A giant chartered Antonov An-22 cargo plane with Angolan markings delivered
tons of weapons from Harare to Gbagbo
Published: 23 January 2011
Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, is secretly arming Laurent Gbagbo,
whose refusal to accept defeat in the presidential election in the Ivory
Coast has brought his west African country to the brink of war.
A giant chartered Antonov An-22 cargo plane with Angolan registration
delivered tons of weapons from Harare to Gbagbo over Christmas and the new
year, highly placed intelligence sources in Zimbabwe’s capital revealed last
The aircraft took off from Manyame airbase outside Harare. The exact
quantity of arms is not known but the Soviet-built Antonov can carry up to
about 80 tons of cargo. Zimbabwean military and intelligence officials
accompanied the weapons on the flight.
Earlier, the sources said, the plane had flown into Manyame with a
consignment of small arms, mortars and rockets from China — Mugabe’s chief
arms supplier — for the Zimbabwean army.
On Mugabe’s instructions, part of this shipment remained on board and was
supplemented with more armaments from the stocks of Zimbabwe Defence
Industries, the state arms maker. A few hours later the plane flew to the
Ivory Coast where the cargo was secretly unloaded.
Sources in Harare said that Mugabe, 86, had authorised the arms shipment
after an appeal from Gbagbo for military assistance in return for oil. The
sources said that a mysterious Chinese businessman — identified only as Sam
Pa — had played a pivotal role in organising the shipment so that it could
not be traced back to Mugabe.
Sam Pa uses a variety of aliases. His main business interests are in oil in
Angola but he has lately expanded into diamond-rich Zimbabwe, where he has
established commercial relations with some of the most powerful figures in
Mugabe’s inner circle.
The clandestine arms delivery pits Mugabe against the United Nations, west
African leaders and the African Union. The UN has 10,000 peacekeepers in the
Ivory Coast and has had an arms embargo in force since 2002.
International pressure is mounting on Gbagbo to hand over power peacefully
to his rival, Alassane Ouattara, the would-be president, who won last
November’s presidential election run-off, according to UN-verified results.
Economic sanctions and diplomatic measures are favoured to get Gbagbo to
step down but force has not been ruled out as a last resort.
In the Ivory Coast, the army is the one part of the state machinery that has
remained intensely loyal to the beleaguered Ivorian leader throughout the
Arrangements for face-to-face talks between the two rivals have twice failed
because the army has refused to lift a blockade around a luxury hotel in
Abidjan, the commercial capital, where Ouattara is holed up. If fighting
does break out, the arms sent by Mugabe could be a crucial boost for the
troops willing to try to keep Gbagbo in power.
HARARE, January 25, 2011- Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) has demanded a new voters’ roll as a prerequisite
for the forthcoming elections.
The latest MDC demands come in the wake of revelations by independent
election watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) that the
voters’ roll is full of dead people and includes names of children some as
young as four years.
This has boosted President Mugabe,s critics and human rights groups who have
always accused the former ruling party, Zanu (PF) of rigging elections since
1980 when the country attained independence from Britain.
In the wake of the report, the MDC has come out with guns blazing attacking
the registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede and accusing him of manipulating the
“The MDC’s position on the need for a new, clean, biometric digital voters’
roll has been vindicated following shocking findings from the latest
national survey conducted by (ZESN) exposing the weakness of the current
“The findings confirm why elections in Zimbabwe have always been contested
as illegitimate, and thus failing to record a true reflection of the
democratic will of the people.
“The MDC is dismayed that for 29 years Tobaiwa Mudede has abused the dead,
who are supposed to be resting in peace, to rig and manipulate election
results. In the case of the 2008 election, there were more babies and the
aged than legitimate voters on the voters’ roll.
“It is therefore self-evident that the shambolic state of the voters’ roll
has been used by the unpopular Zanu (PF) to engineer election results. Zanu
(PF) has literally disallowed the people of Zimbabwe an opportunity to
express their democratic right,” said the MDC in a statement yesterday.
Tsvangirai’s party said an imperfect voters’ roll will disenfranchise the
eligible electorate and allow disqualified voters to mark their ballot.
“International laws, which Zimbabwe is a signatory to, necessitate the
registration of all eligible citizens as voters but in Zimbabwe, the
detested Zanu (PF) has ensured that thousands of people fail to do so as the
voter registration exercise is partisan, non-transparent, biased and
“Going forward, in order for this country to hold any free, fair and
credible election there is need for an impartial, professional and
independent board, contracted to come up with a fresh, biometric
digitalised voter’s roll, as is the trend in civilised countries. As the
MDC, we call for a comprehensive, accurate and credible voters’ roll as a
prerequisite for the coming elections and any other election to be held,”
read part of the statement.
The two Movement for Democratic Change formations fired back saying Mr.
Mugabe had no legal mandate to act unilaterally on elections as long as the
inclusive government remains in power
Ntungamili Nkomo & Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 24 January 2011
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has ratcheted up tension in the country's
long-troubgled government of national unity with a tacit threat to dissolve
Parliament and call new elections without waiting for a new constitution to
be put in place.
Mr. Mugabe, described by local media as “fit and very lively” despite
reports he had undergone surgery for prostate cancer, said he had a
constitutional right to call for elections if the government failes to take
a position on a new ballot.
The state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation quoted him as warning
that “for those who do not want [to reach agreement on when new elections
should be held] we will dissolve Parliament and go for an election under the
Under 2008 Global Political Agreement underpinning the nearly two-year-old
unity government, the unity government’s lifespan comes to an end in
February. But the three ruling parties could agree to extend the life of the
government, which despite constant quarreling among its members has restored
a modicum of stability to the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Welshman Ncube, head of the smaller formation of the
Movement for Democratic Change, one of the three governing parties, told VOA
Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mr. Mugabe does not have the right
to dissolve Parliament and call elections as long as the Global Political
Agreement remains in effect.
"He doesn't have that right," declared Ncube. "As long as the GPA is in
existence, he has no such power without the concurrance of the other
Ncube’s sentiments were echoed by Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the larger
MDC wing headed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Chamisa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that it would be foolhardy for Mr.
Mugabe to call for new elections without the consent of the MDC. "Those are
misguided threats in our view," Chamisa said. "ZANU-PF can not do so
Observers worry that early elections without braod political, constitutional
and electoral reforms could result in a violent poll and a disputed outcome,
as in 2008.
Legal analyst Brian Brown of the Harare-based think-tank Veritas offered the
opinion that Mr. Mugabe would only have the right to call new elections if
South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Harare on behalf of the
Southern African Development Community, is in the midst of drafting a
roadmap to the next elections aimed at producing a credible, violence-free
Elsewhere, US Ambassador Charles Ray on Monday dismissed a ZANU-PF campaign
to collect at least 2 million signatures from Zimbabweans to support the
party's call for Western targeted sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and his inner
circle to be lifted.
By Chris Goko
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 10:32
HARARE - Newly–admitted Zanu PF politburo member and political turncoat
Jonathan Moyo has revealed President Robert Mugabe’s new, and underhanded
election strategy by declaring that polls will be held 2011 “with or without
a new constitution”.
Moyo’s latest political jibe in the state-run Sunday Mail not only served as
a precursor to Mugabe’s remarks late Sunday that he could “trigger his
constitutional right to dissolve parliament”, but an effrontery to South
African mediator Jacob Zuma’s call for better conditions ahead of an
In that tirade, the ex–Information minister placed his argument for an
immediate election on Zimbabwe’s hung parliament, endless constitutional and
Electoral Act amendments as well as self–serving global political agreement
(GPA) clauses on elections.
“The one compelling and irrefutable reason why a harmonised general election
must be held as soon as possible this year is that our country does not have
a fully representative, and properly functioning government… because there’s
no party in the House of Assembly with at least 105 seats out of 210
necessary to command the mandate to properly govern,” Moyo said.
“In any case, Article 21 of the GPA… endorsed the possibility of elections,
including by-elections, after 12 months of its implementation. Therefore,
only scoundrels will oppose the holding of a harmonised general election…
under the false cover of the GPA,” he added.
While Moyo’s calls for an early poll is a repudiation of his earlier view
that Zanu PF should not mistake its lopsided influence of the Constitutional
and Parliamentary Select Committe (Copac) process – with 80 percent of the
views going its way – for votes, Mugabe is also recanting a commitment not
to go it alone on the planned election.
Although several Zanu PF bigwigs have “barked up the election rhetoric”,
none have emboldened the octogenarian leader’s resolve than Moyo's “lucid
technical and political assessments or points" on the possibilities of
holding an election outside the GPA.
This, observers said, signalled the Tsholotsho North legislator’s return and
influence on Mugabe.
Since his old days in government, Moyo has always been an integral part of a
virulent core, including service chiefs, alienating and leading Mugabe
further astray with controversial policies such as chaotic polls, a
clampdown on the media and individual freedoms.
Taking a dig at Zuma’s roadmap proposition as a “whimsical rule of the
jungle”, Moyo said no elections in Zimbabwe will be set nor conducted on the
basis of such projects, which are “susceptible to all manner of foul play
and evil machinations”.
“This roadmap nonsense, which has been… mischievously associated with Sadc
and the regional body’s facilitator on Zimbabwe (Zuma), is totally
unacceptable not only because it is borrowed from a tired American concept…
that has failed in the Middle East, but also because it seeks to subvert our
national sovereignty enshrined in our Constitution and undermine the same
GPA,” he contemptuously said, adding the pact expressly vests the
responsibility to chose their leaders on Zimbabweans.
The roadmap is, among other things, aimed at defining the conduct and date
of the yet unclear election.
Calling the mainly Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations and other
political players pushing for wider reforms as “electoral cowards”, Moyo
said the fact that Zimbabwe’s coalition government was formed on the basis
of a GPA endorsed by three political parties means “the only roadmaps” for
an election are the GPA and the Zimbabwean constitution.
He said there was a “widespread, but mistaken belief” that the next election
must be held and timed by a new constitution – as dictated by the Copac –
yet there was nothing in the GPA to drive events as such.
Giving an insight into Zanu PF’s internal power dynamics – and ostensibly
hitting out at some factional enemies – Moyo said there were people keen on
manipulating the Copac process in their hopes to influence the timing and
outcome of the next general election.
“Surely, that very possible outcome (referendum rejection) would not in any
way foreclose the holding of national elections. This is why Zanu-PF has
been very clear that the case for holding a harmonised election this year
speaks for itself regardless of whether we would by then have a new
constitution,” he said.
“Given the stalling tactics… that Zimbabwe’s detractors are now playing
around the Copac process… nobody should be surprised if the next harmonised
election is held well before the referendum on a new draft constitution,”
Moyo averred, adding Copac can take “as much time as it needs”.
Emphasising his election imperative on the need to undo "an unworkable
inclusive government not so much about the awkward structure of the
executive, but composition of Parliament”, Moyo said insists there is no
legal or political case for Zimbabwe to have a new constitution first since
the “constitutional and legal framework for elections” is already in place,
and elections should be held "after the tenure of the GPA next month".
“Government is formed from parliament and the current one is dysfunctional
(because)… no party has the required threshold to form a proper, and fully
functioning government,” he said, adding the MDC splinter groups were also
using parliament to defend sanctions and call for their expansion.
Moyo also dismissed Morgan Tsvangirai and his trade union allies’ call for a
presidential poll only, saying the current constitutional dispensation not
only guaranteed Mugabe’s stay in power beyond the GPA, but all local
plebiscites were to be held on a harmonised basis.
by Edward Jones Tuesday 25 January 2011
HARARE – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has threatened to dissolve
parliament and call for elections if he reaches a stalemate with his
coalition partners, a warning to rivals that he still holds the upper hand
even after a unity government that curtailed some of his powers.
Mugabe, who turns 87 next month and is Africa’s oldest leader, said he could
revert to the old constitution, which gives him powers to dissolve
parliament if he failed to reach an agreement with Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai on when to hold elections.
The veteran leader was forced into an uneasy coalition with Tsvangirai after
disputed elections in 2008 and the two leaders and Welshman Ncube, who heads
a smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will review
the unity government and decide on when to hold elections.
Mugabe, who has previously said he was uncomfortable extending the life of
the coalition, has also accused the MDC of stalling on the new constitution
as a ploy to delay elections he wants to be held this year.
“I have the constitutional right – in the absence of the GPA position
regarding the constitutional process – to cause an election to be held on
the basis of the old constitution,” Mugabe said upon return from his annual
holiday in Singapore.
“If they (MDC) don’t want the constitutional process I will have parliament
dissolved and go to elections. That’s my constitutional right.”
Out of frustration with Mugabe’s failure to fully implement terms of their
2008 political agreement, Tsvangirai was first to demand elections this year
but only after the adoption of a new constitution and key political and
Mugabe, whose ZANU-PF party initially wanted the unity government to run for
five years, now wants the elections with or without a new constitution this
But South African President Jacob Zuma is in the process of crafting a road
map that should see Zimbabwe hold free and fair elections. Analysts say
elections will only be possible early next year.
Under Zuma’s roadmap, elections will follow a referendum on a new charter
and will also set milestones such as electoral reforms, the role of the
security sector and how to smoothly transfer power.
“The message from Mugabe is very simple. He is saying we will play this game
by my rules and that his demands will carry the day,” said Lovemore Madhuku,
who leads constitutional pressure group National Constitutional Assembly.
Analysts say while Mugabe appears belligerent and demanding elections this
year at all cost, he would listen to his Southern African Development
Community (SADC) counterparts who will likely counsel against a hasty vote.
Ostracised by the West over electoral violence and fraud and human rights
abuses for the last decade, Mugabe has banked on the solidarity and support
of African leaders, especially those in SADC.
Legislators in ZANU-PF and MDC have spoken against elections this year while
in private senior ZANU-PF officials say they would prefer elections when the
current term of parliament expires in 2013.
Political analysts say ZANU-PF believes the MDC is weaker than it was in
2008 when it ended the former liberation movement’s parliamentary majority
and is buoyed by its performance during the constitutional outreach process
where its view dominated.
But the analysts warned against under estimating the MDC, drawing parallels
with Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo who called an election he was confident of
winning but lost and now refuses to give up power.
Zimbabwe has held no less than six major elections since 2000, which have
all ended in dispute and which analysts say worsened the country’s economic
The economy has, however, started to recover and is expected to grow by up
to 15 percent this year, according to Finance Minister Tendai Biti. --
by Irene Madongo
25 January 2011
The Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) is allegedly
embroiled in a new crisis, with a source saying that the main computer
server has been hacked into and important details changed and ‘distorted’.
The information on the server contains the views of Zimbabweans across the
country about what they’d like to see in a new constitution.
This month in Harare COPAC teams began uploading the information gathered
during the countrywide outreach meetings, so that it can be ready for
analysis. COPAC said the process would take two weeks, but this latest set
back might delay it.
On Tuesday SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said COPAC
discovered that the data had been ‘distorted’ on Sunday morning but was
trying not to divulge this latest problem for fear it would disrupt
“The server administrator indicated that there was a problem with the
server: information which had been uploaded onto the server was mixed up.
For instance, you would get information coming from Murhewa appearing at a
centre in Bulawayo.”
Muchemwa said that within COPAC it’s believed that ZANU PF is behind the
hacking of the data to make sure it reflects the party’s views, or
completely distorts the information so that it is not credible.
“Centres which had information which was not actually linking with the
interests of ZANU PF, the information was changed and in some instances it
was deleted,” Muchemwa said.
It’s been reported that information from 3,600 out of about 4,600 centres
has been uploaded, and that last week a ZANU PF COPAC official was overheard
saying this information so far is not favourable towards their party.
“This came as a surprise to so many people who heard that information
because they had lied to President Mugabe,” Muchemwa said. “He believed that
the information which had been gathered throughout the whole country was
favourable to ZANU PF, especially on the issue of land and resources.”
“But now they are discovering that the survey they (ZANU PF) carried out was
misleading for President Mugabe, and they believe within COPAC itself that
some elements in ZANU PF could have tampered with the server so that at
least the whole process will be rendered null and void,” Muchemwa added.
On Tuesday COPAC co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora confirmed that some data has
gone missing. “Some of the information in the server is missing. The
technicians have attributed this to the system failure. What we were doing
is to make sure that the teams authenticate the information that they
recovered,” Mwonzora said.
It has also been reported that 70 COPAC technicians were fired because of
this security breach, but Mwonzora has denied this.
COPAC has already faced many problems and has been heavily criticised. Its
outreach programmes were marred by numerous incidents of violent attacks on
civilians and MDC supporters, by ZANU PF militants and war vets. COPAC has
also been accused of poor management of funds, with its rapporteurs going
unpaid and some being evicted from hotels because bills had not been paid.
HARARE, January 25, 2011- Suspected operatives of the spy agency, the
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) have been accused of infiltrating
the Constitution Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) data uploading process with
the aim of altering the views gathered from ordinary people during outreach
Highly placed sources within the technicians uploading COPAC data said the
CIO operatives were altering information to suite the views which Zanu (PF)
wanted included in the new constitution.
“What Zanu (PF) thought was going to be the outcome of the information
gathering from all the country’s regions is not what is coming out and this
has not gone down well with them.
The issues of a 99 -year leases on land, Presidential powers and death
penalty to those found guilty of inviting sanctions are not seeing the light
of day in the current data uploading hence the attempts to alter the
information by these guys whom we are working with, “said the sources.
They further stated that there was a likely interruption of the process by
Zanu (PF) as a result of this.
“The recent statement by President Robert Mugabe is a clear indication of
that Zanu (PF) no longer wants the constitution process to be
completed.Their operatives in the process have altered them of this
development which is going to weaken them, “added the sources.
Contacted for comment COPAC spokesperson Jessie Majome could neither deny
nor confirm the allegations.
“There has always been suspicion on from all political parties from the
onset of constitution making process and we can not rule that out. As you
know there might be people who may want to score their political goals in
this process. However we are monitoring the process and will always be on
guard, “she told Radio Vop.
Majome explained that the data uploading teams were hard to prevent those
trying to temper with the data collected from outreach programmes.Last week
one of the data uploading personnel was dismissed from the process after he
attempted to smuggle a laptop from the place where they were working. The
case has since been reported to the police.
Meanwhile COPAC announced that it has completed its data uploading ahead of
Tuesday deadline.The Copac data uploading process which began two weeks ago
experienced some technical challenges during the premature stages as well as
hiccups which were caused by the withdrawal of rappotuers by the MDC faction
led by Welshman Ncube.
