I wish this idea had occurred to someone else, someone in a position of authority, then perhaps it might have been considered. Unfortunately it has occurred to me so all I can do is write it down and hope someone important reads it.
As complex (and possibly hypocritical) as the thought is, the truth about England and Australia’s reluctance to travel to Zimbabwe is that morality and ethics are playing a greater role than concerns for personal safety and security.
International newspapers, radio stations and television news bulletins have been full of first hand accounts of Robert Mugabe’s reign of terror. I even met a man last week whose job it was to protect the virtually non-existent human rights of men who had been tortured by the Zanu-PF regime.
In the circumstances I found it hard to disagree with his assertion that playing cricket, and such high profile cricket, is repugnant.
England’s players certainly think so. And, of course, half the country is starving. While farmers have been forcibly removed from their once productive land and the supply of maize and wheat has all but dried up, there is, also, a drought in the country which is making a horrific situation even worse. The drought is in Matabeleland; Mugabe is from Mashonaland. That makes the situation life-threatening for the Matabele people.
So what is the solution for England’s and Australia’s cricketers? Go to the country and offer help. Don’t laugh this off, think about it. Imagine either of those teams arriving at Harare international airport in the back of a cargo plane loaded with food aid. And if that can’t be arranged, just imagine the impact around the world that pictures of them pushing boxes of food through the arrivals terminal would have. “Cricketers care”.
Opposition groups would be pacified while, no doubt, the Mugabe regime would be embarrassed. So embarrassed, in fact, they might refuse permission for the cricketers to bring food. In that case he would have revealed himself to be exactly what his detractors say he is, a heartless, sick tyrant. No sane man would deny food to starving people.
Cricket administrators will say (again) that sport should not mix with politics. Fine, I won’t bother arguing the point. But I’d really like those administrators to look into the eyes of a starving mother and say: “Sorry, feeding you would be political.”
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.