Sunday, April 5, 2015

Imire Wild Life Conservatory

Once again, it has been a long time since I wrote on this Blog.  I guess I write on it when I have had a profound experience.

On Friday I had a profound experience

I took my son, Ian and grandson, Connor to Imire Wildlife Conservatory near Wedza.  It was a two hour journey from Harare.  It is the first time I have been outside Harare for some time.  I was amazed at the excellent condition of the highway between Harare and Marondera.  So many roads in the city are filled with hundreds if not thousands of potholes of varying sizes and depth.  Yet the highway to Marondera - still under construction - is in great shape.  The road surface has been re-surfaced since I was last on it.  The white lines, the yellow lines have been painted, there are 'cats eyes' to be seen.  I had no qualms about paying my $2.00 toll fee at the one toll-gate between here and Marondera.

But the Bridge Road that leads from the main highway to Imire is another pot-holed motoring danger.

At Imire we were met by Always, a most pleasant young man who was going to be our tour guide for the day.  We had tea and scones.  We also met Mike, husband of Kate.  They are the post-creators of Imire, Kate's father, Norman Travers was the creator.  Now deceased, I read how the elephants at Imire attended his funeral.  I recently heard how the family is being threatened (again) with eviction by some high powered politician.  Mike said that the last week had been quiet but the week before there were visits and demands being made that they leave to make way for 'the rightful owners of the land'.  That means a ZANU PF politician or a senior army/police officer/civil servant.

Others arrived while we had tea and then we all set off with Always.  We met wildlife of all kinds.  A lion, some spotted hyena, sable antelope, impala by the hundreds, nyala (imported from South Africa), white rhino, black rhino, buffalo, zebra, giraffe and of course, several elephant.  Always was extremely knowledgeable of the habits and idiosyncrasies of the wildlife.  The downside to all this is that the rhino and the elephant are guarded - have to be guarded - 24/7 by armed security guards.

The landscapes were as alluring as the wild life.  Beautiful Msasa trees, rich veld, kopies with amazing balancing rocks, serene and magnificent, Several dams filled with water such that the animals are never without.

We stopped for a hearty lunch by one of the dams and then fed the elephants who came for their own 'lunch hour'.  Then back to the farmhouse and finally home to Harare.

There was a lot of time to think as we ground our way round the conservancy.  I thought much about land ownership.  This land does not 'belong' to the black people of this country any more than it 'belongs' to the white people.   Essentially it belongs to the animal kingdom, of which we humans are just a very small part.  Throughout the world I am aware that people are destroying the environment.  Other members of the animal kingdom do not destroy it - that is unless they over populate it.  We humans are destroying it largely because of greed and also because of over population of the human race.

So the land belongs to the animal kingdom and only to those members of the human race who can use it wisely and conserve it for the future.  Those who either misuse it or don't use it have no right to be on it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Of Indigenisation and Sudden Death

I have been away and back again. My wife and I spent time in the UK and in Crete. It was an awesome holiday and I use the word awesome in its proper context. I learned so much from my son who has learned that a fulfilling life is far better than a pot of money, but he has also learned that you need enough money to enjoy a fulfilling life. Crete was an experience for an African like me with so little experience of how other people live and work.

Of course everyone we met wanted to know how we still managed to live in Zimbabwe. Travel always broadens the mind and enables one to think about life in a far better perspective. The answer is that compared with other countries of this world, Zimbabwe is quite acceptable as a life for me and my wife, though it may not be for many others – particularly the poor black people who are subjected to hateful, spiteful and terrifying acts committed on them by the few highly privileged people who believe that Zimbabwe belongs to them and them alone.

The worst of life for us is the electricity load shedding which is frustrating in its randomness and maddening in its frequency. If it was equally shared between all it would be less irritating and less maddening. Last week our home was subjected to eighty-six and a half hours of load shedding while others I know were not subjected to a single minute. It all depends, it seems, on who lives in your street or zone that might be considered a ‘VIP’.

We learned this last week when Rex Nhongo alias Solomon Mujuru was found burned to death in his farmhouse in Beatrice when the authorities reported that he should have electricity because he had a direct line into the local substation. Rex Nhongo was a guerrilla who at the onset of independence was given the job of commander of the Army. I met him once – summoned to tell him about a management programme that we were running. He wanted to enrol his senior officers. I told him that the programme was for commerce and industry, not the military. He responded by telling me that that was exactly why he wanted his officers to attend because there was no more need for a massive army in the peace that reigned in the country and his officers needed to leave the army and get out into commerce and industry. We ended up training 30 of his officers – some of whom are still in the Army at very senior level, some of whom are in business and many of whom have long since died.

