Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Zim rejects neutral venue plan

A lot of folks in Australia were upset that their team was supposed to visit Zim to play, but the team pointed out that if they refused, they would be fined. However, the international body allows teams to pass on scheduled games, so Howard decided to "forbid" their playing there...voila, problem solved.

Except that Zim is mad that Australia will grant money to democracy adovcate groups in that country, and so is refusing to play the Aussies elsewhere.

n Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade statement released on Monday said Australia would significantly boost its support for human rights campaigners and community organizations in Zimbabwe over the next two years, starting with the immediate release of nearly A$6 million ($5 million).

The Australian government has planned to channel A$18 million by 2008 to Zimbabwean civic groups and aid agencies through the Australian Fund for Zimbabwe.

"The Australian foreign minister has announced an $18 million Australian dollar fund for regime change. We have a process here for the change of government through democratic elections and not any other way," Ndlovu said.

"For them to put up that money when we are heading for an election reveals their agenda, but we have a law here against foreign funding for political parties, directly or through NGOs or their embassy."


Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had earlier told reporters Zimbabwe was unlikely to allow the match going ahead at a neutral venue.

"For them, I suspect, and at least for the Zimbabwean government, it would be seen to be humiliating to acknowledge that they're not able to play against the top cricket team within their own country.

"My guess is that this won't come about."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the government had taken the initiative to ban the players from touring because it was unfair to leave the decision to sportsmen.

"I'm sorry it has come to this. It really does pain me as a cricket lover. But this is a terrible regime," Howard said.

"This is a weapon available to the government. It is a device, it is a method of sending a very strong signal of disapproval."

A number of senior Australian players said they were relieved the government had taken the decision out of their hands.

Opening batsman Matthew Hayden said he had been thinking about a private boycott if the tour had gone ahead.

"I was seriously considering my position this time, as to whether I would go if the tour went ahead," Hayden told The Australian.

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