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Archive for October 2008

Summit fails to break deadlock

The SADC regional summit failed to break the Zimbabwe deadlock and it is now reported that another summit comprising of all Sadc states will be convened to try and resolve the stalemate.

I am thinking that whatever government will come out of this will be so unstable that things could be even worse and therefore maybe the best option is to have fresh elections and ditch this agreement way.

I fail to understand why Zanu PF wants both Defence and Home Affairs and then Foreign Affairs and then Information leaving the MDC with the minor ministries.

I also don't understand why something that looks so simple has become so big that every head of state in Sadc must come and try and resolve it.

The question is how will they resolve the bigger problems in the future especially problems with the run down economy when they cannot allocate ministries.

I heard that there was even talk of rotating the minister of Home Affairs. I think that is a non-starter because if you rotate Home Affairs then you should also rotate Defence and what about Information ministry? How far can the rotation go and who will be accountable in the end?

If they want rotation maybe they should have a complete swap of all ministries after one year.

That away every party gets their allocation of ministries and after they swap around all those ministries and after the end of the second year there would be fresh elections.

I don't think this arrangement should be given too much time because its already failing now and what about two years from now.

I think when the full Sadc summit is held it should simply say that there is a need for new free and fair elections monitored by the international community and whoever wins will take all the ministries and that way we have a government chosen by the people of Zimbabwe.

As these talks continue its becoming more and more apparent that this may not be what Zimbabwe needs at this time.

This delay is causing things to get worse than before. Round about this time farmers start preparing for the new rain season with some even planting crops but this year there could be very little of that leading to even more hunger next year.

The introduction of payment using foreign currency has made life even more unbearable for the ordinary people with prices out of reach for most people who do not earn much in US dollar terms.

Unless the full Sadc summit knows of a way of resolving this deadlock it might be a wait for nothing and things once again do not look as good after the highs of September 15.

Adelaide make A-League history

Adelaide United made history yesterday morning by becoming the first A-League club to reach the AFC Champions League final where it will meet Japan's Gamba Osaka.

This is by no means a small achievement by Adelaide especially after having lost their star players Bruce Djite and Nathan Burns and they have managed to rebuilt their squad to come up with a squad that can bring the necessary results when needed.

I hope the final will a be good one and that it will showcase the talent that is available in the A-League. Its good to see that the club has achieved such a feat despite the constraints posed by the salary cap and fixed squad sizes.

This final is a two legged affair and the first leg will be in Osaka on the 5th of November and the second leg a week later in Adelaide.

I think this time the A-League should postpone the match scheduled for the weekend between the two legs against the Central Coast Mariners to give Adelaide the best possible chance to win the final in the second leg on the 12th.

Its unfortunate that Adelaide have a very small stadium in the form of Hindmarsh Stadium that has less than 20,000 capacity.

This is a very important match to be played in such a small stadium and I hope that this final is a wake up call for the Adelaide city authorities or the state government to build a bigger stadium with a capacity of more than 40,000 not only for these kind of matches but also for World Cup qualifiers.

While Adelaide can play in another stadium in the city like the cricket ground or Football Park, I think it will be to their disadvantage playing in unfamiliar territory and therefore they should stick to Hindmarsh.

If Adelaide win the match then there will be three teams from the A-League in next year's AFC Champions League with the two other teams being the current champions Newcastle Jets and the Central Coast Mariners.

But I think the biggest result is that Adelaide will be going to play in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan where among the teams playing there will be Manchester United.

Its a good experience for the team plus also it will bring some money which can help strengthen their squad.

I also hope that it wont be long before another A-League club reaches that final because this is very good for the league which is just four years old now and I also hope this will help attract more sponsorship to the league.

Sadc Regional summit next stop

A Sadc regional summit in Harare on Monday will try solve the deadlock in the cabinet talks between Zanu PF and the MDC.

South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki failed to resolve the issue after four days and I hope that the regional summit will be able to tell the two parties what sharing basically means and doesn't mean.

It doesn't mean that one party takes all they want and leave the other party to feed from leftovers.

It looks like Zanu PF wants both Defence and Home Affairs something which doesn't make sense. Can they justify why they think they should get both ministries? How would they react if the MDC demanded both ministries too?

Like I said in my last post on the issue it looks like the whole thing is bound to fail very soon and that will be very disappointing to millions of Zimbabweans who are banking their hopes on the success of this agreement.

But I quite like the idea of fresh free and fair elections. I think that is the best solution because its better for the people to choose their own president rather having the leadership imposed by an agreement that is being discussed by less than ten people.

But I also think that the idea of fresh elections will not be popular with Zanu PF who know that it will be impossible for people to vote for them after the mess they have put the country in over the last 28 years.

I think this agreement is Zanu PF's best chance to stay in power and they can use the years within this agreement to try and regroup and possibly come with a replacement for Robert Mugabe who like everybody else is not getting any younger.

So I expected Zanu PF to try and make sure that the agreement worked. To give the MDC the Home Affairs ministry is not a concession at all on their part but it is common sense.

Also I don't think we should even be talking about them 'giving' ministries because this will be power sharing and everybody knows that Zanu PF lost the March 29 elections and therefore should be the opposition right now.

This deal gives them a second chance which maybe some may think they hardly deserve but at the moment its about people who need leaders to take the country forward.

Those ministries whoever has them has to work hard to make sure that Zimbabwe takes a step forward and that can only be achieved by total co-operation between the two sides.

I hope the Monday meeting will resolve the issue by simply putting all the ministries on the table and let each party take one after another. If Zanu PF picks defence then MDC can pick Home Affairs and so on and no one should pick a bundle first and then ask the other one to pick up the rest.

No party in the agreement is a left-overs party and this should be clear to both Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. Lets hope it works out.

From Telstra to Etihad

The Testra Dome will be renamed Etihad Stadium from March next year after Etihad Airways became the new naming rights sponsor for the Stadium.

Its interesting to see that it won't be Etihad Dome but Etihad Stadium and I think I will take some time for me to get used to the new name.

I go to the Telstra Dome mostly for A-League matches and once in a while for AFL matches and personally I don't like this idea of naming rights for stadiums.

I think stadiums should just be given a name that stays forever just like the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Wembley for example.

This name will be for the next five years with an option for another two after that which means it will then change again to something else. Why didn't they sign that name for at least ten years and not just five?

I think the reality is that these stadiums want to make money from whatever they can market and it looks like we will see more stadiums named after the corporate sponsors.

Tough remaining Tests in India

India won the second Test against Australia by 320 runs in Mohali and I think the remaining two tests are going to be tough going for Australia.

The next Test will be played in Delhi starting next week and India now needs to win just one of the two remaining Tests to clinch the series.

The final Test will be played in Nagpur and it will start on 6th of November and it will be good if Astralia can go to that Test without having lost the series.

I thought Australia played very well in the first Test but in the second one it was clear that India outclassed Australia in every department.

India scored 469 runs in its first innings and in reply Australia managed just 268 with only Shane Watson and Mike Hussey going past the half century.

I think its in the second innnings where the difference in class began to tell because Australia could only take 3 wickets for India's 314 runs. I think Stuart Clark was sorely missed.

Micheal Clarke was the only one to show some resistance with a superb 69 but apart from him nobody else passed 40 runs and hence a total of 195 runs in the second innings.

The loss is not very surprising but the draw in the first had sort of given some hope but we will have to see what happens in the third Test next week.

Murray on the rise

Andy Murray beat Gilles Simon at the Madrid Masters to secure his second Masters title.

Murray reached the final after beating world number two Roger Federer in the semis whilst Simon reached the final after beating world number one Rafael Nadal.

Before the semis I thought the final was going to be between Nadal and Federer but I was proved wrong with both losing in three sets.

Two months ago Murray won his first Masters title in Cincinnati and with the way he is playing now he looks set to rise in his rankings from his current number four.

Meanwhile in the women's game Venus Williams beat Flavia Pennetta in straight sets to win the Zurich Open title for the second time.

Its interesting to see that it was Pennetta who stopped world number one Jelena Jankovic in her tract to get a fourth consecutive title when she beat her in the second round in three sets.

Hamilton extends lead in Shanghai

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton extended his F1 lead to seven points after winning the Chinese Grand prix in Shanghai.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa came second and he now trails Hamilton by seven points. I don't think its over yet for Massa but he has to win the last race or come second and hope that Hamilton finishes as low as seventh or eighth depending on whether he is first or second.

Third place will not help him because that will mean just six points when he needs seven to equal Hamilton's tally.

The Chinese race was not as dramatic or as controversial as the two previous races but Hamilton did enough to make sure he stayed in front of the two Ferrari cars chasing him throughout the race.

Kimi Raikkonen took the last podium place although he was second for most of the race and I think he would have finished second was it not for the fact that it was better for Massa to finish second instead and score two extra points.

After winning the last two races Renault's Fernando Alonso finished fourth and I think this was a good result for him and gives him hope for next season if the car can just improve a little bit.

It was a good race overall for Renault as Nelson Piquet took the last points place denying Toro Rosso any points in a race for the first time since Valencia.

Fifth and sixth places went to BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica respectively. With that sixth place Kubica's challenge for the title is now finished.

Toyota's Timo Glock came seventh and I think that maybe compensated for the other Toyota driver Jarno Trulli who was the first to retire from the race.

I thought Mark Webber was going to finish in the points when he qualified sixth but that he only managed fourteenth well away from the points places.

So its one more race to go and I wonder whether Massa take the championship before his home crowd or maybe Hamilton will take the title and be the youngest champion ever. Interlagos will have the answers in a fortnight's time.

Thendulkar breaks Lara's record

India's Sachin Thendulkar yesterday broke Brian Lara's record for the number of runs in Test cricket when he want past Lara's 11,953 runs.

Thendulkar only needed 14 runs to equal the record on day one of the second Test against Australia.

After another 47 runs Thendulkar became the first player to reach 12,000 runs and I think we will be saying this for some time as he reaches milestone after milestone.

I think by the time he retires he will have set a very big record which will take a long time to beat if anybody can beat it.

At the moment the nearest contenders from current players are Rahul Dravid and Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

Siddle debut in second Test

Peter Siddle will make his debut for Australia in the second Test against India in Mohali.

Siddle will replace paceman Stuart Clark who did recover in time from a shoulder injury to make it for the second Test.

I actually think Australia did very well in the drawn first Test and I think they deserved to win the match.

After all the talk from India about Australia having no spinners India did nothing to suggest that they had the better bowlers.

Looking at the scorecard, Australia had two players make centuries captain Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey whilst on the Indian side their highest score of 57 was achieved by a bowler in Zaheer Khan in the first innings.

I will be expecting a much tougher second Test especially if Indian captain Anil Kumble is fit but if he plays injured again then Australia could be one up after the second Test.

So lets see how Siddle will perform in his debut Test.

Jankovic nets three in a row

Jelena Jankovic over the weekend won her third title in a row cementing her position as number one.

With Serena Williams not playing at the Kremlin Cup, Jankovic's position was not in doubt but I think that by winning her third title in three weeks she has shown that she is in very good form.

Talking about the actual match Jankovic beat Vera Zvonareva in straight sets to deny the home favourite a chance to win.

I am keen to see how she will progress at the Australian where one of her biggest challengers will be defending champion Maria Sharapova who is injured at the moment but is expected to feature at Melbourne Park.

Alonso good run continues in Japan

Former F1 champion Fernando Alonso's good run continued in the Japanese Grand prix winning back to back races.

Alonso won the first night race in Singapore a fortnight ago and he has followed that with another win in Japan but unfortunately for him there are only two races to go.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton did not score any points after finishing 12th but the good news for him is that his closest rival Felipe Massa did not take advantage of that as he only finished eighth in the race but was later promoted to seventh when Torro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais was handed a 25 second penalty for colliding with him.

I think Hamilton is still in a good position with just two races to go but its up to Massa to at least win the next race in China next week and with the drama of the Japanese grand prix I think anything is possible.

Hamilton had snatched pole with Massa qualifying fifth but a poor start for the leader meant that the advantage was quickly lost. Maybe the talking point will be the collision between Massa and Hamilton which meant that Hamilton lost a few places as he had to wait to get back on the track.

BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica came second and he can also win the championship as he is just twelve points behind Hamilton.

