:02:19 GMT
By Ed Stoddard
DINOKENG, South Africa, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Tembo was a killer who faced the
death sentence for his "crimes".
But the six-tonne bull elephant won a reprieve after a vet approached animal
trainer Rory Hensman and asked him if he could mend Tembo's wild ways.
Now tourists are taking rides on Tembo's back in the bush at Dinokeng Game
Reserve 100 km (60 miles) northeast of Johannesburg -- proving that grown
elephants can learn new tricks.
Tembo and some of his jumbo friends may also be put to work soon protecting
their own kind as "all-terrain" vehicles in anti-poaching patrols.
"It just shows that you can train African bull elephants ... the previous
estimates were that you had to start when they were 12 to 15 months," said
Dinokeng owner Larry Blundell.
Tembo was well past that -- about 18 years in fact -- when he went on the
rampage which almost ended with a bullet in his huge skull.
An orphan of a cull in South Africa's Kruger National Park, he was relocated
to a private game reserve.
He eventually found himself a female companion but another bull came along
and successfully "wooed" her. Tembo still bears the scars of the fight he
had with that bull in the form of a broken tusk.
More disturbingly, he also vented his rage by killing two rhinos and
damaging the lodge at his reserve.
That past is hard to square with the gentle giant who curiously sniffs
visitors with his trunk while children hug his telephone-pole like legs.
"Tembo has a wonderful nature -- he had lots of contact with people but when
he was growing up, no training," his trainer Hensman told Reuters by phone
from his base in the country's northern Limpopo province.
"We use a bilateral ask and reward system. When he does something you say
well done and reward him," he said.
Elephants, especially the more malleable Asian variety, have been used by
humans for war and work for more than 2,000 years.
But humanity's history with the pachyderms has also been marked by ruthless
persecution and hunting -- and so a trainer's first job is to win over their
instinctive mistrust of humans.
"Elephants are extremely intelligent and they can be trained to do all sorts
of things. What is difficult is to get over their inherent fear of man,"
Mabitsi, Dinokeng's other trained elephant, was also a "rogue" who was part
of a group of four that broke through the fence at the Kruger Park, wreaking
havoc on local citrus farms.
He was also due to be put down until Hensman's intervention.
Some animal welfare activists may take offence at the idea of a wild and
majestic animal being trained to take humans on rides -- but the alternative
for Tembo and Mabitsi would have been worse.
Hensman maintains that elephants, known for their emotional natures and
complex social systems, clearly enjoy mixing with humans.
And Hensman's animals may soon be employed to help in the preservation of
their own species and others.
Hensman originally began training elephants in his native Zimbabwe to use in
anti-poaching operations and hopes to use some of his pachyderms in South
Africa for that purpose. He has been in talks about this with the Kruger
Elephants have an acute sense of smell, can travel anywhere in the bush, and
don't break down -- making them ideal for patrols as well as tracking
"What is needed in out of the way places, especially in the rainy season, is
an elephant. They are an excellent means of transport and don't need to be
refuelled," said Hensman.
2005 in review
So wretched was 2004 for Zimbabwe cricket that it was hard to envisage how 2005 could be any worse. That it was - and by some distance - underlined just how serious the problems had become. The year ended in virtual anarchy. The players were refusing to play while Peter Chingoka and Ozias Bvute, the unpopular Zimbabwe Cricket chairman and managing director, remained at the helm; allegations of widespread mismanagement and fraud were doing the rounds, and threats and intimidation appeared to have become the norm.
Perhaps the saddest single event in a shameful 12 months was the resignation and retirement of Tatenda Taibu, Zimbabwe's 22-year-old captain. Taibu represented the best hope for the future, and yet he and his family were threatened after he fronted the players' opposition to Chingoka and Bvute. While the board claimed to have backed Taibu, it was noticeable that the source of the threats, an objectionable pro-Mugabe hardliner, was not censured. In fact, by the year end he had emerged as a new force in Zimbabwe cricket, heading up one of five new provinces created by ZC to keep the ruling faction in power. Other players gave up the struggle and sought to pursue their careers overseas, most noticeably Heath Streak, the man whose dismissal as captain in April 2004 triggered the whole crisis.
On the field, Zimbabwe's decline continued. They played eight Tests, and lost seven, all by massive margins. The one draw, against Bangladesh, owed much to Taibu, whose 85 and 153 dwarfed his colleagues' contributions. The scale of their match-on-match humiliation can be judged by the fact that two of the losses came inside two days, and with the exception of the Bangladesh matches, the margin of the defeats would have been greater had opponents not declared early. The one-day performances were equally dire, although the year started with back-to-back wins in Bangladesh. But they went on to lose that series 3-2, and the remaining nine matches all ended in defeat, and again the margins were almost all large.
In the autumn, the Under-23 side played in South Africa's domestic competition and a President's XI in India; both returned home without so much as a draw, and with few reputations enhanced. Perhaps the nadir came in October when Zimbabwe A were beaten three times at home by Kenya. So keen were Zimbabwe's selectors to save face that they fielded a virtual full-strength side; it made no difference.
The infrastructure had collapsed to such an extent that many who wanted to play the game had neither the equipment or the coaches. Money which should have gone to them was missing - stakeholders were asking where as much as $12 million had gone - while the board's bloated administration grew by 800%.
Throughout all this, the ICC remained on the sidelines, insisting that it could not involve itself in a "domestic matter". But, as one senior administrator told me: "If you see someone drowning, do you stand and debate about whether to save them, or do you jump in?" The fear is that the damage done to Zimbabwe cricket might already be terminal.
New man on the block Charles Coventry showed glimpses that he could be a useful batsman, but he needs to learn to build an innings; Colin de Grandhomme, who has been talked about as one of the best young batsmen, also impressed with the U-23 side in South Africa.
Fading star None. The few stars there were have long since jumped ship, leaving enthusiastic but raw youngsters to face the music.
High point Precious few. The two one-day wins against Bangladesh gave false hope, as did the opening session of the first Test against New Zealand when the visitors were reduced to 113 for 5; they still won by an innings inside two days.
Low point Where do you start? On the field, the first day at Centurion when Zimbabwe were bowled out for 54 and South Africa closed on 340 for 3 (and went on to complete another two-day win); off the field, the circumstances which led to Taibu's retirement.
What does 2006 hold? Sadly, more of the same. With the ICC and its directors hiding behind their own rules, Zimbabwe's decline is likely to continue. There is talent there, but it is hard to see how it can avoid being crushed by the weight of political indifference outside the country and mismanagement inside it. They are due to tour West Indies in April. If they do, then they face more humiliation; if they don't, then they are likely to be kicked out of international cricket on a technicality, so sparing the ICC any less palatable decisions. A more cynical person might argue that would actually suit some people, easing the crush of the international merry-go-round and removing a constant thorn in the side.
Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo
Financial Express, Bangladesh
THE Zimbabwean government's 'clean up' exercise, supposedly
to rid the urban centres of criminals, resulted in street kids being bundled
out of the capital and other cities during the months of May and June, 2005.
But by the first week of August, most kids returned to the cities. Child
rights campaigners and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on the
issue have questioned the government's recent move, which most say was
ill-planned and short-sighted. The government was keen to remove the kids
from the streets after cases of their involvement in crime, including gang
rape, were reported.
The UNICEF estimates that Zimbabwe's street children numbered 12,000
before the clean-up, with 5,000 of these in Harare alone. These include
children living and working on the streets and those coming in daily from
the poor residential areas and then returning home at night.
The government did not appear to have any forward plan after rounding
up the children and initially putting them in transit camps. Those with
homes in poor areas were simply dismissed from the transit camps. Some kids
were sent to rehabilitation centres for juvenile offenders. "Here, they were
treated no differently from the other inmates," says Grace Onyimo, Acting
Director of Streets Ahead, a drop-in-centre for street kids. Some children
were forced onto the newly resettled farms to provide labour.
After sending them to juvenile homes, the government was supposed to
help reunite them with their families. This, so far, has proved to be the
biggest challenge. Assisted by the UNICEF and two NGOs, Streets Ahead and
Childline, the reunification process began in July 2005. After discussions
with children and some of their relatives, only 10 (out of 250) have so far
been selected to be sent back to their families.
Gao Christophides of Childline says this slow and intensive exercise
will take at least a year to complete, although the success rate of
reunification worldwide is "only two per cent". It is easier to help
children reunite with their families if they have been on the streets for
less than a year and are very young. "But if we can work with the younger
ones and those who have recently joined the streets, we would have achieved
something," she says.
