Quotes & views on Mugabe, Zimbabwe & England

Some excellent quotes here courtesy of The Guardian Unlimited

Daily Mirror
Editorial, November 26

“Just because Robert Mugabe has lifted his ban on cricket writers does not mean his regime is acceptable. It isn’t. It is still bloody, violent, disgraceful and tyrannical … That is why the Daily Mirror is refusing to let our cricket writer go there to report England’s matches

“The situation over this tour has been created by disgraceful buck-passing by the British government and cricket authorities. The cricket board says it is up to the government to stop the team going to Zimbabwe. What spineless nonsense. The government says it must not interfere in sport. What a scandalous refusal to accept responsibility … No one comes out of this sordid episode with credit. If there is a winner, it is Mr Mugabe, who has been able to grant the favour of allowing cricket journalists in – though not any who would report what is going on in his country.”

John Etheridge
Sun, November 26

“The England and Wales Cricket Board chairman David Morgan’s personal crusade has eventually made sure England’s cricketers must set foot in the African nation ruled by [the] reviled dictator Mr Mugabe. But at what cost? If there are protests or violence because of the cricket, Mr Morgan will have blood on his hands …

“[The players] only agreed to tour in the first place because Mr Morgan convinced them that withdrawing could lead to England’s suspension from international cricket and cost millions of pounds. Nobody really believes this. Yet Mr Morgan continues to exert a type of emotional blackmail, warning cricketers they could bankrupt the game. The people who insisted the players must go to Zimbabwe apparently believe money is more important than morals.”

Simon Barnes
Times, November 26

“Mr Morgan is not exactly the first choice for villain of the piece here. No, that clearly and unambiguously is Mr Mugabe himself … [Mr Morgan] has been forced into [the tour] by the anti-England tendency of the ICC [cricket's governing body]. No one in the ICC is prepared to consider that this is exactly what Mr Mugabe wants of them. Rather worse, no one in the ICC has felt that support for a murderous dictator is not morally sound …

“England has no right to any kind of special treatment, only recognition of the fact that for the former colonies, all brushes with the Mother Country carry a piquancy that is not duplicated elsewhere … Therefore, an English cricket tour is particularly attractive to, say, mischief-making, murderous dictators. And if Zimbabwe’s actual cricket team is in a poor state, never mind: the scoring of political points by Mr Mugabe will afford him deep pleasure and give added confidence to his absurd and deadly regime.”

Henry Blofeld
Daily Express, November 26

“Why … have Mr Mugabe and his supporters in that pusillanimous body, the ICC, been allowed to get away with [this]? The ICC, which in my view is effectively controlled by that powerful financial block of subcontinental countries, India, Pakistan and the rest, has fallen over backwards to cause English cricket as much embarrass ment as it can. Under its present milk-and-water leadership, English cricket has allowed its hands to be tied behind its back …

“It’s all been about getting one back over the old colonial rulers. Cricket’s bosses round the world have been wringing their hands in glee at England’s discomfort. And, to their great joy, England’s administrators have jumped through every hoop that has been held up for them just like a pack of of well-bred poodles … The whole thing has been just about the most sickening thing ever to happen to the game of cricket in its long and, until now, magnificent history.”

Bruce Wilson
Courier Mail, Australia November 26

“The answer is simple enough: Zimbabwe is now told to get lost by the cricketing world. Mr Mugabe is, technically and officially, the head of cricket in Zimbabwe, although the murderous old Stalinist probably wouldn’t know silly-mid-off from the Comintern. His crimes certainly rival those of South Africa’s old white supremacists and cricket eventually isolated them until they came to their senses. Zimbabwe long ago lost any right to play the game internationally on any grounds you might like to consider. Perhaps the main one is this: For political reasons they cannot pick their first XI.”

David Mellor
Evening Standard, London, November 26

“Because the fundamental immorality of the tour has never registered with the MCC’s old farts, the argument has always proceeded on entirely false premises. Eighteen months ago [at the World Cup] it was security, a non-issue, since the only people not at risk in Zimbabwe were the England team. Today it is press accreditation, a mere sideshow, just a symptom of the arbitrary way tyrants like Mr Mugabe behave.

“Every opportunity to withdraw has been spurned. Mr Mugabe and his henchman are banned from visiting Europe, but some of our top sportsmen are being blaggarded into visiting him. With cricket itself incapable of acting on the moral dimension shouldn’t the government have stepped in? Of course they should. That’s what governments are for.”