Zimbabwean Pr_ostitutes’ clients in Gwanda and Beitbridge should exercise extreme caution when hiring thigh vendors for their X-rated services following sensational reports that prostitutes are on the prowl in the two towns collecting spe_rms from their clients after sex.

According to reports, the spe_rms are being exported to South Africa where they are reportedly in demand by sangomas who are said to be using them in their traditional rituals to bring luck, enhance good fortune and boosting business or preventing detection of criminals.

Some claimed that the spe_rms, which are allegedly going for US$25 to US$30 per 250ml bottle, were also being collected for sale in Dubai, where they fetch even higher prices.

Spe_rm hunters first surfaced in Zimbabwe in October 2011 when police arrested three Gweru women after they were caught with a staggering plastic bag loaded with 31 (thirty one) used condoms full of spe_rms. The women after being hauled to court, revealed that they were well known prostitutes and that the used condoms had been used on them by their clients who they had sex with, the court heard.

Following the bizarre incident, more than a dozen attacks on men by alleged female rapists, thought to be for ritual purposes, have been reported mainly in the Midlands, Harare and Masvingo provinces.

According to a panic-stricken man, the reports of the alleged spe_rm collection sent shivers down the spines of men who recklessly disposed condoms after sex with prostitutes.

“A wave of panic gripped the town especially among men when news filtered through claiming that prostitutes were making brisk business by collecting and selling spe_rms they would have got from their clients after sex. This is so because the spe_rms’ real use is not clear although some say it is intended for juju or traditional rituals by sangomas in South Africa,” he said.

“In one case last week, a man reportedly went unconscious for hours after sex with a woman he had hired at a local night club, a move which many people suspected he was drugged by the hooker before being forced into repeated sex for the purpose of taking his spe_rms,” said Mr Dumisani Mhlanga from Jaunda suburb.

Mr Last Zulu said the spe_rm harvesting craze had also spread to married women who were also reportedly forcing their own husbands to use protection during sex so that they could collect their spe_rms and sell them.

“So alarming is the spe_rm harvesting craze that even some married women have also joined the trade by forcing their husbands to use protection during sex so that they can collect their spe_rms for sale,” he said.



All is well that ends well. Finally, the Federal Government of Nigeria found a way to tame the MTN Nigeria shrew that has now offered to settle the legal suit it filed against the Nigerian Communications Commission out of court. This must have come from the recent behind closed doors “whisper” that MTN’s management had with the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu.

According to reports by Reuters international news agency, MTN had apologised to the NCC, admitted its error in failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards, and was willing to pay the fine. Also, top guns of MTN in Nigeria and South Africa were compelled to resign, as trading of its stock, whose value took a dive, was temporarily suspended on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. By the way, no telecommunications company is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The NCC had requested telecoms in Nigeria to register mobile telephone SIM cards, to compile bio data and other details of the owners, for security purposes. The telcos, including MTN, seemed to have complied. Or so everyone thought. But alas, the records were not faithfully archived, or something like that. MTN had either failed to register, disconnect unregistered, or lost the data, of about 5.1 million subscribers.

Many currently undergoing the registration or re-registration complain loudly that this will be the second or third time of registering their SIM cards. Other networks, that some claim allegedly stoked the embers of the NCC punitive fire to gnaw at the 60 per cent market share of MTN, were culpable too, though to a lesser extent.

The NCC threw a $1,008 or N200,000 fine at MTN for each unregistered SIM card; a total of $5.2bn. But it appears that MTN regarded the NCC’s downward review of the fine to $3.9bn, and the shifting of the initial two-week payment deadline of the fine from November 16 to December 31, 2015, as a blink of weakness.

While the other networks paid without protest, MTN turned around to file a suit against the NCC, citing Section 70 of the NCC Act, and appealed to some flimsy wide-of-the-mark authorities in Sections 1(3), 4 and 6 of Nigeria’s Constitution. MTN argued that the NCC had usurped some legislative powers and judicial powers of the National Assembly and the courts respectively. Now that they may settle out of court, one may never know what the courts would make of the flippant drivel. Some mischievous people contend that MTN went to court to avoid being shut down by the NCC. Well.

