“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” Mahatma Gandhi once said.
Given this premise, the soi-disant nation of Zimbabwe is egregious, recidivist and morally bankrupt. The Zimbabwe Ruins no longer refers to the remains of an edifice but to a ravaged country.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a seemingly demonic rampage of destruction.
In his speeches, the murderous President Robert Mugabe refers to the farm invasions as the Third Chimurenga – the war waged in the name of the witchdoctor Murenga. This is interesting in itself. Mugabe presents his “Land Redistribution” program to the West as a reasonable method of redressing the “imbalances” of colonialism. To his own people, he speaks in Shona and calls it the Third Chimurenga, “The War Against the White Devils.”
Dr Peter Hammond is the founder and director of Frontline Fellowship. His Christian missionary work has given him firsthand knowledge of the situation in countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and further to the north in the Sudan. In his opinion, it is Zimbabwe that is committing national suicide.
By installments, it would seem.
As Zimbabwe plummets further and further into ruins, the independent human-rights non-government organization the Amani Trust documents close to a thousand assaults on white farmers and their Matabele workers. The occupation of the farms is not spontaneous. As long ago as 2001, it was reported that the organization of the so-called “war veterans” (some are not yet teenagers) was the work of Chenjerai “Hitler” Hunzvi, who was flown around the country in an air force helicopter as he coordinated the invasions. (He has since mercifully died of AIDS and was buried in Heroes Acre).
What does appear spontaneous is the way many of the “landless” peasants who are in direct contact with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF headquarters (via cell phone) kill or maim animals.
When a man wantonly destroys one of the works of man we call him a vandal. What then do we call a man who cuts the legs off a horse … or gouges the eyes out of a cow?
What do we call the blood-thirsty mobs of ZANU-PF’s “war veterans” and youth militia who are shooting, snaring, spearing and using land-mines to destroy herds of elephant, the endangered Black rhino, cheetah, leopard, antelope and giraffe?
The Save Valley, one of Africa’s largest conservation areas, covers an area of 840,000 acres. This conservancy has supported more than 1,200 elephants. It was also known to have the most successful black rhino breeding program in Africa. Over the last four years, some 50 percent of the reserve has been occupied by Mugabe’s AK-47-wielding war veterans and youth militia. During this time, game rangers have recovered more than 35,000 snares. Victims of these snares include elephant, wild dog, cheetah, leopard and rhino. These cable snares entrap the animal so that it will starve to death. In one case, a pregnant giraffe struggled so desperately to free herself that the snares cut her throat. (Photographs of all these atrocities can be seen on the Internet.)
In Bubiana alone, it is estimated that 60,000 animals have been slaughtered in the past few months. Bubiana used to have the largest rhino population in the world. More than 75 percent have been killed. In Lynwood Ranch, another conservation area, seven of its 36 black rhinos were found dead in snares.
In several other cases, rhinos had their horns hacked off while they were still alive or they were simply blown up with land mines. In the Kariba area, more than a 100 elephants have been shot.
A British observer commented: “It is incomprehensible that Mugabe’s government has such a blatant disregard for its own economic assets. Zimbabwe’s extraordinary wealth is being systematically and savagely destroyed.”
A black conservationist commented: “They (Mugabe’s Marxist thugs) are destroying everything. They are crippling the country. It’s a no-win situation. The whole thing has been motivated by a government that intends to stay in power at all costs and destroy anyone or anything they want to. It’s a crisis situation, and game rangers need immediate help. The longer we wait, the more animals are being killed the less likely we will be able to survive in this country’s economy. All we want to do is preserve the little bit that’s left.”
Thirty-year-old Bigboy Musemwa is the fifth of seven brothers. “I didn’t ever think I would become an animal activist, but I have been shocked into the animal cause by the horrific massacre of animals in my country. Animals are being butchered by the land invaders. Zimbabweans are in dire need of being educated in the humane treatment of animals, be they domestic, wild or farm.”
Musemwa has been shunned by his family as a result of his vociferous campaigning urging the international animal-protection community to muster support for the plight of animals and the environment.
Huge tracts of forest have been burned or hacked down. The destruction of the habitat is severe. A ranger who prefers to remain nameless says, “Fifty percent of Chiredzi’s 270,000 acres have been destroyed. These forests which have taken hundreds of years to grow have been hacked down, opening the bush and exposing vast tracks of soil to erosion. Whole ecosystems are being destroyed.”
Incredibly (all stories about African countries seem to have an “incredibly” somewhere in them), while President Robert Mugabe has been destroying what were some of the most successful farms and game reserves, he addressed the World Summit on Sustainable Development meeting in Johannesburg, and his racist ramblings were enthusiastically applauded.
There is only one thing more ridiculous than African dictator: the exaggerated respect that the world accords them.
In a story by Dan Roodt, the Afrikaner writer, he writes, “The game in the parks have now been cruelly trapped and decimated by a famished populace. …”
A psychiatrist this writer spoke to disagrees. He believes that hunger has less to do with it than hatred:
“There is a psychopathic and sociopathic cruelty to these attacks. Cows with their eyes gouged out, animals with pangas embedded in their rumps, their legs cut off while they are still alive, family pets being skinned alive and horses being set alight. These actions indicate deep, deep perversion, sadism and a desire to shock. The perpetrators are regressive in the extreme and entirely without conscience.”
Phil Arkow is an internationally acclaimed expert on the link between animal cruelty and human violence.
“There is increasing evidence that animal abusers go on to commit acts of violence against humans. Almost without exception, serial murderers are found to share two common traits – viz. abuse (at times dissection) of small animals and a compulsion to commit acts of arson.
“U.S. law personnel are beginning to recognize that dogs, cats, horses and farm animals are part of the urban landscape and powerful indicators of the well-being or dysfunction of a community.”
What then are we to make of the zeitgeist – spirit of the times – that exists in Zimbabwe?
And, more importantly, how long are the mainstream media going to avert their gaze?
“Their deed are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands … they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways.” Isaiah 59: 6,7.
Jani Allan is a British-born journalist and talk-show host. She spent many years in South Africa.