Cecil the Lion has in the past week hogged international news headlines as millions expressed outrage about the killing of one of the country’s favourite big cats.
Now after his office asked the United States to extradite Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer for trial in the country, some Zimbabweans are now calling on President Robert Mugabe not to divert attention from pressing issues affecting the country over Cecil’s killing as he continues to attract rave press reviews the world over.
Many Zimbabweans have condemned last month’s killing of Cecil the lion by American tourist, Walter James Palmer, outside the Hwange National Park but they were quick to urge the government not to divert the people’s minds from pressing bread and butter issues.
One such person is Cleopas Mutawu who says Cecil the lion was a source of revenue for the country’s tourism sector.
However, Mutawu said the name “Cecil” reminds him of Cecil John Rhodes who led the colonization of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
Leader of the Movement for Democratic Change youth assembly, Happymore Chidziva, said Zimbabwean authorities should not waste time seeking Palmer’s extradition but must focus more on promoting human rights in the country, especially with activists like Itai Dzamara still being unaccounted for.
Chidziva’s sentiments were echoed by another Harare resident, Kudzai Munemo, who says Zimbabwe should be preoccupied by reviving the country’s ailing economy and not Cecil the lion.
Trevor Ncube, chairman of Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of the Newsday and Independent newspapers declined an interview with CNN saying he could not discuss the issue of the dead lion ahead of key economic and political issues that required urgent attention.
Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri announced last week that Harare was in the process of seeking Palmer’s extradition from the United States.
Prosecutor general Johannes Tomana referred questions to the Ministry of Home Affairs saying his office had not received any communication regarding Palmer’s extradition.
Deputy Home Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, referred Studio 7 to the justice ministry. Justice ministry officials could not comment referring all questions to Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who also doubles as vice president.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she could not say whether or not the police had communicated with the relevant ministries over Palmer’s extradition because the court is now seized with the matter of the killing of Cecil the lion.
Meanwhile, the director general of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, Edison Chidziya, issued a statement announcing the immediate suspension of the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants outside the Hwange National Park.
Chidziya also announced that bow hunting had been suspended with immediate effect and no such hunting will be conducted unless it has been confirmed and authorized in writing by the Director-General of his department.