By Alois Vinga
SEASONED accountant, Emmah Mungoni, has been appointed ZB Financial Holding Limited (ZBFHL) group finance director.
The appointment is with effect from January 1, 2022.
The bank’s management board said Mungoni is not new to the institution as she was elevated from another management role.
“Emmah is currently the Head of Corporate Banking for ZB Bank Limited with functional responsibility for key customer relationships and improving assets and liabilities of the bank whilst supervising the Treasury and International Banking functions.
“She joined ZBFH in June 2010 as the Finance Director at ZB Building Society and then Acting Managing Director, a position she held until May 2018 when she was appointed the Head Corporate Banking for ZB Bank,” the board said.
Mungoni has had an exceptional, progressive career of over 20 years commencing January 1997 to 2002 at Ernst &Young Chartered Accountants where she served her articles and rose to the position of an Audit supervisor.
She then went on to serve as Group Finance Executive at Apex Corporation in March 2002, moved onto AON Zimbabwe as chief finance officer until 2009.om there she joined ZB in 2010 until her current position as Head Corporate Banking.
“A registered member of the Public Accountants and Auditors Board, a holder of an executive development program from the Graduate School of Management University of Cape Town, A Master of Business Administration University of Pretoria and Bachelor of Accounting Degree, University of Zimbabwe,” added the board.
By Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has said the country has adapted to the new Covid-19 normal and people can now engage in their normal day-to-day activities despite the scale of the prevalence of the pandemic.
Zimbabwe is currently battling a fourth Covid-19 wave of the Covid-19 outbreak dominated by the Omicron.
Addressing a gathering in Kwekwe during a clean-up campaign Friday, Mnangagwa said: “When we were hit with the COVID-19 pandemic we were forced to suspend the clean-up program as we had to monitor the situation. However, we know that Covid-19 has become the new norm. It is the new normal. We can now work in the presence and prevalence of Covid-19 pandemic. This is witnessed by the way you are masked up in complying with the World Health Organisation, guidelines.”
“I urge all those who have not been vaccinated to do so. Arrangements have been made for the administration of booster jabs for those who have already received their vaccine jabs,” he said.
“Considering that we are under sanctions we were forced to mobilise internal resources to get vaccines from China as we did not receive assistance from the World Bank or the IMF like any other developing countries. In the process we ended up having a surplus so there are enough vaccines for booster shots,” he said.
Turning to the clean-up campaign, Mnangagwa issued a stern warning to captains of industries who are not complying to the government directive.
“I understand captains of industries are here. When we launched the clean-up program, we urged businesses that they must utilise every first Friday of the month to at least take an hour to a maximum two hours to clean their environment,” Mnangagwa said.
“While some of the corporates are doing it, others are not. I don’t want to force you to clean your environment, but, if need be, I can force you because I am able to do that,” he said.
The clean-up campaigns which were launched in 2018 were once suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic.
However, going forward Mnangagwa said the clean-up program is resuming across the country.
The post Mnangagwa Says The Country Has Adapted To Covid Pandemic appeared first on NewZimbabwe.com.
…..Protest vote sinks Mnangagwa’s Masvingo blue-eyed boy
By Clayton Shereni, Masvingo Correspondent
THE battle for the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairperson’s post that raged between 2016 and 2017 was reignited in the recently held provincial elections which saw Provincial minister Ezra Chadzamira being upstaged by his former deputy, Robson Mavhenyengwa.
Then, a faction linked to the late president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace unsuccessfully tried several times to bulldoze its way, but their efforts hit unassailable bulwarks a as the province rallied unitedly against its candidate, retired army colonel Mutero Masanganise and stood with Chadzamira, who was fighting in then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s corner.
So fierce was the battled that a song was composed and renditioned during the 2016 annual conference, ironically held in Masvingo: “Kumagumo kune nyaya (there is trouble at the end).”
Indeed, trouble there was and, as they say, the rest is history.
The Politburo first nullified Chadzamira’s win and ordered a re-run but Chadzamira went on to win even more resoundingly.
The highest decision-making organ in the party had argued that some party members in rural Masvingo had failed to vote due to flooded rivers that hindered them from reaching polling stations on election day.
In May 2017, Masanganise threw in the towel citing a lot of irregularities, but the polls went on as scheduled and Chadzamira won in a landslide victory of 29 543 votes against 1 080 for his rival.
Chadzamira’s guts to challenge the former powerful colonel is a topic for another day, but he rose drastically to become arguably the most powerful Zanu PF politician in the province.
Although his political career in the ruling party is looks not very bright after his defeat by Mavhenyengwa, Chadzamira is still a powerful man as he retains his other posts of minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs, as well as that of Member of Parliament (MP) for Masvingo West.
Chadzamira, who is reported to be President Emmerson Mnangangwa’s blue-eyed boy in the province, seems to have made more enemies than friends during his stay at the Benjamin Burombo Government Building.
A number of protests and demonstrations were staged against him over alleged corrupt activities and nepotism.
Before the November 2017 coup, Chadzamira fought tooth and nail against alleged G40 elements in the province including the then Minister of State Dr Paul Chimedza; defending Mnangagwa and challenging his dismissal from the ruling party and presidium.
However, four years later, the tables have turned against him and faces a discourteous exit of the political arena, barring Mnangagwa’s clemency.
Commenting on the developments, political analyst Davison Mugodzwa said: “It seems like tables have now turned and factionalism is now rife in that party. There is a faction which appears to be more popular than the other and also rejection of those at the centre of power.”
Sources within the ruling party have revealed that Mavhenyengwa, who is also MP for Zaka North, was just a face fronting for a group of disgruntled Zanu PF bigwigs in the province.
It has also emerged that deputy minister of Finance, Clemence Chiduwa, who is also the Zaka East MP, was approached by the disgruntled bigwigs to challenge Chadzamira but he refused, pledging his allegiance to Chadzamira.
With violence, rigging and vote-buying being very common, non-existent structures were reportedly set-up in Gutu district where the plot to topple Chadzamira was masterminded allegedly by his alleged nemesis, Lovemore Matuke.
They allegedly fell out over land allocations.
Interestingly, Gutu became the swing district, with Chadzamira suffering the heaviest of losses.
He garnered a measly 508 votes against Mavhenyengwa’s 8 094.
Mavhenyengwa eventually got a total of 19 910 votes across all seven districts while Chadzamira got 17 233.
After the shocking defeat, it is reported that some Chadzamira sympathisers claimed the structures were tampered with in Gutu, but the same allegations were also levelled against them in Masvingo West where Chadzamira won.
In a telephone interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Mavhenyengwa said he was now shifting focus to 2023 elections and would want to promote unity amongst party members in the province.
“Our main focus is now on the five million votes campaign so that President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF win the 2023 elections resoundingly. The important issue is about unity, what we were doing was an in-house thing, no one lost or won. We were just giving each other positions,” Mavhenyengwa said.
Sources say Chadzamira has reportedly chose the diplomatic route of accepting defeat and pledging to support the winner.
Efforts to get an official comment from Chadzamira were futile as his mobile was not reachable and text messages sent to him had not been responded to up until the time of publishing.
The post FEATURE: Four Years Later, Tables Turn Against Chadzamira appeared first on NewZimbabwe.com.
By Mary Taruvinga
THE outgoing Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) president, Takudzwa Ngadziore says students will mount more pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration following the release on bail of fiery activist Makomborero Haruzuvishe.
Ngadziore, himself a victim of political persecution, was speaking soon after the High court freed Haruvishe.
He said Zimbabwe is still far from achieving democracy, hence the need to press on.
“There has been miscarriage of justice for quite some time,” Ngadziore said.
“He (Haruzivishe) was facing pretrial detention for around 10 months and that is just a reflection of how we are led by vacuous revolution, by intellectual hyenas but we should as young people be on the forefront to respond and act, to stand up and demand the space which is being suffocated by all these undemocratic means and unjust acts by the state and the regime,” he said.
“As the outgoing student president, a close brother to Mako, I am happy he is out and with him being out, the situation is still where it was and there is nothing that can stop us from continuously speaking the truth to power.”
“There is economic mismanagement in this country. There is political instability, and it calls upon us, because none but ourselves should always be on the forefront to speak for justice and solidarity to thrive which are the values we believe in in social democracy,” he added.
MDC Alliance spokesperson, Fadzai Mahere echoed the same sentiments saying the regime is unfeeling.
“At this point we want to emphasise is that bail is a constitutional entitlement so for someone to be incarcerated for 10 months…to be deprived of their liberty really does spell that something is quite wrong with the system, but we are happy that justice has prevailed, and he (Haruzivshe) will be able to be free and be with his family,” she said.
Makomborero has been in jail for the past 10 months after he was locked up for failing to attend court.
He was granted bail by the High Court after his lawyers successfully argued that he did not commit any offence and abide by his bail conditions.
The post Zinasu Declares War As It Welcomes Makomborero Haruzivishe Back appeared first on NewZimbabwe.com.
By Staff Reporter
AT least 11 Zimbabweans who attempted to cross the crocodile-infested Limpopo River into South Africa are feared dead after a boat transporting them capsized, while three others were swept away in different incidents.
Beitbridge Police District Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo saidt only one body had been recovered so far.
“So far a body has been recovered, but yet to be identified,” he said.
He added that two more bodies were located in the river, on the South African side.
“Two more bodies are in the river, but on the SA side and to retrieve them, there’s [the] need [for the] services of a helicopter because the water current is strong,” he said.
Zimbabwe police’s Sub-Aqua Unit had been trying to get the bodies since Sunday when they were reported to authorities, but no headway had been made.
Nyongo said they had informed the South African Police Services (SAPS) who were expected to dispatch a helicopter to the area.
News was rife in the Beitbridge town that a boat carrying eight people capsized on Sunday near Gate 7 east of the border post, but Nyongo said: “We have not received that report; at times people do not report these incidents and that is cause for concern.”
Sources in Beitbridge alleged that the eight believed to have drowned were seen in an inflated boat near Dite Village, 40 kilometres east and downstream from the bridge.
Crossing the river is cheaper, but riskier than going through the border post. Speaking to journalists, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said they had observed the trend of illegally crossing into South Africa through the border and they had put in place “firewalls” to curb it.
“What we have learnt is that these people come by cars from Zimbabwe. The car stops on the other side of the border and whoever doesn’t have documents, then moves out of the car and the driver who is documented will go in and pick [up] the person who crossed illegally on the other side,” he said.
Motsoaledi also claimed that “corrupt” members of Zimbabwe’s border patrol unit allowed undocumented Zimbabweans to cross into South Africa.
SAPS Limpopo spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo was not available for comment, but police and military personnel from both countries were working together in an operation “not to cross border crimes” and significant arrests had been made on both sides of the border.
The post 11 Zimbabweans Feared Dead After Makeshift Boat Capsises In Limpopo River appeared first on NewZimbabwe.com.
By Staff Reporter
ZANU PF is headed for renewed factional turbulence ahead of a string of fresh internal elections starting next month, NewZimbabwe.com can report.
The ruling party, still smarting from highly contentious provincial polls held late last month, is gearing towards primary elections to select candidates that will represent the party in the upcoming March 26 National Assembly by-elections.
Thereafter, the party will immediately be involved in crunch national youth and women’s league elections – to be held at separate congresses – before the mother of all political battles explodes in central committee elections.
The central committee is Zanu PF’s principal policy organ, with power to change the constitution and recall or change leadership, according to the party’s constitution.
This explains why elections into it have always been thunderous and bloody, with the top officials keep to plant surrogates in the all-important organ.
The four sets of elections are expected to be stormy, coming at a time when factionalism bedevilling the party has exploded into the public domain in a major way.
Sources in Zanu PF said preparations are well underway as the provinces are strategically positioning their candidates for, principally, the central committee elections.
According to the Zanu PF constitution, the central committee is the principal organ of the party and consists of 245 members drawn from the party’s 10 provinces. It acts on behalf of congress when it is not in session and among other things implements all policies, resolutions, directives, decisions and programmes enunciated by congress.
The Youth League provides 17 members to the central committee with the Women’s League contributing the same number, which explains the keen interest by the party’s top brass in those organs.
The establishment of a third organ comprising of war veterans, war collaborators and those detained during the liberation struggle has been put on ice after it became a centre for intense factional jockeying even in its infancy.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa appoints 10 members while 50 are drawn from the women’s quarter. The remaining members are elected from the provinces in a way and manner that each province shall have a proportionate quota or number, having regard to the census population figures in the province.
Top Zanu PF sources say chaotic scenes are looming ahead of the elections as the same problems were experienced during late last year’s provincial elections.
“There are bound to be problems because no concrete measures were taken after the chaotic provincial elections last year that were marred by allegations of vote-buying, violence, rigging and intimidation, to prevent similar incidents,” a Zanu PF politburo member said.
