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Australia's tour to Zimbabwe : How the Aussies could actually help

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There’s a lot of discussion in cyber space at the moment about the impending Australian cricket tour to Zimbabwe. I would certainly support a boycott if the Australian cricket team intends coming to Zimbabwe to play ball as usual.

However there are other options for them to consider, especially in the light of the fact that the US$2 million fine will be going into the coffers of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. Normally one would think that the money would be put to good use, like in the development of facilities and coaching of youngsters like this playing dusty township cricket. But a more likely scenario is that the money will be sucked up by the “chefs” of Zimbabwe cricket for their own misuse. And clearly we don’t want that to happen.

It must be acknowledged that there will be negative publicity associated with Australia pulling out of a tour to Zimbabwe. There will be racist inferences and the African brotherhood will suggest that the West continues to demonise Mugabe whilst closing its eyes to the abuse of power in so-called first world countries. Australians might not care about this, but it’s important to review what is the best overall strategy rather than fall back on the knee-jerk call for a boycott.

So then, what to do?

If the Australian cricket team is considering a boycott, then they have agreed that politics and sport can and do mix. So perhaps it would be more worthwhile for the Australian cricket team to tour Zimbabwe: and Do Good whilst they are here rather than their usual cricket, huntin’ and fishin’ fun.

Maybe individual players can meet with activists who have been abused as a show of support and respect? Or they can visit Harare’s government hospitals and check out the conditions that Zimbabweans seeking medical treatment have to experience. Or they can deliver a petition to the Minister of Sport & Culture asking for the rights of Zimbabweans to be respected.

If the Australian team start setting up these public functions now the Zimbabwe government will impose prohibitive and untenable restrictions on them during their tour which will cause the ICC some confusion over whether to fine them if they decide not to tour Zimbabwe.

Or the Mugabe regime will ban them and will thus be viewed as the activators of an authoritarian action.

Or when they’re here and active off the cricket field, they could be deported.

Which might mean the ICC having to recompense the Australian cricket team instead.

 

 (Bev Clark is a human rights activist and manages Zimbabwe's civic and human rights web site, www.kubatana.net. When she was a few years younger and more agile she played some social cricket in Harare being a much better bowler than batswoman.)

 

 



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