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zim-rsaZimbabwe needs to further develop transport and trade infrastructure links with South Africa to maintain Africa’s biggest economy as its single most important trading partner, recent research findings have shown.

This came from preliminary findings of a research study carried out by Dr Medicine Masiiwa who was commissioned by the Ministry of Regional Integration and International Co-operation to undertake the study on trade and transport. The World Bank funded the study to assess the need to facilitate transport and trade in Zimbabwe. The findings form part of preliminary desk research ahead of a more detailed second phase.

Dr Masiiwa presented the initial findings from the desk research to stakeholders at a workshop in Harare. Preliminary findings of the study show that since economic and political stability, key for trade competitiveness of Zimbabwe is now in place, the country’s trade was bound for significant growth, making a trade and transport facilitation measure critical to support this growth.

“A major implication of having South Africa as Zimbabwe’s single most significant trading partner is that the transport and trade infrastructure between the two countries should be further developed,” he said.

Development options include expanding the current border post to accommodate more traffic or to construct a new border post altogether. Sound transport and trade infrastructure between Zimbabwe and South Africa is critical as more than 34 percent of local imports go to South Africa while Zimbabwe imports more than 60 percent of basic commodities from that country.

But the state of the main trunk road, on the Zimbabwe side, has remained in poor state despite also being the main link between the north and south. Increased trade with China implies that Zimbabwe, in collaboration with its regional partners, needs to further develop the Beira and Limpopo transport corridors, which link Zimbabwe with the ports on the east coast.

“It is also interesting to note that trade with the EU and other Western countries is on the rebound; meaning transport corridors linking western gateways also need to be further developed,” said Dr Masiiwa.

The major problem facing Zimbabwe is that the quality of infrastructure is deteriorating and therefore acting as an impediment to trade. A study by the World Bank showed that in the 1990s, the proportion of primary roads in “good” condition was about 90 percent, but this dropped to 85 percent in 2009. Roads with the worst conditions are secondary roads, where about 45 per cent of paved and 50 percent of the unpaved secondary roads are in poor condition. Source: Zimbabwe Herald

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According to the latest data from South Africa’s department of environmental affairs (20 June 2012), the total number of rhinos poached  since the beginning of this year now stands at 251 with the number of arrests at 170.

The North-West, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces continue to be targeted by poachers, collectively accounting for 86 of the total rhinos poached this year. The Kruger National Park, alone, has lost a total of 149 rhinos since the beginning of this year.  At this rate the carnage will almost certainly exceed the 448 slain last year.

Thus far, a total of 170 arrests have been made of which 147 of the arrested were poachers, 10 receivers or couriers, six couriers or buyers and seven exporters.

Elephant and rhino poaching is surging, conservationists say, an illegal part of Asia’s scramble for African resources, driven by the growing purchasing power of newly affluent Asians.

A film made by UNTV and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) can be seen on YouTube on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3m7FOXOLbY. Rhino horn has long been used in traditional medicines in China and Vietnam and the film quotes a doctor at Hanoi’s biggest hospital who sings its praises. According to the film, rhino horns have also been stolen from museums and private collections in more than 15 countries. Source: DoEA