There had been fears that the upload process was going to miss its January
Ronald Mureverwi, spokesman for the nongovernmental organization Restoration
of Human Rights Zimbabwe, said increased violence in cities signals a change
in the culture of violence
Patience Rusere & Tatenda Gumbo | Washington 24 January 2011
About 200 members of the Movement for Democratic Change of Zimbabwean Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai sought refuge Monday at the party’s Harare
headquarters alleging that ZANU-PF youth were hunting them in the capital's
The development followed violence this weekend in Mbare and Budiriro where
members of the MDC said ZANU-PF youth backed by police and soldiers
Tsvangirai MDC Harare Province Secretary Tsaurai Marima told Patience Rusere
that the situation in the Harare suburb is tense and violence is likely to
Human rights activists surveying the violence said this and other incidents
are of concern because such clashes, usually rural-based, are moving into
Ronald Mureverwi, spokesman for the nongovernmental organization Restoration
of Human Rights Zimbabwe, said increased violence in cities signals a change
in the culture of violence. He said human rights organizations have long
been urging the coalition government to restructure security agencies in
Elsewhere on Monday, 19 members of the Tsvangirai MDC arrested during Sunday’s
skirmishes in Mbare for allegedly committing public violence were denied
bail and remanded to custody in Harare magistrates court.
Another 14 other MDC supporters from Budiriro, facing the same charges, were
fined US$20 apiece and released.
25 January 2011
POLICE DETAIN, CHARGE JUVENILES OVER MBARE VIOLENCE
Three juveniles are among 19 Mbare residents, who were arrested at the weekend and charged with engaging in public violence.
The three juveniles, Edwin Machokoto aged 16 years, Garikai Zuze aged 17 years and Thomas Tasara aged 17 years, who all reside at Nenyere and Matapi Flats in the high density suburb of Mbare and who were brought to Mbare Magistrates Court on Tuesday 25 January 2011 were arrested on Saturday 22 January 2011 at the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) offices in the volatile suburb, where they had sought refuge following attacks by some ZANU PF supporters.
The police charged the 19 residents with contravening Section 36 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 by engaging in public violence.
The police alleged that the Mbare residents attacked some ZANU PF youths with stones and also threw stones at the police after clashing with some ZANU PF supporters in the suburb.
The police claim that the ZANU PF youths who numbered 15 were attacked while on their way to the residence of their provincial youth chairperson identified as Jim Kunaka who had raised a request for protection after being informed that MDC youths were planning to attack him or his house, a charge which was denied by the residents’ lawyer Marufu Mandevere of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners.
Magistrate Rebecca Kaviya released Thomas Tasara in the custody of his guardian while Machokoto and Zuze could not be released as their parents or guardians were not in court.
Mandevere, who is a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed an application for the release of the sixteen residents on bail which was opposed by State prosecutor Emmanuel Chipanda. The bail application will resume on Wednesday 26 January 2011 before Magistrate Kaviya.
By Midlands Correspondent
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 13:55
GWERU - Two members of the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) were
sentenced to five and half years each on charges of impersonating,
kidnapping and assault when they appeared before Gweru magistrate Phathekile
Tawanda Zambuko (24) of Kuwadzana extension, Harare and Lovemore Mavedzenge
(31) of Zengeza 4 Chitungwiza, both members of the CIO employed at Chaminuka
building, 4th Street in Harare were facing charges of impersonating public
officials as defined in Section 17 (a) (1) of the criminal codification and
reform Act Chapter 9:23, kidnapping and unlawful detention as defined in
Section 93 (1) (a) of the Criminal law Codification Act and Reform Act
Chapter 9:23 and Assault as defined in Section 89 (1) (a) (b) of the
Criminal law Codification and Reform Act.
Zambuko was sentenced for the three counts but Mavedzenge was slapped for
the assault charge only. For impersonating Zambuko got one and half years,
of which three months were suspended for five years, kidnapping three years
for which six months were suspended and assault 12 months for which three
months were suspended.
Appearing for the state Bonwell Balamanja said it is the state’s case that
sometime in September 2009, Julius Mazhunga who resides in Mvuma reported
stock theft CR 4/12/09.
Mazhunga’s relative, Bright Ndaba approached Zambuko, a CIO detail, to deal
with the people involved in the investigations of stock thef.
A suspect, Gilbert Bhebhe had an altercation with Mazhunga over the stolen
beasts. They sought the help of a veterinary doctor, Dr Munyaradzi Chigiji
to conduct DNA tests on the beasts to ascertain their rightful owner.
On 26 June last year, Zambuko teamed up with his workmate, Maendenge and
drove in Ndaba’s vehicle, a Toyota Mark II, registration number ABF 745 from
Harare to Gweru. They approached the complainant, Chigiji at Nice Time
Supermarket where one or both of them unlawfully impersonated members of the
Ant-Corruption Commission to Chigiji for the purpose of gaining advantage.
They said they wanted the complainant to meet another stock theft suspect,
one Bhebhe in Harare since they felt that he was delaying the release of the
DNA results and part of the stocktheft syndicate.
On the same day, 26 June 2010 and between Harare and Gweru Zambuko and
mavedzenge or one or both of them unlawfully deprived Chigiji, an adult of
his freedom of bodily movement.
They drove the complainant against his wish and took turns to assault him
with a broomstick and electric prodder before they dumped him along the
Harare-Gweru highway after indicating that they wanted US$500 ransom.
A report was made to the police leading to the duo’s arrest.
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe — The exhibit at the National Gallery is now a crime scene, the artwork banned and the artist charged with insulting President Robert Mugabe. The picture windows that showcased graphic depictions of atrocities committed in the early years of Mr. Mugabe’s 30-year-long rule are now papered over with the yellowing pages of a state-controlled newspaper.
“You can suppress art exhibits, plays and books, but you cannot remove the Gukurahundi from people’s hearts,” said Pathisa Nyathi, a historian here. “It is indelible.”
As Zimbabwe heads anxiously toward another election season, a recent survey by Afrobarometer has found that 70 percent of Zimbabweans are afraid they will be victims of political violence or intimidation, as thousands were in the 2008 elections. But an equal proportion want the voting to go forward this year nonetheless, evidence of their deep desire for democracy and the willingness of many to vote against Mr. Mugabe at great personal risk, analysts say.
In few places do such sentiments about violence in public life run as deep as here, and in recent months the government — whether through missteps or deliberate provocation — has rubbed them ever more raw.
