Thursday, 10 August 2017

Ward Fire Fighting teams Trained in Nyaminyami (Kariba Rural) District

Community fire fighting committee members being trained at Gatshe Gatshe Primary School (Pic: ZELA)
Ward based firefighting committees were established and trained in the 12 wards that make up the Nyaminyami Rural district Council on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley.  The training was conducted by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the Nyaminyami Rural District Council and took place from 31 July to 5 August 2017. The trainings and provision of fire prevention materials supply were made possible due to support from the UNDP –funded Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) project. In total up to 180 community based firefighting committee members were trained. The training was necessary since the Zambezi valley is a dry region and historically depended on wildlife resources, which are highly affected by wild fires.
The district’s Wards 1,2 and 4 were trained at Mola Ward Centre; Wards 5,6,and 7 were trained at Negande Ward Centre; Wards 8,9 and 10 at Musambakaruma Ward Centre; Wards 11 and 12 at Makande Business Centre whilst ward 2 which is furthest from the Siakobvu District Offices was trained at Gatshe-Gatshe Primary School. The main facilitators were EMA’s Geoffrey Mafunhwa, ZELA’s Lenin Chisaira and Action Aid Zimbabwe’s Edson Nyashanu.
The training of the ward fire fighters was opportune and long overdue. In 2016, EMA records ranked Kariba particularly Nyaminyami District as number 4 out of the 7 districts that make up Mashonaland West Province in terms of fire intensity and effects.
Map showing Fires and Land-use Affected in Kariba District in recent years (Source: EMA)

The emphasis of the trainings was on fire prevention rather than having to fight fires themselves. Hence the teams were provided with firefighting equipment in the form of knapsack sprays, shovels, fire beaters, slashers, helmets and gloves. They also received training on laws governing fire prevention in Zimbabwe, mainly the provisions of the Forest Act and S.1. 7/2007.
“Fire issues are not new,” said Headman Seremwe from ward 5. “We have always been uniting to fight fires and prevent fires. This training enhances that knowledge.” 
Further trainings will be conducted in August and early September as the fire season begins. The trainings will be conducted in two other districts within the Zambezi Valley, namely Mbire in Mashonaland Central and Binga in Matabeleland North Province.

Pictures From the Trainings in Nyaminyami Rural 
Training at Musamabakaruma , ward 9

The writer taking community members through fire management laws during a training at Gatshe Gatshe Primary School (Pic: ZELA)

Training at Gatshe Gatshe Primary School (Pic: ZELA)

Mola Ward Centre (Pic: ZELA)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

My Appeal for Majazo Primary School (Nyaminyami/Kariba Rural District) #MajazoSchoolAppeal

Last week, when I was doing my environmental work in Nyaminyami (Kariba) Rural District Council, I came across this “school”. It's called Majazo Primary School and it was established in 1998. It is situated in Ward 9 (Musambakaruma). One of the children I had a chat with, was dusty from head to toe, from learning whilst seated on the stony ground and braving the wind and heat, then having to travel long distances to and fro school in the wildlife infested district.  I also had a chat with the school head, who then shed me and my colleagues around the school grounds. I promised that as soon as I get to Harare I would spread the word and appeal for any assistance. The school needs assistance with children’s tuition, stationary, building materials, development projects, etc. Anyone willing to assist, can inbox me or email me on and I will share the school head’s contact details, so you deal with him directly. #MajazoSchoolAppeal

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Cde Chinx (1955-2017): One of the last anti-imperialist artists to come from Zimbabwe

Cde Chinx (1955-2017)
The revolutionary artist and veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, Dickson “Cde Chinx” Chingaira breathed his last on 16 June 2017, a day when Africa commemorates the 1976 massacre of black school children by apartheid forces during the Soweto Uprising.

Cde Chinx was not only a veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, but a talented artist who chose to use music to advance the struggle against imperialism both before and after independence. It is not surprising that he was sidelined by the government. The post-independence Zimbabwean government had not hesitated to throw away a Leadership Code or to adopt the western-inspired Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) of the 1990s.

 His key songs highlight the victorious fight against colonialism and settler rule (Maruza Imi), the fight against a government that was losing the socialist way of the liberation struggle (Rojer Confirm) and the importance of united struggles against imperialism waged by the exploited people of Asia, Africa and Latin America (Vanhu Vese vemuno muAfrica).

In his personal life, he died almost a pauper without any social welfare benefits. He also could not get medical assistance of note in a country where the leaders rush to treatments in foreign destinations. The house he built was razed down as an illegal structure in independent Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has seen the number of artists surging up, manly as a result of democratized production of music especially by the Zimdancehall movement. However, the lack of ideological clarity also has seen these artists initially singing pro-poor songs, but within a few days of success, these artists resort to singing nonsensical music about sexual and drug escapades as well as materialist aspirations like flashy cars, money and clothes. Cde Chinx never did that, although at certain times indeed he had to join the throngs of hapless artists who would praise-sing for the Zanu Pf government under the guise of anti-Western politics in order to get recognition and food on the table.

In nutshell, many obituaries will likely be written about Cde Chinx. however, it is worthwhile to note that he, alongside the self-exiled Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo, Leonard Zhakata and Hosiah Chipanga, have been the last voices of truly conscious revolutionary music in Zimbabwe. Adieu Cde Chinx.

(Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is a writer, lawyer and activist based in Harare. he blogs at and and tweets at @LeninChisaira

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Boycottism is the new Patriotism at national commemorations.

On 18 April each year, since 1980, the Republic of Zimbabwe commemorates its Independence from colonial rule (and from a racist and fascist Rhodesian regime). The event is characterised by military parades, mass displays, the President’s speech and a soccer match at the National Sports Stadium in Harare. In any other county, a similar event would be characterised by wholesale patriotism. In Zimbabwe the event is mostly viewed with a partisan. A lot of Zimbabweans do not attend the Independence festive, rather they merely take advantage of the official designation of 18 April as a public holiday and they rest. The conscious ones willingly boycott the festive. In boycotting they seek to send a strong message that they are not complicit in the way the country is being run. To these, boycotting ‘national’ commemorations is a show of newfound patriotism.

 Patriotism, itself a not so progressive concept, relates to a one’s love or devotion to one’s country.  The concept can be observed when one celebrates the history, trials and triumphs of a nation. Zimbabwe’s dominant politics if jambajaism and insults results in a divided society based on one’s political party membership; people from the collective opposition are constantly denounced as unpatriotic and ‘sell-outs”. This denigration is accompanied by segregation when it comes to public processes such as Independence Day commemorations.

It was interesting that the President Speech at the 2017 Commemoration included the sentence that “every person has the right to a political; party of their choice”. The statements however remain hollow to a majority of urban based and working class Zimbabweans who chose to remain at home.

Indeed there is every justification for people to boycott national events. This will ensure that future governments and leaders will learn lessons and ensure that these events are not privatised for the benefit of a sole political party or class. However these boycotts should be organised and be pronounced. At the moment, the capacity of the ruling party to mobilise its supporters, by force or other means, and the resultant multitudes who attend the commemoration, can cover up the partisan nature of such commemorations to the untrained eye.

After over three decades of uhuru, Zimbabwe should be a more democratic, inclusive and participatory society. The fact that even the leader of the majority opposition party , Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T or the former Vice President Joice Mujuru who has been in government since 1980 until being purged recently, do not participate in the Independence Day commemorations, should be worrisome  to any organiser of such events.

As a final word, whilst the people should not be keen supporters of patriotism, since the concept doesn’t recognise the reality of class struggles and differences in a given society, the same people should oppose in every form, the dominance of partisanship and other divisions during the commemoration of past historic struggles and events such as the War of liberation, Unity Day, Independence day, Heroes Day and Defence Forces days.

