By Lance Guma
11 May 2011
Inter-party negotiators from Zimbabwe are reported to have struck an
agreement in South Africa to set up an independent commission of inquiry
into the role of the army in the abduction, torture and murder of civilians.
A report by the Daily News newspaper says the agreement reached by the
MDC-T, MDC-N and ZANU PF negotiators in Cape Town is “intended to pave the
way for much-needed security sector reforms.” The paper says the negotiators
also agreed to come up with recommendations for the de-militarisation of
A source quoted by the Daily News confirmed they had made a ‘breakthrough’
and the parties had agreed that they “set up an independent three-man
commission of inquiry to investigate and compile a report detailing all
forms of violations including violence, torture of civilians and abductions
by members of the security forces."
Questions were immediately raised as to why a commission of inquiry was
necessary to investigate crimes already well documented by dozens of human
rights groups. Worryingly the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee
(JOMIC), a toothless body created to oversee implementation and breaches of
the 2008 power sharing deal, will be involved in setting up the commission.
But ZANU PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa seemed to be casting doubt on
whether agreement had indeed been reached on the commission. “I know where
that information came from. It is the position of the MDC-T. We are going to
meet to produce the report on our deliberations. It can’t be this week
because some negotiators are committed,” he was quoted as saying.
Under the 2008 power sharing deal an Organ on National Healing and
Reconciliation, jointly led by three ministers from the three main political
parties, was set up to drive a healing agenda. But ZANU PF’s impunity
ensured the body accomplished nothing. The same fate befell JOMIC, who at
one time did not even have an office or a budget.
A commentator who refused to be named told SW Radio Africa; “Investigating
abuses by the military as is being suggested might sound noble, but what is
the point if you still have the same soldiers deployed around the country,
especially in rural communities and committing the same abuses?”
Other observers have noted that an investigation commission is also a useful
Just as we reported yesterday, there is infighting between two camps in ZANU
PF. One camp led by Defence Minister Mnangagwa is pushing for an early
national election, having overseen the deployment of soldiers, CIO’s and
youth militia around the country to intimidate the electorate. The group
will find it difficult to politically and economically sustain this
deployment if elections are delayed.
The other camp in ZANU PF, led by chief power broker and retired army
general Solomon Mujuru, is made up of what is loosely described as
moderates. This group we are told is more business-oriented and willing to
negotiate with the MDC and postpone elections, as long as their ability to
plunder the country is not affected.
By Tichaona Sibanda
11 May 2011
The former ruling ZANU PF party has been sharply criticized for stalling the
constitution making process by making a u-turn on a proposed method to
analyze views gathered during the outreach program.
The management committee of COPAC met last month and resolved that the
analysis of data should follow a qualitative and not a quantitative method.
Co-chairman of COPAC, Douglas Mwonzora representing the MDC-T, told SW Radio
Africa on Wednesday that ZANU PF, represented by Nicholas Goche and Paul
Mangwana during last month’s meeting, agreed to that resolution. That
meeting was held on 11th April and was attended by cabinet ministers
representing the three parties in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
But when the 17 thematic committees started their data analysis on Monday,
ZANU PF announced they now wanted the process to use the quantitative
process. This was rejected by the two MDC formations, a decision that set in
motion the current impasse.
‘The current impasse has been caused by ZANU PF’s sudden decision to go
against a clear resolution of the management committee,’ said Mwonzora. He
added that taking into account the atmosphere that prevailed during the
outreach program it was decided the way forward was to look at the quality
‘Remember a lot of people were coached on what to say during most rural
outreach programs. There were more meetings in rural than in urban areas, so
we said lets look at the quality and not how many issues that favoured a
certain political party from a particular meeting,’ Mwonzora added.
During last year’s chaotic outreach program in the rural areas ZANU PF
coached people to give the party’s positions on the constitution. Many other
people were intimidated into silence.
‘Unfortunately we have this unnecessary deadlock because ZANU PF has
suddenly made a u-turn. We find that unacceptable because they can’t go
against a management committee resolution,’ said Mwonzora.
He added; ‘ZANU PF must learn to abide by agreements. Decision making in
that party is rarely made by sober politicians. Most decisions in the party
are made by the junta and this is why we have so many of them milling around
our venue in Harare.’
Harare, May 11, 2011 - Zimbabwe’s constitution making process has
temporarily stalled following massive disagreements among the country’s main
political parties over the approach to use to analyse the people’s views
gathered last year by the Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee
Zanu (PF) politicians have suggested that the thematic committees meeting in
Harare should use the quantitative approach while the two MDCs are
supporting the qualitative approach to analyse the data collected from the
people of Zimbabwe during the constitutional outreach process.
Thematic Committee members gathered at the Harare International Conference
Centre have temporarily downed the tools waiting for the management
committee’s decision on the matter.
COPAC co-chairperson Paul Mangwana confirmed that there were some
disagreements over the way forward but they would meet with their
counterparts from the two MDC formations and resolve the issue.
“We are now at a very critical stage of the process and we have to move fast
and take charge of the situation,” said Mangwana.
Radio VOP has it on good authority that the two MDC formations are against
the quantitative approach mainly because the rural areas had more meetings
while the all urban wards were accorded one meeting per ward. Most rural
areas are Zanu (PF) strongholds and the majority of the people were coached
to give out the party’s positions on the constitution during the outreach
“There are 3 to 4 meetings per ward in rural areas while urban areas were
given one meeting per ward which clearly give Zanu (PF) an added advantage
against the other parties,” said one thematic committee member who decline
to be named.
Another COPAC co-chairperson and MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora would
not respond to his cell phone since he was reported to be attending a
meeting at the party’s headquarters Harvest House.
Copac co-chair Edward Mkhosi confirmed there is a crisis at the thematic
committee meeting but said it was still too early to ring alarm bells.
“Am at a crucial meeting right now,” he said. “It’s too early ...It would be
better if you wait until I get a full briefing of what has happened.”
The thematic committee meetings started on May 2, 2011 and were expected to
run until May 18, 2011 after which the constitution making process would
move to the drafting stage.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava said the
civic monitoring consortium is placing eight observers in the thematic
committees though it wanted to send 17 - one one per committee
Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 10 May 2011
The Zimbabwe Independent Constitution Monitoring Project, a coalition of
civic groups following the ongoing constitutional revision process, said the
parliamentary committee in charge of revising the country's basic document
has granted it permission to independently monitor the so-called thematic
committee phase of the exercise now under way.
The monitoring project sought permission last week to continue monitoring
the constitutional process as it did last year during the months-long public
Zimbabwe Election Support Network Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, speaking
for the consortium of leading civic organizations, told VOA Studio 7
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the group is placing eight observers in
thematic committees, though it would have liked to send 17 observers to
cover all of the thematic panels now collating data.
