Zimbabwe – government to cut public jobs and wage bill

New Zimbabwe

Government to cut jobs, reduces GDP growth forecast to 1,5 pct
Half-year budget statement … Patrick Chinamasa
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FINANCE minister on Thursday said government plans to cut the public sector wage bill to 40 percent of total revenue from the current 80 percent.

The development signals a move to reduce the government’s bloated civil service, amid a lower economic growth forecast of 1,5 percent from the initial 3,2 percent.

Presenting the Mid-Term Fiscal Review in Parliament on Thursday, Patrick Chinamasa said 83 percent of government’s $2 billion costs were going to the salaries of its 554,000 employees.

The reduction of the wage bill is a key government target under the International Monetary Fund-monitored Staff Monitored Program (SMP), as it seeks to reform in a bid to unlock foreign funding.

A previous attempt to reduce the wage bill by removing bonuses for civil servants earlier in the year was reversed by populist President Robert Mugabe, who publicly rebuked Chinamasa for not consulting him over the pay measure.

“Cabinet has given a directive to the minister responsible for the public service and the minister responsible for finance to urgently propose remedial measures to gradually bring down the share of the wage bill in the budget from over 80 percent to under 40 percent,” Chinamasa.

“Cabinet will be considering the full package of necessary proposals in the next couple of the weeks.

“The above interventions to manage the wage bill are meant to create the fiscal space necessary to enter medium to long term growth for sustainable platform for improved remuneration.”

He said civil service commission has already completed the physical headcount for all civil servants.

The finance minister also lowered revenue projects in the wake of company closures and job layoffs triggered by the lowest economic activity in five years.

The country’s economy is suffering from power shortages and lack of foreign investment, while companies are cutting jobs as they struggle to pay salaries.

The World Bank says the economy will post 1 percent growth but economic analysts are less optimistic, with some predicting Zimbabwe could tip into recession later this year.

Highlighting the effects of the slowdown, Chinamasa cut revenue estimates to $3.6 billion from $3.99 billion this year.

The government would have to borrow $400 million from domestic and foreign sources to cover for the budget deficit, he said. The state had initially planned to borrow $125 million.



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Zimbabwe, which holds the second largest reserves of platinum, recorded a 6.4 percent decline in production to 5.9 tonnes during the first half of this year, Chinamasa said.

He said gold output rose 29 percent to 6.8 tonnes thanks to higher deliveries by small-scale mines. Despite weak global metal prices, mining was expected to grow by 3.5 percent this year, boosted by higher nickel, gold and coal output.

To boost mining and manufacturing, Chinamasa said he would reduce electricity tariffs to the sectors. He also cut royalties levied on small-scale gold producers to 1 percent from 3 percent from September after small-scale miners tripled production.

Mining contributes around 17 percent to gross domestic product and 53 percent of export earnings.

Chad says it has killed 117 Boko Haram in two weeks

Reuters

N’DJAMENA Chad said on Thursday its forces had killed 117 Boko Haram insurgents during a two-week military campaign aimed at clearing islands on Lake Chad used by the militants as hideouts and bases to launch attacks.

Chad has deployed thousands of soldiers alongside troops from neighbours Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger to tackle the militant group whose six-year insurgency has killed thousands.

“We killed 117 Boko Haram fighters during the two-week operation. We lost two men and several wounded,” Colonel Azem Bermandoa, spokesman for the Chadian army, said.

“We destroyed their boats and seized various weapons during the operation,” he said.

Boko Haram, which calls itself the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) since pledging allegiance to the militant group that controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, has stepped up attacks in countries around the lake in recent months in response to a regional offensive.

Last weekend, suspected militants from the group raided several remote localities around the lake.

(Reporting by Madjiasra Nako; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

South Africa – Zuma’s R11m Nkandla problem

Mail and Guardian

The Special Investigating Unit’s bid to recover misspent cash at Nkandla might yet snare the president.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko (left) says President Jacob Zuma does not owe the state a cent for the security features installed at his Nkandla homestead. (David Harrison, M&G)

Regardless of what Parliament decides on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, he could still be on the hook for R11 137 553 – plus interest.

Despite another round of hearings on his home this week, the combination of a presidential proclamation, the need to protect state resources and a pending decision by the high court means Zuma could still have to cough up some cash.

Of the five major reports on Nkandla from various bodies to date only one, that of public protector Thuli Madonsela, recommended that Zuma should repay some of the state money spent on his family compound. Madonsela did not calculate how much Zuma should be liable for.

The latest of the reports, by Nathi Nhleko, the police minister, puts that liability at zero.

In between those two reports, however, in August 2014, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which investigates only what it is directed to investigate by order of the president, concluded its own analysis on Nkandla, and provided numbers for the extent to which the Zuma family was enriched out of state coffers.

Nhleko’s report never dealt with the features the SIU found benefitted Zuma, leaving the unit’s analysis undisputed. The SIU found the state had spent:

  • R4-million installing air-conditioning in private Zuma residences;
  • R4.5-million building two roads for the use of the Zuma family; and
  • R3.3-million on landscaping around private residences.

The project had clearly enriched the Zuma family, the SIU said. The unit recovers money from those enriched at state expense, and aims to close loopholes that allow for such unjustified enrichment.

At the time of its report the SIU said it had two options to recover overspending on Nkandla: either file claims individually against each party unduly enriched, which would constitute a long list of contractors and the Zuma family, or claim the entire amount from Minenhle Makhanya, Zuma’s architect and government agent on the project.

It considered the claim against Makhanya to be the most effective and efficient choice, and launched a lawsuit against him in the high court in Pietermaritzburg.

Despite the fact that Makhanya was paid in the region of R17-million for Nkandla work, the SIU action seeks damages of more than R155-million against him.

Makhanya has contested the claim. Neither he nor his legal representative would comment on it this week, but both have previously expressed confidence that the legal fiction of his sole responsibility would not withstand judgment.

Should that civil claim fail, or be overturned on subsequent appeal, the SIU would be faced with another decision: pursue its second-choice option of claiming damages from Zuma and individual contractors for damages, or fail to fulfil its obligation under Proclamation R59 of 2013, signed by Zuma at Nkandla, directing the unit to exercise its powers, “including the recovery of any damages or losses suffered” by the state.


What the SIU found at Nkandla

The Nkandla report by Madonsela attracted criticism and outright attacks from MPs, Cabinet ministers, ANC officials and others – but the SIU’s findings attracted very little attention, despite their explicit nature.

The unit concluded that: “It is … implicit from the claims based on the increase in the scope of the works that the value of the president’s, or the Zuma family’s, residential complex was enhanced. Clearly, to the extent that these claims are well founded, the president or his family were enriched.”


Others in the firing line

Cabinet ministers Mthethwa and Doidge handled Nkandla in an “appalling manner” Makhanya currently faces the financial pressure on Nkandla and Zuma is in the political firing line – but the scandal has also spawned complaints and investigations involving 18 other individuals and a handful of companies, the directors of which could also be personally liable.

None of these actions are dependent on the findings of Parliament’s ad-hoc committee on Zuma’s homestead and those who could still theoretically face sanctions, ranging from a rap on the knuckles to jail time, include:

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and ambassador to Sri Lanka Geoff Doidge
As ministers of police and public works respectively, (the two departments most intimately involved in Nkandla’s construction) at the time, Madonsela recommended that both should be reprimanded for “the appalling manner in which the Nkandla project was handled and state funds were abused” under their watch.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and his deputy Jesse Duarte
At an August 2014 press conference Mantashe and Duarte tore into Madonsela, accusing her of pursuing a personal vendetta against Zuma, undermining the Constitution, and leaking her own reports, with dark hints in between that she had conspired with opposition political parties. By law contempt of the public protector is equivalent to contempt of court, a criminal trespass that can come with jail time. A formal criminal complaint lodged by AfriForum is technically still open.

14 employees and former officials of the public works department
Public works handled the vast majority of the money spent on Nkandla, and various reports agree it did so with little regard for the rules. The Special Investigating Unit recommended criminal action against three former employees and disciplinary action against another 12. One of the 12 pleaded guilty to charges; hearings for the other 11 were delayed in part because of a media application (by parties including the Mail & Guardian) for access to proceedings.

Various contractors on the project
The SIU was suspicious about various tax-clearance certificates – a prerequisite for government tenders – provided by contractors who worked on Nkandla. It referred evidence of fraud in one case, that of Bonelena Construction to prosecutors. Zuma also still, in theory, faces criminal charges for theft and corruption laid by the Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters, several private citizens and at least one nongovernmental group.


Outgoing Nigerian defence chief said army ill-equipped and neglected

Shouldn’t he have known this and done something about it when he was defence chief.  Another indication of the systematic looting of the huge “security vote”. What did Badeh do to earn his salary and perks?

Punch

I headed an Army with no equipment–Badeh

Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.)

The immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), has said that the Army he headed was one with no equipment.

The former Chief of Defence Staff made the statement while delivering a valedictory speech at a pulling out parade organised in his honour at the Mogadishu Cantonment, Abuja, on Thursday.

He said, “Permit me to also add here that the nation’s militaries are equipped and trained in peace time for the conflicts they expect to confront in the future. Unfortunately, that has not been our experience as a nation.

“Over the years, the military was neglected and under-equipped to ensure the survival of certain regimes, while other regimes, based on advice from some foreign nations, deliberately reduced the size of the military and underfunded it.

“Unfortunately, our past leaders accepted such recommendations without appreciating our peculiarities as a third world military, which does not have the technological advantage that could serve as force multipliers and compensate for reduced strength.

“Accordingly, when faced with the crises in the North-East and other parts of the country, the military was overstretched and had to embark on emergency recruitments and trainings, which were not adequate to prepare troops for the kind of situation we found ourselves in.”

He also said some previous leaders took deliberate decisions to weaken the military just for the survival of their regimes.

Bedeh said that some of the regimes acceded to the demands of foreign countries to reduce the size of the military and deprived the nation’s defence forces of the requisite funding and size.

He lamented that such leaders accepted the advice of such foreign countries without considering the nation’s peculiar characteristics as a third world country which lacked the advantages of modern technology to compensate for the costly reduction in size and strength.

Bade said that the military was overstretched to such a point that it had to resort to emergency recruitments and trainings to fight the insurgents, which he said was inadequate in the face of the level of security challenge facing the country at the time.

The former defence chief said that it was high time the Federal Government embarked on a comprehensive review of the nation’s military structure with respect to its size, capacity and the equipment that should be at its disposal to carry out its responsibility of defending the country.

Copyright PUNCH.

A great Africanist – Stephen Ellis, RIP

He will be missed by all who study and report on Africa. KS

African Arguments

Stephen Ellis – By Richard Dowden

Stephen_EllisStephen Ellis who died yesterday was one of the greatest Africanists of his generation. He was also a great friend to me and my family and also to RAS. He edited African Affairs from 1998 to 2006 bringing several bright young academics to the journal.

Stephen was a cool observer of Africa and took on the big themes that dominated Africa after the end of the Cold War. After graduating from Oxford, he was a volunteer teacher in Cameroon and then worked as a civil servant in London for a while before turning to academia to teach in Madagascar and study the rebellion in the 1890s there. He wrote his first book: “The Rising of the Red Shawls” as a result.

When he returned to London he became head of Africa at Amnesty International. This introduced him to the bad side of Africa’s politics during the Cold War. Stephen was a scrupulous researcher but he also became friends with people he had campaigned for and this introduced him to African politics.

We first met when he waited to be interviewed for the editorship of the journal, Africa Confidential. I was disappointed not to get the job but when I realised who I had been up against I realised why. We became good friends and colleagues and worked on several stories together.

But Stephen always wanted to dig deeper than journalism. He was an excellent interviewer, posing simple, almost casual, questions to find the threads that led to the truth. He meticulously unravelled them and pondered on their meaning and implications. Unlike one-dimensional journalism, Stephen hankered after the hidden and obscure, delving deep into topics such as the drug trade in Africa.

In 1991 he became Director of the African Studies Centre in Leiden in Holland and brought together several bright young researchers creating lively debates about African political power and making Leiden an important centre for African studies.

Here he wrote “The Criminalization of the State in Africa” with Jean-François Bayart and Béatrice Hibou. This exposed how the World Bank demand for the privatisation of state assets resulted in their transfer from station institutions to the ownership of the politically powerful. This grab for the national wealth by the politically powerful contributed to the wars and violence of the 1990s. In 2008 he was appointed Desmond Tutu Professor at the Vrije University in Amsterdam.

Stephen took on some of the most shocking and touchiest topics to research such as cannibalism in the Liberian civil war and the African drug trade. He also spent time exploring African traditional spirituality with his partner, Gerrie ter Haar.

Journalists like me were envious of his freedom to spend weeks, even months, in the field following one story. But he always came up with fascinating new tales and insights told with relish at dinner but treated with classic academic detachment in his writing.

This often landed him in hot water, especially when a national newspaper picked up a reference in The Mask of Anarchy to Charles Taylor’s cannibalism as part of traditional ritual practices in Liberia and Sierre Leone. Taylor sued but when several witnesses offered to testify to defend Stephen’s allegation, he did not pursue the case.

For exposing this and the shocking ritual violence deployed in those wars, he was showered with abuse by some and accused of giving Africa a bad name. This saddened him but did not deter him. Many Liberians and Sierra Leoneans were very pleased that the full horror of those wars had been made public.

In 2011 he published Season of Rains, an exploration and overview of politics, culture, and society as well as religion in Africa. But meanwhile he was delving into the secrets of the African National Congress. This infuriated many people who saw the ANC as a heroic organisation led by its saintly leader, Nelson Mandela. He exposed the ANC’s drug dealing in central Africa and also the killing of many young ANC recruits in camps in Angola.

Stephen claimed that the ANC had been run entirely by the South African Communist Party and that Mandela himself had been a member though he was never able to prove it conclusively. Although the ANC were angered by his exposure of less-then-heroic aspects of the party’s past, senior members admitted that the book was broadly accurate.

His last book, yet to be published, is on the Nigerian drug networks whose skill, power and reach across the world amazed even the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

Stephen was a very good man in Africa, positive, honest and brave.

To me he was a wonderful friend.

We have all lost a great Africanist and condole Gerrie and his family.

Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society.

Burundi – opposition leader accepts deputy speaker post after Nkurunziza victory

BBC

Burundi opposition leader Agathon Rwasa speaks during an interview in the capital Bujumbura on 22 July 2015
Despite boycotting the presidential poll Mr Rwasa still won nearly 20% of the vote

Burundi’s opposition leader Agathon Rwasa has been elected as a deputy speaker of parliament, despite strident criticism of recent legislative and presidential polls.

There has been a political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term.

Mr Rwasa withdrew from this month’s presidential election and described Mr Nkurunziza’s victory as “a joke”.

He now says he will “play the game” to bring peace, AFP news agency reports.

Mr Rwasa supported the protests, that began in April, against Mr Nkurunziza’s third-term bid in which more than 70 people have died in clashes with the police.

There was also a failed coup attempt in May.

Policeman at Burundi protests
Weeks of protest and a failed coup attempt followed Mr Nkurunziza’s third-term bid

Mr Rwasa’s opposition coalition also called for a boycott of June’s parliamentary elections, but with its name on the ballot paper it still won 21 seats.

There is a faltering negotiation process, chaired by Uganda, that is aimed at solving the crisis.

Mr Rwasa took up his seat in parliament to some surprise on Monday saying that as the talks were still going on it was worth participating in the political process.

Fellow opposition leader Charles Nditije said Mr Rwasa’s move betrayed those who died during the protests.

He was elected as one of parliament’s deputy speakers with the backing of MPs from Mr Nkuruniziza’s CNDD-FDD party.

The BBC’s Prime Ndikumagenge in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, says that it is difficult to see what Mr Rwasa’s strategy is.

But the opposition leader may now have more influence on the politics of the country in his new post, he says.

Dear World: A few reflections on our Cecil, the Zimbabwean Lion

Very interesting piece.  Don’t agree with all of it, but it represents a very strong and well-argued Zimbabwean view.KS

 

Alex Magaisa

cecil 2

Dear World,

 

Cecil the lion is trending on social media and in international media. Not since Simba, of The Lion King fame, has a lion captured the world’s imagination in this way. His killing has outraged all decent people around the world. The perpetrator, an American dentist called Walter Palmer, has been the subject of much criticism on social media and elsewhere.

 

People are upset and angry at his cruel and sordid act. I understand it. I love animals. When I was a small boy herding cattle with my friends back in the village, we fought boys from another village when we found them killing defenceless little birds. I hate cruelty to wild creatures.

 

But there are a few things that need to be said. As a Zimbabwean, I usually say we don’t write our stories often enough. We leave them to be written by others and when we read we complain that our stories are not being told properly. So, I thought, let me wear my hat of home and write a bit about this story – express my own version of events.

 

For one thing, Cecil’s tragedy has put us in the news, only this time the big villain is an American dentist, not the usual characters. But when I read about a famous and much-loved lion called Cecil, and saw the wide coverage on the international news networks, I was a bit surprised because I did not know Cecil or that he was our most famous lion. I remembered Maswerasei, a lion that caused terror in Hurungwe, a rural area in the late 80s. Myths were built around Maswerasei, whose name owed to the story that he only appeared towards sunset, the time when people tradionally ask Maswerasei (How has your day been?) when they meet. Maswerasei was the notorious lion that I knew. Cecil was new to me.

 

So I did a quick check around my circle of friends and family in Zimbabwe – which is a fairly big circle. None of them knew Cecil. His fame had not reached them, too. They did not know that he was, as one British paper said, “a symbol of Zimbabwe”.

 

On social media, there was mixed reaction reflecting similar conflicting sentiments. Many were outraged, but many weren’t sure, too about the representations of the story in the international media. The country is going through serious economic challenges, and quite understandably, most people have pressing needs on their minds, such as food, shelter and jobs. Thousands have been laid off work since a recent Supreme Court judgment a coupe of weeks ago. A democracy activist called Itai Dzamara has been missing for more than four months and some people worry that the story of this human being has not received as much international attention. So forgive them, if their attention is not as much focused on Cecil’s sad demise. It’s not that they don’t get it, or that they don’t care for animals, no.

 

In fact, I don’t know if there is any other culture, as that among Zimbabweans, whereby humans identify themselves with wild animals. Our clan names, Shumba (Lion), Hove (Fish), Mhofu (Eland), Soko/Mukanya (Monkey/Baboon) are all references to animals, with which clans are identified. I, for example, am of the Hove (fish) totem – the price that I must pay, alongside my clan members, is that I do not eat fish. It is the same with other totems. You don’t eat  or kill the animal with which you are associated because in effect, you would be killing or eating your own flesh and blood. Our ancestors knew the value of animals. This was one system of preserving them. Society rationed who ate what from the wild in order to avoid over-exploitation. So, we have always valued wild animals.

 

The point here is not to dismiss or trivialise Cecil’s tragedy, no. It is to say that, in fact, the manner in which the story has been presented by international media seems somewhat far removed from the lived realities of most of the local people. The reason for this also lies in the skewed economics around tourism and hunting in Zimbabwe. It is mired in elitism and beyond the reach of many ordinary Zimbabweans. Local tourism is very weak. The economy is stagnant and only a privileged few have disposable income.

 

Apart from a few, Zimbabweans generally don’t go on holiday to a tourist facility such as a national park for wild animals. If they do, it’s probably an organised school trip for kids or their company has a chalet or lodge, where senior employees book to spend a few days during the year. The other facility is if a non-governmental organisation organises a workshop at one of the wildlife resorts and as part of “refreshment” participants are taken on a game-drive around the resort.

 

Those are the few ways by which a lot of Zimbabweans have got to see lions, elephants, giraffe and other wild animals. Our holidays, traditionally, consist of going down to the rural village, to spend time with the old folks and escape the routine of city life, if only for a few days. Contrary to some perceptions of Africa, people don’t actually live with wild animals. Most Zimbabweans have actually never seen a lion apart from pictures in a book or Simba from Lion King. For those who live near wildlife parks, there are really no good and bad lions as in The Lion King, though – lions eat their livestock and locals will generally run for safety if they see one.

 

But this is not to say Cecil was not famous, no. He probably was, but only to a segment of society, a privileged segment – both local and international, that have a stake, either as vendors or as consumers, in the very lucrative tourist industry and another related, but lesser-known industry, called the hunting industry. And it is this that has actually prompted me to write this piece – because the hunting industry is one of the last big secrets in the Zimbabwean economy and it looks hideous and corrupt as the story of Cecil indicates.

 

It’s a shame that some sad American dentist has killed (some have gone so far as to say “murdered”) Cecil who, we now know, was much-loved but the truth is hundreds, if not thousands, of animals are killed every day during the hunting season. Yes, there is actually a hunting season!

 

The point is, there is a hunting industry out there and it is very lucrative. I suspect it operates like a cartel and there is a Mafioso element to it. Professional hunters are quite simply glorified poachers. The difference is professional hunters are licenced while poachers are unlicenced. Wealthy professional hunters are like a well-drilled army whereas poachers are like a rag-tag army of bandits. But their end result is the same – they kill wild animals.

 

This authorisation regime explains why the sad American dentist sees nothing wrong with what he did. To be fair, he probably went through all the motions, legal and extra-legal, in order to satisfy his vile passion. But he is not alone. And this wouldn’t be the first time that he did it. There are many like him out there. They are not your average Brit from a council flat in Peckham, no. These are wealthy fellows, with million-dollar pads in Kensington, who are probably also lobbying the British Government to bring back fox-hunting. They enjoy blood sports. They love killing. And there is an industry that feeds their passion. When they meet at their Gentlemen’s clubs, they probably show off their trophies – which is why they are happy enough to be photographed next to their big kill, grinning like idiots. The hunting industry would probably not survive if they didn’t exist.

 

In Zimbabwe, hunting is a regulated industry but there is very little scrutiny. There is a racial and class element to it as well which explains the fight between black politicians and white farmers over wildlife conservancies. These are places where wild animals have the liberty to live under protection from poaching but unlike national parks, they are private property. When the black politicians took over commercial farms and exhausted them, they realised, there was another, perhaps more lucrative area which was still occupied almost exclusively by the whites. So the black politicians decided they also wanted a share of it – by hook or crook. One big fight was over a big and rich conservancy in Masvingo called the Save Conservancy. I am not sure what has happened there – they probably reached a mutually beneficial settlement, so that everybody is “eating” as sharing loot is called in the streets of Harare. The point is, the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans are oblivious of this rich economy around wildlife and when things happen to animals, they are quite distant.

 

But there is also a lot of corruption around hunting. A professional hunter or glorified poacher doesn’t just go out and hunt, no. He has to get a licence. That licence is issued by Government authorities. There is a Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management which is in charge of these matters. We are blessed with lots of wild animals in Zimbabwe and while we preserve them, it is also important to ensure there is a balance with communities around where they live. If animals threaten human communities, the communities get angry and they kill them. So a win-win situation is needed. This is why the authorities do a regular census of animals and cull them if they exceed the carrying capacity. It is in this context that hunting is supposed to take place. Indeed, this is the basis upon which the hunting industry is justified.

 

The authorities issue permits to professional hunters – local and international. They identify the game that can be hunted and set the quotas. It costs a lot of money to get these permits and only a few can afford. I suspect a foreign hunter is required to work with a local one. They pay huge fees. The meat is shared or sold on the local market. I recall one image that did the rounds a few years ago, of a whole community stampeding over the carcass of a slain elephant. International media carried those images but on that occasion it was to feed the story that poor Zimbabweans were starving to the extent that they were devouring dead elephants. One local professional hunter I met at a Harare pub a few years ago offered buffalo meat but I wasn’t keen. The skins and other parts that can be preserved are also sold mostly on the international market.

 

All this means there are many rent-seeking opportunities in this industry. Those who issue licences, those who provide guidance and assistance to foreign hunters, those who provide transport and logistics, etc. Everyone from top to bottom has an opportunity to extract rents from the other. Those who are into it make a lot of money. There is a huge amount of corruption and skulduggery that goes on in that industry. This probably why not much will happen to the Dentist. Or to the big people behind what happened. The small people will probably be sacrificed and will pay the price. But there will be more Palmers and more Cecils in future.

 

All this, of course, is fed by a wealthy international market. There are huge international conferences and fairs in places like Las Vegas – on hunting. Big people in Zimbabwe are involved in this lucrative hunting industry – Government Ministers, their relatives and their friends. These Government people might shout and scream during the day about white people, Europeans and Americans but during the night, they are their hunting partners. This is an industry of a few people – fuelled by the passion of glorified poachers, also called professional hunters, from Europe, America and Asia and the voracious appetite for wealth by the powerful local lords.

 

So, while the world mourns Cecil the lion, do remember that Cecil is just but one victim in a horrible blood industry that unites friends and foes alike – across countries and continents but within the confined lines of wealth and power. A challenge to journalists – local and international – is to expose the anatomy of the hunting industry – in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya or elsewhere, complete with its international dimensions. Now that would make a really good story and would expose the rot that goes on in that industry.

 

You might be reading this from a hotel lobby or office or lounge whose walls are adorned with heads of stuffed animals. Or you might have seen them before and remarked at how lovely they looked. What you may never have asked is where they came from and how they got to be there. Point is, there are many Cecils out there – both past and present and unless you deal with the ills of the industry, there will certainly be many more in future.

 

And while we are at it, I should also put in a word for a friend. He is of the Makoni clan. For years he has moaned about the grisly killing of his great ancestor – Chief Chingaira, whose head he says was chopped by the settler army and given, ironically, to Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of present-day Zimbabwe, as a war trophy sometime in the late 19th century. He insists the head, which he believes is in some British museum, must be returned home to its people.

 

waMagaisa