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Archive for the ‘Zimbabwe’ Category

The Elephant in the Room: Adam Cruise Reports on Zimbabwe’s Dubious Deals with Chinese Zoos

Louis Botha's WarAdam Cruise, environmental activist and author of Louis Botha’s War, has written an article for the Conservation Action Trust about Zimbabwe’s mercenary trade in elephants.

In the article, Cruise gives the details of the Zimbabwean governments unsavoury wild life trade. To date, 34 elephant, 7 lions and 10 sable antelope have been captured for shipping to zoos in China. President Robert Mugabe reportedly believes that “Zimbabwe’s wildlife needs to start paying dividends”.

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Dozens of baby elephants and other wild animals are being abducted from Hwange National Park.

According to a statement by Zimbabwe’s environment minister last week, the animals are being transported to the United Arab Emirates. However conservationists are sceptical of this new information.

Eye-witness reports from tourists visiting the park have brought to light blatant live captures of baby elephants conducted by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) as well as animal capture specialists from the Chizarira National Park who are preparing the animals for export.

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Ben Freeth Recalls the First Time He Met Robert Mugabe in Excerpt from Mugabe and the White African

Mugabe and the White AfricanIn Mugabe and the White African Ben Freeth shares his first-hand account of Robert Mugabe’s land-seizure programme in 2000. Freeth and his father-in-law, Mike Campbell, took a stand against Mugabe, taking him to international courts in a battle to keep their land.

In this excerpt, shared by Namibiana Buchdepot, Freeth recalls the first time he met Mugabe, in the 1990s:

I first met him in the 1990s, in a dusty bit of veld a little to the north of the farm. The dry heat was palpable as I turned off the tar road onto a rutted dirt track leading to a run-down butchery, hoping to buy a cold bottle of Coke. Having found one, I bumped along sipping it, asking the people I passed where the rally was to be held. I soon found the place. An old army tent had been erected for the lesser dignitaries. A little to the right of it was a platform with Dralon-covered chairs and with more canvas over it. The ordinary people stood or sat in a large rough semicircle beneath the burning sky. Apart from people from the nearbv villages, numbers had been swelled with bussed-in schoolchildren in their white shirts and various coloured shorts and skirts. They were chattering away, their smiles flashing in the sunlight against their black skins. I had been told by my boss, the president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU), to go to the event.

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Join Random House Struik’s Military History Mailing List and Win Books

The Terrible Ones32 BattalionBoer BoyBrothers in ArmsDingo Firestorm

If you join Random House Struik’s military history mailing list you will be the first to know about new releases, special offers, special editions, launches, author events and competitions. Plus, two lucky people who sign up will win a selection of military history books to the value of R2 500.

To join the mailing list and stand a chance to win the hamper simply fill in you details on Random House Struik’s website. The competition closes 29 March 2013. Good luck!

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eBook options – Download now!

eBook options – Download now!

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Excerpt from Dingo Firestorm: The Greatest Battle of the Rhodesian Bush War by Ian Pringle

Dingo Firestorm Namibiana Buchdepot have shared an extract from Dingo Firestorm by Ian Pringle.

In this excerpt Pringle hires a Hawker Hunter to simulate some of the fighting that took place in what was then known as Rhodesia.

Deploying virtually an entire air force (61 aircraft) over hostile foreign territory and dropping 184 troops to face an enemy numbering in the thousands in two bold attacks are what in essence make Operation Dingo such a remarkable story. It needed sound intelligence, excellent planning and bold decision-making to pull this operation off. The story that follows is, to the best of my knowledge, a fair and accurate account of what happened. It is primarily a story about people. To tell their story, I have interviewed a selection of key people involved in Dingo. I have also used a variety of sources, both published and unpublished, to bring authenticity to the story. Most of the text within quotation marks is what I have been told; the rest I have drawn from the battle log, autobiographies and previous accounts of the operation. In some cases, such as aircraft radio patter, I have assumed that standard radio language took place.

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Video: Julian Rademeyer Discusses Rhino Poaching on 50/50

Killing for ProfitEarlier this year, Julian Rademeyer was interviewed on 50/50, the long-running environmental news programme, about his investigation into rhino poaching. This investigation formed the basis of his book, Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade, which has recently been released.

Rademeyer discussed the link between South African dealers and Zimbabwean poachers, including the smuggling of firearms fitted with silencers for poaching over the Zimbabwean border. He mentioned a particular case in Zimbabwe where poachers were caught and named a South African, Johan Roos, as the person that supplied them with weapons:

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Excerpt from Dingo Firestorm by Ian Pringle

Dingo Firestorm Random House Struik has published an extract from Dingo Firestorm: The Greatest Battle of the Rhodesian Bush War by Ian Pringle.