“Unless and until the politburo provides solutions to such problems, internal elections in the party will be haunted by chaos.”
Two rival camps reportedly led by Mnangagwa and his highly ambitious deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, were engaged in a bruising fight for the control of provincial executives and are again set to battle it out in the upcoming polls which could be crucial in defining the subsequent political trajectory.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com on Friday, Zanu PF national political commissar Mike Bimha said the party was preparing itself for the impending tumult.
“As you are aware, we just finished the elections for provincial chairpersons and this weekend, we are finalising the rest of the positions to ensure that new provincial executives commissioned,” Bimha said in an interview broadcast on NewZim TV accessible on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1vXDouHHJg
“Our next target is the upcoming by-elections. Now that we know the dates (when they will be held), we are planning for them. Once we are through with them, we will be having our elections for the youth league, our elections for the women’s league and thereafter we can go for central committee elections,” he said.
Bimha also said there was nothing amiss about events that characterised the provincial elections as “that has always been the case”.
- Africa’s first floating liquified natural gas plant has arrived in Mozambique and gas production is on track to begin in the second half of the year.
- The Coral South project is the first of a few planned projects which will exploit a significant gas find in the offshore Rovuma Basin.
After a seven-week voyage, Africa’s first-ever deep-sea floating Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facility has entered Mozambican waters, marking a major milestone ahead of imminent production from an offshore gas field.
The floating plant – known as the Coral Sul FLNG – arrived in Area 4 of the Rovuma Basin this week, Mozambique’s National Petroleum Institute announced.
The plant is critical to the $7 billion Coral South project, which is operated by Italian oil and gas company Eni. It will produce and sell gas extracted from the southern part of the field.
The 220 000 ton vessel, the main component of which was constructed by Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea, is the first FLNG built for deep waters and the first specifically built for Africa. Some 432 meters long and 66 meters wide, the plant has the capacity to liquefy 3.4 million tons of natural gas per year.
It will be linked to six subsea gas producing wells, with its LNG earmarked to be sold exclusively to BP under a 20-year offtake agreement signed in 2016.
Eni’s partners in Area 4 are ExxonMobil, the China National Petroleum Corporation, Empresa Nactional de Hidrocarbonetos, Galp Energia, and the Korea Gas Corporation.
Gearing up for production
The Coral Sul FLNG embarked on its voyage from South Korea on 15 November and entered Mozambiquan waters on 3 January.
According to the National Petroleum Institute, the vessel’s arrival is “a milestone in the project’s implementation”.
Since arriving in Mozambican waters, a complex process of anchoring, surveys, inspections and certifications had begun with a view to issuing the vessel with an operating license so that production can start as planned in the second half of the year.
According to Eni’s website, the installation campaign includes mooring and hook-up operations at a water depth of around 2000 meters by means of 20 mooring lines that weigh 9000 tons in total.
The Coral South project will see Eni providing specialist training for more than 800 Mozambican workers, who will be employed in the project’s operational phase. The company said it has committed to a “huge programme of work” for local communities to improve their access to basic services such as education, clean water and health care, while supporting long-term, diversified, sustainable socio-economic growth.
Coral South is one of a number of energy projects located in the Rovuma basin.
Also under construction is TotalEnergies’ substantially larger $20 billion Mozambique LNG project. Work is yet to resume after the site was evacuated in March last year as a result of nearby Islamic State terrorist attacks.
Still awaiting a final investment decision is ExxonMobil’s $30 billion Rovuma LNG project, which was delayed in 2020 in light of an oil price collapse amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is great news for Mozambique and the region that Coral FLNG is now in Mozambique, ahead of commissioning,” said Paul Eardley-Taylor, Standard Bank’s head of oil and gas for Southern Africa.
“3.4 million tons per annum of LNG can support 4 GW of base load cleaner gas to power and demonstrates that Mozambique’s LNG developments continue, despite the pandemic and other challenges,” he said.
Across the border in South Africa, the government has long paid lip service to developing a gas economy, but the pace has been frustratingly slow for many industry proponents. Climate concerns have made it more difficult than ever for oil and gas companies to pursue new projects – as shown by fierce opposition to Shell’s plans to conduct seismic surveys off SA’s Wild Coast.
The arrival of the Coral Sul FLNG is yet another reminder of where South Africa could have been, if it had sprang into action sooner to develop a local gas economy said Niall Kramer, an independent energy consultant.
