Media Release: Friday, 11 May, 2007

The Australian Christian Lobby has joined the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Archbishop of Bulawayo in calling for Cricket Australia to boycott its planned tour of Zimbabwe.

“If the Australian cricket team proceeds with its tour of Zimbabwe, it will appear that Australia is happy to ignore the appalling practices of the Mugabe regime,” said ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace. “I am a huge cricket fan but I don’t want to see the game played under such terrible circumstances.”

Mr Wallace’s comments echo Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube’s claims that Robert Mugabe used the last tour in 2004 to create the impression that the international community supported him. “Sport might not seem political to those in free countries such as Australia but if our cricket team tours Zimbabwe, there is little doubt that, in this instance, Robert Mugabe will treat it as an opportunity for political propaganda to imply that he has Australia’s support,” continued Mr Wallace.

Robert Mugabe has presided over an increasingly corrupt regime, with a record of rigging elections, orchestrating campaigns of torture and intimidation of his political opponents, and turning life into an ongoing nightmare of deprivation for ordinary citizens. Once the bread-basket of Africa, Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation rate hit 1,281% in February. Life expectancy, comfortably in the 60s just ten years ago, is now just 34 years for women and 37 years for men.

According to the ACL, Australia needs to redouble its efforts to address the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and other countries with grave human rights abuses. “It should not take a sporting controversy to focus the world’s attention on corrupt regimes,” said Mr Wallace.

“The Australian Cricket Team should not tour Zimbabwe, given the appalling human rights abuses of the Mugabe regime,” said Mr Wallace. “It is encouraging to see the Prime Minister offering to cover the costs if Cricket Australia chooses to withdraw, and to see the Foreign Minister exploring what legal action the Government can take to prevent the cricket tour. This decision should not be left to the moral conscience of individual cricketers, but should be taken by the leaders of our nation.”

Contact: Jim Wallace