News - May 2010





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A new year message

Chinhoyi Arrests

Moral negligence

Who will be answerable for hungry people?

Under cover of darkness

A night of terror


Human Rights Group under attack

Another farmer attacked

Zim Independant
The Standard
Human Rights Forum
ZW News
Eddie Cross letters The Zimbabwe Situation


Chinhoyi Arrests

Moral negligence

Who will be answerable for hungry people?

Under cover of darkness

A night of terror

Daily News
Zim Independant
The Standard
Financial Gazette
Human Rights Forum
ZW News


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Speak out for the elephants

Sunday 23rd May 2010

Dear Family and Friends,
Anyone who has had the great privilege of seeing elephants in the wild will know of the very close bonds that exist in their herds. Mothers are extremely protective of their calves, always shielding them from danger, suckling them until they are four years old. Other females in the herd are equally watchful of the youngsters, lifting them up with a trunk when they get stuck, giving them a push from behind when needed, waiting for them if they trail behind the herd. If you've ever been fortunate enough to go on a game drive, you will know that one of the most dangerous things to do is to get between a mother elephant and her calf.

In the mid 1980's I witnessed the splitting up of two young elephant calves that had been orphaned as a result of culling operations and were being hand reared in an Harare game park. Without notice or warning a capture team arrived one morning. At government level an elephant calf had been promised to a zoo in Korea and there was nothing that could be done to stop the export. The young male elephant calf, less than a year old, was darted, loaded into a crate and taken away just one month after he and the young female had arrived.

The female elephant calf left behind was distraught, running backwards and forwards along the fence, trumpeting, screeching and calling repeatedly for her companion. Again and again she lifted her trunk, scenting the air in all directions trying to catch his smell, rumbling and listening for his sound, charging anyone that tried to calm her. Some time later the sad news came that the little male elephant sent to Korea had not survived even a tenth of his expected 60 year life span

With this memory still fresh in my mind it has come as shocking news that a pair of eighteen month old elephant babies are about to be sent to North Korea. The elephants are amongst a group of animals being captured in Hwange National Park and are to be taken to a zoo in Pyongyang. In an arrangement between Zimbabwe's President and North Korea, other wild animals being exported include zebra, warthog and spotted hyaenas. Zimbabwe's director of the Department of National Parks has described the export as a business arrangement.

As I write, protests and international appeals are going on to try and stop the export of the two baby elephants. Amongst those totally against the export is a new organization that is starting to revolutionize animal welfare in Zimbabwe. Known as VAWZ, or Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe, this private Trust organization can't have started up at a better time. Among other things so desperately needed in Zimbabwe they are going to be investigating wildlife poaching, leopard hunting with dogs, animal imports and exports. They are going to inspect abattoirs and research laboratories and check on conditions for guard dogs and Police horses. And perhaps most important of all VAWZ will be involved in training and education, working with private and government departments and with animal health personnel in their endeavour to put animal welfare back on Zimbabwe's moral compass.It is long overdue and Zimbabwe's bravest of the brave, Meryl Harrison, has come home to lead investigations for VAWZ. They need as much help and support as they can get and can be contacted at

I end this letter with an appeal to anyone who has a voice to speak out for Zimbabwe's elephants: let them stay where they belong, with their family groups and herds in our hot, dusty, African bush, not in a zoo in North Korea.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.


Saturday 15th May 2010

Dear Family and Friends,
There can be few people who have been so relentlessly hounded for the last 10 years as Roy Bennett. Everyone knows him as 'Pachedu' which means: "One of us" but frankly he puts most of us to shame with his unwavering bravery, courage and determination.

When High Court Judge Bhunu acquitted Roy Bennett on charges of illegal possession of weapons of war and plotting treason, you could almost hear the national sigh of relief. It was a judgement that seemed inevitable after the absurdity of some of the so called evidence that had been presented. Justice Bhunu said some of the state witnesses displayed "amazing ignorance" and failed to prove the case. Even so, Judge Bhunu's judgement came as a surprise, and we really began to think that at last the Attorney General was going to have to leave Roy Bennett alone and allow him to take up his post of Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Speaking to journalists, the Attorney General was quoted as saying: "It's a High Court decision and it is our understanding of justice it has been done and it must be binding,"

I don't think so.

The day after he had been acquitted, Roy Bennett travelled to Mutare to reclaim his bail money, the Title Deeds to his house and his passport which he'd been ordered to surrendered to the Mutare Magistrate's court. He got the Title Deeds back but nothing else . The passport had apparently been removed by an official from the Attorney General's office on the 29th March - a couple of days before the original ruling on Roy's case was due to have been made.

Roy Bennett's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa said: "The removal of his passport is illegal as only the court or an acquittal can lead to the release of a passport from the clerk of court. These guys (law officers) are a law unto themselves."

The next day Attorney General Johannes Tomana filed a Supreme Court appeal against the acquittal of Roy Bennett.

