The meeting of the Tsvangirai MDC formation's standing committee was called
after the party's lead negotiator, Tendai Biti, secretary general of the
grouping as well as Finance Minister, declared a deadlock after another
round of talks
Blessing Zulu | Washington 22 January 2010
Senior figures in the Movement for Democratic Change of Zimbabwean Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai gathered in Harare on Friday to discuss the way
forward as tension rose within the unity government over the lack of
progress in talks to resolve issues that have long troubled power sharing.
The meeting of the Tsvangirai MDC formation's standing committee was called
after the party's lead negotiator, Tendai Biti, secretary general of the
grouping as well as Finance Minister, declared a deadlock after another
round of talks on Thursday with the ZANU-PF party of President Robert
But Patrick Chinamasa, lead negotiator for the former ruling ZANU-PF and the
minister of justice, told VOA that the talks will resume February 8.
Many MDC insiders say, however, that they want to refer the unsettled agenda
to the Southern African Development Community for arbitration - SADC is a
guarantor of the power-sharing arrangement along with the African Union.
Another option is to call for free and fair elections, though Mr. Tsvangirai
himself has indicated he thinks it is early days for a new ballot.
Some political analysts have suggested that the MDC position in the talks
was undermined by comments from British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in
the House of Commons this week. Miliband said Britain wants to see real
progress in Harare, adding: "We have to calibrate our response to the
progress on the ground, and, above all, to be guided by what the MDC says to
us about the conditions under which it is working and leading the country."
ZANU-PF hardliners seized on those comments as evidence that the MDC could
exert more influence in bringing about the lifting of European sanctions,
and urging their negotiators concede nothing until that is obtained.
U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray told reporters in Harare that the
power-sharing principals should be more flexible to make progress.
South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator for SADC in Zimbabwe, urged Mr.
Tsvangirai to compromise rather than waiting for Mr. Mugabe to give way. But
Ray said Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara, the third principal, must all make concessions.
Harare political analyst Philip Pasirayi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing
Zulu that it is ZANU-PF which is blocking progress in the talks, as Western
sanctions can readily be lifted once fundamental reforms are embraced.
The British Embassy stated that "the most important factor influencing the
United Kingdom's views on lifting European Union restrictive measures will
be evidence of actual change and reform on the ground in Zimbabwe"
Ntungamili Nkomo | Washington 22 January 2010
A senior British diplomat in Harare said Friday that the best way to bring
about the lifting of sanctions aimed at President Robert Mugabe and other
ZANU-PF officials and supporters is full implementation of the 2008
agreement for power sharing in Harare, and meaningful human rights and
British Embassy First Secretary Keith Scott said Britain wants to see the
unity government adopt wider reforms before it backs the lifting of
"We need to see progress on implementing the political and economic reforms
that are in the global political agreement before we can move on these
issues. The sanctions do not affect ordinary Zimbabweans, they only affect
those they are targeted at," Scott told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili
The Embassy issued a statement saying "the most important factor influencing
the United Kingdom's views on lifting European Union restrictive measures
will be evidence of actual change and reform on the ground in Zimbabwe."
"The key to having restrictive measures eased, or lifted, is for those in
Zimbabwe who are currently resisted progress to implement the commitments to
reform they agreed to in the Global Political Agreement," said the statement
issued to clarify London's position regarding EU sanctions.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the House of Commons earlier
in the week that a decision on lifting sanctions would be informed by advice
from the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai as well as developments on the ground in Zimbabwe.
Political analyst George Mkhwanazi told VOA the statement would strengthen
the contention by the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe that the MDC
can and must do more to obtain the lifting of sanctions. In that light the
British statements appeared to be walking back the Miliband statement.
The European Union in 2002 set travel and financial sanctions on more than
200 key figures in the former ZANU-PF administration and 40 companies it
said have perpetrated violence and human rights abuses in the past decade.
An attorney for Farmtec Spares and Implements said the sheriff would attach
bank property to settle a US$2.1 million debt related to the Farm
Mechanization and Agricultural Support Enhancement Facility run by the RBZ
Gibbs Dube | Washington 22 January 2010
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe faced the seizure Friday of its property under
a court order obtained by an agricultural equipment dealer who said the
central bank never paid it US$2.1 million for tractors it had purchased.
