Disgraceful tour legitimises oppressive regime

Telford Vice previews South Africa's tour of Zimbabwe and argues that although sanctioned by the ICC, it legitimises an oppressive regime

Telford Vice

Tatenda Taibu returns for Zimbabwe, but questions remain whether the tour should even go ahead © AFP
"Bleep!" Hark, yonder mobile phone is abuzz with a text message. From Zimbabwe.
"Are you coming up for the tour? Need some warning to go hunting for food!"
No, your correspondent does not eat more than the average reporter. It's just that he has loads of good friends in Zimbabwe who make damn fine dinner hosts.
But it would seem that these days Zimbabweans - even those with the means to "go hunting for food" - don't know where their next meal will come from.
Not that the South Africans who will play three one-dayers in Zimbabwe next week will have to worry about such trivialities as they ponder their room-service menus. Actually, cricket aficionados of all stripes don't seem to have expended much thought on South Africa's imminent jaunt northward to take on the world champions (of inflation, that is).
The media remains confused over Jacques Kallis' omission from the squad for the Twenty20 World Championship and with Mark Boucher's spirited reaction to his friend and team-mate's fate. The absence of both Kallis and Boucher from the squad to tour Zimbabwe was explained away by Cricket South Africa (CSA), which also labelled the matches against Zimbabwe as preparation for the Twenty20 event.
None of the selected players have said anything about the dangers of lending legitimacy to one of the planet's most oppressive regimes. Perhaps that is the price we pay for raising a generation of abject professionals. Or are the players mindful of what happened to Errol Stewart, who withdrew from the 2003 South Africa A tour to Zimbabwe on moral grounds and was promptly barred from representing his country again?
It would be cynical to wonder whether CSA created the Kallis situation with the express aim of taking the sting out of this disgraceful tour. But we need to forgive our cynical selves considering CSA is a bedfellow of the ICC. After all, it is the ICC who has refused to take Zimbabwe off the international fixture list.
"The Zimbabwe issue was debated fully, and at length, at the ICC annual meeting in London," Norman Arendse, CSA's president said on August 9 after Cricinfo's broadside against South Africa A's tour to Zimbabwe. "Despite initial criticism from countries like Australia, England and New Zealand, after full debate and discussion, the Full Member countries of the ICC unanimously agreed to retain Zimbabwe as a full member."
That can only mean the cricket bosses of nice, civilised, First World places like England, Australia and New Zealand are not repulsed by the starvation, routine violence and strife that is part of the daily reality of living in Zimbabwe.
In other words, they just don't give a bleep!