The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Save invasions threaten US$30m safari business

September 2, 2012 in Business
ZIMBABWE risks a ban from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, emanating from
the chaos in the Save Valley Conservancy, where owners were denied hunting

Report by Our Staff
The permits were issued to 25 individuals, the majority of them Zanu PF
sympathisers, in a move analysts said would put a dent on the country’s
image ahead of the co-hosting of the UN World Tourism Organisation General
Assembly next year.
Industry players told Standardbusiness on Friday the impasse may prompt the
US Fish and Wildlife Service to impose a ban on trophy exports to the US.
This paper was told on Friday, such a move would kill the US$30 million
safari business.
“The organisation is not likely to accept the importation of trophies into
the US if Zimbabwe is seen to have violated best practices. Importation into
the US will be terminated because it threatens the integrity of hunting,” an
industry player said on Friday.
Trophy exports to the US constitute 80% of the industry’s total exports.
The fresh setback to hit the industry comes months after Parks and Wildlife
Management Authority did not renew leases for operators at a time they had
already secured clients.
Vitalis Chadenga, the authority’s director-general, was not answering his
phone on Friday.
Emmanuel Fundira, Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe president, said
the denial of permits to hunters destroyed the image of the industry and led
to negative perceptions.
“Empowerment needs to be managed in a transparent manner with a high degree
of accountability so that it does not become self-serving. That way it can
deliver value for the business and community concerned,” he said, adding
that expropriation would only deter investment.
Another operator bemoaned failure by authorities to give hunting licences to
the conservancy owners.
“Clients paid last year to hunt in the concession but the owners cannot
fulfil their obligations as a result. It puts a big dent on the country’s
image,” the operator said.
The operator said the new permit holders had neither the knowledge nor the
clients related to the industry and wondered how they were given permits in
the middle of the hunting season.
The hunting season runs from April to November each year.
Following the invasion of the Save Valley Conservancy by Zanu PF-aligned
officials, led by Chiredzi South MP, Ailess Baloyi, Tourism and Hospitality
Industry minister, Walter Mzembi, instructed the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
(ZTA) board to recommend solutions to the impasse.
The board also recommended that permits issued to partners should be revoked
until the matter had been resolved.
The board noted that one of the policy implementation challenges was that
while the lease holder applied for hunting quotas to the Parks and Wildlife
Management Authority, the farmer also applied for the same hunting quotas
for the same area.
“This has also brought confusion, leading to Parks and Wildlife Management
Authority to stop issuing hunting permits. This has resulted in illegal
hunting taking place, communities encroaching into conservancies, the
product being destroyed and there is now negative publicity on the
destination,” said the ZTA board.
Zimbabwe presently has a wildlife-based land reform policy with the
objective of ensuring conservation and sustainable use of wildlife for
present and future generations and to maintain a proportion of land outside
protected areas under wildlife management.
Challenges associated with perceived country risk, absence of working
capital, insufficient domestic services and dilapidating infrastructure have
over the past decade curtailed any significant development of the tourism

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Harare still dogged by water crisis

September 2, 2012 in Local
HARARE residents continue to be dogged by water shortages, with areas in the
central business district and most residential suburbs having to endure
frequent long-lasting water cuts.

Report by Our Staff
In a service delivery update for August, the Combined Harare Residents
Association (CHRA) said water supplies remained a problem in most parts of
Harare, as Morton Jaffray was only able to pump at half capacity.

In Kambuzuma, residents said they had had intermittent water supplies for
two months. They said their taps were always dry, save for a few days, where
the service was restored during the night, only for the taps to run dry
before 5am.

Children found fetching water at a borehole in Kambuzuma Section 1 yesterday
said they made several trips to the borehole in a single day, as they helped
their parents with household chores.

Nine-year-old Tsitsi Tamangani, who is a Grade Four pupil at a primary
school in the suburb, said she and her friends were not enjoying the schools
holiday as they had to fetch water most of the time.

