by Staff Reporter
THE global Kimberley Process (KP) initiative set up to stem the flow of
so-called conflict diamonds on Friday confirmed that Zimbabwe had fully met
its standards for exporting the gems, following a meeting that exposed deep
continued divisions in the group.
Non-governmental organisations – mainly Western – which have frequently
criticized the KP process said its inability to agree on expanding the
definition of what constitutes a "conflict" diamond highlighted a broader
unwillingness to take a firm line on the global diamond trade.
"For us this really means that the Kimberley Process is no longer the first
word on conflict diamonds," said Alan Martin of Partnership Africa Canada,
one of the non-governmental groups that take part in the process.
"We're going to be looking to other forums such as the OECD (Organisation
for Economic Cooperation and Development) to begin a more honest debate on
Zimbabwe, which was allowed to export diamonds under the KP mandate last
year, had nevertheless been placed under a special year-long monitoring
programme amid repeated charges of human rights abuses and smuggling at its
Partnership Africa Canada in November issued a report saying that at least
$2 billion (1.2 billion pounds) in diamonds from Zimbabwe's Marange fields
had been stolen by people linked to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party
amid fears it is building up a war chest for elections expected in 2013.
Zimbabwe's state mining firm said the gems were sold transparently.
Gillian Milovanovic, the U.S. diplomat who chaired this year's session of
the process, said on Friday that Zimbabwe had made the required improvements
and that the monitoring would lapse.
"Zimbabwe put in a significant good faith effort," Milovanovic said. "Now
they are fully compliant with the Kimberley Process."
Both Zimbabwe and the definition of what a "conflict" or "blood" diamond is
have long shadowed the Kimberley Process, founded almost a decade ago with a
mandate to stop illicit diamond sales from financing rebel campaigns against
Last year a disagreement over Zimbabwe, where human rights groups estimated
that at least 200 small-scale miners were killed when security forces seized
the fields at Marange, came to a head when a divided KP concluded that it
had no mechanism to stop Zimbabwe's diamond sales.
Global Witness, a pressure group and founding KP member, pulled out weeks
later, saying its inability to hold elected governments to account was a
Activists had hoped that this year's session would agree to expand the
definition to take account of violence perpetrated by government forces or
security personnel, which could dramatically expand its remit.
Milovanovic said the KP had been unable to reach consensus on this issue,
although it had agreed to continue discussing it.
Martin of Partnership Africa Canada said it was disappointing that the KP
had been unable to develop a new definition and criticised the group's
reluctance to insist that producers are transparent about their diamond
revenues as a key good governance requirement.
"It's a deprivation of obviously the public finances but also the public
good. And by not acting I think the KP is turning a blind eye to this
criminality which is becoming increasingly apparent," he said.
Milovanovic underscored that there were limits to the speed with which the
KP can move, as well as to the number of issues it can take on.
"The Kimberley Process is not all things to all people, but that doesn't
mean it is not doing a decent job," she said.
But the Zimbabwean NGO Resources Exploitation Watch accused Western
governments and NGOs of trying to block the country from freely selling its
diamonds in a bid to squeeze the country’s economy and hasten a change of
“They are deploying all manner of subterfuge, trying to create a new class
for Zimbabwe diamonds just so that we don’t benefit from our natural
resources. It’s an unjust, unfair and evil campaign which has come to grief
in a most spectacular fashion,” said Tafadzwa Musarara, chairman of the NGO.
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said: "We stuck to principle and we won. Zimbabwe
can achieve its economic development objectives through the unencumbered
exploitation of resources.
“I commend the Zimbabwean team here, including our Attorney General Johannes
Tomana, for a job well done. More importantly, I thank our principals back
home who have given us all the support in our quest to free the Marange
South Africa will take over as the KP chair next year, and Milovanovic said
that China had volunteered to serve as deputy chair – a step which could see
Beijing, which is working hard to cement ties with resource-rich African
nations, take over the full chairmanship in 2014.
The Kimberley Process has failed to reach a consensus on the redefinition of
the term blood diamonds following proposals by the United States that it
should include rights abuses by states and not only rebels fighting to
topple elected governments.
According to Allan Martin, research director of Partnership Africa Canada
who attended the one-week KP annual meeting in Washington DC which ended
Friday, Asian and some African nations, including Zimbabwe, rejected the U.S
Martin said despite the rejection of the proposals, the United States and
some non-governmental organizations will continue pushing for the
redefinition of conflict diamonds.
Martin futher said the Kimberley Process has given Zimbabwe the green-light
to mine and sell diamonds without monitors.
Zimbabwe was represented at the meeting by Mines Minister Obert Mpofu,
several other state officials and representatives of non-governmental
The country was expected this year to generate $600 million in diamond
revenues but the Ministry of Finance downgraded these projections due to
diminished sales from Marange and lack of transparency in the mining of the
The Kimberley Process is a joint government, industry and civil society
initiative designed to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds
used by rebels to finance wars against legitimate governments.
Saturday, 01 December 2012 00:00
Daniel Nemukuyu and Eveline Taadira
A PRIEST aligned to Bishop Chad Gandiya’s Anglican Church of the Province of
Central Africa was yesterday seriously injured after being struck with a
brick by supporters of Archbishop Nolbert
Kunonga during an eviction at the Tafara Anglican Church in Harare.
The attack comes amid calls by various church leaders for the feuding
bishops to observe peace towards each other.
Police spokesman Superintendent Andrew Phiri said Reverend Naboth Manzongo
sustained a deep cut on the forehead after being struck with brick during
the eviction of Archbishop Kunonga’s Rev Teddy Mukariri.
Police said Rev Manzongo was rushed to Parirenyatwa Hospital for treatment.
“No arrests have been made yet, but the assailants are known. We are still
investigating the matter,” said Supt Phiri.
