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ZC breaks silence on Howard candidacy

ZIMBABWE Cricket officials said yesterday they met with former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a long-time critic of Zimbabwe and cricket in the country, and reached a ‘’better understanding’’ with him on the future of the sport.

But Ozias Bvute, managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket, stopped short of saying the nation will drop its opposition to Howard’s candidacy to head the world’s governing body, the International Cricket Council.
Bvute said Zimbabwe officials ‘’managed to clear the air on many outstanding issues’’ with Howard in talks on Wednesday in Harare.
As the Australian leader, Howard had campaigned for a cricket boycott of Zimbabwe, citing the nation’s human rights record. He left Harare on Wednesday after a secretive 24-hour visit.
‘’We had a good meeting. He pledged his support for Zimbabwe Cricket’’ after touring cricket facilities in Harare, Bvute told   the Associated Press.
Howard discussed his campaign for the vice presidency and then the presidency of the ICC.
‘’We are now fully in the picture on his plans for the cricket world,’’ Bvute said.
Last month, Zimbabwean officials said they opposed Howard’s candidacy and enlisted the support of Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka who all played against Zimbabwe during its isolation by Australia, England and their cricketing allies.
Howard had called for the southern African nation to be stripped of its Test cricket status in 2003 at the height of often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms.
Howard arrived in Zimbabwe on Tuesday on a trip held under wraps by Australian diplomats in Zimbabwe who hosted him and referred reporters to the main cricket website in Australia for information on the trip.
Howard’s nomination by Australia and New Zealand for the ICC vice president’s post and elevation to the presidency in two years time is up for discussion at the world body’s annual meeting in Singapore next week.
Earlier this month, Zimbabwe sports minister David Coltart met with Cricket Australia officials in Melbourne and Bvute and the head of Zimbabwe Cricket Peter Chingoka met with their counterparts in neighbouring South Africa in preparation for the Singapore meeting.
Howard needs support of seven of the ten Test cricket nations to carry the vote.
Zimbabwe Cricket reported in a brief statement on Wednesday that Howard told its officials: “My personal wish is to see Zimbabwe fully reintegrated into the world cricket family and see the sport continue to grow in all parts of the world, including Zimbabwe.”— AP.

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