The 2022 CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Conference of Parties is scheduled for 14 to 24 November, in Panama City, Panama – and, Zimbabwe (together with other countries in the region, facing similar challenges) are eager to receive the global thumbs-up to offload this burden of the increasingly unmanageable elephant numbers (leading to more human-animal conflicts), and a treasure trough of ivory that is just sitting there, and can not be sold to benefit the country.
These concerted efforts and engagements with various important stakeholders, as the EU and others, for backing in this endeavor is truly well and good – although, for me, there are more critical and pressing issues in this world, needing urgent attention, than fighting for the rights of animals – which, I earnestly believe we were given to eat and use.
Which brings me to the point of this discourse.
What I found most interesting about Zimbabwe’s engagements with such bodies as the EU – on the plight of animals – is the apparent disingenuity and hypocrisy exhibited by the Harare administration in all this.
Surely, are animals rights and international law in this respect, held in such high regard by our government, that they truly need to passionately plead their case to the international community for permission to kill or sell our own elephants, or tusks?
Why not just go out there, guns blazing, as they are so fond of doing when dealing with human beings?
Have we not witnessed, in shock and utter disgust – when the country’s trigger-happy military shot dead, at point blank and in cold blood, unarmed protestors in the capital Harare, on both August 1, 2018 and January 14, 2019 – most of whom, according to forensic evidence produced before the [Kgalema] Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry, were shot in the back as they fled?
Did this same regime not massacre over 20,000 civilian men, women, and children of Ndebele ethnicity using the military, immediately after assuming the reins of power, as the country attained independence from colonial British rule in 1980 – in a ruthless, savage, and vile genocide spanning between 1982 and 1987?
Did we not witness the same barbarity, sadism, and cruelty in 2008, as hundreds of mainly rural-based suspected opposition supporters were brutally murdered both by the country’s security forces and ruling ZANU PF party thugs – after their candidate, then president Robert Gabriel Mugabe was trounced by the MDC’s Morgan Richard Tsvangirai in the March presidential election?
Need I mention the many more who have reportedly been severely beaten up, tortured, abducted, sexually abused, and their homes destroyed – as a punishment for daring to oppose the ruling establishment?
We can move on to the millions of Zimbabweans who find themselves living in extreme poverty (earning less than US$1.90 a day), with over 90% of the population scrounging for survival as informal traders (due to unprecedented unemployment levels) in a highly capricious and perilous economic environment, and the over 75% of children not accessing nutritional food.
Did the government of Zimbabwe ever invite members of the international community, such as the EU and others, to plead for permission to unleash such harrowing and heinous crimes against humanity on a defenceless citizenry?
Yet, yesterday, this same regime was busy opening up ivory stockpiles for these entities to see for themselves the huge number of elephant tusks just sitting there – apparently, faithfully and meticulously stored until permission to sell was granted – in an attempt at proving the administration’s trustworthiness and transparency.
Why do they not carry out a similar exercise in trustworthiness and transparency, by opening up ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) for all to see just how free, fair, and credible the country’s elections are – as citizens have been demanding answers on the many scandalous discrepancies identified in the voters’ roll, and the dismal failure by this Chapter 12 body in ensuring an equal political and electoral playing field?
However, all we have heard from ZEC have been nothing but one excuse after another, and counter-accusation after counter-accusation – with practically no attempts at proving their supposed detractors wrong, and allaying the genuine fears and apprehensions of the population, which has led to a skeptical youth, who are not too keen to register to vote.
In fact, instead of transparency, ZEC has opted for advocating for even more muzzling of any who may question its operations – through the enactment of draconian legislation aimed at punishing any who dare try.
Are we then to conclude that, as far as the Zimbabwe government is concerned – the rights of animals are more important, and held in higher esteem, than those of living breathing human beings – who have committed no crime, but merely demand a dignified, decent, and respectable livelihood?
Is that why an individual can expect a stiffer jail sentence for killing a python found in one’s home, than a criminal who harms another person?
It reminds me of the time in high school in the 1980s, when I was reading the book, “The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler” by Robert Payne – in which it was mentioned that the wicked Nazi dictator would be so pained and enraged when watching television scenes of animals being killed, yet he had no qualms at all butchering millions upon millions of innocent civilians.
Food for thought!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured