Opinion and Special feature

Zimbabwe’s greatest dilemma 40 years after independence!

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CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WORLD FAUNA AND FLORA is an international agreement between Governments. CITES has 183 members. It is one of the world’s most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation through the ‘regulation’ of trade in wild fauna and flora. Trade is ‘regulated’ in more than 35,000 species in three CITES groups.

CITES’ aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of world animals and plants do not threaten their survival.

CHINA was initially the 63rd party to join CITES controls certificates for export, permits for imports and control threats from invasive alien species.

Featured snippet from the web

Beijing/Geneva, 31 March 2017– The government of China announced on 30 December 2016 the closure of its domestic ivory market by the end of 2017 to fulfil the commitments jointly made by the presidents of China and the United States of America in September 2015.

China moves ahead with its closure of domestic ivory market as witnessed by the CITES Secretary General

  • China releases schedule showing 67 ivory retail outlets and ivory carving factories closed today, with the rest to be shut down by the end of the year.

  • China announces a donation of USD100,000 to the CITES Secretariat in support of implementing the outcomes of CITES CoP17, in addition to the 250% increase in its contribution to the CITES regular budget since 2010.

  • The population of Asian elephants in China is healthy and increasing.

At time of writing, the price of African Ivory is $1,500/lb. There are currently (untold) tonnes of confiscated elephant tusks on lockdown in Zimbabwe. One ton of 2,000lbs sells for £1,500 = £300,000 UK£, but because of sanctions, the Government of Zimbabwe is forbidden by CITES under international law to sell one ounce of its own ivory cache.

However, it is still permitted to sell hunting safaris, which in effect means that international big game hunters from Europe and the USA are permitted to hunt and kill any one of Zimbabwe’s “Big Five” wildlife, and export the coveted trophies to their own countries.

There is little or no regard for the revered Totems of the 16 clans, which embraced environmental issues centuries before some 183 members arrived with their own version of CITES to suit their aims. Since when has it been damage control to place a handful of key players under sanctions, and walk in the opposite direction for 17++ years. Many businesses failed to operate, resulting in divorce through financial loss as like a pack of dominoes, one-by-one adults lost their jobs, leaving entire families suffering until to date.


Elephant ivory tusks have been collected either via natural causes, or culling. Some of that stored tonnage includes hundreds of elephant tusks from pachyderms which died of hunger and thirst during the terrible ongoing droughts brought on by El Nino, 2015-2016, 2018-2019 and again in 2020. During those periods, when the fauna and flora were completely decimated, the waterholes dried up.

In addition, some of Zimbabwe’s own National Parks Wildlife Rangers were murdered while intercepting poachers from Somalia seeking ivory for their coveted vintage, unique daggers and personalized knives etc.

Zimbabwe’s Anti-Poaching Units risk their lives daily traipsing through the bush of Zimbabwe’s safari parks; finding themselves in hand-to-hand combat with ivory hunters, they fight off these illegal intruders from neighbours who assist them in penetrating our borders. Countrywide, the vehicles and weapons of the NP&WL need repair and replacing, and salaries updated. With crippling sanctions this is not feasible. NP&WL rangers have been shot dead in these squirmishes, but the elephant ivory tusks are not allowed to be sold to finance their wages, buy new vehicles, weapons or hospital treatment, funerals, or compensate the widows and children of grieving families. CITES provides them with little or no support.

Once an elephant herd outgrows its maximum capacity of 40,000 elephants, it is conservation practice to intermittently cull individual herds which have exceeded their environmental capability. with the ongoing droughts over recent years it has become necessary to hire professionals with helicopters at great cost. Culling is stressful and a thankless task for all concerned, but to date other than exporting and relocating calves to other parts of southern Africa, or foreign countries, not one of CITES’ 183 members have yet provided an alternative solution to saving the environment for the country’s prolific 40,0000+ pachyderms. This is despite all the Western critics procrastinating once pilots in helicopters are airborne and circling. High powered rifles are used to shoot the matriarch, then the bulls, and finally, the herd in its entirety so that not one elephant survives any cull. This is simply because they are known to share the same emotions as humans in that elephants also cry and mourn their dead for days after.