There are hundreds of questions about Nhongo’s death. Was he murdered? The few facts that we know suggest that this is very likely, but the burning question is who would have done it. He was a threat to some people in the ZANU PF hierarchy, principally because he was a ‘dove’ and the ‘hawks’ are trying hard to reign supreme. But he was also involved in diamond mining and there is a red-hot story – a true one at that – that his partner was killed in a road accident the week before. And we all know the diamond finds in this country in the last couple of years have spawned a breed of unparalleled selfish and greedy people.
As for the rest of the politics – it meanders on and on. Saviour Kasukewere – who would appear to be Zimbabwe’s answer to South Africa’s Julius Malema, is very busy stirring the indigenisation pot, demanding that the three remaining international banks submit their indigenisation plans within seven days or they will be forfeited to the state. Gideon Gono, for all his miscalculations of the now hardly remembered years of hyper-inflation, is aware of what such an act will do to the teetering economy and is trying to regain him in. But will he? Will the international banks call Kasukewere’s bluff? The International banks have little to lose but the people who work for them here have everything to lose and the depositors will be jittery at best, in panic mode at worst.

While this bumbles along Jacob Zuma is said to be getting very tired of Zimbabwe politics. Aren’t we all!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It’s been some time since I appended to this blog. Not much going on really other than the usual squabbling amongst the political and business community. The courts here do magnificent business. There is always someone trying to sue someone else or some organisation trying to sue another on spurious and doubtful evidence.

Today I see that the MDC (M), led – or perhaps no longer led – by one Arthur Mutambara who was (or perhaps still is) the Deputy Prime Minister in the Government of National (dis)Unity, is in disarray. Two weeks ago they held a ‘national congress’ and Mutambara was ousted by Welshman Ncube in what is reported as a democratic vote. Mutambara, a rocket-scientist we are told, is prone to making idiotic statements from time to time and his fall from grace is not at all surprising.

But of course there is an opposing ‘faction’! In Zimbabwe there is always at least one opposing faction and in this case the opposing faction claims that the election of Welshman Ncube was ‘unconstitutional’. In Zimbabwe, as we are frequently learning, anything is unconstitutional if a particular person with a modicum of power asnd influence disagrees with something that has happened. Therefore it can be constitutional to take another man’s land and personal property if it suits the people in power and it is unconstitutional if it does not suit those people in power – or in some cases, those people who perceive that they have power.

In 1887 J Theodore Bent, a respected archaeologist of the time came to what was about to become Southern Rhodesia and he investigated the origins and history of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins near Masvingo. During his travels he came across the Shona people who lived in the area of the ruins. One of his descriptions of the people was that ‘they are always squabbling amongst themselves all of the time’. Nothing, it seems, changes.

In the coming weeks I will try and document the current squabbles. If nothing else it should make some light hearted reading. Of course there are times when it might be far from light hearted. Some of the current squabbles include: -

1. Grace Mugabe is suing the Standard newspaper for $20 million because the Standard reported on a Wikileaks report that inferred Grace was making millions from corrupt diamond dealing
2. Various people are squabbling over the rights of ownership to SMM Holdings formerly owned by Mutumwa Mawere. He was ousted in a government sponsored coup several years ago, through his ‘specification’. Now he is back, de-specified and rattling his sabres while the government ably led by the Minister of Justice (oxymoron if ever there was one) Patrick Chinamasa who claims that Mawere never owned SMM Holdings.
3. Maize has been slashed in Harare by, some claim, members of the Harare City Council on orders from the Harare City Council. In the old Rhodesian days it was an offence to cultivate stream banks and I presume the legislation is still on the statute books. Stream bank cultivation seriously degrades the soil and destroys streams and stream banks. If maize is being slashed by ‘authorities’ I assume it is on the basis that the maize has been cultivated in stream banks (I see evidence of this all around the city). Now there is a squabble going on as to the ‘rights’ to slash the maize and to identify who is really accountable. With a proviso of course that whoever is accountable is acting against the good will of the people. Nowhere in the accounts to date has anyone mentioned ‘stream bank cultivation’, probably because no one is aware of the need to prohibit the practice for the betterment of future generations.
4. Last weekend several ‘warvets’ invaded some 20 properties around Lake Chivero, the warvets claiming their rights to ownership for ‘the people’ and senior members of ZANU PF. One couple known to me were held hostage for most of the weekend not being allowed to leave the property or for anyone else to enter it – other than fellow warvets. By Monday someone was brave enough to contact the police who, surprisingly, intervened. Now there is a squabble going on as to who was responsible. ZANU PF ‘apologised’ through the Deputy President but Minister Chombo denied any ZANU PF involvement.

Enough for now.

