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Zimbabwe’s bid to reopen ivory trade rejected

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BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI

Efforts by Zimbabwe to open trade in elephant leather and ivory failed in a vote at 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19) in Panama after 85 percent of global countries opposed the move, arguing that it will fuel wildlife crimes. 

The proposal, if successful, would have allowed the sale of ivory from national stockpiles of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa which they argued that the profits from the sales were going to benefit communities and support the conservation of wildlife. 

Zimbabwe says it is sitting on a stockpile worth US$600 million that needs to be disposed of, but it failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required to pass. 

“Swift on the heels of the defeat to re-open trade, Parties at Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) CoP19 voted against uplisting of all elephant populations, maintaining the status quo and the ongoing challenge of differing levels of protection across the range of African elephants,” Environmental Investigation Agency organization said in a statement.

Only 15 governments voted in favour, 83 against, with 17 abstentions.

IFAW deputy President of Conservation, Matthew Collis in another statement said it welcomed the decision which it says will prevent the poaching of elephants for their tusks.

“We have seen the devastating effect of the ivory trade on elephant populations across the world that have been ruthlessly targeted by poachers,” Collins said.

“Any legal ivory trade provides opportunities for criminals to launder poached elephant ivory into the market.

“Much progress has been made in recent years to close down remaining ivory markets, so we are pleased this decision does not undo such progress.”

“We are sympathetic to the countries seeking to generate income for conservation, but we must find ways to do so without exposing elephant populations to the risk of further poaching,”Collins noted.

“Sadly, governments look likely to refuse  such an opportunity at this very meeting, given the lack of agreement earlier today for a proposal put forward by Kenya to set up a fund to support elephant conservation in exchange for destruction of ivory stockpiles.”

A similar proposal was rejected at the previous CITES conference in Geneva in 2019

 Meanwhile, countries such as Kenya’s have proposed setting up a Convention on International Trade in a working group to explore the feasibility of “Establishing a fund accessible to range states upon non-commercial disposal of ivory stockpiles”.

The fund will be envisaged by making resources available to support elephant conservation and research programs, as well as for livelihoods and economic development programs.

“There has never been a better time to find a new approach to supporting elephant range states in their conservation initiatives, ”

“There was a disastrous increase in poaching across Africa after the last ivory stockpile sales in 2008, and there are no obvious buyers this time around.

“IFAW is pleased that Governments at CITES have chosen to reject repeating that failed experiment, but we urge CITES governments to explore more innovative ways to get resources to elephant range states to protect their wildlife.” Collis concluded.

CoP19 is scheduled to run until Friday.

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Binga by-elections called off: ZEC

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BY STAFF REPORTER 

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has suspended the by-elections for wards 6, 8, 10, 15, and 23 of Binga Rural District Council in Matabeleland North Province which were scheduled for Saturday. 

ZEC chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana made the announcement on Friday following a High Court order after  Collen Mudenda challenged the nomination of the five councillors who were recalled in October by the MDC-T party. 

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission would like to inform members of the public that the High Court has ordered the suspension of by-elections for wards 6, 8, 10, 15, and 23 of Binga Rural District Council scheduled for Saturday 03 December 2022,” Silaigwana said. 

“This follows urgent chamber applications by Collen Mudenda who challenged the nominations of John Simunene Sikabotu, Kingson Mpofu, Mathias Mudenda, Joseph Mwembe, and Wilson Siampolomba on the grounds that they were disqualified from contesting as candidates in terms of Section 119 (2) (h) of the Electoral Act.

“The Section states that a person shall be disqualified from being nominated as a candidate on the nomination day or the day of an election when he or she is in default with the payment of any levy, rate, charge, or tax due and payable to the council concerned for more than 120 days.”

Silaigwana said the High Court ordered that the Commission should not proceed with the by-elections for the five wards pending the hearing of thr cases which was postponed to  January 4, next year. 

