Former Barca stars appear at Mugabe rally

Former Barcelona stars Patrick Kluivert and Edgar Davids joined Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on stage at a weekend political rally, drawing sharp criticism from government opponents.

Davids and Kluivert were pictured on Saturday alongside Mugabe, 93, at a youth rally for the ruling ZANU-PF party in the southern town of Gwanda, in what local media described as a “surprise appearance”.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, and he is often criticised for brutal repression of his opponents, election rigging and his country’s economic collapse.

The president, who is in increasingly frail health, is due to stand in elections next year that could see him hold onto power until he is nearly 100.

The footballers’ trip was led by Spanish event manager Rayco Garcia, who said Davids and Kluivert were helping organise a match for the Barcelona Legends team in Zimbabwe in November.

“My job is to bring all the legends of Barcelona here, the likes of Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Juliano Belletti, Kluivert, Davids… and to play a team of legends from Zimbabwe,” Garcia told local press.

“I think that is going to give hope to the youth while promoting talent in the country and bringing a piece of Europe to Zimbabwe.”

– Replica ‘Mugabe’ shirt – The state-owned Herald newspaper on Saturday ran a photo of former Dutch internationals Kluivert and Davids presenting a replica Barcelona shirt with the name “R.G. Mugabe” on it to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The paper said that Mnangagwa would give the shirt to President Mugabe, along with another shirt for Mugabe’s wife Grace, which had the name “Amai” (“Mother”) on it.

Kluivert was quoted by the Herald — which is seen as a mouthpiece of Mugabe’s regime — as saying: “Zimbabwe is a great country, I think that has been ruled very good, but it has a bad (image) in Europe.”


The three visitors held meetings with Mnangagwa and sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane in the capital Harare on Friday.

They also inspected the 60,000-seater Chinese-built National Sports Stadium where the veterans game is scheduled to be held.

“I am sure we will need screens outside the stadium,” Mnangagwa said, according to the Herald.

“The fact that you are honouring our President Mugabe by giving him your own jerseys is something extremely important.”

The privately-owned Standard newspaper, which printed a picture of the trio with Mugabe, said they had made a brief appearance at the rally on Saturday after attending the opening of a local community information centre.

– ‘Endorsing a tyrant’ – “They should be ashamed of themselves,” Obert Gutu, spokesman of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party, told AFP.

“They seemed to be endorsing a despotic tyrant. I used to support these stars during their illustrious careers. Many people are offended.”

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has been accused of routinely using violence, intimidation and fraud to ensure Mugabe’s election victories.

Davids and Kluivert both started their careers at Ajax and also appeared for AC Milan amongst other teams.

They also plan to set up a training foundation for young players in Zimbabwe.

The national team sit at a lowly 101st in the world rankings, but several players play in Europe including captain Knowledge Musona at Oostende in Belgium and defender Costa Nhamoninesu at Czechs Sparta Prague. – Agence France-Presse

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

Senwes launches Agri Value Chain Food Umbrella

South African farmers can now help to feed the needy by donating part of their bumper maize crop to delivery number 418668

Ethics and internal financial controls add value to the public sector

National treasury is rolling out accounting technician training programmes to upskill those who work in its finance units in public sector accounting principles

Lessons from South Korea for Africa’s development

'Leaders can push people through, through their vision and inspiration, based on their exemplary actions'

Old Mutual announces digital AGM

An ambitious plan to create Africa’s biggest digital classroom is intended to address one of the continent’s biggest challenges — access to education

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday