BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
WITHIN seconds of driving into Koala Park Butchery & Abattoir property, several men surrounded the vehicle like locusts swarming summer crops, clad in uniforms that appeared to be from the butchery.
Strangely, however, these uniforms did not have the usual gore associated with someone who works in the meat business.
On that afternoon, on July 13, 2022 activity at Koala Park Butchery & Abattoir, one of the largest in Zimbabwe, located some 13 kilometres outside Harare’s central business district, was semi-busy.
The offices and butchery of Koala Park Butchery & Abattoir are about 200 metres away from the gate. So, with the traffic on the day, effort and care had to be taken to navigate through people and vehicles getting in.
The men did not even wait for the engine to turn off as I pulled off the driveway to the right side, some few metres from the gate.
As I was parking the car, the men had nearly surrounded the vehicle shouting out their deals like hungry lions hoping that I would bite.
After turning off the engine, I rolled down the window and asked, posing as a potential client.
“Sorry, I am looking for game meat?”
At that, the men scattered with only one remaining, Tino, as he identified himself.
He was a chubby man of medium height with medium to dark skin.
He had a face of someone who had been involved in a few scraps before.
“Which meat do you want? I have 5kg buffalo and kudu (antelope) going for US$20 each,” he said.
As he spoke, he signaled a colleague not too far off to quickly came over. The man rushed over holding a closed bucket.
Once he got there, he opened the lid to reveal strange looking meat in see-through plastic bags.
Acting interested at this sight, I asked:
“Can I not buy a kg?”
“No,” Tino replied, before ushering his colleague to close the bucket and dismissing him, before Tino quickly followed, apparently no longer interested in selling to me.
Earlier on, at a butchery in the town, Chitungwiza, in the Harare Metropolitan Province called Problican Quality Meat, they were selling crocodile meat at US$3 a kilogramme.
And despite having all the paperwork displayed on the wall showing themselves to be a certified butchery, there was no letter from Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) authorizing the sale of the meat. Later independent checks failed to determine whether the butchery had the necessary paperwork from ZimParks or not as of writing this.
Be that as it may, with the discovery of crocodile meat being sold, being at Koala Park Butchery & Abattoir, I thought, would expose another butchery selling illegal game meat.
After Tino left, I reversed back into the busy Seke Road to go back to work, in the industrial suburb of Graniteside.
Later, I called Koala Park Butchery & Abattoir financial officer, Washington Kahari, to ask why the company had workers selling meat at the gate.
Kahari responded by offering an interview for the next day, instead.
It took a few minutes after I arrived at Kahari’s office, two hours before midday, for him to tell me the real story.
“They do not belong to us, we do not have any meat that is sold outside our butcheries,” Kahari said.
This was corroborated by several letters of correspondence between the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the butchery.
“Fines and arrests don’t seem to deter them. So, it seems that all hope is lost,” Kahari said.
“We have a licence to sell game meat but we are not selling game meat. I believe they are buying the meat maybe from rural areas which in my books could be stolen meat…What those guys do is sell game meat on top then sell common meats at the bottom because I doubt, they have steady access to game meat.”
Basically, from the ‘five kilogrames’ of buffalo or antelope meat, there is actually one kilogramme of each.
Interestingly, Koala Park Butchery & Abattoir’s location is nearly 17 kilometres away from Mbizi Game Park where wildlife animals such as the giraffe, zebra, warthog, and various antelopes roam free.
“Yes, we have had reports of a few animals going missing from Mbizi Game Park but not a lot,” ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo told the paper.
This is part of a growing trend in Harare…
While alarming, the brazen sales of wildlife meat at the Koala Park Butchery & Abattoir is no coincidence but rather a trend, according to the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA).
CHRA is an umbrella organization for citizens associations in Zimbabwe’s capital.
“The current economic challenges which have seen some families living with less than US$1 budget per day has seen people resorting to game meat as an alternative,” CHRA acting director Reuben Akili said.
