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Double-fault: Visa revoked again, Djokovic faces deportation – The Zimbabwe Mail

Novak Djokovic at airport (MARK BRAKE/GETTY IMAGES)



MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time, the latest twist in the ongoing saga over whether the No. 1-ranked tennis player will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Friday he used his ministerial discretion to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds — just three days before play begins at the Australian Open, where Djokovic has won a record nine of his 20 Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic’s lawyers were expected to appeal at the Federal Circuit and Family Court, which they already successfully did last week on procedural grounds after his visa was first canceled when he landed at a Melbourne airport.

A hearing was scheduled for Friday night.

Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that may be waived, depending on the circumstances.

Hawke said he canceled the visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.” His statement added that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Morrison himself welcomed Djokovic’s pending deportation. The whole episode has touched a nerve in Australia, and particularly in Victoria state, where locals went through hundreds of days of lockdowns during the worst of the pandemic and there is a vaccination rate among adults of more than 90%.

Australia is currently facing a massive surge in virus cases driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. On Friday, the nation reported 130,000 new cases, including nearly 35,000 in Victoria state. Although many infected people aren’t getting as sick as they did in previous outbreaks, the surge is still putting severe strain on the health system, with more than 4,400 people hospitalized. It’s also causing disruptions to workplaces and supply chains.

“This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods. … Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” Morrison said in a statement. “This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”

Everyone at the Australian Open — including players, their support teams and spectators — is required to be vaccinated for the illness caused by the coronavirus. Djokovic is not inoculated and had sought a medical exemption on the grounds that he had COVID-19 in December.

That exemption was approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, apparently allowing him to obtain a visa to travel. But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and canceled his visa when he landed in Melbourne on Jan. 5.


Djokovic spent four nights in an immigration detention hotel before a judge on Monday overturned that decision. That ruling allowed Djokovic to move freely around Australia and he has been practicing at Melbourne Park daily to prepare to play in a tournament he has won each of the past three years.

He had a practice session originally scheduled for mid-afternoon Friday at Rod Laver Arena, the tournament’s main stadium, but pushed that to the morning and was finished several hours before Hawke’s decision was announced in the early evening.

After the visa cancellation from Hawke, media started gathering outside the building where Djokovic reportedly was meeting with his lawyers.

An Australian Open spokeswoman said tournament organizers did not have any immediate comment on the latest development in Djokovic’s situation, which has overshadowed all other story lines heading into the year’s first Grand Slam event.

Tennis Australia announced that nine players would hold pre-tournament news conferences Saturday, and Djokovic’s name was not on the list.

With his legal situation still in limbo, Djokovic was placed in the tournament bracket in Thursday’s draw, slated to face Miomir Kecmanovic in an all-Serbian matchup in the first round.

According to Grand Slam rules, if Djokovic is forced to pull out of the tournament before the order of play for Day 1 is announced, No. 5 seed Rublev would move into Djokovic’s spot in the bracket and face Kecmanovic.

If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after Monday’s schedule is released, he would be replaced in the field by what’s known as a “lucky loser” — a player who loses in the qualifying tournament but gets into the main draw because of another player’s exit before competition has started.

And if Djokovic plays in a match — or more — and then is told he can no longer participate in the tournament, his next opponent would simply advance to the following round and there would be no replacement.

Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers face an “extremely difficult” task to get court orders over the weekend to allow their client to play next week.

Speaking hours before Hawke’s decision was announced, Bone said: “If you left it any later than he has done now, I think from a strategic standpoint, he’s really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what sort of options or remedies he could obtain.”

Djokovic’s lawyers would need to go before a duty judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court, or a higher judge of the Federal Court, to get two urgent orders. One order would be an injunction preventing his deportation, such as what he won in court last week.

The second would force Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.

“That second order is almost not precedented,” Bone said. “Very rarely do the courts order a member of the executive government to grant a visa.”

___


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Russia toughens its posture amid Ukraine tensions – The Zimbabwe Mail

– A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. With tens of thousands of Russian troops positioned near Ukraine, the Kremlin has kept the U.S. and its allies guessing about its next moves in the worst Russia-West security crisis since the Cold War. (AP P



MOSCOW (AP) — With tens of thousands of Russian troops positioned near Ukraine, the Kremlin has kept the U.S. and its allies guessing about its next moves in the worst security crisis to emerge between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

Amid fears of an imminent attack on Ukraine, Russia has further upped the ante by announcing more military drills in the region. It also has refused to rule out the possibility of military deployments to the Caribbean, and President Vladimir Putin has reached out to leaders opposed to the West.

