Friday, January 14, 2011

By Oscar Nkala

BULAWAYO - A group led by ZANU PF supporters and war veterans have invaded Denlynian and Tamari Wildlife farms in Beitbridge where they have ransacked the places, decimated endangered wildlife species, stolen 7 km of 16 strand game fencing to make snares and destroyed more than 200 hectares of virgin forest through veldfires.

The group, which calls itself the 'Zhovhe Conservancy Society' is composed of civil servants, members of the army, the police, the Central Intelligence Organisation, Beitbridge Rural District Council staff and ZANU PF activists.

In a statement, Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce (ZCTF) chairman Johnny Rodrigues expressed dismay at the continued invasions of wildlife farms and the wanton destruction of property, including endangered game species at the farms.

"It is now ten years since the implementation of the land reform programme and the very few game farms left are still being invaded. The invaders have spent the last ten years vandalising the properties and slaughtering the wildlife that was previously abundant. They have especially targeted zebra and eland. The eland population has dropped from 973 in 2000 to 374 - a drop of 560 animals and the zebra population has fallen from 871 to 163 animals, a drop of 708 animals," Rodrigues said.

He added that the invaders are creating an ecological disaster, destroying nearly 200 hectares of trees to open up land for tillage when the land is only fit for widlife farming.

"The ecosystem is now so fragile that if the land is tilled, the soil will end up in the river. Seven kilometres of 16 strand game fence has been stolen to make snares wire snares - a total of 112 km of wire. We have received information that 7 animals were killed last week comprising eland, wildebeest, impala and the slaughter is continuing."

He said the owners of the invaded game farms had checked with the Deeds Registry office and found no organisation registered as the Zhovhe Conservancy Co-operative. The invaders have also reportedly ignored several court orders to leave the farm, and the police, who are among the invaders, have so far refused to enforce the court orders.

Environment minister Francis Nhema declined to comment on the developments in Beitbridge saying he could only do so after receiving a full report on the situation from his officers on the ground. "For now I cannot comment because no one has raised the issue with me. Its news to me," Nhema said.

The ongoing plunder of wildlife, particularly elephants, rhinos and zebras has grown into a highly lucrative industry and security forces and government officials have been implicated in many detailed reports. However, no one has been arrested and there are no indications that the state will be swooping on the high profile poachers who still walk the corridors of power in this country.

Moroka Media

Hunger stalks Matabeleland South

By Oscar Nkala

BULAWAYO - The Matopos mountain range is the first sign of magnificence to capture the visitor's eye on the drive south down the rough patch of strip road that links Bulawayo and Kezi. One good look at the rolling terrain of huge balancing rocks, poised at impractical angles among toppy peaks and table-shaped granites as big as the National Sports Stadium fully explains why British colonial crusader Cecil John Rhodes chose these mountains for his final resting place, and they become more beautifully inclined on both sides of the worn-out mountain track that now passes for a main road as one sweeps round the heart-stoppingly narrow passes towards the monumental Njelele shrine.

By the time the visitor gets to Kezi, a small, barren little hovel of a town located exactly 70 km from Bulawayo, they may have a camera full with photos of thin donkeys, emanciated cattle, rickety goats, skinny adult humans, malnourished infants, bare-footed school children, grumbling teachers and community leaders who all tell the sad but true story that plays out daily in the gloomy rural villages behind the magnificent mountains. It is not about the tourism dollars that these well-marketed mountains and the many beautiful pleasure sites within them earn the national fiscus, but rather, about the famine that is silently ravaging Matobo and the entire province of Matabeleland South.

In Silozwi village, Onias Moyo said the pre-harvest hunger is now so bad that children may soon be unable go to school because they have not eaten decent meals in months. "Until July last year, we had enough food to survive on but now we have to buy all basic food items. We do not have the money. My family relies on seasonal labour in the neighbours' fields but this year there was nothing of that sort. We used to eat one meal per day but now we go for as long as two days without eating a decent meal. The children can't go to school on empty stomachs," Moyo said.

