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Zimbabwe: Howard's decision disgusting
Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Herald

DISGUSTING is the only word we can find to describe the decision by Australian prime minister John Howard to bar his country's cricket team from touring Zimbabwe.

The reasons he gave to justify his actions – alleged human rights abuses and the deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe that he claims would endanger his team – do not fool anyone especially in light of Zimbabwe's successful hosting of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and the Harare International Festival of the Arts.

We all know how atrocious Australia's human rights record is to be fooled by Howard's pretensions that he is a stickler for these noble values.

One only has to look at what the Australian forces are doing in Iraq to know that the Howard administration is a stranger to human rights and democracy.

The real reason for Howard's strong-arm tactics is that he, along with his allies, has invested a lot in propaganda campaigns to cast Zimbabwe as a lawless country where visitors are mauled on arrival. Now those lies would have been exposed had the Australian XI toured and managed to play all their three matches without incident.

More so, being world champions, the team would have attracted a lot of international media attention with disastrous consequences for the propaganda campaign.

This is why Howard is prepared to fork out US$2million in fines to the International Cricket Council so that he can prevent the world from knowing the truth about Zimbabwe.

To him it's just another cheque to the propaganda campaign.

It is no coincidence that the US State Department also released a travel warning at almost the same time that Howard was making his scandalous allegations against Zimbabwe.

In the travel warning, the State Department warned American citizens of alleged security concerns in Zimbabwe; which travel warning it said, would be in place until the end of July this year.

What is more, the Australian foreign ministry also revealed that it was increasing its funding to opposition groups in Zimbabwe with the foreign minister, Alexander Downer, saying his government had released A$4 million over and above the A$6 million which was disbursed last month.

Another A$12 million would be made available in the 2007-2008 financial year.

Downer clearly admitted that the money would go towards sponsoring opposition activities, and we all saw what opposition groups did with the funding in February when they hired hoodlums to wreak havoc to justify allegations of anarchy in Zimbabwe.

The ban and the funding are closely related with the one used to justify the other.

This is why Howard's politicisation of cricket should be condemned by all progressive people the world over.

Apart from exposing the myth that Western sanctions are targeted at top Government officials, Howard's actions expose the desperation gripping the regime change circles, all the more reason why the Government should remain resolute.

Victory is certain.

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