The resignation of Heath Streak as Zimbabwe's captain
could well signal the start of a mass exodus of the dwindling number of
senior players who have stayed loyal to the side. Streak did much to hold the
remnants of the team together, and to give it respectability both on and off
the field. But it seems that he paid the price for trying to stand up to the
increasing politicisation of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU).
hours of the news that Streak had stepped down, the ZCU, courtesy of the
government-controlled Herald newspaper, was claiming that he had been sacked.
It is likely that in the coming days the authorities will start dishing the
dirt on Streak, one of Zimbabwe cricket's most loyal servants. Such is the
way of life under Robert Mugabe's regime.
A source close to the ZCU
explained that while the board had in the past done all it could to remain
independent, it had now all but abandoned that stance and was prepared to
slavishly follow the policies of Mugabe. Only last week it banned Bryan
Strang from playing after he expressed views which clashed with those of the
"It's just another example of how the racial element in ZCU is
beginning to rule with the corruption and incompetence of our government,"
the source said. "The government destroys the economy and ZCU destroys the
He added that the situation was deteriorating because the
people who acted for the good of the game, and were trying to protect it,
were being driven out. "It's the old story - the more good guys pull out or
give up, the easier it is for the bad guys to get their own way. But they all
have their own excuses for giving up the struggle."
Streak has clashed
with the board in the past, usually over selection matters. During the 2003
World Cup there were disagreements over the make-up of the team, with the ZCU
increasingly at odds with those close to the side. "You don't always get the
teams you want," admitted a weary Streak at the time. "It's been tough. There
have been a lot of political insinuations."
In 2001 Streak quit the
captaincy minutes before the start of a one-dayer against West Indies after a
row over - surprise, surprise - selection. His passion for Zimbabwe and its
cricket meant that when he was offered the job again he took it, even though,
shortly before, his father had been arrested by the government for refusing
to surrender the family farm. It was claimed that they only kept the land
because of Streak's high-profile position.
But at last the point came
when unerring loyalty and nationalism no longer counted, and the faceless
puppets inside the ZCU felt strong enough to cast aside one of the symbols of
normality in the crisis-torn country.
Zimbabwe cricket, like the country
itself, will continue to limp along, in remorseless decline and in desperate
need of something dramatic to save it. The trouble is, it has just lost one
of the few individuals who could help it do that.
You could argue that the collapse of, say, Zimbabwe's economy has its
roots in colonial injustice. British settlers took much of the good land
in Zimbabwe, so the president, Robert Mugabe, was rectifying an old wrong
when he took it back and gave it to black Zimbabweans. His land
redistribution policy will be good for the country in the long run, say his
Practically no-one in Zimbabwe believes this. They know that
much of the land confiscated from whites has been grabbed by colonels and
cabinet ministers, not by the poor who were supposed to benefit.
one farm I visited, the new owner, a friend of Mr Mugabe's wife, had not only
evicted hundreds of black farm workers, he had also ransacked their huts to
steal the severance payments their white employer had been forced to give
them before he was driven off.
When one looks at other aspects of Mr
Mugabe's record, his insistence that Zimbabwe's troubles are all Britain's
fault seems even less plausible. It is hard to see, for example, how the
wicked imperialists forced him to print money until hyperinflation made all
his subjects' savings worthless.
I once changed a
couple of American hundred-dollar bills in Zimbabwe and was given a plastic
sackful of currency in exchange. The Zimbabwean notes came in neat bundles of
100, with consecutive serial numbers. They were clearly fresh off the
Mugabe prints money because he has to keep paying the army to stay
in power. He finds it hard to raise money in more conventional ways, because
he has killed off so many of the industries that used to generate profits
that could be taxed. No other African country (besides those at war)
has collapsed as fast as Zimbabwe in recent years, but most share at least
some of characteristics that brought Zimbabwe low.
. Robert Guest is the Africa editor of the Economist. His
new book, The Shackled Continent: Africa's past, present and future, will be
published by Macmillan on 16 April.
are out for the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the Office
of the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo, with some detractors
frantically trying to soil him ahead of next year's parliamentary elections.
Zanu PF last month named Prof Moyo as its candidate for Tsholotsho in the
2005 general elections. In the latest stunt in the smear campaign, some
politicians have found an "illegitimate child" for him. Now 22 years old, the
youth was dumped in Tsholotsho, Prof Moyo's rural home, last week. Prof Moyo
has denied fathering the youth. Some people, at the behest of a named senior
politician, assisted the youth, Isaac Ntuthuko Mwedini, who is based in
Kadoma, to go to Tsholotsho on Monday. Political analysts say this is part of
a spirited attempt to derail Prof Moyo's campaign in Tsholotsho. The youth
said he was assisted by a senior member of a Government department to travel
all over the country. Isaac said the person helped him travel from Kadoma to
Harare, then to Jotsholo in Lupane and finally to Tsholotsho in a space of
three weeks by organising warrants through the Department of Social Welfare.
He also confirmed that the man also gave him money on several occasions to
travel from one province to the other in his alleged quest to find his
"father". A senior official in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare said he could not understand why it had been easy for the
youth to get travel warrants to travel "all over the country". "We only give
warrants to destitutes and the elderly people who are deserving cases. This
boy certainly did not deserve any warrants,'' he said.
arrived in Tsholotsho on Friday, he was met by another man who helped him
locate Prof Moyo's uncle, Mr Joram Ndlovu who was attending a Zanu PF meeting
at Mvundlana. The Tsholotsho-based accomplice dragged a girl from the uncle's
house to help point out Mr Ndlovu to the youth. The involvement of the
Government department has raised eyebrows and there was panic at its
headquarters in Harare over the matter. Sources said it was hard to
understand why the youth had to go to Tsholotsho instead of Harare where Prof
Moyo spends most of his time. "Those assisting him have direct access to Prof
Moyo and could have just walked into his office with the boy whom they have
been running for the past month. Why come to Tsholotsho? This is just a smear
campaign against Prof Moyo. Someone is trying to be funny somewhere and I am
sure his/her motive is to tarnish his image and derail his campaign in
Tsholotsho,'' he said. However, sources said there was panic in Harare over
the matter with senior officials claiming that the junior officials in that
department had conducted the operation without their superiors' approval. It
is believed that an enquiry over the matter may soon be launched as the
Government was worried about the developments.
The Chronicle tracked
down the boy's mother, Ms Irene Ali (41) at a house in Rimuka, Kadoma, who
claimed in an interview that she met Prof Moyo in 1981 at Gobo Army Barracks
in Silobela near Kwekwe. She said at that time Prof Moyo was a private in the
army based at the barracks. Gobo Barracks was a facility for former freedom
fighters formed soon after independence. The barracks were destroyed in 1983.
Contacted for comment, Prof Moyo dismissed her story saying whoever is
running the woman should have come up with a son "who looks like me", in the
United States and not Silobela "as I have never lived in Silobela." "The time
they are talking about I was in America. They should go to Los Angles and
come up with some woman who will claim that I fathered her child, not
Silobela or any part of Zimbabwe. They must find a barrack near Disney Land,"
Prof Moyo said. Despite the many inconsistencies in her story, the woman said
she met Prof Moyo when she had gone to attend her grandmother's funeral in
Silobela. "Two months after dating I got pregnant. It was then that I moved
from my uncle's home where I was staying, to his uncle's place. The uncle's
name was a Tshuma,'' she said. Ms Ali alleged that she stayed there for about
seven months while Prof Moyo was staying at the barrack.
