The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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      26 Oct 2002 16:34
      Zimbabwe opposition protests as voting starts


      (Recasts with fresh MDC comments)

      HARARE, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Voting began in a key Zimbabwe by-election
on Saturday with the opposition saying some of its members had been
"tortured" by government supporters and its polling agents denied access to
some stations.

      In a statement, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
said state security agents picked up eight youths from their homes late
Friday in the southwestern constituency of Insiza and handed them over to a
group of war veterans from the country's 1970's independence war.

      "The eight were severely tortured and sustained serious injuries," the
statement said.

      The veterans, who have been at the forefront of the ruling ZANU-PF
party's elections campaigns over the last two years, released five youths
but three were still missing, the MDC statement said.

      "In a desperate effort to frustrate MDC supporters from casting their
vote in today's election, ZANU-PF has intensified their brutal onslaught on
the innocent civilians," the statement said.

      ZANU-PF officials and police could not be immediately reached for

      Earlier on Saturday, MDC Elections Director Remus Makuvaza said the
voting itself appeared to be going smoothly.

      Polling will end late on Sunday, with results expected on Monday.

      The voting, a by-election in just one parliamentary constituency, is
being watched as an indication of whether President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF
party can capture opposition stronghold districts.

      Mugabe's party says it is confident of reclaiming the southwestern
district of Insiza because ZANU-PF says the electorate has lost confidence
in the MDC, which it accuses of serving the interests of minority whites.

      The MDC opposition accuses the government of moving soldiers to Insiza
in an intimidating reminder of a 1980s army clampdown on rebels, in which
rights groups say at least 20,000 civilians died in Matabeleland and
Midlands provinces.

      "As the by-election starts most of known supporters are being
relentlessly subjected to trauma and harassment by ZANU-PF with a view to
ensuring that they do not vote," the MDC statement said.

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is challenging Mugabe's re-election to a
fifth term in office in March.

      Last month, Mugabe's party won the most seats in rural council
elections, sealing its grip on its traditional rural power base.

      Mugabe has called the MDC a puppet of Western nations led by former
colonial ruler Britain, which wants to see him ousted in retaliation for his
seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
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The Times

            October 26, 2002

            The tribal catastrophe that awaits Zimbabwe
            matthew parris

            The worst may not be over in Zimbabwe. If every white farmer
were hacked to death and his farm consigned to ruin, the worst might not be
over. The worst is what faces not a few thousand whites but a few million
blacks: the Matabele people.
            My evidence is anecdotal, sketchy and based on unsourced
information, but a boyhood spent there lends me confidence to back my hunch.
My fears are sharpened by those in Zimbabwe to whom I have been speaking
this week.

            The majority Mashona tribe who occupy the richer, northern part
of the country centred on Harare, may soon be urged by their leader, Robert
Mugabe, and his Zanu (Patriotic Front) governing party into a genocidal bid
to take from the southern Matabele ("take back", he would say) the lands
which the Mashona believe were stolen from them more than a hundred years
ago. The situation has parallels with Kosovo. The plan would be to drive the
Matabele, by terror and by massacre, over the southern borders of Zimbabwe
whence (in some Mashona minds) they came.

            A little history is useful here. Much is disputed and what
follows is the white settlers' version, and reality may have been cloudier:
but this story of black-on-black aggression suits the modern, militant
Mashona viewpoint among whom it has taken hold. It gives their tribal
nationalism a narrative.

            In the 19th century much of what is now Zimbabwe was inhabited
by the Mashona people and smaller associated tribes. There was no central
command structure, just a shared cluster of dialects around a recognisable
language. They were pastoral people: subsistence agriculturalists.

            To their south, in what is now South Africa, the Zulu people had
coalesced into something like the Romans of southern Africa. So ferocious
was Zulu imperial policy - the choice was between subordination and
extermination - that splinter groupings fled in revolt from the hub. Thus
were the Swazi people established in what is now Swaziland. And thus, under
Chief Mzilikazi and others, around the middle of the 19th century, were the
Ndebele (or Matabele) people established in and around what is now the south
of Zimbabwe, centred upon Bulawayo, dispossessing the Mashona. All spoke,
and speak, a Zulu-like language.

            By massacre and pillage the Matabele pushed the less warlike
Mashona north. But at the end of the 19th century, Rhodes, Empire and the
British South Africa Police froze the tribal map along lines close to the
present division between Mashonaland and Matabeleland.

            Each of the two peoples in succession later rose in rebellion
against the whites. The Matabele rebellion was brave, focused and short: a
military campaign ending in total military defeat. Valiant Chief Lobengula
(who had visited Queen Victoria with a tribal delegation to beg for his
people's rights) was killed. The Mashona rebellion was more insidious,
slow-burning, sporadic and difficult to quell, but it was quelled. Mashona
ideologues call this uprising against the white settlers "the first
Chimurenga". They call the uprising of combined Mashona and Matabele
freedom-fighters against Ian Smith's Government during the 1960s and 1970s
"the second Chimurenga", which they believe will not be complete until white
farmers are removed from their land and it is given back to the Mashona and
their friends.

            Thus, tribal historians may think, comes the end of tribal

            They may be wrong. A document I have seen gives chilling voice
to what I know goes already with the grain of a Mashona version of the past.

            The document speaks of "the third Chimurenga". What this would
be is all too clear: a Mashona crusade spearheaded by Zanu (PF) to drive the
southern Matabele, of whom there are millions, off their land. The massacre
(by North Korean-trained Zimbabwean Government forces) of at least 3,000 and
up to 7,000 Matabele in the 1980s, well-documented yet somehow never
properly noticed, could be a terrible augury.

            The full document (see link on right) has been doing the rounds
only recently among concerned people in Zimbabwe, but appears to date from
the earlier years of Mugabe's presidency. Its authorship is unknown and I
cannot certify its authenticity - that it might be a Matabele scare story
remains a possibility - but to me it has every appearance of having been
written by a literate, well-educated tribal zealot of a racialist-fascistic
turn of mind, with a vituperative if stilted command of English, Marxist
jargon and a biblical style. I would guess the author is a mission-educated
Mashona man: a "blue-skies" thinker and propagandist in Zanu (PF), not an
active politician. The document seems intended for an inner-core and calls
itself a "progress review on the 1979 Grand Plan".

            Mugabe is extolled as a Mashona Jesus, a "precious present" from
history and "perfect embodiment of all our cultural norms and values" who
has "an incredible consciousness of who we are as a people". After a few
pages of this and some routine attacks on Western imperialists, Tony Blair
et al, the paper moves to its thrust: "For many years both the Ndebeles and
Europeans were living under a shameful illusion that the crimes of their
forefathers had been forgiven and forgotten ... Is it possible that such
heinous crimes as those committed by these people against the Shona can just
be swept under the carpet because it is politically expedient to do so?

            "Now, comrades, come to think of it - a settler is a settler -
period! What peaceful coexistence can there be to talk about between the
majority indigenous Shona and the occupying force of those of Ndebele
extraction? A black settler is as unwelcome as a white settler in our

            Then comes the most chilling section. Land: "..a bone of
contention since the Ndebele occupation of Zimbabwe. The deployment of
Shonas in Rural Matabeleland will be the last blow to break the spine of the
enemy. Land that is still in white hands must all find its way into Shona

            This first is now happening. What must happen next, suggests
this document, is horribly clear.

            On leaving the Rhodesia Department of the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office in 1976 I wrote a memo to my head of department saying
that in the years ahead, as Rhodesia moved towards and then beyond
independence, the key to the most intractable difficulties would be land. I

            Of finding a permanent solution I still despair but a more
urgent task may face us. We may have to forestall an immediate massacre.
Make no mistake, as Zimbabwe's economy stumbles and famine grows, a fight
with the Matabele would enhance Mugabe's troubled position among his own

            What can Britain do? Here, unlike Iraq, our historical
connection is plain. Here, unlike Iraq, the problem is manageable, the cost
affordable, and there is less danger of interference destabilising the
region. It would be the flight of Matabele refugees into Botswana which
would destabilise the region and the Botswana Government would share our

            The South Africans are less reliable allies: Thabo Mbeki's
position is ambiguous and the ANC feels no strong bond with the
Zulu-speaking peoples.

            The looming crisis in Zimbabwe tests to the limit my belief that
Britain should avoid military adventures, but with our European and American
allies we should consider every measure short of invasion or assassination
to remove Mugabe.

            As the crisis there deepens it will be desperately important for
its victims and potential victims in Zimbabwe, black and white, to avoid a
trap of which I think some of the more naive among them are not properly
aware. I would advise them to steer clear of the reactionary Right in
Britain. Steer clear of covert white supremacists who have a drum of their
own to bang. Steer clear of those who care only about whites and those whose
only real concern is with the property interests of British kith and kin.

            Remember that the Tories were in power when Mugabe's men
massacred thousands of southern Matabele, and a Tory Government showed
little interest in those blacks' plight. Call to mind the young Baroness
Amos, who is black, at the Lords dispatch box when elderly peers whose white
friends and relatives have interests in Central Africa intercede on behalf
of white settlers.

            I cannot read the mind of Lady Amos but I know what I would feel
in her shoes. It is to a Labour Government that any useful appeal must be
made, and it must be made for the lives and property of all Mugabe's victims
and potential victims, the overwhelming majority of whom are Africans.

            Something terrible is afoot in Zimbabwe. Rwanda was a Belgian
colony but Zimbabwe was ours. Britain should be preparing for a looming
humanitarian catastrophe there. There may be no better warning than what we
know already. It is enough.

            Respond to any Opinion article via

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The Times

October 26, 2002

Zimbabwe: blueprint for a massacre?

A document, according to Matthew Parris in his article "The bloody
catastrophe that awaits Zimbabwe", that supports the theory that Zimbabwe's
Mashona tribe may soon be urged by President Robert Mugabe into a genocidal
bid to take lands from the southern Matabele

Never before has history given us the majority Shona people, such a precious
present than it has done with Robert Gabriel Mugabe. R.G. is simply a
perfect embodiment of all our cultural norms and values, our aspirations and
expectations, our wants, desires and interests. In his whole life, R.G. has
not failed to demonstrate that incredible consciousness of who we are as a
The most vivid imagination of what an ideal Shona person should look like in
appearance as well as how he should behave or present himself to the public,
finds an exact match in R.G. His presence among us as a leader with an
abundant and compelling inspiration towards the establishment of Shona
Nationhood deserves to be honoured and celebrated as a memorable great
occasion in the life-histories of all the generations of our people.
We do not, as a matter of obligation, fail to appreciate and acknowledge the
wonderful achievements, the great valour and the spirit of stubborn
resistance against formidable adversaries of all those other great Shona men
and women who led our people before. However, without prejudicing fair
comparison, it is inarguable though that R.G. stands out distinctly as a cut
above the rest among both the dead and the living Shona leaders.
Countless incidents in R.G.'s decorated and exuberant political career
testify to the conviction most of us have that the man is a visionary of
rare gifts. He is an astoundingly brilliant intellectual as well as being an
accomplished academic. Having distinguished himself as the most consistent
revolutionary in the fight against colonialism he has gone further to
achieve the emancipation of the majority Shona people and consolidated their
supremacy. And signs are that he has not reached the pinnacle of his
political life yet.
Few would argue that R.G. is endowed with a mesmerising eloquence in speech
which together with his subtle charisma captivates and electrifies audiences
whenever he stands to speak. Little wonder that he outclassed and turned his
political peers into pitiable political dwarfs many of whom have fallen
victim to consumptive jealousy and betrayal. Several of them rubbished
themselves to the political dust bin, and personalities like Edgar Tekere
and Edson Zvobgo are not exceptions.
R.G. is an unquestionable source of envy to many, not only amongst ourselves
but his foes too, who grudgingly admire him as they learn painfully to
accept defeat at his hands. Tony Blair is a classic case in point. Blair's
clumsy arm twisting political tactics geared to tame this solid and
firebrand revolutionary giant, left his fingers thoroughly scalded. Mr.
Blair must be ruefully licking his wounds at No. 10 Downing Street, having
learnt his lesson well, that plagiarising Bush's approach to Saddam would
attract serious and perilous consequences to him.
Western leaders are so shamelessly spoilt and conceited to the extent that
they throw all caution to the wind when it comes to dealing with Third World
political issues. Their naivety often manifests itself whenever there is a
lack of agreement on key issues especially those that adversely affect the
poor nations such as the land issue in Zimbabwe. They refuse to realise that
there is a new breed of leadership who will not ask how high when ordered to
jump but will certainly ask WHY. African leaders in particular are regarded
by the West as filthy hypocrites who are radicals by day but beggars by
night, as well as lacking personal opinion and relevant political
sophistication. The tendency is to destroy those who defy imperialist
dictatorship. R.G. has resolutely said no to imperialism and this way he
must be treated like Saddam Hussein, according to Western opinion.
Black Jesus
Some people have a small problem in understanding why Mugabe is to the Shona
people, what Jesus is to the Christians or what Kim il Sung and his Juche
idea is to the North Koreans. This status was awarded to R.G. by his people
in recognition of political astuteness acquired over many years of
experience in the fight against colonialism.
It is an uncommon achievement to earn the love and respect of one's enemies.
R.G. did just that with the descendants of Mzilikazi/Lobengula - a people
with a contemptible history of violence. This did not just happen - it took
many years of careful political manoeuvring and scheming. An application of
similar tactics to the descendants of Cecil John Rhodes is beginning to
yield similar dividends.
For many years both the Ndebeles and Europeans were living under a shameful
illusion that the crimes of their forefathers had been forgiven and
forgotten. This was not to be as R.G., the illustrious son of the Shona
people ensured that the two groups pay dearly for the evil deeds of the
ancestors. Is it possible that such heinous crimes as those committed by
these people against the Shona can just be swept under the carpet because it
is politically expedient to do so?
It costs a daring mind to carve a rich legacy for the good of the general
public, especially one that restores the dignity of the people at the same
time assuring them of eternal dominance over settlers. R.G.'s legacy brewed
in an African pot is unparalleled by any on the continent. Nelson Mandela
covertly tried to outshine R.G. by elbowing him off the world political
limelight. No sooner had Mandela started this, did he realise the folly of
such an attempt. It dawned on him that he was making an error and that he
was too new on the regional political plane.
The twenty seven years Mandela spent crushing stones in jail did not
automatically confer upon him the sort of leadership skills acquired by R.G.
in a protracted and arduous struggle for Zimbabwean independence. In fact,
jail stunted the growth of Mandela's legal mind - a sad happening indeed.
However, his attempt to compensate for the deprivations of that ugly
experience by posturing a false image of "towering African statesman"
created by his imperialist jailers, collapsed no sooner than it had started.
Mandela betrayed and deserted the Black majority in South Africa at the most
crucial hour. Speculation is rife that he is severely petrified of whites so
much that making land demands, for instance, would, in his view, muddy the
waters and blemish his political career. As if his political career is more
important than the black people in South Africa. At the present moment, the
African continent needs genuinely high calibre leadership that is
self-assertive and principled, a leadership that is selfless, a leadership
that will serve the people's interest. Mandela simply chickened out and
retreated in haste unremorsefully. Praises continue to be piled on him
because he did not touch the foundation of white wealth.
Future Shona generations will forever enjoy the opportunities and privileges
that will at all times flow from the heroic deeds of R.G. We feel strongly
encouraged to stand resolutely behind him and will not cease to see an angel
where our detractors/enslavers see a devil and we will continue to see a
liberator where they see a murderer.
Such are our differences that must be resolved not in a superficial manner
but in practical terms within such a real concrete political context as
ours. The redefinition of our relationship with the settlers, black or
white, is long overdue! We therefore salute the launch of the third phase of
our struggle (THIRD CHIMURENGA) and invite the reader of this article to jon
us in celebrating the manner in which this fight is being conducted and its
guaranteed success in smashing the white economic infrastructure such as
farms which facilitated the exploitation of our people.
All the struggles that took place in this country since the 1830's were
about dominance. Lessons from these struggles confirm the view that a human
social group is either dominant or subordinate when it comes to issues of
political power, especially in Africa.
Mzilikazi fled from Zululand because there was no political space for him to
be dominant. He therefore needed to look elsewhere for land where he could
exercise power authority and dominance. But because there was no land not
belonging to anyone, he targeted militarily weaker societies and found one
in the Shona people whom he viciously subdued and forcibly settled in their
land, imposing his authority on them.
Now, comrades, come to think of it - a settler is a settler - PERIOD! What
peaceful coexistence can there be to talk about between the majority
indigenous Shona and the occupying force of those of Ndebele exraction. A
black settler is as unwelcome as a white settler in our country.
Ndebele crimes
Mzilikazi's men, in particular under the command of his terrorist successor
Lobengula, wreaked havoc in our country. They raped and kidnapped Shona
women, looted grain and stole our cattle. Anyone who disputes that this was
conquest needs medical examination. For some sixty long years, the Shona
people were brutalised, insulted and abused by the Ndebeles. Their wealth
was ravenously plundered and economic life left to bleed to death in the
most cruel manner. The Ndebele subjected the Shona people to the worst forms
of barbarism and tyranny. They imported violence to Zimbabwe and it is a
well known fact that violence was a virtue in Zululand and perhaps continues
to be to this day. No one doubts the assertion that violence flows in
Ndebele blood.
Periodic and incessant waves of cruel raids by Ndebele warriors harvested
cattle, women and grain from the Shona to enrich the bogus Ndebele King. The
inherently lazy and unintelligent Ndebele anarchist savages preferred to
loot and plunder than to learn the skills of the more culturally advanced
Shona people who excelled in building as epitomised by the Great Zimbabwe as
well as in crop farming and the arts such as stone carving and mbira music.
Subjecting the Shona people to a reign of terror created both an inferiority
and persecution complex in them. For instance, the Shona people began to
shun the use of their clan names in preference for the totem system such as
Dube, Sibanda, Nyoni etc. This was a straightforward case of political
subjugation of the Shona people.
White Settlers
The carnage viciously unleashed on our people by the Ndebeles was
interrupted by the coming of white settlers who were motivated by the same
desire - to dominate. Cecil John Rhodes' men were more advanced in systems
of plunder and exploitation than the Ndebeles. The whites dubbed both the
Shona and the Ndebeles as African savages of the bush needing to be rescued
from the darkness of ignorance.
The white settlers swiftly annexed our country as a colony of Britain. The
Shona and Ndebele were, in the view of settlers, identical natives belonging
to the same race, totally disregarding the oppressor/oppressed relationship
between the Shona and the Ndebele that existed before colonialism. However,
this did not alter or erase the crimes committed against our people before
by the Ndebeles.
The whites too were in search of land. Back home (UK) they were little known
minnows, mostly sons of serfs who were used to expand the horizons of the
British empire by carving colonies in all corners of the world. Some of them
were convicts let off on a new lease of life to prove their usefulness to
the Crown. Insofar as we are concerned the whites removed us from the
clutches of Ndebele colonialism onto the rapacious claws of European
Imperialism - a case of jumping from the pan onto the fire.
Our gallant forefathers put up countless spirited fights against the new
settlers but were subdued by the militarily superior invading barbaric force
which iced its successes/conquest with the hanging of our great spirit
medium, Mbuya Nehanda and others.
Crimes of the White Man
The conquest of our people by the white men was in itself a criminal act.
Having conquered our people they immediately went into an unbridled frenzy
of raping Shona women producing a mixed breed that has been behaviourally as
confused as the act of rape itself since that time. The breed chronically
suffers from an incurable and severely traumatic identity crisis.
The white invader too started to steal Shona cattle and wildlife - sending
trophies to the King, enslaving Shona men on the stolen land (horse pegged
farms) and on mines. The savagery was soothed by a crude dosage of religious
opium administered by their forerunner imperialist chief-scout, Robert
Moffat - a man of the cloth.
The rest of the details of this carnage may be obtained from history texts
as well as from the sad oral tales of our people.
An attempt to throw off the colonial yoke in the first half of the twentieth
century did not succeed until the entry onto the Zimbabwean political scene
in 1963 of a Shona led political party. In this year, Zanu was born and
excitedly welcomed by those ethnically conscious Shona people who threw
their weight unreservedly behind its leadership. This birth signified the