“The animals are even hunted by illegal hunters and this is worrying. On the contrary restaurants from leafy suburbs has resorted to game meat as special cuisines fetching better and lucrative prices.”
In fact, it is now a common sight on farms and plots just on the outskirts of Harare to have small hunting parties of adults, teenagers and sometimes children, moving with sticks and slingshots.
Moving alongside them, will be several mixed breed dogs as the hunting party searches for squirrels and wild rabbits in the bushes.
Akili confirmed the practice.
While this is becoming commonplace in Zimbabwe’s capital, in the Matabeleland North Province, northwest of Zimbabwe, home to the country’s largest wildlife park, the Hwange National Park, the practice is more rampant.
Located in the Matabeleland North Province is the Gwai River.
It is one of the largest rivers in Zimbabwe, originating from Matopos district of Matabeleland South Province, spanning through the North’s Tsholotsho, Gwai, Lupane, Hwange National Park and Kamativi districts into the Zambezi River.
Along this river lies various farms which draws from the river that has various game that can be viewed.
During a visit to the Hwange National Park, in May, a nearby small shopping centre called ‘Gwai Shops’ is seemingly deserted during the day.
The small supermarket, parsley busy, typically has several parked vehicles including commuter buses, unlicensed private cars operating as taxis and trucks.
But, when the sun goes down, poachers emerge at the Gwayi Shops in the dead of the night selling antelope and buffalo meat that costs US$3 a kilogramme.
“They approach with a certain veracity hoping to sell. If you don’t buy, they offer biltong of wild meat where a bundle can cost US$1 of mostly antelope meat,” a ZimParks official, who did not want to be named, said.
“It is something that we are currently investigating and should be making raids soon.”
This is happening despite the creation of the Community Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) programme by ZimParks that was first conceived in 1982.
CAMPFIRE focuses on the utilisation of natural resources and wildlife for the benefit of the community towards infrastructure development, jobs and housing support, among other social amenities.
“Unfortunately, the community isn’t realising much in terms of revenue generated from CAMPFIRE and therefore instead of them being the protectors of wildlife in Hwange, some of them are now resorting to poaching,” Hwange Residents Association (HRA) coordinator, Fidelis Chima told the paper.
HRA is the largest resident organisation in Hwange.
“Some of them are even abetting poachers who do not even reside in Hwange. So, I think maybe the best thing that should happen is that the communities should at least have a sense of the value of wildlife which they interact with every day,” Chima continued.
“We always get reports of poaching and in any case, we reside in Hwange. We always see them, it’s not like we have to wait to see them. We see these poachers everyday and don’t have to wait to see them selling game meat. It is happening on a very large scale.”
He said the rising cost of living as a result of a depreciating local currency, that is depreciating monthly wages, has contributed significantly to communities turning to either selling bush meat illegally or buying it from poachers.
This has largely been blamed on COVID-19 shocks that greatly reduced tourism activities at the Hwange National Park leaving little funding for CAMPFIRE, leaving beneficiaries unsupported.
“When people kill elephants, they will always be after ivory. But, at times, they also sell elephants for meat alongside impala (medium-sized antelope) meat, and those are the most sold,” Chima said.
“Actually, elephant meat is now the one on demand compared to the rest. They usually sell it dry and sell it in bundles of US$1.”
He said sometimes they have even received reports of donkeys and even baboons being sold, as desperation over economic fortunes persist.
Nearly, 119 kilometres from the Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s busiest tourism town, Victoria Falls.
Since the advent of COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 that resulted in not only local but international travel restrictions as well, the town has seen a record decline in tourism activities.
While this has seen some improvements since the start of the year as economies begin to open up, the recovery has been slow.
What this period meant for Victoria Falls, however, is that a lot of people were out of a job, and struggling to make ends meet, hence, many increasingly turning to bush meat for business or consumption.
This was confirmed by the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (VFWT), a group dedicated to conserving wildlife noted an increase in bush traps during the 2020 to 2021 period.