 [Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is an activist and lawyer based in Harare, Zimbabwe. He tweets at @LeninChisaira and is interested in Economic Justice, Human Rights, Leftist Politics and Environmental Justice. He edits and blogs at ]

Friday, 17 February 2017

Zimbabwe: Dealing with environmental politics in a year of Cyclone #Dineo and Mbare typhoid outbreaks.

ex-Cyclone Dineo
The year 2017 has opened up with disaster scares in the form of typhoid, flooding in the high density suburb of Mbare in Harare and cyclone alerts in the southern parts of the country. Two people reportedly lost their lives whilst over a thousand cases were brought to the hospitals in the January typhoid fiasco. At a political level there were accusations ranging from the Harare City Council laying the blame on vendors whilst resident and vendor associations such as the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and the Vendors Initiative for Socio-Economic Transformation (VISET) blamed the city and government for non-provision of safe water to lack of consultations when a controversial mall was built on water courses just outside Mbare. The residents rightfully remain convinced that the mall blocked water ways during the excessive rainfall that has affected Zimbabwe since the end of 2016. The water flooded and brought various pathogens and waste into people’s homes.

Before the news and shock of typhoid has ebbed, the Meteorological Services Department in the midst of February 2017 warned of an upcoming disaster in the form of Cyclone Dineo. The cyclone was expected to hit the southern parts of Zimbabwe and her neighbouring coastal states of Mozambique and South Africa.

Against this background, there is need to question whether the governments in the various states will prioritise environmental justice, that is, catering for the rights of marginalised groups in society in relation to their benefits or challenges from nature. In Zimbabwe, exactly three years ago, in February 2014, over 7000 people had to be evacuated and then rescued by well-wishers after government failed to provide adequate disaster management systems following the shoddy workmanship and breakdown of Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Masvingo Province.

The government should engage itself in understanding the politics of geographical locations. Areas like Masvingo, Matabeleland South, Manicaland and Mbare which are the main areas of concern in this article, are characterised by unfavourable economic conditions as well as geographical nightmares, and hence are prone to poverty, pollution, drought and marginalisation.

The government should deliver on its mandate of empowering departments and agencies that
First reports of ex-Cyclone Dineo (eNCA)
are critical to public health, e
mergency management and disaster prevention of both natural and man-made hazards, such as the health sector, National Civic Protection Committee and the Civil Protection Directorate. Furthermore, there must be prioritisation of the alignment of legislations such as the Civil Protection Act, Environmental Management Act, Rural District Councils Act amongst others, to the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Human lives, disaster management and public health are of fundamental social concern. Any government or local authority worth its salt must provide its people with safe, clean water, ensure that there are conducive environments for access to basic nutrition and health services. Unfortunately for most impoverished and forgotten communities that has not been the case.

The government and Ministry of Health officials should pull up their socks in documenting, researching and mapping on the lifestyle choices, social and economic circumstances as well as weather patterns that affect the nation as a whole. They should have spent more time on these and less on petty fights, corruption and human rights violations.

The ordinary people themselves must be able to organise themselves and demand that their rights are protected and upheld by so called “duty bearers”. People are paying taxes and rates and these should be utilised more on disaster preparedness, public health and socio-economic issues and less on foreign trips, smear media campaigns, parties and rallies.

[Fadzai Midzi studies Geography and Environmental Studies at Midlands State University. Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is an activist and environmental legal and policy researcher based in Harare.]

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Zimbabwe: Can Parliament help reverse the Marange diamonds curse?

A blog on Parliament’s visit to the Chiadzwa/Marange diamond fields on 13-15 January 2017.The authors were part of the widely reported field visit. #ParlyVisit2Marange

Zimbabwe legislators in the Marange diamond fields
Where is the missing $15 billion from Marange diamonds? This is an eminent question that is likely to be asked in any public discussion on the Marange diamonds. A state owned enterprise, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) was created under the guise of promoting greater transparency and accountability in the management of Marange diamonds. The 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe through the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy (PCME) is one of the stakeholders that have sought to hold the government and ZCDC accountable. Public hearings have been conducted at Parliament targeting the ZCDC and its parent the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development (MMMD). Currently, ZCDC is mining concessions that were previously held by Marange Resources and Diamond Mining Company (DMC). ZCDC has not been able to start mining operations in diamond concessions owned by Mbada diamonds, Anjin and Jinan due to a February 2016 contested consolidation of diamond companies which has since spilled into the courts. 
Arguably, the role of Parliament as a critical stakeholder in the governance of mineral resources has been a contentious one among civil society and development partners. Of course, Zimbabwe’s challenging political economy where the executive has a well-documented history of whipping Parliament into line is the fodder which many critics use. The PCME has however, been handy in some instances. The widely acclaimed Chindori Chininga Report (October, 2013) on Marange diamonds is a case in point.

To gain first hand appreciation of what is happening in Marange after the contentious consolidation of diamond mines, the PCME, with the support of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) visited Marange and Arda Transau on 13 and 14 January 2017. Parliament had to get clearance to conduct the field visit. Regrettably, the clearance constrained the hand of PPCME to interact with the affected community members and the workers.

The tour commenced with a meeting between the legislators, journalists and the ZCDC management and staff at the ZCDC Boardroom at Chiadzwa. The team went through safety and security presentations from the ZCDC Head of Security.

The ZCDC mining processes are divided into portals. The first port of call for the parliamentarians was Portal Q, which is the area that was formerly mined by DMC. There the participants witnessed earth movers and Lorries extracting the ore for transportations to the mining processing plants. The plants themselves are not connected to the national power grid, hence they use diesel powered generators. The ZCDC management indicated that they were working towards the connection to the national grid. They said they were using up to 20,000 liters of diesel per day to run generators to power the mining processes. This is not desirable both for feasibility reasons and for environmental considerations especially huge carbon imprint of such an operation. ZCDC indicated that ZESA was stonewalling their efforts to get connected to the power grid.

Most of the equipment being used by ZCDC is on a ‘for hire’ basis, which is an expensive move for the company. There were questions raised about the sustainability of depending on hired machinery instead of purchasing own equipment. Members of the PPC expressed concern that equipment hiring is prone to corruption, especially if there is no oversight over procurement procedures and systems.

There were various issue updates that surrounded the tour. For instance, the acting ZCDC CEO Ridge Nyashanu took the legislators through the mission, vision and core values of the ZCDC Company. He also reiterated the challenges facing the company, namely the court proceedings. On top of that there seemed to be challenges in raising capital, having to hire expensive equipment, water shortages, high security costs, legacy issues as well as absence of a reliable skills base.

He also indicated those mines that had not been secured by ZCDC due to court challenges were being protected by the Zimbabwe Republic police (ZRP) Support Unit under an operation code named “Operation Chengetedzai Upfumi”. Procurement contracting is needed to prevent corruption, inefficiencies and leakages of resources which have impacted on the profitability of ZCDC’s operations. Ultimately, accruable benefits to the state such as corporate income tax and dividends will be hurt by corrupt procurement practices.

In terms of geological challenges, the company was yet to identify the kimberlite pipeswhich would be the actual source of the diamonds. At the moment there is only alluvial mining taking place at the Chiadzwa/Marange diamond fields.

Prof Gudyanga who is both the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and an ex-officio Chair of the ZCDC gave an update on the status of ZCDC before the tour. He highlighted some of the challenges that were being faced by the company.

Among the challenges were the legal challenges faced by the company were as follows:

v    Legal Challenges
ZCDC faced legal challenges from companies who were operating the mines before their licenses failed to be renewed by the Minister of Mines, Hon. Walter Chidhakwa in February 2016. ZCDC had already won court cases against DMC and Mbada Diamonds. However, there was still an outstanding challenge from Anjin and Jinan. Through bilateral discussions held between the Zimbabwean and Chinese governments, Anjin and Jinan are expected to drop their court challenge.

