By Farai Sibanda
Binga, October 16, 2013 – Smuggling of stolen livestock and illegal drugs in Binga district in Matabeleland North has hit alarming levels, a top district official has said.
Binga Rural District Council Chairperson Mukombwe Dube told Radio VOP during a visit to the area that there is rampant smuggling of livestock to and from Zambia prompting local police to set up 24-hour border control units along the Zambezi River.
“Smuggling of stolen livestock has been rampant in the past few months. Villagers are losing their donkeys, goats and cattle daily to shock thieves who smuggle these animals across the Zambezi River for Zambia for resale. We have locals who also smuggle illegal drugs such as marijuana to Zambia and some also bring these drugs from across the border,” said Dube.
Binga lies along the Zambezi River, a transboundary watercourse shared by eight countries. Sharing resources such as fish from this natural water frontier has become a headache for the governments involved as over-fishing has depleted waterways in other areas and poachers are encroaching on Zimbabwe.
“We would like to thank the police for setting up bases along the Zambezi River. I think this will reduce these smuggling syndicates,” Dube added.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Spiwe Makonese confirmed that police have set up bases along the Zambezi River to curb smuggling and stock theft in Binga district.
“What I can tell you is that we have set up police bases along the Zambezi River to curb these crimes. Armed police are patrolling along the Zambezi River 24 hours a day and we can see a reduction in smuggling of livestock and illegal drugs. We also have police officers patrolling in the Zambezi River using boats. Actually our officers are doing a brilliant job that side,” said Makonese.
Some Binga villagers who spoke to Radio VOP also said fish poaching has also become a big problem as armed Zambian fishermen prowl on the Zimbabwe waters using high-powered boats at night. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), fishing is central to the livelihood of more than 200 million people globally, especially in the developing world. But fish stocks are in jeopardy and under increasing pressure from overfishing and environmental degradation.