20 January 2019

Zimbabwe: I Am Not Quitting, Says Coventry

Sport, Arts and Culture minister Kirsty Coventry says she will not throw in the towel.

Coventry's comments come on the back of pressure being exerted on her to leave President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration after citizens were killed and brutalised during protests against a huge fuel price hike and the deteriorating economic environment.

Coventry, a swimming sensation and an Olympic gold medallist, was brought into Mngangwa's cabinet as he sought to assure the international and regional communities that the country was under a new dispensation.

Taking to Twitter on Friday, Coventry, who is also a current member of the International Olympic Committee's executive board, said she endeavours using her sports and youth portfolio to promote peace in Zimbabwe and would not quit.

"I would like to make it clear that I have not resigned as minister. Whatever the problems, sport can and should be part of the solution and I will pour my energies in uplifting our sports, the youth and culture until I can no longer be effective and make the impact we need in our country," she tweeted.

The rumour mill was awash in Harare that she was under pressure to quit after soldiers and police used live ammunition against citizens during the job stayaway called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which brought the country to a halt.

Coventry expressed sadness over the violence, which left several people dead and scores in injured.

"What has happened in Zimbabwe saddened me immensely. I am sorry to everyone that has been affected by the recent events. Violence is never the answer and needs to be investigated and actions taken. We need peace so no one else suffers and we can rebuild our nation together," she said.

Tensions continue to escalate amid indications that another national shutdown is on the cards next week, which is likely to coincide with a strike by public sector workers demanding a review of their salaries and better working conditions.

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