beginning of serious business to wrestle our heritage from the white man.
Zanu's motto was "a fight for Shona Majority Rule", making an instant impact
politically by going into an armed struggle, a move later mimicked by the
Ndebele led Zapu which comprised of mainly semiliterate hero-worshippers of
Joshua Nkomo. Nkomo's lieutenants followed him blindly until he committed
political suicide on December 22, 1987.
The only few educated people in Zapu were Shonas like Ariston Chambati and
Daniel Madzimbamuto whose true ethnic allegiance ceased to be questionable
in 1980.
The Majority Shona people had realised that our partnership with deposed
Ndebele savages, to oust the white settler regime from dominance was an
extremely complicated affair. This was particularly true in this instance
because prior to the birth of Zanu the struggle had been led by Joshua
Nkomo, a Ndebele assimilant of very vague, dubious and untraceable
ethnic/tribal origins.
Nkomo parroted a motto similar to Zanu's, that of Majority Rule but would
not commit himself to "Shona Majority Rule", preferring to distort it into
"Black Majority Rule". Such a distortion flew into the face of the real
aggrieved person because Nkomo arrogantly and deliberately missed the point.
Black majority could only be Black Shona Majority Rule. Anyone who
stubbornly refuted this rendered themselves an enemy of the Shona people and
Nkomo became one. Nevertheless, in the interest of the struggle we in Zanu
appreciated the fact that Nkomo had no option but to offer himself for use
to achieve Majority Shona Rule. Hence every positive effort he made was on
behalf of us the majority Shona. Now and then he needed to be whipped into
line because of his conformist tendencies as in the cases of numerous
agreements he struck with Ian Smith under the cover of darkness thereby
putting the liberation process in severe stress and jeopardy.
Zanu sought to regain lost Shona dignity, looted cattle, stolen land and
everything else that accrued to the colonialists as a result of their
thuggery by the successive Ndebele and European dominant generations. It
makes economic sense to charge interest on money borrowed to someone.
Therefore, the development/civilisation which the whites brag about that
they brought to Zimbabwe is part of the profit which is due to us and we
inherit all that violently or not, without a guilty conscience.
White wealth
The riches of the white men in Zimbabwe were and still are accumulated
through monopoly, exploitation, theft, plunder, murder, rape, corruption,
treachery, hypocrisy and lies. Is it possible to correct or reverse such
inhuman acts without resorting to similar tactics? Truly violence begets
violence, and for every action there is a reaction.
It is a known fact, though, that ever since its conception, Zanu had a
double-pronged struggle to wage, that is on the one hand against the
Ndebeles and on the other against the whites. When the Ndebeles and whites
fought one another in the 1890's and then in the 1970's, they were like
vultures fighting over a carcass of dead prey. One vulture cannot claim
ownership of the dead animal on the grounds that it landed there first. It
remains a vulture by name and a scavenger by habit.
The Ndebele's had no legal claim whatsoever upon Zimbabwean sovereignty just
like their earlier cousins (followers of Shoshangane) later led by
Ndabaningi Sithole, that hob goblin who tried to hijack the struggle.
Sithole was foiled and summarily ejected from the party - an act he
regretted till his grave. The simple question is why would these two black
groupings fight for what did not legitimately belong to them. Participating
in the struggle only meant that they were offering themselves for use by the
Majority Shonas.
Zanu's correction of Sithole's errors left the Shangaans a thoroughly
confused group despite the modification of their identity to drift closer to
Shona under the guise of a language called Ndau, generally accepted among
the ignorant as a dialect of Shona. The truth remains - they are foreigners,
unwilling to advance our cause as they huddle around and cling childishly to
the "Ndonga".
Sustenance of illegal regime
For seventeen years of bitter Zanu struggle (2nd Chimurenga) to repossess
lost Shona pride and stolen land, the whites put up a very stiff but doomed
resistance. They were aided and abetted by their British and American kith
and kin who today will never forgive R.G. for taking on our behalf what
belongs to us. During the struggle, Ian Smith received modern war equipment
from the G8 such as Gazelle helicopters, UZI's etc., but
Zanu received expired medicines through the U.N. There was no doubt in our
minds that the point made by such assistance to Smith in violation of UN
sanctions was that blood is thicker than water.
Now, in a struggle comrades, you must have strategies and develop your own
tactics suitable for the environment in which that struggle is being
executed. Chairman Mao Ze Dong wrote quite extensively on strategy and
tactics. The material is easily accessible to those willing to read and
learn. Designing good strategies is not a simple matter - it requires
acutely intelligent minds spiced with an unwavering commitment to success.
Zanu was not found wanting in this regard. Men and women made of the correct
political material and with characters made of sterner stuff tempered with
resilience, honesty, dignity and awesomely high levels of political acumen,
began to distinguish themselves on the ground. We remember Chitepo and
Takawira,at this level, with great fondness.
When R.G. took over the reigns of power in Zanu tremors of fears in the
hearts of whites were heard throughout the country. R.G. immediately proved
to be good quality leadership material through the manner in which he
meticulously and incisively executed the revolutionary fight for the
restoration of our hallowed independence and Shona democracy. Revolution
means a violent overthrow of the status quo. R.G. did precisely that. As we
all know the fight is far from being over.
Flag independence
As long as the white community remained economically dominant beyond
independence day of April 18, 1980, then the battle is certainly not over
yet. Flag independence remains meaningless until the transfer of wealth into
the hands of its rightful owners. No one understands this position in Zanu
better than the amazingly resilient and conscientious strategist R.G.
Because of the Lancaster House Constitutional trappings, R.G. put the issue
of white economic dominance in a political freezer which he safely locked
with the word "Reconciliation". This earned him boundless praises such as
"The most brilliant politician" by his former tormentors who could not
believe their ears when the policy of reconciliation was announced. R.G.
knew how to leave sleeping dogs lie. He opted to decisively deal firstly
with the Ndebeles once and for all.
Zapu and Zipra
At independence Zapu posed the most difficult challenge to Zanu over the
leadership of the country. The threat was not so much in terms of grassroots
support as it was in terms of military firepower which Zapu built over many
years with Russian and Cuban support while Zanla sweated it out on the war
front fighting Rhodesian forces. Zipra was strong but inexperienced since
they knew no battles of note. Nevertheless, Zipra remained an impediment in
our desire to conclusively deal with the issue of Ndebeles and their ugly
past and the need to pacify Zapu was never greater than in 1980.
5th Brigade
R.G. instantly realised that it would be futile to draw open battle -lines
with "va-Dumbugura" preferring quietly to do his homework. He brought into
the country super military training experts from North Korea. Within eight
months, a revered, feared and uncompromising crack force, known as
Gukurahundi, had been trained. This is the force (5th Brigade) which was to
strike terror in the hearts of Ndebeles. On one hand, R.G. consistently
dangled the juicy carrot of Government of National Unity and the integration
of forces into the National Army. Mugabe always knew that Nkomo was
desperate for power and so he let him have a little of it. The integration
of the three armies would help to scatter Zipra far and wide.
On the other hand, R.G. created a small rebel force comprising mainly of
recruits from Zipra and called them dissidents who were complimented by
selected highly trained Zanla forces who would direct operations. The group
was put on pay role and then deployed in the Midlands and Matabeleland.
Soon the self-styled dissidents were joined by other genuinely aggrieved
Zipras who could not stand the heat generated exclusively for them in the
National Army. However, the army deserters and a few notorious Zipras who ha
ted R.G. with a passion, never had a clue that the dissident element was not
a Zapu initiative. While Zapu denied sponsoring dissidents, leading to a
loss of faith and confidence in their leadership by Zipras, the genuine
dissident remained confused and uncoordinated, finally resorting to aimless
nomadic movement within the region. It is during this wondering that they
got ambushed, killed and displayed at Police Camps until they began to
The Government sponsored dissidents straight away went into an orgy of
bandit activity such as destroying development project equipment, raping
women, demanding food, killing a few "Ndebele sell-outs" especially those in
the Zapu party structures. They cleverly avoided direct contact with the
National Army units except a few small skirmishes meant to deflect
A perfect pretext had been created. The 5th Brigade was then swiftly
deployed in the three provinces to "deal with dissidents" under the command
of that agile and indestructible Perence Shiri. The real targets were
Ndebele civilians and Zipra men whose fathers had committed crimes against
the Shona people. The strategy worked well, in no time Zapu's political
structures were smashed.
Within five years, 25 000 Ndebeles had been exterminated in ways that
instilled fear in the survivors, family life was dislocated as members
scattered in different directions. The rate of kill was just unbelievable
and in spite of rumblings by the minority Zapu in parliament the exercise
carried on undisturbed culminating in the "Head of the Snake" villain
fleeing the country to take refuge in a European country where his stay was
bankrolled by the same multinationals he had earlier proclaimed to be
The real achievements of such a strategy was much greater than what the
numbers of those slaughtered reflect. There is probably roughly 2 million
Ndebeles still alive today and therefore the first achievement of the 5th
Brigade was redefining Ndebele and Shona relationships in so far as to who
matters in this country. The Ndebeles now fully know who wields what
political clout in this country and this sets the stage for the discussion
of other achievements of the 5th Brigade. The achievements include:
The military offensive in Matabeleland opened new windows of opportunity for
the Shonas to reassert themselves in the country as the dominant and
numerically superior group in order to repossess our lost glory and
heritage, expressed in material, cultural, social and spiritual terms.
b) Language
The Shona language has regained its dominant position in our society. It has
become the lingua franca of Zimbabwe in the public sector particularly in
government departments such as the army, police, hospitals, schools,
immigration, customs, throughout the country. One can now authoritatively
demand service in the Shona language, even conduct telephonic conversation
anywhere in Matabeleland without any need to apologise for the use of Shona
or without the burden of having to speak Ndebele. National ZTV is completely
Shona and does very well to promote and develop our language. This is as it
should be since Zimbabwe is a Shona Nation. We should not give room to the
languages of the invading groups because our intention is to culturally
fracture and dislocate them.
Let us be reminded that language dominance automatically creates many
opportunities such as employment which occurs according to the language
spread. Shona speakers are now everywhere, in every corner of the country
not as vegetable vendors but holders of influential positions. This
occurrence is not accidental and the doubting Thomases better get this point
straight because it cost careful planning. Ndebele children now realise that
ignorance of Shona is a serious handicap and have, therefore, slowly but
surely grown to accept the inevitable relegation of their own language to an
insignificant and parasitical second class means of communication restricted
to their homes or play in the streets. Ndebele can only play a translational
role in Zimbabwe and nothing else beyond this - check the Zimbabwe passport,
newspapers etc.
As Shonas, we can now freely traverse the length and breadth of the country