He, however said  despite the Binga order, by-elections for ward 20 of Binga Rural District Council, wards 4, 5, and 18 of Gweru Municipality, and ward 28 of Mberengwa Rural District Council will go ahead ahead as scheduled on Saturday. 

 

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Myths on Covid-19 pandemic spread across Hwange

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BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI

Innocent Tevedzai, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Chamber of informal Association for People With Disabilities  says after getting inoculated vaccines to prevent Covid-19 pandemic, he was told that he will lose his fertility in the coming years. 

Royal Ndlovu, a Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association member says he was also discouraged from taking the vaccines after he heard that he was not only going to lose his fertility, but vaccines also meant losing his libido. 

Zimbabwe first rolled out Covid-19 vaccines early last year with the country relying mostly on Chinese made vaccines to bring the pandemic that paralysed the economy under control. 

 

Hwange district, where Ndlovu and Tevedzai come from was one of the areas that were prioritised by the government in the vaccination blitz as it sought to have tourist resorts re-opened for tourists, but community listening sessions held by VicFallsLive in some parts of Hwange district in Matabeleland North showed that some people are still sceptical about the safety of the vaccines.

Community leaders said the government did little to counter the misinformation, which is largely blamed on social media and this fuelled vaccination hesitancy. 

As such, ordinarily, Zimbabweans are caught up in a lot of myths and of course misinformation about the pandemic.

“We were told that we will not be able to conceive as this was intentionally done to reduce the population.” Tevedzai said. 

“Lack of verified information made it worse for us because we had to be vaccinated to gain public access at the time when misinformation and social ills such as teen pregnancies rose.” 

Hwange villagers, like other people in many parts of Zimbabwe were victims of misinformation about the vaccines, including allegations that those who got the Covid-19 vaccine will turn into baboons or that the vaccines were part of a scheme to reduce Africa’s population.

Even the World Health Organization says the Covid-19 outbreak and response was accompanied by an overabundance of information, some accurate and some not.

For Michael Ncube, a Victoria Falls City Council’ acting Public Health Officer, “this makes it tough for people to then find reliable sources and dependable guidance when they need it to fully curtail coronavirus,” he said. 

The myths Ncube added, included claims on cures and prevention.

 “For instance, people were told that when they vaccinate they will lose fertility or will die as this was deliberately done by the government to reduce Zimbabweans population, which is just mythical and therefore untrue,”

“We would like to assure out residents that the vaccines are safe and the country has highly specialised health personnels who also confirmed them and because of those vaccines, that’s why we have managed to set a barrier to prevent the transmission and that has paid off, as we have seen hospitalisations and deaths reduced and the economy fully opened.”

Zimbabwe has administered over 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines so far. 

 

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Armed robber storms Victoria Falls bank, walks away with US$12K

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BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI 

Zimbabwe Republic Police have revealed that the robber who held at ransom ZB bank workers on Wednesday after pretending to be applying for a bank loan got away with US$12 000 cash. 

The man dressed in black and white jersey, a hat and khaki as captured hours later through bank cameras pointing a shotgun towards workers while loading the money in his satchel that he was holding.

“The ZRP confirms that a robbery occurred at ZB Bank, Victoria Falls, on 30/11/22 at around 15.55 pm hours where an unknown suspect, armed with an unidentified pistol, posed as a genuine customer who wanted to enquire on the requirements to apply for a bank loan, “police said in a statement. 

“As the bank was about to close for the day, the suspect remained behind while other customers were leaving. After all the other customers had left, he produced a pistol and ordered the bank tellers to surrender cash in their tills. 

“The suspect stole US$12 000 before fleeing through the back exit door. Investigations are underway to account for the suspect.”

According to sources, the man was seen walking away until he disappeared. 

Meanwhile, police said they were also investigating an armed robbery case which occurred at a college in Chitunguza’s Seke residency on Monday, where three unknown suspects, armed with three unidentified pistols, attacked a security guard who was on duty at the premises and stole US$3 094 fuel coupons, US$8 076, and $43 100 cash after vandalising a safe. 

 

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