“I fetch water with a 10-litre bucket many times every day,” she said. “My
friends and I only play after fetching water. Our mothers sometimes say we
have to come to the borehole 10 times until all the buckets at home are

Prosper Dzimba, a builder, said extending a house in the neighbourhood was
taking him longer than usual as he had to make several trips to the
borehole, fetching 60 litres per trip.

Some residents were found doing their laundry at one of the boreholes in the

They complained that a well from which they used to fetch water for laundry
had since been closed.

According to CHRA, suburbs which faced acute water shortages in August
included Mabvuku, Dzivarasekwa, Ruwa and Highfield.

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NGOs blast police over venue requirements

September 2, 2012 in Local
CHINHOYI — Civic society has blasted the police for demanding a letter of
consent from venue providers whenever non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
hold public meetings, saying the new requirement curtailed their operations.

Report by Nunurai Jena
The organisations said the new requirement was also an attempt to intimidate
venue providers and deny NGOs a chance to carry out their operations.

Zimrights director, Okay Machisa said the issue of the venue concerned the
convener of the meetings and not the police.

He said the police were determined to close the democratic space by putting
up measures that restrict the operations of NGOs. Zanu PF has on several
occasions accused the organisations of backing MDC formations to effect
regime change in the country.

“The police officers are either overzealous, can’t interpret Posa (Public
Order and Security Act) or are influenced by political machinists,” said
Machisa. “But the bottom line is that it is a strategy of intimidating and
frustrating civil participation considering that we might go for an election

Zimbabwe is set to most probably hold national elections next year.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) spokesperson, Thabani Nyoni concurred
saying the move was an attempt to threaten venue providers and business
people from accommodating organisations carrying out civic education.

He said most venue providers would not accommodate them fearing
victimisation from the police and Zanu PF activists.

“It is a further assault on the freedoms of assembly and speech by the
government through the police,” said Nyoni. “The police have been acting
outside the law by trying to grant permission on the notification, now they
are going a step ahead in requesting a consent letter. It is outrageous.”

Mashonaland West police spokesperson Inspector Mabgweazara, confirmed that
the police would now require a letter of consent to avoid double bookings at
venues. He said a lot of double bookings had occurred in the province
causing administrative problems.

“Yes we now require a consent letter from the venue provider. We have had
cases where members of different organisations claim to have all booked the
same venues, thereby causing violence” said Mabgweazara.

Zanu PF and MDC-T have clashed in Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East
provinces over double-booking at venues.

Over the years, NGOs have provided much-needed relief in all sectors
including governance and democracy, social and humanitarian services to
citizens across the political divide.

The power wielded by NGOs is a constant toothache to President Robert Mugabe
and his Zanu PF. With an impending referendum and possible general election,
Zanu PF, as per its December 2011 Congress resolution, is bent on curtailing
the operations of NGOs and ensuring that the next election is devoid of
their involvement.

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‘Zim to beat broadcasting digitalisation 2015 deadline’

September 2, 2012 in Local
ZIMBABWEANS do not need to panic in view of fears that the country may fail
to beat the international deadline for switching over from analogue to
digital broadcasting by 2015, a government official has said.

Report by Jennifer Dube
In an interview in Masvingo last week, the director of Urban Communications
in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, retired major Anywhere
Mutambudzi, said although funding had been a major constraint, government
was working to comply with the international Telecommunications Union

He said of the 24 broadcasting transmitters in the country, the last four to
be put up were already digitally compliant. “We are looking at expanding the
current broadcasting transmitter network to 48 sites, a development that
will see the coverage of the whole territory of Zimbabwe,” said Mutambudzi.

He said although there had been fears that many people were not aware of the
impending digital changeover, as they continued to buy analogue receivers,
there was no need to worry as the region had plans to minimise the negative
impact of the process.

“All they will need is a set-top box (STB), which is a decoder to change the
signal from analogue to digital and when mass produced, this box can cost as
little as US$20,” said Mutambudzi.

“The region will collectively come up with a way of producing STBs that are
regionally compliant. There will be need to establish a manufacturing plant
for those boxes within the region.”

