MOST of us have been following with great interest the disturbing and detestable story of the callous, insensitive and destructive poisoning of elephants in the Hwange National Park.
The government of Zimbabwe has shown and proved beyond reasonable doubt where its loyalty and interest lies.
This disaster has exposed the government’s position and bias to the utmost – that wildlife and money are more valuable than people’s lives.
Let us go down memory lane. It is said that there are about 200 or so herd of elephants roaming outside the Hwange National Park in the Tsholotsho communal lands.
This is one of the reasons why there is the Campfire programme in Tsholotsho.
By the way Campfire is a government initiative that tries to convince people to live with wild animals.
One needs to remember how many villagers in Tsholotsho have been attacked and killed by elephants in the past years.
On average there are about three or so people who are killed by elephants in Tsholotsho every year – and what has the government of Zimbabwe done about it?
Every year the people of Tsholotsho lose valuable property, have their fields totally destroyed and lose opportunities to plant – at times due to these marauding elephants. Some of the villagers have died due to hunger and starvation.
Recent Southern Eye stories on the poverty levels of the San communities in Tsholotsho are testimony of this.
How many people have perished due to road accidents on the death road from Tsholotsho to Bulawayo which the government has been deliberately ignoring and not developing?
What has the government of Zimbabwe done about this? Has there ever been a ministerial taskforce to intervene?
The people of Tsholotsho have been forced to stay with dangerous wild animals like the elephants in the guise of something called Campfire.
What have the Tsholotsho villagers benefited from the elephants hunted by safari operators in their areas?
Haven’t we witnessed Tsholotsho Rural District Council changing chief executive officers and senior council staff?
Haven’t we been witnessing numerous court cases involving council officials having squandered Campfire funds while the villagers are wallowing in poverty?
Haven’t we heard of non-governmental organisations that demand accountability on Campfire funds being chucked out of Tsholotsho district?
How many Tsholotsho villagers are employed at the Hwange National Park?
They are truly very few if any! And why? And what has the government done about it? Has it set out a commission of enquiry?
No! Has it made noise like the noise being made over the death of just 100 elephants? Definitely no! Why?
This is a clear sign that our government prioritises elephants and money generated from them over the lives of the people of Tsholotsho.
Former senator for Tsholotsho, Believe Gaule, was a lone ranger when it comes to amplifying the plight of the people of Tsholotsho in the hands of these elephants and the government has done nothing about it.
It’s not true that the government has not been aware of the destruction to human life caused by these elephants.
Jonathan Moyo is from Tsholotsho; former Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema literally stays in Tsholotsho and drives to Bulawayo daily.
The late Vice-President John Landa Nkomo was from Tsholotsho.
The former Water Resources and Development minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo is from Tsholotsho.
There are government departments offices in Tsholotsho too.
These people are so disconnected from the realities of the people of Tsholotsho to the extent that they do not know of the gravity of destruction caused by elephants to human life in the district!
While I do not condone violence of this magnitude, I think the government should start taking the people of Tsholotsho seriously.
Continuously ignoring the plight of the people will always result in such grave calamities.
If the government of Zimbabwe had taken the people of Tsholotsho as equal human beings, listened to their plight, maybe these elephants could not have died.
This is the price that you pay when you ignore the voices of the masses and when you take some villagers as less important than others.
Forget the purported poachers’ story that the government is riding on.
Yes, poachers could have a hand in this, but if you really want to see that the issue is deeper that the poachers facade, wait and see how many elephants will die of poisoning during the harvesting season when melons are ripe.
Elephants have always willingly feasted on the villagers’ melons and villagers have finally seen that you can hit back on the elephants.
I am convinced the villagers will come with a plan of poisoning some of their melons, place them at strategic places within their fields and when the elephants consume the melons as they always do every year, disaster will strike again.