Select Committee Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora confirmed that the project was
invited to monitor the analysis of testimony collected during public
outreach sessions, adding that his committee limited the observers to eight
due to limited work space.
Written by Chief Reporter
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 09:27
HARARE - Zanu (PF)’s escalating internal wrangling over the election
timetable spilled into the public domain this week – fuelled by President
Robert Mugabe's waning health.
The tussle between the party’s chief negotiator, Patrick Chinamasa, and its
spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, was evident in conflicting statements. Chinamasa
emerged from the weekend talks in Cape Town to declare that elections this
year were out, to be openly challenged by Gumbo, who asserts the resolution
of the party conference in December that elections would be held this year
Official sources say hardliners in the party and party hawks in the
Mnangagwa faction are agitating for a snap election while Mugabe is still
capable, while Zanu (PF) doves, mainly in the Mujru faction, wants polls
delayed until 2013 when the party has worked out its succession conundrum.
The party called an emergency Politburo meeting yesterday to iron-out the
sharp differences over elections. Meanwhile SADC's pointman on Zimbabwe, SA
president, Jacob Zuma, stepped up pressure on Mugabe to stick to the
election roadmap. Special envoy Mac Maharaj was hastily dispatched to
Harare, to ensure implementation of the GPA.
The three main issues are the partisanship of the security chiefs, ridding
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of Zanu (PF) cronies and an end to
violence. Rumours of Mugabe's imminent demise are swirling with
tropical-storm force and fuelling infighting in Zanu (PF). There have been
secret meetings between the protagonists in the Mnangagwa faction, which
reportedly wants a fresh election in 2011, and the Mujuru faction, which to
all intents and purposes now seems to be the heir apparent.
"Everyone is plotting the future," said a Zanu (PF) Consultative Assembly
member. "I think everyone realises the end is nigh. There is nothing we can
do now against the pulling power of time." The 87-year-old Mugabe, ailing
from an undisclosed illness, is reportedly being pumped with "adrenalin",
according to a well-placed Zanu (PF) source, to appear at state functions
and to maintain the facade that the revolution movement is alive and well.
Hardliners in Zanu (PF), including the service chiefs, have reportedly vowed
to turn down demands by the MDC to make a public declaration that they will
accept any other leader except Mugabe. They want elections this year no
Tendai Biti, secretary general of the MDC said his party will boycott any
election held this year. "We will not be party to that sham," he told The
Zimbabwean. "We don’t want another 2008," he said of an election widely
condemned as rigged.
Written by Mxolisi Ncube
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 07:40
JOHANNESBURG – Zanu (PF) has allegedly organised the transfer of Zimbabwe’s
former Consular-general in South Africa, Chris Mapanga, because he was
becoming too close to the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Sources in the Consulate revealed that Mapanga was removed from his post
about two weeks ago. Although he had all along been accused by Zimbabweans
in South Africa for corrupt tendencies, he had never been placed under any
scrutiny by the Harare government. But sources said this time he could not
survive an alleged sting operation by members of the Central Intelligence
“He was removed from the post unceremoniously about two weeks ago, after
some officers from the President’s office had accused him of having become
too close to the MDC,” said a source who did not want to be named. A new
Consular-general, only known as Magwenzi, has taken over. “Mapanga is no
longer in office and already out of the country as we speak,” said another
Also said to have entered the CIO radar is Zimbabwean Ambassador to South
Africa, Phelekezela Mphoko, who is said to be linked to the opposition Zapu
party. Mphoko is surviving because of his close links to the neighbouring
country’s President Jacob Zuma, with whom he fought during the liberation
struggle, as part of the ZIPRA/Umkhonto Wesizwe alliance.
Masvingo, May 11, 2011 – Villagers in Shumbayaonda area under Chief Manzure
here have complained that they are being forced to contribute 2R a day for
the upkeep of controversial war veterans leader and Zanu (PF) top
campaigning manager. Jabulani Sibanda.
According to the villagers who spoke to Radio VOP, those who refuse to pay
are being threatened by unspecified
action, resulting in them taking from their meagre incomes to give towards
Sibanda's upkeep out of fear.
"It is even more painful when you are made to pay for the upkeep of a man
who comes to your area to preach Zanu (PF) propaganda," said Jathro Madombi
of Muchakata area. “Zanu PF must look after its kid not us, we are not happy
The 2R that the villagers are being asked to contribute is sufficient to buy
a bundle of vegetables for a family of five in most rural areas.
Sibanda dismissed the villagers' claims as ‘ridiculous’. “I don’t comment on
ridiculous stories like that one. Those who tell you must give you
comments,” Sibanda told Radio VOP.
Although Sibanda admitted that he is ‘patrolling’ in the Mapanzure area, he
refused to disclose his means of survival. He also refused to comment on his
main agenda in the area.
Impeccable sources, however, said Sibanda is given money directly from Zanu
(PF) for his trips.
“The man is getting money from the party. I think overzealous youth are now
demanding money from villagers in order to impress their boss,” said the
By Tererai Karimakwenda
11 May, 2011
Just a week after several houses of MDC-T supporters were burned down in
Chimanimani, another arson attack has been reported in Manicaland province.
The MDC-T said two houses and a granary belonging to the chairperson for
Mutasa Central district, Solomon Mutizawafa, were burned to the ground this
week. A statement by the party said “most of the property and harvested
crops were destroyed” in the attack.
A note left by the perpetrators provided proof of the political motive for
the arson: “Tell Tsvangirai, Magaramombe and Saruwaka to join ZANU PF. Their
power of the tongue will not stop us to fulfill our plan, we will continue
to demonstrate. If you continue to support the MDC-T, you will support it in
The two individuals named alongside MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai are
Julius Magaramombe, the MDC-T Manicaland province chairperson and Trevor
Saruwaka, the MDC-T MP for Mutasa Central. The party said officers from
Mutare Central Police Station took statements at Mutizawafa’s burned down
homestead, but as usual no arrests have been made.
Magaramombe told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that the attacks have been
targeted especially against their members who attended the party congress in
Bulawayo. “This is all meant to intimidate our members and send a message
that violence is coming,” he said.
Magaramombe blasted the police for doing nothing, saying that they never act
when the perpetrators are ZANU PF supporters. “The problem is that they
simply cannot do anything. When it is ZANU PF people the police simply turn
a blind eye and this is of great concern to us,” he added.
The frustrated MDC-T official said the continued attacks are “a slap in the
face” of SADC officials, who just over a month ago called on political
parties in Zimbabwe to abide by the peaceful spirit of the GPA. “In the face
of all that has been said by SADC leaders, they still continue to perpetrate
violence against the people of Zimbabwe” Magaramombe explained.
Meanwhile, the MDT Youth Assembly chairperson for Mutare West district,
Machete Magen’a, was arrested on Monday. The MDC-T said he is facing
“spurious” charges of holding an illegal meeting two weeks ago. But at the
time of the alleged meeting, Magen’a was at the party congress in Bulawayo.
According to a statement by the Crisis Coalition, parts of Manicaland
province are “under siege” from ZANU PF supporters who have gone on a
rampage, “intimidating and instigating violence”, especially in areas where
the former ruling party experienced heavy losses during the 2008 elections.
Crisis also reported that five bases have been set up by “armed, uniformed”
soldiers in Makoni South district of Manicaland. The coalition is calling
for urgent security sector reforms ahead of any poll in Zimbabwe.
11 May 2011
Bulawayo Magistrate Thobekile Mkhosana on Wednesday 11 May 2011 acquitted prominent artist Styx Mhlanga, who had been on trial for allegedly suggesting to a budding poet Magura Charumbira that the list of national heroes would be incomplete without citing Joseph Msika, John Nkomo and Gibson Sibanda.
Magistrate Mkhosana acquitted Mhlanga, also a film director based at the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo at the close of the State case after the artist’s lawyers Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) applied for discharge.
In their application for discharge, Jamela and Chanayiwa argued that putting Mhlanga on his defence is not proper as the State had failed to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt that the artist committed the offence.
The lawyers said since the State had already closed its case no other evidence would be brought forward and the evidence submitted in court falls by the wayside in establishing a “prima facie” case.
Jamela and Chanayiwa also argued that Mhlanga had in his defence outline denied the allegations and stated that Charumbira was the one who was the aggressor in the whole incident both verbally and physically after the artist had merely passed a constructive criticism of the budding poet’s poem as he had come to the National Art Gallery seeking assistance.
Mhlanga had been on trial since last month after he was charged with contravening Section 89 of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for assault.
Prosecutors alleged that Mhlanga, a younger brother to prominent Zimbabwean playwright, actor and theatre director, Cont Mhlanga assaulted Charumbira after he rejected his suggestion of slotting in and applauding some heroes from Matabeleland, who had not been honoured by Charumbira during the citation of his poem.
Prosecutors alleged that Charumbira visited an office at the National Art Gallery to get inspiration and some advice
from Mhlanga’s colleague, Sithandazile Dube, who shares offices with Mhlanga on 7 March.
Mhlanga allegedly commented saying Charumbira was supposed to also include heroes like John Nkomo, Joseph Msika and Gibson Sibanda on his poem but this did not go down well with the complainant resulting in an argument with the accused exchanging harsh words.
The prosecutors alleged that Mhlanga, angered by Charumbira’s refusal to take his advice, picked up
a stone sculpture and tried to hit the novice poet but was restrained by Dube.
Meanwhile, State prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa on Wednesday 11 May 2011 withdrew charges before plea against seven Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members Sitshiyiwe Ngwenya, Kholwani Ndlovu, Moreblessings Dube and Joyce Ndebele, Selina Dube, Eneles Dube and Janet Dube and three Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MEZA) members namely Gift Ndlovu, Proud Pandeya and Noah Mapfumo.
The withdrawal of the charges came after a series of meetings and representations made to the Attorney General’s Office advising prosecutors about a recent Supreme Court ruling which declared as unlawful the imprisonment of some WOZA members who had participated in a demonstration in 2008.
The WOZA and MEZA members, who were arrested in February and March at a time of commemorations to mark International Women’s Day were charged with contravening section 38 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly obstructing or endangering free movement of persons or traffic, contravening Section 37of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act for allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
11 May, 2011
The Bulawayo Agenda rights group has reported that Mziwandile Ndlovu, a
member of their weekly “Agenda” newsletter team, is being detained at Hwange
police Station. He was summoned by the police on Tuesday and is facing
criminal charges over a story about national healing activities that took
place in Victoria Falls last month.
The police allege that Ndhlovu wrote a “fictional story” that was published
in the Weekly Agenda in April and are using the controversial Criminal Law
Codification Act to prosecute him.
The story was about a meeting that was jointly organized by Victoria Falls
Agenda and several rights groups in the area, who had gathered people to
discuss important issues concerning national healing.
The event had to be cancelled after guest speakers Vice-President John Nkomo
and Minister Sekai Holland, failed to turn up due to “other commitments”.
They are both co-Ministers for the National Healing Programme.
It is not clear what aspect of the story led to Ndhlovu’s arrest, but there
has been an escalation in the arrests and intimidation of journalists and
newspaper vendors by ZANU PF elements. His lawyer was due to apply for bail
As SW Radio Africa reported last month, the third co-Minister for National
Healing, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, was arrested in Hwange after a healing prayer
service for victims of the Gukurahundi massacres of the mid-eighties. Father
Mkandla, the Catholic priest who conducted the service, was also arrested.
by James Mombe Wednesday 11 May 2011
HARARE – Zimbabweans have responded overwhelmingly to a call to sign a
petition demanding scrapping of Western sanctions against President Robert
Mugabe and his top allies, with 2,2 million signatures collected so far, the
ministry of information has said.
The anti-sanctions campaign, driven by Mugabe’s ZANU PF party and seen as an
attempt to gauge its popularity ahead of polls expected within the next 12
months, initially targeted collecting two million signatures for the
petition that shall be handed to ambassadors of Western countries for onward
transmission to their capitals.
The information ministry that is run by ZANU PF political commissar Webster
Shamu on Tuesday told state media that nearly 800 000 more signatures were
yet to be collected.
"The initial target of signatures to be collected was two million but so
far, according to statistics compiled on 30 April, we have a record of 2 200
000 signatures nationwide.
“No date has been set for the conclusion of the campaign, the petitions will
be collated and the final figure submitted to SADC for a resolution
illustrating how the generality of Zimbabweans oppose sanctions,” the
official Herald newspaper quoted Anywhere Mutambudzi, a retired army major
and a director in the information ministry as saying.
ZANU PF began collecting signatures from ordinary Zimbabweans last March but
there have been reports activists from Mugabe’s party and state security
agents coerced villagers in remote rural areas to sign the petition while
those who refused were beaten up or even evicted from their homes.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party -- that Mugabe accuses of
lobbying for the sanctions -- has refused to take part in the signatures
campaign which it says is a not a national but a ZANU PF exercise.
Mugabe and his party hope to use the petition to lobby the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and the African Union to push for the removal
of the targeted measures.
The regional and continental bodies have already called for the lifting of
the visa and financial bans against the Zimbabwean leader and his party,
while a SADC delegation has in recent weeks visited Western capitals to call
for removal of the sanctions.
The European Union, United States, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand,
imposed targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his top officials about nine
years ago as punishment for allegedly stealing elections, human rights
violations and failure to uphold the rule of law.
Mugabe, who denies violating human rights or stealing elections, says the
sanctions have had a wider impact beyond the targeted individuals to damage
Zimbabwe’s once vibrant economy.