The digital broadcasting transition, also called the digital switch-over or
analogue switch-off, is the process in which analogue broadcasting is
converted to and replaced by digital broadcasting. Digital broadcasting uses
digital data rather than analogue waveforms to carry broadcasts over
television channels or assigned radio frequency bands.

The ITU has directed that member states should migrate to digital
broadcasting by 2015, but Sadc has set its own deadline of 2013.

Zimbabwe is unlikely to meet the regional deadline and there are fears the
country could be heading for chaos, as the deadline may arrive before the
country has fully implemented its migration plan.

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War veterans grab paddocks in Matabeleland South

September 2, 2012 in Local
BULAWAYO — War veterans have grabbed paddocks from villagers in Natisa area
in Kezi, Matabeleland South province, resulting in scores of cattle dying
due to lack of pastures.

Report by Nqobani Ndlovu
The invaded land, which covers 1 500 hectares, is part of Maleme Ranch,
owned by a farmer, Peter Canningham.

The paddocks were allocated to the villagers by Canningham in 2000 as part
of his social responsibility programme.

The ex-combatants from Maphisa, about 40km from Natisa area, have also
grabbed Ebenezar Agricultural Training Centre, which is part of Maleme

The centre, covering close to 600 hectares, offers a free one-year farming
training programme to the youths, mainly orphans from the province.

Affected villagers and farm workers last week said war veterans, led by one
Clever Dube, had grabbed the paddocks to “fix” them for protecting
Canningham from eviction from the farm.

Under an agreement signed in 2000 between the villagers and Canningham,
cattle from the community were to access the paddocks from August 1 to
December every year, when there would be little or no grazing pastures in

“We do not know what we are going to do. We have no grazing pastures for our
cattle this time around, as the war veterans have taken over our paddocks,”
said Gabriel Moyo, one of the villagers.

“Our cattle are dying in numbers because there are no pastures as a result
of the drought. These war vets have brought cattle from other areas.”
A recent government report said there was need for urgent intervention to
feed cattle in the drought-prone region of Matabeleland South province.

Standardcommunity last week heard that the ex-combatants had started renting
out the paddocks.

There are currently close to 500 cows belonging to the war veterans and
other farmers who are renting the paddocks.

Killion Sibanda, chairman of the Natisa area grazing scheme, said they had
sought the assistance of Chief Masuku to drive out the war veterans.

“We are just praying and hoping that the Chief will intervene urgently to
evict these war veterans before we lose all our cattle,” said Sibanda.

“These people are saying they are fixing us for protecting Canningham, whom
we have lived with peacefully for years. He has done a lot for us.”

Sibanda said if no solution was found urgently, “We would be left with no
option but to fight these war veterans. We are war veterans too. Cattle
farming is our only source of livelihood and we cannot just watch while our
source of livelihood is being wiped out.”

Farm manager, Phathani Sibanda, said the invaders claimed that they were
allocated the farm in 2004 by government.

“We are in talks with them so that we can find an amicable solution,” he
Dube and Canningham could not be reached for comment.

A farm worker, who refused to be named, said the war veterans also grabbed
land that had been allocated to students to do small-scale farming on
completion of their studies.

“It is unfortunate that they are destroying the future of these kids. This
college has taught youths from this area and beyond, skills in agriculture,”
he said.
The dispute comes a few weeks after another farmer in Kezi, Peter Cloete,
was summoned by Chief Nyangazonke for allegedly refusing to cede part of his
land to villagers to graze their livestock.

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Effects of Cyclone Eline still evident in Manicaland

September 2, 2012 in Local
CHIPINGE — Villagers in Chipinge district in Manicaland province are still
suffering from the effects of Cyclone Eline, a devastating weather
phenomenon that hit the country 12 years ago.

Report by Jairos Saunyama
Some of the villagers and professionals such as teachers and agricultural
extension workers walk for over 25 kilometres to the nearest bus stop as
roads that used to access their areas were destroyed by the cyclone in 2000.

The roads have not been repaired since.

Rosemary Mbangara, a teacher at Rimai Primary School, said she walked 25km
every month in order to collect her salary in Mutare or Chipinge.