The military muscle-flexing reflects a bold attempt by the Kremlin to halt decades of NATO expansion after the end of the Cold War. In talks with the United States, Russia demands legally binding guarantees that the alliance will not embrace Ukraine and other former Soviet nations, or place weapons there. It also wants NATO to pull back its forces from countries in Central and Eastern Europe that joined the alliance since the 1990s.

Putin has described NATO membership for Ukraine and the others as well as the alliance’s weapons deployments there as a red line for Moscow, warning that he would order unspecified “military-technical measures” if the demands aren’t met.

Putin pointed to NATO drills with the Ukrainian military, increasingly frequent visits of the alliance warships in the Black Sea and the flights of U.S. bombers near Crimea to emphasize the urgency of Russia’s security demands. He argued that by creating training centers in Ukraine, Western powers can establish a military foothold there even without its joining NATO.

“We have nowhere to retreat,” Putin said. “They have taken it to the point where we simply must tell them: ‘Stop!’”

Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, has denied it intends to attack its neighbor. Last year, however, Putin issued a stark warning that an attempt by Ukraine to reclaim control of the areas in the east controlled by Russia-backed separatists would have “grave consequences for Ukrainian statehood.”

While Ukrainian authorities denied planning such offensive, U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russia had already deployed operatives to carry out acts of sabotage in the rebel east and blame them on Ukraine in a “false-flag operation” to create a pretext for possible invasion. Russia has rejected the claim as “total disinformation.”

Putin has repeatedly asserted that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people,” and says large chunks of Ukrainian territory are historic parts of Russia — arbitrarily granted to Ukraine by Communist leaders during Soviet times.

Over 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting in Ukraine’s industrial heartland called the Donbas, where the Moscow-supported insurgency erupted shortly after the annexation of Crimea. A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany helped end large-scale battles, but a political settlement has stalled, and frequent skirmishes have continued along the tense line of contact.

In early 2021, a spike in cease-fire violations in the east and a Russian troop concentration near Ukraine ignited the invasion fears, but tensions abated when Moscow pulled back the bulk of its forces after maneuvers in April.


The military buildup near Ukraine resumed in the fall, with Ukrainian and Western officials warning that the increasing troop concentration could herald a multipronged Russian attack.

Putin noted with satisfaction that Russia has caused a “certain stress” in the West. “It’s necessary to keep them in that condition for as long as possible,” he said in November, ordering his diplomats to push for binding guarantees against NATO expansion.

While the U.S. and its allies rejected the Russian demands for a halt to NATO expansion, some observers note that Moscow’s insistence on a written reply may reflect an intention to use it as an argument for a possible escalation.

“At this stage, the parties don’t intend to compromise and want to shift responsibility for a potential conflict,” said Kirill Rogov, a Moscow-based independent analyst.

Adding to an estimated 100,000 troops deployed near Ukraine, Russia also has moved more troops from Siberia and the Far East for joint drills with its ally Belarus, which also borders Ukraine. In those exercises, Russian military units have moved to areas near Belarus’ southern border, which is about 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Kyiv.

Earlier this week, the Russian Defense Ministry also announced a series of naval maneuvers in the Black Sea and more distant areas such as the Mediterranean, northeastern Atlantic and the Pacific. The exercises that will start this month and last through February would involve over 140 ships, dozens of aircraft and more than 10,000 personnel.

Amid the tensions, Putin also worked to strengthen alliances with the countries opposed to the West. He has hosted Iran’s hard-line president for talks on expanding cooperation and is set to travel to the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing where he will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In recent days, Putin also spoke by phone with the leaders of Nicaragua and Venezuela, and a Russian government plane was recently seen cruising between Cuba and Venezuela in a possible harbinger of the next Kremlin moves.

After the U.S. and its allies rejected Russia’s demands for a halt to NATO expansion, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov kept the door open for the deployment of military assets to Cuba and Venezuela.

While voicing concern that NATO could potentially use Ukrainian territory for the deployment of missiles capable of reaching Moscow in just five minutes, Putin has warned that Russian warships armed with the latest Zircon hypersonic cruise missile would give Russia a similar capability if deployed in neutral waters.