The Western countries say Zimbabwe’s unity government should do more to
uphold democracy, the rule of law and human rights before sanctions can be
removed. -- ZimOnline
Harare, May 11, 2011 – President Robert Mugabe’s anti-sanctions petition has
so far been signed by more than two million people in the country’s 10
provinces, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Information.
Matabeleland had the lowest with only 13 ‘per cent’ signatures. As of April
30, 2011, 82 240 signatures had been collected in Bulawayo, 94 724 in
Matabeleland South and 89 739 in Matabeleland North, making a combined total
of 266 703 out of the
total 2 022 852 signatures collected from the country’s 10 provinces.
The combined total of the three provinces in Matebeleland is lower than
Harare alone which garnered 340 000 signatures.
The full list of statistics released by Director of Urban Communication
Services in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, Retired Major
Anywhere Mutambudzi indicated that 340 000 people put their signatures on
the anti-sanctions forms in Harare, Bulawayo (82 240), Matabeleland South
(94 724), Matabeleland North (89 739), Masvingo (216 000), Mashonaland West
(231 919), Manicaland (182 950) Mashonaland East (307 651), Mashonaland
Central (246 729) and Midlands (230 900).
The anti-sanctions campaign was launched about two months ago by Mugabe’s
Zanu (PF) which enjoys very little support in Matebeleland region.
The West in 2002 imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and his
cronies for alleged rights violations and stifling of democracy. The
anti-sanctions campaign is intended to demand the lifting of the targeted
sanctions although the West has indicated that nothing will change unless
there is full implementation of Zimbabwe’s unity deal.
Meanwhile in Mberengwa Zanu (PF) bigwig and Defence Minister, Emerson
Mnangagwa has warned villagers against voting for the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in the next elections saying the constituency is a
Zanu (PF) property and they will be chaos if his party loses.
Mnangagwa was speaking at a rally at Mbirashava primary school at the
weekend in Mberengwa where he had been flown by a helicopter from Harare
accompanied by the local legislator Makhosini Hlongwane.
“Mnangagwa came in a helicopter together with local MP Hlongwane who had
invited him. He told villagers not to vote for MDC in next elections warning
that if Zanu (PF) loses Mberengwa there will be chaos ,adding that the
district has been a Zanu (PF) property since independence,”Kereni Mubaiwa
the new mainstream MDC chairman for Mberengwa told Radio VOP on Tuesday.
Mubaiwa said most villagers where forced by Zanu (PF) youths led by Bellame
Zijena to attend the Mnangagwa rally.
Mberengwa has been a Zanu (PF) stronghold since independence, the party’s
militias and war veterans have been mostly terrorising opposition supporters
in the past recent years.
Last month war veterans and Zanu (PF) youths led by Sayinai Madhaka declared
war against MDC supporters in Mberengwa district, saying their party should
start setting up a refugee camp as they will be all forced to flee. Several
MDC supporters also fled their homes in Murongwe area in the same district
after another team of war veterans led by one Retired Major Shava raided
their homes for boycotting a Zanu (PF) rally.
Early this year a group of war veterans were arrested after disrupting a
constitutional parliamentary committee consultative meeting on the new
constitution held at Vutsanana Secondary School in the same district.
Harare, May 11, 2011 - Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity George
Charamba said on Wednesday that pirate radio stations beaming into Zimbabwe
from outside the country were illegal.
Charamba who was quoted by the state-owned Herald, said:"Just because they
have telescopic technology does not legalise it. That technology compounds
its illegality and the whole facility is illegal."
There are three pirate radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe. The Voice
of America operates the Studio 7 that broadcasts from Washington DC daily,
the Voice of the People (VOP) and Short Wave Radio Africa (SW Radio).
According to the Newspaper, Charamba was reacting to recent reports by the
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray who said pirate radio stations beaming
into the country were legal.
He claimed the pirate radio stations were legal because they operated from
outside Zimbabwe under the host countries' laws.
The newspaper said this was however, in contrast with Article XIX of the GPA
on Freedom of Expression and Communication, which raises concern on "foreign
government funded external radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe", which
are against national interests.
The GPA also calls on the governments hosting and funding external radio
stations to "cease" the funding and hosting.
The paper added that negotiators from Zanu (PF) and the MDC formations have
also identified the pirate stations as something that needs to be dealt in
the roadmap to elections in Zimbabwe.
"The ambassador knows that the two countries are meeting and he is trying to
spoil the meeting, (and) trying to ratchet problems between the two
countries," Charamba was quoted as saying.
Charamba said the US had for the first time confirmed where the facilities
"This matter was formally presented to Sadc (Southern African Development
Community) and the Tswana government stoutly refused (but) America has
"America can no longer pontificate about outstanding issues when they are
part of them," he was further quoted.
Harare, May 11, 2011 – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's faction of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has hit out at the former deputy
minister of information and publicity, Bright Matonga over his claims that
the government is not ready to issue broadcasting licences to private
Matonga, the legislator for Mhondoro-Ngezi who doubles up as a member of the
Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology, told
a world press freedom day in Bulawayo last Saturday that the government had
no capacity to monitor and control new players as yet.
But in a hard-hitting statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s
party said Matonga’s claims where “strange”. The party said Parliament has
long acknowledged the nation’s capacity to manage at least 56 new
“It is against this background that we find it strange that a failed
politician like Bright Matonga could claim government has no capacity to
monitor and control the electronic media – mere rhetoric given that Matonga
is parroting the lines of his failed and unpopular Zanu (PF) party which is
ranked among the top seven press freedom predators in Africa,” read part of
the MDC-T statement.
“Broadcasting does not need any monitoring or controlling. The people know
what they want to see and hear, and can provide their own checks and
balances. With the inception of the GNU (Government of National Unity), the
initial agenda was to allow for a plural media of which a Zimbabwe Media
Commission was to be appointed and a Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe
board (BAZ) was to be constituted.
The BAZ was created to allow for the opening up of airwaves. Two years down
the line, there is yet to be licensing of a single private broadcaster.
The premier’s party added that it stood for an informed nation as a first
step towards the development and growth of individual and societal capacity.
“There is need to allocate radio licences to communities and private players
to ensure that the nation gets access to information and operates in a free
and unfettered environment. The MDC believes in the adage information is
power, and abhors anybody who limits its accessibility to the people.
The people of Zimbabwe have a right to know and a right to be heard. Any
functioning democracy and any economic development depend on the premise of
a people with access to information, education and entertainment – the able
functions played by the media,” it said.
Several community radio initiatives have indicated there are ready to start
broadcasting if issued with licences.
By Xolisani Ncube, Staff Writer
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 14:35
HARARE - In a development that has raised eyebrows, dockets implicating
wealthy local government minister Ignatius Chombo as well as senior Harare
City Council and Zanu PF officials in land scams in the capital city have
mysteriously vanished from Harare Central Police Station.