A boastful MTN allegedly said: “All factors having a bearing on the matter have been thoroughly and carefully considered, including a review of the circumstances leading to the fine and the subsequent letters received from the NCC. MTN Nigeria, acting on legal advice, has resolved that the manner of the imposition of the fine and the quantum is not in accordance with the NCC powers under the Nigerian Communications Act, and therefore there are valid grounds upon which to challenge the fine.” Except for evangelists, none can sell hopes more than lawyers!

Some say MTN wanted to use the pliable Nigerian legal system to stall, until President Muhammadu Buhari and the NCC Executive Vice-Chairman, Prof Umar Dambatta, leave office. There are also unproved allegations that some intermediaries were going round media houses with “incentives” to either canvass a cancellation of the fine or “kill” stories related to it altogether.

Still waxing cocky, while yet buying up, and inheriting the customer base of, Visafone telephone network, MTN threatened to withdraw from Nigeria, and expand to other African countries. It should have. MTN will be the first to acknowledge that mobile telephone lines in Nigeria are in excess of 152 million units – about three times the 53 million population of its home country, South Africa, as generously projected by the United Nations for 2016.

MTN earns about 40 per cent of its global revenue in Nigeria, and there is speculation that its profit after tax for year ending December 31, 2015 should be about $955m or N1.9tn, if you convert by the N197.50 Central Bank of Nigeria official rate of exchange. If you convert with the black market rate that is in excess of N300, you will know that this is not small potatoes.

MTN’s South African proprietors who were initially conciliatory and polite, and anxiously angling to engage the Nigerian authorities in some kind of business diplomacy, also became combative and pompous. They alleged that the NCC acted in bad faith. MTN was no doubt, goaded by some with arguments like even the revised fine of $3.9m is more than double the average annual capital investment MTN has made in Nigeria in the last five years. What that argument is supposed to achieve is not so clear.

Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, thinks the fine “will cripple the entire industry.” Na lie! Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, who agrees that MTN is not altogether without fault, argued that the fine would discourage Foreign Direct Investment into Nigeria. He thinks that “the fine… gives (investors) the impression that Nigeria is in desperate financial situation due to sudden drop in crude oil prices…” Well, everyone knows that Nigeria needs money, and fines are always arbitrary, anyway.

The NCC claimed to have consistently engaged the mobile telecoms companies on the importance of registering subscriber SIM cards. You should therefore appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari’s plea that telecoms companies should help the security agencies by registering SIM cards. After America’s National Security Agency intercepted a call from a “marked” Pakistani mobile telephone number, it was only a matter of time for them to trace its leader, Osama bin Ladin, to his lair.

Lower level Al Qaeda operatives generally travelled hundreds of miles to make calls, and regularly destroyed their SIM cards, to avoid leaving an electronic trail. But Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti, an elite courier and bodyguard of bin Ladin, was not required to destroy his SIM card. His call, from a mobile telephone number that the American Central Intelligence Agency had identified by Pakistani authorities as registered to Al Qaeda activated the tracking and killing of bin Ladin.

Registration of SIM cards is a matter of national interest and national security, and government must be gung ho and insist on ensuring utmost compliance. Whoever flouts it must have the law book thrown at them. There is even no guarantee that MTN, like a wilful elf, will not change its mind again. Nigeria does not need a corporate citizen that may be a trans-border serial offender that allegedly failed to pay its taxes on games and gambling services in Cameroon.

You may recall that in the early days of mobile telephone in Nigeria, the telco sold a SIM card, which now goes for N100 or so, at astronomical costs, well above N20,000; zapped unused credits after a certain number of days that it arbitrarily fixed; charged a higher fare for SMS to other networks; and insisted that per second billing of telephone calls was impossible, and made subscribers suffer per minute charges even if their calls lasted a few seconds. It took a Globacom network before Nigerians could escape from that Egypt of oppression.

Copyright PUNCH.



The power, impact and influence of China was evident last Friday in Johannesburg when it met over 40 African leaders. It is instructive that a single country which in the 1980s was still considered a Third World country, could convene what was virtually a meeting of the African Union, AU, and so many Heads of State attended. This was no gathering of some old colonial master holding a Francophone summit with its former subjects, or some illusory ‘commonwealth’ of an ex-slave master giving his former servants the opportunity to take tea and have a handshake. Nor was it some summit of international lenders or do-gooders dishing out interest loans with slavish instructions and conditionalities. Rather, it was a gathering of people with shared colonial memories of forced occupation, exploitation and underdevelopment. A people with a common past whose gathering exuded self- respect and dignity for all, and a shared vision of a non-exploitative world.