An attorney for Farmtec Spares and Implements said the sheriff was moving
to attach RBZ property to settle an unpaid bill related to the Farm
Mechanization and Agricultural Support Enhancement Facility run by the bank.
The sheriff's office started to attach bank property Thursday and was
expected by the end of business Friday to fully execute the High Court
The RBZ is said to be close to collapse due to large amounts of unpaid debts
which sources say far exceeds the institution's available funds and assets.
Lawyer Davison Kanokanga, representing Farmtec, told VOA Studio 7 reporter
Gibbs Dube that if the sheriff did not find movable assets of sufficient
value, fixed assets of the bank such as buildings could also be attached.
"I am now waiting for the deputy sheriff to come back to me with a report as
to what assets he has been able to attach," said Kanokanga.
"The writ of execution has a list of five properties which are owned by the
RBZ which we would want the deputy sheriff to attach in the event that they
are not enough movable assets to realize the judgment debt."
Some of the properties listed are in Harare, the Manicaland capital of
Mutare and the northeastern Zambezi River resort town of Kariba, he said.
The central bank ordered 150 tractors for the farm mechanization program and
received 60 worth US$2.1 million, the Farmtec attorney said. The remaining
90 were to be delivered once the bank paid for the first consignment.
The farm mechanization scheme was one of the largest so-called quasi-fiscal
activities conducted by the RBZ on behalf of the government and funded by
printing vast amounts of Zimbabwean dollars, leading to the debasement of
the currency and the second highest episode of hyperinflation in history.
by Own Correspondent Saturday 23 January 2010
HARARE - Zimbabwe's government has sent evaluators to assess diamond
production at Chiadzwa in a bid to ensure operations at the controversial
diamond field comply with Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS)
requirements, officials said on Friday.
The evaluators left for the diamond field that is also known as Marange on
Thursday where Mbada Diamonds - a joint venture between the government's
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and little-known South
African company Core Mining - is mining the gems.
They were accompanied by officials from the Minerals Marketing Corporation
of Zimbabwe (MMCZ).
"Evaluators were invited by the government and they are already at the mine
with officials from Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe," a senior
government official said.
"The idea is for the government to monitor every production done so that
there is proper accountability of day to day production. (Finance Minister)
Tendai Biti has been tasked with handling that issue and is well aware of
the presence of the evaluators.
"The evaluators went to Chiadzwa on Thursday and started work today
Biti was not available for comment.
A senior manager with the MMCZ also confirmed the dispatch of the
"A team of our evaluators left for Chiadzwa on Thursday and they will be
based there for sometime to monitor production at the mine."
Zimbabwe earlier this month aborted a planned auction of 300 000 carats of
diamonds from the Chiadzwa field after it emerged that KPCS procedures had
not been observed.
The KPCS is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to
stop trade in conflict diamonds - rough diamonds used by rebel movements and
other rouge groups to finance wars against legitimate governments.
Under a set of measures meant to bring Zimbabwe's controversial diamond
industry in line with KPCS standards, the world diamond industry must
monitor production and sales of diamonds from Chiadzwa field where the army
has been accused of rights abuses against civilians.
International rights groups have been pushing for a world ban on Zimbabwe
diamonds until Harare acts to ensure mining at Chiadzwa is in full
compliance with KPCS standards.
The southern African nation however escaped a KPCS ban last November but the
global body gave Harare a June 2010 deadline to make reforms to comply with
its regulations. - ZimOnline
Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri said focusing NOCZIM on retail sales will
eliminate a conflict of interest that has hindered efficient distribution,
obliging the parastatal to compete with other downstream sellers
Patience Rusere | Washington 22 January 2010
Zimbabwe's Ministry of Energy and Power Development is taking steps to
restructuring the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe or NOCZIM, spinning off a
wholesale distribution unit while leaving retail sales to the parastatal.
An Energy Regulatory Board to oversee the sector is also in the pipeline.
The Cabinet has approved a law setting it up which is headed for Parliament.
The new board is intended to maintain a level playing field in the sector.
Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere
that focusing NOCZIM on retail fuel sales will eliminate a conflict of
interest in distribution, obliging it to compete with other downstream
Guruve, January 23, 2010 - Stray lions have forced 50 Guruve families to
flee their homes amid reports that three people have already been fatally
attacked by the predators.
The stranded villagers of Kanyemba are now being housed at a nearby school.
"More than 50 families have been displaced since last week," said a National
Parks officer, who refused to be identified. " They are now staying at
He said the villagers were being guarded by armed National Parks officers.
Kanyemba is a wild life area near the Zambezi River and along the border of
Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Harare, January 23, 2010 - The University of Zimbabwe is seeking USD 400 000
to renovate its halls of residence and kitchens which have been closed since
The University which is set to open next Monday, has already issued a
statement of apology to its students that it is not in a position to
accommodate them as it needs to spruce up its collapsed structures due to
years of neglect during the political and economic turmoil the country went
through the past decade.
"May I draw your attention to the desperate need of repairing Halls of
Residence at the University of Zimbabwe," said a document seen by Radio VOP,
written by the Ministry of Tertiary and Higher Education to the Finance
Ministry. "These halls can accommodate 4 500 students, most of whom are from
rural areas. The continued closure of these halls of residence has led to
deplorable conditions leading to dirty social lives not expected of future
"We are requesting you to urgently release at least USD 400 000 for the
rehabilitation of these Halls of Residence and the Students Union Building."
Thursday, 21 January 2010 19:26
THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe has advised government to lift a
ban on genetically-modified grain amid a looming shortage. The projected low
grain yield has over the past few weeks seen Agriculture minister Joseph
Made blaming treasury for poor planning for the 2009/10 agricultural season.
Tafadzwa Musarara, chairman of the millers’ organisation, yesterday told the
Zimbabwe Independent that the dry spell and lack of fertilisers threatening
the cropping season required government to make a policy shift on
genetically-modified grain to boost the country’s grain reserves.
Government, according to Musarara, bars importers from buying genetically
He said a “skewed policy” on imported genetically-modified grain exposes
local producers to “unfair competition” from cheap imported products.
“Government and private sector should engage each other and come up with a
plan to boost grain reserves this season,” Musarara said
“We have a skewed GMO policy in this country. They (government) allow
imported maize meal in this country yet GMO grain is not allowed. That has
to be harmonised.”
Government is expected to announce maize projections for the current season
next March but hopes of meeting the 1,8 million metric tonnes required
annually appear slim despite an increased hectarage under the maize crop.
Official figures state that farmers grew one million ha of maize compared to
900 000 ha planted last year that produced for 500 000 metric tonnes.
The Zimbabwe Farmers Union fears that the inconsistent rainfall affecting
the southern parts of the country could result in a 60% loss in planted
crop. The ZFU also said farmers had limited chances of improving their crop
The union said farmers, however, could still grow small grain crops such as
soya beans and sunflower.
With the Grain Marketing Board selling a tonne of maize at US$300, Musarara
said millers were likely to import from South Africa, which is expecting a
higher yield and selling at US$280 per tonne.
“We are not saying we will have a poor season as such but we are making
frantic efforts to import grain under the collateral management agreement,”
Officials told VOA that while the ministry is concerned by the rising number
of children succumbing to measles and other communicable diseases, it is
still trying to persuade parents to allow their children to be vaccinated
Sandra Nyaira | Washington 22 January 2010
Zimbabwe's Ministry of Health took exception Friday to reports saying it
might move under the Public Health Act to compel members of religious sects
which are opposed to vaccination to allow their children to be inocculated.
Thirty-two children have died of measles in recent days in Manicaland and
Masvingo provinces, most from families belonging to the Apostolic Faith Sect
which has determinedly resisted government vaccination programs.
Officials told VOA that while the ministry is concerned by the rising number
of children succumbing to measles and other communicable diseases, it is
still trying to persuade parents to allow their children to be vaccinated.
Health Minister Henry Madzorera refused to be drawn into the debate, saying
only that reports as to a recourse to law did not come from his ministry.
But some health experts say the ministry should not hesitate to use the law
as it would save the lives of the children whose families belong to such
sects, not to mention other non-affiliated children who risk being infected.
Physician Douglas Gwatidzo of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human
Rights told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the Public Health Act
is there for a reason and should be used to protect the population.
Harare, January 23, 2010 - The Parliamentary Select Committee on the
Constitution Process said it ignored a call by Zimbabwean women to include
more women in the exercise because it believed it was a Zanu PF agenda to
distract it from carrying out its work.