armed only with our language for communication. The same cannot be said of
Ndebele. We must take note that even when a Shona person makes an effort to
utter just a single "ngca" or "ka" for "qa" the Ndebele stupidly get amused
or fascinated like we used to when a white man attempted to speak Shona for
instance, if the white man in church spoke broken Shona, like "imwari yedu"
you could not miss the excitement and aoppreciation on the faces of the
black congregation who believed in the superiority of the English language.
The sell-out tea boy, Morgan Tsvangirai, rides on this crest of success of
our policy to elevate Shona to undisputed one National official language. We
gather that when he roves around denouncing the President in his party's
stronghold of Matabeleland he addresses his rallies in Shona. He better be
advised that this is filthy opportunism as he exploits R.G.'s deeds at the
same time trying to destroy him politically. In any case he is politically a
product of Zanu turned prodigal son. The ZCTU which shot him to prominence
was established by Zanu in the interest of the oppressed workers and Tea-boy
better put his act together. Ziva kwawakabva! Or else hemlock is ready for
you Mr. Chameleon.
Roughly 95% of Government jobs in Matabeleland and almost 100% in the rest
of the country are held by Shonas. We cited the relevant departments earlier
and added to them are parastatals such Dairibord (DZ Ltd), Railways, CSC,
GMB, where all positions that matter as well as low grade jobs are
invariably in Shona hands. Exceedingly heartening is the fact that the
private sector went ahead without waiting for directives to implement the
policy successfully. This includes factories, banks, construction companies
Training in tertiary institutions too has played a very significant role, as
it is critical that in manpower development due attention is paid to giving
skills to the Majority indigenous Shona who will be able to take up
employment opportunities always. Teachers' Colleges, Polytechs,
Universities, all reflect in their enrolment, Shona dominance regardless of
where the institution is located in the country. The most educated people
are Shonas consequently.
With time cities such as Bulawayo will be Shona dominated as predicted
accurately by the late hero Herbert Ushewokunze who at some point ill-timed
the naming of Mtshabezi dam of Mwanakuridza. It is a well known fact that
the job distribution in the city council of Bulawayo is skewed in favour of
Ndebeles. However,it is pleasing that this is the only employer in
Matabeleland with a majority of Ndebeles. Efforts must be made to put them
in line with the present trend.
The resistance to the teaching of Shona in all schools in Matabeleland will
soon fizzle out. More and more teaching posts are being taken up by Shona
college graduates and appointments of Shona school heads has already been
won. Students/pupils in all schools in that part of the country will, in the
not too distant future be mostly Shona. We must not forget what Nathan
Shamuyarira once observed in the 1979 Grand Plan "the only way to weaken the
Ndebele is to deprive him of an education." Shona is taught in all teachers'
colleges countrywide but Ndebele is confined to Matabeleland colleges and
pressure must continue to be applied to limit the teaching of Ndebele to
those few who happen to be enrolled.
Some churches too are beginning to realise the trend of the times. They have
introduced strictly Shona services -a very pertinent move towards achieving
our goal. All churches nation-wide must conduct services in Shona to achieve
that national cohesion and singular Zimbabwe national identity. However,
there are some Bishops of a known church organisation pretending to be
self-anointed champions of a Ndebele lost cause. Their days are certainly
numbered as the 4th Chimurenga will leave no stone unturned, even religious
stones will roll.
In fact, there is no such portion of this country called Matabeleland. This
was colonial mischief at its worst, in order to apply the divide and rule
barbaric policy. How could invaders have a place named after their tribe as
if they were legitimate inhabitants?
Our culture, robust and durable as ever, is spreading swiftly throughout the
country and the agents are known to us all. Shona cultural trends are
emerging in areas of "rowora" traditionally bastardised as "lobola" where
astronomical bride prices are now being sought by every Zimbabwean parent.
Burial rites like mock drama in imitation of the deceased's fond habits are
now done even where no Shona person is present.
Once a trend is self-perpetuating, it ceases to need monitoring as it gets
weaned off from its architect. The drum and dance at funeral wakes and our
trust and faith in black magic have all permeated the social value
structures of our former masters.
National public addresses at official functions are done in Shona. Being a
Shona is now a source of pride particularly in Shona assimilates who in
place of that cultural void, have received a reward to fill in the gap as a
result of seeking redemption from Shonas.
Marriage partner preferences bear further testimony to the superiority of
Shonas. Ndebele girls will without exception opt to marry a Shona man given
a choice between men from the two groups. This is not without reason.
Ndebele men are often savage and brutal prospective husbands. They are
ungiving, unprotective and stingy. Since time immemorial, Shona men have
enjoyed the luxury of making Ndebele girls pregnant and then deserting them.
There are several benefits from this. The young ladies lose out on
education, hence on reliable sources of income, eventually resorting to
prostitution. In fact, our Shona drama script writers have captured this
when invariably all loose female characters playing the role of prostitute
or infidelity are given Ndebele names such as MaNcube, MaKhumalo. Secondly,
we have managed to dilute the Ndebeles since children fathered and left by
our brothers (illiegimates) are Ndebele by name but Shonas by blood. This is
a legitimate form of struggle. The end justifies the means. The true Ndebele
population is shrinking and we can all be catalysts in this.
Business opportunities
The emergence of Shona indigenous black business entrepreneurs is another
great achievement towards our goal. Most black owned retail shops in
Bulawayo belong to Shona people, the Chigumiras, Munyoros etc. Most black
owned firms in manufacturing, communication, engineering, clothing,
transport, belong to Shonas, in the so called Matabeleland. Names such as
Phillip Chiyangwa, that whiz-kid who turns anything he touches into gold,
are now household names especially amongst fighters for black empowerment.
Chiyangwa and others are leading the crusade to funnel every industrial and
commercial asset in Bulawayo and elsewhere into Shona hands.
Consumable products such as milk, beef, soups carry Shona labels. The
purpose here is to force the die-hard Ndebele families to start using Shona
words in their home. Language describes one's surroundings and it is
becoming abundantly clear to the Ndebele that this situation is inescapable
and R.G. must take credit for it all.
Combined effort
The military, cultural, economic and political assaults complimented one
another very well to bring about the sterling achievements cited above. The
success of the business enterprises mentioned elsewhere was well calculated.
The appointment of a Shona to head the Central Bank (Reserve Bank) ensured
that no one else gets a banking licence except Shonas, paving the way for
the establishment of indigenous banks with branches all over the country by
Shonas only.
We now have a Shona dominated banking sector which used to be a preserve of
foreigners and there is no doubt that this development is pivotal to the
indigenisation process. Despite serving everyone, regardless of race,
colour,creed, tribe, these banks have fulfilled their role in our struggle
for Shona dominance and therefore would like to congratulate Julius Makoni
of National Merchant Bank (NMB), Leonard Nyemba of Trust Bank (Trustfin),
Gideon Gono of the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), Francis Nhema of
Zimbabwe Building Society (ZBS), Thata Mutunhu of Agribank, Nigel Chanakira
of Kingdom Bank - the list is endless. Recently one of these banks helped to
establish a Shona person in the heart of Matabeleland North farming area of
Nyamandlovu, on the acquifer - the most valuable land in this area. The
Shona man from Gweru was facilitated with a $60 million loan to takeover a
highy priced productive dairy enterprise from a Swindells, who could only
take from the Kershelmar Dairies, his personal belongings before he left for
Australia. The Tagariras, also Shonas from Bulawayo, have taken over large
properties in the same area, thanks to these banks and A2 resettlement. More
and more large properties (farms) in Matabeleland, especially
Nyamandlovu,have fallen into Shona hands under the A2 Fast Track
Resettlement. Shona workers are employed on these farms. One must be a fool
to fail to realise such political astuteness on the part of our leader.
Most of those who are ungrateful to Zanu for these achievements are ignorant
of the fact that the 1979 Grand Plan intended to facilitate funding for
budding Shona business enterprises in farming, the hotel industry, the
purchase of large industrial complexes being sold by migrating former
Rhodesians such as G & D in Bulawayo. We must appreciate that wherever these
banks occur in the country, 100% of the staff is Shona.
R.G. sourced funds from the IMF and World Bank and then channelled them into
loan disbursement programmes through these banks. No foreign owned
commercial bank could be trusted with such funds lest they fail to apply the
relevant discrimination against the Ndebeles. Indigenous banks funnelled the
funds into Shona hands. And therefore our obligation is to ensure that the
noises made by IMF and company about non-payment does not hurt us
politically because the money was put to good use. Those young Shonas
tempted to shun the party should seek more information on the 1979 Grand
Plan of Zanu.
This brings us to the very sensitive issue of land which has been a bone of
contention since the Ndebele occupation of Zimbabwe. Because the majority of
people in Bulawayo are Shonas, the rural areas must now be the target. This
can only be done through the resettlement programme. The deployment of
Shonas in Rural Matabeleland will be the last blow to break the spine of the
enemy. Because of this vision on our part, political power cannot be allowed
to slip into the hands of tyrants. In the words of the now maverick and
controversial Zvobgo being advice to Zapu "There is no less painful way for
you than to join Zanu". Nkomo capitulated in 1987 and we all know that the
Unity Accord was a farce or smokescreen face server for Zanu's one time
greatest foe and headache turned tool.
Shona supremacy is not a dream but a reality. Should you stand idle and fail
to throw your weight behind the leadership? Ask yourself whether you could
be where you are were it not for Mugabe and Zanu - educationally,
politically, economically, etc. Land that is still in white hands must all
find its way into Shona hands. The courts can shout until the cows come
home. Many of us were sent to the gallows for demanding our independence.
The question of compensation is a non-starter, white farmers must go to
Australia via the UK to collect their compensation. Zanu is simply returning
to the rightful owners what is rightfully theirs. Food shortages will soon
be a thing of the past - we must persevere. Those whites who bought farms
are as guilty as their fathers who horse-pegged Zimbabwean land, parcelling
it out to world war fighters, because they received stolen property. The
ongoing agrarian revolution must be won or else our independence shall
remain hollow. The party will continue to use Nkomo's fighters to further
the cause but we must know when and how to dump them so that their presence
within our ranks does not unmake our victories in the area of marginalising
them. Fortunately, most of them are not intellectually gifted enough to
suspect that we are still guided by the 1979 Grand Plan. Zanu will not
change - Zipra should change to accept that they are foreigners and
therefore not entitled to enjoy the benefits of being Zimbabweans. So far
they have done well in striking terror in the hearts of their MDC
colleagues. The struggle is a process - from Mgagau/Morogoro to the
establishment of Shona Nationhood, onward ever!
The deeds of the Great Man must be told while they leave. We need to refocus
in view of the presence of the enemy within our ranks.
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Tycoon jailed for 10 years over business rival's death
By David Millward
(Filed: 26/10/2002)

