Yes! We're still here. There will be many of you, we are sure, who have wondered about out welfare in the somewhat trying times that we have been experiencing here in Zimbabwe. Rest assured, we are still afloat, and steaming full ahead. The Unit base, so well established now, is so very much our home that we find ourselves spending quite a lot of time there. Actually, this is all to the good. As you will doubtless know, we have been experiencing difficulties with fuel supplies, and also currency devaluation. This, overall, has had a marked effect on transport arrangements throughout the City, with both availability of vehicles and costs. So it has often been necessary for Cadets to virtually spend the whole weekend at Headquarters, if they are to be ready and available for parades and duties.
Our duties continue unabated, and we are indeed grateful to the many organisations and people who ask for our servies, in return for a donation to our funds. Financially, we are just about keeping our heads above water. Our vehicle, the Corneil, is presently being re-furbished by Lt. John Garacho, with the help of some of our Cadets, and should look good in its new livery. It has had a few problems in getting started, but that seems to have been rectified now. We received a mangificent donation in March from the Flying Eagles Cycling Club. They held a "Charity Day" Cycle Race and named us as one of three beneficiaries, which resulted in a wonderful windfall of $35.000.00.
Training parades continue every Friday evening. We experimented with having our parades moved to Saturday, to try to save on fuel and expense, but it was not a success, so we reverted to the traditional date and time. Luckily too, our parade ground is not usually used by the Basketballers on a Friday.
Some very successful camps have been held, both at Umgusa and in the Matopos. We spent one weekend camping at Togwana Dam, deep in the Matopos, reached by a terrible road. It was an exercise in self-sufficiency as far as the camp was concerned, each group being responsible for their own camping requirements, and it was also a radio comms and map-reading exercise. This meant at least two hikes over very rough ground of more than fifteen kilometres each. Very tired young people when returning home after three days away!
Without doubt, the highlight of our year was the visit of two senior Cadets to the International Camp in Bermuda, and a visit to Britain on their way home. All this was made possible through the fantastic generosity of the Sea Cadet Association of Bermuda and their "Project 2000". The two Cadets selected were Petty Officer Frank Mangena and Able Seaman Brian Mhlanga. Neither of them had every flown in an aircraft before, and they had to negotiate changes of planes in Johannesburg and London, on their way there and back. However, being well orientated and organised Cadets, there was no problem at all, and they arrived safely in Hamilton. To say that they had a wonderful time would be a marked under-statement. They were totally overwhelmed. Their following visit to England was made possible through the generosity of the Sea Cadets in UK, and they were hosted in London by TS Quail, in Islington. They spent a few days with Brenda Bumstead, who served as an Officer with T S Matabele some time ago. They were able to see a bit of Britain, and also visited Portsmouth. We were very proud indeed to receive glowing reports of their behaviour and involvement while overseas, and we cannot express our thanks nearly enough to all those kind and generous people who made their visit so memorable. Needless to say, neither of them have stopped talking about it since returning! Some help, locally, was received from Rotary, and they have given talks about their experiences to lunchtime meetings of Rotary Clubs. They also spoke to our colleagues, the Air Cadets. This whole trip was an amazing experience, especially for two young men from the middle of Africa, and it is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Our services for traffic control were so renowned that we were asked to travel to Harare (450 kms) to undertake control of a big cycle race there. We went in four vehicles, camped the night in the City, got up at 4.30 am to do breakfast and strike camp, did the duty, and motored back to Bulawayo the same day. Quite an undertaking. Regrettably, we did not benefit from it financially.
Before the end of the year, we shall be involved again in the annual Christmas Fair, called "Intershop" held at the International Trade Fair Grounds. We shall be on duty all through the Fair running the PA system and the Information Desk. As it starts on Friday evening, we shall hold our usual parade at the Fair for the public to see.
Sadly we have lost the services of two of our senior Cadets - Mds. Newhati and CPO Mkandla. CPO Mkandla is now too heavily committed with his job and his family. Mds. Newhati has changed his career, and joined the Church, where he is very much involved. We still see him from time to time, but his new commitment takes him on distance travels quite frequently. We are sure he will be very successful in his new venture. Otherwise, the complement remains unchanged. Lt. Cdr. Peter Rollason is still CO, with Lt. Ian Chatterton as No. 1, Lt. John Garacho is our Technical Officer, and particularly looks after the vehicle and outboards, while Sub. Lt. Bernard Murabiwa, undertakes duties as Training Officer. We are now able to involve our Senior Cadets, not only in undertaking training lectures, but also in the administration of the ship and camp organisation.
Our Annual Inspection Parade this year was held on our new Anniversary date in August, and we were delighted to welcome Lt. Cdr. Ian Loubser from South Africa as our Inspecting Officer. It was also very encouraging that he brought three South African Cadets with him, one of them being "Bushboy" (Cadet Givemore Dube). We are particularly proud of him as an ex T S Matabele man. He is not living in South Africa. He joined the Cadets there, and has done so well, that he has been selected for Officer Training. Well done, "Bushboy".
For the first time, we have had our own Christmas Card made this year, especially designed and painted for us by P O Mangena. And this is where we send our Seasonal Greeting to all our readers. We hope that you all enjoy a wonderful Christmas and a great 2001. Yours aye ...
T S Matabele
Bulawayo, Christmas, 2000.
For all further information please contact:
Lt. Cdr. Peter Rollason
CO TS Matabele
PO Box 9002