Harare: A top Zimbabwe cricket official insisted on Saturday that the country would be a safe venue for matches in next year's World Cup. Peter Chingoka, president of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU), said after the body's annual meeting there was no reason for any of the six sides due to play games here to fear for their safety and security.
Among the countries due to send teams are England and Australia, which have been most critical of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe's re-election in the disputed March polls. Australia pulled out of a scheduled tour in April citing fears of the team's safety, costing Zimbabwe some $ 300,000 in revenue.
Zimbabwe does not plan to make any representation to World Cup organisers about security, saying officials would wait until Pakistan's tour later this year. "Pakistan has guaranteed coming here in October to play two Test matches and five One-day Internationals and what happens then will speak for itself," said Chingoka. But if the matches are switched to neighbouring South Africa or Kenya - and provisional arrangements have been made for that - it would cost the country dearly in bad publicity and the ZCU will be set back financially.
Zimbabwe cricket is due to make $ 7,9 million, wherever they play as a participating nation, but would lose $ 1,4 million in venue fees. Zimbabwe is scheduled to host another heavy Test and One-day International programme in 2004 when Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia and England are all scheduled to tour. President Mugabe was re-elected as patron of the ZCU without comment for a seventh year running, at the meeting.