Kubatana recently received the following press statement from Voice of Democracy on the subject of the (alleged) forthcoming New Zealand cricket tour to Zimbabwe:
There is a fine line, as the international community knows full well, between supporting democratic change in Zimbabwe and collaborating with a dictator. Zimbabwe’s Minister of Sport, David Coltart, seems to believe that New Zealand has an obligation to play cricket in Zimbabwe (New Zealand Herald, 23 March 2010). We disagree. New Zealand should stick to its principles, ignore Coltart, and shun Zimbabwe’s dictatorship.
In his article, David Coltart repeats a claim he made in December 2008 that going into government with Robert Mugabe was the ‘only viable non-violent option’. This was untrue then – as it is now. As one commentator wrote, the MDC had a ‘fistful of options’ for peaceful democratic change which were squandered when they reinstalled Mugabe to the fullness of his abusive powers.
Coltart then adds insult to injury by making such disingenuous claims that Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government has “made remarkable progress in the last year” and that the political agreement “is gradually being implemented in its entirety.” This is not remotely true, which is why the European Union renewed its targeted sanctions against those members of Zimbabwe’s government accused of gross human rights abuses.
Indeed, if Coltart listened to himself he would be hard-pressed to recognise the lawyer who opposed human rights abuses in Zimbabwe for the last 27 years. It seems incredible that he now claims that there has been a “massive downturn in the number of human rights abuses” when ZANU(PF) is busy reestablishing the very bases in rural areas that unleashed such horrific violence during the June 2008 presidential elections.
He claims that maladministration and racism in cricket is being addressed, when the same top officials who were responsible for that corruption, racism and abuse of power remain firmly in place. It is all the more painful when he lauds cricket’s collaborator-in-chief, Heath Streak. Our heroes are Andy Flower and Henry Olonga who forfeited their cricket careers because they took a principled stand against the dictatorship.
Coltart is right in one respect: if the New Zealand team decides to come to Zimbabwe they will be welcomed with remarkable warmth and friendliness by our patron of Cricket Zimbabwe – Robert Mugabe! Dictator 1: New Zealand 0.