Before the World Cup in South Africa in June, a minister in Mr. Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, invited the North Korean soccer team, on behalf of Zimbabwe’s tourism authority, to base itself in Bulawayo before the games began, a gesture that roused a ferocious outcry. After all, it was North Korea that trained and equipped the infamous Fifth Brigade, which historians estimate killed at least 10,000 civilians in the Ndebele minority between 1983 and 1987.
“To us it opened very old wounds,” Thabitha Khumalo, a member of Parliament, said of the attempt to bring the North Korean team to the Ndebele heartland. “We’re being reminded of the most horrible pain. How dare they? Our loved ones are still buried in pit latrines, mine shafts and shallow graves.”
Ms. Khumalo, interviewed while the invitation was still pending last year, wept as she summoned memories of the day that destroyed her family — Feb. 12, 1983.
She was 12 years old. She said soldiers from the Fifth Brigade, wearing jaunty red berets, came to her village and lined up her family. One soldier slit open her pregnant aunt’s belly with a bayonet and yanked out the baby. She said her grandmother was forced to pound the fetus to a pulp in a mortar and pestle. Her father was made to rape his mother. Her uncles were shot point blank.
Such searing memories stoked protests, and in the end the North Korean team did not come to Zimbabwe. But feelings were further inflamed months later when the government erected a larger-than-life bronze statue of Joshua Nkomo — a liberation hero, an Ndebele and a rival to Mr. Mugabe — that, incredibly, was made in North Korea.
Last September, bowing to public outcry over the statue’s origin (and protests from Mr. Nkomo’s family that its plinth was too small), the statue was removed from a major intersection in Bulawayo. It now stands neglected in a weedy lot behind the Natural History Museum here.
Inside the museum hangs a portrait of a vigorous and dapper Mr. Mugabe in oversize glasses. He turns 87 next month. A massive stuffed crocodile, his family’s clan totem, dominates one gallery, its teeth long and sharp, its mouth agape. The signboard notes the crocodile’s lifespan exceeds 80 years.
Mr. Mugabe signed a pact with North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung, to train the infamous army brigade just months after Zimbabwe gained independence from white minority rule in 1980. Mr. Mugabe declared the brigade would be named “Gukurahundi” (pronounced guh-kura-HUN-di), which means “the rain that washes away the chaff before the spring rains.” He said it was needed to quell violent internal dissent, but historians say he used it to attack Mr. Nkomo’s political base and to impose one-party rule.
Mr. Mugabe’s press secretary, George Charamba, said the president had called the Gukurahundi “a moment of madness,” but asked whether Mr. Mugabe had apologized for the campaign, Mr. Charamba bristled.
“You can’t call it a moment of madness without critiquing your own past,” he said. “I hope people are not looking to humiliate the president. I hope they’re just looking at allowing him to get by healing this nation. For us, that is uppermost. Our sense of embitterment, our sense of recompense may not be exactly what you saw at Nuremburg.”
Downtown Bulawayo has the sleepy rhythms of a farm town, but the psychic wounds of the Gukurahundi fester beneath its placid surface. At the National Gallery here, the stately staircase leading to the shuttered Gukurahundi exhibit is now blocked by a sign that says “No Entry.” But the paintings, on walls saturated with blood-red paint, can still be glimpsed from the gallery above, through the bars of balconies. The paintings themselves seem to be jailed.
Voti Thebe, who heads the National Gallery, said the artist, Owen Maseko, created the Gukurahundi exhibit to contribute to reconciliation. There was no money, so Mr. Maseko, 35, did it on his own time. He was just a boy at the time of the Gukurahundi, but he recalls the sounds of hovering helicopters and sirens.
“The memories are still there,” he said. “The victims are still alive. It’s not something we can just forget.”
In a large painting, a row of faces are shown with mouths open in wordless screams. In another, women and children weep what seem to be tears of blood. Three papier-mâché corpses, one hanging upside down, fill a picture window. Throughout the galleries are recurrent, menacing images of a man in oversize glasses — Mr. Mugabe.
The day after the exhibit opened last year, it was closed down. Mr. Maseko was detained, then transferred to prison in leg irons before being released on bail. Mr. Maseko’s case awaits the Supreme Court’s attention. He is charged with insulting the president and communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state, a charge punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
David Coltart, a politician from Bulawayo who is arts minister in the power-sharing government of ZANU-PF and its political rivals, said he warned cabinet ministers that prosecuting Mr. Maseko could turn the case into a cause célèbre and inflame divisions. Mr. Coltart, who has long fought the Mugabe government, said he also appealed directly to Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was security minister during the Gukurahundi.
“It is only when nations grapple with their past, in its reality, not as a biased fiction, that they can start to deal with that past,” Mr. Coltart said in a lecture delivered above Mr. Maseko’s show. He called the Gukurahundi “a politicide, if not a genocide.”
The Bulawayo playwright Cont Mhlanga knows the costs of free expression. His play “The Good President” was shut down on opening night here in 2007 when baton-wielding riot police officers stormed the theater.
The lead character is a grandmother who lies to her two grandsons about the death of their father. He had been buried alive in the Gukurahundi. But the boys, ignorant of the truth, become beneficiaries of the Mugabe government, one of them an abusive policeman, the other a recipient of seized farmland. The play’s title refers, Mr. Mhlanga said, to African leaders who call Mr. Mugabe a good president, “this man who has blood on his hands.”
Mr. Mhlanga says he feels “like someone has put huge pieces of tape over my mouth,” but insists that artists must express what people are terrified of saying.
“We live in a society where we’re so afraid, even of our own shadows,” he said. “To create democratic space in a society like ours, we have to deal with fear.”
Jan 25, 2011, 9:22 GMT
Harare - Seven of Zimbabwe's critically endangered black rhinoceros
population have been killed by poachers in the past fortnight as demand for
its horn has soared, wildlife conservation officials said Tuesday.
Zimbabwe's black rhino population has declined from 7,000 in the 1980s to
less than 200 today, according to the private Zimbabwe Conservation Task
Force that helps raise funds for rhino preservation.
Vitalis Chadenga, director of the state Parks and Wildlife Management
Authority, was quoted in the daily Herald newspaper as saying five of the
rhino were shot in the Matopos national park in the south-west and two were
killed in a private game sanctuary in the Chiredzi district in the
south-east of Zimbabwe.
The official said poachers were adopting more sophisticated killing
techniques, operating with high powered rifles fitted with silencers and
night sights to poach animals in the dark.
