|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
From The Daily News, 2 January
Commuters stranded as fuel crisis worsens
From Sandra Mujokoro
The fuel situation in Bulawayo deteriorated yesterday forcing many residents to walk long distances to and from their places of work. Hundreds of commuters were stranded yesterday morning on the city’s roads. Areas such as Cowdray Park, severely under-serviced by commuter bus operators, were on the brink of rioting. Some Cowdray Park residents walked to Luveve, where the situation was equally bad, while others decided to walk the 15km to the city. In a scene reminiscent of people on a peaceful demonstration, scores of people flooded and flanked the roads, walking without fear of being run over by vehicles, which were, thankfully, very few on the roads. The long and winding fuel queues that could be seen around the city during the weekend disappeared as motorists gave up queuing for the unavailable fuel. Vehicles were left in queues while the owners conducted business in the city centre. They would occasionally check if there were any supplies. By the end of the day yesterday, however, no service station had received any fuel. A resident of Montrose suburb said he had walked to and from work yesterday. "Is this the liberation war they are always talking about?" he asked. "People have to walk, not because they have no money, but because the country has run out of fuel." The few motorists who had fuel cashed in on the situation and charged as much as $150 per trip from the high-density suburbs to the city centre. Ndabezinhle Moyo of Magwegwe North said the government should deal with the fuel situation urgently. "For how long are we going to go on like this, scrambling for transport every day? Not all of us are strong enough to walk to and from work," said Moyo. Others said they now lingered until late at work to avoid the endless queues and have to be prepared to pay double the normal fares in the late hours.
The new demands by the governments to the International Cricket Council add to pressure for a boycott to protest against the regime of President Robert Mugabe.
Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that Australian Prime Minister John Howard is heading a lobbying effort for national cricket boards to ask World Cup organisers to reschedule games.
Australia and Britain have asked their teams to consider not playing in Zimbabwe - where Mr Mugabe's government is accused of human rights abuses against political opponents.
Zimbabwe hit back, saying the two countries were guilty of colonialist policies and wanted to keep cricket "white".
Neither Australia nor Britain has banned its teams from the matches in the country, which is also suffering huge economic and humanitarian problems and where half the population needs food aid.
The same approach has now been taken by New Zealand, where cricket officials have passed on a request from the government asking the ICC to move matches.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff said: "We believe that this is the chance for the international community to say that the sort of things that are happening [in Zimbabwe], the abuses of human rights, the undermining of democracy... these are things that are unacceptable."
But Martin Snedden, the chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, said: "Sports bodies are not in a position to make political judgements about which countries sport should be played in, based on those countries' internal political environments.
"These decisions are best left to governments which can, where appropriate, impose appropriate sporting and trade sanctions."
New Zealand is not scheduled to play in the six matches to be hosted by Zimbabwe.
Cricket officials representing India, which is set for a match there, have said they will ignore any calls for a boycott.
We cannot have a situation where cricket authorities are now being pressured to reverse a decision that could jeopardise the staging of this global event in Africa
South African Sports Minister
But South African officials say they have had no warning to prepare for a venue switch.
South Africa has also backed the right of Zimbabwe to host matches.
Sports Minister Ncgonde Balfour said: "We cannot have a situation where cricket authorities are now being pressured to reverse a decision that could jeopardise the staging of this global event in Africa."