Former South Africa rugby coach Peter de Villiers has been appointed the Director of Rugby and coach of the Zimbabwe team, his first high-profile job since a successful spell with the Springboks.
De Villiers has a two-year contract with Zimbabwe and on Wednesday, he took on the challenge of getting the southern Africans back to the Rugby World Cup next year for the first time since 1991.
“This is the greatest day of my life for one reason only, because people believe in me,” the 60-year-old de Villiers said in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe was the first African team to play at the World Cup, in 1987 and 1991 while South Africa was still isolated from international sport because of apartheid.
But Zimbabwe hasn’t been back at the sport’s showpiece since, overtaken by a number of other countries as Africa’s next best after the Springboks.
De Villiers’ time as coach of the Boks from 2008-11 was relatively successful despite doubts over a perceived lack of previous experience.
The first non-white to coach South Africa, de Villiers led the team to a series win over the British and Irish Lions and a southern hemisphere title in 2009, and yet never really won over the South African public.
He was sacked after South Africa’s controversial 11-9 loss to Australia in the quarter-finals of the World Cup seven years ago.
The arrival of a former Springboks coach is a big moment for Zimbabwe, but it also marks a return for de Villiers, who hadn’t worked in top-level rugby since leaving the Springboks after the 2011 World Cup.
The criticism he received while coaching South Africa appeared to have stunted his career.
His tendency to make controversial comments didn’t help, either, once accusing New Zealand’s team of cheating and appearing to defend one of his players for eye-gouging.
De Villiers’ appointment was described as “a statement of intent” by Zimbabwe Rugby Union president Aaron Jani.
“No one will ever wave the magic wand for us to become a force in world rugby,” Jani said. “It is up to us as a team and as a country to start believing in ourselves.”
Zimbabwe will play a round-robin set of qualifiers for the World Cup with five other African nations, including favourites Namibia, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia and Uganda.
“I can’t promise we will win everything,” de Villiers said. “The only promise is that we will prepare, not only prepare, but we will be ready.”
The top team will be assured of a place in the 2019 World Cup in Japan, where they will face New Zealand, South Africa and Italy in Pool B, while the second-placed side will enter the Repechage stage that involves further play-off games against teams from Asia, South and North America and Europe.
Mozambique: Government set to impose license fees for local journalists.
Mozambican government has announced plans to introduce license fees for local and foreign journalists.
Local correspondents will pay $2,500 per trip for media accreditation while foreign correspondents living in Mozambique will be charged $8,300 per year.
Mozambican journalists reporting for foreign news outlets will be required to pay $3,500 for an annual accreditation.
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This is 50 times more than the country’s statutory minimum wage, estimated at around $70 per month.
The plan fees have attracted serious criticism as the move has been viewed as an apparent attempt to discourage reporting from the country.
Mozambique’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has warned that the imposition of licensing fees on the country’s mass media must not compromise the fundamental right of the public to information.
In a statement, the CNDH, added its voice to the chorus of criticism of the proposed fees.
It conceded that the government has the right to update licensing and accreditation fees, but said such a measure should not undermine the right to information.
The CNDH points out that the current legal framework on access to information “takes as its guidelines the greatest divulging of information and free access to information… In other words, access to information is a matter of public interest and this access should be promoted and facilitated”.
It added: “The legal framework meant that the relevant state bodies must take measures to promote the broadest possible access to information”.
CNDS also warns that the enormous fees imposed by the July decree are not in line with the guidelines contained in the legal instruments on the right to information that are in force in the country.
The justification given for the fees is that they are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the sector – but none of the money raised by the fees will go to the media.
The decree states that 60 percent of the money from the fees will go to the state budget, and the remaining 40 per cent will go to the government’s press office (Gabinfo).
Meanwhile, the government is showing signs of backing down.
On Tuesday, its spokesperson, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ana Comoana, said the decree will be discussed with interested parties before its implementation.
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BREAKING: Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan dies
Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan died in the early hours of Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, according to a statement issued by his family.
The Nobel Peace Laureate was the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from January 1997 to December 2006, and became the first black African man to take on the top job as the world’s top diplomat.
He had been a member of The Elders, a group of global leaders working for human rights, since it was founded in 2007. In 2013, he became its chairman.
He was founder and Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, which issued a statement on social media, saying: “It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness…”