OPINION December 19, 2002 Posted to the web December 20,
Sydney Masamvu Harare
AS the year 2002 draws to a close,
the future for most Zimbabweans is bleak and darker than the darkest
Already, we can see clear signs indicating that 2003 will be an
even more difficult year, a year that could prove decisive with regard to the
future of this once great country.
Personally, I have dubbed 2003 the
year of reckoning. There are no two ways about this. Something just has to
In 2003, the country will either experience a turn around in its
fortunes or there will be a total economic collapse. The choices can't be any
Without being either an alarmist or a pessimist, I would say a
total collapse is inevitable, unless something extraordinary happens to
change the course Zimbabwe is on.
In the new year, the resilience that
Zimbabweans are assumed to possess, even in the face of outright abuse by
their leaders, will face its harshest test yet.
resilience might not pass the test of 2003, which promises to be the toughest
year yet for most Zimbabweans.
As we go into 2003, President Robert
Mugabe's government has brought Zimbabweans to their feet for all the wrong
Thousands of people in this country are being forced to use
their feet to travel long distances to get to work and to return home at the
end of a tiring and stressful day, all because of a crippling fuel crisis
that the government seems powerless to resolve or explain.
really saddening and astonishing to hear Mugabe telling the nation during the
ZANU PF conference at the weekend that he did not understand why the country
was having fuel problems.
That the fuel shortages have remained
unresolved for several months reveals how seriously the present regime takes
We have a government that is supposed to supervise
critical issues such as the procurement of fuel and yet the president tells
us he is at sea about what is happening with the distribution of petrol and
diesel. That clearly shows how the rot has been allowed to set in.
no one seems to care any more.
In any normal country with normal people,
such nonsense would not be allowed for even a day, let alone a
In 2002, we stopped marvelling at the shortages of nearly all
basic commodities that have become a part of our lives.
There is no
difference now between an unemployed person who cannot fend for him or
herself and his or her family and an employed person who even with money
earned every month can still not buy food and other necessities.
common factor between us is that we are now all scavenging to make a living
in Zimbabwe. The only difference is that there are working scavengers and
The sad thing is that people have accepted this abnormal
situation as a normal part of life.
Over the weekend, a relative asked
me how long the suffering that has been brought by the current economic
crisis was going to last.
I told him this is the Zimbabwe you cried for.
You now have it, enjoy!
The point I'm trying to make here is that, when
all is said and done, we Zimbabweans rightly deserve the leadership we have
in this country and what we are going through.
After we have cursed a
million times and spent sleepless nights queuing for mealie-meal, fuel and a
host of other basic commodities that are not available, we should realise we
deserve the leadership we have.
After we have parked our cars for weeks
and failed to visit our relatives this holiday because we have no fuel, we
should know we deserve the leadership we have.
After we have gone for
days without a decent meal because there is no mealie-meal, we Zimbabwe
deserve the leadership we have.
I wish all Zimbabweans a barren Christmas
holiday, for that is what they rightly deserve.
As for the new year,
unless people take the initiative to restore some form of decency in their
wretched lives, then may the suffering continue until amen.
Andrew Meldrum in Harare and Paul
Weaver Friday December 20, 2002 The Guardian
Cricket Council's decision to go ahead with World Cup matches in Zimbabwe
received a mixed reception both in that country and
last night. Peter Chingoka, president of the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union, said: "It will be the largest sporting event in this
country this decade and we are happy to take part."
acknowledged that the ZCU had received numerous letters, phone calls and
emails from cricket fans calling for the World Cup matches to be called off
as a protest against President Robert Mugabe's government.
immediate criticism from Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change. Its spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said it would benefit the
Mugabe government while the mayors of the host cities, Harare and Bulawayo,
said they were in favour of some form of political protest at the
Harare's mayor Elias Mudzuri said: "Everything is not OK in
Zimbabwe. We have human rights abuses and people are going hungry and
starving. We do not want Mugabe to be able to say that because we have World
Cup matches going on the situation is fine." Mayor Mudzuri also suggested
that competing cricketers should donate part of their earnings to the victims
of political violence in Zimbabwe.
Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief
executive, said that the decision had been taken "in the best interests of
cricket" and England's players and administrators both backed him. The former
England batsman Dennis Amiss, the Warwickshire chief executive who succeeds
Brian Bolus as chairman of the England management committee at the end of the
year, said: "Cricket is different. We're not into politics."
Gatting, who led the rebel England tour to apartheid-torn South Africa in
1990, said: "They have been cleared by the ICC, so I suppose they should go."
But he added: "If someone wanted to drop out, I don't think anyone would
The England and Glamorgan spinner Robert Croft, who
played in the 1999 World Cup, said: "It is natural that politics is going to
get mixed up with sport on occasions. The side that I'm more interested in is
the players' safety. The question I would ask is: 'Are the players going to
Kent's all-rounder Mark Ealham, who also represented England
in that World Cup, said: "The big issue for me is safety. Provided the ICC
can show things are safe and the England management are happy, then I'm sure
the players will be happy. England have gone places before that haven't been
completely politically sorted out."
The Leicestershire and former
England fast bowler Devon Malcolm said: "If the ICC makes a recommendation
that it is safe to play cricket there we have got to go."
and former England batsman Aftab Habib said: "It is not for political people
to get involved with the World Cup because it has got nothing to do with
But the popular view among county professionals was condemned
by Gloucestershire's coach John Bracewell, who said: "Frankly, it is
very naïve. Politics is part of every aspect of life and matters of human
rights must be addressed. Now each individual cricketer should investigate
this matter for himself."
Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West
and spokesman for the backbenchers who spoke out against going to Zimbabwe
earlier this week, said: "We can't get rid of all the tyrants in the world
but we can make a significant protest in ways like this. The idea that
politics and sport could be kept apart was exploded as a falsehood in
Liz Willmott, spokeswoman for Amnesty International, said: "We
don't ask for boycotts as such but we do ask those people to go to these
places to make themselves aware of the situation and make their feelings
Hello? Any England cricketers out there with a
conscience? The silence is deafening. Today the International Cricket
Council, in its infinite wisdom, has decreed that, as far as
the World Cup is concerned, everything in Zimbabwe is fine and dandy and
never mind that in the time it has taken to write this, another child has
probably died of starvation in Robert Mugabe's dictatorship. It is with
this background, and against the advice and indeed pleading of other
interested parties, including not just British politicians but also the
leadership of Zimbabwe's persecuted opposition, the Movement for Democratic
Change, that England will start their World Cup campaign against the home
country on February 13. The Australians too will visit.
Both teams will
go because they have been told, by an ICC delegation that visited the country
last month, that it is safe. With motorcycle outriders, no-fly zones,
anti-helicopter wires and ground-to-air missiles being promised even in South
Africa, that may well be the case. Anyway a straw poll among the players
themselves would reveal that their personal safety is the primary concern. It
is why Andy Caddick and Robert Croft opted out of the tour of India last
Croft, indeed, has reiterated this sentiment on the BBC cricket
website, as have others such as Devon Malcolm and Aftab Habib. That their
views are not stronger is disappointing but regrettably they are
representative. "There are some problems in Zimbabwe with farmers" is
Malcolm's take on things. "A dramatic and scary place," says Habib, who has
clearly been watching too much Harry Potter and thinks it is
They all remind me, though, of Lee Marvin's drunken gunslinger
in Cat Balou attempting to shoot a target on a barn door and just clipping
the weathercock on top of the building. "They did it, they missed the
point." Safety should not be an issue simply because other factors should
dictate their absence from Zimbabwe.
But cricketers as a breed are
conservative by nature and generally Conservative in political views.
Alternatives are regarded as oddballs (Fred Trueman once asked another Test
Match Special commentator if I was a communist as I did not wear
So they will protect their position first and foremost and never
mind the consequence. Thus Mike Gatting stomping off in a huff to South
Africa as a rebel captain and dismissing the protests that greeted him as
just some people singing and dancing. I cannot believe he or any of his side
genuinely thought they were advancing the cause for change but they could
salve their consciences by saying it helped.
This time, it has been
suggested, a sporting boycott would be an irrelevance as it is the whites who
are oppressed and the blacks are not interested in cricket. As if. A total
boycott would deprive Mugabe's government of significant foreign currency and
bring the plight of that nation to the notice of the billions, yes billions,
who will be following the tournament.
Zimbabwean cricket would not die as
a result: the ICC, if it has a conscience itself, should see to that. Nor
would Mugabe himself be indifferent despite hatred of things colonial. Chris
Laidlaw, the former All Black scrum-half who became New Zealand's high
commissioner to Zimbabwe, tells how Mugabe, when himself incarcerated, became
an avid and informed devotee of the game through listening to radio
Mugabe will pitch up, make no mistake, and what is Nasser
Hussain to do then? "I would do my duty as England captain," he said when
this scenario was put to him a year ago. That presumably means shaking Mugabe
warmly by the hand and presenting his lads, but what a chance to make a
statement. It will not happen but the ECB has no right to place the captain
or any of his side in such a potentially invidious position.
It is a
forlorn thought but I hope that somewhere in the ranks of
England's cricketers there dwell players capable of seeing the broader
picture and having the courage to stand up and be counted.
It is not
about supporting Zimbabwean cricket, or doing it for their coach Duncan
Fletcher, himself a Zimbabwean, or even protecting their position, for it
would be a sporting scandal if any one player who stood apart from the pack
was penalised in any way for so doing. This is about the plight of an
oppressed nation being ignored for the aggrandisement of the game.
Truth is the
latest casualty as ICC bends to Mugabe By Simon Barnes, Chiefr
YESTERDAY, English cricket threw itself
wholeheartedly into a publicity stunt on behalf of the corrupt and ruinous
regime of a corrupt and half-ruined country. Yes, England will go to Zimbabwe
in full, active and powerful support of Robert Mugabe, President and tyrant
of this desperate and lovely place. We have nothing to do with
politics, lied the International Cricket Council (ICC) at its press
conference yesterday. Pah! Politics and sport have been blood brothers since
the first national anthem was played at a sporting event.
The cricket World Cup will take place mostly in South Africa, but with six
matches taking place in Zimbabwe. There has been no international ban on
sporting contacts with Zimbabwe as yet, but that's not the point. The cricket
World Cup is a significant, high-profile event and it will be held at a time
that coincides with the escalating disaster of the Mugabe
It is Christmas that approaches, not Easter. It seems
a little early for the washing of hands, but the ICC delegates did Pilate's
job yesterday. They declared that every issue in the world was outside
their agenda except the question of player safety.
can argue that issues of electoral fraud, murder and starvation are not
strictly cricketing issues. That is not an impressive attitude, but it just
about stands up if you want to see things that way. They give themselves away
over the issue of free speech.
They have sought absolutely no
guarantees from the Zimbabwean Government about the right of the media to
report what they see. "If journalists end up in other parts of the country
outside Bulawayo and Harare (where the cricket is taking place), I would say
they are going over the line," an ICC source told The Times this
In other words, the ICC supports the right of the
Zimbabwean Government to control the press. Zimbabwe can, if it wishes,
inhibit the movements of the press and the subject matter they report. So if,
say, I were to visit my old friend, Clive Stockhil, out on the Lowveld and
his once-glorious Campfire project, I would deserve everything I
This is an abnegation of responsibility on a massive
scale. It has come about because the ICC is a bunch of provincial-minded
small-timers on the global stage of sport. Before Beijing got the Olympic
Games of 2008, the International Olympic Committee demanded that the Chinese
Government give total freedom to the reporters who cover the event. If I
choose to write about infanticide of female children or the plight of the
Yangtze river dolphin, I will get no comeback from the Chinese
Malcolm Gray, the ICC President, said: "The ICC
and its members are concerned only with cricket-related issues." But freedom
of the press is a cricket related-issue, one from which a fleet of other
issues hangs. The IOC is concerned about press freedom: why isn't the
An event such as the cricket World Cup depends on the
media. What sound does a cricket tournament make when it takes place in
an uninhabited forest? A sporting event works because the world is
interested in it; without anything to feed their interest - telly, radio,
print - the event does not exist. The media is as much a part of sport as
This is not journalistic
self-importance. It is to point out that freedom of reporting is as much a
cricketing issue as the safety of players. The safety of some kinds of truth
is also part of the agenda.
So why wasn't this safety sought?
Funk, I suppose.
The ICC has got itself into a dreadful
position. It agreed to the Zimbabwe end of the World Cup in more peaceful
times; now, in the escalating emergency that is Zimbabwe, it lacks the
courage to pull the plug on the whole business.
result, it is being exploited in a desperate attempt to demonstrate that the
country is happy, prosperous and functioning. Cricket is being used to
bolster up three manifest falsehoods. What is more, the press are expected to
support those falsehoods by refusing to move out of Harare and Bulawayo and
by sticking to the question of whether the white ball will reverse once
fielding restrictions have been lifted.
It stinks. It stinks
of funk on this side and of shameless corruption on the other. Do you know
the best gift you can give to a tyrant? Fear. The ICC has given Mugabe
exactly what he wants.
And as for me, I love the place. I
really do. Last time I was there, I spent two hours watching wild dogs with
Stockhil, and another day tracking rhino on foot with a one-eyed black
veteran of the Bush War. Got within a cricket pitch of the damn thing. That
was living all right. Great people, great place, great beasts. This is one of
the most wonderful places on God's earth.
I have applied
for a visa and will go if I can and I will go to the cricket and write about
what I see. Neville Cardus, the great cricket writer, covered a cricket match
on the day that England entered the Second World War.
wrote, not about the way that cloud cover affects the lateral movement of the
cricket ball, but the cloud of horror that was gathering over England and the
world; the cloud, as seen from a green corner of
It is a classic piece of cricket writing.
Once again, I ask with the great C. L. R. James: what do they know of
cricket, who only cricket know?
National Congress is of the view that Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF is still a
progressive organisation despite the turmoil which its policies has
Zanu-PF remained a progressive organisation "for obvious
reasons", ANC national executive Committee member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also
foreign affairs minister said at a press conference on
Zanu-PF was a sister organisation to South Africa's ruling
party, Dlamini-Zuma said in response to questions.
colonialism and oppression in our countries. We liberated our countries from
the yoke of colonialism and we set to improve the lives of our people in our
'We cannot run away from the fact that
Britain has abdicated its responsibility' Both the ANC and Zanu-PF had set
out to determine their countries' own destinies, "not to be dictated to by
Dlamini-Zuma's comments came amid increasing concern
among relief organisations that the food situation in Zimbabwe was more
desperate than ever, with thousands of Zimbabweans facing starvation as food
Upon further questioning, Zuma conceded that
Zimbabwe's ruling party might have made mistakes in implementing its decision
to redistribute the country's white-owned land.
Their decision to deal
with the land issue was the right thing to do, Dlamini-Zuma said, but the
actual implementation was questionable.
"The direction that they took to
deal with the land issue is correct. In their implementing, they may have
made mistakes - and we can deal with that."
'They run their
country and we run ours' Britain had also not stuck to its side of the deal
struck at Lancaster House before Zanu-PF took power from its coloniser in
"We cannot run away from the fact that Britain has
abdicated its responsibility for the purchase of land."
still wanted to see compensation for farmers who had lost their land to the
government's redistribution process so that no one was "victimised", she
The ANC had "spoken" to Zanu-PF about problems with the rule of law
in Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe's government was "now looking at
some of the laws that people have been complaining about".
of the rule of law and everything else, yes, where there are problems, we
have spoken to them."
However, the two sides did not have to agree on
"They run their country and we run ours."
was also not aware of a reported initiative by South Africa and Britain to
get Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to meet outside Zimbabwe.
The ANC's attempts to get the
Zanu-PF and the MDC to reach an agreement after the disputed presidential
election in March had ground to a halt when the government suspended the
talks because the opposition had decided to challenge the result in
Asked later whether she thought the MDC should withdraw its court
challenge so that the talks could resume, Dlamini-Zuma said no.
have a legitimate right to take things to the courts if they so wish and -
it's the proper way of doing things anyway - if you query the results, you go
to the courts," Dlamini-Zuma, wearing her ANC cap, said.
The ANC would
also not insist on a government of national unity in Zimbabwe as this was a
matter "for the people of Zimbabwe to decide".
Delegates to the
Stellenbosch conference did not see the need for a change in the way the
party was dealing with Zimbabwe or Zanu-PF - a likely endorsement of the
government's consistent "quiet diplomacy" approach.