Harare: The Zimbabwe government has accused Britain and Australia of trying to keep cricket as "a white and colonial sport", the state-controlled 'Herald' reported on Monday. "If the British and the Australians want to keep cricket as a white and colonial sport, then they should do so alone because we are not interested in their rubbish," Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told the paper His comments come amid mounting pressure by political leaders in Britain and Australia for the two countries not to let their teams come to Zimbabwe next year to play matches here as part of the 2003 World Cup.
The two governments accuse President Robert Mugabe's government of human rights abuses, and of staying in power through fraudulent elections. On Sunday the British government said the English team should pull out of the matches that are scheduled to be played here in February. Australian Prime Minister John Howard Monday urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to reconsider staging the matches in Zimbabwe. But both Howard and Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair have said their governments cannot stop the matches from going ahead.
"It is a false, well-orchestrated and well-timed move to give a new lease of life to British propaganda against Zimbabwe," Moyo said. He said by allowing Zimbabwe to co-host the tournament, which will also have matches played in Kenya and South Africa, cricket would be made more accessible to Zimbabwe's black majority.
The ICC visited Zimbabwe last month to inspect the conditions in the country ahead of the tournament in February and March next year, and declared the country safe enough for the matches. "This is obviously not about safety and security, it is just political mumbo-jumbo," said Moyo.