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No Decision by Zimbabwe Cabinet on Controversial North Korean Soccer Team Visit

  • Gibbs Dube

Education, Culture and Sport Minister David Coltart said the Cabinet did not take up the issue on Tuesday but said North Korean authorities are likely to respond this week to the invitation from the Zimbabwe World Cup Committee

Confounding expectations, the Zimbabwean Cabinet took no decision at its Tuesday meeting on whether to allow North Korea's soccer team to train in Zimbabwe during the World Cup period in light of an outcry from Matabeleland activists who said the visit would stir painful memories of civil war and massacres in the region in the 1980s..

Reports said however that President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party was developing cold feet on the proposal. North Korea trained the Zimbabwean Fifth Brigade which is alleged to have carried out massacres during the so-called Gukurahundi conflict between rival liberation forces in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

Education, Culture and Sport Minister David Coltart said the Cabinet did not take up the issue on Tuesday as had been expected. But he told VOA that he discussed it with Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, who said the North Koreans have not confirmed to Harare whether they intend to acclimatize and train in the country.

Coltart told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that the North Koreans are likely to respond tomorrow to the invitation extended by the Zimbabwe World Cup Committee.

Political analyst Nkululeko Sibanda said ZANU-PF appears to be developing cold feet on the issue of hosting the North Korean team. “They are very much aware of the protests and fear that they may remind people of the Fifth Brigade atrocities in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions,” said Sibanda.

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