“It’s just frustrating that the world is moving ahead and we are talking about things and not doing what we said we would do,” he said. “I think that there’s almost an intentional delay in the assumption that if government talk about it and set up a committee and have a meeting, that’s enough to pacify business. But it’s not.”
South Africa needs to develop an environment that’s attractive to investors in gas, the likes of who are investing in neighbours like Nambia and Mozambique despite the political and security challenges, said Kramer.
While he recognises there has been some progress – most recently was the release of a draft gas master plan – Kramer said South Africa’s gas and renewables policy and execution suffers from “sheer ineptitude” and a “lack of vision” on the transition path toward renewables.
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South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, is to celebrate its 110th anniversary this weekend amid deep divisions, graft allegations and broad challenges that saw it perform dismally in local government elections last year.
The anniversary event, to take place in the country’s northern Limpopo province on Saturday, comes days after a state-backed judicial investigation revealed how some of the party’s top officials had benefited from corruption.
The ANC remains divided between those backing President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also president of the party, and those loyal to former President Jacob Zuma, who has been embroiled in legal battles since he left office in 2018.
Zuma’s refusal to appear before the commission of inquiry saw him sentenced to 15 months in prison in July last year, which sparked riots that descended into widespread looting and destruction of property in the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces. More than 340 people died in the rioting.
Ramaphosa acknowledged the problems when speaking to ANC supporters this week.
“We have lots of challenges, nearly on every front. We have COVID-19. We also had corruption scandals … that we had to deal with. It involved people dipping their fingers into money that was supposed to be utilized for (personal protective gear)” said Ramaphosa, citing one of several corruption scandals.
He said the loss of jobs due to the COVID-19 had compounded South Africa’s already high unemployment rate of 34% and he highlighted the July unrest as one of the major events that set the country back.
“It’s a broad spectrum of challenges and problems. It needs leadership but also needs us to work together, and to ask ourselves whether we give in … or are we going to defend the gains that we have made?” Ramaphosa said.
The African National Congress was founded in 1912 to oppose white minority rule and to campaign for Black South Africans to have full democratic rights. The party came to power in 1994 when the country’s first democratic elections were held and Nelson Mandela became the first Black president.
However, the ANC’s support has declined in recent years and it received less than 50% of votes cast in local elections in October, its worst-ever showing at the polls.
The ANC will try to use the anniversary to win back some of the support they have lost over the years, political analyst Hlengiwe Ndlovu said.
The ANC’s poor showing in the October elections was significant, she said. “That was a clear message from South Africans to say ‘We are tired. We see what you are doing and we are starting to look outside,’” said Ndlovu.
She said Ramaphosa and others will “try to push the message of unity within the party, but the factionalism within the party is very clear, as we saw with the Jacob Zuma support protests,” she said.
Fewer people will attend the anniversary event Saturday as a result of COVID-19 regulations, which restrict gatherings to a maximum of 2,000 people.
The post South Africa’s Ruling Party Marks Birthday Amid Divisions appeared first on NewZimbabwe.com.
Ethiopia’s government on Friday announced an amnesty for some of the country’s most high-profile political detainees, including opposition figure Jawar Mohammed and senior Tigray party officials, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed spoke of reconciliation for Orthodox Christmas.
“The key to lasting unity is dialogue,” the government said in a statement on the amnesty. “Ethiopia will make any sacrifices to this end.”
It was the most dramatic move yet by the government after the country’s deadly Tigray war entered a new phase in late December, when Tigray forces retreated into their region amid a military offensive and Ethiopian forces said they would not advance further there.
The war in Africa’s second most populous country has highlighted the deadly ethnic tensions posing the greatest challenge to Abiy’s rule.
Ethiopia’s state broadcaster, EBC, named both Jawar and opposition figure Eskinder Nega, who were detained in July 2020 following deadly unrest over the killing of popular ethnic Oromo artist Hachalu Hundessa, as those granted amnesty. Eskinder, leader of the Balderas party, left a detention center on Friday evening.
But Tuli Bayis, a lawyer for Jawar of the Oromo Federalist Congress party and others, told The Associated Press that they refused to leave the prison facility as the order for their release came late in the day.
“They have security risks, so they preferred to exit the correction facility in daytime,” Tuli said, adding he was not sure why the order for their release came now. “We heard it is an amnesty, that’s what we know for now.”
Ethiopia’s ministry of justice said the amnesty for Jawar and Nega was granted “to make the upcoming national dialogue successful and inclusive.” Ethiopian lawmakers on Dec. 29 approved a bill to establish a commission for national dialogue amid international pressure for negotiations to end the war.
The state broadcaster also named several senior officials with Tigray’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front party as being granted amnesty and said they will be released soon. They include Sebhat Nega, Kidusan Nega, Abay Woldu, Abadi Zemu, Mulu Gebregziabher and Kiros Hagos. They were arrested in late 2020 when government forces captured most of the Tigray region shortly after war erupted between Tigray forces and Ethiopian ones.
The ministry of justice said the TPLF detainees “were granted amnesty taking into consideration their age and health condition.”
Friday’s announcement came a day after the United States said its outgoing special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, met with Ethiopia’s prime minister to again press for a negotiated end to the war.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Friday’s development and called on the parties “to build on this significant confidence-building step by agreeing a cessation of hostilities and a lasting ceasefire, as well as launching a credible and inclusive national dialogue and reconciliation process.”
The U.N. chief said that following his last contact with prime minister Abiy he also looks forward “to a meaningful improvement in humanitarian access to all areas affected by the year-long conflict.”
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said last month that an estimated 9.4 million people across Tigray and neighboring Amhara and Afar were “in critical need of food assistance.” He warned Thursday that some U.N. agencies and aid organizations will be forced to halt operations in the Tigray region if humanitarian supplies, fuel and cash are not delivered very soon.
It’s estimated that tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war that erupted in November 2020 between Ethiopian forces and the Tigray forces who once led the country. The government of Abiy, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize just a year earlier, by that point was wrestling with the challenge of various ethnic tensions growing in the wake of the prime minister’s sweeping political reforms.
Those reforms have dramatically eroded with the war. Ethiopia’s government has sought to restrict reporting on the conflict and detained some journalists, including a video freelancer accredited to The Associated Press, Amir Aman Kiyaro.
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CNN: Sidney Poitier, whose elegant bearing and principled onscreen characters made him Hollywood’s first Black movie star and the first Black man to win the best actor Oscar, has died. He was 94.Clint Watson, press secretary for the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, confirmed to CNN that Poitier died Thursday evening. Poitier overcame an impoverished background in the Bahamas and softened his thick island accent to rise to the top of his profession at a time when prominent roles for Black actors were rare. He won the Oscar for 1963’s “Lilies of the Field,” in which he played an itinerant laborer who helps a group of White nuns build a chapel. Many of his best-known films explored racial tensions as Americans were grappling with social changes wrought by the civil rights movement. In 1967 alone, he appeared as a Philadelphia detective fighting bigotry in small-town Mississippi in “In the Heat of the Night” and a doctor who wins over his White fiancée’s skeptical parents in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Poitier’s movies struggled for distribution in the South, and his choice of roles was limited to what White-run studios would produce. Racial taboos, for example, precluded him from most romantic parts. But his dignified roles helped audiences of the 1950s and 1960s envision Black people not just as servants but as doctors, teachers and detectives. Sidney Poitier Fast Facts At the same time, as the lone Black leading man in 1960s Hollywood, he came under tremendous scrutiny. He was too often hailed as a noble symbol of his race and endured criticism from some Black people who said he had betrayed them by taking sanitized roles and pandering to Whites. “It’s been an enormous responsibility,” Poitier told Oprah Winfrey in 2000. “And I accepted it, and I lived in a way that showed how I respected that responsibility. I had to. In order for others to come behind me, there were certain things I had to do.” As a young actor he overcame enormous challenges The youngest of seven children, Sidney Poitier was born several months premature in Miami on February 20, 1927, so tiny he could fit in his father’s hand. His parents were tomato farmers who often traveled to and from Florida and the Bahamas. He was not expected to live. His mother consulted a palm reader, who assuaged her fears. “The lady took her hand and started speaking to my mother: ‘Don’t worry about your son. He will survive,’ ” Poitier told CBS News in 2013. “And these were her words; she said, ‘He will walk with kings.’ “ Sidney Poitier as a teacher who must win over his students in a still from the 1967 film “To Sir, with Love.” When he was 15, Poitier’s parents sent him from the Bahamas to live with an older brother in Miami, where they figured he would have better opportunities. His father took him to the dock and put $3 in his hand. “He said, ‘take care of yourself, son.’ And he turned me around to face the boat,” Poitier told NPR in 2009. Poitier didn’t like Miami and soon headed north to New York, where he tried his hand at acting. It did not go well at first. With limited schooling, he had trouble reading a script. But he got a job as a dishwasher in a restaurant, where a fortuitous encounter changed his life. An elderly waiter took an interest in the teen and spent nights after work reading the newspaper with him to improve his comprehension, grammar and punctuation. “That man, every night, the place is closed, everyone’s gone, and he sat there with me week after week after week,” Poitier told CBS News. “And he told me about punctuations. He told me where dots were and what the dots mean here between these two words, all of that stuff.” Soon after, Poitier landed work with the American Negro Theatre, where he took acting lessons, softened his Bahamian accent and landed a stage role as an understudy to Harry Belafonte. This led to roles on Broadway and eventually caught the attention of Hollywood. Actor Sidney Poitier, left, with actor Tony Franciosa, talk show host David Susskind, singer Harry Belafonte and actress Shelley Winters on the talk show “Open End” in 1960 in New York City. He refused to take roles he felt were demeaning Poitier’s first movie was 1950’s “No Way Out,” a noir film in which he played a young doctor who must treat a racist patient. That led to increasingly prominent roles as a reverend in the apartheid drama “Cry, the Beloved Country,” a troubled student in “Blackboard Jungle” and an escaped prisoner in “The Defiant Ones,” in which he and Tony Curtis were shackled together and forced to get along to survive. With that 1958 film, Poitier became the first Black man to be nominated for an Oscar. But for a dark-skinned actor in the 1950s, finding complex roles was difficult. “(Blacks) were so new in Hollywood. There was almost no frame of reference for us except as stereotypical, one-dimensional characters,” Poitier told Winfrey. “I had in mind what was expected of me — not just what other Blacks expected but what my mother and father expected. And what I expected of myself.” Sidney Poitier with Lilia Skala in 1963’s “Lilies of the Field.” The role earned him an Oscar. Early on, Poitier made a conscious decision to reject roles that weren’t consistent with his values or that reflected badly upon his race. He told Winfrey that as a struggling young actor, he turned down a role that paid $750 a week because he didn’t like the character, a janitor who didn’t respond after thugs killed his daughter and threw her body on his lawn. “I could not imagine playing that part. So I said to myself, ‘That’s not the kind of work I want.’ And I told my agent that I couldn’t play the role,” Poitier said. “He said, ‘Why can’t you play it? There’s nothing derogatory about it in racial terms,’ and I said, ‘I can’t do it.’ He never understood.” Still, by the late 1950s, Poitier was landing regular acting work. He appeared in the first Broadway production of “A Raisin in the Sun” in 1959 and starred in the movie version two years later. Then came “Lilies of the Field,” biblical epic “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and the drama “A Patch of Blue,” in which his character had a chaste romance with a blind white woman. Spurred by his friendship with the more outspoken Belafonte, Poitier also began embracing the civil rights movement. He attended the 1963 March on Washington and in 1964 traveled to Mississippi to meet with activists in the days following the infamous slayings of three young civil rights workers. Sidney Poitier during a break in filming of “In the Heat of the Night” on location in Tennessee on April 11, 1967. He said the role was one of the most intense he ever played. But Poitier sometimes bristled when interviewers questioned him too much about his experiences with racism. “Racism was horrendous, but there were other aspects to life,” he told Winfrey. “There are those who allow their lives to be defined only by race. I correct anyone who comes at me only in terms of race.” A year like no other Then came 1967, and one of the most remarkable years any Hollywood star has had before or since. Poitier starred in three high-profile films, starting with “To Sir, With Love,” a British drama about an idealistic teacher who must win over rebellious teenagers in a tough East London school. By this time, Poitier was commanding $1 million a movie, and the filmmakers weren’t sure they could afford to hire him. So they struck a deal to pay the actor scale — the minimum legal amount — in exchange for a percentage of the movie’s box-office grosses. Although common in Hollywood today, it was a radical idea at the time — and a savvy one for Poitier. “To Sir, With Love” became a big hit, earning him a huge payday. Sidney Poitier with Rod Steiger on the set of “In the Heat of the Night,” directed by Norman Jewison. Next up was Norman Jewison’s “In the Heat of the Night,” which gave Poitier his most enduring role. He played Virgil Tibbs, a homicide detective passing through Mississippi when he is detained by a bigoted White police chief (Rod Steiger) as a possible suspect in a slaying. Tibbs reluctantly agrees to stay and help solve the