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Further 226 white farmers to be off their land by September

Earth Times

Posted : Sat, 28 Apr 2007 07:34:00GMT
Author : DPA

Harare - More than 220 of Zimbabwe's remaining white farmers - nearly
half of those still on their land - have been given until September to get
off their properties, reports said Saturday. The government has also
compensated 800 out of more than 4,000 white farmers who have already lost
their land under the controversial land reform programme, a junior
government minister was quoted as saying in the official Herald newspaper.

A total of 226 white farmers were given eviction notices, which expire
before the end of September, the Herald reported Flora Buka, the minister of
state for special affairs responsible for land resettlement, as saying.

"There is room for negotiation when we pay compensation, and farmers
are taking up what we are offering," she said.

White farmers' groups say some of their members have accepted
compensation out of financial desperation.

They say the sums paid - which are to compensate only for fixed assets
on the farms such as dams, houses and sheds - are a fraction of their true

Compensation is also paid in Zimbabwe dollars, which are rapidly
losing value in the country's hyper-inflationary environment.

Zimbabwe's central bank governor this week announced that the
country's rate of annual inflation, already the highest in the world, had
hit 2,200 per cent in March.

Critics blame the seven-year-old land reform programme for slashing
agricultural production and precipitating Zimbabwe's economic meltdown.

But the government blames drought and what it terms economic sanctions
by some Western powers.

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Zimbabwe announces new controls over charities, non-governmental organizations

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 28, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe announced new controls Saturday to clamp down on
charities and non-governmental organizations, including democracy and human
rights groups, that the government accuses of campaigning against it.

Under a new code of procedure, voluntary organizations need a state license,
which can be denied, thus barring them from operating.

The code, issued in an official government notice available Saturday,
follows recent warnings from several senior officials against charities
engaging in political advocacy, saying some groups came to Zimbabwe with
food aid in one hand and what they called a "regime change agenda" in the

President Robert Mugabe has frequently accused Britain, the European Union
and the United States of funding charities to work alongside his opponents
in a Western-sponsored campaign to oust him.

According to the code, existing charities already registered by law with the
government would not have their licenses automatically revoked by the
notice, as had been feared. But their activities could be reviewed.

United Nations agencies are not affected.
The code requires foreign organizations setting up in Zimbabwe to sign a
memorandum of understanding with government departments working in their
social or welfare fields and provide accounts of their funding and a
clearance letter from the International Police Organization and other
details on their history and background.

Human rights groups and pro-democracy pressure groups routinely assist
victims of state-orchestrated political violence with food and shelter,
medical assistance and trauma counseling.

The code would bring them under state control for the first time under
existing charity laws, known as the Private Voluntary Organizations Act,
analysts said.

The Lawyers for Human Rights group, who provide free legal aid to victims
and help channel food and medicine to jailed opposition activists, would
also likely be targeted.

Most of those organizations currently operate under regulations covering
private trusts.

Under similar media licensing laws enforced since 2003, four independent
newspapers, including the only independent daily, have been shut down, and
scores of independent journalists have been arrested, intimidated and
assaulted.Most foreign journalists are denied visas to travel to Zimbabwe on
assignment under media and immigration laws.

Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980,
with acute shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline, medicines and most
other basic goods. Official inflation is 2,200, the highest in the world.

Central bank governor Gideon Gono said Friday the government used scarce
hard currency to buy 500,000 metric tons of staple food - mostly corn - to
avert starvation in coming months.

Critics accuse the government itself of using food as a political weapon,
especially surrounding elections, charges Mugabe denies.

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AG's Office Battling to Clear Passport Backlog

The Herald (Harare)

April 28, 2007
Posted to the web April 28, 2007


THE Registrar General's Office is battling to clear the backlog of 300 000
passports following the release of US$7 million by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe for buying the needed materials.

A visit to the department's offices in Harare yesterday showed that hundreds
of people were queuing to collect their passports.

