In the same week that the England & Wales Cricket Board is likely to announce that it is happy with security arrangements surrounding its tour of Zimbabwe, a protester who was beaten by police after waving an anti-government banner during a World Cup match last year said that he was planning another demonstration during England's trip.
The Sunday Telegraph reported how 19-year-old Kindness Moto was arrested and tortured after protesting against Robert Mugabe during Zimbabwe's match against Netherlands at Bulawayo in March, 2003. The newspaper said that he was held by the police for four days and "raped by officers, starved, electrocuted and beaten on the soles of his feet before being thrown from a moving car." He has subsequently been arrested and beaten on three more occasions.
Moto's story reflects that of Edsion Mukwasi, the 29-year-old former official of the Movement for Democratic Change, who was arrested outside the Harare Sports Club - where England will play three ODIs - during Zimbabwe's match against Pakistan in November 2002 for distributing leaflets highlighting human rights abuses. While in custody it is claimed he was repeatedly tortured, and he died three months later from lung and liver injuries resulting from those beatings.
Moto claimed that potential protesters are already being rounded up ahead of England's visit, although he insisted that the demonstrations would still go ahead. With no free media inside Zimbabwe, and with foreign journalists subjected to considerable restrictions, opponents say that this rare exposure to the international community has to be seized on.
And, Moto added, with few locals likely to attend - recent one- day internationals have been played out in front of dozens rather than even hundreds of spectators - the ruling Zanu-PF are planning to fill the stands with schoolchildren to give the impression that all is well.