THE FUTURE for rail services that eke out a precarious existence in Zaire looks bleaker than ever following news early last month that Laurent Kabila’s opposition forces had shut down Sizarail, the operating company owned 51% by the Comazar consortium formed of South Africa’s Transnet and Belgium’s Transurb, and 49% by the Zaire government.Sizarail had succeeded in restoring life to the virtually moribund lines on which the country relies to move copper and other mineral exports. Ten years ago Zaire National Railways was carrying about 4 million tonnes of freight a year, but by 1993 barely half a million tonnes was moved. Sizarail has since succeeded in reducing wagon turnround times and improving reliability, but invasion of its Lubumbashi headquarters by armed troops, seizure of its assets and expulsion of its Belgian managing director threatens an instant return to decline.With South Africa trying hard to arrange a peaceful deal between the forces of Kabila and those of President Mobutu, a channel exists for contact between Transnet and the rebels. Transnet Executive Director Mafika Mkwanazi is hoping that a deal will be reached with a future government in Zaire to allow operations to resume – he said on May 7 that Kabila’s forces would not be able to manage Zaire’s railways without outside help. Rebel forces apparently requested a meeting with South African rail experts during May, so there is some ground for hope. The biggest danger is that civil war between Kabila’s forces and those of President Mobutu will destroy what remains of Zaire’s railways. o
Press Association Sport understands the bid was submitted Monday evening Sydney time and thus so far there has been no response. If the deal did go through it would represent David Moyes’ first significant signing as United manager. United were heavily linked with the former Arsenal skipper earlier in the summer, although at the time Fabregas claimed his intention was to remain with Barcelona. Press Association Manchester United have submitted a £26million (30million euro) bid for Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Moyes then turned his attentions to Fabregas’ Barca team-mate Thiago Alcantara. At one point it seemed as though a deal for the Spain Under-21 star was nearing completion. However, at the 11th hour Pep Guardiola stepped in and Thiago has now agreed to join Bayern Munich. Fabregas does appear to be in a similar position to Thiago in that his World Cup place could come under threat if he does not play regularly for Barcelona following their £50million acquisition of Brazilian superstar Neymar. Barca are unlikely to let Fabregas go willingly, having nurtured the player through his formative years, only for Arsenal to sign him as a 16-year-old in 2003. Fabregas spent eight years with the Gunners, making 303 appearances and ending up as club captain, before returning to the Nou Camp in 2011. Though he has played 96 times in two seasons, including 60 league games, he has rarely featured in his preferred midfield role due to the performances of brilliant duo Xavi and Andres Iniesta. His forceful approach in central midfield is just what United are looking for following the retirement of Paul Scholes, continuing doubt over the career of Darren Fletcher and a belief amongst fans Brazilian Anderson will never fulfil the promise that earned him a big money move from FC Porto in 2007. When contacted by Press Association Sport about United’s reported bid for Fabregas, sources at Barcelona said the midfielder was not for sale. “The player is not transferable,” the source said.