Harare: Zimbabwe will go ahead preparing to host England and other teams during next year's cricket World Cup despite the raging debate on whether England should play in Zimbabwe or pull out, a top cricket official said on Sunday. "For us we are carrying on with business as usual based on the decision of the International Cricket Council (ICC)," Peter Chingoka, chairman of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) told in an interview.
Zimbabwe is due to co-host the World Cup along with South Africa and Kenya in February and March 2003 following a decision by the ICC after it sent an inspection party to Zimbabwe last month, But politicians in Britain have called for England to pull out of its Harare match in protest at Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's alleged abuses of human rights and the electoral process and the forcible eviction of white farmers from their land. On Saturday, Britain's International Development Minister Clare Short became the most senior of the country's politicians to condemn cricket chiefs for allowing Zimbabwe to host World Cup matches.
She described the decision as "deplorable and shocking" and hinted she would be trying to reverse current government policy on the issue, which is that the decision should be left to cricket officials. But Chingoka said, "We are welcoming England and all the other six teams." "It was the ICC which came here and declared that it is safe to come to Zimbabwe," added Chingoka.