Police, who claimed to be in the dark about the issue, said yesterday that
they would investigate the baffling disappearance of the dockets.
The disappearance of the dockets comes at a time when Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and Sadc have expressed grave concerns at the selective
application of the law in Zimbabwe — in which MDC officials and supporters
are continually harassed and arrested on trivial and trumped-up charges.
Last week, the Elected Councillors Association of Zimbabwe (ECAZ), in
conjunction with the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) lodged a
complaint against the city’s director of urban planning, Psychology
Chiwanga, who allegedly assisted in the illegal purchase of land in Glen
Lorne by Chombo.
But ECAZ officials were shocked yesterday when they were told by officers at
Harare Central Police Station that the dockets that had been compiled were
nowhere to be seen.
Police spokesperson inspector James Sabau said he had not yet been briefed
about the missing dockets but promised that police would investigate the
“We are not aware of the said missing documents. That is what they are
telling you. We will receive many dockets a day,” Sabau said.
ECAZ had further lodged a complaint with the police against Killian Mpingo,
Tendai Mahachi, Josephine Ncube, Chiwanga, Michael Mahachi and Nemera –
alleging that they had fraudulently used a resolution that awarded Zanu PF
official Tendai Savanhu an industrial stand, to award themselves stands. The
docket for this case had also disappeared.
What has raised eyebrows in both cases is that police have consistently
refused to arrest or investigate a myriad of allegations against Chombo, who
has in the last decade reportedly accumulated more than 100 stands and
houses from local authorities across the country – making him one of
wealthiest and biggest property magnets in the country.
Alarmed ECAZ officials yesterday wrote a letter to the police demanding a
probe into the disappearance of the dockets.
“On the 6th of May 2011 we visited the Harare central police station room
number 151 where we were told that dockets IR050250 and IR050251 were
missing and were referred to room 143 where we met Sergeant Mutemeri,” reads
part of the letter to the police.
ECAZ further alleges that on May 9 2011, they went back to the police
station where they were referred to an inspector Chiwi who said he needed
time to consult his bosses regarding the matter and advised them to return
the following day.
“On the 10th of May 2011, we visited inspector Chiwi and he was emotional
about the issue to the extent that he refused to refer us to any office. He
said he had nothing to do with our cases; instead he decided to say he did
not want to be involved in such cases,” the letter adds.
The councillors said the police were engaging in selective application of
the law since they choose who to prosecute and who to not prosecute.
“What makes this case serious is that on March 3 2011, you received a
complaint against Dr.I.C Chombo’s fraudulent instruction to make a payment
of US$42 000.00 to a Shumba-led investigation team which was not formally
constituted and you did not respond in seven days as provided by the ZRP
Service Charter item 1.4 and up to now nothing has happened,” ECAZ said.
“We are of the view that the public deserves an explanation as to why you
have not acted on the reports that have been levelled against minister
Chombo and the city council officials.
“We therefore hereby request from you to explain to the public as to why the
police have not accorded the cases against Chombo and City Council Officials
the seriousness they deserve,” said ECAZ in the letter addressed to the
officer commanding Harare Province, Garikai Gwangwava.
By Tonderai Kwenda, Chief Writer
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 16:08
HARARE - MDC Nyanga North MP, Douglas Mwonzora and 22 others want a case in
which they are being charged of inciting violence in Nyanga referred to the
In their referral application letter to the Supreme Court lodged during a
remand hearing yesterday at the Nyanga Magistrates Court, the group said
their rights guaranteed under the country’s constitution have been violated.
“It is submitted that Applicant’s fundamental rights, provided for in the
Constitution of Zimbabwe, and other International Human Rights Instruments
to which Zimbabwe is a state party, have been violated,” the applicants said
in their application.
The group say their right to liberty as enshrined in Section 13 of the
Constitution, right to protection of the law as enshrined in Section 18 of
the Constitution and protection from inhuman and degrading treatment as
enshrined in Section 15 (1) of the Constitution have been violated.
Nyanga magistrate Ignatio Mhene who presided over the matter will make a
ruling on the matter together with another application brought before him by
the group’s lawyer, Jeremiah Bamhu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
(ZLHR) seeking the release of a Copac vehicle taken by the police when
Mwonzora, a Copac - co-chairperson was arrested.
The ruling will be delivered on May 23.
In another related matter, another Nyanga villager, Tonderai Gift Nyabadza
was detained by the police after he handed himself to the police. He is
facing the same charges as Mwonzora and others and will appear in court
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe President Takavafira Zhou said police
surveillance and harassment "surpasses our understanding,” adding that his
union is considering a new strike to remedy such grievances
Sandra Nyaira | Washington 10 May 2011
Zimbabwean schools opened for a new term on Tuesday amid threats of a strike
by teachers over meager salaries and a hostile working environment in which
they find themselves targeted by police and agents of national security
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe President Takavafira Zhou said police
surveillance and harassment of teachers "surpasses our understanding,”
adding that his union is considering a new strike to remedy such grievances.
Elsewhere, state and private schools were said to be turning away pupils who
had not paid tuition fees in advance for the second term of the year.
Union leader Zhou said the national unity government has failed to address
the plight of teachers who have lost their respected position in society as
schools have been over by militants of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF
party who have targeted teachers who they suspect of supporting parties in
opposition to Mr. Mugabe.
Zhou said teachers hope the government in the next few weeks will urgently
address their longstanding issues and avoid an industrial action that he
says would undermine an education system which is still on the road to
recovery after near collapse in 2008.
"The inclusive government has for the past years engaged in reckless
gambling rather than address the plight of the workers," Zhou declared.
"Teachers have experienced a systematic psychological degradation as
politicians engaged in political rhetoric rather than addressing their
plight. Their patience has been overstretched and will not accept any
further historical revisionism in which those in power forget the truth or
are constantly guilty of selective forgetfulness."
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Chief Executive Emmanuel Nyawo said instructors
are tired of empty promises from politicians and will not be deterred from
striking in June.
Written by Paul Ndlovu
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 08:04
HARARE – The government has released $5 million for the rehabilitation of
old thermal power stations by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(ZESA), an official said.
ZESA Holdings chief executive officer, engineer Josh Chifamba said the
power-utility was allocated $65 million for rehabilitating old thermal power
stations and another $5 million for electricity generation and distribution.
“We were allocated $65 million by government for the refurbishment of old
thermal power stations, of which $5 million has been released and put into
the rehabilitation of Hwange Power Station and the old power stations. We
were also allocated $5 million for power distribution and generation,”
He added that ZESA had no capacity to meet the internal power demand. “We
are investing mainly in the rehabilitation of
Hwange Power Station which has the capacity to produce 920 megawatts and in
the process of reinstating a lot of old thermal power stations,” he said.