And so now, for Roy Bennett, it starts all over again and there are no words that we can offer him or his family that adequately express the feeling of national empathy. As the MDC said, this is not prosecution of Roy Bennett, it is persecution. But this isn't just about the State and Roy Bennett because the Attorney General's appeal puts Zimbabwe back into the state of stagnant suspension it's been in ever since the Unity Government's installation. No non-Zanu PF eyes have yet to see what is going on in the Ministry of Agriculture. Zimbabwe and the world will still not find out who is on all those seized commercial farms, what they are doing there or why we continue to be forced to import almost all of our food requirements.

Yet again an opportunity for honesty, truth and change in Zimbabwe has gone and we all know why.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love Cathy

Where is everyone

Saturday 8th May 2010

Dear Family and Friends,
On a weekend morning I counted the vehicles that were heading towards Zimbabwe's prime tourist area in the magnificent Eastern Highlands mountains. The 80 kilometre journey took an hour in what is known as Zimbabwe's champagne month where the approach of winter brings a bright and clear blue sky, thick, shining dew, warm sun and a whisper of cool breeze. What I saw tells the story of Zimbabwe's tourist industry after 10 years of political mayhem and economic collapse:

3 ox drawn carts, 7 wheelbarrows, 3 bicycles, 2 rural buses, 4 private cars, 4 pick up trucks, 1 army truck, 3 commuter mini buses, 2 big double cabs whose number plates advertise their role here: 'FAO' and 'WFP.' (Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Food Programme).

That was all the traffic there was heading to a place of towering trees, massive kopjes and rugged hills where the granite slopes are papered with orange and green lichen and silver trails of seeping water run down rock faces, glistening in the sun. A place of rivers and streams and magnificent waterfalls where the water is crystal clear and icy cold and always running. On almost every horizon blue mountains beckon you nearer and always in your ears is the hissing and whispering of wind through pine forests.

Mimosa trees a mass of bright yellow flowers; aloes ablaze with orange, pink and red flowers; 'shiny everlastings' rearing out of the most unlikely slopes and rock sides, covered in golden flowers and everywhere the bees are collecting pollen, making the most of the bounty before winter. Apples straight from the trees, potatoes newly dug and King Proteas the size of dinner plates: pink, creamy white and with hints of orange giving a beauty almost beyond description.

In such spectacular surroundings in the clean mountain air there are Inns, Lodges, Chalets, Cabins, Hotels and even a casino but the car parks are deserted and the resorts barely surviving. Where is everyone, you keep wondering.

Zimbabwe is on the mend, the politicians keep telling us but the situation on the ground demonstrates the truth of the matter. Until we get real democracy and freedom back in Zimbabwe and until fear is gone - really gone - our beautiful places remain all but empty and our tourist industry stays teetering on the edge.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

Don't cry tomorrow.

Saturday 1st May 2010

Dear Family and Friends,
A tragic event involving a 15 year old schoolboy and a fatal stabbing in a church, has sent shivers down my spine. It should be ringing alarm bells both in and outside Zimbabwe because this, more than any diplomatically worded political speech, demonstrates just how tired Zimbabweans are of waiting for accountability and justice.

The news came in a transcript from a Voice of the People Radio report. A 15 year old schoolboy was attending a service in the Zion Christian Church in Village 2 near Neshuro Growth Point in the Mwenezi District. At some point in the service Nhamo Machacha, described as a "well known Zanu PF terror master," and aide to the Zanu PF MP for Mwenezi East, interrupted the church proceedings. The teenage boy got up and stabbed Machacha twice in the stomach. Despite being rushed to Neshuro hospital, Machacha died from excessive bleeding.

In the radio transcript an eyewitness explained the history behind the behaviour of the 15 year old boy:
"That boy's father Lameck Muripo was killed by Zanu (PF) thugs in 2008. Their home was burnt and they were left homeless but the children were still young. However, up to now the culprits including the now deceased were walking free and this boy said he wanted to revenge,"

The 15 year old school boy was taken into Police custody and the Zanu PF MP for Mwenezi East, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, responded to the killing of his aide by saying:
""There is nothing to hide here. MDC is a party of violence, they need violence and they have provoked us today. How can I keep silent when they slapped us in the face like this? They have started it and they must not cry tomorrow." An amazing statement from a Member of Parliament.

For ten years the murderers, torturers and rapists spawned during a decade of violent elections have been walking amongst us. For ten years reports have been made to authorities but perpetrators have not been arrested, tried or convicted. Everyone knows who the perpetrators of the crimes are. There are witnesses, affidavits and documented reports and yet still nothing is done.

Writing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the murders of Prime Minister Tsvangirai's election agent Tichaona Chiminya and activist Talent Mabika, the MDC are also demanding that justice be done. The men named in those killings continue to walk free, one even still in state employment.

There are thousands of similar cases and thousands of victims still waiting for justice in cities, towns and remote rural villages. It is a ticking time bomb which apparently left a 15 year old schoolboy unable to wait a day longer. A time bomb which should have everyone shouting out for accountability, including MP's.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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