News Shorts

Members wanted


ARARE – The Zimbabwe Readers Association has been formed in the belief that reading is as necessary as food to a human being. Shupai Chakanetsa has appealed to Zimbabweans from all walks of life to join the association.

“We need to create a society of readers to build bridges between cultures, races, tribes, clans and nations and to inform people so that they can make better decisions and improve their lives,” she said. Those interested are asked to contact: Zimbabwe Readers Association, P.O.BOX A1692, Avondale, Zimbabwe. Email: [email protected]

Hunting auction raises US$1.5m

HARAREZimbabwe last week auctioned off hunting trophies worth US$1.5 million to local agents and foreign hunters from Europe, Russia and the United States. Animals to be hunted include leopards, lions, elephants and buffaloes with a fixed fee of US$40 being charged for a license to kill a lion and up to US$20,000 for an elephant.

The hunting season runs from May to October and the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority told the state-controlled press the hunting revenues would be used in conservation programs across the country.

Illegal hunting by corrupt officials, military officers and their foreign guests increased in many rural areas after the chaotic often-violent seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms that began in 2000. Conservationists say poaching of animals for meat continues to rise as food becomes even shorter.

Zimbabwe insists its bush habitat is overpopulated by elephants that cause environmental damage and destroy crops.

In recorded cases last year, elephants killed 12 people in Zimbabwe, mostly by charging and trampling villagers trying to protect their crops.

Lions were reported to have killed 17 cattle belonging to a traditional leader in western Zimbabwe in November, but there were no fatal attacks on humans.

Crocodiles, the most dangerous species to man in Zimbabwe, dragged away and ate 13 people – including children fishing and playing at river banks – according to the Communal Areas Management Program, a conservation group. – Own correspondent

Apathy at polls

CHEGUTU – Zimbabwe’s ruling party has won back a mayoral seat from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Martin Zimani of Zanu (PF) won Saturday’s poll, ousting the MDC’s Francis Dhlakama, the incumbent mayor.

The polls were characterized by widespread apathy: Zimani polled 3,236 votes, while Dhlakama polled 2,335 out of a total of 20,574 registered voters, state media reported.

Mugabe’s party has been steadily regaining ground first lost to the MDC in parliamentary elections in 2000 and subsequent mayoral and council elections.

Analysts blame disillusionment with the MDC, which recently split in two, as well as widespread voter apathy due to the prevailing harsh living conditions in Zimbabwe.

The authorities have suspended MDC mayors in three cities: the capital Harare, its dormitory town Chitungwiza and the eastern city of Mutare.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said his party’s supporters were ‘tired of being taken for a ride,’ by voting in mayors and councils that are then suspended by the government. ‘It doesn’t make sense to vote any more,’ he said.

Zimbabwe’s electoral system remained ‘fraught with irregularities,’ Chamisa said. There was a growing call within the party ‘for us to abandon participation in elections’ until improvements are made to the electoral playing field, he added. – Own correspondent

CIO fails to pay Mirror journos

HARARE – Journalists and other staff at the Zimbabwe Mirror Newspaper Group did not receive their salaries again last month. Staff have complained that the new CIO bosses are unable to pay salaries, following a hitch in January when the local press reported that Jewel Bank had to bail-out the cash-strapped newspaper group.

Ownership of the papers is in doubt following a court case brought against the CIO by former newspaper proprietor, Ibbo Mandaza, who initially won his case against his suspension by the new board members. The board failed to obey the High Court order and Mandaza is now trying to have them jailed for contempt of court. – Own correspondent

Mugabe’s grandsons walk free

CHINHOYI – Two grandsons of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe have walked away with a caution from a court here after being convicted of a brutal attack on a black farmer.

Magistrate Tavaziva Sibanda was expected to at least fine the two, with an option to send them to jail, as requested by Zimbabwean prosecutors.

However, the magistrate allowed them to walk scot free, telling the two: “Your conviction has been placed on the record.” The magistrate warned them about their future conduct.

Tamira and Tashinga Mugabe, sons of Mugabe’s nephew, Leo, were convicted of common assault on farmer and war veteran Fanuel Gumbo who suffered some injuries and was hospitalised.

Ironically, Leo Mugabe mysteriously had charges of smuggling wheat dropped last year after prosecutors claimed lack of evidence in a case that legal observers said betrayed the bias of Zimbabwean courts towards the ruling elite.

The two Mugabe siblings, both aged 20, had been charged with two others Leonard Banda, 34, and Claudius White, 25. White was later acquitted. – ZimDaily

SA Police bribery scandal alleged

PRETORIA – South African Law enforcement agents (SAPS) are allegedly involved in a bribery scandal at Marabastad Refugee reception office in Pretoria. Some of the police agents are believed to be asking asylum seekers to pay a bribe before they can be released.

It is alleged that some of the police officers suddenly pick up asylum seekers sheltering at the boundaries of the home affairs offices and drive away with them to a nearby market place.

After driving some distance away, police agents allegedly ask illegal immigrants fighting to normalize their stay to pay them something.

“Last week a number of ladies were picked up by some police forces. After getting R500 the police released them,” alleged Grace Shoko, a Zimbabwean woman.

Some asylum seekers spend days and nights without food outside the offices. Police arrest them on the grounds that it is lawful to arrest foreigners without required documents anywhere in South Africa

“It is our duty to arrest anyone without a legal permission to be in South Africa,” said the Pretoria Central Communications Officer, Captain PM Jansen.

Meanwhile the chief immigration officer for Pretoria, BH Swart, has castigated that behaviour and warned that asylum seekers in the vicinity of the refugee office are not supposed to be arrested. Commenting on the same issue, Captain Jansen said asylum seekers should help the police try and bring to book culprits who exploit or abuse foreign nationals. – Trust Matsilele

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