Five men aligned to Archbishop Kunonga reportedly manhandled the deputy
sheriff during the eviction of a priest from an Anglican house.
Evictions resumed yesterday in various parts of Harare, despite ACPZ’s
pending urgent chamber application.
An assistant to the deputy sheriff was pushed and shoved while carrying out
his duties before being denied entry into Number 101 Central Avenue where
Reverend Tendai Mutongomanye, a son-in-law to Archbishop Kunonga, stayed.
Rev Mutongomanye’s wife is the one who operated a crèche at the Anglican
At the time of the eviction, Rev Mutongomanye was not present.
The gang locked up the gate and denied the deputy sheriff’s team access to
This prompted the team to seek police reinforcement.
When the police reaction group arrived, a group of violent youths jumped
over the precast wall and fled.
Police scaled over the gate and caught up with the elderly Rev Mukariri who
had remained inside the house.
There was drama at the house as the elderly reverend clashed with the
He denied ever possessing keys to the gate and other rooms, despite relaxing
alone in the house.
Rev Mukariri shouted at the police and refused to leave until they dragged
The priest refused to board the police van, prompting policemen to lift him
up and throw him at the back of the vehicle.
Rev Mukariri, who was always on his mobile phone communicating to different
people about the police actions, threatened to report the officers to their
“You cannot do that to me. I am a priest and again I am much older than you
are. I am old enough to be your grandfather.
“I will report you to your bosses. You do not know me,” said Rev Mukariri.
He remained in the truck under police guard until the process was completed.
The police later dropped him off along Samora Machel Avenue as they
proceeded to another church property at Number 123 Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.
Evictions were effected in most parts of the city with limited resistance.
The deputy sheriff evicted ACPZ priests in Kuwadzana, Kambuzuma,
Chitungwiza, Highlands, Mufakose, Rugare, Chisipite, among others.
Resistance was met at the Central Avenue property, St Monica’s parish in
Chitungwiza and at St Columbus in Kuwadzana.
Various churches yesterday condemned the current wave of violence in the
Pastor Erasmus Makarimayi of the New Gate Chapel said there was need for
“We are yet to speak to (Archbishop) Kunonga but our word of advice is that
he needs to react positively to the hand of reconciliation that Bishop
Gandiya has offered,” he said.
Pastor Makarimayi urged fellow church leaders to concentrate more on
assisting those who had been genuinely following Archbishop Kunonga.
“The Bible makes it clear that the Church belongs to God alone. This means
no one owns anything even those who have been declared by the courts to be
the rightful owners of the properties. If they know this then they will
approach the situation with caution.”
Chair of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe Dr
Goodwill Shana said true Christians should be law-abiding.
“If courts rule, then we follow that. We do not expect Christians to be
living against the law and to be engaged in fighting.
“I haven’t looked at the depth of the court ruling but our understanding is
that the courts have always said Archbishop Kunonga was no longer part of
the Anglican Church,” he said.
Dr Shana said the court ruling was just.
“It appears that it is fair, we do not support the fighting and defiance of
the courts and the law,” he said.
After the Supreme Court ruling last week, Archbishop Kunonga engaged lawyers
seeking to reclaim control over the church properties and to sway the church’s
Other church leaders refused to comment on the situation, claiming they were
to privy to the Anglican dictates.
“I cannot comment, not on this one. If this was happening in my church I
would be better placed but this whole occurrence was just a surprise to me,”
said Bishop Joshua Dube of the United Baptist Church.
Zimbawe's deputy sheriff Friday intensified the eviction of parishioners
loyal to ex-communicated Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga after a brief lull
Kunonga of the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe had tried to
block the eviction by making an urgent chamber application in the High
Attorney Jonathan Samkange told VOA LiveTalk that he had filed the urgent
court application on behalf of this church and not Kunonga.
The case is set to be heard on December 4.
The latest evictions are being done in fulfillment of last week's Supreme
Court judgment that declared the Church of the Province of Central Africa
the legitimate owner of all properties in the diocese of Harare.
Kunonga was on Wednesday evicted from the hugely symbolic Cathedral of St.
Mary’s and All Saints in Harare paving way for the first mass in five years
under Bishop Chad Gandiya.
But there was commotion as thugs allegedly hired by Kunonga violently
attacked security guards deployed by Bishop Gandiya’s CPCA.
Bishop Gandiya’s spokesman Precious Shumba told VOA that the sherriff backed
by the riot police faced little resistance Friday as they evicted Kunonga
Efforts to get a comment from Kunonga or his spokesman were fruitless as
they were locked in a marathon meeting to discuss their plight.
By Fungai Kwaramba, Staff Writer
Saturday, 01 December 2012 13:05
HARARAE - The Anglican Church saga has sucked in top banking and lending
organisations with the Church of the Central Province of Africa (CPCA)
demanding that institutions such as the Standard Chartered Bank ensure that
defrocked clergyman Nolbert Kunonga returns money he inherited and assets he
took over during his five-year reign.
A “Writ of Delivery Up” from the High Court obtained by the CPCA Banks
sucked into Anglican saga cites the Standard Chartered Bank, Imara Asset
Management, Kingdom Asset management and Tetrad Securities along with
dethroned clergyman Nolbert Kunonga as defendants.
“You are required and directed that, without delay you cause the following
movable goods namely a Mazda 626 registration number 646-832C, a Toyota
Fortuner, Toyota Hilux single cab and further cause the delivery of all
Plaintiff’s assets of whatever nature in the possession of 1st and 7
defendants, to be returned to the Church of the Province of Central Africa,”
reads part of the writ.
Raymond Moyo, of Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans said the financial institutions
are involved in the messy case because “they were holding certain accounts
and investments on behalf of the CPCA.
“We are following due process and that includes recovery of movable
properties and also accounting for everything. We do not know how much these
institutions have because there has been no accounting up to now.”
Kunonga is the 1st defendant with his surrogates. The others are Standard
Chartered Bank, Imara Asset Management, Kingdom Asset management and Tetrad
Securities are listed as 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th defendants respectively.
Since Monday, Kunonga and the Anglican Church have been wrestling over
control of property with the Zanu PF-aligned priest refusing to leave the
Anglican Church properties notwithstanding the court ruling that saw him
lose his foothold.
The bashful Kunonga is also hiring bouncers to scuttle the CPCA from taking
over. He even threatened journalists with a gun.
Despite the fact that Kunonga has engaged bouncers, the Anglican Church has
been able to take over the Cathedral and All Saints properties which have
served as the bastion of the ex-communicated bishop for the past five years.
Last week, Kunonga lost control of the Anglican Church properties after the
Supreme Court ruled in favour of the CPCA setting aside a previous judgment
that had been granted in favour of the ex-communicated bishop by the High
Far from the smooth hand-over takeover of properties that was envisaged by
the CPCA, Kunonga and his surrogates have been reluctant to engage their
The CPCA alleges that Kunonga has looted church properties during his
controversial reign and a cursory inventory revealed that the Zanu PF
churchman was not settling utility bills.
Yesterday, Kunonga’s eviction continued with the messenger of court roping
in riot police after his followers had locked themselves inside CPCA
properties on Number 101 Central Avenue in Harare.
by Staff Reporter
MORGAN Tsvangirai will stand down as leader of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC-T) if he loses elections slated for March next year, he told
supporters in Gweru on Friday.
Tsvangirai, who has led the party for 13 years, stunned supporters with the
shock declaration even as he predicted his party would win.
“2013 election tikaruza, zvakaoma [if we lose, it would be difficult],”
“You [should] take others and put them forward, isn’t that so?”
The former trade unionist, who became leader of the MDC at its formation in
1999, surprised supporters further by openly admitting the MDC had been an
“apprentice” of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party since 2009 when he
joined a coalition government.
Tsvangirai said the coalition government had been a blessing in disguise as
the MDC was too inexperienced to rule in June 2008 when he pulled out of the
presidential election, controversially, after more than 200 supporters were
murdered in pre-election violence.
“For the last four years, we were in transition - being shown keys, being
made apprentices, being taught how to run government,” Tsvangirai said.
“We now know the keys are here, there and there. God has a purpose. It was
God’s plan to first put us in the GPA, otherwise we would have gone into the
deep end without experience and ended up at each other’s throats.
“God wants a peaceful revolution, not a violent revolution.”
Tsvangirai presided over a damaging split in the party in 2005 when senior
figures, including his late deputy Gibson Sibanda, chairman Isaac Matongo,
secretary general Welshman Ncube, treasurer Fletcher Dulini Ncube, spokesman
Paul Themba Nyathi and elections director Esaph Mdlongwa led a break-away,
accusing him of failing to tackle violence within the party and undemocratic
Tsvangirai’s latest pronouncements could encourage rising stars within the
party, including the popular Finance Minister Tendai Biti and likeable
Nelson Chamisa, to step up their interest in the top job.
MDC-T supporters yearn for a re-unification of the party, but most accept
that this would not be possible under a Tsvangirai leadership. Tsvangirai
and Ncube, according to insiders, have a mutual hatred of each other.
Meanwhile, Ncube and Biti – both lawyers – are known to be close, and are
amiable to the idea of a united front against President Mugabe’s
uninterrupted 32-year rule.
Saturday, 01 December 2012 13:05
BULAWAYO - Teachers inrural areas will be victims of politically-motivated
violence in the forthcoming elections since the environment has not changed
from 2008, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has said.
Speaking at the launch of a report on the experiences of teachers with
elections entitled: Every school has a story to tell on Thursday evening,
Enoch Paradzayi PTUZ national coordinator said the government needs to
intervene immediately and make sure teachers are protected during elections.
“The government of Zimbabwe must immediately declare schools as zones of
peace and as such enact laws that restrict and criminalise the use or
occupation of schools for political activities, especially during the
electoral period,” Paradzayi said.
“The ministry of Education in conjunction with critical stakeholders like
the police, parents and teachers unions must set up school protection
committees so that school services rendered by schools are not interrupted
during times of conflict like elections.”
PTUZ said they had tabled the report before David Coltart, minister of
Education sports and culture and they were waiting for his response.
In the report, Zanu PF was named as the chief instigator of violence against
teachers at schools. War veterans, Central Intelligence Organisations and
Zimbabwe National Army were also named as the main perpetrators of violence.
The report said teachers were being victimised by militias who camped at
schools before and during elections.
In some cases teachers suspected to be sympathetic to the MDC formations are
beaten or abducted.
Paradzayi said if the government did not intervene and enact laws to declare
schools as peace zones, teachers should move away from schools before and
during election period.
“There is no need for teachers to get themselves killed because it doesn’t
pay to be a fallen hero. If the government is reluctant to implement
strategies that protect teachers during campaign time and elections, I
suggest they should stay away from schools,” Paradzayi said. - Lloyd Mbiba
Saturday, 01 December 2012 13:00
HARARE - The elderly population has recorded the highest rate of
HIV-infected people, third quarter statistics released by the National Aids
Council (Nac) reveal.
People above the age of 50 recorded a 42 percent HIV positive rate
surpassing the 25 to 29 age group by a 25 percent margin.
Nac Monitoring and Evaluation director Amon Mpofu said the statistics maybe
confirming the continued existence of inter-generational sex.
“The highest positivity rate was recorded in the +50 age group. The increase
is really worrying but we think it is a result of inter-generational
relationships where the young are infecting the elderly,” said Mpofu at a
workshop in Kwekwe.
The 30 to 49-year-olds are following closely behind at 23, 6 percent.
This is contrary to national statistics which have youths constituting the
most affected group of the HIV positive population in Zimbabwe.