Rhino horn is made up of keratin, the main component of human hair and
toenails, but anti-smuggling agencies say in the Far East it is invested
with mythical powers as an aphrodisiac and, more recently, as a cancer cure.
25 January, 2011 10:24:00 By
SO he's back, and fighting fit, and never went near a hospital. "We were
just resting," said President Robert Mugabe on his return from Singapore.
The speculation - rampant in Harare and backed up by several well-placed
sources - was that the 86-year-old had rushed back to Asia for a prostate
operation, prompting a frenzy of succession plotting among the feuding
factions of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF.
"Nocturnal meetings, wheeler dealings - real fun and games. It's a very
unstable land," one senior political insider told me.
Of course this sort of death-bed conjecture is probably as pointless as it
is morbid and all fingers pointing to internal Zanu PF power struggles.
The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal that a senior Zanu PF official constantly gave
us updates on President Mugabe’s health and also speculated that he would
come back home declaring himself as fit and in front of State media and
crawl back into bed, away from the public glare.
A heavily sedated Robert Mugabe is now believed to be under 24 hour medical
surveillance by a team of Malaysian Medical doctors housed at Phillip
Chiyangwa’s (his nephew) house, a stone throw from his mansion.
Of course, Zimbabweans don't know what to believe anymore about their
devious President who spent his early years in office claiming that his
testicles and manhood had been cut off in torture camps by his predecessor
Ian Smith. Mugabe claimed he would never bear any kids, and only to make his
secretary pregnant and they have three children.
Depending on whom you ask, Mr Mugabe is either in perfect health, "declining
steadily," or "unlikely to bounce back."
The only diagnoses that almost everyone agrees on are that the president
takes fastidious care of himself, and that he will cling to power until his
And yet the plotting appears to be real. The lack of a clear successor to Mr
Mugabe is a major headache for Zanu-PF.
The man to beat is Emmerson Mnangagwa - a hardliner with plenty of clout.
Vice-President Joyce Mujuru is also well placed.
Then there are maybe half a dozen others, including Saviour Kasukuwere -
"the second scariest man in Zimbabwe", according to one of his most
Intriguingly, although some western diplomats worry that the rules of
succession may be murky enough to fuel instability or at least give plotters
some extra wiggle-room. It looks as though the former opposition MDC may
actually end up playing kingmaker in a parliamentary electoral college
charged with finding a Zanu-PF replacement to complete Mr Mugabe's term.
In that case, a senior MDC source tells me, Joyce Mujuru would probably end
up with the presidency on the basis that she is "the better of the devils."
Not that the MDC is relishing the idea of President Mugabe's abrupt exit.
There are real fears that it could trigger a new clampdown by Zanu-PF
hardliners, forcing the party's leadership to bolt to neighbouring Botswana
"like lightning" - at least in the short-term.
And there are other - probably more pressing - reasons for the MDC to be
worried. The movement's secretary general, Tendai Biti has issued a warning
on the elections.
So was the former opposition party right to cut a power-sharing deal with
Zanu-PF back in 2008 in the first place?
The optimists point to Zimbabwe's economic recovery, and to the possibility
that free and fair elections can still be held.
The realists argue that at least the MDC has had a chance to catch its
breath, lick its wounds, and get some hands-on experience of government.
But the pessimists - and in Zimbabwe that's a big group - fear that Zanu-PF
is many years away from even countenancing the possibility of relinquishing
power, with or without Mr Mugabe at the helm.
They worry about the MDC's ability to withstand another onslaught from the
security forces, especially given that Prime Minister Tsvangirai appears,
according to some, to be dwindling into little more than a golf-playing
figurehead for the movement. – Plus BBC
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The World Health Organisation said Tuesday that at
least 71 suspected cholera cases were reported in four Zimbabwean districts
during the first week of 2011, bringing the cumulative tally to more than
1,000 since the outbreak started 13 months ago.
The WHO said in an epidemiological report published jointly with Zimbabwe’s
Health Ministry that the largest number of suspected cases was in the
eastern border city of Mutare where at least 30 people were treated for the
Situated on the border with Mozambique, Mutare is the provincial town for
hundreds of illegal diamond miners extracting diamonds at the controversial
A further 19 cases were reported in President Robert Mugabe’s Zvimba home
town, according to WHO.
Other areas affected were Buhera with 13 suspected cases and Bikita in the
south of the country which recorded nine cases.
The new cases bring the cumulative total to 1,032, with 22 deaths reported
since February 2010 when the outbreak was first reported.
The cholera outbreak has been blamed on the lack of clean water supply and
poor sanitation in the affected areas.
By Staff Reporter
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 10:30
HARARE - Zimbabwe will hold its inaugural Research and Intellectual Expo
(RIE) in Harare from the 16th to the 18th of February.
Briefing journalists in the capital Thursday, Herbert Chimhundu, explained
that the Expo will bring together Zimbabwe’s scholars, including scientists,
doctors, lawyers, social researchers, cultural practitioners and political
“There will be presentations of papers by experts and exhibitions by higher
and tertiary education institutions and we have also invited Zimbabweans
living in the Diaspora to take part in the Expo,” said Chimhundu, who chairs
the marketing and publicity sub-committee.
He said the theme of the three day event is: Leadership in research and
intellectual excellence in Zimbabwe: past, present and the future.
“We want to unpack our people’s knowledge because we believe Zimbabwe is
endowed with a wealth of knowledge and skills that is why our people have
found jobs in most parts of the world,” said Chimhundu.
The Expo is expected to highlight the achievements, relevance and
contributions made by Zimbabwe’s higher learning and tertiary institutions
and by ordinary citizens both at home and in the Disapora.
The Expo will be an annual event and in future, the organisers hope to work
closely with similar organisations outside the country.
The idea of the Expo was conceptualised in July 2009 by Higher and Tertiary
Education minister Stan Mudenge, who then appointed a special committee to
spearhead its activities.
Christopher Chetsanga, chairman of the Zimbabwe Council for Higher
Education, also chairs the committee.
Other specialists and academics on the panel, include Nqwabi Bhebhe and
CHIEF MASIMBA BIRIWASHA | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Jan 25 2011 12:41
Rufaro Mataka (28) a resident of Glendale -- an outpost 50km northeast of
Zimbabwe's capital city -- said he was horrified when he woke up one morning
last week to find both water and electricity supplies in his neighbourhood
cut off without any notice.