Nicholas van Hoogstraten, the tycoon responsible for a campaign of
intimidation against a business rival, was jailed for 10 years for
manslaughter yesterday.

The property developer smirked in the dock of the Old Bailey as Mr Justice
Newman, who had previously warned him that he was considering a life term,
handed down the sentence for his part in the killing of Mohammed Raja.

Amjad Raja: 'He should have got life'
Hoogstraten, who the court was told displayed "narcissistic" and "paranoid"
personality traits, only showed emotion on being told that he would have to
pay more than £120,000 in court costs.

"By that are you suggesting that I am not a victim here," he snapped at the
judge, before being led to the cells.

The millionaire, who had sacked his legal team, confidently predicted he
would soon be freed in a letter written to a Telegraph journalist.

Judge Newman's decision to impose a 10-year term was described as
"disappointing" by the victim's son, Amjad Raja, 42. "The family firmly
believes he is responsible for our father's death," Mr Raja said. "The
people he sent round to murder our father, we feel he should have got life
as well."

The jailing of Hoogstraten, one of the country's wealthiest men, came almost
three months after he was convicted for his part in the death of Mr Raja.

Two other men - David Croke and Robert Knapp - were given life sentences for
murder, Hoogstraten was found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter
after the jury accepted that the tycoon had sent his two henchmen to
intimidate his victim.

Mr Raja, who was involved in a lengthy legal dispute with Hoogstraten, was
stabbed and shot on the doorstep of his home in Sutton, south London, on
July 2, 1999.

The civil case has still not been settled and Mr Raja's family is seeking £5
million damages for alleged fraud. They also plan a further legal action for
the personal injury and distress suffered by Mr Raja's grandsons - Waheed
and Rizvan - who were in the house at the time of the murder.

In an unsuccessful plea for the right to appeal Peter Kelson, QC,
Hoogstraten's new counsel, said there were "particular and cogent" grounds
for challenging the original conviction.

The jury, he said, have found the tycoon responsible for sending two men to
intimidate Mr Raja, but not to inflict any harm on the Pakistan-born

This was rejected by the judge who told Mr Kelson it would be "fanciful" to
suggest that Hoogstraten had instructed the two men to go no further than
inflicting "a punch on the nose".

He told Hoogstraten: "I sentence you on the basis that you were the
instigator of a terrifying piece of intimidation which was designed to
convey a threat to Mr Raja that he would be caused really serious bodily
harm or be killed.

