ICC bringing cricket into disrepute

Edison Mukwazi, Henry Olonga and Andrew Flower - REAL cricket heroes

Jaco Strauss
13 February 2003 E-Mail this page to a friend

I wrote this email to the ICC and copied the Zimbabwean Cricket Union. They haven't replied yet, but I will include their reply if they ever do.

"No normal sport in an abnormal society"
Henry Olonga and Andrew Flower took a stand against the World Cup matches being played in Zimbabwe.

As a South African who grew up during an era of cancelled cricket tours and other sport boycotts, I found it absolutely incredible that the ICC, UCB and Ali Bacher persisted with the plan to host world cup games in a country *much* worse than anything apartheid South Africa could ever dream up. The state sponsored violence, intimidation and murder is also not a recent thing in Zimbabwe, but a situation steadily deteriorating since early 2000 when a policy of violent invasions of private farm land was adopted by the current regime.

What has happened to the "liberation struggle" slogan of "No normal sport in an abnormal society"?

Maybe the ICC/UCB/Bacher/ZCU regard it as "normal" for a country to destroy its commercial farms while facing severe food shortages. Or politicising the subsequent distribution of food-aid in order to starve your political opponents to death. At least the ones you missed killing during the last so-called "elections".

Henry Olonga and Andrew Flower on the other hand did the "normal" thing. It is normal to take a stand against the destruction of one's own country. And if you have enough courage you take this stand against a ruthlessly oppressive regime, willing to take the consequences. And by possible consequences I don't mean any potential ICC/ZCU action. These would be the least of their worries.

Edison Mukwazi's opposition to the World Cup matches cost him his life
Edison Mukwazi's opposition to the World Cup matches cost him his life.

The 29-year-old MDC activist died 2 February 2003 as a result of police torture after he was arrested at the Zimbabwe-Pakistan match in November where he was campaigning against the World Cup cricket matches being played there. Mukwazi and two others were arrested by police at the Harare Sports Club where they were distributing leaflets describing the human rights abuses committed by Mugabe's regime.

His blood is on the hands of ICC who still believe there will not be a "security risk" to players in Zimbabwe. How many deaths per game would the ICC regard as "acceptable" in order to satisfy their "security concerns"?

Now the same ICC has to consider whether Flower and Olonga "brought the game of cricket into disrepute" when it is clear that the insistence of the ICC to play these games, in spite of the death of Edison Mukwazi and numerous others, is what really brought the game into disrepute.

Jaco Strauss

Previous Visitor Comments

Name Email Subject Location
We have a tendency to poailrse the Zimbabwean situation into (a) those who oppose white domination, and (b) those who dont. But I think this is a mistake. What should be topmost in the minds of Zimbabwe’s leadership, is the well-being of the country’s citizenry. Unfortunately this has not been the case, and what we see is that the politics of the day has occupied a predominant position in their thinking, and in ours. It is difficult to justify the price that the majority of Zimbabweans are having to pay for pursuing the ideal of black control, and it is especially tragic because there is no likely positive outcome on the horizon. Mugabe has ruined his country in the same way that Mobutu did, because he has put his politics first before everything else, irrespective that this has not been beneficial to the majority of his countrymen.

Hi! cool article. thkans for the mention of my tiny blog.Allow me to reply to charles:An attitude of ’pay back’ is just what I fear is doing more harm than apartheid in the first place. Yes, I believe you that there are problems. Some black people are still mistreated, but believe it or not, white people are now being just as badly treated as black people. It seems like no one is safe in south africa, and people that really don’t deserve punishment, are tortured and murdered. How do you explain the two missionary sisters in pietermaritzburg that were helping the black community all their lives, beaten, tortured and murdered?? Why? because they were white?In my recent trip home I saw more black people driving fancy flashy cars and flying first class than white people. It is not only white people living in luxury (and exploiting the poor??).You are right, kindess begets kindness, and it starts with me, and with you. Peace.

I disagree with those that say that aparthied SA had a free judiciary, had less abhorrent human rights violations than the current Zim government. The Nats packed the bench with pliable judges and magistrates. They killed, tortured, raped, jailed for decades people simply to maintain their superior status in society. And i find it rather rich for white South Africans to ask that there should be a boycott of Zim cricket. Perhaps they forget that their privileged positions, social and economic have historical linkages based primarily on race-based exploitation. That Mugabe is bad, has destroyed the country and has committed gross human rights violations is accepted, but please don't preach. And, lest we forget, Mugabe's delusional plans of land acquisition are no different to the land grabs by White South Africans. And talk that the blacks cant farm is purile. And there are many that forget that Zim is under sanctions - not just personal sanctions against the ZANU PF hierarchy - and has been for the past many years. Mugabe is a dictator, but so are most of the world leaders, particularly in the Arab and African world. One could even point a finger at the USA and UK on this point. Perhaps, we should focus more on economic development, and the rest will follow with a more enlightened people. Does China ring a bell?

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Jaco, since we are now seemingly in the business of putting records straight, allow me to do a bit of straightening myself! No, I do not sense anyone questioning your abhorrence of Apartheid but rather your reference to it as shaky strategy. Remember, nobody believes or wants to believe, that anything was worse than Apartheid...Hitler's Germany was a walk in the park, the nuking of Japan was a mere fire-cracker, the ongoing slaughter and mayhem in Africa the mere figment of white liberal imaginations...nothing beats Apartheid,ever! It was without a doubt the worst crime against humanity in the history of mankind(is it personkind?), conducted by the most reprehensible representatives of the specie! Is that straight enough? Now, as for friendly Bob and his shining castle on the hill, do not be demured by the double-standards of our world - it's what makes the thing go round! Of course the world has a nausatingly patronising attitude towards all things Third World. African leaders are never held to the same standards of conduct as their paler counterparts. It's because 'the West' expects that sort of behaviour from "the chaps in Africa". It's not only patronising but fundamentally racist assisted by a healthy dose of colonial guilt for past misdemeanors. What is puzzling is the way in which Mbeki & Obasanjo Inc fails to see the irony in their own (mis)conduct re Zim, and how they effectively relegate Africa to a state of perpetual Fourth Worldism! On a more cynical but realistic note: Zim is simply not important enough in geo-political terms for any meaningfull intervention/action by the West or anybody else. SA was, so was Angola and Vietnam, and a few others. The Middle East always has been, hence Saddam's troubles. It's seldom if ever about human rights - it's always the other things. A luta continua!!

Jaco Nic, Mark and Hennie
Nicholas, this debate is going off at a bit of a tangent, but that is fine. You and Mark (and anybody else reading other articles on this site) would know that I didn't (and still does not) support apartheid. I never voted for the useless Nats and their system of "race based human rights infringements" as Mark puts it. In referring to apartheid in my email however, I didn't feel like preceding it with the all-too-familiar "Apartheid was an evil, racist, undemocratic, ruthless etc etc, BUT... " kind of statement. If this was construed by some as indicating support for ethnic socialism, I hope this sets the record straight.

Having said that, I think the reference I made to apartheid SA when discussing Zimbabwe is valid for a number of reasons. Nic is right in that the two issues at stake are rather dissimilar, but I disagree that it is "wholly inappropriate". The two countries are neighbouring states and have a lot in common, historic and otherwise. And when South Africa was "out-of-line" the world united in its condemnation. A condemnation not even Rwanda suffered on the eve of genocide. We are now faced with a similar pre-genocide situation in Zimbabwe and again the "increasing globalized" world is failing dismally in addressing the problem.

My reference to apartheid is therefore a deliberate one. I challenge anyone to tell me why Zimbabwe is less deserving of international condemnation, bearing in mind that they are at least as racist, a lot more homophobic and far more unscrupulous and brutal than the apartheid state was. This is especially true in the later apartheid years when international condemnation was at its fiercest. Arguments to prove the opposite would be appreciated.

As Mark pointed out, black-on-white racism has always been tolerated/excused, while white-on-black racism receives internationally condemnation without exception. I believe this hypocrisy is relevant, even though the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated from old-fashioned racism to a situation where half the country's black population is facing starvation. Sadly, a lot of observers seem to find the complete destruction of Zimbabwe quite acceptable as they managed to nail some whiteys at the onset of the current crisis.

So while the world is still patronising Africa (as can be seen during the last three years of pussyfooting by everybody from the Commonwealth through the EU to the UN), these roller coaster rides back to the stone-age will continue unabated. I believe that nothing illuminates this fact as clearly as the difference in international dealings with the white-run Southern African states on the one hand and the black run ones on the other.

PS: The contribution below was by Hennie Bester jr, not the DP leader Hennie Bester

Nicholas & the ICC
Jaco, I must agree with Hennie Bester's (which one is it, by the way?)observation that comparing the old SA and modern Zim is not going to be helpfull. In fact,the analogy is wholly inappropriate since the two have nothing to do with one another. Zimbabwe is a sad case of human rights abuse in its own time and place, and should be recognised as such by anyone wishing to highlight the undeniable rape of democracy in that country. Forget the old SA, that was a different world with different priorities. Now is the era of increasing globalization, the withering away of national sovereignty implying greater cross-cultural co-responsibility,and alas, it's the era of the African Renaisance and the new African Union promising a fresh start and a geniune commitment to universally recognised values of democracy and 'fair play'!! It is within this context that Zimbabwe, its leadership, and its state apparatus should be placed, and it is from this platform that Mugabe's systematic destruction of everything that the AU and the Commonwealth stand for, should be exposed. It needs to be highlighted time, and time, again. In the process the fraud that is Mbeki, the AU's Charter, and, of course, NEPAD itself, will hopefully become clear to all with but half a conscience! That good things will then follow is all one can realistically hope for, because ultimately, it's one's own sanity which is at stake...The big question remains: Why is Mbeki in a constant state of denial about the most crucial domestic and foreign relations issues of our time? Whether it's Aids, Arms, and Crime at home, or Zim, Saddam, and Al Qaeda abroad, the dear fellow has recklessly squandered the moral capital of our new SA in a manner which borders on the criminal. It is this which should make all of us wear black armbands every day of the year!

MarkAnonymousI agree
Leonora, I think you miss my point a little. Yes, I agree on the white Zim farmers. However - their cricket is non-racial. SA's wasn't. While the victimisation of many Zimbabweans is aimed at whites, I don't think the legislation is racially-worded. This allows left-wing Bob-buddies to "overlook" his racism. Also, it has never been a level playing field. Black-on-White racism has never been viewed as badly as White-on-Black. A White Journalists Association, or White Students Society, or White Farmers Union would never be tolerated.

Leonora leonora007@hotmail.comZim shit
"The Zim situation is human rights discrimination just as bad as apartheid - worse in many cases - but their is less of a race-based overtone to it" - Mark. This is a fairly sweeping statement to make. Although it is propably perfectly correct, I'm just wondering - purely out of interest's sake - how many black Zimbabweans lost farms during the land occupations. Although that's only part of Zim's problems, it would still be fascinating to know. Sport Sanctions
1. Race based human rights infringements (apartheid) were abhorrent and justified sanctions by countries, organisations and individuals opposed to them. Many white South Africans opposed them and said things like "shouldn't mix politics and sport". In retrospect - how many would say the same now? Sanctions hurt - and forced people to change their views.

2. The Zim situation is human rights discrimination just as bad as apartheid - worse in many cases - but their is less of a race-based overtone to it. It is more a sheer dictatorial destruction of a country, all its people (some more than others) and the rule of law. The entire world (ICC included) should demand "no normal sport in an abnormal society" and dump contact with Zimbabwe. However, I would fully support allowing full contact with the Zim cricket team - as long as it was outside the country - and than no revenues generated were allowed to trickle back to Bob's coffers.

3. On this issue - playing games in Zim will generate income for the Zim Cricket body, the players, and big bad Bob's thieving, bankrupt state. For this reason primarily it should be stopped. By all means divert most of the revenue of moved fixtures to the Zim team ... just keep it away from Marxist Mugabe.

4. I disagree with England attempting to find "security" reasons for avoiding playing. They should come out and say loudly "We object to Mugabe and that is why we refuse to go there". As strongly I condemn anyone attempting to make "death threats" on players. I sincerely hope this has NOTHING to do with the MDC as it tarnishes their credibility immensely.

Jaco Comment
Thanks for the reply Hennie.

Although you are correct that the comparison with Apartheid SA will unfortunately distract from the main point of the letter, I stand by it. The apartheid regime didn't starve half the country to death, shrink the economy by 10% p.a., destroy the independent judiciary and free press and utilise misguided thugs to rape and torture the opposition out of existence (to name but a few excesses). No "political prisoner" will come close to surviving 27 years in Mugabe's jails. In fact many MDC prisoners have not even survived to the end of their trials.

Therefore, the country the Nats bequeathed when they negotiated themselves out of power could have been on a different planet to the desperate disaster area Mugabe will leave behind. Who would you prefer as a political opponent to defeat and succeed - FW de Klerk or Robert Mugabe? And remember that South Africa was an isolated and boycotted international outcast under De Klerk, so don't give me this politically correct guilt-trip nonsense.

Furthermore, I don't see the white South African position as hypocritical. The whites believed politics and sport shouldn't mix and that sportsmen shouldn't be punished for the actions of their government. This is still the case. I haven't heard of anyone favouring an expulsion of Zimbabwe from the tournament. There is merely a belief that it would be more appropriate to reschedule these games to take place in South Africa. It will potentially save lives and prevent Mugabe from getting mileage out of an event that will give his banana republic a veneer of respectability.

I am not quite sure what your point about the British press is. Are you trying to imply that Edison Mukwazi wasn't arrested for his opposition to the world cup matches and subsequently died of injuries sustained while incarcerated?


Hennie BesterAnonymousGeneral Comment
Good letter.

Except you are not going to make any inroads if you say Zimbabwe is "much worse" than apartheid SA. That is plain incorrect and insensitive and will no doubt detract from what you are trying to achieve.

The other difference is that sport was an significant area of apartheid policy, while Bob Mugabe can't care less about sport. I do find it hypocritical that many whites are now calling for a boycott against Zim, while they were strongly opposed to sport boycotts against apartheid South Africa. Until that is acknowledged, you will not be able to convince those that need convincing.

You also cannot underestimate the British press's willingness to spout propaganda, as so shamefully demonstrated in its eagerness to support a US led invasion of Iraq. More people will die in the first day of such a war than Bob could ever hope to achieve in his whole career. But I acknowledge that that is not directly relevant here.



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