There was a public notice, which indicated that only ordinary passports
applications that were made up to May 2005 were ready for collection.

No new applications for ordinary passports were being entertained.

However, emergency travel documents were being processed.

There was a hive of activity at the offices as passport officers were
working tirelessly to clear the queues of those seeking travel documents.

Some of the passport applicants complained that the officers were taking too
long to serve them.

"I was here yesterday and I had to leave after waiting for more than two
hours without being served. Today, I am here again," said Mr John
Tafirenyika of Chitungwiza, who was waiting to collect his passport.

"Initially, I applied for an ordinary passport in September 2005 but when it
took longer, I tried to apply for an ETD. However, the officers advised me
to apply for an emergency passport which I was supposed to collect

Other applicants echoed Mr Tafirenyika's sentiments, saying it appeared the
workload was too much for the single officer who was serving them at the
passport collection counter.

The officer had to take their receipts, check in the computer whether their
passports were ready for collection before going to the files to search for

Efforts to get a comment from the Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede
yesterday failed as he was said to be off duty while his mobile phone was

However, Mr Mudede recently told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Defence and Home Affairs that the department would, in the short term,
concentrate on clearing the passport backlog and was only dealing with
emergency cases.

The US$7 million availed by the RBZ would enable the RG's Office to issue
polythene national identity cards.

It was also meant for the programme of decentralising the issuance of
national identity cards.

Out of the US$7 million, US$2,4 million would be used to pay arrears.

The RG's Office had suspended the issuing of passports and other documents
due to a huge backlog of unprocessed travel documents arising from the
shortage of foreign currency.

The department needs at least US$200 000 weekly to function at full

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'Normal Sugar Supplies to Resume Soon'

The Herald (Harare)

April 28, 2007
Posted to the web April 28, 2007

John Kachembere

GOLDSTAR Sugars, Zimbabwe's largest sugar producer, has assured the nation
that normal sugar supplies would resume soon after working flat out to
secure raw materials.

The company had suspended supplying the basic commodity to the local market
as it was waiting for yet another Government nod to increase the selling

After realising that Government might not likely consider the company's
appeal as a matter of urgency, the company, which had resolved not to
release more sugar on to the market until a new price is effected, is
softening on its stance. Production has, however, been continuing.

Although there has been speculations on the market from other quarters that
deliveries are being made to certain bulk buyers, the circumstances under
which this is taking place could not be established. However, inside sources
said it could be either be on a basis of an agreement on price or a show of
favour on part of the producer.

In a statement, Goldstar advised its customers that supplies have been
erratic due to limited resources.

"The company wishes to advise its valued customers that suppliers of sugar
have been erratic for the past four weeks. Our Harare and Bulawayo
refineries have not been running at normal capacity due to the limited
quantity of raw sugar available for refining," said the company.

The latest developments have culminated in persistent sugar shortages on the
market and the scarcity has precipitated speculative activities, worsening
shortages of the commodity on the market.

The county has been experiencing sugar shortages for the past two months
with most of the deliveries ending up on the parallel market.

Starafricacorporation, the holding company of Goldstar assured the nation
that it is working around the clock to normalise the situation.

"Once supplies of raw sugar from the sugar estates return to normal,
Starafricacorporation limited will do all it can to normalise supplies into
the market," said the company.

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Saturday 28th April 2007

Dear Family and Friends,
Having spent three weeks in a civilized country south of Zimbabwe, I must
admit that there were many things that made me not want to come home. Food
was one thing - its existence, huge variety and consistent pricing. Money
was another thing - coins that are actually worth something, bank notes that
don't have expiry dates printed on them and money that keeps its value from
one week to the next.Then there was the freedom of the media with abundant
newspaper and radio stations with criticism and debate encouraged. There was
the joy of petrol stations that always had fuel and of being able to travel
freely without incessant road blocks and police checks. Even little things
like public toilets that were fit for use by human beings, water that was
safe to drink from a tap, street signs that haven't been stolen and dustbins
being emptied - all were cause for stares of amazement.

