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Zimbabwe's street soccer activism
Taurai Maduna,
September 06, 2006

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The Uhuru Network, a network of community youth in Harare struggling for social justice has latched onto a winning way to communicate with the people.

Members of Uhuru Collective in Highfield
Members of Uhuru Collective in Highfield

As the world prepares for the 2010 soccer world cup in South Africa, youths in Harare's townships are engaging in street soccer activism.

Sam Farai Monro is the co-ordinator of the Uhuru Collective, a community based organisation in Highfields. Uhuru’s main objective is to fight for social justice. Monro said that the aim of street soccer at various shopping centers is to highlight the poor social service delivery by the City of Harare.

"We are using street soccer to mobilise residents and encourage them to challenge the council and demand explanations as to why we are paying such exorbitant water rates," said Monro popularly known as Comrade Fatso. listen to audio file

Harare residents have been paying rates but getting very little service delivery from the council in return. A walk through some of the Harare’s suburbs, especially the townships, illustrates the sorry state of the dilapidated roads full of potholes and roadsides decorated with mounds of uncollected garbage.

But how does street soccer highlight problems in the community? In the first soccer match, there were two teams, each with five members. One team composed the residents while the other team included council members. However, the council team is purposefully stronger than the residents’ team to make people talk about why they are being beaten by a small council when they are indeed the majority.

"While the match was going on, we had fliers going around saying ndiani achakunda. Who is going to win," said Comrade Fatso. He added: " We as the people are losing to the council and we are being charged these unfair supplementary charges and water rates and we need to demand a reversal of these rates because we cannot afford them." listen to audio file

According to Comrade Fatso, the first soccer match was successful drawing a number of onlookers.

UHURU is here!
Uhuru Network
September 06, 2006

Uhuru Collective in the street soccer battle

During times where potholes replace roads, where water becomes rare as gold, where power seems a distant dream, a new vision is needed; a new creative struggle is called for. On a slow-moving Friday, the 1st of September, the dusty Lusaka shopping centre in Highfields, Harare, was transformed into a playground of creativity and struggle.

Two teams emerged from nowhere and soon hundreds had gathered to watch the Uhuru Street Soccer Battles. Reclaiming the bus terminus as a venue for people’s soccer, the two ‘mock’ teams battled each other, one wearing the outfit of Vagari (The Residents), the other team sporting the kit of Kaunzuru-Zinwa (Council-Zinwa). Soon spectators were cheering for Vagari, who were being massacred by an unfair, cheating Kaunzuru-Zinwa team. The two Street Commentators were asking the crowd why the residents were always in this situation of losing to Kaunzuru and Zinwa when the residents were stronger and in the majority. Hundreds of flyers circulated to the spectators asking ‘Ndiani Achakunda?’ (Who will win?) as Zinwa and Council consult each other while residents are never consulted and are left to deal with exorbitant rates and supplementary charges. ‘Together we can beat the suffering in our communities’ the flyer declared. The Uhuru Network, a network of Harare community youth struggling for social justice has latched onto a winning way to communicate with the people.

With Kaunzuru-Zinwa winning 6-1 tempers were flaring with one spectator shouting at the mock Kaunzuru-Zinwa team ‘If Council wins I am going to beat them up. We don’t want them here!!’ When the match ended the Residents had been walloped and the message had sunk in to the spectators. Only if we are united can we overcome the oppressive rates being forced upon us.

The following day the Uhuru Caravan arrived in Mutare for the Mutare Social Forum. The Uhuru comrades stormed into the venue to rapturous applause from the 500-strong crowd. They took to the stage to launch their Campaign For Accessible Social Services For All, using creative drama and speeches to get the message across to the people of Mutare that communities must reclaim their power by demanding quality social services from their councils. The drama by Godobori and Cde Banjo encouraged ratepayers to boycott rates and supplementary charges. ‘We pay supplementary charges and rates but we get no services from council! observed Cde Tsitsi during her speech after the drama. Cde Kushinga elaborated revealing that ‘the commissions running Harare and Mutare are illegitimate. The power lies in the hands of the residents not the politicians!’ Cde Fatso then offered a way forward: ‘we must build power at the grassroots, reclaiming our communities through creating democratic residents associations and community groups. We need to get the message of the struggle for social service delivery across to fellow community members through Street Soccer Battles, Community Forums and the like. Then we begin to put pressure on Council to deliver.’ Uhuru then joined with the Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association to strategise the way forward in coordinating the struggle between Mutare and Harare. Soon the crowd was chanting the Uhuru campaign slogan ‘No Delivery! No Chibhanzi (money)!’

The Uhuru Caravan continues to the Bulawayo Social Forum (9 September), the Zimbabwe Social Forum (28-30 September, Harare), the Southern Africa Social Forum (October, Malawi) and the World Social Forum (January ‘07, Kenya). Also look out for Uhuru Street Soccer Battles in a township near you!

For more info contact: +263-91-929231, (0)91-764 494 or e-mail

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