However, the Just Children Foundation in Harare, which provides
shelter for street kids, claims reunification can be a success. Ellen
Chinyamakobvu, Programme Coordinator, says in 2004 alone, they reunited 146
children with their families out of a total of 350. In the same period,
Streets Ahead reunited 124 children with their families and a further 39 in
the January-June 2005 period.
Both organisations relied on continuous monitoring and evaluation of
the placements and supported the families in terms of education and food
Further, at Streets Ahead, the children were given fast-track lessons
in basket-weaving, painting and other vocational skills to make them
productive on their return to their families. Both groups believe
institutionalisation should be the last resort.
But where reunification fails, the children are likely to remain in
the government institutions. "They should then be put in organised skills
training programmes to make them productive," says Christophides.
They should be organised into SOS-type villages or units with a house
mother and siblings to give the semblance of a family unit. However, such
units are few and far between in Harare and are already full of other
An equally big problem during the government clean-up operation was
how to take care of the girls on the streets, Onylmo of Streets Ahead says
that according to their mid-term report, although girls have a rough time on
the streets, "they are not willing to return home and be reunited with their
families even if they have small babies". Most are sex workers. The report
notes that there is a growth of "a new generation of street children", born
of children living on the streets.
The government has also failed to find any solution to the problem of
children who come into town to beg and then return home at night. The
Child Protection and Adoption Act prohibits the use of children for begging
and street vending, but Tomaida Banda of the Child Protection Society says,
it can only be properly enforced if the government establishes
income-generating projects for the families to stop them from sending their
children to beg.
Some organisations try educating the street children. The Presbyterian
Children's Club offers non-formal lessons to street kids between the ages of
six and 14. In the morning, they wash and change into school uniforms, take
lessons, tea and lunch, then change back into their street clothes and
resume their life on the streets. But they remain on the streets. Most of
the club's 44 pupils -- 27 of them girls -- are now back at the school
following the government operation.
Alice Chikomo, a retired teacher who runs the school, says they have
raised the literacy levels of children who previously could neither read nor
write and since the clean up, have been asking the children to return home
From now on, they would be provided with an outdoor uniform to ward
off police harassment. However, she admits it is difficult to monitor each
Similarly, Streets Ahead offers laundry and shower facilities and food
to children between six and 20 who drop in, but it lets them out on to the
streets again in the afternoon. These kids are now regularly hired as car
park attendants by the annual Harare International Festival of the Arts
(HIFA) and are later given allowances, T-shirts and certificates. They also
paint pictures for a calendar company and are rewarded with food and
But Onyimo of Streets Ahead says that their priority is still
reunification. She observes: "We feel a child can receive a more positive
development in a family environment as compared to the dangers of life on
We want the kids to have a quick action plan through the informal
lessons we offer which they complete in a few days and then they leave the
streets but if they taste the comforts of an institution, they will take
time to be reunited with relatives."
Harare, Zimbabwe, 12/28 - Zimbabwe recorded 27 percent decline in the number
of foreign tourists in nine months of this year to September, officials said
They said a total of 336,971 tourists visited the country during the period,
down from 463,471 during the same period last year, blaming the decline on
the negative perception of the country`s political stability.
Africa accounted for 83 percent of the tourist inflows to Zimbabwe this
year, followed by Europe 17 percent and Asia 15 percent.
LUSAKA, December 28 -- Zambia's main power plant resumed partial operations
after a mudslide caused by heavy rains that left the Kafue Gorge power
station damaged and leaving the country in near black out.
The Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) Tuesday said the power
plant was running at less than half capacity as only two generator units
Kafue Gorge station manager Masiye Mwale said the country was still in
danger of a total power outage.
The electricity company had estimated it would cost in the region of $35 000
to restore power generation at the power station to full capacity.
Meanwhile, the company was losing millions of dollars in revenue.
ZESCO shut down the power plant on Saturday after a heavy downpour caused a
mudslide into the station.
The power emergency had resulted in Zambia having to import power from
neighbouring Zimbabwe and South Africa to avert a total blackout.
ZESCO had been conducting load shedding or power saving in order to meet
national demand as a result of low rainfall experienced last season.
The damage to the major supply unit was expected to result in extended
periods of power outages in all parts of the country. - Sapa