19 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Outrage Over Mudenda's Appointment As Human Rights Chairperson

The appointment of Jacob Mudenda as chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has been followed by a barrage of criticism directed towards the principals in the GPA.

Mudenda is a former ZANU PF governor for Matabeleland North and served in that capacity during the period when over 20,000 people were killed in the region by the North Korean trained 5th Brigade.

His appointment to head the commission has provoked an angry response from rights campaigners. Opponents said the move will further discredit an inclusive government that has been on a relentless crackdown of members of civil society organisations.

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter saw a deluge of comments, with many expressing shock and condemning the latest development.

Gabriel Shumba, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, told SW Radio Africa's Hidden Story program that Mudenda's appointment symbolizes what is wrong with the inclusive government.

He added that it diminishes the credibility of the human rights system and casts a shadow upon the reputation of the commission as a whole.

'The fact he was the governor during the Gukurahundi troubles will infuriate those who tried and failed to seek justice for their loved ones who died,' Shumba.

Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme told us the appointment of Mudenda, implicated in the Gukurahundi atrocities by his association with ZANU PF, has become a huge concern to many people in Bulawayo.

'Most people here are demanding he be removed as chairperson saying his elevation to that post would damage the integrity and reputation of the rights commission.

'The people in Bulawayo are asking how on earth is he going to look objectively at human rights issues when he has made a career out of oppressing the masses during his stint as governor,' Saungweme said.

In 2009 SW Radio Africa also exposed the fact that Mudenda is involved, along with many other ZANU PF officials, in illegal hunting scams.

In 2004 Tourism Minister Francis Nhema granted a lucrative hunting concession to Mudenda, without going to tender.

Part of our story in 2009 read:

SW Radio's source fingered Ed Kadzombe, Chairman of the Wildlife Advisory Council and owner of EK Safaris, as one of those helping the dictatorship. He has representatives on the west coast in the US including a brother in California called Washington Kadzombe, who runs a micro finance scheme.

He is allegedly attached to a lawyer called Leo Grizzaffi of Torrance, California, who represents EK Safaris in the US. Grizzaffi is a powerful contact as he is said to be a member of the biggest pro-weapons lobby group in the US -- the National Rifle Association. The American has an open market in terms of recruiting hunters for Zimbabwe because of the numbers of hunters in this association.

The source said this clearly shows Kadzombe has an open playing field in terms of how and where he can hunt because of his position. Kadzombe has many associates in Zanu PF, including Jacob Mudenda, the former provincial chairman of Matabeleland North who was recently denied a visa to attend a high-profile safari trade fair in Nevada.

Other big names mentioned in the hunting scam are former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, former Tourism Minister Francis Nhema, Industry and Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo and high ranking army officials like General Constantine Chiwenga and General Zvinavashe.

It is alleged that they invite hunters to Zimbabwe, especially from the USA. They then pay a sub-economic level of money to the local population where the animals are hunted and reap a huge amount of money themselves.

SW Radio Africa's source said some hunters in the US have no idea that they are being targeted by safari operators with links to the Mugabe regime. But the money they pay is invested into legitimate businesses in the USA or around the world and is effectively laundered. It's then drip fed back into the pockets of the real handlers in Zimbabwe.

This money rarely finds its way to Zimbabwe as it is kept in private bank accounts around the world. It's also difficult to trace because the accounts are kept in names of third parties.

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