Proteas not to support boycott of Zimbabwe cricket

Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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DURBAN:South Africa would not support calls for a boycott of Zimbabwe, Cricket South Africa (CSA) said on Tuesday.

"We view tours to and from Zimbabwe as cricketing matters, and we will continue to meet our obligations to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) in this regard," a CSA media release quoted chief executive Gerald Majola as saying. "We have always been consistent in this," he added.

Majola was reacting to reports that the New Zealand government planned to ask the ICC to suspend the ZCU because of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. New Zealand foreign minister Phil Goff said last week that Zimbabwe could be refused entry into New Zealand for their tour later this year.

"I have just returned from a meeting of the ICC's chief executives, and the matter of any possible suspension was not even raised," Majola said. "In fact, all the countries, including New Zealand, who are due to tour Zimbabwe, reaffirmed their commitments."

Majola said CSA saw continued contact with Zimbabwe as part of its mission to nurture cricket in Africa. "CSA is at the forefront of developing Africa into a major cricketing continent, and this includes assisting in the progress of Zimbabwean cricket," Majola said, adding, "We will continue on this path."

Also on Tuesday, Cricket Australia (CA) acknowledged the government had a right to impose sporting bans on other countries after officials revealed they were considering campaigning for Zimbabwe to be barred from international cricket.

But the organisation said that in recent years the government had allowed it to select its own opponents and reiterated the International Cricket Council's (ICC) argument that cricket needed to involve as many nations as possible to ensure its viability.

"CA welcomes the Australian government's position in recent years that it is Cricket Australia's decision as to whom it plays cricket against," the sports governing body said in a statement to AFP. "However, Cricket Australia acknowledges that the Australian government, either on its own or in partnership with other nations, has a legitimate right to impose international sanctions.

The comments come after foreign minister Alexander Downer said he was considering a New Zealand request that Australia and Britain join it in lobbying the ICC to ban Zimbabwe. "We're looking at whether we couldn't go to the ICC and say ... given the level of human rights abuses that are now taking place in Zimbabwe, it's not appropriate for cricket matches to be played against Zimbabwe," Downer said late on Monday.

He said the government would consult with CA before it decided whether to lobby the ICC.

CA said the government had raised the Zimbabwe issue and would advise it if it decided to seek a ban.

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