Thursday, 23 June 2005

Morally-blind cricketers head to Zimbabwe

If it's true as Martin Snedden says that New Zealand cricketers "unanimously agreed" to tour Zimbabwe then, sadly, that says little for New Zealand's leading cricketers.

It's true as Snedden says that many of the countries on the cricket circuit are "volatile," but that doesn't even begin to describe the Zimbabwean situation. It was clear enough when this tour was only a twinkle in the ICC's eye that Robert Mugabe's insane politically-driven thuggery was a totalitarian step ahead of anything going on elsewhere at the time.

Destroying the country's free press; arresting opposition leaders; eviscerating property rights; murdering white farmers ... even the otherwise morally-blind cricketers must have wondered what was going on when Zimbabwe fast bowler Henry Olonga fled to England in fear for his life after speaking out about "the death of democracy in his beloved Zimbabwe," or when he subsequently called for test cricket with Zimbabwe to be discontinued.

As I said myself back in 2001 when on behalf of the Libertarianz I called for "Zimbabwe's expulsion from the Commonwealth and other world bodies... 'No regime...that engages in such abhorrent acts should be welcomed in respectable world circles. Mugabe is probably clinically insane. But he certainly is a monster who should be shunned.'" The insanity was even clearer by 2002 when I called for New Zealand to "fast-track visa applications for refugees from Mugabe's atrocities."

So even though the NZ Government was itself morally-blind for a time, if NZ Cricket had kept their own eyes open they could have refused the tour in the planning stages. To complain now that their hands are tied and they have no choice is a disgrace.

But there is no case for the New Zealand government to stop the tour. For once I agree with Helen Clark: how would the government physically stop the tour? By stopping New Zealand cricketers at the airport and putting them under house arrest? You don't help freedom elsewhere by infringing it at home.

And neither do you disabuse yourself of reponsibility for your actions by laying the blame for your actions at the door of others, or blinding yourself to their immorality as Snedden and the NZ cricketers are doing. Shame on them.

Morality is not something just for sermons on Sunday, it's part of day-to-life. Time some sportsmen and their administrators took some responsibility for their actions.


  1. We're not going to play cricket with Robert Mugabe, we're going to play the Zimbabwe cricket team.

    There's a question you skip asking here. What's the best way to share our liberty with Zimbabwe? Do we put up a Cresswell wall to divide us or do we interact with them and let osmosis take its course?

    Go figure!

    My way, we get to do this and share it rather than give our black brothers the cold sholder and leave them outside alone.

  2. Well said PC. I agree with you entirely on the lack of moral rectitude on the partt of NZs cricketers. I don't know enough about the rules to know how feasible it would have been for the govt to stop the tour, so I shan't comment on that. I'd have liked to see the govt at least indemnify NZ cricket against any fines that would have been incurred. It's not a lot of money for a govrenment, it is a lot for a cricket association.

    A least Phil Goff is talking tough now about stopping the Zim tour to NZ.

    I've blogged extensively about Zim issues in the last week or so, if you're interested in more.

    Rick: When you make that argument that "We're not going to play cricket with Robert Mugabe, we're going to play the Zimbabwe cricket team." you overlook the two important facts that a) the Zimbabwe cricket team *represents* the nation of Zimbabwe, so to play against it lends legitimacy to the country as a whole and therefore its (Mugabe's) regime, pure and simple, and b) Mugabe is the head of the Zimbabwe cricket association, and has in the past frequently used cricket as a political tool both within Zimbabwe ("Let us all play cricket. Cricket is a gentleman's game. We must all be gentlemen" - I paraphrase) and on the international stage. In this case it is pure nonsense to argue, as some have and as you seem to be tending towards, that sport and politics are separate. In this case, they are not.

  3. As usual I have overlooked nothing.

    If Rod Donald still has his motorbike helmet why don't you join him, Phil Goff, Peter Cresswell and John Minto and build a great big wall between us and Zimbabwe then?

    Lets call it the "Berlinbear Wall", after you.

    How'd that work out last time it was tried?

    Rick talks, nobody listens. :(


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