The journey took her to the villages of Guyo, Madhuku and Chishamisa before
getting to Manzvire, which is the nearest bus stop where she could get a

When she started teaching at the school in 1998, the transport system in the
area was reliable as the route was plied by buses such as Tenda, Matsatse,
B&C and Ajay.

But the transport operators abandoned the route after Cyclone Eline damaged
roads and small bridges in the area.

Mbangara’s story is typical of the hardships villagers in some parts of
Chipinge have to endure.

“We have to foot either 25km to Manzvire or 35km to Checheche Growth Point
when we want to get transport to various destinations,” Arnold Sithole, a
teacher at Rimai Secondary School told Standardcommunity.

The villagers are forced to use scotch carts and bicycles but they have to
endure more time on the road on the 25km stretch.

Several teachers have sought transfers citing the poor state of roads and
other infrastructure.

“We used to qualified staff here but as you might have heard, most of the
teachers have transferred to Takwirira, Checheche or Vheneka, schools which
are located on the highway,” said Sithole.

Villagers also struggle to access clinics and the hospital and this has
affected many patients, including those living with HIV and Aids, who need
to frequently visit hospitals to access anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and
other drugs for opportunistic infections.

Villagers say scores of patients were dying at home.

Pregnant mothers were also said to be delivering at home, a trend that had
resulted in high maternal and prenatal deaths.

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Chitungwiza Town Centre now a white elephant

September 2, 2012 in Local
CHITUNGWIZA Town Centre, which is owned by Old Mutual, has become a white
elephant as most major shops and other service providers have since closed
shop at the shopping complex.Report by Collin Mapfumo
Some of them have since relocated.

When it was officially opened by President Robert Mugabe in 1990, the
shopping mall boasted of banking, retail and entertainment facilities, all
meant to cater for a community that for years relied on Harare, some 25km
away, for such services.

But two decades down the line, people of Chitungwiza have little, if
anything, to celebrate, as there is barely any meaningful services still
being offered at the mall.

Two of the country’s major retail shops, TM and OK, have since closed shop
and relocated to Makoni Shopping Centre, which has taken over as the town’s
new economic hub in terms of service provision and retailing.

Among the few companies that have remained operating are Econet Wireless,
Stanbic, CABS, Multi-Choice and Zesa Holdings.

Some business operators attributed the relocation of their enterprises to
Makoni Shopping centre to high rentals charged by Old Mutual, while others
said the mall had become less reliable as water and electricity were
constantly unavailable, making it unattractive to customers.

When Chitungwiza Community Development Network (CCDN) visited the mall last
week, there was very little business activity, with public toilets shut
down, although running water was available.

While making an enquiry with Old Mutual officials at their offices, CCDN met
a visibly disgruntled 66-year-old identified as Mahiya, lodging a complaint
on the state of affairs at the mall.

“I am an old person who knows his rights, I demand to know why Old Mutual is
failing to provide toilets,” said Mahiya. — Chitungwiza Community Bulletin

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Cotton output surpasses target

September 2, 2012 in Business
VICTORIA FALLS — Zimbabwe’s cotton output has surpassed initial targets
notwithstanding an impasse in prices, a senior official from the ministry of
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development said last week. Report
by Bernard Mpofu
“As of last week, cotton output stood at 316 000 tonnes, surpassing targets
despite the prices impasse,” Ngoni Masoka, the ministry’s permanent
secretary told delegates attending a high-level conference in the resort

In the 2012 national budget, cotton output was projected to reach 286 000

Early this year, cotton farmers were holding onto their crop protesting
against the poor prices that were being offered.

Merchants were offering a price of US$0,30 per kg, which farmers dismissed
as too little considering the cost involved in growing the crop.

Government later intervened and set the minimum price at US$0,77 per kg.

Masoka said government was pushing for the establishment of a fund which
seeks to assist farmers access affordable capital.

He also said the policy would also compel banks to set up a threshold for on
lending to a sector once regarded as the mainstay of the economy.

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UNWTO: An opportunity to market Zimbabwe

September 2, 2012 in Opinion
Zimbabwe is the co-host of the United Nations World Tourism (UNWTO) annual
general assembly scheduled for August 2013. This global event will be hosted
on the African soil for the second time since its inception.