The book tells the story of the 1977 Rhodesian army raid, code-named Operation Dingo, on the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army’s headquarters in Mozambique. This excerpt is about the army’s attempt to cross the border into Mozambique:

As the crow flies, the distance from New Sarum to the helicopter assembly point at Lake Alexander is 198 kilometres to the south-east. The Alouettes were fully fuelled to save time at the rendezvous, which meant the helicopters were heavy and slow, initially managing to fly at only 130 kilometres per hour. But as fuel burnt off, the machines became lighter and faster. Allowing for dog-legs to provide deception, the total flying time to the lake would be about one hour and 20 minutes. For Dave Jenkins, peering over the barrels of the twin Browning machine guns in the command helicopter, the flight to Lake Alexander was ‘like any other call-out’. For Norman Walsh, piloting his first operational flight in many a year, the feeling was similar: ‘It felt as if I had never been out of it.’

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Ben Freeth’s Makgadikgadi Go-Kart Adventure to Raise Funds for Zimbabwean Farm Workers

Ben Freeth and sons Joshua and StephenMugabe and the White AfricanLast month, Ben Freeth, author of Mugabe and the White African, and his sons Joshua and Stephen Freeth, undertook an adventure with the aim of raising funds to provide training, medical assistance and educational support to farm workers effected by the political violence in Zimbabwe.

The expedition, carried out under the aegis of the Mike Campbell Foundation, currently sees the family team crossing Botswana’s Makgadikgadi salt pans in a homemade go-kart.

Press release:

The Mike Campbell Foundation was set up last year to honour the courage of Mike Campbell, a Zimbabwean commercial farmer and conservationist who fought for justice and the protection of human rights after the violent government-led farm invasions decimated his country.

Expedition target: R130,000 / £10,000 / US$15,500

Through the expedition, the UK-based foundation hopes to raise R130,000 / £10,000 / US$15,500 for its work. The money raised will provide training, medical assistance and educational support to additional destitute Zimbabwean farm workers who have lost everything due to the political violence.

With just R400 / £32 / US$50, the Mike Campbell Foundation can supply a family with seed, inputs and the training they need to feed themselves for a whole year – and buy the seed and inputs for the following year. “A well-wisher in America recently donated an artificial leg for a farm worker who was crippled in the 2008 post election violence and this has transformed his life,” said Ben.

The foundation is also involved with justice work and a lobby campaign to reinstate the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal which was dissolved by the SADC heads of state in May 2011. This tribunal was the only regional court where victims of human rights abuses could go when justice systems failed in their own countries –as has happened in Zimbabwe.

Every donation will contribute to rebuilding shattered lives in Zimbabwe and protecting people’s rights.

To follow the expedition and make a secure donation online:


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Photo courtesy Mike Campbell Foundation

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Ian Pringle Recreates the Greatest Battle of the Rhodesian Bush War in Dingo Firestorm

Dingo Firestorm New from Zebra Press:

On 23 November 1977, an armada of helicopters and aeroplanes took off from Rhodesian airbases and crossed the border into Mozambique. Their objective: to attack the headquarters of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, where thousands of enemy forces were concentrated. Codenamed Operation Dingo, the raid was planned to coincide with a meeting of Robert Mugabe and his war council at the targeted HQ. It would be the biggest conflict of the Rhodesian Bush War.

In this fascinating account, Ian Pringle describes the political and military backdrop leading up to the operation, and he tells the story of the battle through the eyes of key personalities who planned, led and participated in it. Using his own experience as a jet and helicopter pilot and skydiver, he recreates the battle in detail, explaining the performance of men and machines in the unfolding drama of events.

Dingo Firestorm is a fresh, gripping recreation of a major battle in southern African military history.

About the author

After national service in the South African Air Force, Ian Pringle migrated to Rhodesia to work as an industrial chemist and flew aircraft as a hobby. He was drafted into the Police Reserve Air Wing as a pilot, and was involved in numerous enemy contacts.

Pringle read his MBA in the UK and worked for Castrol International and BP plc at a senior executive level, spending much of his career in Asia and Europe. He learnt to fly helicopters and ex-military jets in England. He retired to Cape Town in 2004, bringing two Cold War jets with him, and he teamed up with Thunder City, where he still flies the Hawker Hunter, Buccaneer and aerobatic aircraft

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Podcast: Ben Freeth Discusses His True “David and Goliath” Tale, Mugabe and the White African

Mugabe and the White AfricanIn an interview for Fine Music Radio, Ben Freeth, author of Mugabe and the White African, says he agrees with Desmond Tutu’s description of the book as a “David and Goliath story”.

Mugabe and the White African tells Freeth’s “personal tale of human rights versus tyranny”, as he risked everything to oppose Robert Mugabe’s land seizure programme in Zimbabwe. Freeth suddenly found himself in a position where he was “taking on a dictator as a little farmer in the middle of Africa”. Listen to the interview:

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Ben Freeth Launches Mugabe & the White African at Kalk Bay Books

Ben Freeth

The launch of Zimbabwean farmer, Ben Freeth’s memoir, Mugabe and the White African (Mugabe en die wit Afrikaan), at Kalk Bay Books late last week was a splendid success. Following an introduction from Ann Donald, the author together with Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett SC held the floor for an hour with a riveting account of the heroic struggle of a group of white Zimbabwean farmers against Robert Mugabe.

Jeremy Gauntlet & Ben FreethMugabe and the White AfricanGauntlett began by describing his legal involvement in the struggle against farm confiscations. Said Gauntlett, “I found myself appearing before courts, particularly the supreme court of Zimbabwe, on which every judge who sits has at least one confiscated farm in his or her own name. Except one – Wilson Sambura, who to his credit refused to be tainted in that way.”

He commented wryly on Zimbabwe’s High Court judges, whose efforts are rewarded by the government with such material goods as flat screen TVs, as well as his involvement in a series of cases which he describes as “scholarly but spurious”.

Reflecting on Freeth’s boundless optimism in the struggle for justice, Gauntlett said, “I said it was untried; it was the new SADC tribunal and I didn’t hold out too much hope. I anticipated they would bat for the Zimbabwean government. Ben and Mike Campbell decided it had to be tried. So it was we ended up in Windhoek before the tribunal. Through arduous drawn out proceedings, there came a day when the court handed down a judgement on all points in favour of the nearly 80 farmers and their hundreds of workers who were also represented. The farmers wept.”

The advocate said this outcome was well documented in the multi-award winning film, Mugabe and the White African. “They had not thought that they would hear a judgment, handed down by the president of that court (a scion of a legendary Mozambican revolutionary family), which held that the land programme of Zimbabwe violated the treaty obligations of Zimbabwe, was arbitrary and most significantly, discriminatory.”

Ben Freeth followed with a reflection on the meaning of law: “As a farmer, I had no concept of the rule of law. We accepted that it was just something that was there and went on with the things we could do. Suddenly in 2000, the rule of law was taken away. It was a rude shock to suddenly understand how important the law is in a society, in being able to go about your daily lives. I got to thinking about the law as we saw farmers murdered and terrible situations with brutes beating drums and terrifying families. When the Commercial Farmers Union went to the law we were left totally alone, unable to get help from anyone” he said.

Travelling through South African farming districts on his book tour, various local farmers had approached him and said farm invasions would never happen here because they had guns. They said that they had neighbours who would come to their aid should something comparable happen. “In Zimbabwe there are many people with guns who are very well trained to use them. But guns were not the answer. And guns are not the answer in this country either.”

Freeth shared the significance of his Christian faith and pondered the historical meaning of the law: “The Children of Israel came out of slavery some 4000 years ago and the first thing God gave them after crossing the Red Sea was the law. When you read history and you see nations parting from the law you see disaster strike. In 2000 the law was taken away from us in Zimbabwe and we had to scramble round how we’d survive a situation of lawlessness and anarchy.”

Suspended form the Commercial Farmers’ Union because of his confrontational approach, Freeth ventured out as an isolated family, parterning with other isolated families and communities. “We went to the Supreme Court, knowing we would lose. We believed that another avenue would open. Within a week of our hearing in the Supreme Court, the SADC tribunal opened for business. We went to the SADC tribunal, where we won.

“We got a judgement that I believe will be foundational for the rebuilding of agriculture in our country. We’ve seen the incredible intimidation against our family. We’ve seen our houses burned before our eyes. We’ve seen how we left with absolutely nothing – not even a toothbrush.”

“Although we left with nothing I believe we left with something inside that was far more than everything we’d ever had before. Ultimately every one of us must face the ultimate loss. Mike [Campbell] used to say to me, ‘There’s no pocket in the shroud.’ He passed away, I believe, with an eternal hope that went beyond the bad things that have happened to us.”

“I don’t know what the future holds. I’ve written this book as a history of the past. I have an enthusiasm and an optimism for the future because I believe that as we stand up and have faith, as we get involved and stand strong together, we will see changes start to happen. As Abraham Lincoln said, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. If we are not vigilant, and if we do not all play our part and do the things we know to be right, we will see the liberties that you currently cherish in this country being eroded. We are here at the southern tip of Africa and the sea is not very far away.”

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Liesl Jobson tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:

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