For three weeks my eyes were open wide and slowly it began to sink in just
how utterly shocking everything in Zimbabwe has become. We have all been so
busy trying to survive the horrors that not only have we forgotten how a
country should work but also how to demand that officials paid with our
taxes do our bidding and not their own.

Crossing the border back into Zimbabwe there were just three people in the
queue. On the other side of the counter at least 60 Zimbabweans were
jostling to get out of the country. I knew I was home within minutes of
leaving the border post. Deep potholes litter the highways; cows, donkeys
and goats have right of way and there are no roadside fences. Road markings
have worn away, cat's eyes in the tar have gone and sign posts have been

But it was good to be home and the scenery this time of year is exquisite.
Baobab trees in full leaf, crowds of yellow flowers in the dry bush and
eagles soaring in the skies. The names of dry, dusty places conjure up
images that can only be of Zimbabwe: Bubye, Nuanetsi, Sosonye, Mwenezi and
Mount Guhudza. In the middle of nowhere there are always bottle stores: The
"Try Again Bottle Store" caught my eye - a shabby little building,
surrounded by red dust, women trying to sell water melons and men sitting
drinking beer in the middle of the morning. This for sure is home!

Breaking the journey at one stage and in the middle of nowhere, two young
teenage girls appeared.
"Hello," I called out, "How are you?"
"Hello," they answered, " we are eating!"
One girl opened her hand to reveal a dozen shiny black berries. "Take them"
she said, "you are welcome." I thanked her and took two. She told me they
were called Subvu and I gave her some peppermints in exchange. We all
clapped our hands in thanks and the girls went away giggling. Instantly I
was overcome with emotion and patriotism. In a land where hunger is rampant,
in a country with the lowest life expectancy in the world, two young girls
would offer me a mouthful of their food. Where else could I be except at
home and this is the Zimbabwe that everyone knows and loves. Later I found
that the berries are from the Mutsubvu tree and also called Chocolate

The grim reality of being back home came soon. On the bottom of the
electricity bill waiting for me when I got home were the words: "Tariff
increased by 350% effective 1 April ."

I thank the two young girls on the roadside for making me feel welcome , and
my mum for writing her letter 'from the diaspora' these past three weeks and
keeping the news current.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy

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Desperate people held hostage by hunger


    April 28 2007 at 01:44PM

Pius Ncube, the Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo, has become one of the
leading opponents of Robert Mugabe.

Although only 10 percent of Zimbabweans belong to the Roman Catholic
Church, his strident opinions echo far beyond the pulpit and his clamorous
cries of protest will continue until the suffering abates, he says. "I will
not be bullied," he warns.

But there was a time when his views of the veteran leader were not so
vociferous. He recalls the "excitement" of 1980 when Mugabe came to power
(first as prime minister and later as president), and the "hope" that was
tangible on the streets of the former Rhodesia back then.

"He had led the country out of guerrilla warfare. They trusted him. We
all did. For the first time there was hope of better things to come," he
remembers. "You can't imagine what it was like to be Zimbabwean then. We
were turning over a new leaf, and every single one of us felt it."

That was 27 years ago when Zimbabwe officially won independence. It
was the end of 90 years of British rule and the war-torn nation had much to
look forward to under the leadership of Mugabe - the man Ncube now refers to
as the 83-year-old "murderer".

"The streets were hopping," recalls Paul, an 84-year-old pensioner who
emigrated to Rhodesia from Britain in 1949. "We were sceptical,
understandably. We didn't know what to expect of this man they were calling
a terrorist Marxist. But there was certainly a feeling of celebration in the
air. But we had our fingers crossed."

Mugabe had inherited a country rich in gold and other natural
resources, a strong agricultural industry, a buoyant currency and an economy
with enormous potential. Julius Nyerere, the former Tanzanian leader,
described the bounty as a beautiful jewel. Take good care of it, he told

Sadly, there was little that sparkled as Zimbabweans reflected last
week on almost three decades of single-party rule.