During the years of the First Republic of Zimbabwe, vast loans were offered on a plate to President Mugabe’s government, repayments of which some are still outstanding. President Hon. Emmerson Mnangagwa, of the new Second Republic, has to date managed to repay the World Bank millions of US$ due including interest. However, handicapped by sanctions this small land-locked country is unable to trade world-wide, and somehow the President of Zimbabwe now has to find funds to repay the IMF and the Africa Development Bank according to the demands of the Paris Club.

Previously, in 15 years, a generation of UDI children in Rhodesia, lived a deprived life from 1965, until Independence 1980. No sooner had Zimbabwe adjusted to this new sense of freedom, when in 2003 because of words between Robert Mugabe and Tony Blair, further sanctions were shackled to the limbs of the New Zimbabwe which have lasted for 17+ years, ongoing. Despite the fact that Tony Blair was in office for only four more years, and President Mugabe passed 06.09.2019, these ongoing sanctions have caused the next two generations of children to lead further deprived lives, no different to that which their parents were forced to suffer under. Averaging one child per adult, in a nation of seventeen million adults is the equivalent of seventeen million children.

Today, in the here and now, hundreds of children existing in the rural areas still do not have hot and cold running water in their homes, and few have flush toilets. Electricity, or a simple Nokia telephone and a Tablet constitute the impossible dream. Zimbabweans cannot compete with sanctions. Their parents, many of them nurses and teachers, have fled to South Africa on the understanding that life down there will enable them to squirrel funds to those who provide a roof for their children in Zimbabwe. Eventually, absentee parents plan to send for their children, but they will still be behind in their education because of their deprived existence to date. Broken homes and confused children growing up with inferiority complexes and nervous disorders are the result.

Qualified personnel quitting Zimbabwe have further depleted the education of the nation, because CITES will not allow the Government of Zimbabwe to sell that which the country owns, although they will allow new landowners to grow tobacco and, in the face of double-standards, allow these crops to be exported and sold on the world tobacco auctions at Mumbai.

What is the ultimate solution to forbidding the sale of blood-stained ivory stocks which is all that remains of dead elephants felled during necessary culling exercises, or died in subsequent droughts etc?

CITES have not yet found a solution to the issue which now envelopes the safari parks of our neighbours in South Africa. Will they, too, be banned from culling their own over-populated pachyderms. Who will dare to buy their stock piles of blood-stained ivory?

Within three years of his reign, the Hon. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government managed to repay the World Bank its loans – much to the chagrin of its own people. However, until he has repaid the IMF and African Development Bank loans off, according to the demands of the Paris Club, the elephant in the room dictates that the nation of Zimbabwe must remain shackled with sanctions, unable to trade with the rest of the world until every cent plus interest is repaid.

It is interesting that in the face of such adversity, there are always countries, apparently with a conscience matched only by their millions, who leap into the fold and contribute patronizing rescue packages such as drums of porridge for starving children which is exchanged in the old barter system of cup-by-cup of meal for vegetables and bread.


Despite his moniker being ‘ED’, the Hon. President is unable to embrace and satisfy the Education of Zimbabwe’s children, who within a couple of years will leave their homes in the high density and rural areas, and relocate to the cities of southern Africa – only to discover that they are not qualified to work in any field involving technology!

Is it the nation’s imagination that while international investors make generous offers with one hand, they subliminally always manage to keep control with the other by bringing in their own personnel to act as supervisors and managers – because Zimbabweans are not qualified? They never will be qualified so long as the children of the nation are not given the appropriate tools with which to learn, tools which I have seen your average three-year-old master, tools which can easily be funded by Zimbabwe selling its own ivory to the highest bidder.

Is CITES control over Zimbabwe’s elephant ivory all part and parcel of the example of the ancient capitalist world of Christianity that the West has once again imprinted on the innocent children of Zimbabwe? Is CITES yet another spoke in the wheel of the West, determining that the children of Zimbabwe must forever remain under the wretched curse of Joshua 9 -v- 23, and spend the rest of their lives performing the menial tasks of their Ancestors?

By By Donette Read Kruger

By Donette Read Kruger

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