Fyodor Lukyanov, a leading Russian foreign policy expert, observed that with Russia and the West taking intransigent stands in the talks, an escalation appears inevitable.

“Tensions will be high, including demonstrations of force not necessarily near or in Ukraine,” Lukyanov wrote in a commentary. “Real talks with some room for maneuvering and a broader agenda would ideally begin only after the next round of escalation in order to ease tensions.”


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Zim's rights record under UN spotlight – NewsDay

BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ZIMBABWE’s human rights’ record will be under global spotlight next week during the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) working group meeting.

The UPR working group will review Zimbabwe’s human rights record for the third time since 2008. The meeting will be webcast live.

Zimbabwe is one of the States to be reviewed by the UPR working group in its upcoming 40th session  scheduled for January 24 to February 3, 2022, marking the end of the UPR third cycle.

A review cycle is a four-and-half year period within which all the 193 UN member States’ human rights records are reviewed. The working group convenes three two-week sessions per year, or 14 sessions over the course of an entire cycle.

The UPR 40th session was initially scheduled for November 2021, but was postponed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Zimbabwe will be represented by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, while the three country representatives serving as rapporteurs for the review of the southern African nation are Namibia, Luxembourg and Armenia.

Ziyambi yesterday confirmed that he would attend the meeting, but refused to comment further.

“I cannot pre-empt what I would want to say at the meeting, I will provide more details after,” he said.

The UN human rights council reviews will be based on information provided by the government and independent human rights experts and groups, human rights treaty bodies and other UN entities.

Information provided by other stakeholders, including national human rights institutions, regional organisations and civil society groups, will also be used for review.

In recent submissions to the UN Human Rights Council, civic society groups accused government of introducing harsh laws to clamp down on their voluntary work.

In a joint statement ahead of the meeting, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) and Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe accused government of interfering with their work.

“Civic space continues to shrink at an alarming rate, proposed new laws such as amendments to the PVO [Private Voluntary Organisation] Act and Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Criminal Code), and the ‘Patriotic Bill’, will undermine the work of human rights defenders and NGOs, especially those working on governance issues,” read part of the letter.

“Further, the latest proposed legislation including amendments to the PVO Act/ Criminal Law code and a law on patriotism are major issues of concern, the government of Zimbabwe desires to amend the PVO Act to tighten the regulation framework under the pretext of implementing recommendation 8 of the Financial Action Task Force, yet the recommendation acknowledges the need for governments to desist from adopting disproportionate measures thus interfering with genuine charitable work.”

  • Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya

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Black Umfolosi celebrates 40 years in showbiz – NewsDay

BY SHARON SIBINDI

CO-FOUNDER of globetrotting imbube group — Black Umfolosi, Tomeki Dube has said they will take time to reflect on the past to see what they did right and what went wrong as they celebrate 40 years of presence in the showbiz industry this March.

The five-member Bulawayo-based Black Umfolosi was founded in March 1982 and has so far released 15 albums with more than five awards under its belt.

It is famed for its hit song — Unity which was released in 1990.

Dube told NewsDay Life & Style that 2022 was a year of writing Black Umfolosi’s biography, producing a video documentary and strengthening their junior policy.

“Black Umfolosi turns 40 on March 15. This year, we will reflect on the past to see what we did well, what went wrong and move on wisely with much strength,” he said.

Dube said a lot of activities were lined up for this year as part of celebrating their 40th anniversary including opening doors to collaborations with other artistes.

“2022 is the year for collaborative works with those who respect and are interested in our works. This year, we are reaching out to schools mainly within Bulawayo to train and share experiences with the children,” he said.

“This year we are opening our doors for collaborative work from across Zimbabwe to celebrate our entire journey with friends in the arts industry including our music followers.”

Dube added: “It is also a year to revisit the Enkundleni Centre Programmes. Consultations and engaging with the young focused team on all developmental endeavours of Black Umfolosi are in progress.”

“COVID-19 challenges may limit us here and there, but our programme roll-out is set. Besides the 40th anniversary celebrations, depending on the containment of the COVID-19, we should
resume our tours getting ready to travel to the United Kingdom and Canada with the possibility of going to the United States of America as well.”

  • Follow Sharon on Twitter @SibindiSharon

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