He said the power utility would soon embark on extensive programme of
supplying its customers with energy saver light bulbs. This would see ZESA
rolling out 6,3 million compact florescent bulbs expected to save over 200
megawatts. Plans are already underway to ensure that hydro electricity at
Kariba South to produces 300 megawatts while long-term plans are to exploit
coal bed methane in Batoka for power generation.
By Tonderai Kwenda, Chief Writer
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 16:11
HARARE - A special Sadc summit on Zimbabwe which might be held in Windhoek,
Namibia next week, presents Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara with
probably his last chance in politics.
If the Sadc meeting is held, he will know whether he is still relevant in
Zimbabwe politics or not. He has had a turbulent political career ever since
he accepted an invitation to head the smaller MDC party following the
infamous October 2005 split.
His problems ranged from losing a Zengeza parliamentary seat to a novice
candidate, Collin Gwiyo to misfiring at major national and international
Despite this he always seemed to survive. From the political ashes he
survived to become one of the country’s two Deputy Prime Minister. But
Arthur Mutambara’s luck in politics seems to be fading fast.
The special summit will be interesting as it is likely to formally settle
the question of who between Mutambara and Welshman Ncube is the party’s
Mutambara has insisted that he remains the principal of the smaller MDC
party and attends the regular principals’ meeting with President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai although his political role has
become much more of a ceremonial nature.
With negotiators of his party now refusing to cooperate with him and
reporting to Ncube, he has effectively become a mere figure head and this is
already posing a political headache for the facilitators and Sadc leaders.
“We are dealing with negotiators given to us by the political parties and
what we understand is the three political parties have leadership and it is
that leadership that we deal with,” said ambassador Lindiwe Zulu,
spokesperson of the South African facilitation team.
“Quite frankly we don’t want to be meddling with internal dynamics but
whoever has any issue should write to us.”
In its communiqué at the just ended Sadc Summit, the region formally
recognised Ncube as the President of the smaller MDC faction while
recognising Mutambara merely as the Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
This leaves Mutambara in an awkward position where he has to not only
represent himself on the “principals” table but having no-one to report back
Moreso it is reported that he is no longer formally receiving reports of the
negotiations and now gets briefed on important issues through hearsay.
The negotiators who hold regular meetings on important political processes
that shape the direction of the country report to Ncube who assumed the
reigns of the party presidency at a conference held early this year.
One of Mutambara’s close allies who doubles up as his spokesperson, Maxwell
Zimuto told the Daily News that as far as he was concerned his boss remains
the party’s principal.
“Our position is that Mutambara remains the principal of the MDC party, a
party which signed the GPA. The issue is that Welshman and his colleagues
approached the courts with three issues that they wanted addressed,” said
“They wanted him to be stopped from doing any activities done by the
president of the party, from being involved in any party activities and from
acting as a principal of the party. They didn’t get all the things that they
wanted and the ruling by the court was temporary and we hope a substantive
judgment will come sometime this month.”
Asked if the party’s negotiators are reporting to Mutambara, Zimuto said,
“As far as I am concerned, the negotiators are supposed to report to the
principals not principal.”
But when further asked if Mutambara has received any report Zimuto said, “I
wouldn’t know, he will be the right person to answer that question.”
On its part, the MDC party led by Ncube believes Mutambara is “finished” but
say he is still in government through the benevolence of Mugabe and
Tsvangirai. The party accuses Mugabe and Tsvangirai for making it difficult
for Ncube to assume the role of a principal because they are “afraid of his
The party has in the past complained to the South African facilitation team
that Mugabe was interfering with internal processes of the party by refusing
to swear in Ncube.
By Roadwin Chirara, Business Writer
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 16:30
HARARE - Two of the country’s largest oil producers National Foods
(Natfoods) and Olivine Industries (Olivine) have suspended production at
their factories due to a biting soya bean shortage.
The industry has a total crushing capacity of 350 000-plus metric tonnes of
soya beans for foods and edible oil production, but is only able to process
50 000mt of the crop at the moment.
“We require 50 000mt per annum of soya beans to be able to operate optimally
(but) we do not believe the national (is) more than 40,000mt this harvest
(season),” Natfoods managing director Jeremy Brooke said this week.
He said the continued shortages had resulted in the company placing edible
oils plant in Bulawayo and Harare under care, and maintenance for over a
Brooke said the company had resorted to supplying its products through an
outsourcing arrangement to meet its customer requirements.
“We currently produce edible oils through an outsourced toll-crush
arrangement,” the Natfood boss said.
He said the company had also resorted to importing soya from as far afield
as India and Malawi to augment local supplies.
“National Foods is importing soya meal from India for stock-feed
manufacturing and a small amount of soya beans from Malawi for crushing
locally to produce oil and meal,” he said.
Olivine managing director Jonas Mushangari also said the company was relying
on imports to meet its production requirements.
“Zimbabwe has a demand, which is higher than supply and our plants will run
as much as they can with what we have, and imports then make up the
balance,” he said.
“It’s a seasonal issue and there is nothing new in us placing our plant on
maintenance, while we await delivery of the crop,” Mushangari said.
However, the Southerton-based company faced challenges such as high
international prices and not being able to buy genetically modified beans
when sourcing for the crop.
“They are factors such as high prices and genetically modified crops when
sourcing for imports. If we buy soya beans at high prices our oils become
uncompetitive compared to imports,” he said.
Mushangari said a solution to the current shortages was needed urgently if
future production of the crop was to be secured.
“The solution is for soya beans to be grown locally,” he said.
As a result of the shortages, local oil prices are poised to increase at the
back of higher soya prices of US$500-US$600 per tonne.
Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector and output have significantly declined over
the years due to the effects of President Robert Mugabe’s land reform
programme, which has also affected many sectors of the economy.
Just recently, drinks maker Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited announced
interruptions to its production owing to a shortage of oranges – partly
blamed on the chaotic agrarian reforms.
Despite a projected increase in the output of some crops, soya beans is
expected to remain at 50 000 tonnes for this season compared to 170 000
tonnes at its peak.
Written by Jane Makoni
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 07:26
CHITUNGWIZA - A woman was forced to give birth in a car and a man with a
broken arm suffered in agony while the military closed Chitungwiza Hospital
for almost a whole day for a visit by President Robert Mugabe.
Lives of the sick were put at risk as medical staff were ordered to wait for
Mugabe to address them at the official opening of a Renal Unit on March 25.
A heavily pregnant woman, Sheila Ngorima (46), who painfully gave birth
outside the hospital after the military denied her access to the maternity
ward, lived to tell her ordeal to The Zimbabwean.
“I arrived at the hospital around 8am and was shocked to be met by armed
soldiers at the main entrance. The gunmen, who happened to be Mugabe’s body
guards, rudely ordered the car r to drive off the premises and come back
later after the President’s visit.
“In deep pain, I tried to reason with them as my condition was an emergency.
The soldiers would not hear any of my pleas and threatened to blow the hell
out of me should I dared continue making funny excuses as if I was above the
“Frightened and in disbelief, the driver reversed the vehicle from the main
entrance and made for the pedestrian gate where he sought assistance from
elderly women. But they had no experience in midwifery and I had to go
through the ordeal on my own.
“Nurses at the hospital were locked inside by the army as they waited for
the President to arrive. From the car I delivered the baby, I could hear
several other sick people crying for medical attention but their pleas fell
on deaf ears. Human suffering of the sick stretched from early in the
morning until mid afternoon when Mugabe left,” she said. Ngorima’s ordeal as
a result of Mugabe’s fear of people surrounding him was shared by a victim
of a near fatal road accident on the day, Thomas Jiri, of Chitungwiza Unit
Jiri sustained an arm fracture in a road accident involving two commuter
omnibuses along the Harare-Chitungwiza road. He was rushed to the hospital
around just after 8am on the day of Mugabe’s visit. He was in a queue
waiting for his turn to be attended to by a doctor when soldiers ordered
business to be suspended. He vowed never to forgive Mugabe for the pain he
endured due to delayed medical attention at the referral hospital. His arm
would never fully recover as it took more than six hours before receiving
medical treatment as a result of Mugabe’s visit.
“Following what the army did to the sick on the day in question, I strongly
feel Mugabe is not leading people but those behind him are after him. He is
even afraid of his own shadow. It signals that time was up for him to leave
the presidency of the country.
“How could a caring head of state feel at ease at a central hospital where
the sick were crying for help as all business was grounded to accommodate
his visit? If the old man had a human heart he would have let it be business
as usual as he opened the Renal Unit at the hospital.
“Mugabe has become too cruel for a human being. He should be ashamed of the
Chitungwiza Hospital violation of human rights and resign from office. His
Conduct was unbecoming for a national leader. This is not the type of
leadership we would want for this struggling country,” said Jiri.
By Staff Writer
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:59
HARARE - Daily News reporter Xolisani Ncube was on Monday summoned to Town
House where he was threatened with unspecified action by Town Clerk Tendai
Mahachi over a story linking Mahachi to shady land deals.
The story which was published on Monday said Mahachi, Tendai Savanhu and
some top ministry of Local Government officials had improperly acquired
stands in Harare.
Mahachi, was accompanied in the meeting by Public Relations Manager Leslie
Gwindi and two other senior employees.
The officials also threatened to bar the journalist from attending council
meetings saying he was bent on character assassinations of senior employees.
But Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda immediately dismissed the threats and
urged the Daily News not to be intimidated by council employees. He
confirmed that he heard about the threats to the reporter.
“You are not invited to come to Town House, and nobody has a right to bar
anybody from those meetings because they are for the public. Don’t be
intimidated by anybody,” Masunda said yesterday.
Narrating his ordeal, Ncube said he went to Town House at the invitation of
Gwindi who said he wanted to clarify certain facts in his story only to find
there was Mahachi and three others in the meeting room.
The Daily News editors had cleared Ncube to go and meet Gwindi after the
Harare City Council spokesperson had assured them that nobody would harm the
“One of them whom I believe to be the chamber secretary started explaining
that the stand in question was bought properly. But Mahachi seemed agitated
and I was scared. He said he would deal with me so severely that I would not
write about him again."
“He did not elaborate what he really meant by dealing with me and how.
However, Gwindi calmed him down several times. I was relieved when I left
the meeting room unharmed. If Mahachi was alone in that meeting, I don’t
know what will have happened to me,” said a shaken Ncube.
Contacted for comment, Gwindi claimed Ncube was not intimidated.
“He is a young boy, maybe he just felt threatened but everything was okay,”
said Gwindi. Mahachi was not available for comment.
Written by Chief Reporter
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 07:43
HARARE – Auctioneers continue to attach property of the bankrupt Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe over debts accrued at the height of the quasi-fiscal
policies that wrecked the economy.
Ruby Auctions was scheduled yesterday (Wednesday) to auction 20 945 harrows,
54 planters, 1639 cultivators, 1516 scotch carts, 537 scotch carts boxes, 2
ploughs and 1277 knapsack sprayers. “Duly instructed by the Deputy Sheriff
of Harare, we shall sell by public auction the assets to the highest bidder
at Astra Yard, National Railways of Zimbabwe Bulawayo-Grain siding on
Wednesday,” said Ruby Auction in a notice in the local paper.
The deputy sheriff executed a writ of attachment for over $1 million the RBZ
owes to Seedco. The Bank, which currently has no statutory reserves, failed
to raise the cash, and its property was expected to be auctioned off to
recover the money. It was the sixth auction of RBZ property in as many
Farmtec Spares and Implements and Seed Co have previously auctioned off
other RBZ property, including vehicles and buildings, to recover money the
central bank governor owed after buying seed and other implements to give to
villagers as part of Zanu (PF)'s election campaigns.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said government will move to protect the
bank from further losses. "Cars and assets are going for a song," he said.
Biti has installed a new board at the central bank in line with legislative
reforms ushered in through the enactment of the RBZ Amendment Act, but this
has apparently failed to stop the haemorrhage, as the effects of Zanu (PF)'s
populist policies threaten to empty the State reserves.
President Robert Mugabe has previously invoked presidential powers to
gazette temporary regulations protecting Zimbabwe's bankrupt central bank
from getting more of its property attached by creditors. He converted the
central bank’s $1 billion debt - mainly for fertiliser, seed, tractors and
vehicle imports to buy votes in 2008 - into a State liability - so the
government is responsible for clearing them.
Harare, May 11, 2011 — Zimbabwe’s trade deficit worsened to US$557, 6
million in the first quarter of 2011 up fromUS$49,6 million recorded in the
same period last year, as the economy imported more goods than it exported,
according to data obtained from Treasury.
According to the First Quarter 2011 Treasury Bulletin released Tuesday the
deficit “is largely due to increased fuel import costs, coupled with higher
costs on imports of raw materials and intermediate goods for industries”.
Imports in the first quarter increased to US$1, 5 billion fromUS$1, 1
billion during the same period last year.
“Most imports comprised of motor vehicles, ICT equipment, machinery,
chemicals, fuel, cereals among others,” the bulletin said.
It said that exports in the first quarter surged 67, 2% to rake in US$1
billion. It said major exports were minerals and tobacco products.
According to treasury, the economy projects to record to reduce its trade
deficit to US$1, 18 billion this year to US$1, 78 billion registered last
Exports are expected to surge to US$4 billion fromUS$3, 3 billion recorded
Imports are expected to increase marginally to US$5, 2 billion fromUS$5, 1
billion recorded last year.
By Fred Katerere - May 11, 2011 11:15 PM GMT+1000
Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana signed a memorandum of understanding for a
$7 billion port and rail project, Paulo Zucula, the Mozambican transport
The countries agreed to build a new deepwater port in southern Mozambique
and a rail system linking the three southern African countries, Zucula said
in a mobile-phone text message from Maputo, Mozambique’s capital.
Funders, who he didn’t identify, back the project that will start next year
and take a decade to complete, Zucula said.
RHINO RESCUE PROJECT: INFORMATION
“All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph, is for enough good men to do nothing” - Edmund Burke
With the number of rhinos lost to poaching rapidly approaching 300 in this year alone (in fact, this figure is already outdated, the total number now stands at 304) the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve is of the opinion that we are well beyond the point where we can afford to do nothing about the dire poaching situation in South Africa.
After a poaching incident on our Reserve at the end of May this year, we contemplated many conventional means to fight the poaching scourge: from de-horning of animals to microchips and tracking devices. The problem we found with all of these alternatives, however, is that they are largely reactive instead of proactive, and would in all likelihood not deter poachers from targeting a particular property. Therefore, they become valuable tools in the arsenal of anti-poaching weapons only after yet another animal has been murdered and mutilated for its horn. Logic would seem to dictate that the true point of origin for a permanent solution would be to eliminate the demand for a product like rhino horn altogether. Needless to say, education would go a long way towards teaching consumers that rhino horn contains no nutritional or medicinal value. However, education will not produce an immediate result, and results are what we need most at this point.
It is no secret that, in the weeks immediately after the poaching of our beloved rhino cow, Queenstown, we seriously considered poisoning our rhino’s horns. However, as we proceeded with research into the feasibility of doing so, we liaised with other researchers working on different challenges affecting the health of rhino’s in general. Of particular interest to us was work being done on the control of ecto-parasites (ticks etc.) through the treatment of the horn with depot ectoparasitacides. So our original idea of poisoning the horns was circumvented by the need to treat the horn, and thus the animal, against parasites instead. Furthermore, our legal advisors strongly advised against the idea of intentionally poisoning horns. Ectoparasitacides are not intended for consumption by humans, and are registered as such. Although not lethal in small quantities, they remain extremely toxic, and symptoms of accidental ingestion may include, but are not limited to, severe nausea, vomiting, convulsions and/or nervous symptoms, in extreme cases. Because of these side-effects, the treated rhino and their horns have to be visibly identifiable to avoid ingestion of treated horns by people. We then realised that the treatment of the horns with a mixture of ectoparasitacides coupled with an indelible dye would go a long way to helping us achieve our goal of protecting all rhino’s in South Africa from poaching. This dye, similar to products used in the banking industry, is visible on an x-ray scanner and thus a treated horn, even when ground to a fine powder, cannot be passed through security checkpoints unnoticed. Specifically, airport security checkpoints are almost certain to pick up the presence of this dye. Furthermore, in the selection of acaracides for inclusion in the treatment compound, care was taken to only consider “Ox Pecker” friendly acaricides so that collateral damage to innocent animals and other organisms is limited.
And so, the Rhino Rescue Project was born. Our testing is ongoing and comprehensive to ensure that the animals are in no way harmed by the administration of such a treatment, and to determine how long a single treatment may last. Based on our research, we believe the treatment should remain effective for approximately three years, after which re-administration would be required. Because all of our rhino’s are wild (with the exception of poaching orphans that are being hand-reared) they would not normally be treated against parasites. We believe strongly in nature being allowed to run its course, and human intervention being kept to a minimum. However, upon realising that treatment could potentially neutralise a dual threat (both poaching and parasites) we decided to proceed with testing and subsequent treatment. The treatment compound at this stage consists of a carefully mixed “coctail” of drugs in which exact quantities of each substance are paramount to ensure the animal and other organisms remain unharmed whilst still delivering enough potency for humans to present with symptoms upon ingestion. As mentioned before, this approach is unique for the simple reason that it eliminates demand for poaching, instead of focusing solely on stopping the activities surrounding the poaching itself. If consumers are no longer willing to pay exorbitant prices for rhino horn, poachers may think twice before engaging in this dangerous activitiy and running the risk of getting caught without a substantial financial reward as trade-off.
To further empower us in the ongoing war against poaching, the Rhino Rescue Project proposes that, when an animal is temporarily immobilised for the sake of receiving this treatment, a simultaneous harvesting of genetic material (a DNA sample, in other words) be done. Information from this sample can then be added to a national database of treated animals, with the aim of aiding the legal community in securing prosecutions in cases where treated horns are poached. We also enlisted the help of dog training experts to train sniffer dogs in detecting rhino horn shavings. At this stage of their training, the specialist dogs are so adept at identifying the scent of rhino horn that they can detect miniscule quantities of powdered horn inside vehicles and pieces of luggage. These dogs can further track a poacher fleeing a property on foot by following the scent of the rhino horn alone. This confirms the notion that instead of attempting to eradicate poaching with a single weapon of choice, a holistic, multi-pronged approach is neccesary to control the problem. When coupled with other measures like anti-poaching patrols, fast and effective reaction units and proper policing, the Rhino Rescue Project initiative becomes a cost-effective, commercially viable alternative to stopping poaching once and for all.
Trade in rhino horn is illegal, and thus, anyone who knowingly purchases and consumes rhino horn is involved in a criminal activity. Even if the use of rhino horn in some countries may be deemed culturally acceptable, it remains illegal all the same. We should emphasise that we do not want to kill anybody. In fact, nothing would make us happier than if no human ever again touched a rhino horn. However, since this appears highly unlikely under the current circumstances, we want poachers and the consumers of their products to know that we mean business. The treatment administered to our animals is no joke. It is not a ruse; it is not a hoax; it is not a mock-up. It is as real as poaching and its consequences can be every bit as devastating. The importance and seriousness of this cautionary advice is not to be underestimated. That having been said, if individuals still proceed in the harvesting, sale, purchase and consumption of rhino horn, having been fully informed that it could potentially pose serious health risks (to this end, we have placed in excess of 200 signposts warning of the contamination in and around our property) they do so at their peril.
In conclusion, our plans to release a one-hour special Rhino Rescue programme on the treatment process and the consequences thereof are rapidly coming to fruition. The show is currently in it’s editing and post-production phase and will be available for international distribution within weeks, under condition that the distributor/broadcaster is willing to translate the content into Mandarin Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese and to distribute the material actively in these countries as well. Rhino’s have no other way of defending themselves against the greed and ruthlessness of man but for the defences we give them. The Rhino Rescue Project has armed the rhinos of the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve and encourages you to do the same.
For any further information, cost estimates or to register animals for treatment, kindly contact Lorinda Hern at firstname.lastname@example.org