Zimbabwe Rhino Horn Scandal
Zimbabwe Mnangagwa, Shamu in Rhino Horn Scandal
....docket vanishes into thin air
By MUNALULA WINA
ZIMBABWE - HARARE - In a scandal that has sent tongues wagging in the official corridors of Zimbabwe, a police docket against two ZANU PF heavyweights - Emmerson Mnangagwa and Webster Shamu - has vanished from attorney-general Johannes Tomana’s office.
And, efforts to give Tomana a copy of the docket has seen the police superintendent who was in charge of the investigations transferred from his posting at Bulawayo Central police station to a rural outpost at Nzvimbo in Chiweshe.
The two high-profile figures had been implicated in massive poaching of rhinos in Zimbabwe’s national parks.
Mnangagwa, who earned notoriety as the head of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) ministry in the early 80s, is the current defense minister in the government of national unity.
Shamu is the media and information minister.
What triggered the investigations on the two was the arrest of a Chinese national early this year when he was found with six rhino horns at a police roadblock along the Hwange-Bulawayo Road.
He implicated a businessman in Kwekwe whose name has been withheld by the police. The businessman then pointed fingers at Mnangagwa and Shamu.
The two government ministers are said to have been launching their operations from HKK Safaris, a conservancy Shamu co-owns with South African businessman, Charles Davy. Davy is father to Prince Harry’s former girlfriend, Chelsy.
Davy has in the past been accused of violating hunting quotas and Zimbabwe’s then stringent foreign currency regulations at their conservancy near Hwange national park but has been shielded from prosecution by Shamu.
The octogenarian despot Robert Mugabe is said to be deeply embarrassed by the allegations against his trusted lieutenants, especially now as he has been decimating the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)’s representation in parliament by arresting and sending its members to jail on flimsy charges.
“The President (Mugabe) is very, very embarrassed,” said environmental and natural resources management minister, Francis Nhema, last week. “He asked me for the names of the ministers involved.”
Nhema, however, refused to admit or deny the two Mugabe right-hand men were the ministers in question.
This comes before an imminent censure from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) after the southern African country officially lost more than 70 rhinos in the past 12 months to well co-ordinated Zimbabwean and international poaching syndicates.
Sources say the number of rhinos lost to poaching syndicates is by far higher than the official figures. A parks and wildlife senior official, who refused to be identified said more than 300 rhinos were lost to poachers last year alone.
“What you read in newspapers is just a tip of the iceberg,” he said. “We are losing the war against poachers as they are backed by the same people who formulate the laws.”
Zimbabwe was early this year placed on the agenda of the next Cites meeting to be held next year. Cites - to which Zimbabwe is a signatory - is an international wildlife protection body whose secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Areas hardest hit by rhino poachers are the Hwange national park, which borders with Shamu’s HKK Safaris and the South-Eastern Lowveld, where other poaching syndicates are said to be heavily present.
It is the first time Mnangagwa, who has in the past been linked to illegal gold dealings in Zimbabwe, has been implicated in rhino poaching. He is, however, credited with moving stealthily against anyone who stands on his way.
Currently, he is in a bitter battle with Vice-President Joice Mujuru, to succeed Mugabe as leader of the ruling party and eventually take over the reins in the troubled country from the ageing dictator.
The scandal is set to bolster calls for Tomana’s removal from office, seen by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC as Mugabe’s frontman in persecuting the opposition.
Tomana’s appointment as attorney-general and Gideon Gono’s re-appointment as central bank governor have been referred to SADC for arbitration as they were unilaterally done by Mugabe without the agreement of the two MDC formations.
Under the global political agreement (GPA) such senior appointments have to be agreed to by all parties in the unity government.”