reporter told her that Prof Moyo was never a soldier as she is alleging, she
said she was not aware of that but admitted, however, that she never saw him
putting on an army uniform. "During that time, one of his family members, a
Mrs Moyo went to my parents in Kwekwe to pay ukangaziwe (money paid by the
son-in-law to be known officially by his in-laws). Unfortunately, when I was
seven months pregnant, he disappeared and we never heard from him until
today. I then went back to my home in Kwekwe. Though I wanted to go back
after giving birth, my parents barred me from doing so saying since he was
now officially known he would obviously come for us,'' said Ms Ali. She
however, said when her child was about five years old, Prof Moyo wrote her a
letter which was posted to Kwekwe but unfortunately she never saw it as she
had moved to Kadoma. Ms Ali said according to her sisters who opened the
letter, Prof Moyo was saying he was preparing to come and get her together
with the son so that they could stay together as a family. But, she never
laid her hands on this letter. Ms Ali said she raised Isaac with the help of
her late husband. However, when Isaac was in Form 2 in 2000 they could no
longer afford to pay for his education, a development which prompted him
(Isaac) to demand the identity of his real father.
"Initially, I was
reluctant to tell him, though I was going to at some later stage. I ended up
telling him because some of my family members had hinted to him that Prof
Moyo was his father. It was then that he started the search,'' she said.
Asked why her son was using Mwedini instead of Ali as his surname since she
had acquired the birth certificate using her identification particulars, she
said Mwedini was her totem though she does not use it. Isaac had initially
said Mwedini was his stepfather's surname. When the Chronicle news crew
caught up with the young man in Tsholotsho on Monday evening, he admitted
that he had been assisted by a Government official (name supplied) to get to
Tsholotsho. He chronicled how the man had helped him get travel warrants and
even given him money as bus fare and for food. He could not say why he was
doing that, but it is believed the man was working in cahoots with Prof
Moyo's political detractors. "I have been wanting to talk to him since 2000
without success. I then thought of seeking help as I am here (in Tsholotsho)
today because of them. I have been told that he is my father and I want him
to assist me get a birth certificate and send me to school as well,'' he
He said he dropped out of school when he was in Form 2 as his
stepfather, who was constantly ill-treating him said he could no longer
educate another man's son. He said his stepfather's behaviour had forced him
to run away from home and stay with his mother's friend. Ironically, his
mother denied these allegations from her son saying her husband, who was
working for a textile company in Kadoma died in February. Prof Moyo's uncle,
Mr Ndlovu, said Isaac's issue was a mystery as the information he was giving
was inconsistent and therefore hard to believe. He said his story was
totally false especially considering the fact that he was conceived and born
at a time when Prof Moyo was out of the country. "Jonathan (Prof) left
the country with his mother in the mid 70s and only came back in 1983. How
then did he father this child? Secondly, he was never in the army as alleged
by the boy's mother, so you see there is not a single element of truth in
this whole story,'' he said. He also said Prof Moyo's mother is a Ndlovu not
a Tshuma as alleged by the boy's mother and that they do not have
relatives who stay in Silobela. "My sister's totem is Ndlovu just like I am
and we don 't have any relatives of the Tshuma totem. I don't know what this
woman is up to. She must sit down and think properly about her son's father
because it is definitely not Prof Moyo,'' he said. Sources said when asked
what he would do if Prof Moyo turned out not to be his father, the boy said:
"Then my search will be over".
Gaborone - Botswana Railways (BR) is pondering an arrangement
that will relieve the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NZR) of the debt it owes
BR. Reginald Ketshabile, acting BR general manager, told BOPA that the
two organisations have agreed that BR should collect all freight charges
for joint customers based in Botswana and Zimbabwe. In addition, BR will use
NZR workshop facilities for major repairs of its wagons and
locomotives. "Charges for such services will be used to relieve NZR of any
indebtedness to BR," Ketshabile said. He, however, declined to disclose how
much NZR owe BR "for business relations' reasons". "Prior to the new
arrangement, the situation was such that the railways administration where
freight originates collects all charges, and thereafter reconciliation
carried out and any outstanding amounts paid by the owing railways."
Ketshabile said Zimbabwe approached Botswana recently to re-introduce the
passenger service between Francistown and Bulawayo. The two met in February
and agreed that details of the proposal would be worked out during subsequent
meetings. He explained that business between the two has never
"What happened is that after the opening of a new railway
line between Bulawayo and Beitbridge in 1999, a lot of transit traffic that
used to move through Botswana was diverted to that line. "This led to a
drastic reduction in the business volumes moving between Botswana and
Zimbabwe. The main reason for discontinuing (passenger service between
Francistown and Bulawayo) was that it was not viable for both organisations."
BR recorded an operating loss of P11.05 million in 2000/2001, P1.59 million
in 2001/2002, and P4.6 million in 2002/2003. BR management continues to hold
regular meetings with NRZ officials to discuss strategies to improve the
performance of the two organisations, as well as operational issues that have
an impact on service delivery. Ketshabile said it "makes business sense to do
business in Zimbabwe because BR is a transport logistics provider," which
depends on local importers and exporters for its business. "Some of the
importers get their supplies from companies in Zimbabwe and some of the
exporters sell their products to Zimbabwe-based companies," he said.
I didn't want to quit like this, says Zimbabwe's
Sun April 4, 2004 12:06 AM By Telford Vice
DURBAN (Reuters) - Pace bowler Heath Streak has disputed Zimbabwe's version
of his resignation as team captain although his international career appears
to be over.
"I don't want to say anything until matters have been
cleared, because things aren't exactly as they have come out," Streak told
Reuters from Bulawayo on Saturday.
The Zimbabwe Cricket Union
(ZCU) announced on Friday that Streak had called for an overhaul of the
selectors, saying he had no confidence in them. The board added it had
refused his demands and accepted his offer to quit.
appeared to rule out ever picking Streak again by saying he had retired "from
all forms of cricket", although he is currently captaining Matabeleland
against Mashonaland in a first-class match in Bulawayo.
his decision was to be announced jointly later, Streak added: "Something like
that, what has happened so far is not my wish."
Streak, a fine
bowler and very useful lower-order batsman, played 59 tests and 183 one-day
internationals. He took 202 wickets at 27.58 in a struggling team, while
averaging 23.55 with the bat.
He captained Zimbabwe in 21 tests, in
which they achieved four of their eight victories, drew six and lost 11
Zimbabwe won 18 of 68 one-day internationals under
The ZCU has appointed wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu,
Streak's vice-captain, to the captaincy. The 20-year-old is the country's
first black captain and will become the youngest captain in test history when
he leads Zimbabwe in the first test against Sri Lanka in Harare on May 6.
Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, has predicted the main
opposition party will disappear from the political landscape after next's
year's general election, the Herald reports.
Mugabe's ruling Zanu(PF)
beat the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in a by-election
last weekend. In power since independence in 1980, Zanu(PF) is close to the
two-thirds majority it needs to push through constitutional
The state-owned Herald quoted Mugabe as telling the Zanu(PF)
Central Committee the MDC was ready for burial. "They now fear elections and
are giving all sorts of lame excuses for boycotting elections," Mugabe
"We dare them. Boycott or no boycott, well you are ripe for burial
and we will put you to eternal sleep in March next year and not at the
Heroes Acre," he said, referring to a national shrine where leaders of
the independence struggle are buried.
The MDC has hinted it might
boycott parliamentary elections next March because of what it said were flaws
in electoral laws which favoured the ruling party. Parliamentary elections
are held every five years.
The ruling party needs two more seats to get
the two-thirds majority it needs to make constitutional changes without the
support of the opposition. Mugabe urged his party to mobilise voters for the
two-thirds majority in next year's poll. - Reuters
Seven members of a South
African expedition on the Zambezi river were arrested in Zimbabwe this week
and spent two terrifying nights being interrogated by police on suspicion of
They were released only on Friday after intervention by a Cape
Town law firm which was contacted by one of the nine expedition members. He
had smuggled a cellphone in his shoe after they were arrested by Zimbabwean
police at Mana Pools and taken about 250km to Karoi.
expedition sponsored by Old Mutual, was supposed to be a safari adventure of
a lifetime, plus a bid to bring attention to the devastating effects of
malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.
Moult told her the group had been
deprived of food and water The seven taken to Karoi were Old Mutual
executives Andrew Weinberg and Brent Wiltshire, entrepreneur William George,
commercial attorney Bob Groeneveld, company director Mark di Nicola,
neurosurgeon Patrick Semple and graphic designer Athol Moult.
men are from Cape Town, with the exception of Di Nicola, who is based in
Di Botha of Cape Town, a friend of three of the expedition
members, said she spoke by phone to one of them, Athol Moult, moments after
the group had been released on Friday.
Moult told her the group had
been deprived of food and water and had been separated and interrogated
Botha said Moult had told her the police believed they were
either part of, or had escaped from, the suspected mercenary group led by
Simon Mann, who were arrested in Zimbabwe last month and were said to be
planning a coup in Equatorial Guinea.
'It wasn't much fun being
interrogated at 4am' At one stage police indicated they wanted to take the
seven men to Harare to continue the interrogation.
Botha said one of
the arrested men, Groeneveld, of the law firm Fairbridge, Arderne, Lawton
Inc, had smuggled the cellphone in his shoe and phoned Old Mutual in Cape
Town, which had contacted the law firm.
The firm then apparently sent a
lawyer to represent the seven men - the two other expedition members had been
left at their three motorised inflatable boats under armed guard.
were Old Mutual executive Tim Cumming and company director
The seven men were released from the police station in
Karoi only once the lawyer presented a letter from the SA Department of
Health, confirming that the expedition had been sanctioned.
Moult told her that once they had been released, their guards changed their
"They were told 'please come back to Zimbabwe, it's
so good to have visitors'."
Lynne Semple, whose husband Patrick is an
associate professor of neurosurgery at Groote Schuur Hospital, said she was
extremely worried about the men. They had gone to a lot of trouble before the
trip to make sure all their paperwork and permits were in order.
spoke very briefly to my husband but he told me it wasn't much fun
being interrogated at 4am."
But she said he had indicated he was keen
to finish the trip.
In a statement, Old Mutual said the men had been
detained by Zimbabwean police as a result of a misunderstanding about their
Chief communication officer of Old Mutual, Stephen Bowey, said
they were working with the SA High Commission in Harare, which was in
constant contact with the Zimbabwean authorities in an effort to resolve the
Bowey said the team obtained permits from the Parks
Board in Kariba to enter the protected area of Mana Pools, but there had been
a dispute about the validity of the permits, as no motorised transport was
permitted in Mana Pools.
Paul Kelso and Matthew Engel in
Barbados Saturday April 3, 2004 The Guardian
The England and Wales
Cricket Board will consider allowing players to opt out of this autumn's
proposed tour of Zimbabwe if the ECB decides to go ahead
with the controversial fixtures. The opt-out is one of a
range of measures being considered by senior management in an attempt to
limit the damage if they decide to go ahead with the scheduled
ECB executives are also considering removing advertising logos from
the players' kit, after the team's sponsor Vodafone expressed its opposition
to the tour, and offering only minimal cooperation with official commitments
on the tour.
Under new International Cricket Council regulations
approved at its annual meeting in Auckland last month, the ECB faces
suspension from international cricket and a minimum £1.1m fine if England
fail to fulfil their commitment to tour.
ECB officials estimate that a
one-year suspension could cost the game £50m, and the threat of such severe
sanctions has led Lord's to consider undertaking the tour despite widespread
Many of the players likely to be selected for the
autumn tour were party to the shambles that surrounded last year's World Cup,
when the bulk of the squad were reluctant to visit Harare for both moral and
safety reasons. The then England captain Nasser Hussain made it clear after
the squad withdrew that he did not wish to be seen to give succour to Robert
Many players are understood to remain opposed to touring
the troubled country and , though the players' union is unlikely to strike,
the opt-out could mean England sending a team of club cricketers to play Test
To avoid a potentially ruinous split with the squad, the ECB
chairman David Morgan may decide not to make the tour a condition of the new
central contracts which will be negotiated this summer. The current contracts
are due to expire at the end of the summer.
Prior to their departure
for the Caribbean the players were briefed on the board's position on
Zimbabwe by Des Wilson, chairman of the ECB's corporate affairs and marketing
Wilson, who this year compiled a report proposing that the
ECB take moral considerations into account when deciding where to tour, told
the players that the ECB was opposed to touring.
players are represented in negotiations with the board by Richard Bevan of
the Professional Cricketers' Association.
Yesterday Bevan said he would
wait for the outcome of the ECB's next management board meeting on April 20
before making a definitive statement on behalf of the players. "The players
have not met to discuss the position since the latest developments, and as
such there is no definitive player position," he said.
The threat of
crippling financial sanctions has con centrated minds at Lord's and the
majority of the 15-strong management board are now thought to favour touring,
despite the public condemnation such a move would bring.
"I would say
opinion is now probably in favour of going," said one well-placed source. "A
lot of people feel we've now got no choice."
The ICC says only
independently-assessed security fears or government decree are excuses it
will accept for countries failing to fulfil commitments and refusing to
undertake a scheduled tour. Moral reasons, including distaste for the Mugabe
regime in Zimbabwe, are unacceptable.
PLEASE ASK ANY CAPETOWN RESIDENT WHO HAS EVER
BEEN CONNECTED IN ANY WAY TO BULAWAYO TO SUPPORT US AND TO FORWARD THIS ON TO
ANY OTHER PERSON IN THEIR E-MAIL ADDRESS BOOK TOO.
On April 10th a
team of volunteer runners from Bulawayo will be running the 2 Oceans race on
our behalf in an effort to raise money to replace two of the Hospice cars
which are becoming increasingly unroadworthy. These amazing people have
already begun getting sponsorship this end but what we need now is to boost
the Cape Town end too if we are to achieve our target. Thanks to Sue Kaufman
and Tony and Merle Weissenbacher ( of Brookes fame) who now run the Peace
River Trading Store at Greenpoint, we have begun to ask the many people now
living in the Cape who either grew up here, have relatives and friends still
living here or simply want to help our cause....so many people do express
through prayer and messages their continuing support of our battle to keep
going....to either give a donation or sponsor one of the runners
The names of the runners are ; Charlie Trollope, Pete
Tipler, Sean Day, Andre Zietsman, Trev Thompson, Ann Walder,Sharon Stead,
Phil Stead, Cedric Wilder, Kieron Walsh, Lori Reynolds, Cedric Van Der Horne,
Bridget from Gweru and Cliff Fourie.
So what can you do?
your Cape Town e-mail friend to contact Sue Kaufman 4397238 and either offer
to help with the organisation or sponsorship; and also ,of course, go along
to the race and give our guys and gals a big cheer. They will be wearing
Hospice blue T shirts with our logo at the commencement of the race.And of
course they can pass this message on to any other Bulawayo sympathisers
living in Cape Town too.
18 months ago it was costing us about $250 000
max. per month to keep 4 nurses on the road, supply the drugs, run training
sessions and etc. And this amount was raised from the generosity of the
people in Bulawayo themselves with Christmas card recycling, bridge drives,
cake sales and so forth. This month our costs rose to $ 6.2 million per month
to maintain the same standards the public have the right to expect. And you
must remember that we serve all of the community...the young as well as the
old, all creeds, all races; this is truly an all encompassing, all
caring organisation.But we Bulawayo people are all stretched to our limits
now, coping with our own economic hardships as well as trying to shore up all
the other charities which so desperately need help.
So if you have
happy memories of the sunny carefree days you spent growing up in this still
beautiful city and you want to join us in our ongoing fight to show the rest
of Africa that we still truly care for each other, then please assist us in
any way that you can.
Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2004 11:01
PM Subject: Romping
Dear Family and Friends,
night Zimbabwe television announced that the candidate for the ruling party
in the Zengeza by-election had "romped to victory." What a romp it had indeed
been with numerous reports of violence, intimidation and harassment in the
weeks prior to the poll. Hospital officials said that they treated at least
50 people for injuries immediately prior to and during the 2 days of voting.
Other reports told of 200 people being attacked and chased away from a voting
queue by a "riotous" group of ruling party youths. In one violent
incident on the first day of voting the opposition said 4 truck loads of
ruling party youths stormed the house of the MDC candidate. 22 year old
opposition supporter Francis Chinozvinya was shot in the chest and pronounced
dead on arrival at hospital. In the same incident another man, Arthur
Gunzvenzve was shot and injured. The Zimbabwe Electoral Support network said
the atmosphere was extremely tense and intimidatory and said there is "not a
chance this can be called a free and fair election." Only 32% of registered
voters exercised their right to cast a ballot in the Zengeza by-election
which the opposition called "daylight robbery" and it was an election that
has made all Zimbabweans start thinking about national parliamentary
elections due in March next year.
There is already much debate about
whether or not the opposition should boycott next year's elections. If a by
election in one small constituency can leave people being shot in broad
daylight and scores injured in violent incidents where perpetrators are not
arrested, we cannot help but wonder how many hundreds of people will be hurt
in a countrywide election and how many thousands will simply be too scared to
go and vote in the first place. The most depressing thing about Zimbabwean
elections now is the tired resignation with which people here accept the
results and the almost non existent outrage. Police, government and the state
owned media say the election was "peaceful" or that there were "minor
skirmishes", they don't talk about cold blooded murder, terror and
perpetrators walking free, There is no local radio station where you can
phone in and express your views, there is no daily independent newspaper
where you can write letters of protest, there are no public meetings at which
it is safe to stand up and say: this is a disgrace and has to be stopped.
Night after night the only way ordinary Zimbabweans can hear what others are
saying and thinking and find out what's really going on in Zimbabwe is
through the static laden voice of Short Wave Radio Africa which broadcasts
from London. On Thursday night it was agonising to listen to the father
of murdered opposition supporter Francis Chinozvinya speaking on
Radio Africa. The grieving father described how Zanu PF officials had come
and offered to pay for the funeral expenses of Francis but the
family declined, saying they would not accept money from the party
whose followers had murdered his son
If you ask any Zimbabwean what
they think can end Zimbabwe's chaotic crisis they say: free and fair
elections run by the world. But the problem is we don't know what to do to
insist on a democratic election and instead keep meekly agreeing to whatever
rules our government make up as they go along. With almost every local and
national election, the ruling party move the goal posts and change the
rules.This week electoral amendments were gazetted prior to being debated in
parliament. These amendments will forbid anyone but governmental
organisations from conducting or funding voter education. They will take
postal ballots away from everyone except people on military and diplomatic
duty and will make the chance of a free and fair election nothing more than a
mirage on the hot African horizon.
Perhaps I'm just being particularly
dense on this issue but I simply can't see how another romping victory for
Zanu PF, either in a by election or a national parliamentary election will
change anything at all. It will still leave us with a government which is not
recognised by the world, a population in which 8 out of 10 people can't get a
job and a country where more than half of us haven't got enough food to eat
and almost 4000 people die of Aids every week. It will surely take leaders of
great vision and selfless dedication to save Zimbabwe, not a violent romp to
victory. I write this letter in memory of Francis Chinozvinya who made the
ultimate sacrifice for his country. Until next week, with love,