Heath Streak: more than a dispute over the selectors © Getty Images

To be fair to us, the rest of the world, it can be very difficult to see what's really happening in another country when the messages coming out of it are so mixed. The Zimbabwe situation is a complex one, but one thing is very clear, and it's something the rest of the world hasn't yet picked up on: most people there are scared, and many are very scared indeed.

There is a climate of fear in the country so pervasive that it hides the truth, because everybody is too scared to talk about it. Many people I have met and come to know well in Zimbabwe, while covering cricket there for over a decade, are clearly too scared to talk now - either because they believe somebody may be bugging their phone or because the consequences of their words being made public, even anonymously, could be devastating.

So what the hell is going on? It must seem bizarre to most cricket-lovers around the world that Heath Streak and his fellow so-called rebels should jeopardise their careers just because they didn't like the selection panel. How many selectors around the world are popular? It's an unpopular job.

What Streak and his players were really saying was "Cricket has been taken over by the politicians. Cricket is being used by the government. This is not how it is supposed to be." Michael Vaughan would do the same if Tony Blair and his Minister of Sport told him who he could select, and intimidated players and administrators into complying with his wishes. Streak and the rebel players called for accountability, and urged the cricket world to come and see for themselves.

So the London Daily Telegraph did just that, sending the renowned sports journalist Mihir Bose to Bulawayo for the first one-day international against Sri Lanka. He arrived on Monday afternoon. A couple of hours after Bose checked into his hotel, a gentleman from the Department of Immigration arrived and confiscated his passport.

On Tuesday morning Bose was issued with a letter of deportation - with no reason given - and escorted to the airport to await the 3pm flight to Johannesburg and the connecting flight to London.

So on the very day that Peter Chingoka, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union chairman, meets the ECB to assure them of their players' safety on the scheduled tour in November this year, a sports journalist wishing to report on the cricket is deported.

Incidentally, the Zimbabwean government charges cricket journalists US$600 for the privilege of reporting on the game in that country. The word "extortion" comes to mind. The Bose incident follows a similar one involving another Telegraph journalist, Simon Briggs, during last year's World Cup - he was refused admittance to the country despite having all the correct paperwork.

The question now facing the ICC is this: are they happy to have Zimbabwe as a full member while all this is going on?

If the ICC can claim, as it always does, that it is a non-political body with no connections or allegiances to the governments of any nation, then surely they should insist that the same applies to their members. Independence is a prerequisite for sporting competition - that much is enshrined in the Olympic Charter.

There is a precedent: at the end of the 1990s Nigeria's football team was banned from international competition for two years following a government takeover of the Nigerian Football Association.

If the ICC continues to turn a blind eye to the very political interference they supposedly abhor, it will be guilty of spectacular hypocrisy.

Neil Manthorp is a partner in the South African sports agency MWP Sport.