Zimbabwe- the dump that is paradise to the world’s richest


Barely a month ago, the Fund For Peace described Zimbabwe as one of the failed states. Its ranking has improved but it is still in the top 10 failed states of the world.

Critics have described the Fund for Peace’s Failed Sates Index as a failed index, but it is still highly regarded in the United States because it is published by a magazine that belongs to the Washington Post group.

But the so-called think-tanks and the magazines that write about Zimbabwe’s failed status or the dictatorship never explain why the world is so worried about such a hopeless country. What is even more baffling is why such a failed state has become a darling of the United States’ richest.

The world’s richest man, Bill Gates, who just regained his position, sneaked into Zimbabwe last year, in his private jet and stayed at Malilangwe in Southern Zimbabwe.

Reports said he was paying US$5 785 a night. In Zimbabwe. And was on a six-day visit.

Most Zimbabweans must have been shocked because his daily rate is more than what most Zimbabweans earn a year, and what he paid for the six days is the annual salary of a middle management executive.

The United States has been battling to make sure that Malilangwe and the neighbouring Save Valley Conservancy are not indigenised. Maybe this explains why. It is a haven for its rich citizens.

According to several cables sent by the United States embassy in Harare, American citizens have a stake in both Malilangwe and Save Valley.

But it is not only Gates who has been to Zimbabwe. GoDaddy’s Bob Parsons comes to Zimbabwe every year to hunt. He even raised a furore with American animal lovers when he published a video of an elephant that he had shot because the video showed graphic pictures of Zimbabweans cutting the dead the elephant for its meat.

He was taken to task by animal lovers with some of them calling on the public to switch their domains from GoDaddy which says it is the World’s number 1 domain name registrar.

But he defended himself: “All these people that are complaining that this shouldn’t happen, that these people who are starving to death otherwise shouldn’t eat these elephants, you probably see them driving through at McDonald’s or cutting a steak”

Parsons and Gates were just two out of scores of Americans who travel to Zimbabwe each year to kill elephants and other wildlife for fun or to enjoy the quiet in this so-called troubled land.

Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Authority says 60 percent of the hunters that come to the country are from the United States.

The hunts themselves are arranged in the United States by companies like the Safari Club International which says it is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide.

The United States government has also been a key player in making sure that its wealthier citizens enjoy the sport. It was instrumental in the launching of the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources in Zimbabwe in 1989.

The United States Agency for International Development provided the initial grant for the launch. Three other United States-based organisations – the Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellog Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund- sponsor the programme.

It is under the CAMPFIRE programme that hunts like the one by Parsons are organised.

That once again begs that question: Why is the United States media trashing a country that its country’s richest citizens considered a paradise?

Bill Gates and Bob Parsons can afford a holiday anywhere in the world. Why risk coming to Zimbabwe, with its bad name which can tarnish their good names, unless there is much more to it than the average Zimbabwean is being told?

THINK. It ain’t illegal yet.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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