A nurse at Nathisa Rural Health Centre lamented an astronomic increase in the number of people suffering from malnutrition-related diseases, especially among children aged between 1 and 8 years. "Most of the children suffer from conditions ranging from manageable under-nourishment to severe malnutrition which requires hospitalisation. There is no food in the homes and the little that gets by is hard food, which is not fit for consumption by children. Among adults, malnutrition is widespread but it is more prevalent among those living with HIV/AIDS. They cannot get the special foods they need and often-times they are brought here half -dead. Its that tragic," said the nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Edward Motlokwa, a community development leader in Mbembeswana narrated how the daily horrors of seeking food have stripped the deeply conservative Ndebele community of its main pillars of dignity. He said most people have sold their cattle to unscrupulous city buyers for a pittance to get money for food, a giant retreat on one of the cardinal values of a community where the mere posesssion of a sizeable herd of cattle places one several cuts above the best, earning them recognition and respect.

"Hunger is stripping people of their very symbol of dignity. In our culture cattle are a non-negotiable measure of a man's dignity. A man without cattle is knows he is not a man but here we are, selling that very symbol of dignity to survive for just one day. The (traditional) chiefs may choose to remain silent about this for their own reasons but I want to put it on record that this silent hunger scourge is killing people daily.
It is because of the government's failure that people die like flies every year from a perennial drought condition we have known since we were born."

"Basic geography says Matabeleland South is drought territory and it plays out with visible fatalities every year. But is the government doing anything about it? No, they are busy telling us to write a constitution on empty stomachs. They feed us a diet of empty promises, they pledge sympathies that never go beyond words when all we are asking for are the irrigation schemes, nutrition gardens and self-help projects so that we can fight the hunger ourselves," Mtlokwa said.

A teacher at Mahongola Primary School in the Ntalale Communal lands of Gwanda South told Moroka Media Features that worsening starvation has drastically reduced class attendance rates. She said pupils frequently abandon lessons to join the daily family search for food. "The next time they pop into class they report that they had been sent to some relative or friend somewhere to find food. Others operate as mobile vendors selling vegetables, tomatoes, wild figs and live animals such as chickens and goats. They spend the whole day dragging these animals on leashes from one village to the next looking for buyers. The problem was worsened by the pull-out of non-governmental organisations that used to provide nutri-meal porridge in schools. The feeding programme really helped keep the children in class," she said.

Elizabeth Ndlovu is a community leader from Buvuma, a densely populated community located on the north-western fringe of the fast-encroaching desert that looks set to overrun Gwanda South in the next few years. She accuses the government of failing in disaster planning and asks why President Robert Mugabe has to this day not declared the drought ravaging Matabeleland South a national disaster.

"The failure begins right at the Presidency. If he (Mugabe) is as learned as we are told he is, he would know that we cannot do rain-fed agriculture but we need irrigation schemes. We are only asking government to revive derelict irrigation schemes like Guyu-Chelesa, Jaluhanga, Makwe and many others which need basic infrastructure revamp by way of new pumps, canals and piping. We have other nutrition gardens that have broken down boreholes which only need fixing. We promise not to cry out for more if government can do that for us,' she said.

She says there is a widespread feeling in the communities that parties in the inclusive government have opted to gain cheap political mileage out of the famine rather than help the people. "This disaster was there starring at us as early as January 2010. The political principals, whatever that means, did not miss the opportunity and they swarmed here to make patronising speeches about their endless sympathy with our plight."

"ZANU PF was top-heavy, sending in both Vice-Presidents Joyce Mujuru and John Nkomo, MDC-T did the same with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputyThokozani Khuphe and MDC sent in Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in a short space of time in March last year. They all made promises which would have turned Gwanda South into a welfare enclave in a matter of weeks had they been fulfilled. We said then that they were lying and now time has vindicated us," she said.

Matabeleland South provincial administrator David Mpofu admitted that drought is ravaging people and livestock in all districts. He said the communities would be better off with irrigation schemes but the incapacitation of government agencies like the Zimbabwe National Water Authority and the folding up of the District Development Fund, stands in the way of successful rehabilitation of the boreholes, small dams and irrigation infrastructure essential to the sustenance of community based food security initiatives.

He said the current famine is a case of hunger in the land of plenty because the food is there but the people are unable to buy it because they have no money. "There was a time when we were looking at the shortages within particular districts but from June last year the situation became the same for the entire province with the only difference being that some households are more vulnerable than others when we look at the sources of income," Mpofu said.

Deputy Labour and Social Welfare minister Andrew Langa said the government is aware of the crisis in Matabeleland South but has no money to provide free food aid. He said they are also having serious difficulties in running the pilot food-for-work programmes launched in some districts mid-last year, which have since collapsed. "Government is doing all it can to assist the people out of the disaster but we have serious financial resource constraints as I am sure you are aware. The national Social Welfare Fund is empty and we cannot sustain anyone on it. That is why people are encouraged to go for the food for work schemes. Many ministries are involved in various ways and will soon be acting to contain the overall problem of hunger and the drought that causes it," Langa told Moroka Media Features.

A drought assessment study conducted early last year by teams from the government and aid agencies revealed that Matabeleland South needs up to 9 000 tonnes of grains per month to survive up to the beginning of the 2011 harvest, at costs running into millions of US dollars. Aid agencies estimate the number of distressed people to be close to 750 000, the bulk of them being children, the sick, the aged and orphan-headed households. They predict an increase in the number of vulnerable households in the first month of this year, a trend widely expected to continue until the harvests begins in March.

Moroka Media

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Botha speaks.....and you will hate to believe this

THE FOLLOWING is a speech made by former South African President P.W. Botha to his Cabinet. This reprint was written by David G. Mailu for the Sunday Times, a South African newspaper, dated August 18, 1985.

" Pretoria has been made by the White mind for the White man. We are not obliged even the least to try to prove to anybody and to the Blacks that we are superior people. We have demonstrated that to the Blacks in a thousand and one ways. The Republic of South Africa that we know of today has not been created by wishful thinking.

We have created it at the expense of intelligence, sweat and blood. Were they Afrikaners who tried to eliminate the Australian Aborigines? Are they Afrikaners who discriminate against Blacks and call them Nigge*rs in the States? Were they Afrikaners who started the slave trade? Where is the Black man appreciated?

discriminates against its Black and their "Sus" law is out to discipline the Blacks. Canada , France , Russia , and Japan all play their discrimination too. Why in the hell then is so much noise made about us? Why are they biased against us?

I am simply trying to prove to you all that there is nothing unusual we are doing that the so called civilized worlds are not doing. We are simply an honest people who have come out aloud with a clear philosophy of how we want to live our own White life.

We do not pretend like other Whites that we like Blacks. The fact that, Blacks look like human beings and act like human beings do not necessarily make them sensible human beings. Hedgehogs are not porcupines and lizards are not crocodiles simply because they look alike. If God wanted us to be equal to the Blacks, he would have created us all of a uniform colour and intellect.

But he created us differently: Whites, Blacks, Yellow, Rulers and the ruled. Intellectually, we are superior to the Blacks; that has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt over the years. I believe that the Afrikaner is an honest, God fearing person, who has demonstrated practically the right way of being.

Nevertheless, it is comforting to know that behind the scenes, Europe, America , Canada , Australia -and all others are behind us in spite of what they say. For diplomatic relations, we all know what language should be used and where. To prove my point, Comrades, does anyone of you know a White country without an investment or interest in South Africa ?

Who buys our gold? Who buys our diamonds? Who trades with us? Who is helping us develop other nuclear weapon? The very truth is that we are their people and they are our people. It's a big secret. The strength of our economy is backed by America , Britain , Germany . It is our strong conviction, therefore, that the Black is the raw material for the White man.

So Brothers and Sisters, let us join hands together to fight against this Black devil. I appeal to all Afrikaners to come out with any creative means of fighting this war. Surely God cannot forsake his own people whom we are. By now every one of us has seen it practically that the Blacks cannot rule themselves. Give them guns and they will kill each other.

They are good in nothing else but making noise, dancing, marrying many wives and indulging in sex. Let us all accept that the Black man is the symbol of poverty, mental inferiority, laziness and emotional incompetence. Isn't it plausible? therefore that the White man is created to rule the Black man?

Come to think of what would happen one day if you woke up and on the throne sat a Kaff*ir! Can you imagine what would happen to our women? Does anyone of you believe that the Blacks can rule this country?

Hence, we have good reasons to let them all-the Mandelas-rot in prison, and I think we should be commended for having kept them alive in spite of what we have at hand with which to finish them off. I wish to announce a number of new strategies that should be put to use to destroy this Black bug.

We should now make use of the chemical weapon. Priority number one, we should not by all means allow any more increases of the Black population lest we be choked very soon. I have exciting news that our scientists have come with an efficient stuff.

I am sending out more researchers to the field to identify as many venues as possible where the chemical weapons could be employed to combat any further population increases. The hospital is a very strategic opening, for example and should be fully utilized. The food supply channel should be used.

We have developed excellent slow killing poisons and fertility destroyers. Our only fear is in case such stuff came in! ! to their hands as they are bound to start using it against us if you care to think of the many Blacks working for us in our domestic quarters.

However, we are doing the best we can to make sure that the stuff remains strictly in our hands. Secondly, most Blacks are vulnerable to money inducements. I have set aside a special fund to exploit this venue. The old trick of divide and rule is still very valid today. Our experts should work day and night to set the Black man against his fellow man.

His inferior sense of morals can be exploited beautifully. And here is a creature that lacks foresight. There is a need for us to combat him in long term projections that he cannot suspect. The average Black does not plan his life beyond a year: that stance, for example,should be exploited. My special department is already working round the clock to come out with a long-term operation blueprint. I am also sending a special request to all Afrikaner mothers to double their birth rate.

It may be necessary too to set up a population boom industry by putting up centres where we employ and support fully White
young men and women to produce children for the nation. We are also investigating the merit of uterus rentals as a possible means of speeding up the growth of our population through surrogate mothers.

For the time being, we should also engage a higher gear to make sure that Black men are separated from their women and fines imposed upon married wives who bear illegitimate children.

I have a committee working on finding better methods of inciting Blacks against each other and encouraging murders among themselves. Murder cases among Blacks should bear very little punishment in order to encourage them.

My scientists have come up with a drug that could be smuggled into their brews to effect slow poisoning results and fertility destruction. Working through drinks and manufacturing of soft drinks geared to the Blacks, could promote the channels of reducing their population. Ours is not a war that we can use the atomic bomb to destroy the Blacks, so we must use our intelligence to effect this. The person-to-person encounter can be very effective.

As the records show that the Black man is dying to go to bed with the White woman, here is our unique opportunity. Our Sex Mercenary Squad should go out and camouflage with Apartheid Fighters while doing their operations quietly administering slow killing poison and fertility destroyers to those Blacks they thus befriend.

We are modifying the Sex Mercenary Squad by introducing White men who should go for the militant Black woman and any other vulnerable Black woman. We have received a new supply of prostitutes from Europe and America who are desperate and too keen to take up the appointments.

My latest appeal is that the maternity hospital operations should be intensified. We are not paying those people to help bring Black babies to this world but to eliminate them on the very delivery moment. If this department worked very efficiently, a great deal could be achieved.

My Government has set aside a special fund for erecting more covert hospitals and clinics to promote this programme. Money can do anything for you. So while we have it, we should make the best use of it. In the meantime my beloved White citizens, do not take to heart what the world says, and don't be ashamed of being called racists.

I do not mind being called the architect and King of Apartheid. I shall not become a monkey simply because someone has called me a monkey. I will still remain your bright star. I thank you.PW Botha

Sourced by Bigboy Ngwenya, Australia

Monday, April 26, 2010

Zim supermarket chain to retrench 1000 workers

24 April 2010 - TM Hyper, one of Zimbabwe's leading supermarket brands says it will retrench at least 1050 workers across the country and merge some branches and departments in a move aimed at streamlining operations and trimming the staggering workforce.

An internal memo written by TM managing director Bisset Chimhini and circulated to management on April 10 revealed the company's plans to trim its 2 774-strong staff to a manageable 1 720, a move which will affect all branches nationwide.

“After going through the staff levels that were presented to me by the human sources manager, I have recommended reductions in all branches. All general managers are to justify case by case if they cannotoperate with such reductions,’’ the memo reads in part.

Chimhini said they will close down three branches in Chitungwiza, Nkulumane Complex in Bulawayo and Highlands in Harare at the end of April due to the high cost of rentals but retrain and re-deploy all permanent staff within the remaining brainches.

Branches in Victoria Falls, Hwange and kariba will be targetted for departmental mergers. “General managers from the different regions must choose the best section managers to manage the remaining departments after merging some of them."

Managers whose sections would have been merged will have to choose to get a salary reduction and be reduced to a shelf packer or a till operator. Those managers who choose the retrenchment option will be given packages to be discussed only between the company and the
affected persons.

Chimhini said the company was also cutting down on butchery and perishable operations because of electricity problems , and as such, managers from department will run their sections from home.

Workers who spoke to Moroka Media in Bulawayo said they weres surprised that management has not come out openly on whether they are retrenching or not.

"The news has caused a lot of anxiety and restlessness in the workforce, people want to know what those targetted for retrenchment will get as compensation. We are very disappointed that some people are discussing our fate, yet we are the only ones who are not involved," said one worker who preferred to remain anonymous.

TM is not the only one to retrench this year, but wil be first to retrench more than 1000 workers after Dunlop Zimbabwe, which is in the process of off-loading 102 workers and wholesaler R Chitrin and Company, which retrenched 20 staffers last month.

Moroka Media 2010

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Southern African countries consider spying on internet comms

Southern African countries including Zambia, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe are grappling with the question of whether to intercept and monitor mobile phone calls as well as Internet and other electronic services including communications over social networks.

While some countries are opening the telecom sector to all forms of services and social networks, others are closing up, claiming Internet and mobile phones are putting the security of the countries at risk. A number of laws and regulations are being developed by some Southern African countries that give powers to regulators, service providers and government security agents to censor Web sites and intercept mobile and Net-based calls.

But the technology sector is warning that the censorship laws are certain to scare away investments by regional and international service providers that may fear that investing in such countries restricts their freedom to roll out new services, including 3G technology.

The Malawi Communications and Regulatory Authority (Macra) has announced that it has passed a new regulation under which it will start monitoring the Internet and intercepting all electronic communications throughout the country. Macra is Malawi's telecom sector regulator. But it is the first time that the regulator is being given censorship powers by the government.

ISPs in Malawi will also be pressed by the new law to monitor social-networking sites including Twitter, Facebook and the Malawiana -- a local social-network site -- and any so-called "illegal content" in e-mail communications by Malawians on Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail and other e-mail services.

The law also means that digital satellite televisions will also be censored in Malawi.

Malawian Minister of Information Leckford Thotho said the government passed a law creating a new tool for censorship because the number of people with Internet and mobile phones access has increased over the past years.

"As the number of Internet users has been growing steadily over the past years, there is now a need to monitor what people were doing on the Internet to ensure that they do not involve themselves in unlawful acts," Thotho said.

Internet users in Malawi are already complaining that the Malawian government will be violating their privacy by reading e-mail and listening to their conversations.

Malawi has become the second country in Southern Africa after Namibia to develop Internet and mobile censorship laws. In July Namibian lawmakers passed the spy law, which calls for interception centers to be manned by secret service officers who can screen e-mail, SMS (short message system) texts and Internet usage, including banking services.

The Zambian government, on the other hand, said it has developed laws that allow people to communicate without government interference. The new Zambian law further allows service providers to deploy any form of technology on their networks that will allow subscribers to have access to services available around the world.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda said Zambian government was committed to providing an ICT regulatory environment that encourages private sector participation in the Zambian economy. Aware that spy laws scare away international telecom investors, Banda said he is confident that the current ICT reforms would generate national development through the use of ICT.

Banda said the Zambian government wants to use technology to enhance the country's national profile and its standing as a regional ICT hub.

The Zimbabwean government drafted and presented the spy bill to parliament, but it was later withdrawn after people protested.

Source: Agencies

Friday, August 28, 2009

'Crocodile Gang' feasts on Zim rhino

A shocking undercover journey reveals that a poaching cartel known as ‘The Crocodile Gang’, led by Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, is slaughtering rhinos and elephants to fulfill ‘requests’ for horn and ivory.

Dubbed the Crocodile Gang, this cartel - whose existence can be revealed by the Mail today - is behind the ‘industrial-scale slaughter’ of black rhinos, prompting warnings that the species will be hunted to extinction in the region within two years.

And the “godfather” of the poaching cartel is said to be Emmerson Mnangagwa - known by locals now as “The Crocodile.” Also referred to as “The Butcher of Matabeleland”, he is the architect of Zimbabwe’s terrifying state security apparatus, creator of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Office (CIO) - and rumored to be next in line for president after Mugabe.

Probably risking his life, Andrew Malone, a writer for The UK’s Daily Mail, reports that he went undercover, posing as an overseas buyer of illegal rhino horn to dig deeper into the widespread rhino massacre that stands to wipe out an entire species. What he reveals is an appalling world of cruelty, corruption, death threats - and the consequences suffered by those who have tried to speak out.

The meeting

Posing as an overseas buyer of illegal rhino horn, I was given an unprecedented insight into the sheer scale of the operation - and the vast sums involved. After making contact with the ivory cartel through an intermediary, we were instructed to drive 400 miles south-west of Harare and telephone a number using a pre-arranged codeword. There, after more elaborate instructions, we were told to drive to a remote location in Matabeleland, near the border with South Africa and Botswana.

Mr. Malone then describes meeting with a man named “Gerald” - who operates with members of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Office (CIO). Gerald has just returned from a “successful” rhino hunt - fulfilling the “order”placed by a Chinese buyer.

The rhino was being killed to order: a Chinese buyer had offered to pay £3,200 per kilo of rhino horn. ‘It wasn’t easy - there is no cover because it’s winter and the animal kept seeing us by the moonlight and running away,’ he told me.

After first shooting the rhino in the lungs, Gerald and his men pursue the wounded rhino for 12 hours. When the wounded rhino lay down to rest at a watering hole, Gerald and his men shot the rhino six times, and then hacked the horns from the animal’s face using the large, machete-like knives called pangas.

Gerald had sold the horns two days before our meeting. When I told him I would pay an even higher price, his eyes narrowed. He said. ‘I will contact you the next time.’

The case of the disappearing docket

Earlier this month, the involvement of Mnangagwa and Webster Shamu, Zimbabwe’s media and information minister, came into the spotlight when a police officer stopped a Chinese man at roadblock - and was found to be carrying six rhino horns, still bloody.

The Chinese man implicated Mnangagwa and Webster Shamu.

Unfortunately, the policeman who uncovered the ivory haul has vanished - along with his report. Meanwhile, the Chinese national was released - with his [horns] - and escorted through Harare International Airport to his plane.

The Zim Daily reported the following about the corruption “cover-up”:

… a police docket against two ZANU PF heavyweights — Emmerson Mnangagwa and Webster Shamu — has vanished from attorney-general Johannes Tomana’s office. And, efforts to give Tomana a copy of the docket has seen the police superintendent who was in charge of the investigations transferred from his posting at Bulawayo Central police station to a rural outpost at Nzvimbo in Chiweshe.

Mr. Malone, in his article, explains another prominent Webster Shamu connection, Charles Davy:

Davy and Shamu set up HHK safaris, which offers trophy hunting of animals including elephant and lion, to wealthy foreigners. While almost every other white landowner has been driven from his property by Mugabe’s thugs, Davy … has prospered. A friend of Mugabe, he has made an estimated £10 million from his big-game hunting business.

According to the Zimbabwe Times:

Shamu and Davy were associated in HHK Safari Company until it was disclosed that, far from being a partner in a joint venture in the lucrative operation as widely reported, Shamu was merely a front for foreign interests.

A common thread

65,000 Black Rhinos were alive in Africa as recently as 1970. Now there are only 2,300 total surviving in the wild - and the number is dwindling. Elephant poaching continues to skyrocket.

Conservationists and wildlife experts agree: China’s booming prosperity is fueling the massacre.

Earlier this year, Wu Ming Quan, another Chinese ‘ businessman’, was caught with 500kg of ivory at Harare airport. The tusks were spotted on an X-ray machine at the airport. But the X-ray operator was prevented from confronting Quan by three members of Zimbabwe’s secret police. According to undercover wildlife investigators, the Chinese businessman had paid an additional £2,000 for safe passage through the airport. The X-ray operator was arrested and thrown in jail for threatening to bring the crime to light.

Mr. Malone also notes that a ton of ivory was seized in Nairobi two months ago - it was being shipped from Zimbabwe to China.

I wrote about the ivory situation in my post “Kenya Wildlife Service Dismayed at Resurgence in Elephant Poaching“:

Earlier this month, an illegal shipment of elephant tusks and rhino horn was seized at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport. Blood on the ivory and horns confirmed that the elephants and rhinos had recently been killed.. The animal parts were hidden in coffins, and were en route to Laos. Kenya wildlife authorities are confident that the tusks and horn had a final destination of China, where the illegal trade in endangered species parts is well-established.

And “Kenya Fears Link Between Elephant Killings and Chinese Construction Projects“:

The Kenya Wildlife Service suspects it is more than a coincidence that a large number of elephant killings have occurred in areas where Chinese crews have recently arrived for massive construction projects.

According to Save the Elephants, the majority of smugglers arrested at Jomo Kenyatta Airport are now Chinese nationals.

The Zululand Observer has now reported the following regarding the poaching of eight white rhinos in Opathe-Emakhoseni Heritage Park (OEHP):

Developments regarding the OEHP incidents have since seen four men and a woman, all of Chinese origin, appear in the Babanango Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday this week, following their arrest inside OEHP near Ulundi. They were found trespassing, as the reserve has been temporary closed to the public, pending the appointment of a new manager for the park. They were not asked to plead to any charges and the case was postponed pending further investigations. Those who appeared are Pingquan Ni (37), Shuiwang Wu (37), Daxin Zhang (42), Xiufu Lin (32) and Meixia Zhu (26). They own businesses in Ulundi.

Just last week, tame, hand-raised celebrity rhino Toliwe, featured in a Cell C TV commercial, became a victim of poachers.

Death threats

While on his mission, Mr. Malone had the opportunity to meet the founder of the Zimbabwe Wildlife Task Force, Jonny Rodriguez. There have been many threats made on his life for speaking out.

Jonny Rodriguez, a Zimbabwean former special forces soldier, is one of the few people brave enough to speak out against this government-sponsored slaughter. Founder of the Zimbabwe Wildlife Task Force, a group that works to save endangered species, he has received countless death threats.

Taking steps

There have been reports that the BBC has resumed broadcasting “openly” from Zimbabwe for the first time since 2001. And CNN might even be allowed soon.

In recent years of political and economic turmoil, most Western organizations had been refused government licenses to report from Zimbabwe. Correspondents from the BBC and other media have acknowledged reporting clandestinely from Zimbabwe, at times entering on tourist visas.

These crimes thrive in secret, and will continue as long as there is no speaking out against them.

One of the first steps, then, is to begin talking about what is going on: Help by giving a voice to the rhinos and elephants who are unable to speak for themselves.

Source: Elephant News

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Air Zimbabwe to cut 500 jobs

ZIMBABWE'S national carrier said Tuesday it will cut 500 jobs, one-third of its workforce, in a bid to prevent the embattled airline from going under.

"We have no option other but to right-size or else we are dead," Air Zimbabwe chief executive Peter Chikumba told AFP.

Nearly a decade of economic and political crisis has seen annual passenger numbers for the struggling airline drop from a peak of one million in 1996 to just 300,000 now, the company said.

The state-owned airline formed in 1980 after the country's independence has been beset by a string of financial problems.

The company currently has a US$30 million debt, and has asked the government to sell its stake in the airline in a bid to raise desperately needed cash from private investors.

"If we do not do anything about it, the business will collapse and it will be very unfortunate if this happens," Chikumba told AFP.

Last year at the height of the country's hyperinflation, which officially hit 231 million percent but was believed many times higher, Air Zimbabwe was forced to sell tickets in the virtually worthless local currency.

That left the airline struggling to pay its membership fees with the airline regulation body, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), while it couldn't pay landing fees at London's Gatwick Airport.

Chikumba was hopeful that the unity government formed in February between President Robert Mugabe and his erstwhile rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would bring economic stability and improve the business environment.

"We are positive that the political atmosphere that has been created will bring potential investors into the airline and the country," said Chikumba.

Air Zimbabwe's fortunes nosedived so dramatically that one flight in 2005 arrived from Dubai carrying a single passenger.

The route has since been closed, together with Kinshasa and Luanda, while the airline has concentrated on busy routes to South Africa, Britain and Zambia.

The company has also been hit hard by the national brain drain as experienced personnel such as engineers and pilots are poached by rival carriers in the region and Europe.

Chikumba said the retrenchment was a way of trimming the company's workforce to match the reduced business climate, while retaining staff with the right skills.

Source: AFP