Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Boycott Zimbabwe cricket match? Only if it doesn't hurt the economy!

Robert Mugabe
Recently there's been a lot of discussion about the quandary of the Australian cricket team as to whether they should fulfil their contract obligation to play the Zimbabwean team in Zimbabwe or to boycott the match or request for it to be played elsewhere to avoid giving the Mugabe an "enormous propaganda boost",[source] which would likely impose a $2 million fine on the team from the ICC.

While John Howard and Alexander Downer initially 'strongly urged' the Aussie cricket team to do the 'right thing' and cancel their Zimbabwe tour, they have gradually stepped up the tone of their words as the story has gained media coverage to the point where, now, they have effectively banned the team from participating in the Zimbabwe tour. "[Australian] Cricketers won't play in Zimbabwe while Mugabe's in power", said Downer in one media statement.[source] And apparently they'll be blocking cricketers request for VISAs if they try.

There are two questions this issue raises in my mind. First, is it of significant practical benefit to ordinary Zimbabweans in the long term to make this stance (even if in the short term it could be to their detriment, as Gam points out, due to the loss of potential revenue from international visitors)? I suspect it would be -- particularly in the long term, so I support the Howard-Downer stance on this, even though I suspect they came to it on realpolitik rather than moral grounds.

The second question is whether most people, most Australians, would be prepared to take the same moral stance in a consistent manner, when it would certainly be to Australia's overall economic detriment -- at least in the short term?

For instance -- and this is a fact about which it seems few people are aware -- there are nine children of prominent ministers of the Mugabe regime studying here in Australia,[source] no doubt paying big bucks for their schooling or university places. Should these nine Zimbabweans be deported in line with the Howard-Downer moral stance on the cricket issue? Absolutely. Will hurt Australia's reputation for providing full-fee-paying international students with schooling and university degrees. Yes it would.

Should Australia then also boycott sporting events in China, based on China's current human rights record? If so, should Australia also deport all Chinese full-fee-paying students, especially those whose parents are in powerful positions in the ruling Communist party in China? Now that would seriously be to Australia's economic detriment, given the amount of money made from full-fee-paying students from China who study here. I somehow doubt either Howard or Kevin Rudd would publicly suggest any such boycott against China because that's not what Australians want. A secure economy is apparently more important than moral considerations.

And I seriously doubt either Howard or Rudd will make moves to deport the Zimbabwean students here until a big stink is raised about it in mainstream media. Full credit to Crikey for bringing it to my attention months ago! And now you know too.

The information about children of Zimbabwe's elite studying in Australia came from an article in (16 April 2007)[subscriber link] from which I paste an excerpt here:
Zimbabwe leaders' children in Australia: who's here by Jane Nethercote

Crikey can now name nine children of senior figures in the disgraced regime of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe who are either studying or resident in Australia.

The children live here despite the Australian Government's financial and travel sanctions against close associates and supporters of the Mugabe regime.


Today, the ZIC has identified at least nine children either studying or resident in Australia:
  1. Sylvester Chihuri, son of Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
  2. Tendai Nguni, son of Sylvester Nguni, Deputy Minister for Agriculture
  3. Kudzai Muchena, son of Olivia Muchena, Minister for Science & Technology Development
  4. Thelma Chombo, daughter of Minister for Local Government, Ignatius Chombo
  5. Taona Karimanzira, son of Harare Provincial Governor David Karimanzira, is in Brisbane
  6. Emmerson Mnangagwa, son of Emerson Mnangagwa, Minister for Rural Housing
  7. Pride Gono, Praise Gono, Passion Gono (children of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono). Pride and Praise, twin sisters, are at Latrobe University in Melbourne. Passion is a son of Gideon Gono, and is said to be working in Sydney.
The current Australian government bans against Zimbabwean figures don't extend to family members. However, in order to send children to Australia and support them while here, financial transactions must surely be taking place, if not by leaders of the ZANU-PF then on their behalf.

Mugabe image courtesy of BBC: Zimbabwe 'abuse stepped up' (17 April 2003).
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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Costello budget 2007: Will he add a stripe of green?

In the lead-up to Costello's May 8th, election year budget speech, Greenpeace is asking you to guess how many times you think he'll mention climate change (if at all), given he's never mentioned it since he started doing budgets eleven odd years ago.

Given the fact that Australia is still the world's largest exporter of coal, he may just be able to manage it once or twice with a spin towards keeping Australia beautiful while still keeping our coal mines alive and exporting to China – or whichever poor country it ends up in.
Sure the ice has been breaking up, but we just thought that too many penguins were pecking at it.[source]
In related hilarity, last week a video of "Costello's other budget speech" was released on YouTube, which might help you decide on your answer to Greenpeace's question. Bob Brown would be a deeper shade of green with envy! Good luck striking the right balance on the 8th, Peter!

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