The Parliamentary Constitutional co-chair Douglas Mwonzora told a
constitutional update meeting in Harare on Friday: "As the select committee
we concluded that the petition made by women last week was not genuine."
The women, led by the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe, representing women's
organisations, said they were not happy that their petition demanding more
women to be incorporated into the constitution making process had been
dismissed. They said they would meet soon to discuss on what course of
action to take.
Mwonzora said the Gender Affairs Minister Olivia Muchena was advancing her
Zanu PF political party agenda. "Honourable Muchena is a member of the
Parliamentary select committee and a member of the Zanu PF politburo which
failed to provide us with the number of females needed in the thematic
committees from her party. She is also the Minister of Gender. We asked her
why she was silent over these issues since the beginning of the process. Her
party gave us one woman out of the seven people needed for each thematic
commitee," said Mwonzora. "She said that was the decision of her party's
politburo and we asked her why she did not challenge her own politburo."
"We are gender sensitive," said Mwonzora, "but we are innocent in this case.
In the MDC we managed to balance gender representation and we had no
problems in that regard."
Zanu PF is on record saying that it is opposed to the constitution making
process and wanted Zimbabweans to adopt the draft constitution adopted in
Kariba by the three main political parties in the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) that formed the new unity government. The draft known as the Kariba
Draft was crafted prior to the formation of the unity government. The
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said it has no problems in the
draft being presented to the people for further debate and amendments.
"The problem we are having in this process is that there are some members of
the inclusive government who want the coalition government to last forever
because they know that they cannot stand and win fresh elections and we are
aware of that," said Mwonzora.
Zimbabwe is due to hold fresh elections once a new constitution is in place.
So far the constitution process has delayed due to bickering on the
selection process. Prior to that the process had been delayed due to lack of
Good guys like elections. Bad guys fix or nix them. Or so goes the thinking that underpins much of Western foreign policy. But in Zimbabwe, it appears to be the other way around right now: hardline President Robert Mugabe is pushing for a vote while his pro-democracy rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, is dragging his feet. What gives?
Mugabe is not many people's idea of a democrat. But after three decades of allegations that his party members have beat up the opposition, tampered with ballots and ignored previous election results, the 85-year-old autocrat appeared to change tack in December by calling for a new general election. Though he did not set a date, Mugabe said a vote was "not far off." The 11-month-old government of national unity, in which he serves as President and Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), serves as Prime Minister, has "lived more than half its life," Mugabe told the annual conference of his Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). His party should prepare for a fresh vote, he said, in a spirit of "never [surrendering] your birthright." (See pictures of political high tension in Zimbabwe.)
An election should be good news for Tsvangirai. Though political support is hard to gauge in a country as repressive as Zimbabwe, most international observers estimate that popular support for Zanu-PF runs only at about 10%. A clear victory for one party would also be good for the country, not least because it would bring to an end a coalition government that has been deadlocked and non-functioning since it was formed last February. South African President Jacob Zuma, who has acted as the mediator between the two sides, also backs the idea of a poll. On Jan. 17, his spokesman Vincent Magwenya said Zuma was "looking forward to an election in 2011" and encouraging both sides to "park" outstanding disagreements so a vote could take place.
But Tsvangirai has come out against an election. In an interview with TIME earlier this month, the former trade union leader rejected any vote before both sides decided on a new constitution. Only after a draft is agreed upon and put to a referendum - the process set out in the agreement under which Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed to share power - would elections be possible, he said. "People should not preempt process ... which is understood by all parties to be the law," he added. (See the top 10 news stories of 2009.)
The situation is more, and less, complicated than it seems. On the one hand, both Mugabe and Tsvangirai find themselves fighting from unaccustomed corners, but on the other, their underlying motivations have not changed. Mugabe's one guiding principle remains to hold on to power. Having already survived a number of elections that went against him, he is likely calculating that a vote under the present rules is better than changing the rules altogether. This is also why Tsvangirai is insisting that the rules be altered. He wants a new government set-up in which the head of state -himself, Mugabe or anyone else - doesn't have such tight control over the country's security forces.
Tsvangirai is probably trying to avoid a repeat of the 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections. The MDC leader claimed victory in the poll, but a government electoral body said that he hadn't won enough votes to avoid a run-off. Security forces under Mugabe's control then allegedly unleashed a series of vicious attacks on MDC members, leaving some 100 people dead and causing Tsvangirai to drop out of the run-off days before the vote. Mugabe was declared the winner, but the resulting international outcry was so great, he later agreed to share power Tsvangirai. (See the top 10 contested elections.)
Logical as Tsvangirai's position might be, that won't stop Mugabe from painting him as being scared of elections. John Makumbe, a political lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, says that "Zanu-PF is the last party that would want an election - and [the last party] that would win it." On the other hand, Mugabe is not going to miss a chance to "play to the gallery," he adds. Eldred Masunungure, a professor of political science at the same university, says the world needs to understand that a fair election is still impossible in Zimbabwe. "[Zanu-PF's] structures of violence are still intact," he says. "A free and fair election is not a reality. That's why Tsvangirai does not want to talk elections. Most of his supporters wouldn't participate. They're still in their shells."
Masunungure adds that Zuma is in favor of a new election because it sounds good and appears to be "the quickest way to get rid of the Zimbabwean crisis." But the temptation must be resisted, he warns. Those who doubt him might listen to Zanu-PF spokesman Ephraim Masawi, who said recently that his party was "raring" for fresh elections. "Our structures are already mobilizing supporters so that we win the next elections," he said. "Zimbabweans have realized that we have to do away with [other] parties." Just as Mugabe is an unlikely democrat, Zanu-PF's idea of an election remains a little different from most.
Saturday 23 January 2010
JOHANNESBURG -- South Africa's Methodist church said on Friday that a
prominent bishop suspended earlier this week is facing charges of breaching
A statement released by the Methodist Church in South Africa (MCSA) did not
give details of the charges against the popular Bishop Paul Verryn, who is
well known across South Africa and beyond after turning his Johannesburg
Central Methodist church into a sanctuary for refugees from across Africa.
"He has been charged with transgressing the laws and discipline of the
church, essentially the constitution of the Methodist Church of Southern
Africa," said the MCSA which suspended Verryn on Tuesday.
The disciplinary hearing is scheduled to take place on February 8.
The Johannesburg church offers refuge to more than 3 000 immigrants from
across Africa with the bulk of them Zimbabweans who continue to flock to the
sanctuary, fleeing their home country because of hunger and economic
Verryn has been at the centre of controversy involving the situation of
women and children at the church in central Johannesburg. Last year the
bishop approached the court seeking that a curator be appointed for minors
living at the church.
The curator was subsequently appointed earlier this month to act as the
legal guardian to 56 unaccompanied Zimbabwean minors - taking charge of all
matters pertaining to the children at the church, including their pending
relocation to shelters and safe homes.
Verryn has also clashed with the Gauteng provincial government which accused
him of refusing to cooperate with social workers who wanted to move the
children to proper homes and shelters.
The Gauteng legislature's health and social development portfolio committee
has called for the closure of the church, saying conditions there were a
health hazard as "children are being exposed to abuse, babies are sleeping
on the floor . . . the place is so filthy that we couldn't even breathe".
Civil society organizations, including the Congress of South African Trade
Unions, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Centre for the Study
of Violence and Reconciliation, the South African Council of Churches (SACC)
and the Treatment Action Campaign have also said the situation at the church
was unsustainable because of health risks.
The church reportedly receives up to 200 new arrivals from Zimbabwe per week
with the formation of a unity government between President Robert Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last February appearing to have done little
to stem the tide of Zimbabweans crossing the border to seek food and better
opportunities in their more prosperous southern neighbour. - ZimOnline.
January 23, 2010
We would like to inform all supporters of democracy in Zimbabwe that there
is a new translation of our work, Lessons in Democracy, into the Shona
language. Shona is the language of the majority in Zimbabwe, and is used
by the principal figures both in the regime of Robert Mugabe and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The Shona translation joins the Ndebele translation that we have already
published, for Ndebele speakers in the south of Zimbabwe and also related
groups (Zulu cultures) in Botswana and South Africa. The two languages are
used by some 90% of Zimbabwe's population.
We will be working in the coming months and years with our partners in
Zimbabwe to use the translations to help educate the people of the
Dear Family and Friends,
For some weeks I've been trying to decide who it was that most
changed the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans in the last year.
At first the choices seemed obvious. Morgan Tsvangirai, our Prime
Minister who, despite winning the March 2008 elections and then
living through two personal tragedies, did not give up on Zimbabwe.
He stood firm in his determination to start bringing change to the
country; he came in for much criticism and made many unpopular
decisions but is still shoulder deep in the mess that is our country.
My next obvious choice was Finance Minister Tendai Biti. Mr Biti
suspended the use of a completely worthless Zimbabwe currency and
legalized trading in US dollars. This move eradicated the black
market almost overnight, stopped super-hyper inflation instantly and
put real money in people's pockets. But, more importantly to everyday
life, Mr Biti's policy put food back in the shops.
Then I thought about all the individuals, groups and organizations
that haven't stopped, even for a day, in exposing events and fighting
for democracy in Zimbabwe. There are so many of them, both inside and
outside the country: fighting for human rights; exposing violations;
publicising abuses; holding protest marches; collecting petitions;
raising money; fighting for women's rights, for people with HIV, for
farmers, for animals and so many more. Many of these people who
struggle on our behalf do it without pay, after hours, from their own
homes and often at great personal risk. Many have given the last ten
years of their life to this cause and that little word 'thanks' is
And then I thought about what has most changed in my life and that of
the people around me. The answer was right there, in front of me, in
my hand in fact: communication.
In 2009 Zimbabwe emerged from the darkness of state control of
communication. Cell phone lines suddenly became available in February
and now everywhere you look people have got cell phones: in their
hands, in their pockets, on straps round their necks and (only in
Africa) even stuffed down their bra's! From roadside tomato vendors
to rural villagers and from prime ministers to peasants, we now have
the ability to communicate. Cheap and widely available cell phone
lines, a growth of over a million lines in one year and over 500 base
stations around the country, and democracy becomes possible! Thanks to
the insight, determination and vision of Strive Masiyiwa and his
company, Zimbabwe is talking, listening, texting and photographing
and because of this, nothing will never be the same again.
Cell phones and the availability of SIM cards really have sparked a
revolution here. Its funny how quickly we take things for granted but
in an instant this week the text messages were flying: meeting this
afternoon with the MP; constitutional programme stopped; convicted
rapist on constitutional outreach; Rusape farmer arrested; no rain!
Strive Masiyiwa's company , represented by Douglas Mboweni, is in my
view the one thing that has most changed the lives of ordinary
Zimbabweans in the last year. Everyone now has the ability to
communicate, to expose the perpetrators of crimes that are still
destroying our country and to take away their lies and leave them
with no more hiding places.
We await internet broadband, with eager anticipation and with
urgency. Until next weeks with thanks to all the people who sacrifice
so much and work so tirelessly for our country. With love, cathy �
Copyright cathy buckle 23 January 2010.
Written by The Zimbabwean
Friday, 22 January 2010 08:06
A top member of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) visits Kariba
and is shocked to discover how drunk and ill-behaved youngsters are being
allowed to trash one of the country’s most important game conservancies –
all for the love of cash.
In this account the ZCTF members also gives details of reported cases of
illegal hunting to show how Zimbabwe’s wildlife is being laid to waste by a
few but very powerful individuals motivated by greedy: On the 21st of
December, we went to Kariba and stayed at Nzou Lodges, close to the NAU
Charara site where the infamous party takes place. We never take a radio or
a TV there because it seems almost sacrilegious to disturb the peacefulness
and natural silence of the bush with music. Until the 29th of December,
there were very few people there and it was wonderful to sit quietly
listening to the beautiful sounds of nature. We were very lucky because
there was a herd of 11 bull elephants in the vicinity for the duration of
our stay and every night, we were treated to a visit from one or two of
these majestic beasts, walking right past our cottage.
Then on the 30th of December, the peacefulness was abruptly shattered. The
disco was set up in Charara and the party-goers starting arriving. Cars,
motor bikes and quad bikes were screaming up and down the dirt roads and the
silence was replaced with the continuous thump-thumping of music emanating
from the disco, the cottages and the cars. Pick-ups loaded to the hilt with
teenagers, waving drinks in the air, shouting and cheering, drove recklessly
past the elephants and the hippos. On New Year's Eve, we arranged for a
young ZCTF (Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force) member to attend the party. He
reported that the ages of the party-goers ranged from about 13 to 18 and
children who were obviously much younger than 18 were buying alcohol from
Strictly no fireworks?