case, and the two men eventually find a grudging mutual respect. The movie gave Poitier his most famous line — “They call me Mister Tibbs!” — an indignant cry for respect after a demeaning slur by Steiger’s character. In another memorable scene, Tibbs is slapped in the face by a racist plantation owner and then slaps him right back. Before agreeing to do the film, Poitier requested a script change to add the retaliatory slap and even rewrote his contract to prohibit the studio from cutting the scene. “And of course it is one of those great, great moments in all of film, when you slap him back,” CBS News’ Lesley Stahl told Poitier in 2013. He replied, “Yes, I knew that I would have been insulting every Black person in the world (if I hadn’t).” Poitier followed that film with Stanley Kramer’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” another message movie about racial tolerance, in which his doctor character must persuade Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn’s characters to let him marry their daughter. The movie was released only six months after the Supreme Court made interracial marriage legal in all 50 states. Sidney Poitier with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in a scene from the 1967 film, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.” However, around the same time some Black people began grumbling that Poitier’s saintly, non-sexualized characters bore little resemblance to the complex realities of African-American life. Black playwright Clifford Mason, in a 1967 New York Times column, argued that Poitier played essentially the same character in every movie: “a good guy in a totally white world, with no wife, no sweetheart, no woman to love or kiss, helping the white man solve the white man’s problem.” This criticism stung Poitier so much that he retreated to the Bahamas for months. “I lived through people turning on me. It was painful for a couple years. … I was the most successful Black actor in the history of the country,” Poitier told Winfrey. “The criticism I received was principally because I was usually the only Black in the movies. Personally, I thought that was a step (forward).” Later he became a director and turned to TV In the 1970s, Poitier scaled back on acting and turned to directing, which he felt gave him more control over his film projects. He teamed up with his pal Belafonte for the Western “Buck and the Preacher,” his directorial debut. He directed and co-starred with Bill Cosby in the comedy caper “Uptown Saturday Night,” which, along with its spiritual sequels “Let’s Do It Again” and “A Piece of the Action,” featured largely Black casts. And in 1980, he directed “Stir Crazy,” the Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder prison-break comedy, which became one of his biggest hits. Sidney Poitier signals to the audience to sit after being presented with a Hall of Fame Tribute at the 32nd Annual NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles in 2001. Although he faded as a big box-office draw, Poitier continued to appear onscreen sporadically into the 1990s, most notably with Tom Berenger in the 1988 action-thriller “Shoot to Kill,” with Robert Redford in the 1992 caper film “Sneakers” and with Bruce Willis and Richard Gere in 1997’s “The Jackal,” his final film role. He also belatedly turned to television, where he was nominated for Emmys for playing US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and South African leader Nelson Mandela in two miniseries. He also was considered for the role of President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet on TV’s “The West Wing,” which eventually went to Martin Sheen. By 2000, Poitier had retired from acting, choosing instead to play golf and pen a memoir, “The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography,” in which he described his lifelong attempt to live according to principles instilled in him by his father and others he admired. In his later years, as Hollywood sought to recognize a man whose example had opened doors for so many other Black actors, the accolades poured in. In 2001, Poitier received an honorary Academy Award for his overall contribution to American cinema. The following year, in accepting his best actor Oscar for “Training Day,” Denzel Washington said, “Forty years I’ve been chasing Sidney. … I’ll always be chasing you, Sidney. I’ll always be following in your footsteps.” Sidney Poitier at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar night party on March 2, 2014, in West Hollywood, California. In 2009, President Obama awarded Poitier the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, saying, “It’s been said that Sidney Poitier does not make movies, he makes milestones … milestones of artistic excellence, milestones of America’s progress.” The Film Society of Lincoln Center bestowed its highest award on Poitier in 2011. Among the speakers praising him was filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, who said, “In the history of movies, there’ve only been a few actors who, once they gained recognition, their influence forever changed the art form. “There’s a time before their arrival, and there’s a time after their arrival. And after their arrival, nothing’s ever going to be the same again. As far as the movies are concerned, there was pre-Poitier, and there was Hollywood post-Poitier.”
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