To me, the issue about the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation is not the huge $60 billion funding for infrastructure and industrialisation; providing 200,000 Africans technical skills and an additional 40,000 training opportunities in China. Rather, it is the spirit; that spirit that respects the sovereignty of other countries. The spirit that built the new African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

One project which exemplifies China’s attitude to Africa is the TAZARA Railways which runs from the Port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Kapiri Moshi in central Zambia. Africa in the 1960s faced a dilemma. The White colonialists ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabawe) and, landlocked Zambia, a country at the frontline against racist Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa, had to move its goods through racist territory. It meant that the White supremacists could squeeze or economically strangulate Zambia anytime it wanted. The alternative was for Zambia to take its imports and exports through an African port which would require some 1,860 kilometre-railway. The African countries could not afford it, and their traditional Western friends were unwilling to assist.

Mohammed Babu, a young Tanzanian Minister suggested China should be approached. China was then a poor country, and Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere, thought it unwise to ask aid from another poor country. However, during a visit to China in February 1965, a hesitant Nyerere broached the issue and Chinese leader, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung responded in what has become the Chinese spirit of partnership and brotherhood: “You have difficulties as we do; but our difficulties are different. To help you build the railway, we are willing to forsake building railways for ourselves.”

The railway which was built from 1970 -75 required China sending a 50,000 workforce from 1965 to 1976 while about 60,000 African workers participated. Without the needed capital and machinery, this remarkable workers brigade, exposed to wild animals and hunger, sacrificed to build the friendship railways. The construction cost $500 million, 64 Chinese and about 100 African lives. Given the motive, human sacrifice and determination, the railway was referred to as the Great Uhuru Railway. Uhuru meaning independence in Swahili.

When I went to China last year, I made enquiries about the families of these Chinese workers who came out to assist Africa, and paid the supreme sacrifice. I intend to do a follow up and also trace the families of the African workers who lost their lives. My intention is to do a documentary or write a book.

Humanity has known extreme poverty and hunger. These are some of the addictive drugs fuelling crimes, conflicts and violence. One of the greatest gifts China has made to humanity is that it feeds 1.357 billion people or 19.24 percent of the world’s population. The Chinese are quite ingenious when it comes to food as they eat virtually anything that is not poisonous.

To be able to cater for themselves, they took hard decisions, including a One-Child Policy which has now been relaxed.

Their strategy of development was to be self-reliant, eat what they produce, be visionary, programmatic and pragmatic while holding on to their culture, language, ideas and ideals. After internal development, they blossomed and stepped out into the centre stage of globalisation outpacing almost all other countries.

In the process they put a lie to the religion that the private sector is the engine of develpoment. They also rejected the theocracy of market forces and pragmatically fixed the value of their currency, and control the stock exchange. That has not stopped them producing some of the biggest companies in modern history like Ali Baba.

Yet, the road was rough for this country with a 4,000-year written record. Of those said to be humanity’s four greatest civilizations; Ancient Egypt, India and Babylonia, China is the only surviving.

Its existence was threatened by Britain which produced opium in colonised India and off-loaded it on China, turning it into an ocean of drug addicts. When the Chinese Qing (Manchu) Dynasty decided to criminalise opium and rid the country of the drug, China was invaded and defeated by Britain in what became known as the First Opium War (1839 – 42). Britain then imposed the 1842 Nanking Treaty under which China legalised the opium trade, exempted imports from transit duties and made the English version of all treaties, superior to that in the Chinese . The Second Opium War was in 1856 when an angry Britain again invaded China for seizing a pirate ship flying the British flag.

When the Chinese Revolution of 1949 removed the pro-West Chian Kai-Shek government, China was not allowed to sit in the United Nations for 22 years. But it overcame its adversaries; retook its seat in both in the General Assembly and Security Council as a permanent member, and, displaying deft diplomatic moves, repossessed Hong Kong from Britain. Taiwan remains the major Chinese territory outside the control of the Peoples Republic of China.

I borrowed the title of this piece from my solidarity message as the Secretary General of African Workers, to the 2013 Congress of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) in which I challenged other underdeveloped countries: “Go to the Chinese, you sluggard, consider their ways and be wise.”

By  Owei Lakemfa