Across the country, two years of a tenuous power sharing arrangement have
done little to halt rampant water and electricity cuts which have become
almost a daily staple, destroying people's electronic gadgets and strangling
industry's capacity to contribute to a recovery.
Mataka said he was forced to go to work without taking a bath and wearing
creased clothes only to be told transport fares had suddenly gone up by
100%. Apparently the scarcity of fuel on the local market during the past
week forced commuter omnibus operators to unilaterally hike fares much to
the dismay of commuters.
When incumbent President Robert Mugabe signed a power sharing agreement with
arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai, and Arthur Mutambara two years ago,
hyperinflation was estimated at 6,5 quindecillion novemdecillion percent, or
6,5 followed by 107 zeros.
Many Zimbabweans heaved a sigh of relief as the political agreement appeared
to be the only way out of the country's decade-long downward socio-economic
and political spiral. However, two years later, the situation on the ground
is doing little to inspire confidence in the country's recovery.
"Nothing has changed in this country. We are still suffering. It's all
dog-eat-dog in Zimbabwe. All the talk about political stabilisation is much
ado about nothing," said Mataka, puckering up his lips.
Cost of living rises
According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), the cost of living has
shot up in recent months and is now close to the $500 mark, far below the
paltry $150 basic monthly salary. In spite of the projected five% inflation
rate, prices of basic commodities go up on a monthly basis.
"The cost of living has gone up to $499,96 for a family of five. The food
basket has gone up to $144,19 from $142,77 in December, 2010. The items that
went up include tea leaves, bread, fresh milk, and fuel," said a CCZ
The dollarisation of the Zimbabwean economy which followed the political
agreement, negotiated at the behest of then South Africa president Thabo
Mbeki, brought some form of stability and supermarkets that had gone for
months with empty shelves managed to stack up basic commodities imported
mainly from South Africa.
While the dollarisation brought some relief, finding the greenbacks
continues to be a daily, heart-rending struggle for most Zimbabweans.
To complicate matters, Zimbabwe's industry is still struggling to find its
feet, reporting an average of 47% capacity utilisation by end of 2010.
Zimbabwe currently relies on imports, mainly from South Africa and China
that drain the little foreign currency in the country. Prices of imported
goods are marked up now and again, putting a strain on the already
hard-pressed wallets of Zimbabweans.
"Everyone is saying things have gotten better here but the truth is that as
long as the economy is not yet fully working, we are going to continue to
have loads of problems," said Mataka.
Just like Mataka, many Zimbabweans interviewed expressed a lack of
confidence in the way the country's economy has played out in the past two
"Our primitive politics is affecting every facet of our economy. There are
coalition governments the world over made up of politicians from opposed
backgrounds but these governments deliver," said Cyril Zenda, a journalist
working in Harare.
"The problem with our politics is that people do not get in there because
they have anything to offer but because they want to get something -- if not
everything -- out of it, which explains the corruption, greediness and all
the ungodly things that are causing lot of uncertainty in the economy.
Otherwise without these, we could be seeing the economy getting out of the
To complicate the picture, name-calling, hate speech and acerbic rhetoric
emanating from the country's political principals have been on the rise in
recent months amid talk of a possible election sometime later this year.
"Everything seems to point to a violent election," the New York Times quoted
Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist and pollster.
Zimbabwe's Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, recently warned that the country
could face a "bloodbath" at elections and warned of "disastrous,
debilitating consequences" if there is a repeat of the violent, contested
elections of 2008.
"I think the past 10 years have left quite a big dent on the disposition of
the country. There is a lot of mediocrity in this country. I am shelving my
plans to come back home," said Brian Zulu, one of the millions of
Zimbabweans who fled their country to seek greener pastures in the United
"Our position as a country is one that is unfortunate. However, the blame
lies squarely on our shoulders as citizens. We entrusted our future into the
hands con-men, looters, thieves, murderers and heartless wolves. The results
are horrible, as a country we have moved 100 years back, economically we are
back to hunting and gathering," said Job Wiwa Sikhala, leader of the little
known MDC99 opposition political party in Zimbabwe.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
From Elias Chipepo
ZAMBIA says it will lodge in a formal complaint over Zimbabwe Under-23
soccer squad use of four over-aged players during the 2011 All-Africa Games
(AAG) qualifiers that saw the Young Warriors advancing to the next stage,
winning 4-3 on aggregate.
And Zambia under-23 coach Lucky Msiska said here that it was unfortunate
that his team had failed to surge to the next round of the September
Pan-African games qualifiers after drawing 1-1.
Team manager, Jeff Chipilingu said Zambia played the Sunday match under
protest as Zimbabwe used over-aged players in a tournament meant for players
under the age of 23.
He said that the matter was discussed during the pre-match meeting where the
Zambian delegation expressed their concerns on the use of some players by
their hosts and made it clear that the team would play the match under
“We shall as within the stipulated time frame of 48 hours lodge in an appeal
with the organisers because it is not right to cheat in these competitions.
Four over-aged players played in the match and helped them win,” he said.
Msiska conceeded that the game was lost in the first leg where his team were
beaten 2-3 on home soil, but expressed happiness that the squad had improved
on the performance which he said would help him build on for the London 2012
Olympic Games qualifiers.
“We have a good promising squad that we need to build on. Yes we lost at the
weekend but that does not mean the end of the world because that is football
where you win and lose some,” Msiska said.
He said the door was open to fuse in other players and expressed hope that
some foreign-based players would be available for the qualifiers and
commended the local players for putting up a good show away from home.
Zimbabwean coach, Friday Phiri said his team won the match in Lusaka and
deserved to qualify for the next stage to play the winner of the Swaziland
and Botswana encounter.
Phiri said Zambia was a good side and had always been superior in football
and it had potential to do well in the Olympics qualifiers.
“Football is a funny game and you saw that my team played well in the first
half but lost momentum while Zambia came into the second half strongest but
again the first leg for was the decider,” Phiri said.
Zambia Voluntary Soccer Fans Association (ZAVOSOFA) patron Peter Makembo
said Zambia should not lose heart as the team played well but the first leg
defeat in Lusaka worked against them at the Rufaro Stadium.
Makembo, who led a group of fans from both within Zimbabwe and from Zambia,
said it would be important for the team to get necessary preparations to
keep the London 2012 Games' hopes alive.