"It should not be forgotten this action you took against Mr Raja was the
last in what on the evidence had been a case of aggravation of which Mr Raja
had been in fear for a number of years."

Sentencing had been delayed to allow the court to receive psychiatric
assessments on Hoogstraten.

Ian Cumming, who compiled a report for the court, concluded that the tycoon
had "narcissistic and paranoid" personality traits, although he did not
suffer from any mental illness or disorder.

The judge, who had observed Hoogstraten during the trial, concluded: "He
never takes any responsibility for the things he has done. The reports show
he always thinks he is in the right."

Judge Newman recalled the tycoon's occasionally bizarre behaviour during the
trial - which at one point included a threat to walk out of the witness box.

Speaking outside the court Giovanni di Stefano, who has been engaged by
Hoogstraten as a legal adviser, said the tycoon would still be appealing
against conviction.

25 October 2002: Tycoon refuses to leave his cell
12 October 2002: Hoogstraten faces fine for contempt
23 July 2002: Hoogstraten faces life for killing rival
20 July 2002: Tycoon trial pair guilty of murder
18 April 2002: Tycoon in murder case 'called Asian victim a maggot'
17 July 2001: Van Hoogstraten held over killing

Previous story: Richard Harris dies at 72
Next story: Five years for 15-year-old knife killer

   Related reports

Mugabe to seize tycoon's lands

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Daily Telegraph 26 October 2002

Mugabe plans to seize rest of tycoon's lands
By Peta Thorneycroft in Harare
(Filed: 26/10/2002)

The jailed tycoon was facing ruin in Zimbabwe last night as the Mugabe
regime announced plans to seize the rest of his land.
Hoogstraten learned that his remaining estates will be confiscated by the
authorities along with 97 per cent of white-owned land.
At his peak, he owned nine farms in Zimbabwe totalling 400,000 acres and
28,000 cattle. He also enjoyed a lucrative government contract to provide
beef to Mugabe's troops fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He managed to stave off wholesale confiscation two years ago, surrendering
4,800 acres of land - far less than other white owners were expected to
As a result of the latest announcement, those administering his property in
Zimbabwe are left with less than 20,000 cattle to be sold on the open
However, Hoogstraten will be allowed to retain his luxury home in Harare.
The confiscation comes despite Hoogstraten's years of highly vocal support
for "Comrade Mugabe". The extent of his contributions to the ruling Zanu-PF
party remains a mystery.
Some believe his association with Mugabe was less close than the tycoon
maintained although the regime regarded him as "useful" in its propaganda
war at the start of the white land seizures.
Many of his interests are faring badly. On Central Estates in Mvuma, 120
miles south of Harare, wildlife operations have closed down and cheques have
Eastdale Ranch, about 30 miles further south, has been abandoned and is now
occupied by Mugabe supporters. Essexvale Ranch, near Bulawayo, has been
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Dear readers
We have had several emails requesting more reports on what is happening to wildlife in Zimbabwe and some asking how they can help. I have written to a few people asking for information - see below - and will continue to look for more.

"Herewith a letter written back in July, from Sharon, to our Wild Life Committee chairman, Pam Birch. Several things have changed since then.....numerous elies HAVE been snared, & it would appear by the size AND the heavy duty of the wire being used, that the elies ARE being deliberately targetted.!! Horrible...since these elies are almost "tame" they are so habituated to man."

Saturday, October 26, 2002 7:45 PM
"Thanks for your note.  Here is a photo of the baby ele.  Sharon's email address is below.  she also has things on a web site which you can look at.
She said I could pass this on.  Here's what she says.
"The address is - and you select News, then Sponsorships, then Nature.  I usually write at least one story every month, sometimes more.  There's stories there from March last year, with the most current ones appearing at the end of the list."
The hyena lady, Julia Saliniki also has a web site which is (from her)
"Email: Web Site: (Use Yahoo Search Engine)".
The painted dog project also has a newsletter and web site.  -  The newsletter is called "dog tales", and the web site has links to other wildlife sites.
We can put your friend on the Matebeleland NEWSLETTER mailing list, if you like.
Hope this is of interest to you.  In view of your interest,I think that we will put these addresses in the next newsletter.
Thanks and keep in touch.
Regards, Foster Betts"

.... the day after the snare removal

Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2002 10:37 AM
Subject: Snared Elephants on the Hwange Estate

Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Sharon Pincott.  (Pam  -  we have met once before when I was in Bulawayo with Julia Salnicki.)  I have been in Zimbabwe undertaking a "social structure and population dynamics" study of the 'Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe' since March of 2001.  I have permits until April 2004, however I hope to continue this research and conservation project for many more years after that.  Apart from a fujifilm sponsorship (for elephant identification photography), I am currently self-funded.
Being out all day, every day, with the elephants I see some amazing sights  -  and some horrific ones.  There are many highs.  Snared elephants are the lows.
Please let me give you a little background :
In 1990 President Mugabe issued a special protection decree, as a symbol of Zimbabwe's commitment to responsible wildlife management, for the perpetual safety of a group of elephants since known as 'The Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe'.  These wild elephants, when their numbers were significantly less, came to accept the close presence of vehicles and their occupants.  Today the herd of over 500 is arguably the most habituated in Africa.  They roam freely on the 140 square kilometre, unfenced, Hwange Estate on the edge of the great Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
At a time when Zimbabwe is facing turbulent times, these gentle giants are under constant threat from increased poaching.  The poachers are not intending to snare the elephants.  Elephants, unlike smaller animals like antelope, usually break free from the snares.  They then, however, wander around hideously maimed, mutilated and in pain.  If a snare is not removed, the elephant's chances of survival are of course slim.
This is a man-inflicted injury.  It is not nature's doing.  Darting is necessary to remove the snare, with massive amounts of antibiotics subsequently needing to be injected.
Funding for darts, needles, immobilising drugs and antibiotics is required to allow us to help these magnificent beasts.  Anti-poaching teams also need to be increased, to help ensure that the majority of snares are located and destroyed before they do untold damage.
Darting would be carried out by Greg Rasmussen, the head of the local Painted Dog Research Project.  Greg is the only person in this area with experience in darting elephant.  We have recently had extensive correspondence with elephant experts in various African countries (kindly arranged with assistance from Iain Douglas-Hamilton in Kenya, and Joyce Poole of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project), and now feel confident that we can proceed successfully, funding permitting.
Itemised costs, per snare removal, are currently being determined.
The purpose of this e-mail is to gauge your interest in helping financially with such an endeavour.  We can, of course, not be certain that I will encounter further snared elephants (and I hope of course that I don't), however, I recently saw 4 newly snared elephants in just 4 weeks, and there's no reason to believe that the situation here in Zimbabwe is going to improve.  We need to be prepared.
I am attaching in a separate e-mail four photographs to show you the types of injury that I am seeing of late.  I have many other snared elephant photographs available should you wish to view them.
I hope soon to also expand my research project to include "home range" data.  The home range of the presidential elephants is currently unknown.  They spend much of their time on the Hwange Estate, but clearly venture elsewhere.  Collaring a few key known individuals would, amongst other things, help to determine which areas the elephants are moving between, and hence, which areas we must concentrate on for snare removal.  Funding for collars and microlight tracking time would be necessary to achieve this.  These costings are also currently being determined.
I thank you sincerely for your time to review this initial proposal.  I will of course supply any further information that you might need.
Please do let me know if you think that you may be able to help, or if you know of an organisation that perhaps could.
With kind regards,
Sharon Pincott
(Presidential Elephant Research and Conservation Project)
PO Box 121

The Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe

June 2002



Some of the original “Presidential” elephants :


The four female elephants that Alan Elliott refers to in his ‘Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’ coffee-table book are still sighted regularly on the Hwange Estate.


“Skew Tusk” (the matriarch of the “S” family group) is estimated now to be approximately 46 years old.  Her latest calf was born last July.  Having recently broken both of her tusks, she is less distinctive looking these days with her skewed tusk currently quite short.  She is, however, still doing well and is now totally at ease with vehicles, often wandering close to the research 4WD with her calf in tow.  Tuskless “Inkosikazi” (the matriarch of the “A” family group, who has been renamed “Annie” for study purposes), is now estimated to be approximately 50 years old.  Her latest calf is approximately 2 years old.  “Ridge” (the matriarch of the “W” family group, who, with a big “W” injury in her right ear, has been renamed “Wendy” for study purposes) also has a calf approximately 2 years old.  “Disc” (the matriarch of the “D” family group), still with her big floppy ear, seems to be spending increasing amounts of time on the Estate with her family group.


At least two of these elephants  -  “Skew Tusk” and “Inkosikazi”  -  based on the text of the ‘Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe’ coffee-table book  -  have been known to be utilising the Hwange Estate as part of their home range for over 28 years, and still continue to do so.



Elephant Movements :


The elephant groups are most regularly sighted around Konondo, Mpofu and Mtaka pans.  All three of these pans are pumped by ‘Touch the Wild’.  As long as water remains available, the elephants will no doubt continue to find refuge on the Hwange Estate.


The home range of the ‘Presidential Elephants’ is currently unknown, although it is believed that they spend time inside the National Park.  It is hoped, as part of the current ‘social structure and population dynamics’ study, that a number of elephants can eventually be collared (with microlites used for tracking purposes) in order to determine where the elephant groups go when they temporarily move off the Estate.



Elephant Numbers :


There is no doubt that the number of elephants on the Hwange Estate is increasing.  There is a predominance of young, with the current population seemingly dominated with calves under 10 years old.  There appears currently to also be an influx of calves under 12 months old.  Having witnessed, on a number of occasions over the past year, a clan of elephants at Konondo pan numbering in excess of 300, there is little doubt that their total number could currently lie somewhere in the vicinity of 400-500.


As soon as the in-progress photo identification library is more complete, an accurate population count will be determined.



Poaching Problem :


Snared elephants are becoming an increasingly unwelcome sight.  Often effecting small calves, snares have been sighted around heads, around necks, around legs and around trunks.  Clearly, the poachers aren’t intending to catch an elephant, however it seems that the elephants are often the unfortunate victims.  Surprisingly, other animal species on the Hwange Estate are currently being sighted less frequently with snares.  Perhaps this is because the poachers are getting ‘better’ at setting their snares, and only the elephants are managing to break free from them.


Hopefully with funding from various local and international wildlife conservation agencies, and the advice of experts in the elephant field Africa-wide, we will be able to deal successfully with snare removal effecting the ‘Presidential Elephants’.  Plans are also in place to increase anti-poaching/anti-snare patrols on and around the Hwange Estate.



Elephant Impact on Vegetation :


A study, separate to the long-term ‘social structure and population dynamics’ study, is currently underway to determine the impact of elephant on the vegetation of the Hwange Estate.  This PhD thesis is due to be written up by late-2003.



Elephants at ease with humans :


Mothers still routinely bring their new born babies for introductions.  Just last week one of the members of the “A” family group used her trunk to encourage her new-born (still pink behind the ears, with ears still flat against the head) to come just inches from the door of the research vehicle.  There was no doubt that the mother was encouraging her baby to have no fear.


We are continuing to foster an environment where there is, in fact, no fear for the “Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe”.

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Dear Family and Friends,
I have watched international news coverage recently of horrors going on in other parts of the world to try and put the crisis in Zimbabwe into perspective. Maybe it's because I'm a woman or maybe it's because I'm getting older, but lots of things reduce me to tears these days. The night club bombing in Bali, the sniper in Washington and the rebels holding 700 people captive in a Russian theatre have all caused much despair in my heart. When you see ordinary people losing everything that they treasure and just sobbing in the street you begin to wonder if the whole world has gone mad. Amidst all these tragedies there are two common factors and that is that when something goes horribly wrong, the worlds cameras are there and the citizens of a country turn to their police and army for help. These two binding factors are the very things that Zimbabwe so desperately needs.
We have no one to turn to for help and the feeling of aloneness is utterly soul destroying. A few weeks ago I wrote about the wife of the commander of Zimbabwe's army seizing one of our last farms and telling the owners they had better leave in a hurry because she hadn't tasted white blood for 22 years. This week the news broke that this very woman not only seized someone's farm and destroyed their lives, she went on to sell all the farmers produce and pocket the money. Jocelyn Chiwenga sold the stolen produce to the Sainsbury supermarket chain in England and realised half a million pounds in the process. Contacted by newspapers, Sainsbury's supermarkets said they thought the farm had been legally taken over and the owners compensated.
This is one example of thousands which demonstrate how alone we have become and how so few people really know what is happening here. Farmers have not been paid, compensation has not been given and not one single part of the entire land re-distribution here has been legal. There are no foreign journalists left in Zimbabwe to tell our story and no one for us to turn to for help inside the country because the very people who should be protecting us, are at the head of the pillage and destruction of Zimbabwe.
If the world's cameras were here then I wouldn't have to tell you that Zimbabwe is slowly and painfully starving to death. I won't bore you with the increasingly long list of staple food items that are no longer available in our shops but the tragedy for us all is just beginning. This week I travelled from Marondera to Harare and the view from the window can only be described as utterly desolate. On the 67 kilometre journey through what was always prime and very productive farm land there is literally only one crop to be seen on the side of the road. This is a small 5 hectare square of tobacco. The dairy cows are gone. The beef herds no longer exist, there are no sheep or goats to see. The timber plantations have been felled and cut up into piles of wood which are being sold on the roadsides by thin, hungry men. Youngsters stand with jars of wild honey and women with small enamel bowls of wild Mahobohobo fruits. The vegetable stalls are all gone. You can no longer buy fresh farm produce as there are no plums or mushrooms, no potatoes or oranges. There is absolutely nothing here anymore. Most of the fencing has gone and leaves a deserted and desolate look to the countryside. The biggest tragedy of it all is that there is no sign whatsoever of any production on all these farms that have been seized by our government and security forces. There is no sign of land preparation, the fields have not been ploughed and the soil has not been turned. Sweeping fields which once held wheat, maize and vegetables or were filled with sheep and cattle are lying barren. The only thing to see is little dusty footpaths zig-zagging into the horizon. There is a hand painted sign on the main highway which says "Wooden flowers for sale" and further on two men sit with their wares which are varnished tree roots and drift wood.
This morning I wept as I held an emigrating friends dog in my arms as it was euthenased and then I carried it home to be buried in my garden. The vet is no longer able to bury dogs as his property too has been taken over in this insanity which our government says is correcting historical imbalances and giving land to the landless. An entire country has been destroyed by a political party determined to stay in power but not interested in the suffering of the people.  When will the world hear our cry for help? Until next week, with love, cathy. Copyright Cathy Buckle 25th Oct 2002
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