Report by Tafara Shumba

The first time it was held in Africa was in 2007 in Senegal. Zimbabwe’s
chance of hosting the same event will probably be after 300 years. This
alone is suffice to show how much Zimbabwe was honoured. It is however
unfortunate that our media seem to be unaware of the importance of an event
of such magnitude.

The local media have been writing acres of negative aspects on the
preparations of the event. The reportage borders on discrediting the
capacity of the country in hosting this event. The crusade was dramatically
upped in the run up to the assessment visit by the UNWTO inspection team.

It would help a lot if the local media could pluck a leaf from the manner
that the UK media covered the recent Olympics in their country. The classic
coverage epitomises the highest degree of responsible and patriotic
journalism. The UK media showered the Olympics with positive coverage,
starting with the preparations up to the closing ceremony.

The British media invested heavily in their coverage of the Olympics. BBC,
for instance, ensured that 52 million people, which is 90% of the UK
population, watched the Olympics. In addition, the corporation dedicated 26
channels to the Olympics. As a result, BBC won a gold medal for its

BBC’s Director General, Mark Thompson, was at one time forced to make public
clarifications after it was alleged that he was unhappy at the emphasis that
the corporation was putting on the Olympics to the exclusion of all else. He
had to make these clarifications after a deafening outcry from the citizens.
These are the citizens who understand the importance of hosting
international events.

Most newspapers ran special supplements and souvenir issues throughout the
fortnight. Headline writers and sub-editors ran out of superlatives. This
paid dividend as their sales and advertising revenue drastically increased.
The same can happen in this country in August 2013.

The hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly stands to benefit all and sundry,
the media included. The benefits are political, economic and social.

The general assembly will provide Zimbabwe with an opportunity to market
itself to more than 4 000 delegates from 158 countries expected to attend.
The assembly must prove that Zimbabwe is back on the map as a safe place to
visit. The mega event must be a time for the restoration of national pride
and ego. Over hundred countries will be there to endorse the national pride.
The media should assist, as Walter Mzembi said, in the shaping of brand
Zimbabwe by putting greater accent on positives.

The assembly is set to boost the country’s economy. Tourism is one of the
fastest growing industries in Zimbabwe. It is the second largest sector
after mining, which contributes to the national fiscus. The general assembly
will market the tourism potential in Zimbabwe and this will ensure an
increase in the arrival of tourist.

Some economists have projected that Victoria Falls will generate more money
during the assembly than it does in a year. Favourable publicity from the
media will ensure that more delegates will prefer staying in Victoria Falls
to Livingstone. The media must, therefore, understand that it is not the
infrastructure per se that will determine the success of this event. The
type of reportage given to this event during this preparatory stage has a
big role to play in the success or failure of this event.

The new facilities which are being put in place in Victoria Falls will be
left behind for life after the assembly. These facilities, especially the 5
000 seater conference centre, will boost Victoria Fall’s reputation as a
world-class conferencing destination. The Victoria Falls folks can give
testimony to this as they immensely benefited when CHOGM was hosted in the
same area in the late 1990s. The raw water pumping system was revamped and
the ablution facilities were constructed at the schools that hosted the

There are also employment opportunities for the locals who are providing
much of the labour in the construction and refurbishment of facilities such
as hospitals, roads, hotels and the airport among others. A lot more will be
absorbed in the tourism and hospitality sector during the assembly.

The media should be the goodwill ambassadors for Zimbabwe if maximum
benefits are to be reaped from this event. The Ministry of Media,
Information and Publicity in conjunction with that of Tourism and
Hospitality Industry, should engage the media and impress upon them the
importance of hosting this event.

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Zinara at it again

September 2, 2012 in Opinion
Zinara announced last week that it intended to increase toll fees on the
country’s major roads, once it completed construction work on what it deemed
“state-of-the-art toll plazas”.
The body justified the increase by saying the new structures, to be erected
at a cost of US$1 million each, made it sub–economic to charge US$1 for
motorists passing through the gates.

