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Zimbabwe Cabinet Deliberations on Visit by North Korean Soccer Team Pushed Off

Education, Sports and Culture Minister David Coltart told Studio that the Cabinet will next Tuesday review the decision by the Zimbabwe World Cup 2010 Committee to invite the North Korean team to train in the country.

Cabinet discussion of whether Zimbabwe should invite the North Korean soccer team to train in the country through the June-July World Cup period has been put off to next Tuesday as President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are in Tanzania for the World Economic Forum, a ministerial source said.

Education, Sports and Culture Minister David Coltart told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that the Cabinet will review the decision by the Zimbabwe World Cup 2010 Committee to invite the North Koreans.

“I presume that if the issue has to be discussed by Cabinet, it will be discussed on Tuesday and as far as I am concerned that team has not yet confirmed that it will be training in this country,” Coltart said.

Political commentator Samukele Hadebe said the North Korean team visit should be canceled to promote healing and reconciliation among Zimbabweans traumatized not only by political violence during the 2008 elections but by older episodes like the 1980s Gukurahundi purge of rival liberation activists in the Matabeleland region.

Hadebe said it would be unfortunate for the government to allow a visiting team to scuttle efforts being made to promote peace in a country devastated by three decades of misrule.

Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi told VOA recently that the government has not yet decided where the team will train in Zimbabwe ahead of the 2010 World Cup. The western city of Bulawayo was originally mooted as the venue for the North Korean training camp, but Bulawayo is the capital of the Matabeleland region.

Protesters have threatened to disrupt the team’s training activities there saying North Korea trained a crack army unit which has been accused of massacring more than 20,000 people in Midland province and Matabeleland, once a stronghold of the PF-ZAPU movement of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo, which merged with the ZANU movement of now-President Robert Mugabe to form the present-day ZANU-PF party.

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