“You definitely get this correlation with economic decline. Like in 2008, when we had the crash of the Zimbabwe dollar and now with COVID-19. There is an economic decline in Victoria Falls because there are no tourists, there is no money,” VFWT wildlife and research manager Roger Parry said in an interview.
“A lot of people have lost their jobs so yeah absolutely we have seen an increase (in villagers hunting for animals for food). Human communities during these economic decline turns to these natural resources. Going out poaching and putting out snares. Snaring targets is not animal specific but they are meant for herbivore animals like buffalo, kudo and imphala.”
He said the danger of these snares is that they have even killed carnivores like lions and hyenas.
“We lost seven lions last year to these snares,” Parry said.
Victoria Falls, like the Hwange National Park, is home to several wildlife creatures including the elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and white rhino otherwise known as the big five.
Other animals include eland (cow-like large antelope), sable antelope, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, and kudu among other smaller species.
Why is this happening?
Ever since the reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar in June 2019, the economy has become hyperinflationary.
This is because the local currency was reintroduced after being abandoned at the beginning of 2009, with no adequate forex, commodity or market confidence support.
Also, several years of anti-investor policy making, rising public debt and increasingly volatile agricultural output owing to climate change, stalled economic growth.
As a result, with no commensurate economic growth, the Zimbabwe dollar is depreciating leading to the consumer buying power being greatly eroded.
Something the continues to do so daily.
With this erosion, the price of basic commodities has risen leading to high cost of living that also includes foodstuffs.
Part of this price increases includes basic commodities such as meat.
Currently, beef prices average between US$5 and US$11 per kilogramme, pork US$5 to US$8, fish US$7 (bream) and chicken US$5.
However, the unofficial cost of living is much higher.
Hence, people are turning to bush meat.
What are the officials saying?
Zimparks director general Fulton Mangwanya said Zimbabweans have always been hunting game meat since time immemorial.
“You know, this is poaching for the pot, not poaching rhinos, not poaching elephants, not poaching leopards, but poaching for the pot. It is something that we say has been happening and continues too,” Mangwanya said.
“This is the reason why we want resources to do awareness campaigns so that people appreciate the value of these animals whilst their alive as opposed to when they are in the pot. No one applies to hunt game meat but what we know is that when hunters go on the ground and kill an animal, they dispose the meat in any way and this is the meat that finds its way to the communities and other people.”
He continued: “Because, hunters are mainly interested in the trophies and not the meat. During the hunting season, maybe around April to around December, that is when they can actually benefit a lot when a lot of meat can be sold.”
In 2022, ZimParks expected revenues of US$22,8 million, but a slow recovery to the tourism sector forced them to revise the figures downward to US$16 million, against expenses of US$14,38 million.
In 2021, revenues and expenses were US$14,1 million and US$16,91 million, respectively.
In 2020, ZimParks experienced revenues of US$10,42 million against expenses of US$13,71 million for another deficit of US$3,28 million.
The last time the company had a big surplus was pre COVID-19, in 2019, when the company recorded revenues of US$12,01 million against expenses of about US$8 million giving a surplus of just over US$4 million
Mangwanya admitted that the increase in the cost of living and lack of resources to defend wildlife have also contributed to the increase in people looking for bush meat, by any means necessary.
“It’s no secret that the economy is experiencing headwinds,” he said.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry deputy minister, Barbara Rwodzi also linked the rise in poaching to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), before the global spread of COVID-19, in 2019, tourism receipts were US$1,24 billion and after the pandemic spread globally the following year, the southern African nation earned US$359 million.
Last year, tourism receipts only rebounded to US$397 million, an 11% uptick from 2020 as recovery from the pandemic continues, according to the ZTA.
And since ZimParks relies on tourism receipts, with no support from Treasury, the authority has been left struggling.
“COVID-19 made work so difficult to be out there and of course poachers took advantage in doing business. And we are saying let us come together in one voice in finding ways to reduce poaching,” Rwodzi said.
