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Coltart, cricket and Zimbabwe

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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.

5 comments to “Coltart, cricket and Zimbabwe”

  1. Comment by David Coltart:

    I trust you have seen Sekayi Holland’s statement today that the story re bases is false. I don’t for as moment suggest that everything is well but objectively things are better overall than a year ago – we have made remarkable progress given where we were and it is disingenuous or blind to suggest otherwise.

    There are some sectors – land for example – which are not better but most sectors are. I challenge Voice of Zimbabwe to dispute that objectively and truthfully. Also I challenge Voice of Democracy to advise us what the viable non violent options are. I have seen, I think, articles written by Voice of Zimbabwe stating that an election is a viable option. With respect the only election we will have in the short term is another repeat of June 2008, which no-body needs.

    Does Voice of Democracy have any idea what Heath Streak has been through? I think to call him “collaborator in chief” is a cruel cut. He genuinely loves cricket and is doing what he can to revive the sport in good faith.

    I think it is time for Voice of Democracy to get out of its negative mind set and start working with many of us acting in good faith to help make this peaceful non violent experiment work. If they carry on carping from the sidelines then the predictions of gloom will become a self fulfilling prophecy. That is not to say that we should not all be held to account for our actions – but we must have balance, fairness and truthfulness in this debate.

  2. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Coltart … | Live CRICKET:

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  3. Comment by David Coltart:

    I see that my comment of the 31st March has still not been moderated and I hope it will be.

    An after thought – I am somewhat amused by the fact that both the Herald (see “Letter to Auckland “written last Saturday the 27th March posted on my web site that day http://www.davidcoltart.com) and Voice of Democracy) didn’t like my comment published in New Zealand – but for completely different reasons! The Herald because it feels I unfairly attacked the very people Heath Streak is said to be “collaborating with”. Sometimes being assailed from both ends of the political spectrum is a useful place to be in.

  4. Comment by hannes wessels:

    Well done Bev. Herewith a copy of my letter to Dave.
    rgds hannes

    “In Mr. Coltart’s criticism of the New Zealand government he expresses deep concern about ongoing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, and acknowledges his government’s inability to stem this brutal tide but then insists he and his colleagues have no option but to continue their association with ZANU PF. This is nonsense. When you are part of an arrangement that conducts itself in a fashion that is consistently criminal, Mr. Coltart should know better that most of us, you become complicit. The honourable, nay the only response to this disgraceful alliance he so fervently defends is to summarily withdraw and have no more truck with it. It is now manifestly clear that only ZANU PF wield real power and the former opposition is only there for cosmetic reasons and to sing the praises of their murderous principals and Mr. Coltart is singing very sweetly indeed.

    The fact is both factions of the MDC are now effectively collaborators in the pejorative sense and their only achievement has been to legitimise a regime that is illegitimate in every possible way.

    Criticising the New Zealand government for preferring to maintain a distance after concluding that no pressingly needed fundamental change has taken place in the country is disingenuous.”

    Hannes Wessels

  5. Comment by Coltart, cricket and Zimbabwe | The Zimbabwe Situation - Zimbabwe News updated daily:

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