Meanwhile, Zambian High Commissioner in Zimbabwe Sipula Kabanje has urged
the Under-23 soccer team to play their future matches with passion, saying
the team would have beaten their neighbours in their qualifier match had the
team played with passion.
And FAZ vice-president Boniface Mwamelo challenged the team to put the
failure to qualify for the Maputo Games behind them and ensure that they
started looking to qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Addressing the players at his residence where he hosted the team for dinner,
Kabanje said he was impressed with the team's performances, especially in
the second half but was sad that Zambia failed to beat Zimbabwe and sail
through to the next round.
Kabanje told the players to maximise the potential given to them by God but
expressed worry that the element of playing with a passion was missing in
the team, adding that Zimbabwe played with passion and that was why they won
the two-legged qualifiers.
And Mwamelo said the FAZ felt encouraged by the gesture to invite the team
even after bowing out of the qualifiers.
He said the players would immediately start preparations for the Olympic
qualifiers with the first match billed for March 27 against Rwanda and
expressed confidence that the team, which was being seen as the squad to
play at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, would do wonders.
Mwamelo said there was need to instill the aspect of playing with a passion
and the players should realise that they were representing the millions of
Zambians who were expecting results.
“There is need for the team to redeem themselves, especially for the
ambassador who had seen us lose the Cosafa title last year and now we failed
to beat Zimbabwe again. The challenge is for the team to redeem themselves
in the upcoming matches,” he said.
Mwamelo urged the players to play their lungs out so that Zambians,
especially those with the embassy in Zimbabwe could walk with their heads
high but that would only happen if players exhibited the patriotism soldiers
showed when at the battlefield.
Delegation leader Marsha Chilemena paid tribute to the embassy and the
Zimbabwe Football Association for the support rendered to the team from the
time of arrival until departure yesterday for Zambia.
Chilemena said it was sad that Zambia failed to qualify but said the players
had learnt valuable lessons which should help them play well in the upcoming
fixtures, saying the coaching bench had set up a promising side to deliver
results for Zambia.
By Francis Harawa
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 14:21
HARARE - Elephants, they say, have jumbo-size memories, but a recent
documentary got me deeply worried.
It is the story of elephants that sought revenge in South Africa and the two
neighbouring East African countries of Kenya, and Uganda.
Wildlife experts in the three countries puzzled over the rogue elephants’
behaviour until they dug into the past to find the causes of the strange
behaviour – they had been traumatised by violence.
Elephants were first introduced to South Africa’s Pilanesburg game park in
1974 from the Kruger National Game Park as part of a culling exercise meant
to preserve the park’s environment.
Since it was not possible to relocate the grown-up three-ton elephants, it
was decided to transport only baby jumbos to the new park. But before being
moved, the young elephants were tied to their slain parents whose bodies
were cut up for meat.
Eighteen years later, game rangers in the Pilanesburg game sanctuary began
to notice rhinos that had been gored. As they puzzled over who the culprits
were, the rhino body count mounted and soon hit 84.
Pictures shot by some tourists and “fingerprints, “ or, more precisely,
footprints at the “crime scenes” pointed to young elephant bulls that had
come into musk (mating season). This was still a mystery to game rangers
since elephants normally came to musk in their twenties. The Pilanesburg
elephants had come into musk much earlier.
The game rangers found the young bulls had been killing the rhinos after
they had spurned their mating overtures. Again this was strange. Why would
an elephant want to mate with a rhino?
In 1974, the Kenyan, government created the Amboseli National Game Park
adjacent to Masaai land, a decision which incensed the tribesmen who felt
elephants were getting preferential treatment over their concerns.
To get back at the government, the Masaai speared the jumbos and their
calves. Two decades later, female elephants “rose up in arms,” so to speak,
and started killing Masaai cattle by the dozen, in revenge.
To the Masaai cattle are everything: they use them to pay the bride price,
they provide milk, meat and their blood is drunk when slaughtered.
So, the Amboseli female elephants hit the Masaai where it hurt most – their
In neighbouring Uganda, in 1971, Idi Amin overthrew the government of Milton
Obote in a putsch while he was attending a Commonwealth summit.
Amin’s soldiers went on a rampage, killing elephants for their tusks and
feeding the meat to soldiers, sparing only the elephant calves.
At the same time as the elephants in Kenya and South Africa were exacting
their revenge, the elephants in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Game
Park -- the grown up calves from the Idi Amin era – begun killing villagers,
apparently in revenge for their massacred parents.
The elephants would attack villagers coming from their fields, trample them
to death and then cover them with tree branches, then guard the dead bodies,
preventing relatives from taking the bodies for burial.
The behaviour of the elephants prompted widespread consultations among game
experts from the three countries who roped in American psychologists to
explain the phenomenon.
It was felt that because the calves had been traumatised in their early
years, they had suffered psychologically and their behaviour was diagnosed
as post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd).
The psychologists were quick to point out that elephants, like humans, were
social animals and are traumatised when their social structures are
They noted that since humans had disrupted the elephants social structures,
the calves had grown up without parental guidance and had turned into
delinquents. They also said elephants, like human, respected their dead.
Elephants always touch the bones of their departed kith and kin every time
they pass where their kith and kin lie.
But, just how does one treat elephants of pstd, a process that requires
In the case of Kenya, the game rangers had to negotiate for “peace” with
theelephants and the Masaai, giving tribesmen a cut of the proceeds from
tourism if they did not attack the jumbos.
In Pilanesburg, the game ranger, now armed with new equipment, had to ferry
grown up elephants (madhara acho) from the Kruger game park to teach the
youngsters how to approach ladies (simbi dzacho).
Game rangers had to find solutions to heal jumbo wounds from the past caused
by violence, in the case of Uganda, political violence.
These stories had me worried because politicians don’t seem to take the
national healing process seriously. If elephants can decide to take revenge
over past wrongs, what more with human beings?
When Kung Fu films first became popular in Zimbabwe in the 90s, people used
to joke about the storylines. They all seemed to have the same introduction:
“Your great, great, great grandfather killed my great, great, great
grandfather, so let’s fight.” No more words were spoken until one of the
wronged party had fulfilled its mission -- revenge.
None of us want our great, great, great grandchildren to be fighting over
the violence that has happened this decade.
National healing is a serious matter. Let’s take it seriously.