Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

SA: Sex-Work In Lieu of Opportunity

Prostitution is not often a career choice, but an unfortunate opportunity. Seeking opportunity, people travel

Sex-workers travel and oftentimes foreigners come to dominate the local sex-markets. The issue of prostitution and the mitigation of AIDS in Southern Africa can’t be solved by any one country alone, when the issues cross borders. Thus far, an ‘international effort’ has failed to satisfactorily redress the root cause: opportunity. (borders?).

Namibian prostitutes fall short of earnings compared to their foreign counterparts

According to findings, Zimbabwean and Zambian street sex workers, with well-paying clients fare much better. A Zimbabwean sex worker, Violet Chigari (26): “It’s a fact that foreign girls make all the money in this country while Namibian girls simply don’t know how to.” All her fellow foreigners make good money because they deal with the ‘right clientele’ mostly comprised of high-profile personalities, such as local and international businessmen, as well as politicians.

When it comes to day-to-day operations, Violet points out foreign sex workers do not only run the streets but they own them. In her view, foreign prostitutes have better advantage because they are highly experienced and find it a lot easier to be prostitutes in a foreign country rather than back home: they do not worry about bumping into anyone they know.

This clip gives good coverage:

The Tropic of Capricorn 2 of 20 – Namibia – BBC Travel

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SA/ZIM: Platinum Lined Land Issue

It’s more than just diamonds.

Platinum mining in South Africa accounts for three-quarters of the world’s platinum reserves.

Zimbabwe ranks third, after Russia.

Futures analysis/GRAPH

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The Diamond Deal: ZANU-PF & DeBeers

Since 1980, ZANU-PF has managed a country rife with poverty.

Land is regarded as a chance at prosperity. Mugabe has long-promised land to the rural poor as part of his political platform. In 1998, he allowed for the hostile takeover of thousands of smallholder white-owned farms by ‘war veterans’ and squatters. This was in response to physical threats against him and the regime by a large mob which demanded land and recompense for their service to the party and the revolution. A payout of $222 million dollars was granted, but the President declared his hands tied on the subject of land.

Curiously, the largest white-owned plots, such as the Oppenheimer Estate—often referred to as “the size of Belgium” and owned by DeBeers heirs—received state protection. (BBC News, 2001) In the course of political navigation, President Mugabe allowed the Oppenheimers and Anglo American, (the parent company of DeBeers) to keep its properties in 2002. The mining conglomerate, operated out of South Africa, manages a complete monopoly on the global diamond trade.

The Oppenheimer’s also own large tracts of land that aren’t mined, and like their family estate in Zimbabwe, they negotiated to have their land ‘protected’ as nature preserves, where they offer safaris and game hunting to Western tourists. But for all purposes, they control the land they claim to conserve only because they are diamond rich, and it is in this manner, the Oppenheimers, DeBeers, and Anglo American control the supply and price of diamonds on the global market.


Nicky Oppenheimer

The landholding is the result of buying out competition which could potentially introduce their diamonds into the global market. The myth of diamonds as ‘rare’ is DeBeers created, and it is well understood that there are alluvial diamond fields throughout southern Africa, and anywhere there is dormant volcanoes and superheated carbon. However, flooding the market would depress their bottom line. (Reynolds, 1994)

With the find of the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe, Mugabe has found a means of leverage against Anglo American. If Zimbabwe were to nationalize their diamond industry, in a manner similar to neighboring Botswana, it could lead to revenue for the country, theoretically, to apply to public education, infrastructure, and health. Given the abundance of diamonds in the Zimbabwean soil, this action would depress the value of Anglo American’s diamonds.

ZANU-PF supervised “diamond rushes” in the region where hundreds of panners dig in competition, selling their finds to the government, before those methods received international sanction.  More recently, ZANU-PF has also contracted Chinese companies for more professional digs. To avoid sanctions and the label of “black market” or “blood diamonds,” the Zimbabwean diamond effort is forced to negotiate within a framework of trade controlled by DeBeers.

Since the beginning of “legal” Zimbabwean diamonds, ZANU-PF has managed this “Kimberly Process” under the eye of Obert Mpofu. From the Matabeleland region, a place where most supported the ZAPU party at independence, Mpofu changed his support to ZANU-PF in the 1980s. He entered politics, eventually being appointed Governor of Matabeleland by Mugabe in 2000.  Mpofu acquired transport and safari tour companies—facing accusations of smuggling and unsanctioned digging—and then land and banks, creating himself a diamond trade path similar to the origins of DeBeers, over a hundred years earlier.


Obert Mpofu “The King of Matabeleland”

Since acquiring his position, Mpofu has himself become rich, investing in land. In western Zimbabwe, his holdings come second only to the Oppenheimer family, making him easily one of the top five landowners in the country. “Like many of his ZANU brethren…” Partnership Africa Canada notes “Mpofu built much of his wealth through “vulture capitalism”—a money for nothing appropriation of profitable businesses and/or assets that are later “legitimized” through normal business activity.” (Taylor, 2012)

Could this be a ploy of ZANU-PF to settle the land matter, by purchasing it with illegal diamond profits? It looks to be one man’s attempt at patronage, power, and riches. Mpofu is often described as owning half of Matabeleland , referring to himself as the “King of Matabeleland.” In addition to his land holdings, he is said to have the largest cattle herd in the country, and a “patronage network unparalleled by any of his political peers.” His wealth and ego began to intensify after the international sanctions on Zimbabwean diamonds were removed. He was appointed Minister of the Mines in 2009.

As guardian of the Marange diamond fields, Mpofu’s new wealth has been viewed with suspicion, as revenues to the state consistently fall short of projection, profoundly impacting national budget planning. Revenue transparency is practically non-existent in regards to this national resource. Missing money means breaks in that “breaks in that country’s internal controls, including the reality that there is an illegal, parallel trade underway.” (Taylor, 2012)

anglo-american-191b4a9fbb36c026f80c84dcbe81837bZANU-PF was allowed to reenter the global diamond market because they developed a Kimberly/DeBeers approved program to sell their diamonds.

However, this process does not protect against shrinkage and ‘shortfall’. ZANU-PF has also accumulated massive amounts of surplus, strong-arming the diamond industry into negotiations and contractual favors, as well as bribes.

The Oppenheimers maintain their millions of acres around southern Africa, a legacy of the family’s history in the global diamond empire. Mugabe remains President of Zimbabwe, and Mpofu, the King of Matabeleland.

A status quo. “There is a process of discussion between Nicky Oppenheimer and the Zimbabwean government,” according to an Oppenheimer family spokesman. “We don’t believe the seizure of land is imminent or on the agenda.” (Taylor, 2012) If confiscation were on the agenda, it would be high ranking ZANU-PF biting the hand that feeds them. It remains to be seen if Mugabe’s rhetoric will remain racialized, blaming the white farmer, when in fact, the issue lies with the multinational.

As a need for land exists, much of it goes fallow, and the farmworker unemployed. Coercion and violence by the gang-like organization managing the country has ruined the nation, as ZANU & DeBeers profit on a racist half-true fiction: the mythical land issue. 


BBC News. (2001, November 9). Zimbabwe clash with oppenheimer dynasty. BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1646977.stm

Chenault, K. (1998, February 15). A move to grab white owned land..may land mugabe in deep trouble. Bloomberg Businessweek, Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/stories/1998-02-15/a-move-to-grab-white-owned-land-dot-dot-dot-may-land-mugabe-in-deep-trouble-intl-edition

Reynolds, B. (Producer) (1994). The diamond empire [Television series episode]. In PBS Frontline. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4c1p_DMkIw

Martin, Alan and Bernard Taylor. (2012, November). Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamond Fields. Partnership Africa Canada. Retrieved from http://www.swradioafrica.com/Documents/Reap%20What%20Sow%20a.pdf

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ZIM: Soil Poaching, Too

The maximum  fine stipulated for local authorities to charge illegal soil extractors, is not deterrent enough to help fight the rising crime, says Marondera Mayor, Farai Nyandoro.

The maximum $20 fine is not deterrent enough to help fight the rising crime, says Marondera Mayor, Farai Nyandoro.

Most soil extraction is carried out at night when council security officers do not patrol the affected areas. “The practice adversely affected council housing developmental projects, as areas affected by the illegal soil extraction are almost impossible to service for both residential and commercial purposes,” added the mayor.

The thieves even use mechanized earthmoving equipment such as graders, front loaders, tipper trucks and other heavy machinery to illegally extract the soil.

Soil poaching is fast crawling towards farming areas under the jurisdiction of Rural District Councils. Some new farmers desperate to make a living have been accused of selling soil from their properties to the poachers. But analysts say the practice would render farms unproductive in the long run, as it strips away valuable top soil.

The Zimbabwean: Soil poaching on the rise

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SLIDESHOW: Zim Dollar Hyperinflation


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ZIM: Malnutrition in Matabeleland

Major deficiencies are Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A and Iodine.

According to the 2012 Ministry of Health and Child Welfare statistics, 26.6 %rural children, 19.5% urban children and 44% women were found to be iodine deficient.

“Iodine deficiency causes goitre, increased incidence of still births, abortions, congenital abnormalities including cretinism and mental retardation.”

Malnutrition wreaks havoc in Matabeleland

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ZIM HIV/AIDS Response: Near Tie w/SA

via http://www.thezimbabwean.co/lifestyle/health/53415/the-right-to-arvs.html

via http://www.thezimbabwean.co/lifestyle/health/53415/the-right-to-arvs.html

Although Zimbabwe was one of the first African nations to witness a decline in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, the disease is as much a problem, still, as it is in the rest of southern Africa.  Adult prevalence has 24.6% of the population to 15.3%. However, “caution should be taken when interpreting the data available,” according to Avert.com.  Large numbers of homeless and displaced people aren’t regularly surveyed.

“Many people have left Zimbabwe and the ones that are left are so struck down by poverty and the collapse of the health delivery system such that they cannot access hospitals. We wonder if these figures can be trusted.”

Like many countries, the Zimbabwean government was slow to acknowledge the AIDS problem.  In 1999, a formal AIDS policy was announced.  These measures have helped, but poor mismanagement and politicalization of the issue (both negative and positive) have “overshadowed the implementation of the National AIDS Policy.”



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ZIM Wonders: Natural Features

Although crises in Zimbabwe make it an improbable tourist destination, it is home to many natural and ancient wonders.

The country’s most popular attraction, Victoria Falls, received (at its peak) over 300,000 visitors per year.  It is a UNESCO world attraction, located on the Zambezi River in northwest Zimbabwe.  The border with Zambia also shares Lake Kariba, the largest man-made reservoir in Africa. Also in the north, but near the eastern border with Mozambique, is the famed Mount Inyangani, and its popularly traveled hiking paths.  It is the highest peak in Zimbabwe.

In the south, there are two other UNESCO sites: In the southeast, the ruins of the Great Zimbabwe civilization, for which the country is named. In the southwest, the Matobo Hills with it’s myriad of treasures. (gallery)

 Matobo Hills


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Zimbabwe’s Man-Made Food Crisis, 2012

Zimbabwe’s Man-Made Food Crisis | Think Africa Press.

Droughts, poorly implemented policies and a shift by banks to fund tobacco and cotton instead of maize and other grains have all contributed to Zimbabwe’s current situation, but to fully understand how the country reached this state of affairs from once being southern Africa’s breadbasket requires us to look further back to 2000. 


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Colonial Remnants in Zimbabwe

Salisbury/Harare in the 1960's

Salisbury/Harare in the 1960’s

There are very few colonial influences left in Zimbabwe, besides the leftovers of Rhodesian infrastructure (roads, hospitals, schools, dams).  Some of this still bears colonial names, but Mugabe has been vigorous in his attempt to erase colonial history.  One glaring exception is Victoria Falls, a popular attraction that has kept the name (at least on the Zimbabwe side) given by Livingston in his exploration of the Zambezi.

The country is a parliamentary type, probably also a remnant of colonial political structure, but kept more or less as a gift opportunity to powerful Zimbabweans loyal to Mugabe; the government is largely ineffective.  The infrastructure left over from colonial Rhodesia was kept in relatively decent condition post independence, until radical policy shifts by Mugabe. The current, longstanding, economic crisis that has gripped the country prevents adequate funding; schools have closed, roads are in miserable condition, and hospitals are ill equipped to handle the present cholera epidemic.



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