He could smell the unmistakable aroma of marijuana and in the early hours of
the 1st of January, many of these young people were sprawled all over the
ground in a semi-comatose state. He saw one young couple copulating in the
dirt behind a car, in full view of people walking by. At midnight, fireworks
were set off, in blatant disregard of the signs at the entrance of Charara
"Strictly no fireworks." We were deeply saddened by this total lack of
respect for the wildlife.
According to our member, a police detail was present but they did
practically nothing. They sprang into action once when a fight broke out but
otherwise remained inconspicuously in the background. They were not in the
least concerned about the ages of the children buying alcohol or about the
setting off of fireworks.We noticed a change in the behaviour of the 11
elephants. They seemed to be aggravated and confused, flapping their ears
and trumpeting. We watched anxiously from a distance as one bull
mock-charged a car full of youngsters, knowing that if he had carried out
the charge, somebody could have been hurt or killed and then the elephant
would have been classified as a problem animal and shot.
We have tried to put a stop to this party or at least to have it moved to a
location closer to Kariba town, away from the main wildlife preserve and we
will carry on trying. The problem is, the party is a money spinner for the
organisers, the National Anglers' Union who obviously feel that making money
takes priority over everything else. It may surprise them to know that some
things are more important than money.
We have received a report from a disgusted South Africa tourist who spent
three weeks in Charara just before Christmas. He was fishing in Charara
watching two buffalo grazing contentedly when suddenly, a contingent of
National Parks staff members appeared in a landrover and shot them, in full
view of the tourist. He reported the matter to the Charara National Parks
officials who nervously told him that they had instructions from officials
in Harare "to get meat to the fat cats there." On his way back to Harare, he
stopped behind a National Parks landrover at a road block. The landrover was
full of fresh meat, some of which was given to the police manning the road
block. According to Charara residents, last year there were 96 buffalo in
the Charara area and at the last count 2 weeks ago, there are only 65 left.
Over the past 10 years, we have been circulating reports about the
decimation of the wildlife in Zimbabwe and in so doing, we have been accused
of sensationalism, alarmism, exaggeration, being an "enemy of the state" and
even downright lying. We have stated several times in the past that once
most of the animals on the private game ranches had been slaughtered, the
poachers and illegal hunters would turn to the "protected" National Parks
for their ill-gotten gains. The increasing number of reports we are
receiving with regard to illegal hunting and poaching within the National
Parks is cause for grave concern. Several incidences have been reported to
the Director General of National Parks who, to date, has failed to respond.
The problem with illegal hunting within a National Park is that it cannot
take place without the assistance of National Parks officials and there are
many cases where they are involved, either for personal gain or because they
are following orders from more senior officials or politicians. We have a
list of people, some very high profile, whose names regularly appear in
reports received. If anyone would like to see the names, please contact us.
In July 2009, 5 Romanian hunters, a professional hunter and a National Parks
official were arrested for illegally hunting elephant in Robins Camp, Hwange
National park . The case was never finalized. The culprits were released and
their equipment returned, it is believed upon instructions from the Minister
of Tourism and Natural Resources. In October 2009, a South African
professional hunter admitted that his French client had bow hunted an
elephant in the Robins area and that he had paid USD5 000 , which went into
the pocket of the head warden to enable his client to hunt within the
In August 2009, an American hunter illegally shot an elephant with a bow and
arrow in Sikumi Forest, using watermelons as bait to lure the elephant out
of Hwange National Park. The hunt was conducted by a South African
professional hunter in collaboration with a Zimbabwean professional hunter
and the American was apparently unaware that the hunt was illegal. The
hunting party was guilty of hunting without permission in Sikumi Forest, bow
hunting without the necessary permit and using bait to attract the elephant.
The South African professional hunter paid USD2 000 to the Zimbabwean
professional hunter and USD2 000 to the concession holder to facilitate the
hunt and the American client was assured that everything was legal and above
board. These reports are just a small percentage of the reports we have
received and all names are available upon request.
War veterans near Humani Estates in Chiredzi have resorted to poisoning
rhinos since they have failed to make a success out of the farm lands they
were allocated in 2000. A spokesman said that the war vets are placing
poisoned cabbages at animal drinking points so that the animals will eat
them when they come to drink. He said that most of them are working as
agents for South African based rhino horn dealers who have flooded the area
with firearms. He claimed that they are even poisoning some small dams in
the area in the hope that the rhinos will drink from them.