While Zinara should be applauded for finally deciding to get rid of the
rudimentary tollgate structures on the highways, it should be warned that
upgrading them alone cannot be justification enough to extort more money
from long-suffering motorists.

Recently the authority caused an uproar when it introduced a new licensing
system without giving motorists adequate time to buy the new discs.

Now after simply making cosmetic changes to the tollgate structures, Zinara
will expect motorists to cough up more. What Zinara fails to appreciate is
that when motorists pay tollgate fees, they expect to see tangible
improvements on the roads and not to read stories about how the funds have
been abused or stolen.

The motorists have also been dismayed to observe that since they started
paying toll fees, the roads have gone from bad to worse with no maintenance
work being undertaken.

Zinara early this year allocated a paltry US$33 million for road maintenance
works, a drop in the ocean as US$2 billion is required annually.

This meant that very little, if any upgrading, was done on the country’s bad
roads, leaving motorists to contend with potholes that cause substantial
damage to their vehicles. Sadly, some perished in accidents blamed on the
poor state of the roads.

The way forward would be for the roads to be upgraded first before Zinara
contemplates raising toll fees. Though Treasury has not helped Zinara
achieve this goal, regarding motorists as the source of all funding exposes
the state body’s propensity for daylight robbery.

Instead of milking motorists, the body should go the public-private
partnership route to finance the construction of better roads.

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Damage to environment is a crime against peace

September 2, 2012 in Editorial
In the past week alone I have received very unsettling reports about veld
fires that now seem to be the order of the day throughout the country. A
friend driving from Nyanga over the weekend was almost driven to tears
seeing all those beautiful forests in the area crackling like twigs in the
hellfire of yet another avoidable catastrophe.

Report by Nevanji Madanhire
Another friend also called to say that the frequency of man-caused veld
fires was a sign that our people did not fully comprehend the destruction
veld fires caused to our ecosystems. My friends reminded me of a piece I
wrote back in May on the importance of including clauses that criminalise
wanton destruction of the environment in the constitution.

In the article I argued: “While the constitution-making process is still on,
can what goes in it be influenced by the grave concern about the
environment? Can the issue of the environment be elevated above a mere right
to make it a governance issue equal to sovereignty and democracy? Is it
possible to place the sustained and systematic destruction of the
environment among crimes against humanity such as genocide and forcible
transfer of population?”

I must say when I wrote this I had not come across the term ecocide. This
week a friend commenting on the veld fires alerted me to the existence of
the word.

“Ecocide is the extensive damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems of a
given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an
extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been
severely diminished.”

There is a whole global movement aimed at stopping the extensive damage to
the environment and people’s lives by campaigning to make ecocide the fifth
international crime against peace. The ecocide lobby was escalated in March
2010 when Polly Higgins, an international barrister and award-winning
author, proposed to the United Nations that ecocide be made an international
crime against peace.

Her campaign, and that of like-minded people, is that, “there are currently
four crimes against peace: genocide, war crimes, crimes of aggression and
crimes against humanity. Ecocide is the missing fifth crime — it is a crime
against humanity, against current and future generations, and against all
life on Earth.”

I have argued that 10 years from now elections in Zimbabwe and the rest of
the developing world will be fought and won on the environment. The parties
that can articulate their programmes on how to maintain our environment, and
hence our own survival as a nation, will come to the fore. In other words
environment issues will set “regime-change agendas”.

The emergence of Green movements around the globe in the past three or so
decades should not be dismissed contemptuously as being of nuisance value
simply because their presentations in parliaments is still weak. Their
beliefs will begin to come to the fore when the world begins to realise how
important the issue of the environment are for the very existence of

Green parties’ main focus is environmentalism. The Green Party of the United
States, for example, has as one of its major tenets what it calls
“ecological wisdom”: “Human societies must operate with the understanding
that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an
ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our
communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilises
resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer
from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practise
agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy;
and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.”

Zimbabweans should begin to think in a similar manner. The environment is
still a peripheral issue in determining how our country should be governed.
This is despite the fact that our very delicate environment is a constant
threat to national stability.