The 15-49 age group prevalence rate, according to UN-Aids, stands at 14,3
In the third quarter report, the 15 to 19 age group are just below seven
percent while the 20 to 24 are around 11 percent risk of being infected.
A 17 percent infection rate is for those between 25 to 29 years.
Golden Goni, Nac board member representing HIV positive people, argued that
it is likely to be a result of an increase in the number of people in the
above 50 age group going for testing.
“To say that the 42 percent figure is a result of cross-generational
relationships maybe incorrect, people of my age no longer have anything to
fear. I am much more prepared to present myself at the New Start Centre for
testing because we are now more concerned about leaving things in case we
die,” said Goni.
HelpAge Zimbabwe has since started lobbying government and development
partners to maximise interventions targeted at elderly people following
revelations that the population is still equally sexually active.
Priscilla Gavi, HelpAge executive director, said the statistics where
indicative of the country’s disaggregated data and intervention programmes
that have concentrated on the youthful population while excluding another
critical section of the elderly.
“We have always said there is need to disaggregate HIV and Aids data. The
current statistics are quite alarming. It proves that the 50 plus age group
has always been segregated in terms of HIV and Aids prevention treatment and
support programmes,” said Gavi.
“However, the statistics may also be a result of the graduation of the
highly-affected population of yesteryears into old ages after the advent of
medication that prolongs life. But still it all speaks towards the need to
shift attention to prevention and care programmes that are elderly
friendly,” she said.
According to Gavi, Zimbabwe cannot ignore a group of people that constitute
seven percent of our population.
Africa Platform for Social Protection regional director, Tavengwa Nhongo
said there was serious need to readdress sex, the elderly and social
perceptions which are influencing the formulation of discriminatory
“The purported facts about age and sex are a mere social construct. Being
amongst this group, I can confirm that older people whether men or women are
still active and can still be active as long as they live,” Tavengwa
Zimbabwe has 1,2 million people leaving with HIV and only 600 000 are on
treatment. - Wendy Muperi
Saturday, 01 December 2012 12:56
HARARE - Zimbabwe's long-awaited new constitution must now be amended by
proxies from leaders of the three ruling parties, but signs are this will be
anything but a smooth transition.
The next step for the charter after the Constitutional Parliamentary
Committee (Copac) presented the July 18 draft to the Second All-Stakeholders
conference will be its renegotiation by ministers appointed by President
Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara, followed by a lengthy process of trade-offs that could take
The take-over of the supposedly Parliament-led process by members of the
executive, Tendai Biti, Patrick Chinamasa and Priscilla Mishairabwi-Mushonga
has stoked tensions and become the new focus of president Jacob Zuma’s
facilitation team, currently in Zimbabwe to ascertain progress ahead of
The Copac draft, which Zimbabweans have waited for over three years, aims to
check presidential powers and curb corruption, political patronage,
land-grabbing and tribalism which have plagued one of southern Africa’s
biggest economies since independence in 1980.
Foreign investors and governments hailed last month’s Second
All-Stakeholders conference but Zimbabwe risks losing international
goodwill, and funding, if Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara rewrite the draft
to suit their agendas, botching the law’s implementation.
Phillan Zamchiya, regional coordinator for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,
said: “Our position is unequivocal: we do not support the setting up of
another executive wing to reconcile the differences from the Second All-
“In essence this Cabinet committee will have a drafting mandate.
“First, there is already the management committee that was working closely
with Copac and to create a new creature is simply unreasonable. The
differences are not entirely new and the management committee and Copac have
been working to reconcile these differences from day one.”
The majority of voters are backing the Copac draft.
After years of marred elections, the Copac charter was seen as an important
step in avoiding a repeat of that election bloodshed, and the peaceful
stakeholders’ conference encouraged investor sentiment, but the attempts to
rewrite the draft have stirred controversy, with analysts citing the
apparent breach of the doctrine of separation of powers.
“We respect the doctrine of the separation of powers, the trias politica
principle, among the branches of government that is the judiciary, executive
and legislature,” Zamchiya said.
“The executive should therefore not write how they should govern us.
“Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) is clear on how the
constitution- making process should proceed that is from the Second All-
Stakeholders’ conference to Parliament and from there to a referendum.”
Zamchiya said Zimbabwe was running out of time to afford the luxury of
setting up committee after committee as the next election looms.
“Rather the watchword should be implementation of what is already agreed,”
The first major battleground will be the reinstating of imperial
presidential powers. The stakes are high because there is pressure from
voters for swift implementation of the law which trims presidential powers
and introduces regional grassroots governments with a degree of autonomy and
a share of the national budget.
Political horse-trading by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara could cause
delays to the new law, but the pro-democracy principals could end up paying
dearly for this in the 2013 elections.
“It is our conviction that some hard-liner political players are buying time
to push Zimbabwe to hold a general election without a new constitution and
substantive reforms so that Zimbabwe can have a flawed transition,” Zamchiya
“A flawed transition will put to waste all Sadc’s long-term efforts to
ensure a successful and democratic transition in Zimbabwe.
“Such a failure will mirror democratic regression in the region, a situation
of one step forward and two steps back with devastating consequences for the
ordinary suffering people of Zimbabwe.”
Zimbabwe’s coalition has so far failed to deliver the sought-after political
reforms, including a promise to usher in a new constitution in 18 months.
Almost four years on, the parties are still haggling over the draft.
Zamchiya called on all “progressive forces in Zimbabwe and across the region
to unite and push for a referendum so that Zimbabweans can finally decide
their own destiny toward a successful and democratic transition and an end
to their misery.” - Gift Phiri, Politics Editor
By Ndakaziva Majaka, Staff Writer
Saturday, 01 December 2012 13:05
HARARE - Central government is responsible for problems currently being
faced by local government entities in the country, because of an ineffective
fiscal transfer framework, a Cabinet minister said.
