The Scoop Editorial: December 7, 2022

Just a few days ago, a man of Chirundu was reduced to shreds, eaten up by a crocodile while on a fishing expedition with his friend and this is one of the numerous cases of people being killed by crocodiles every year.

On lake Kariba, crocodiles and hippos now have a ballyhoo competition of who chomps more human beings every year and the most disgusting part is the dead silence from authorities on finding a long lasting solution to the sad reality.

For those who do not know, until 1958, there was no Lake Kariba. The Lake Kariba initiative was funded by the World Bank in 1955 to generate hydroelectric energy for Zambia and Zimbabwe. Before that time, where the belly of the Kariba is, is where villages for to valley Tongas were.

The hardworking villagers from the two countries called this place home and grew crops and reared livestock. Apart from the abundantly fertile soils, the area had plenty of water for these economic activities.

The people there knew no hunger. They never knew how relief food from Government tasted like. They were self-reliant and lived in harmony with each other. There was no Zimbabwean or Zambian. They lived peacefully as brothers and sisters with each other as the Tonga people.

The very construction of the Lake Kariba devastated them. Tongas are generally peaceful people but when word went round that they were going to be displaced to pave way for the construction of the lake, they stood up with their spears to fight the “foreigners” who wanted to take away their land. This is the only time in history that we see valley Tongas fighting, save for the sporadic tribal kerfuffle with their tribe cousins, the Lozi, over cattle and women.

Some 57,000 Tonga people in the Zambezi Valley on the Zambian side were forcibly driven away from their homes to pave way for the construction of the Kariba Dam; driven to the hilly upper land with poor soils and erratic rains, with the promise that they would be compensated.

To-date, no valley Tonga has been compensated. Those who fought for the land went to their graves as poor souls because their very survival became a struggle after leaving the land of their ancestors, the place they called home for donkey years.

After all, this was a just cause. The very electricity that they paved way for, is still a story for the few. Most households today do not have electricity and poverty levels are still high among them because even the production of food is still a challenge due to poor soils and rain. Story for another day.

Over 60 years later, the Valley Tongas are still paying the price for sacrificing for the country to get electricity by being eaten up by crocodiles and attacked by hippos, year-in-year-out as if their lives do not matter anymore compared to animals.

Their ancestors must be turning in their graves that for their sacrifice, generations after them, are still being tormented for their generosity while successive Governments watch as though everything is okay.

People are losing lives every day and the Ministry responsible is doing literally nothing. Of course we know that one crocodile was shot dead after the Chirundu incident but what about the huge number of alligators patronizing the Kariba waters freely? What about the loss of animals that these people have continued to suffer?

It is general knowledge that Lake Kariba is infested with crocodiles and hippos. The number of these beasts is increasing every year. The lifespan of a crocodile is between 70 and 100 years while that of a hippo is around 40 to 50 years and without any cropping, there is a high possibility that some of the crocodiles on Lake Kariba older than the lake itself.

If one person today killed a crocodile or hippo, the law is brutal but when a person is killed, it is business as usual. If the family is luck, Government will just kill a crocodile as if to compensate for human life lost. Have we become so insensitive as a country that now wildlife is more important than human life that we see nothing wrong with the predicament people of the valley are subjected to?

The Ministry of Tourism must, as a matter of urgency, find a long lasting solution to the Kariba hubbub by undertaking a serious game cropping exercise. It is senseless to go to Luangwa National Park and kill 2,000 hippos where there are no people and leave the Kariba teaming with the beats terrorizing the locals. We need to get serious as a country.

We cannot continue with these senseless undertakings while human life is at stake. We failed to give the valley Tongas the promised electricity for which they traded with their fertile soils and surely, continually mocking them to their graves is not right.

One must be heartless to watch other human beings dying and doing nothing yet still wake up as a proud Minister of Tourism. For how long should valley Tongas mourn before they get serious attention from Government? This is just ridiculous to say the least.



  1. Joseph sikombe

    I was wondering also year in year out we lose people by attacks from crocodile , the bad part is that zawa have not offered the lasting solution. I proposal one solution they sensitize the community from either fishing in the river that are infected with them or they dig them borehole where there use to draw water

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *