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 Crikey.com.au (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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7 Comments:

Anonymous USpace said...

Good piece, sad situation on so many levels. Africa could have stood up to the West by condemning Mugabe even LOUDER than the West, but no...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
destroy your country

get rewarded by UN
chair some growth committee
.

May 17, 2007 3:26 pm  
Anonymous Crow said...

Hello Lisa – some very interesting thoughts here.

A lot of people automatically compare a sporting ban on Zimbabwe with those on South Africa starting in the 60’s. I think this is a very bad comparison for two reasons. Firstly in South Africa, the ruling elite seemed to have genuinely believed that all right-thinking whites elsewhere in the world supported their suppression of the “inferior” black people. Those bans on South Africa participating in international sport made them realise that this was not the case, and that their regime was largely condemned around the world. Mugabe is I think smart enough to know that he has no international support (outside of Africa), but passes that off as racism. Sporting (and other) bans are likely to just confirm his position.
Secondly, the South African whites were passionate about their sport, and immensely proud of their sporting teams. Being denied the opportunity to participate internationally really hurt them. I don’t know what ordinary Zimbabweans think about sporting bans: very little I should think. Given the level of poverty inflicted on them, sport would come such a long way behind their needs for food, shelter, medicine etc that it is probably of very little concern to them.
So in contrast to the South African situation, I don’t think that sporting bans will have any effect on Zimbabwe’s rulers, except to push them deeper into their bunker.
Of course none of this is of any concern to the Howard Government. Like all its decisions, the criterion applied was “will it increase our chances of re-election?” And don’t even consider questions of consistency. An Australian sporting team is banned from playing against a nation run by a nasty murderous gang of thugs. But an Australian company can trade with a nation run by a nasty murderous gang of thugs, and, in direct violation of a UN resolution, slip them hundreds of millions of dollars in “kickbacks”, and apparently get off without even a slap on the wrist.

Crow

May 24, 2007 9:29 pm  
Blogger Sarah said...

Good post Lisa.

Funny how the government is perfectly willing for Zimbabwean dollars to flow into Australia by way of the children of Mugabe government ministers. It does seem hypocritical. Although I think the fact that those kids (however old they are) are studying here is simply a reflection of how little the Zim dollar is worth these days- if their parents had the money they'd be sending them to uni in england.

On the other hand, there's every chance that these ministers will still hold positions of power even after Mugabe's dead and gone, and our government will be dealing with them directly in a few years' time.

As for boycotting the olympics over China's human rights record... it's utter hypocrisy not to, but it wouldn't occur even if hell froze over, that's how unwilling Western leaders are to upset China. No matter how many activists break their own necks...

May 27, 2007 3:48 pm  
Blogger mojo :) said...

hey hey ! really intersting blog... mind if I add you to my contact list ?! You can read my blog on my thoughts of the whole deportation of Zimbos. From the point of view of a Zimbabwean.

August 22, 2007 1:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least we are seeing something from you guys who have let us down a lot in fighting Mugabe. Vana vavo ngavadzingwe ikoko.(Shona for: These people's children must be chased away from those countries). Their children must come back here to attend the universities and schools that Mugabe has plundered and pillaged.

August 29, 2007 3:59 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Zimbabwe was not in crisis & was a well off country i probably wouldnt be reading this ROT! it angers me that people have such lack of knowlege of whats going on over there, but yet allow themselves the right to such a powerful judgement about the innocent people's way of life in zimbabwe.HOW DARE YOU!!!!!Poverty is a very big concern to zimbabwean people.They cannot do anything about it, due to such powerful government leaders. They are so restricted in their daily lives,& are so exhausted.This is not their fault.Anyone who knows a black zimbabwean,knows they are very kind,ACCEPTING OF ALL,loyal,respectful & honest.

what does government leaders children in Australia have anything to do with a stupid cricket match...?for our stupid entertainment?get a life.There are people starving over there!They are trying to get an education to better THEIR situations for THEIR futures.WOULDNT YOU?
I am a true blue, born & bread AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN & it really angers me that all your opinions arem purley based on money$$$.
It makes me so ashamed of my fellow citizens.

December 05, 2008 5:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

by deporting the children of these officals does not help anything look at the situation in zimbabwe it has gone from what we coud have called "better " at that time of thare deportation to worse. it does not make sense to say to blame the reserve bank govener on the sitution in zimbabwe when he can not really help the economy of zimbabwe when he is runnin an economy without a curreny that is tied to a gold standards or to any agricultural growth there is only so much a govener can do, if he has beein such a bad governer he would have not recieved offers from the world bank in america to become the govener in america can u not see that even though you have percecuted his children and all these others officails children the white man only has his intersts at heart and not of zimbabwe. it does not help after all. in closin i urge people to purchase Dr Gono's book Zimbabwe's Casino economy.

December 15, 2008 12:43 am  

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