Addressing delegates at the recently-ended Economic Empowerment Conference
in the capital, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo said there is need
for central government to provide financial support to local authorities.
“For local authorities to effectively execute their role, central government
needs to come up with an effective fiscal transfer framework for local
government and to provide necessary support, without which councils would
end up enjoying unfunded mandates,” Chombo said.
He blamed lack of financial support from central government, caused by the
unprecedented economic challenges the country faced in the last decade, for
the collapse of municipal services.
“In this economic situation, most residents are resorting to ‘self-help’
with respect to basic services the council is supposed to provide.
“Central government needs to re-capitalise local authorities in order to
restore their credibility and relevance with the residents,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been saddled with serious challenges in terms of service
delivery because of the socio-economic and political collapse in the past
This is evidenced by colossal housing backlogs and outbreaks of pre-medieval
diseases such as cholera and typhoid that are still prevalent in major
residential areas especially the high density suburbs of major cities in
Zimbabwe due to poor sanitation, inefficient sewerage management, and
infrequent clean water supply as well as incapacitated health care
Chombo said due to their inability to perform, local authorities are facing
widespread resistance from ratepayers.
“Needless to say, the stance taken by residents has worsened the plight of
local authorities,” he said.
This comes after Harare residents demonstrated at Town House demanding
cancellation of bills that accumulated during Zimbabwe’s hyper-inflationary
According to the protesting residents, ratepayers are frustrated with
incompetent and corrupt councillors who worry more about lining their
pockets than service delivery.
At the conference, Chombo said his ministry with the United Nations
Development Programme, has conceived a local government capacity building
and service delivery programme intended to address the pathological
institutional incapacities of local authorities across Zimbabwe.
Saturday, 01 December 2012 00:00
From George Maponga in Masvingo
Marauding wild animals have destroyed nearly 1000 hectares of sugar cane at
Mkwasine Estates and surrounding areas in Chiredzi, severely crippling
operations of hundreds of resettled farmers in the area.
Wild animals such as elephants, buffaloes, baboons and monkeys from Save
Valley Conservancy, Gonarezhou National Park and other private wild life
sanctuaries have been roaming freely in the sugar cane estates in Mkwasine
destroying vast swathes of cane crop in the process.
Over 500 resettled farmers are affected.
Zimbabwe Sugarcane Development Association chairman Mr Edmore Veterai
yesterday said hundreds of farmers at Mkwasine Estates and surrounding areas
were facing a bleak farming season as result of the damage caused by wild
Mr Veterai said there was need for contingency measures to be taken to
salvage the farmers' operations, which are on the verge of collapse.
"On average each of the hundreds of affected farmers has since the beginning
of this year lost about 45 percent of their cane crop to wild animals which
are roaming freely in the Lowveld.
''The wild animals are elephants, buffaloes, baboons and monkeys which our
investigations have proved they are coming from Save Valley Conservancy,
Gonarezhou National Park and private game parks in the Lowveld,'' said Mr
He said they had already engaged the National Parks and Wildlife Management
Authority to intervene and allow farmers to shoot the marauding wild
"The worst affected farmers are in Mkwasine, Mapanza, and Porepore sugar
estates and most of the cane farmers might record heavy loses and fail to
repay bank loans if the problem of rampaging wild animals is not urgently
attended to,'' Mr Veterai said
The Zimbabwe Sugarcane Development Association said farmers were raising
funds to set up a perimeter fence that would stop wild animals from prowling
on their sugar cane.
Communities around the wildlife-rich Save Valley Conservancy and the
Gonarezhou National Park have over the past few years borne the brunt of
wild animals that are roaming freely and terrorising them after the collapse
of a perimeter fence that used to provide a barrier between the communities
Eco warriors … Damien Mander puts International Anti-Poaching Foundation rangers through training at his group's Victoria Falls base in Zimbabwe. Photo: Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images
When, in 2008, he'd finally had enough of the war in Iraq and decided to get out for good - turning his back on the violence and chaos, the helicopter gunships crowding the skies, the car bombs and deadly attacks by insurgents - Damien Mander took the Rhino Bus out of Baghdad. The irony of its name wouldn't become apparent to the young Australian for some time; the then 28-year-old Mander was just happy to ride the heavily armoured vehicle from the city to Baghdad Airport, a place that would take him - a burnt-out former sniper haunted by his memories of the destruction of a country and the despair of its people - someplace else.
Nine years earlier, in 1999, Mander had joined the Royal Australian Navy, training as a clearance diver before joining Tactical Assault Group East (Tag East), one of two counter-terrorism units set up by the Australian Government in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US.
At Tag East, Mander retrained as a sniper. But he was like a fish out of water, nicknamed Agent Orange by his instructors because he invariably left a trail of destruction behind him - ripped-up bushes, broken branches and the like - whenever he was sent off to "melt" into the landscape.
Game for anything … Mander and one of his soldiers watch over a rhino at Victoria Falls. Photo: Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images
In 2005, a restless Mander was honourably discharged from the navy. He wanted to go to Iraq, where he felt he could use the skills he'd acquired at Tag East in a real conflict setting. And so for almost all of 2006 and 2007, he worked for a private security firm, BLP International, managing a project responsible for retraining the paramilitary wing of the Iraqi police.
The police academy was in a Sunni area in northern Baghdad, in an area bordering the predominantly Shiite district known as Sadr City. "We were in the red zone," he tells me when we meet recently in Melbourne. "There were lots of daily mortars and suicide bombers ploughing into the gates. The first night I arrived, three rockets were fired through the front gates. It was a very small place and we had 400 guards protecting the boundaries. In the middle of all that chaos we were expected to train up to 700 paramilitary police and get them ready for deployment.
"The building we were in used to be the old headquarters of Iraqi intelligence. Downstairs were all these old torture chambers that we had to convert into living quarters. Some horrid shit used to go on there. Less than 100 metres away was the science research institute.
Fighting back … a rhino on a South African game reserve is dehorned as a precautionary anti-poaching measure. Photo: Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images
"From all accounts," he adds, "there was a good relationship between the two departments."
Inevitably, the ceaseless, ongoing violence began to take its toll. "Replacing Saddam Hussein was, I'd say, possibly the only positive thing I noticed," he says. "But at what cost? The country is in absolute chaos now, absolutely destroyed. I made a conscious effort to learn as much Arabic as I could. You'd speak to the Iraqis and they'd say, 'Now we have freedom, but we don't have safety. Before, we had safety, but we didn't have freedom.' "
Some of his most persistent memories are of the helicopters constantly bringing the dead and wounded back to the hospital next to the compound where he was staying.
Big day … Mander and his partner, Maria, on their wedding day in Melbourne. Photo: Davina Jogi
"Walking through the hospital corridors was always tough," he continues. "There were kids with arms and legs missing, their faces disfigured from fire. I remember one day [after a clash with insurgents] when we were rescued by US Army Rangers. When they got us back to their base and took off their helmets and goggles, you could see that they were all about 19 years old."
From Baghdad Airport that day in 2008, Mander flew back to Australia - via the beautiful old Colombian sea port of Cartagena, where he stayed a few months - and to his home on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula. He'd never told his parents that, for the past three years, he'd been living in one of the most dangerous cities on the planet: they thought, because this is what he'd told them, that he'd been working as a security consultant in Dubai. He knew, and they knew, that his restlessness would make this homecoming a temporary one.
Then one day, for no particular reason, he remembered a conversation he'd had with a former colleague in Tag East about making use of their sniper skills to fight wildlife poachers in Africa. He remembered the possibility seeming exotic and life-changing. The new sedateness of his life at home made the promise of this new adventure sound, suddenly, irresistible.
"I thought, 'Yes, I'll go over to Africa and have a look', " he says. "It was all about me and having another adventure. One that was 'cool'. "
At the beginning of 2009, he left Australia once more, flying on a one-way ticket to South Africa. He journeyed through Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, carrying only a backpack. He was off to fight another kind of war.
We were meant to meet in Mozambique. But a missed flight meant that I arrived too late in the Mozambican port town of Pemba in time to take a small plane with Mander to the vast Niassa Reserve, an area as big as Denmark, in the country's remote north.
Since August this year, in the interests of wildlife conservation, the former commando has employed modern wartime technology in Niassa. He has been using unmanned drones to find and track poachers who have been slaughtering elephants in the reserve to the point where local extinction is now a real possibility.
"You know, if you'd asked me years ago what a conservationist was, I'd say a dope-smoking hippie who hugs trees and pisses off large companies," he says when we find ourselves, a few months after the scheduling mishap in Mozambique, talking in an African restaurant in Melbourne.
Mander has none of the overt toughness that you'd expect from a former special-operations commando. He's charming and easy-going with a ready laugh, although one of the first things I notice about him is his direct gaze: he seems to carry the damage of his memories of Iraq in his eyes.
Mander has come home to marry his girlfriend, Siberian-born hospitality student Maria Udalov. The couple plan to live in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, from where Mander runs the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), which he founded soon after arriving in Africa. Iraq may be far from his mind these days, but he still cuts an unmistakably heroic dash: he's the Australian who turned up in Africa and started saving the lives of elephants and rhinos.
But he's facing a dangerous enemy: the African-based, Asian-run criminal syndicates making a fortune out of the insatiable black market demand for ivory, the trigger for horrific massacres of elephants on the African continent. (China is reportedly the world's biggest ivory consumer, despite its own laws against ivory trafficking.)
Elephants aren't the only animals that are dying. Rhinoceros are also being killed en masse, thanks to a wild and totally unsubstantiated belief in south-east Asia, particularly in China and Vietnam, that ingesting rhino horn powder can cure many maladies, including cancer. Rhino horn is reportedly fetching prices of about $US65,000 a kilogram as part of this illicit trade - making it more expensive than gold. In Niassa, black rhinos have all but disappeared.
Poachers use everything from AK-47 assault rifles to anti-tank mines to carry out these wildlife massacres. Even so, official estimates of some 25,000 African elephants being killed across the continent in the past 12 months are still stunning. There are also credible reports that some of Africa's worst rebel groups, including the Lord's Resistance Army, have joined in the killing spree - as have rogue soldiers from various armies.
When it comes to the numbers of rhinos being killed, figures vary. But in South Africa, home to an estimated 20,000 rhinos - 90 per cent of the African population - there has been a poaching epidemic since 2008. A record 455 have been killed so far this year, and 448 last year, according to the South African environment ministry. Twenty-two poachers have been gunned down, and more than 200 were arrested last year. Only recently, a Thai national was sentenced to 40 years in prison in South Africa after pleading guilty to charges of exporting rhino horns.
During his 2009 travels through southern Africa, Mander was able to observe the work of local anti-poaching groups. He approached people involved in the running of game reserves and national parks about setting up anti-poaching units, but they weren't interested in his ideas. He was a white foreigner with a military background who, they said, didn't have a clue about what was happening in Africa.
"At the time I was like, 'What?' I had all these skills," says Mander. "In hindsight, of course, it became crystal clear to me. Why would you want someone from outside Africa trying to come in and save your world?"
Zimbabwe, still ruled today by Robert Mugabe, isn't an easy place for a foreigner to live, but it was here that Mander first realised that he was in Africa for far more than a mere adventure. "I was walking through the bush one day and I came across an elephant with its face missing," he explains. "That was it. When I saw that animal poached, it hit me in the face like nothing has ever hit me before. I don't know what Iraq had done to me, but I wasn't the same."
Mander rang his parents and instructed them to sell off the investment properties into which, for years, he'd poured all his savings. He set up the IAPF and got permission from the managers of the Stanley & Livingstone private game reserve at Victoria Falls to run his organisation on reserve land. With money from the sale of his properties, he built a $100,000 training academy and bought an ultra-light, two-seater plane, as well as a couple of land vehicles.
Today, the 32-year-old runs the IAPF with his close friend and former special forces colleague, Steve Dean. The organisation, which has also started operating in South Africa as well as in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is becoming increasingly well known for establishing crack anti-poaching units by putting locals through specialist tactical response programs. "[In Zimbabwe], we've come up against guys with AK-47s and have managed to make arrests without a shot being fired," he says, adding that he hasn't killed a poacher yet. "There's a shoot-on-sight policy for poachers in Zimbabwe, but we try to step back from that and teach these guys [alternative responses]."
Mander has found joy in watching formerly poorly trained game-reserve rangers undergo a dramatic transformation as they grow in confidence and self-esteem - not least because they're now fitted out with proper equipment and uniforms, including boots. Many of them were earning minimal wages, he says, and expected to go out on 12-hour patrols, up against better-armed poachers as well as potentially dangerous wildlife.
But how tricky has it been for him to run an organisation like the IAPF in a country still ruled by a brutal regime, and where the police and the army remain greatly feared? (Only two years ago, there were reports that the security forces in Zimbabwe were involved in poaching elephants and rhinos.) "I was completely open about my background from the start," says Mander. "For someone like Steve Dean and myself to be doing what we were doing in the country; two ex-special forces soldiers, foreigners, in Zimbabwe giving paramilitary training ... Imagine a couple of Zimbabwean guys in Australia giving paramilitary training outside Melbourne!
"The mandate is that we deal with things on the ground. The relationships that we do have with the authorities have been hard to build. We just want to stick to things we know and be as transparent as we can be. We don't want to jeopardise what we've built. You can only do it by being completely open with the guys. We've been asked lots of questions by all sections of the authorities and they're fine."
Nevertheless, Mander and his IAPF organisation are a direct threat to the shadowy criminal syndicates behind the poachers. "You're dealing with one of the largest criminal industries in the world - the illegal trafficking of wildlife," Mander says briefly when I press him about this. "We live in the bush. If somebody wants to come and have a crack at us, they can."
How serious have the threats been? He replies that, at one stage, he had to leave Zimbabwe, but says he'd rather leave the subject at that.
At one stage in our conversation, Mander talks about how, back in Baghdad, he'd sometimes walk along the banks of the Tigris River, which were lined with gum trees. "I'd sit there alone and crush the leaves and enjoy the smell. One Saturday arvo, I saw two lumps in the water. They were human heads. I grabbed the guards and we got two sticks and pulled [the nearby headless corpses] ashore. They had holes drilled through their hands and a bolt put through them. Their elbow, knee and ankle joints had been drilled out with a power drill and they had been shot in the head at close range.
"Looking back on that, when people ask me why I love animals so much when there are so many people suffering in the world, I think, 'F... that. The worst an animal can intentionally do to you to mess up your day is maybe eat a pair of your runners or dig up your flower bed. What can a person do? Well, I've seen that.
"If I need to go back to Iraq and Afghanistan to get the money to help the IAPF grow and to further our efforts, then I don't have a problem with that," he continues. "I value what we've created and what we believe in more than my own life. The issue of environmental protection is greater than any one person."
Meanwhile, Mander is working hard to encourage people to take seriously the idea of using drones to protect endangered wildlife species - although he hasn't as yet been able to persuade the Zimbabwean authorities to agree to let him use them, as he's done in Mozambique.
The IAPF currently has three drones, all of them built by Simon Beart, a South African-born, Melbourne-based aircraft mechanic and committed conservationist, who travelled to Mozambique to join Mander in Niassa. They're small drones compared to the Predator UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) "that routinely patrol the skies anywhere the United States has an interest", says Mander.
A drone, he points out, can cover in a few hours what a ground team would take a week to achieve, which means that anti-poaching units can become specialist reaction units - on constant standby to respond to real-time intelligence about the movements of poachers.
A fourth, more sophisticated drone is currently being developed for the IAPF by a team of specialists in Australia. "They're what we need to be really able to change things for the future of conservation," says Mander. "We need a good formula working, so that we can then roll them off the production line."
All of this takes money, of course. Mander knows full well from IAPF fundraising drives
In Australia how hard it can be to raise the sort of money that's needed to keep protecting some of nature's most magnificent animals from poachers, who have turned game reserves into conflict zones. Mander, nevertheless, has a vision for the near future of elephants and rhinos roaming through the African bush beneath all-seeing skies.
Indeed, Mander would like to see this happen in every country where wildlife needs protection. "Drones have revolutionised the modern battlefield in a way that gives our soldiers the upper edge," he says. "For me, that relief will become satisfaction when I know conservationists the world over will have access to the same technology - albeit for a different battlefield."
December 1, 2012, 10:23 am
Dear Family and Friends,
Everyone battened down the hatches when the met department issued a
nationwide alert for heavy storms and flash flooding. They warned people to
expect strong, violent winds, hail and heavy rainfall in excess of 60 mm in
24 hours. Don’t cross flooded rivers or bridges, they said, cautioning
people that uprooted trees and destruction of infrastructure was possible
and anyone who thought their area was flooding should move to higher ground.
It’s not often that we get these kinds of warnings from the Met Dept and so
with anxious eyes cast upwards, we braced ourselves.
The weather got hotter and hotter, the sky bluer and bluer while everyone
and everything wilted, retreating to the smallest of shade patches to wait
for the promised heavy rain and flash floods. It all seemed very unlikely
and was so hot that it was hard to concentrate on any of the absurdities
that characterize Zimbabwe which is months away from a referendum and
election. People in rural villages have begun receiving bags of seed maize
donated by Zanu PF, but only if they produced Zanu PF membership cards.
While they stood in line they were distressed to see village headmen opening
the bags and splitting them in two so each family only got 5kgs of seed.
Everyone wants to know where Zanu PF got the money to dish out millions of
dollars worth of free seed and fertilizer which didn’t come from government
but so far mum’s the word.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any hotter, the Met dept’s predicted
‘strong violent winds’ arrived. We closed doors and windows and watched as
the sky turned deep purple. The birds in the garden went into a feeding
frenzy; Weavers, Waxbills, Mannikins and Finches struggled for a look in as
twenty, fifty and then a hundred red billed Quelea descended on a hot
African wind and devoured every seed in sight.
The electricity went off, a few spots of rain fell on the baked ground and
night drew in. News came that rain had begun falling in Bulawayo and
southern parts of the country and we hoped we would be next. By the light of
solar lanterns we followed the news that the main political parties are
about to hold primary elections. Everyone’s jostling for positions and
existing leaders are spouting the usual platitudes: no vote buying and no
candidate imposition. But existing and aspiring candidates aren’t listening.
Photos of yet more bags of politicized seed maize appeared in the press;
some with round stickers advertising Zanu PF on them others with photographs
of Zanu PF candidates blatantly displayed in large images on the front of
seed maize bags.
Overnight the wind picked up again and finally, a little before dawn, a
light drizzle began to wet the ground. Temperatures plunged, jerseys come
out of storage and outside the ground was littered with avocado pears
knocked down by the strong winds. Almost as soon as the ripe avocados are
split open and laid out, the birds dropped down to feast: Bulbuls, glossy
Starlings, White eyes, a red headed Barbet and gorgeous plum coloured
Two days later less than 20 mm of rain had fallen but the electricity came
back on and we started to catch up on the news again. Two people had died
after being struck by lightning and two others received serious burns. The
excommunicated Anglican bishop, Nolbert Kunonga with a gun on his hip
threatened to shoot journalists who were taking photos of him and his staff
being evicted by the Deputy Sherriff of the Court from Anglican Cathedral
offices. Short Wave Radio Africa’s broadcasts were being jammed again and
Zimbabwe was apparently sending troops to the border with Mozambique after
warnings of instability looming in Mozambique and news that an army is being
trained in Gorongoza. With Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa diamond fields being so close
to the Mozambique border it doesn’t bear thinking what might happen, or
maybe, like our week of promised flash floods, it will all just blow away in
the deep purple sky on a hot African wind.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy
December 1, 2012, 12:42 am
“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest”- that quotation had been
ringing in my ears ever since the Kunonga saga started. The quotation is
attributed to the twelfth century English King, Henry the Second. Henry was
speaking about Archbishop Thomas a Becket once a friend of his but later
deeply critical of the king’s tax policies. Becket paid for his
outspokenness with his life and was murdered by the king’s men in Canterbury
Cathedral. He was afterwards canonised and his shrine is in that very
cathedral. So, my quotation hardly applies to ‘Bishop’ Kunonga who is
certainly no saint as events this week once again proved. The gun-toting
Kunonga was finally evicted from the Anglican cathedral in Harare. “No man
of God can behave in this way” one priest commented but then whoever thought
Kunonga was any more than a thug using ‘Indigenisation’ for his own ends?
As of Wednesday November 28th Kunonga was officially in contempt of court
and according to the law, the police were bound to arrest him. But this is
Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe’s rule and all who support this ‘son of God’,
as Kunonga once described the president, are protected by the partisan
police force. So, for weeks Zimbabwe had the tragi/comic situation of its
Anglican cathedral in the centre of the capital city under siege with a
criminal gang outside, none other than the notorious Chipangano, allegedly
protecting Kunonga - from whom? From the real bishop, Bishop Gandiya, the
anointed head of the Anglican church in Zimbabwe! Such are Kunonga’s powers
of persuasion that he had attracted like-minded followers in other parishes
in Harare and in his home district to follow suit. Kunonga’s priests had
resisted eviction in several parishes and there were reports of them
threatening to beat up church officials. On Thursday, Kunonga himself,
“literally frothing at the mouth” as the report stated, launched a verbal
attack on journalists trying to cover the story and threatened to shoot a
photographer. In a telephone interview with the Daily News, Kunonga is
quoted as saying, “What do they have? Can they shoot us with guns? No they
can’t” Kunonga’s belief in violence is surely at odds with Christian
If all this seems like a storm in a teacup, outsiders should understand
that Zimbabwe is largely a church-going society. The Anglican cathedral
occupies a central position in the capital and the sight of an armed
criminal gang standing guard over the building hardly gives the impression
of a country which tells the world it is at peace. It was the Vice President
himself, Didymus Mutasa, who condemned Chipangano as no better than
criminals and ordered them to disband. Kunongo, however, chose to use
Chipangano to protect him. The ‘turbulent priest’ – no priest at all in
reality - was finally defeated and forced to leave the cathedral and return
all the property he had stolen. This saga has been going on for five years
and the joy and relief on the face of Bishop Gandiya, the true bishop, was
plain for all to see. The cathedral he finally recovered is apparently in a
dire state and it will take many days and weeks to clean up the filth
Kunonga and his followers left behind. Men like Kunonga don’t give up easily
and there are many more like him, motivated by greed and self-interest and
shielded by Mugabe’s so-called ‘Indigenisation’. Fortune Charamba, President
of the Chiefs’ Council this week openly urged the chiefs to use
indigenisation funds to ‘buy votes’ by building bridges, clinics and roads
thus “winning hearts”. With friends like Kunonga, Chihuri and Charamba
supporting him, Mugabe may win the forthcoming election by violence and
intimidation but Zimbabwe will be the loser.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson