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Sweet Taste of the Good Life

Financial Gazette (Harare)

December 19, 2002
Posted to the web December 20, 2002

Sydney Masamvu

AS the year 2002 draws to a close, the future for most Zimbabweans is bleak
and darker than the darkest night.

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 give.

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 clearer.

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.

That so-called 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 reasons.

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.

It was 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 us Zimbabweans.

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.

But 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 month.

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.

The 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 unemployed ones.

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

We rightly deserve this nonsense!

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'Our people are going hungry here'

Andrew Meldrum in Harare and Paul Weaver
Friday December 20, 2002
The Guardian

The International Cricket Council's decision to go ahead with World Cup
matches in Zimbabwe received a mixed reception both in that country and in

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."

But Chingoka 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.

There was 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 matches.

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."

Mike 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 criticise them."

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 be safe?'"

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."

The Essex 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 them."

But the popular view among county professionals was condemned by
Gloucestershire's coach John Bracewell, who said: "Frankly, it is very
nave. 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 1969."

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 known."
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Is anyone with a conscience out there?

Mike Selvey
Friday December 20, 2002
The Guardian

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
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 winter.

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 Hogwarts.

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 socks).

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 commentaries.

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.
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The Times

December 20, 2002

Truth is the latest casualty as ICC bends to Mugabe
By Simon Barnes, Chiefr Sports Writer

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 regime.

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.

They 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 week.

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 got.

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 Government.

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 ICC?

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 the

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.

As a 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.

He 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 old

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


Should England play in Zimbabwe?

Send your e-mails to
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Zanu-PF is progressive, says ANC

December 20 2002 at 06:38AM

By Jeremy Michaels

The African National Congress is of the view that Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF
is still a progressive organisation despite the turmoil which its policies
has caused.

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 Thursday.

Zanu-PF was a sister organisation to South Africa's ruling party,
Dlamini-Zuma said in response to questions.

"We fought 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 respective countries."

'We cannot run away from the fact that Britain has abdicated its
Both the ANC and Zanu-PF had set out to determine their countries' own
destinies, "not to be dictated to by somebody else".

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 shortages

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

'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 1980.


"We cannot run away from the fact that Britain has abdicated its
responsibility for the purchase of land."

South Africa 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 said.

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".

"In terms 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 everything.

"They run their country and we run ours."

Dlamini-Zuma 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 court.

Asked later whether she thought the MDC should withdraw its court challenge
so that the talks could resume, Dlamini-Zuma said no.

"They 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.
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Student activists arrested

Harare - Police in Zimbabwe arrested at least 10 student activists on
charges of assaulting supporters of the ruling party, state radio reported
on Saturday.

Police spokesperson Bothwell Mugariri confirmed the arrests, which took
place on Friday morning at a students' congress.

The 10 students were being held on assault charges, but the political
affiliation of those who were assaulted could not immediately be confirmed,
Mugariri said.

But Paul Munjenge, the legal secretary of the Zimbabwe National Students
Union (Zinasu) denied the charges, and said up to 14 students were being
held without charge in a jail outside Harare.

He told reporters that police broke up a congress the union held on Friday
that was scheduled to be addressed by opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Munjenge claimed the police also wanted to know personal details about the
union's executive members, including their political affiliation.

"It looks like the government is now having a clamp-down on students," he

He said 10 of those arrested were "very strong" opposition activists.

Four others were arrested in the low-income suburb of Kuwadzana for having
documents relating to the congress, Munjenge claimed, but this has not been
confirmed by police. - Sapa-AFP
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