“Poaching is really rampant now.”
She said it was important to deal with poaching on a regionally level now, not just on a national stage, to address the problem.
Assessing The US$12 billion Mining Industry Target – 263chat.com
The Zimbabwean government launched an ambitious plan to transform the mining sector into a US$12 billion export industry by end of 2023. The plan was launched in October 2019 as a key pillar to sustainable economic growth. Achieving that target would represent a 275% jump from the US$3.2 billion realized through exporting mining commodities in 2018. The blueprint targeted Gold output of US$4 billion per year with Platinum coming in second at US$3 billion.
By Victor Bhoroma
Diamond mining and polishing was set at US$1 billion, equal to the combined target of Chrome, Nickel, and Steel. Coal, Hydrocarbons, Lithium, and other minerals were projected to contribute the remaining US$3 billion. Key to the above ambition is the beneficiation of minerals at source as opposed to exporting raw mining commodities. The Chamber of Mines in Zimbabwe (CoMZ) predicted that production from mining could reach $18 billion by 2030, provided the key challenges in the sector are ironed out through policy and legislative reforms.
Mining in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is endowed with two prominent geological features namely the rich Great Dyke and the ancient Greenstone Belts (also known as Gold Belts) which are home to billions worth of reserves in Chrome, Gold, Nickel, Diamond, Iron Ore and Platinum. The country has a massive competitive advantage in the mining sector with a highly diversified mineral resource base of over 40 commercially exploitable minerals. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) figures and enquiries are heavily biased towards mining, highlighting the importance of the sector to the country’s growth prospects in the medium to long term. The mining sector has an estimated 850 operating mines across the country and these range from international mining houses to small scale mines.
In terms of employment, over 100,000 workers are employed directly and indirectly in downstream businesses. The sector is also home to over 600,000 Small Scale and Artisanal Miners who are mainly engaged in gold and chrome mining. Economic instability and lack of viability in Agriculture has contributed to the surge in the number of artisanal miners in the past 4 years in mining towns such as Gwanda, Zvishavane, Shurugwi, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Mazowe, Chinhoyi, Bindura and Chegutu among others.
Indigenization Law Amendments
The changes made in March 2018 with regards to the enforcement of the Indigenization and Empowerment law (Through the Finance Act) to allow for over 51% foreign ownership of mining assets has improved foreign appetite for investment into the country. This has resulted in notable investment in Platinum Group of Metals (PGMs) smelting, acquisition of dormant or ailing Gold mines and investment in Lithium exploration.
There has been significant growth in the production of Platinum Group of Metals (PGMs) over the past 3 years due to policy incentives (tax holidays) from the previous government and investment in smelting by the miners. Globally, Zimbabwe is now the third largest producer of Platinum after South Africa and Russia. The major mining companies in the subsector are Impala Platinum which owns Zimplats, Anglo American which owns Unki Mine, and Sibanye Stillwater which jointly owns Mimosa Mine with Impala Platinum. The 3 firms have invested in excess of US$1 billion into new mines and smelters, and that investment has catapulted PGMs output. Platinum is likely to be Zimbabwe’s mainstay in the foreseeable future.
Managing Gold Smuggling
To curb rampant smuggling of Gold, the central bank has been giving gold producers incentives to increase the tonnage of Gold sold via formal channels. The incentives have acted as a silver bullet as deliveries and production jumped from 19 tonnes in 2020 to 29.6 tonnes in 2021. Gold production in 2022 is expected to reach 40 tonnes. The rally in Gold price on the world market also makes the country’s redundant gold mines very appealing.