Presently Zimbabwean politics are based on the following template:
Independence-Sovereignty- Values of our liberation struggle. Although this
is an important perspective that ensures our nationhood is properly
grounded, it becomes too backward-looking as the world changes at breakneck
speed and the environment takes up an ever more important role in defining a
nation’s wellbeing.

When our political matrix will soon change to something like:
Independence-Governance-Environment. A country can no longer continue to
talk about sovereignty or territorial integrity without talking about the
environment. Territorial integrity is about borders; we can defend borders
but if the borders surround a desecrated environment, they might not be
worthwhile defending.

Zimbabwe has always been under the threat of desertification as the Kalahari
Basin encroaches into most countries in southern Africa including Zimbabwe.
Indeed, almost two-thirds of Zimbabwean soils are already beginning to show
characteristics of Kalahari sands — powdery, reddish and infertile.

As desertification sets in — food gets scarcer and scarcer in the farming
areas — people migrate towards the green areas which they see as oases and
rural-urban drift intensifies. Imagine the instability that goes with people
moving into areas — already populated — where they see their Canaan? The
competition for resources becomes fierce, bringing instability. People in
the southern regions of Zimbabwe, called ecological regions 3, 4 and 5,
because of scarce rain and poor soils are already beginning to complain that
the land reform programme kept them away from the wet regions in the
Mashonaland provinces. As their areas become ecologically worse due to
unsustainable agricultural practices they will begin to push northward. The
environment automatically becomes a national stability issue.

Unfortunately the desertification is now creeping from north to south too.
The regions which constitute our bread basket — that is regions 1 and 2 —
are also experiencing man-made desertification as deforestation rises aided
by veld fires.

Many more other threats to our environment exist. These include overgrazing
and over-cultivation of the land. But even more devastating is the
destruction brought about by veld fires.

It is interesting that Zimbabwe has become seized with the global fad of the
politics of climate change. What should concern Zimbabweans now is their
responsibility towards their own environment and whether they can bring
their government to account regarding tangible environment issues. The
country needs leadership in this which is painfully lacking among those who
hold elective office because they are mostly preoccupied with selfish issues
of political survival.

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Protect wildlife sanctuary

August 28, 2012 in Editorial
The granting of 25-year-leases to Zanu PF politicians to be part-owners of
Save Valley in the Lowveld spells disaster for the sanctuary that contains
an estimated 100 000 animals.
Over the past week the conservancy has run adverts warning the nation that
“a few greedy individuals who care only for what they can take for
themselves” were bent on destroying the animal sanctuary. The individuals
were named as Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke, Higher Education minister
Stan Mudenge, former Gutu South MP Shuvai Mahofa, Chiredzi North MP Ronald
Ndava and his Chiredzi South counterpart, Ailess Baloyi.

There is no denying that the involvement of the politicians, who were
granted leases by the department of National Parks as part of efforts to
reform the wildlife sector, will have a destabilising effect on the
conservancy and this may ultimately destroy the whole south-eastern wildlife

The livelihoods of about 10 000 people, who stay in the area that is
unsuitable for farming, revolve around the conservancy which is now under
threat. One shudders to think what will become of them if the conservancy is
plundered. Before doling out 25-year leases, the department of National
Parks should have carefully considered the ramifications of such a move,
which is not only ill-timed but serves members of one political party.

Zimbabwe desperately needs to avoid sending negative signals to investors,
such as granting people with few resources and questionable interest in
wildlife management control over such a vast area.

The country is at the moment preparing to host the United Nations World
Tourism Organisation general assembly next year and such costly distractions
are damaging to the country’s reputation.

If Maluleke and company are keen on establishing their own conservancy, why
shouldn’t they occupy idle land in Zaka, Chiredzi, Bikita, Buhera and
Chipinge that borders Save and start their own project?

Setting their eyes on a successful project that was started by others in
1991 betrays their intention to reap where they did not sow. The department
should be stopped before it parcels out a shining animal sanctuary to Zanu
PF loyalists, who will certainly ruin it.

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