The widespread grinding poverty means that only one in five adults is
in gainful employment. One in four children is subsequently orphaned as a
result of the economic crisis that has forced families apart as millions
seek work abroad.

Only very few can afford to keep their heads above water with
inflation at 1 700 percent, and rising. Only a handful would see it any
other way.

Yoweri (not his real name) is one of them. He wasn't even a twinkle in
his parents' eyes when independence was celebrated, which partly explains
why the 23-year-old's views on the country stand in sharp contrast to most

The other reason is that he now has two years' service with the
Zimbabwean Republic Police (ZRP), which goes a long way to explaining his
sympathy for "the old man", as he likes to call his president.

I met him as he hitched a ride from Hwange town to the police
headquarters in Dete.

Would I mind giving him a lift, he asked as he hailed down my car.

Did he know the opportunity he was presenting, I wondered.

"Not at all," I replied.

What followed was a fool's guide to Zimbabwe in the 40 or so minutes
it took us to cover the 54km stretch of road.

To begin with, I shouldn't believe what I read in the papers, he
counselled me.

Second, it's not that Zimbabwe has become a police state with the
countless roadblocks and police officers so visibly present on the country's
roads. (I was stopped by police nine times in seven days and had my car
searched twice, not counting the times they waved my rented car by.)

"It's just that we want people to feel safe ? We want them to know
we're here if they need us," he explains.

Third, Zimbabwe is doing fine. There is no crisis. There are no

Fourth, whatever you read about human rights violations or beatings of
the opposition movement has nothing to do with Mugabe.

It's all down to his ministers, he says, "who have become so cruel" in
the young man's eyes. "I don't know how the old man puts up with them."

Surely he must feel some sense of shame knowing that he belongs to a
force that's tainted by its reputation of blatant thuggery.

One man, who lives in a high-density suburb in Harare, talks of the
regular roundups at night, when people are taken from their beds and beaten
in front of family members.

Few will dare challenge them. "You hear it going on. But you can't do
anything about it, because if you do, you'll be next," he says.

But it seems I have it wrong again. The police are there for the good
of the people, the young officer reiterates once again. It's these
opposition people that are wreaking havoc. "My uniform is sacred," he tells

A classic symptom of the Stockholm Syndrome. He joined the force two
years ago at the age of 21. He was unemployed. He had no university
education or skills training beyond his A-levels. He's now being trained in
radio communications.

"It's a good job," he tells me again. "And we're helping the people at
a very important time," he asserts.

"You never know what these (opposition) guys are going to do. They can
be very, very dangerous."

"We want Mugabe out at all costs," says Archbishop Ncube. "We can vote
him out, but we know the election will be rigged again. And President Mbeki
will probably do as he did before and call it free and fair," he muses. "But
how can you praise a murderer?" he asks.

In an ideal world, Zimbabweans would take matters into their own hands
and rise up to bring down the regime. "But the problem is that this crisis
didn't begin on Friday. It's been going on for seven years. And the people
you see around you are too intimidated to fight back," says the archbishop.

The "cause" the regular man and woman on the street is committed to
today is putting bread on the table.

This article was originally published on page 17 of Cape Argus on
April 28, 2007

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Zuma 'lectures' EU on Zimbabwe


April 28 2007 at 03:31PM

ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma is on a four-day visit to Brussels to
meet with top European Union (EU) officials, SABC news reported on Saturday.

Zuma met with EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson, EU foreign policy
chief Javier Solana and members of the European parliament.

Security in the Great Lakes region and Zimbabwe were among the topics
of discussion.

Zuma urged the EU to be cautious in its approach to Zimbabwe.

"What contribution can be made by EU in helping the Zimbabwean issue
to be resolved? And I've been saying we need to not do something that will
actually make it difficult for those who are dealing with the issue, and not
just shouting from a distance, to resolve the matter..."

South Africa and the EU were currently involved in negotiations on a
future strategic partnership.

Zuma sought to reassure the EU about the current situation in South
Africa, given the recent upheavals within the ANC which have raised concerns
about the country's stability.

Zuma said he was invited to Brussels in his personal capacity. - Sapa

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Grace Kwinjeh Speaks Out: Zimbabwe, Repression and Brutality, a report

UN Observer

from Elisa Burchett

2007-04-27 | Her name is Grace Kwinjeh. Ms Kwinjeh was arrested and
brutally beaten en route to a prayer meeting organized by the Christian
Alliance in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe on March 11th. It was her
intention to pray for peace. "We were arrested and kept in solitary
confinement. We were not prepared for the brutality that was unleashed on us
that morning", Ms. Kwinjeh told journalists in a briefing held at the United
Nations Correspondents Association.

Ms Kwinjeh was subjected to four hours of random beatings, sustaining
internal head injuries and soft tissue injuries, including her ear which was
nearly torn off during the beatings. She and her colleagues, some of whom
she described as "lying there half dead", were made to lie like animals on
top of each other in a lorry. "The president of the opposition party, the
chairman of the National Assembly and the President of the MTC, I thought
were dead. We laid there for several hours", she said.

As it turned out, four women and approximately twenty men had been
arrested and separated that day. Ms Kwinjeh was placed in a cell with two
other girls and it was around 3am that she recalled hearing cars pulling
into the compound. She was asked to come out by army officials who proceeded
to torture and interrogate her about regime change and what she was trying
to do on the morning of March 11th. She replied that she was in a prayer
meeting and that they were praying for peace.

Due to Ms. Kwinjeh's high profile status as the Deputy Secretary for
International Relations for the Movement for Democratic Change, the
Zimbabwean opposition party led by Morgan Tsvangarai, she was able to get a
four to five week reprieve to go to South Africa for medical attention. It
was in South Africa that she was able to begin recovering and it was from
South Africa she would be flown to United Nations Headquarters in New York
to speak of the horror in Zimbabwe. "I was one of the two lucky ones to get
out - After what I went through, I thank God that I'm able to be out here."

"Behind Grace are people who cannot be here to speak of their
suffering, people not as prominent as Grace", Isabella Matambanadzo
commented. Ms Matambanadzo is the Zimbabwe Programme Manager for the Open
Society Initiative in Southern Africa. Ms. Matambanadzo said they are
concerned as Zimbabwe citizens but also as regional human rights workers.
Progressive comments from countries like Botswana and Tanzania show
Zimbabweans that there is support for them but civil society organizations
of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have stated that now is
the time to act and that the future of Zimbabwe is at stake.

In the SADC's open letter, it is noted that for almost a decade the
people of Zimbabwe have suffered under the unjust regime of Robert Mugabe
and his ZANU-PF party. Freedom of expression and assembly have been severely
curtailed; virtually all independent media outlets have been shut down and
thousands of people have been dispossessed by an increasingly desperate
party and its ruler. Using non-violent means and all legitimate structures
at their disposal, such as courts, their parliament and the media, the
people of Zimbabwe feel they have made it clear to the world their
aspirations to live in a democratic state - with little or no effect.

In response to questions about the potential response of the
international community, Ms Matambanadzo said their key supporters are the
U.S. and the U.K., however, they have been trying to meet with and drum up
support from African countries like Senegal and Ghana - Ghana being, to
date, the most outspoken about the crisis in Zimbabwe. Ms Matambanadzo also
holds the view that the United Nations has a responsibility to help. "The
abductions and torturing must stop now. This is why we are here today", she

With Grace Kwinjeh's reprieve soon to expire in one week and after
telling her story of repression and brutality at the hands of army officials
and riot police at the United Nations, there is a very strong possibility
she will not be allowed back into the country and there is also the chance
she will suffer retribution if she does get back in, she said. Six hundred
activists in the Democratic Movement for Change have been adducted since the
March 11th prayer meeting in Zimbabwe.

Elisa Burchett
U.N. OBSERVER & International Report

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A New Zimbabwe: At the centre of the future

Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 25 April

Everjoice Win

She had lots of energy and enthusiasm for life. I don't know where she got
it from, given what she had been through. She never let the past drag her
down. The one thing she looked forward to was the day Zimbabwe would be
"free for us women", as she put it. Sadly, my good friend and colleague
Sheba died in 2006, before that day dawned. Sheba, whose last name I will
not mention, passed away before anyone was held accountable for raping her -
in 1979, and again in 1984. Both incidents were not random acts of violence.
The first time, Sheba was raped by members of Ian Smith's Rhodesian forces.
One of her uncles was a well-known fighter for Zapu (Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe
African People's Union). When the Rhodesian army came to the village
homestead asking questions about him, the villagers did not give them what
they wanted. Three of the soldiers raped the young girl to "set an example"
of what would happen to all the women if they continued to send their
children to join Nkomo.

Independence came, reconciliation was declared by the new government, and
Sheba and countless other women victims were left to get on with their lives
as if nothing had happened. In the second incident, Sheba was raped by two
members of Robert Mugabe's Fifth Brigade. Again, as it was for many women in
her community, Sheba's rape was meant to send a political message to the
people of Matabeleland that they should submit or be "punished". Once again,
nobody was held to account for such atrocities. The Unity Accord was signed
and the women just had to move on. Thousands did, with pain in their hearts,
infections in their bodies and some with unwanted children. Reading stories
on Zimbabwe or even watching footage on television, one would be forgiven
for thinking that it is a country inhabited only by men. Women hardly make
the news and the issues that concern them are not deemed newsworthy.

The first thing I would expect in a post-Mugabe era is the high visibility
of women and women's rights issues. The country is teeming with women who
have excelled in business, civil society and education. There are also
millions of women who form the backbone of the agricultural sector. And yet
women are barely present in decision-making processes. Women must be
guaranteed equal access and control over productive resources such as land.
Ever since land was "redistributed" - starting from the 1980s - women have
largely been excluded from benefiting. In communal areas, women continue to
be at the mercy of husbands, brothers and other male relatives when it comes
to access to land. Women want to realise their economic rights. Operation
Murambatsvina destroyed the livelihoods of poor black women, whose main
source of income was informal trading. Most recently, the registrar
general's office has stopped issuing passports, claiming that there is a
shortage of materials. This has yet again affected women who depend on
cross-border trade to make a living.

The deteriorating economic situation has seen thousands drop out of the
education system. It is no wonder black women's life expectancy is down to
34 years as many have sought "refuge" in sex work, where HIV and Aids
decimates them. This includes the semi-educated young secretary whose wages
can no longer sustain her, or the primary school teacher who may make better
money from sex work than from her profession. It is well known that HIV and
Aids have a woman's face across Africa. How can we expect women who have
home-based patients to care for to even consider marching for their rights?
Where does a woman living with HIV and looking after children get the energy
to participate in politics? Which queue would she rather be in -- the one
for antiretroviral drugs, or the one to cast her ballot?

Whatever "deal" is worked out to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis, women and their
rights should be at the centre of it. We want feminists - women who care
about the rights of other women and who are prepared to rock the patriarchal
boat - to be in leadership positions and to be there when the deal is made.
Women want a new and comprehensive Constitution that guarantees their
rights. This includes a provision which clearly states that customary law
and tradition must not violate international human rights, norms and
standards. We want to see a complete overhaul of a political system that has
seen women reduced to political cheerleaders, or worse, sex workers with few
economic prospects and the lowest life expectancy in the world. Most
importantly, Zimbabwean women deserve accountability for the human rights
violations they have been subjected to by various governments and armed
forces in the past 50 years. As I write this piece, Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai
Holland are still in a Johannesburg hospital. They suffered severe beatings
and torture at the hands of the police a few weeks ago. The country will
never be at peace with itself if Grace and Sekai, like Sheba and scores of
other unnamed women who have passed on, never get to confront the people who
violated their rights.

Everjoice J Win is a Zimbabwean feminist activist. She has worked with
various women's rights movements and organisations in her country and beyond

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Standing up for their principles


April 27, 2007

One of the abiding memories of the 2003 World Cup was the protest made by
Andy Flower and Henry Olonga against the Mugabe regime during Zimbabwe's
opening match at Harare Sports Club. Olonga, who now lives with his family
in England after fleeing the country, spoke to Martin Williamson about
events before and after the day itself

The early stages of the 2003 World Cup were overshadowed by boycotts. New
Zealand refused to play in Nairobi and England in Harare , both citing
security fears. The administrators fumed, matches were forfeited, but worse
was to come.

The will-they, won't-they saga surrounding England's match against Zimbabwe
dragged on and on before a decision was finally reached on February 12. But
by then the Zimbabwe authorities had more than enough on their plate closer
to home.

On February 10, Zimbabwe's World Cup campaign kicked off with a low-key
match against Namibia at Harare Sports Club. In the hour before the start,
the tranquility was shattered when it was revealed that Henry Olonga and
Andy Flower, two of the more senior players, were going to use the occasion
to make a public protest, issuing a media statement and wearing black
armbands to "mourn the death of democracy" in the country.

It was no spur of the moment decision. The pair had first discussed the idea
a month before. "He phoned me," Olonga told me earlier this month. "I was at
home in Harare at the time and he said: 'Look, can we meet at a caf??' I
went willingly and he said: 'I am going to ask you something completely
crazy. Someone needs to take a stance about what is happening in the
country.' The rest is history."

Olonga was taking an active interest in the country's deteriorating human
rights situation before he spoke to Flower. "I was beginning to think about
Zimbabwe the nation as a whole and the things that made me uncomfortable
about the nation's past and its shaky future."

Both players realised that if they took action then there would be
consequences. "I suppose such was my conviction that this was the right
thing to do that I felt it was necessary to stick to my principles no matter
what. In that way at least I would know that I would have no regrets."

What happened on the morning itself is well documented. In the changing-room
a few players "made some smart Alec comments about us being tortured but
they were in the minority".

As soon as Olonga and Flower advised the management that they were about to
release a statement, they were hauled in front of Vince Hogg, the Zimbabwe
board's CEO. "The poor guy's hands were tied as we were adamant we were
going thorough with it," Olonga said. "I have nothing against any of the
people who were placed in a tricky situation by our actions ... in fact, I
feel rather apologetic that some good people were forced into tight corners.

"However, once it was done there was no turning back and I suppose there was
no option but to be stubborn in our resistance. Those were scary times but
we stuck to our guns."

Flower made a breezy 39 as Zimbabwe racked up 340 for 2 while Olonga waited
nervously in the pavilion. "Andy had already batted with his armband on, but
I had not taken the field yet so the significant moment for me was when I
stepped onto the turf. They were scary times as I was unsure if anything
drastic would happen immediately. I suppose while the spotlight was on the
World Cup we were sure we had the security of knowing that nothing could be
done in front of the media."

Zimbabwe won the match, but that was almost overlooked as the media seized
on the protest. "I returned home as usual, fully aware that we had stirred
the hornets' nest, but also with a deep sense of relief that we had done it.
It was an anticlimax of sorts, because all the emotion of planning such a
risky venture was released when we crossed the line with our armbands."

The Zimbabwe board fumed, choosing to surprisingly report the pair to the
ICC, but faced with worldwide media support for their actions, cricket's
bosses lobbed the problem straight back from whence it came.

The ZCU struggled with what to do with Flower. While it would have loved to
have dropped him, he was one of their only world-class players and his
omission would have been so obviously political. "I am aware it was common
knowledge to the establishment that the senior players in the squad would
have stepped down if any action were taken against Andy. Player power sprung
through, I guess, and although it was only talked about, I suppose the board
were aware of the potential boycott of the senior players and, of course,
such a move would have been disastrous and would have drawn even more
attention to the issues and result in a crisis."

So they turned on Olonga instead, and he is sure that was not because of his
form. "I believe on good advice that it is alleged that a directive had come
from the then chief selector, Max Ebrahim, that I was not to be used as a
12th man for any reasons. I am not sure where the instruction ultimately
originated as he had many heads above him.

"Andy and I had, of course, kept trying to bend the rules by wearing black
or red sweatbands but the authorities clamped down on that as well. We
received a letter from Hogg spelling this out. There was no predicting which
way things would go. I guess I could have been kicked out of the squad by
the management and they could have stuck with 13 players, I don't know what
options were discussed. Such a move may have clearly shown the world that
ZCU had become less impartial than they would have had us believe."

Despite that, Olonga was picked one last time, for a dead game at the end of
the Super Sixes against South Africa. "It may have been that the selectors
wanted to show the world that there was no political reason for my censure.
I just wanted one last chance to play for my country before signing off. I
was also given the chance to play against Sri Lanka , but by that stage I
had had a few threats on my safety so I was in no way in a right state of
mind to play.

"I had heard from the security officer that there were six secret police at
the Sri Lanka match, and to this day I cannot say for sure why there were
there. Maybe they loved the odd game of cricket, who knows! But I had heard
from our former manager, Dan Stannard, who himself had been a part of the
secret police many years before, that they were out to get me and I needed
to watch it."

Minutes after the end of the Sri Lanka game at East London, Olonga told the
media he was retiring. Rather than mollify the hardliners in the ZCU, it
only served to further incense them. As the team boarded the team bus,
Olonga was barred by a livid Ozias Bvute, now the board's managing director.
"Everyone said it's ridiculous. But no one said, 'he should come on the
bus'. No one was willing to make too much fuss about it.

"I was given my air ticket and was told I was on my own. I was told to find
my own way to the airport, and the manager, under instruction, was told to
inform me to pay for my own hotel bill. Naturally, I told him that was
unreasonable and he backed down .

"The security personnel were kind enough to offer me a lift to the airport
in their car which drove in front of the team bus. It was a sobering moment.

"After the short plane trip from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg I said my
farewell to the everyone in a very unemotional way, except when Meman's wife
broke down in tears. Douglas Hondo volunteered to return my cricket kit to
my home in Zimbabwe. I had one change of clothing, the official Zimbabwe
cricket uniform and my laptop. At that point I was met by some friends I had
met in Zimbabwe a few years earlier and I disappeared so to speak for about
a month."

And looking back, was it worth it? "It was well worth it. It taught me the
importance of standing up for one's beliefs, even in the face of incredible

"For a brief moment, the glare of the world's media focused on a not so oft
spoken nation that has a tremendous amount of suffering. I am aware we
didn't change anything tangible, but maybe, somewhere in it all, we held a
beacon of hope for some. For others, maybe we spoke words they had no voice
to speak, and maybe for others yet we challenged their own world view in a
way that they could reflect on their own lives and revel in the freedoms
they enjoy.

"Tyranny is often more powerful than the 'meaningless' voices of dissent
that may well get crushed but it has been said that evil prospers where good
men do nothing. I would never claim to be a good man but I hope I played a
role in doing something."

If he was in the same position now, would he act differently? "The most
important beliefs I hold to are to do with my faith, and if I had felt that
it was the right thing to do at the age of 23 or 27, I suppose I would have
gone through with it, as such is my conviction that we ought to do what is
right when given the chance. In that way we can live life with few regrets.
It will cost us something, but the reward is to look in the mirror with a
clean conscience."

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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