At last Kimi Raikkonen managed to finish a race and with that a podium place. After being so unlucky in the last few races i think it was good to see the reigning champion get a podium place.

This was a good race for Renault with Nelson Piquet getting fourth place ahead of Toyota's Jarno Trulli.

The Torro Rosso cars of Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel finished sixth and seventh respectively in the race but Bourdais' penalty meant that he was placed tenth with Vettel promoted to sixth.

I think this has been a good run for Torro Rosso managing to secure points in every race since the European grand prix in Valencia and with Vettel winning the Italian grand prix.

Mark Webber finished in the last points place after Massa managed to overtake him in the last lap. I think this wasn't as bad and his team mate David Coulthard crashed during the first lap.

So all eyes are on the Chinese grand prix and if things go well for Hamilton then he could possibly secure the title in Shanghai but with the gap now at five points Massa can see that he is far off after all.

Yet another note for Zimbabwe

Next week the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will introduce another new note and this time a $50,000 note.

Earlier in the year I used to follow these new currency introductions but have since lost track because it seems every few weeks there is a new note being introduced.

With official inflation at 231 million percent its hardly surprising that there is a need for a new note every now and again as the previous highest one fails to buy bread or pay for transport costs to work.

Also nothing is being done to fix the problems that make inflation so high and maybe until a new government is formed we will see new notes introduced and once again zeros cut.

All those zeros that were slashed a few months ago are slowly creeping back and prices for basic things will soon be in the millions again.

F1 drops Montreal from calendar

The Canadian Grand Prix has been dropped off from the 2009 F1 calendar and will instead be replaced by Abu Dhabi.

A few months ago I wrote a post about Abu Dhabi coming into F1 in 2009 but little did I know that it was going to be at the expense of the Canadian Grand prix.

But in a way I am not surprised by the decision because it seems like now F1 is looking for more money and venues with European friendly time.

At the same time I think its a big mistake to drop the only remaining North American grand prix in a region with such a big population and many F1 fans.

Last year the US grand prix was dropped and now Montreal is not on the calendar and I think F1 is making a big mistake of not expanding into other markets but more or less trying to consolidate just one market. Ever heard of putting all eggs in one basket?

Also there is nearly a month's break between Hungarian Grand Prix and Valencia's European grand prix to give the teams a summer break.

I also wonder who is going to be dropped to accommodate the Indian Grand Prix. Or will F1 expand to 19 or 20 races?

I hope we will see the Canadian and US grand prix back on the calendar soon.

Cabinet stalemate continues

Its now more than three weeks since the Zimbabwe unity agreement was signed still there is no cabinet as the parties are failing to agree on the allocation of key ministries.

I think this is something that should have taken a day to do but it seems like Zanu PF wants to take all the key ministries and relegate the MDC to the role of a junior partner.

I think that will not work and this impasse alone seems to be a sign that this whole agreement is bound to fail.

I think in a government of national unity if somebody takes defence then the other party should take home affairs. Somebody cannot even say they want to take both because that's being very unreasonable.

If Zanu PF wants Home Affairs then they should give defence to the MDC and I think its as simple as that.

On the Finance ministry, Zanu PF has had this ministry for 28 years and look at what they have landed the country into and right now people can't even have access to their money which they should before it loses its value.

I also think that these cabinet positions should have been agreed before the agreement was signed because that would have made implementing the agreement quicker.

Right now as the leaders argue about positions the country's economic situation is getting worse and worse and lots of school children are not going to school as there are no teachers.

The University of Zimbabwe has been closed indefinitely and there are so many other things happening it would take a whole post to mention them.

Therefore its imperative that this cabinet stalemate is broken soon and if it needs Thabo Mbeki to intervene then I think the time to intervene is now.

Jankovic regains top spot

Serena Williams reign as number last just four weeks as Jelena Jankovic regained the number one status this week.

Jankovic is in peak form at the moment and she has won two tournaments in a row. This weekend she won the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

Last week she won the China Open in Beijing after beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final in straight sets.

In Stuttgart she beat Venus Williams in the semi-final and in the final she pushed aside Nadia Petrova in straight sets.

Jankovic only became number one for the first time in August this year and she must be hoping that this time she will have a longer reign and with the form she is in she might get to the end of the year as number one.