Entrepreneurship ZANU PF style

Here’s an interesting excerpt from News Day

"Zanu-PF Harare province has vowed to get rid of foreigners operating in the city centre and replace them with party supporters ahead of possible elections. Zanu PF Harare district coordinating chairman Jaison Pasadi had a meeting with Christopher Zvobgo the city’s acting town clerk last week to lecture him on the need to override the by-laws and “empower the people”. During the meeting, Pasadi was said to have stressed that there was no turning back on utilising open spaces, particularly along Park Street and taking over shops run by foreigners in Harare and handing them over to locals. Pasadi confirmed meeting with Zvobgo and his party’s intention to seize foreign-owned premises to hand them over to Zanu PF supporters. Pasadi said the party was targeting open spaces and shops occupied by foreigners in the city to give to “deserving people”. “It starts from the grassroots and as Zimbabweans, we can penetrate into those shops,” said Pasadi. “We are not talking of factories only but we are also talking of shops so that people can sell their goods from those shops. These foreigners are selling cell phones but can’t we also do the same and have our people selling cell phones?” he said. “We cannot talk of empowering our people when we don’t have somewhere to run our business from. Which country in Africa has foreigners flooding the capital city? We want that to be corrected as a matter of urgency.” Sources reported Pasadi said Zanu PF was not happy that people were finding it difficult to get space to operate from while foreign traders flooded the city. He is also reported to have told Zvobgo the move to take over shops run by foreign nationals had the backing of senior party officials – NewsDay, Monday January"

Who are the ‘foreigners’ referred to here? The Chinese and Nigerians!! It’s not only South Africa where xenophobia is on the rise.

Here is yet another reason why Mugabe is unable to create the conditions for entrepreneurship.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How do you create an Entrepreneur?

Muagabe wants to know. Mr Mugabe stated recently that he could not understand why black Zimbabweans were not acting like entrepreneurs in the mining industry. He told his audience that he had questioned a number of holders of EPO’s (Exclusive Prospecting Orders) as to why they were registering their claims and he was concerned that all that he spoke to were whites (or foreigners). Why are black Zimbabeans not registering mining prospecting claims?

The answer is so simple; if you promote the oppoprtunity for people to steal farms, mines and business, they will take the easy route and steal them. Why bother being an entrepreneur and starting new business, mining ventures, farming operations, if there is a much easier way?

You want entrepreneurs? Make the conditions right for them and they will appear, as some did in the early eighties and nineties.

Monday, December 13, 2010


There is a considerable amount of world-wide controversy over the revelations by Wiki-Leaks and their impact on such things as ‘freedom of the press’, ‘the right to know’ and the manipulation of people, governments and business.

There have been a lot of leaks relating to Zimbabwe. I wonder if those responsible for the leaks are aware that they have put many lives in Zimbabwe at risk – anyone named as having spoken to the Americans for any reason is a marked man now. There are even serious suggestions being made here that Morgan Tsvangirayi should be arrested for ‘treason’ because he has spoken to the Americans.

There are perhaps other people in other countries whose lives have been put at risk. The Americans have suggested that their troops have been put at risk. Those advocating freedom of information would do well to understand this.

Things are not always as simple as they seem.


I have spent a week in Ghana. There are differences and similarities between Ghana and Zimbabwe. Let’s start with the differences. Electricity flows most of the time. We experienced one power cut which lasted less than 15 minutes. The main roads are in excellent condition, but they run through every little village there is between Accra and Tarkwa – a 7 hour journey. And there are dozens of little villages. As one approaches there is a speed limit of 50 k’s an hour which everyone obeys – probably because there are policemen with speed guns in 9 out of 10 of the villages. The off-roads some of which we took to ‘save time’ are in a shocking state but to be fair, it rains every day in Ghana – well – on the coastal belt where we travelled – not just light showers either. Off the road and outside the villages is mainly jungle. But we did pass several rubber and coconut plantations.

The people are friendly, polite, respectful but not deferential. There is evidence everywhere of racial tolerance and the blacks and whites that I met seemed to get on very well with each other. One could these days say much the same of Zimbabwe until ZANU PF enters the picture.

At the mine, people I met were God fearing Christians who give thanks to their maker several times a day. The supervisors who had recently completed training were enthusiastic, energetic, confident and able. They understand the concept of business and profit. I would be very surprised to hear that the mine-workers in Ghana had gone on strike like their counterparts in South Africa. It would be against their personal code of conduct.

The mine has plenty of facilities for the 4,000 odd people that work there. There is a clubhouse, tennis courts, squash courts, gymnasium, swimming pool and well-manicured golf course yet no-one seems to use them. I wanted to swim and discovered that before I was allowed to swim I had to take a ‘swimming test’ which comprised swimming two lengths of the 20 metre pool, treading water for two minutes and recovering the licencers keys from the bottom of the 10 foot deep pool. After I had completed the tests successfully I was awarded a ‘Certificate of Competency’. There was a security guard at the pool who demanded to see my ‘licence’ before I was allowed in.

I listened briefly to two radio broadcasts from the Ghanaian Parliament. I heard members of the ruling party and the opposition exchanging banter, with plenty of good humour mixed with serious debate. Unlike Zimbabwe where the parliamentarians exchange insults.

There is hope for Africa yet.