It is remarkable to note that government has sought the alternative dispute resolution route aside from litigation to resolve the disputes around diamond mining claims. The court process by nature is long, costly and can rapture relationships with investors in this case. This is the route that should have been pursed diligently from the outset. Notably, the protracted legal disputes have caused a sharp drop in diamond production which has a telling effect on foreign currency shortages. Diamond export earnings could have eased the foreign currency crises that is hurting socio-economic development. Already, the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZMA) has issued a stress call on low stock levels for essential drugs caused by foreign currency shortages.

v    Relocations of Villagers from mining areas
ZCDC announced the intention of completing the relocations of people from the mining areas. However, this was said to be hampered by lack of financial resources as the company was just operating two mine portals.

However, a relocation plan must be put in place, an open plan with clear targets to allow communities to monitors the relocation exercise. The ideal scenario is that relocations under Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) should precede mining activities. However, it looks like ZCDC is looking to raise funds for relocation from the proceeds of mining activities. Potentially, this might escalate community rights violation if cash flow challenges are experienced and from other competition priorities like capitalization.

v    Employees
There were plans for former employees of the previous diamond mining companies to be absorbed into ZCDC. This was pending the outcome of the ongoing legal proceedings.

There is need for disclosure of the numbers of employees that were affected by the consolidation and the total debt ZCDC has accrued as a result. It will be interesting for CSOs to carry out a study focusing on socio-economic impact of consolidation focusing on affected workers to show the human cost often overshadowed by economic considerations

v    Diamond Exploration
The mining taking place was mainly for alluvial diamonds. A huge investment is being made by ZCDC towards geological surveys and mapping underground pipes.

It is clear that ZCDC is facing capitalization challenges. Given the high costs associated with exploration, it is hard to see a situation where meaningful diamond exploration of diamonds can be undertaken by ZCDC. Therefore, ZCDC must prioritise the engagement of a sound technical and financial partner to explore and exploit diamonds in Marange.

v    Consolidation and ZCDC’s legal status
The permanent secretary explained that there is a misconception that ZCDC is an initiative to consolidate the diamond companies that were operating in Marange. Rather, the consolidation process refers to the mines. It was also explained that ZCDC was registered under the Companies Act (Cap 24:03).

On the denial by Prof Gudyanga that ZCDC was neither a successor company to neither the previous diamond miners nor a consolidation of their business, there arises many questions about the real status of the company. The absence of an act of parliament makes it questionable as to what sort of a parastatal it is. Furthermore, if it is a private company, then there will be questions over the way it got the license over the diamond, which are supposed to be strategic for the economic development of the nation.

v    Production statistics
ZCDC’s annual diamond production for 2016 stood at 963,000 carats against the targeted production of 1.3 million carats. In 2015, diamond in Marange stood at 2.3 million carats.  This was caused by ZCDC’s failure to mine diamond concession owned by Mbada, Anjin and Jinan due to the legal disputes.

2016, diamond production in Marange fell by 59%, from 2.3 million carats in 2015 to 953 000 carats in 2016. Considering the peak diamond production of more than 12 million carats in 2012, the Marange diamond wealth now ominously looks like a squandered opportunity. ZCDC is not living up to its promise on improving transparency and accountability. As an example, diamond production statistics are not disaggregated to show gem, semi-precious and industrial diamonds. Disclosure of disaggregated diamond production data is very important as high valued gem quality diamonds are highly susceptible to theft, smuggling and undervaluation. 

v    ZCDC’s expansion plans
The company was trying to optimize production at the mines sites which it currently operates. Then there were plans to start mining at the Mbada and DTZ claims. In terms of capitalization, the company was working towards purchasing equipment, refurbishments as well as getting connected to the national power grid instead of using diesel fueled generators for power.

v    Security of diamonds

Another key issue shared concerned security of the diamonds. ZCDC was developing a product tracing system that will track the diamonds from the mine to the sorting house. There was also remote monitoring of production processes with different security teams expected to produce occasional reports separately from each other. There were also plans for the use of drones to monitor the mining and production processes.

v    CSR and Community Enterprise Development
ZCDC indicated that as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes, the company is buying vegetables and chickens from the community for its canteen. In addition, ZCDC would want to build a university a hospital among other community social investments the company is making.

