Thursday, August 11, 2005

Zimbabwe: it just ain't cricket

I was worried about the Black Caps tour of Zimbabwe on the grounds that it might give the false impression that New Zealand considers Mugabe's regime to be legitimate. After all, the New Zealand cricket team is no ordinary private organization, but one which purports to represent our country. So I think that the government would have been justified in stepping in to prevent it, as Jordan Carter said: "New Zealand's name and international involvement is a political issue, not a private issue."

Given these grounds, I was surprised to read the Green Frog's reaction to the following editorial in a Zimbabwe newspaper:
The New Zealand cricket team is in town, its leadership having chosen to put the value of sport ahead of petty political considerations, and we welcome the Black Caps to our lovely country… We salute the team leadership’s brave stance to go ahead with the tour despite reservations from their political leaders who are clearly obsessed with the isolation of this country.

Frog is worried that they're using "the Black Caps’ arrival to propagandise about the loveliness of Zimbabwe." But it isn't clear that this is a legitimate concern. As far as the political issue goes, the editorial actually makes it very clear that New Zealand thinks very lowly of the political situation in Zimbabwe. So we've successfully avoided giving the impression that we endorse Mugabe. And since that was the only legitimate political issue here (wasn't it?), it seems that the Greens should be pleased rather than "shame[d]" by how things turned out. (I suggested as much to Frog, but got no reply.)

Further, as Ghet points out, the test result is all the better:
On the second day we bowled Zimbabwe out twice in rapid succession, winning by more than three hundred runs. It was a crushing, humiliating defeat which seriously calls into question just WHY Zimbabwe has test-playing status, and whether that's more to do with their vote on the ICC than their ability to play cricket... [The Black Caps] have delivered a palpable blow to Mugabe through the game he loves... No, it's not going to change anything in Zimbabwe. But we never had that option.

So I think even opponents of the tour should be reasonably content with how it's unfolding. The situation is a messy one, and far from perfect. But it's probably about as good as we could reasonably hope for.


  1. I was always skeptical of the "Mugabe will win a propaganda victory" argument. Firstly, as the editorial suggests Mugabe really can't control the message the tour gives that well. Secondly, I'm sure the people of Zimbabwe are intelligent enough to see thru Mugabe’s machinations.

  2. It might or might not turn out ok but the question is did we make the decision based on the right principles and information?

    if some other random leader, lets say Brazil, confiscates all the black people's land and buldozers the homes of half the white people will we react in the same way?


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