THERE are times you are tempted to feel the gods have no mercy at all.
Can you imagine winter has just chosen to be at its harshest, with icy showers drizzling, w
hen thousands of families – including the sick and children – are sleeping in the open after the “tsunami” unleashed on the poor people of Zimbabwe by their own government has rendered them homeless and destitute.
Millions from Budiriro to Zengeza have watched helplessly as bulldozers razed what had been their homes, while flea market and informal traders as well as other small indigenous businesses have had their livelihoods destroyed.
The world can’t help feeling sorry for us when the man who has reigned over our misery just makes it worse for Zimbabweans already hard-pressed in the face of empty shelves, scarce fuel and power as well as an acute foreign currency crisis that has ensured untold suffering in all facets all their lives.
It’s just a hopeless situation.
Enter the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the party many Zimbabweans believed would deliver them from the misery inflicted on them as a result of gross economic mismanagement.
The MDC this week joined the chorus calling on New Zealand’s cricket team to boycott a tour of Zimbabwe scheduled for August on moral grounds.
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said sportsmen should not ignore what was happening in the country and that it was imperative that the Black Caps protest.
“The only way to show that they (New Zealand) do not support the chaos and the wickedness that is going on in Zimbabwe is for them to stay away,” Ncube was quoted as saying in the international media.
It’s clear the good professor hopes a snub of Zimbabwe by the Black Caps would put pressure on the government to stop inflicting misery on the peace-loving people of this country.
But one thing is clear. Ncube and his colleagues don’t understand the man they are dealing with.
Anyone who believes President Robert Mugabe will lose sleep over New Zealand not coming to Zimbabwe might as well believe he is not his son’s mother or her mother’s daughter.
Here is a man who has flagrantly defied a travel ban to attend the Pope’s funeral recently while he also attended a Franco-African summit in Paris in 2003.
While we all agree sport can’t be divorced from politics and vice versa, the MDC has much homework to do at the moment than dabble in sport.
The job stayaway that flopped a fortnight ago should be a serious indictment of the MDC’s organisational capacity and goes a long way to expose how people’s faith in the party has waned.
It’s high time the MDC understood the man they are dealing with.
It’s understandable why sporting sanctions worked in apartheid South Africa especially when it came to the Springboks rugby team. It’s a sport that meant a lot to the white people, who were the rulers, and failure to compete on the international scene really made a pinch.
While cricket in Zimbabwe has until recently been predominantly a white sport, it’s critical to appreciate that the sport is still struggling to build a large following the way soccer does.
It’s strange that the MDC did not find it necessary to urge Angola or Gabon to snub their football World Cup fixtures in Harare against the Warriors, who draw close to 60 000 spectators and millions others who watch on television. After all they are our black brothers who “understand our problems better”.
If Mugabe has defied international pressure for the past six years, there is no reason to believe that a snub by a cricket team would make a dent on his conscience. He is determined to remain in power no matter what you, me and even his wife may say.
That’s the simple thing the MDC and those opposed to the tour should understand.
Just after the parliamentary election on March 31, we had politicians in New Zealand exerting pressure on the Black Caps to snub the Zimbabwe tour.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said she would not be seen dead in Zimbabwe, while we had Greens co-leader Rod Donald campaigning for the Black Caps to cancel the tour.
I’m afraid these sanctions end up hurting the people they are supposed to protect.
Imagine the impact a boycott would have on Tatenda Taibu, Barney Rogers, Hamilton Masakadza, Tinashe Panyangara, Stuart Carlisle and Dion Ebrahim – all young professionals who earn a living through playing cricket. Will Ncube give them and their dependants sadza if there are no proceeds from TV rights as well as appearance bonuses?
It’s ironic that the same people who think things are so tight in Zimbabwe that sport should not be played are still enjoying sex. Sport brings us smiles in these gloomy days just the way beer makes some people “forget” their worries.
I’m just glad New Zealand have announced a full-strength squad to tour Zimbabwe. It’s time sport should hit politics for six!