The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

Nujoma defends land expropriation


HARARE - Namibian President Sam Nujoma has urged African leaders not to give
in to pressure from the West on plans to take away land from whites and farm
them out to landless blacks.
"As African leaders we were entrusted with the mandate to promote the
welfare of all our people," he said in a speech to officially open
Zimbabwe's annual international trade exhibition in the second city of

"In carrying out these duties, we must not shy away from taking the bold
decisions that can empower our people by providing them with resources which
will enable them to become productive and to actively participate in
economic activities.

"Some of the decisions ... related to land reform and its redistribution to
landless citizens have been unpopular with those who seek to maintain the
social economic status quo," he said in the speech broadcast live on state

Nujoma said agriculture was the backbone of all African economies.
"Therefore it is only prudent for us to ensure that our people have access
to land and are able to make a living by owning the land," he said.

"I wish to make it categorically clear that those who criticise our land
reform policies and strategies wish to perpertuate neo-colonialism,
under-underdevelopment in Africa and permanently subject our people to
poverty hunger and disease."

Namibia has embarked on a land reform exercise, taking a lead from Zimbabwe,
which has driven some 4,000 white farmers off their properties and
distributed millions of hectares to landless blacks.


Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe

Zim selectors get physical as tempers flare

By John Kelley
Last updated: 05/01/2004 11:01:49
A ZIMBABWE Cricket Union director and a team selector were forced to issue a
denial yesterday over reports that they were involved in a public shoving
match over the selection controversy engulfing the Zimbabwe national side.

Stephen Mangongo, the head of selectors, and Ozias Bvute, a ZCU director,
became embroiled in a dispute in front of officials and guests at the Harare
Sports Club after the one-day international between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka
on Thursday.

The two men, in a statement issued through the ZCU, denied reports that the
argument over selection of white players on the national team resulted in
punches being thrown.

"There were pertinent issues on the agenda and both of us had divergent
views," the statement read. "In the heat of the argument obviously voices
would be raised but the point remains that we were each trying to push home
our point.

"It is not true that punches were thrown and we can categorically say
whatever physical confrontation there was did not amount to fisticuffs."

The former captain Heath Streak returns to action today after being selected
for Zimbabwe A to play Sri Lanka in a three-day game at Takashinga. Three
other rebel players - Sean Ervine, Raymond Price and Trevor Gripper - also

The other 11 exiles were overlooked despite having resumed training in
Harare yesterday.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe

Military action not the answer to Zim crisis

By Msekiwa Makwanya
Last updated: 05/01/2004 10:49:14
I RESPECT and understand difference of opinion but I
become very anxious when anyone proposes a military solution especially in
the the form of civil war to Zimbabwean problems.

I understand that people may become angry about the direction their country
is heading, and patience is likely to run out but I wish to dismiss any talk
of war for the following reasons.

In war the poor will perish while the rich will be protected by their wealth
it does not matter how they acquired it. My main worry about "war-talk" is
that it take precious time that needs to be used to discuss more meaningful
and realistic options like "diologue" which South Africa is trying to

It is not helpful to accuse Zimbabwean of being cowards if they do not take
up arms against Mugabe because that's naive talk.

Maybe when someone mentions the word 'war' we should check his or her
military knowledge/credintials to check whether they know what they are
talking about. Violence breeds violence and wars may be easy to start but
very difficult to end not to mention the damage

Those who know countries like Somalia, Angola and Mozambique will understand
why civil wars and military coups are not solutions but rather worse
problems. Lessons learnt from the Gukurahundi era are so serious that anyone
who talks about war should visit Matebeleland and Midlands (where I come
from) and find out how people feel about war. One might say we fought
against Ian Smith so fighting can still be done.

This view again is very naive and lacks understanding of geo-politics. Our
neighbours do not believe in civil wars because they do not want refugees
flocking into their countries never mind those who are economic refugees
today.Certainly the numbers will increase and in war situations neighbouring
countries would be obliged to accept refugees unlike today. Apart from the
above the ruling party is different from Smith's regime even if people see
some similarities according to what we read in the press. People are free to
make comparisons and whichever party will come into power people will be
free to make comparisons.The point is that, even the war against Ian Smith
taught us that war is not a solution. Leaders and followers are killed and
property and infrustructure destroyed yet people will still need to dialogue
because war does not elect leaders.

I have thought long and hard about solutions for Zimbabwe and I am convinced
that the solution lies in Zimbabwe and it's dialogue. The neighbouring
countries seem ready to work with us on this solution so we are not alone.
The fact that diologue was proposed in 2002 and has not taken off is a
crisis for Zimbabweans that can be overcome once we convince each other that
dialogue is the only solution. Both Zanu PF and the MDC have their
weaknesses like any other organisations but it does not help to rule them
out because they are the main players at the moment, and they are dealing
with a complex situation. The situation in Iraq has given us a lesson on
foreign intervention. Foreign countries put their interests first.

This brings me to the weakness of those in the diaspora. The arrested
Finance minister Dr Chris Kuruneri was in diaspora in the 1988s in Canada
developed a sharp appetite for wealth. I wish to warn those of us who may be
tempted to emabark on vulgar accumulation of wealth beyond necessity that
conscience may be impaired. How can someone build a R30 milion mansion when
there is no fuel in Zimbabwe?

Western values are not always good for Africa and I know the ENG saga was a
home grown version of vulgar accumulaion of weath but still the youngsters
had a Western taste, we hear that they were going to England to watch
Manchester United matches.

I am very much at peace with respectable analysts and academics who have not
yet suggested Western solution like foreign invasion as a solution for
Zimbabwe. It takes courage on the part of the ruling party to accept that
talking to the opposition is not a weakness but a strength.we hope that it
will not be long before all this posturing before the talk will be overtaken
by pragmatism and dialogue resume with a view to see how Zimbabweans can
Makwanya is a Social Psychologist based in London

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sent: Saturday, May 01, 2004 5:48 PM
Subject: Kipper Fish

Dear Family and Friends,
Can you imagine a country running without a Minister of Finance? And we're
talking about a normal country with a normal economy, we're talking about
Zimbabwe whose economy is shrinking faster than almost anywhere else in the
world. A country which has hyper inflation of almost 600%, a massive
shortage of
foreign currency, a booming black market and unimaginably large
debts. All the talk this week has been about the arrest of Zimbabwe's
Minister last weekend on charges of dealing in foreign currency and holding
passports. A few weeks ago the South African Press exposed the story that a
R 300 million luxury mansion was being built in Cape Town for Finance
Christopher Kuruneri. At first we thought the story of such enormous wealth
extravagance by one of Zimbabwe's Ministers would just get buried, like so
others have, but Kuruneri, only sworn in 2 months ago, was arrested and
in custody with applications for bail being refused.

Thinking about all this and what it's really all about has again bought home
me the vast chasms between Zimbabwe's rich elite and the rest of us.
there are now more Mercedes and luxury cars in Zimbabwe in proportion to the
population, than anywhere else in the world. As I drive carefully and slowly
around all the potholes to save my retreaded tyres, desperately searching
petrol I cannot afford, I can't help but wonder how all Zimbabwe's
made all their money, and so quickly too.

Finally finding petrol just before dark and watching the meter rapidly soar
into multiple thousands I turned and saw a scruffy little boy stop near my
and put a small tin plate down on the ground at his feet. In the dish are
little smoked fish, perhaps 4 inches long. "Are they bream?" I ask. "Kipper
fish" he responds, "only one thousand dollars each." I smile, shake my head
turn away, my car has been filled and there are many fancy cars lining up
me. I can hardly bear to think what will happen to the little boy and his
'Kipper Fish', why he has to sell tiny fish at dusk on a cold winter evening
when he should be at home having a warm bath, where he will sleep tonight
and if
he's got a blanket. He is just one of hundreds of thousands of victims of
Zimbabwe's turmoil. I do not know what horrors he has seen or what has lead
to be an adult in a child's shoes.

Next weekend there will be many adult shoes pounding the pavements on a 10
sponsored walk in London to raise money for victims of torture, rape and
violence in Zimbabwe. Please support or join them on the 9th May if you are
to as it is people like the little Kipper Fish Boy and 1500 scared, cold and
frightened workers from Kondozi farm living out in the bush who will
Contact Graham for details at Until next week, with
love, cathy.Copyright cathy buckle 1st May 2004
My books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are
available in Europe and the UK from: ; ; ; in Australia and New Zealand: ; Africa:
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe unions threaten protests
Sat 1 May, 2004 16:42
By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main labour body has called for a series of
anti-government protests to push for higher wages, tax cuts, union rights
and better management of the economy.

Zimbabwe is struggling with a severe economic crisis, which critics largely
blame on President Robert Mugabe's policies, with one of the highest
inflation rates in the world and widespread unemployment.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo said the
opposition-allied labour movement would organise street demonstrations to
protest low wages for workers hit by an inflation rate of more than 580
percent and a crumbling public health system.

"We are going to organise more protests this year. We will be calling you to
demonstrations soon, in the coming weeks and days," he told a May Day rally
in Harare on Saturday.

Matombo said the ZCTU had an obligation to fight for worker rights, but said
many Zimbabweans appear to be cowed by Mugabe's government which routinely
arrests union leaders and deploys police to crash anti-government protests.

The ZCTU, which backs the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
has failed to lead any significant protests in the past year in the face of
massive deployments of security forces.

"I know you don't want to hear this...but the truth is that many of you are
overwhelmed by fear," Matombo told the rally attended by 5,000 people.

Mugabe's critics say the economy, once the breadbasket of the region, has
been severely damaged by his seizures of white-owned farms for
redistribution to landless blacks.

Mugabe denies mismanaging the economy and says it is a victim of sabotage by
domestic and foreign opponents angry over his land reforms, which he says
are meant to empower Zimbabwe's poor black majority and to correct colonial

On Saturday, Matombo accused Mugabe -- in power since independence from
Britain in 1980 -- of grossly mismanaging the economy, "brutalising" his
political opponents and of selectively applying the law against his foes.

"When we raise these issues, they say we are challenging Zimbabwe's
sovereignty," he said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sydney Morning Herald

Zimbabwe officials threatened to sabotage pitch, says rebel
By David Sygall
May 2, 2004 - 12:02AM

One of Zimbabwe's rebel players has alleged that Zimbabwe cricket officials
threatened to sabotage a pitch on which an international game was to be
played if particular players were not selected in the national team.
As hopes for a resolution to the crisis were raised last week, the player,
who asked not to be named, wrote to an Australian friend, Albion cricket
apparel chief executive Ross Barrat, to provide a candid update on the
In the message the player expresses trepidation over the position the 15
rebels have taken, and makes mention of getting loved ones out of the
"Things have gone mad here," he says. "We've had non-stop meetings with
these . . . for the last three weeks.
"We're forcing them into arbitration, which they don't like because they're
so guilty. It's a dangerous move, but we're doing it to try to save Zim
The message, sent early last week, also says the ZCU had threatened to "dig
up a pitch if five [black players] weren't picked for this series [against
Sri Lanka]".
The message also adds credence to a rumour that white player Mark Vermeulen
was offered double his match payment to surrender his place in a one-day
team so that Stuart Matsikenyeri could have it.
The player says he "heard Heath Streak is Sydney bound, but I'm not 100 per
cent sure".
For the past two weeks The Sun-Herald has run stories based on information
received about a number of the 15 deposed players setting up options to move
to Sydney or Perth.
The players' stance all along has been that their preference would be to
resume their careers in Zimbabwe with Streak as captain.
Following heated discussions, threats, rumours and confusion, it appears a
crucial breakthrough was reached on Friday, when four of the rebels were
named in the Zimbabwe A team to face Sri Lanka in a three-day tour match
beginning in Harare yesterday.
The development came after the deposed players attended a training session
on Friday, their first appearance since Streak was sacked on April 2.
Streak was named, alongside batsman Trevor Gripper, left-arm spinner Ray
Price and all-rounder Sean Ervine.
Their selection came as the Zimbabwe first XI, minus the 15 players, lost
again to the touring Sri Lankans, handing the tourists a 5-0 series win.
Meanwhile, relations between the Zimbabwe Government and British media
trying to cover the situation soured further last week when a reporter from
The Daily Telegraph in London and one from Reuters were expelled after
immigration officials said their paperwork was incorrect.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mail and Guardian

Zim govt runs out of money to pay school fees


01 May 2004 10:46

About 800 000 Zimbabwean orphans and disadvantaged children who depend on
state assistance to pay school fees may be unable to enrol when the new term
begins next week.

Under the Basic Education Assistance Model (Beam), the government had
allocated Z$3,8-billion (about US$753 000) to pay the school fees of orphans
and disadvantaged children, but Lancelot Museka, the Public Service, Labour
and Social Welfare permanent secretary, announced this week that the money
had run out after just one term of the school year.