Lithium Rally & Rare Earth Discoveries
As the demand for electric cars drives up demand for Lithium, Zimbabwe has seen notable investment into exploration and investment with deals worth over US$700 million. Notable deals include the US$422 million Huayou purchase of Arcadia Mine, Sinomine’s $180 million purchase of Bikita Minerals and Chengxin’s US$76.5 million buy of Sabi Star Mine. United Kingdom’s Red Rock Resources, Galileo Resources and Premier African Resources have acquired claims to prospect and mine Lithium locally, joining Six Sigma from Australia and Arkle Resources from Ireland. Rainbow Rare Earths and Premier African Resources are also currently undertaking Rare Earth minerals exploration to commercially exploit the resource.
Despite the notable progress on amending the indigenization and empowerment laws, granting national project status to mining projects, issuing more Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs), incentivizing Gold production and setting policies to encourage diamond polishing; There are some persistent hurdles hat have not been resolved. These include:
Foreign Exchange Regulations
The current export retention scheme permits miners to retain 60% of the export proceeds and surrender 40% to the central bank. If the 60% is not utilized within 4 months, the central bank will confiscate another 25% to take the total surrender requirement to 65%. As a result of the wide discrepancy between the pegged formal exchange rate and the market rate, exporters are losing 35% of their earnings due to the surrender requirements. With miners paying for taxes, fuel, electricity and almost all consumables in foreign currency, foreign exchange regulations are a punitive tax to business viability and deterrent to further investment into mine development or beneficiation. Miners are currently calling for the review of the retention threshold to over 80%.
After a period of relative stability, Zimbabwe has rolled back 6-to-12-hour power cuts to manage domestic demand. However, guaranteed power supply is critical to optimal production in the mining sector with demand expected to rise to 2100MW by 2025. Currently Zimbabwe is producing 1120MW, with a peak shortfall of at least 500MW. Part of the shortfall is being augmented through imports from Mozambique, Zambia, and from the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).
Transparency & Corruption
The biggest impediment to the US$12 billion mining target is lack of transparency and systemic corruption in the mining value chain. There is massive red tape and bureaucracy in the processing of mining certificates, verification of applications and awarding of EPOs. Added to it, there is disregard for rule of law by connected miners and deliberate delays in the settlement of legal disputes. For a long time, Diamond mining has remained a murky affair due to the involvement of several controversial foreign investors and the army. The impact of corruption is that the country loses millions in potential tax proceeds while billions are externalized out of the country through illicit financial flows (IFFs). To address this, Zimbabwe needs to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and implement its global standards on mining transparency. These standards can be customized to Zimbabwe’s context. Joining EITI ensures that the government commits to full disclosure of information on beneficial owners of mining claims, claims size and number of minerals assets, minerals output, revenues, tax contributions and other information pertaining to minerals marketing.
The government has approved the Mines and Minerals Amendment bill with several changes to it. The Bill was first tabled 2015 and some of its provisions were implemented individually. The bill amends and reinforces the archaic Mines and Minerals Act of 1963 which is currently being used. The current mining law lacks on provisions that plug mineral revenue leakages and tax evasion and consolidates tax payments by miners. The government has failed to close revenue leakages especially in Diamond, Gold and Granite mining where smuggling and illicit trade is rife. Most importantly the current law promotes opaqueness in licensing, corruption by state institutions that oversee mining and secretive side marketing of precious minerals. The new bill should also decriminalize and formalize Small Scale and Artisanal mining to ensure proper reporting, private sector financing, improve taxation, minimum safety standards, inspections, and environmental management. The bill should be expedited as it is key in ramping up production and increasing transparency in the industry.
Zimbabwe remains under-explored when it comes to mining. Investment and tax incentives to boost exploration capacity should play a crucial role in quantifying the amount of mineral reserves. On paper, the country has over 4,000 recorded Gold deposits in the Greenstone Belts, an estimated reserve of 2.8 billion tonnes PGMs ore and over 30 deposits of Nickel in the Great Dyke, over 12 billion tonnes of coal in the mid Zambezi Basin and the Save-Limpopo basin and several kimberlites of Diamonds in Manicaland and Masvingo.
The surge in commodity prices on the world market has seen Zimbabwe increase its export value while of late export incentives to Gold producers have done magic to improve formal Gold production. It is fair to point that most of the targeted international investors have adopted a wait and see attitude on the political and economic landscape in the country. Risk takers (mostly Chinese investors) have taken the lead to secure local assets while established miners have ploughed back their profits in a measured manner. Despite this, the target to create a US$12 billion export industry from mining now seems unattainable as exports from the sector were US$5 billion in 2021. The actual will likely be at most 60% of the overall target. Even though there has been investment and billion dollar promises, the anticipated FDI inflows have not quite materialized in the last 3 years.
Victor Bhoroma is an economic analyst. He holds an MBA from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ). Feedback: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @VictorBhoroma1.
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Senditoo Partners With Money Transfer Business Access Forex – 263chat.com
International remittance company Senditoo has partnered with Access Forex to implement an infrastructure that will enable it to process cross-border transactions.
Senditoo, which has a presence in several countries, has plans to expand services into the US and Canada in the coming months, having established its international headquarters in the UK, Guinea, Zambia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Senditoo’s money transfer service will allow for £2 flat-fee remittances with complimentary exchange rates and real-time transaction monitoring.
The company has grown in the last four years, starting with airtime transfers before extending its service offer to include money remittances and enabling customers to pay their bills. They have also introduced an online grocery delivery service.
Access Forex, meanwhile, established in 2016, is an investment banking business set up to bridge the gap in the market for international money transfers for Zimbabweans living in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Today, the company’s portfolio of services supports over five million Zimbabweans to manage their money transfers.
Takwana Tyaranini, Senditoo Co-founder, said: “This partnership cements our commitment to being the remittance service provider of choice for Zimbabweans living abroad and locally.
“Senditoo was set up to connect the African diaspora to loved ones at home. In line with our strategic priorities, we have partnered with some of the most reputable businesses and organisations across Zimbabwe, South Africa, Guinea, and the UK to create a strong presence – ensuring our customers have fast, simple, and hassle-free international transfers”.
“We are continually working on our product and service delivery to provide customers across Zimbabwe with accessible payout points that are convenient and cost effective.
“We have ambitious growth targets and teaming up with Access Forex means we will not only be able to scale up but give our customers a premium and quality service.”
Raymond Chigogwana, Chief Executive Officer of Access Forex, said: “We are delighted to be able to lend our valuable distribution network and secure payout portal to more customers.
We have enjoyed working closely with Senditoo to switch their full portfolio of services back on and ultimately, ensure that Zimbabweans locally and abroad get cash to where it is needed most. By the time we roll-out fully, everywhere you see an Access Forex, you can now also access Senditoo.”
The partnership means that Senditoo’s services will be available at approximately 200 payout points across the country.
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Think Daily 11 August 2022 – ThinkMarkets
Figure 1: MTN Group (MTN) Share Price Performance (Year to Date)
On the commodities front, Brent Crude oil last traded at $97.05 a barrel and WTI Crude oil last traded at $91.62 a barrel, trading down as worries over more supply of crude coupled with weaker demand linger. Gold Spot is currently trading at $1786.11 an ounce, while Platinum Spot and Palladium are trading at $950.50 and $2241.52 respectively.
Across the globe, all three major U.S indices traded up for the day. The S&P 500 closed the day 2.13% up, the Dow Jones rose by 1.63%, and the Nasdaq closed 2.89% up. The FTSE 100 closed the day up 0.25%, the DAX closed 1.23% up, and the CAC40 closed 0.56% up. In Asian markets, the Nikkei is currently trading down 0.65%, and the Hang Seng is currently up 2.07%. Consumer prices in the U.S eased slightly lower in July, as the annual inflation rate moderated to 8.5% following lower petrol prices.
Any opinions, news, research, analyses, prices or other information contained on this website is provided as general market commentary and does not constitute investment advice. ThinkMarkets will not accept liability for any loss or damage including, without limitation, to any loss of profit which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information.
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