ZCDC must however have a clear and open CSR policy which can be monitored by the communities and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Whilst the act of buying vegetables and chickens from the host community is good, ZCDC can do more to help with community enterprise development. For instance, all the goods and services that are not complex and technical should be given to the local communities

v  Employment
Currently, ZCDC is employing 440 workers comprising of 401 males and 39 females.
In sectors such as Finance there was just one female to 12 men, in engineering there was 1 woman to 78 men. The percentage of locals employed by ZCDC is 49.7%.

The gender disparities in terms of employment opportunities are quite glaring and most likely widen inequality gap between men and women. Women labour constitutes roughly 9% of the total employees at ZCDC. Whilst it has been generally alleged that women to lack the technical skills needed in the mining sector, it is shocking to note that even the finance department has huge gender disparity, 1 female and 12 men. It is difficult to argue that there is shortage of skilled women in the market


On the 14th of January which was Day 2 of the tour, the PPC visited Arda Transau. This is an area where the villagers from the Chiadzwa/Marange area were relocated to. ARDA Transau is situated about 20 kilometers from Mutare, the Manicaland provincial capital.

The parliamentary team managed to meet and hear the concerns of the relocated villagers. The major concerns included the following:

v  Overcrowding. Most of the families reported being settled in one-family quarters together with elder children and their families as well. This led to lack of privacy and outbreak of water-borne diseases. Recently communities bury one person every week.
v  Inadequate health and school facilities. The villagers indicated that there was just a single doctor and a single nurse at the Arda Transau clinic. These were supposed to cater for a community of over 5000 people.
v  Inadequate land for cultivation. The team observed that each family was allocated a mere 1 hectare for housing, livestock kraals and cultivation.
v  Unfulfilled promises. These mainly centered on an irrigation project which has not been developed since the relocation began around 2009. Even when it will be completed each family will only be allocated half a hectare. This is hardly adequate for just subsistence agriculture, not to mention commercial.

The concerns from the villagers were gathered by parliament for future redress. The team also managed to visit the places where ZCDC itself settled 23 families in December 29016. The area’s roads have not been serviced and the health facilities were situated about 10 kilometers away, which was hardly adequate for the community. ZCDC indicated 18 of the 23 families had received disturbance allowances but the relocated families indicated they were still awaiting receipt of the said funds. The PPC asked questions on whether ZCDC had a relocation plan and had standardized amenities before relocating communities.

ZCDC indicated that they had no resources and once resources become available they will work on a relocation plan. ZCDC was asked how many more families needed to be relocated and indicated that approximately 400 families. The families relocated in 2011 indicated that in fact ZCDC must halt any plans to bring more people to Arda Transau because their married children who had been promised housing never received any and decided to occupy some houses that remained unallocated. In fact, the families claim that the Mutare District Administrator now claims that their children are illegal occupiers from Mutare who unlawfully much to their shock.  The lack of a relocation policy left Arda Transau communities in sad situation.