Zimbabwe's economic crisis has led to job losses, making it impossible for
growing numbers of parents to pay tuition fees. Unemployment now stands at
80%, and is rising as businesses continue to fold. For those still employed
in the formal sector, low wages in a hyperinflationary environment have
worsened a situation that is often already desperate.

The announcement that the Beam had run out of funds came after hard-pressed
guardians of Beam beneficiaries had made representations to government to
expand the programme to include the purchasing of exercise books.

"We had budgeted Zim $3,8-billion to pay school fees for HIV/Aids orphans
and disadvantaged children this year. However, the money has run out because
the schools are constantly hiking fees, leading to an early exhaustion of
the funds and a drastic decline in the number of beneficiaries," Museka

Most schools have hiked tuition fees to an average of Z$500 000 (US$913) per
term, with some private institutions demanding as much as Z$2,5-million
(US$4 900), in defiance of a government directive to seek prior approval for
an increase from the ministry of education. The schools cited high
inflation, currently around 600%, and a need to maintain educational
standards as reasons for the increases.

Primary school textbooks now cost between Z$50 000 (just under $10) and
Z$100 000 (just under US$20), while the lowest-priced textbook for secondary
school costs Z$80 000 (about US $15). Exercise books range from Z$3 000
(US$0,59) to Z$7 000 (US$1,30) each, translating into an average expenditure
of Z$168 000 (US$33) on exercise books alone for one upper secondary school

Minister of Education Aneas Chigwedere acknowledged that the per capita
grants allocated to schools for the acquisition of textbooks were
insufficient, given the high inflation rate, but alleged that negligence by
schools was aggravating the situation.

"Schools are given per capita grants every year. Yes, the money may not be
enough, because it is not meant to be enough anyway. The major problem is
that schools do not take care of their textbooks. Most are stolen and
re-sold at black market prices on street corners," said Chigwedere.

The Beam programme was set up in 2001 to pay tuition and examination fees
for the growing number of children being forced to drop out of school
because their parents or guardians could not afford to keep them there.

Since 2001, 1,7-million pupils have benefited from successive Beam
allocations. The total number of beneficiaries for 2004 was projected at 800
000. - Irin
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

Five white cricketers selected for Zimbabwe

HARARE - Five white cricketers have been selected for the Zimbabwe A team
which will play a three-day match against Sri Lanka at the Takashinga club
in Harare's Highfield district starting on Saturday.
They include Heath Streak, who is sacking as national captain a month ago
triggered a month long strike by him and 14 colleagues, plus Ray Price, Sean
Ervine and Trevor Gripper. The fifth white player, Mark Vermeulen, was not
one of the rebels.

The side will be captained by Alester Maregwede. Twelve of the 15 turned out
for practice under national coach Geoff Marsh on Thursday after passing
fitness tests.

The three others, Richard Sims, Neil Ferreira and Charles Coventry are in
England negotiating club contracts. Whether the return of white cricketers
represents the end of their dispute with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union depends
on acceptance of their proposals for an arbitration mechanism that would
include two international mediators.

The players have given the ZCU until Tuesday to accept or reject the
proposals. If these are turned down, the players will resume their strike,
according to batsman Grant Flower, who said their return to practice and to
play if selected was a goodwill gesture.


Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

'Dogs of war' trial resumes on Monday

By Ryan Truscott
HARARE - A Zimbabwe court has postponed a custody hearing for 70 suspected
mercenaries who face possible extradition to Equatorial Guinea to stand
trial on charges of plotting a coup.

Defence lawyer Francois Joubert said that five men had been moved on Friday
to a Harare remand prison while the 65 remaining at Chikurubi maximum
security prison were being kept permanently shackled.

The custody hearing was scrapped a day after officials said President Robert
Mugabe had agreed to extradite to Equatorial Guinea to face trial and a
possible death sentence.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the hearing was postponed until

The 70 men were detained on March 7 at Harare International Airport when
their Boeing 727 stopped to refuel and pick up military equipment.

The Zimbabwean authorities arrested them, claiming they were on their way to
join 15 suspected mercenaries arrested in Equatorial Guinea and charged with
plotting to overthrow the government of the oil-rich central African nation.

