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Zimbabwe's street soccer activism
September 06, 2006
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Network, a network of community youth in Harare struggling for social
justice has latched onto a winning way to communicate with the people.
of Uhuru Collective in Highfield
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
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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."
to audio file
According to Comrade
Fatso, the first soccer match was successful drawing a number of
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.
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.
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
For more info
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