Mineral resource governance challenges are still festering in Marange. Zimbabwe’s diamond mining industry is well known for an executive-reported missing US$15 billion. Transparency and accountability is still a great challenge as the public is in dark with regards to the quality footprint of diamond production. Alluvial diamond mining boon is gone judging by the production which has plummeted to 953 000 carats from the pick production of 12 million carats in 2012. A stern remainder that minerals are a finite asset and the opportunity must never be squandered. Clearly, ZCDC’s capacity to undertake much needed exploration, mining of conglomerate and kimberlites is questionable. The state enterprise is in need of a sound financial and technical partner to turn around the rot in Marange. Community engagement and local development initiatives being undertaken by ZCDC are a mockery especially when compared with the likes of Zimplats. It now remains to be seen how the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy will use the knowledge and experience gained through the field visit to further its oversight role in the management of Marange diamond resources and reverse the curse.

[Mukasiri Sibanda (@mukasiri) is an economic governance officer. He is interested in mineral resource governance. He blogs at .Lenin Tinashe Chisaira (@LeninChisaira) is a lawyer and activist. He writes on economic and environmental justice, human rights and leftist democracy.  He blogs on . Mukasiri and Lenin work with the Zimbabwe Environmental law Association]

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Warriors’ brave bonus fight calls for solidarity at #AFCON2017

The Warriors, 2017
Zimbabwe’s, senior soccer team, nicknamed the Warriors, will be making an appearance at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2017) tournament in Gabon. The tournament runs from 14 January – 5 February. Whilst there are reports that lots of people form within and without the African continent are writing them off, the Warriors have already won a significant victory; that of staging a brave fight and strike action for bonuses and match allowances. The action saw them standing up and facing down the Acting President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa as well as an arrogant Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) body in the first weeks of January 2017.

For that reason alone, anyone who is concerned about the relevance of sport actions in advancing social justice struggles must take some time to support the Zimbabwean soccer team. It has nothing to do with patriotism, because all people are one regardless of artificial national divisions. It has everything to do with their single, seemingly selfish strike, giving confidence to voiceless masses in Zimbabwe and beyond.

The Olympics 1968 Black Power salute
In the world of sport, there has been some historical incidents of sportspeople standing up to oppression and exploitation. As an example, during the 1968 Olympics, Peter Norman of Australia and Paul Carlos of the United States raised their fists in the Black Power salute at a time when blacks were experiencing racial injustice in most parts of the world. They did this whilst receiving their medals.

In boxing, Muhammad Ali was known for his activism. In the late 1960s, Ali flatly refused to fight in the Vietnam War, rightfully saying that he had nothing against the Vietnamese people. In his own words: “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.” He received a five-year prison sentence, a fine of $10000 and a three-year ban from boxing for his pains.

Muhammad Ali
In Zimbabwe, the Warriors actions were not the first. During the 2003 Cricket World Cup, Henry Olonga and Andy Flower of the Zimbabwean cricket team went onto a match whilst wearing black bands, ostensibly to “mourn the death of democracy in Zimbabwe”.  Olonga was victimised after the incident, including being dropped from cricket matches and then had to go into exile.

Granted, the Warriors will be facing tough opponents in the AFCON 2017 Group B, with all their fellow teams being among the top 5 best soccer teams in Africa.  The teams are currently ranked by FIFA as follows: Senegal (No. 1), Tunisia (No. 4) and Algeria (No. 5). But despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges to their dream of lifting the cup, The Warriors have already trumped outside the pitch. History must remember their names.

Every person should take time to support the Warriors, not just out of love for soccer, but as homage to the team. That was an act of bravery that once would not have really expected from sportsmen. Their actions will surely inspire the majority of the Zimbabwean working class and peasantry who are being abused not unlike pawns in the Zimbabwean economic set-up; from civil servants being denied bonuses, students being forced to pay ridiculous fees in such a poor country, to the whole nation being robbed of its right to derive benefits from the utilisation of natural resources such as diamonds, wildlife and farmland.

We will support the Warriors in their games because of that show of strength, resoluteness and solidarity. Go Warriors Go! Solidarity Forever!
 [Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is an activist and lawyer based in Harare, Zimbabwe. He tweets at @LeninChisaira and is interested in Economic Justice, Human Rights, Leftist Politics and Environmental Justice. He blogs at ]