But the 70, most of whom are from South Africa, have said they were on their
way to Democratic Republic of Congo to work as security agents at diamond

Mugabe held talks Thursday in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo with
Equato-Guinean leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema on the fate of the men.

Joubert told AFP he did not know of any imminent plan by Zimbabwe to
extradite his clients, but that if there was one, Zimbabwe would have to
follow the law.

This would mean serving each of the men with a warrant for extradition,
giving them a hearing before a magistrate and a right of appeal to a higher
court if the application for extradition is granted.

The lawyer said his clients were willing to be extradited to South Africa,
but were concerned by the fact that the South African goverment seemed to be
bowing to demands for them to be sent to Equatorial Guinea.

South Africa said Thursday it would not oppose the possible extradition of
the suspected soldiers of fortune to Equatorial Guinea where they could face
the death penalty.

"There is no legal basis for South Africa to demand that its nationals
should not be extradited to another country," the foreign ministry said in a

Joubert said his clients felt the South African government was not
adequately looking after their interests.

"Their big complaint is with the South African government," he said.

The lawyer said that the 65 men remaining at Chikurubi prison on the
outskirts of Harare were "handcuffed and manacled. They've been told that's
how it's going to be from now on", he said.

"It's against all legal precedent," Joubert said.

Joubert said he could not explain the harsh treatment of the prisoners, who
were this week granted various concessions by prison authorities, including
having their shackles removed during court hearings.


Back to the Top
Back to Index


"No Oomph and Guts" in the Media?

Wilson Johwa

BULAWAYO, May 1 (IPS) - Even within its own ranks, Zimbabwe's ruling party
has shown it is intolerant of ambitions hinting at expansion of the tiny
independent press.

It counts for very little that the government already controls all broadcast
media, and that reporters who work for privately-owned publications live in
fear of arrest and harassment.

Last week a member of parliament (MP) was suspended from ZANU-PF for
allegedly courting the publishers of the country's only independent daily
newspaper, which was forcibly closed by the government seven months ago.
Very popular with readers, The Daily News was a thorn in the side of
President Robert Mugabe's government which accused it of being an opposition

Additionally, the journalist-turned-legislator - Kindness Paradza - is
accused of seeking British funds in a bid to acquire a controlling stake in
a weekly newspaper that he helped set up almost two years ago. Britain, the
former colonial power in Zimbawe, has had had opprobrium heaped on it by
Mugabe, who views it as having spearheaded Zimbabwe's international

The country has been uncomfortably pinned in the spotlight since the start
of 2000, when the seizure of white-owned farms by so-called war veterans
gained international attention. Reports of political violence, two
problematic elections and wide-spread food shortages have done little to
remove Zimbabwe from the headlines.

Paradza is also being held to account for speaking out against repressive
media laws in his maiden speech to parliament a month ago.

The MP's suspension, says Abel Mutsakani of the Independent Journalists
Association of Zimbabwe, confirms what is now well-known. "It's more of the
same, what we've seen in the last 12 months, where the government wants to
control the media - even sacrificing one of their own."

As the international community prepares to mark World Press Freedom Day (May
3), the fuss surrounding Paradza's business plans has again focused
attention on how the media, like other institutions in Zimbabwe, have been
emasculated and politicized by the government.

The Vice-President of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Njabulo Ncube, says
since the same event was observed last year, media freedom in the Southern
African country has been eroded to an even greater extent than was
previously the case.

Three pieces of legislation, especially that compelling both journalists and
media houses to register under a state-appointed commission, have made it
difficult for independent voices to be heard.

"AIPPA (the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act) directly
resulted in the closure of The Daily News, throwing into the streets over
200 media workers," observes Ncube.

However, a journalism lecturer at the National University of Science and
Technology, Ronit Loewenstern, believes reporters have only themselves to
blame for the dearth of press freedom in the country.

She says that in South Africa, journalists working in the 1980s disregarded
race and colour to stand up to media repression during the apartheid era.

But, she adds, by the time her journalism students are in the second year of
a four-year course, many have lost hope and elected to pursue a career in
another sector of the communication industry: "There is no oomph and guts in
the media fraternity in Zimbabwe."

The results of a 2003 global survey released last month by a
Washington-based media watchdog, Freedom House, point to different reality.

The survey lumps Zimbabwe with Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea, concluding
that reporting conditions in all three states remain dire. It says
authoritarian governments there use legal pressure, imprisonment and other
forms of harassment to severely curtail the ability of independent outlets
to report freely.

In a development guaranteed to raise the temperature of ZANU-PF officials,
it now appears that the information void created by the closure of The Daily
News is being filled by foreign broadcasts. One of them is Voice of
America's (VOA) 'Studio Seven' programme, specifically meant for

This weekend, Studio Seven extended its week-day news programmes to Saturday
and Sunday. Broadcasting in all three of Zimbabwe's national languages, the
hour-long shows were launched last year.

With parliamentary elections 10 months away however, the government is
readying for a fight.

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo - last year's recipient of the Golden
Raspberry award for enemies of press freedom - has labeled Studio Seven
"subversive" and threatened its stringers with unspecified dire
consequences. He has also criticised neighbouring Botswana for hosting a VOA

Although they create opportunities for a few journalists, such foreign-based
stations are no substitute for a solid and diverse media in Zimbabwe itself.

Ncube says as a result of the present narrow media landscape, reporters'
ability to bargain for better salaries has also been severely undercut.
"We're now in a cul-de-sac," he observes. "We simply accept whatever
employers offer us."

This situation, he says, has given rise to 'brown envelope journalism' where
reporters approach business people and personalities for funding, to give
them publicity. In this scenario, female journalists appear particularly
vulnerable to abuse, Ncube adds.

The plight of The Daily News' ex-employees further illustrates the lack of
job opportunities.

In a statement on Friday (Apr. 30), the workers detailed the financial
hardship they had endured, despite an undertaking made by the publisher to
continue paying their salaries for up to two years.

And, there is little prospect of the media losing its shackles soon. The
only beacon of hope is talk that another independent daily newspaper has
been registered and will be launched before end of the year. (END/2004)
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Political solution to end Zim crisis?

May 01 2004 at 11:36AM

By Rodney Hartman

The ongoing tragedy of Zimbabwe is that cricket in that country is beginning
to devour itself.

Up until now, the biggest threat facing the cricketers of that beleaguered
land seemed to come from growing threats of stayaways by other teams, but
this has been overtaken by an internal revolt that bears unmistakable signs
of racial polarisation.

A demand for arbitration by 15 white players who refuse to play until their
grievances have been addressed will not fix the problem.

They have given the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, who they openly distrust, until
Tuesday to agree to arbitration but, even if this is agreed to, one senses
it will provide nothing more than a lull in hostilities.

No one should be shocked or even surprised by the sudden turn of events; it
was always a matter of time before the hand of the Zimbabwean government
would reach into cricket's internal affairs.

It is there, make no mistake; and it is extraordinary to think that, 24
years after that country's independence, the fear of white domination still

There are stark parallels with life as it existed in apartheid-ruled South
Africa where ultimately it was proved true that there could be no normal
sport in an abnormal society.

Furthermore, the insistence by white South Africans that sport and politics
should not mix was shown to be wishful thinking.

Thus, the bitter truth that Zimbabwe has to accept is that a political
solution is the only way to fix whatever problems they are grappling with;
and that their cricket crisis will not be solved by mediation or

The situation has gone beyond the pale. If the striking white cricketers
were to be accepted back in the ranks next week, how would they be received
by young black teammates who have been battling their guts out in the
intervening 5-0 whitewash at the hands of Sri Lanka?

And let's not be coy: the majority of those 15 white cricketers are not
exactly world beaters. The crisis, of course, creates a huge dilemma for the
International Cricket Council because Zimbabwe is a full member of the ICC
and thereby enjoys test match status.

How long will it take before Zimbabwe cricket is deemed to be incapable of
competing adequately at this level? Will the ICC be capable of taking the
unprecedented decision to suspend Zimbabwe from test cricket because they
can no longer meet the criteria and are therefore devaluing the game at its
highest level?

It could be argued that the ICC should consider suspending Bangladesh on the
same basis (in 28 tests, they have lost 26 with 2 draws), but the Zimbabwean
problem is rather more complex.

As the crisis mounted this week, there were many telling developments, among

a.. Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged cricketers to boycott Zimbabwe;

a.. Glenn McGrath hinted that more Australian cricketers could follow Stuart
Macgill's lead and refuse on moral grounds to play in that country;

a.. The Australian government was advised by a former cabinet minister in
the ruling party to pay the $2 million dollar fine that the ICC will slap on
the Australian Cricket Board if they refuse to send their team on a tour
starting in a fortnight's time;

a.. The England Cricket Board said its players would tour Zimbabwe later
this year "with a heavy heart" and that they were being held to ransom by
the ICC;

a.. The Zimbabwe cricket team were bowled out for a world-record low total
of 35 by Sri Lanka. That they recovered in the next games to total 150 and
220 was neither here nor there; they remained no competitive threat to the

So Zimbabwe cricket is teetering on the brink: many cricketers don't want to
play there, influential people are urging all cricketers not to play there,
and their own team is torn by internal strife and ongoing defeat.

If Zimbabwe continues to fail to put their best team into the field, they
could technically run foul of the criteria to retain test match status and
face suspension under the ICC constitution.

In reality, the ICC might find it difficult to suspend Zimbabwe in the face
of opposition from its powerful Afro-Asian bloc but a suspension on pure
cricketing grounds would at least free the world body from making the kind
of moral or political judgment it says it cannot make on that country.

The proviso would be that the suspension is lifted once Zimbabwe can
demonstrate that its team is of test match standard again or, as one of the
ICC requirements demand, "that a country has a sufficiently large pool of
players to draw from who are capable of performing at the highest level of
the game".

But where does this all leave the struggling cricketers of Zimbabwe? The
intermediate level below full member status of the ICC is associate
membership. This entitles countries to play in regional tournaments under
ICC auspices but with the concomitant loss of sponsorship and television

Regional tournaments are all well and good, but they are few and far
between. In order for a new-look Zimbabwe team to gain experience and big
match toughness - not to mention a decent revenue stream for their cricket
union - they will need something else.

Enter South Africa, a cricket nation that has empathy with its wretched
neighbours. Considering that the CEO of the UCB publicly endorsed the
African National Congress at last month's general election, it is not
unreasonable to surmise that Gerald Majola is in agreement with President
Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" on the Zimbabwe question. Thus, politically
speaking if nothing else, the UCB should have no problem assimilating
Zimbabwe in its provincial competitions.

There will be a myriad of legalities and technicalities to overcome but,
were these to be overcome, Zimbabwe could attempt to re-establish itself (in
a cricketing sense) with the help of South Africa.

Ironically, it happened once before in an era we best like to forget - when
Rhodesia was considered a cricket province of South Africa - and in an age
moreover when political tyranny seemed insuperable.

.. This article was originally published on page 24 of The Cape Argus on
May 01, 2004
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Battle for power within the ZCU

Martin Williamson

May 1, 2004

Who's who in the dispute

It looks as if cracks inside the ZCU are now beginning to widen.

The policy of slowly increasing the number of non-white cricketers, which
few people had serious objections to, would have allowed a gradual
transition within the side. But the Streak situation gave the political
enforcers within the board the golden opportunity to make the changes in one

Anyone with common sense could have seen that the second- and third-string
players weren't yet up to it and, that disaster would result. Sure enough,
humiliation on the field followed, but still the reality didn't hit home to
some. After Zimbabwe were routed for 35 on Sunday, one senior board member
was apparently heard to yell that the groundsman had deliberately sabotaged
the pitch to "make our black boys look bad". He no doubt believed that the
groundsman - a former national player - had then carried out mid-innings
corrective surgery, as Sri Lanka didn't find any demons when they batted.

Even hardliners found the result hard to stomach, and realised that worse
was in store in the Tests against Sri Lanka and Australia. Most worryingly,
the ICC started to take notice. So the board started to make overtures to
the rebels, with a view to shoring up the side in time for the first Test
next Thursday. But there remain a few ZCU officials who are so blinkered
that they believe that any setback is an opposition plot designed to
undermine the government. The spat at the Harare Sports Club made that

So the hitherto united front of the ZCU is beginning to crumble. There are
reports this weekend that one member of the new selection panel has resigned
in frustration at the continuing attempts to bring pressure on them to
follow the party line.

The next few days will show who controls Zimbabwe cricket. If concessions
are made to the rebels, and the side on Thursday contains four or five of
them, then there remains a little hope that those with a genuine interest in
the game remain an influence. But if the ZCU line hardens, then the
hard-liners will have taken control and the situation can only deteriorate.

Wisden Cricinfo Ltd
Back to the Top
Back to Index