A VICIOUS article penned by a South African freelance white cricket writer, describing Zimbabwe as a “fascist’’ country whose national team should not be allowed to compete against their international counterparts, has sparked outrage in this country.
The article was written by Telford Vice, part of a cabal of unrepentant racist white cricket writers, who have been using the sport to further their crusade to soil the good name of this country.
Vice, who is based in Cape Town, has been a vicious critic of this country and its leadership and at the weekend used his weekly column in the Sunday Times of South Africa to describe Zimbabwe as a “fascist’’ nation, equating it to Hitler’s Germany and Benito Mussolini’s Italy.
The journalist’s article was based on a campaign in which he tried to argue, “why no one should play against Zimbabwe,’’ and said the Chevrons, who are set to visit South Africa next month, should not have been allowed to come into that country.
Ironically, the journalist’s article was published on the very same day that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was one of the presidents who attended the inauguration of President Mnangagwa at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani was forced to issue a statement to respond to the article.
“We have noted with serious concern an opinion article written by South African cricket journalist Telford Vice and published under the headline, “Should we allow Zimbabwe’s cricket team to tour SA?” in the latest edition of the Sunday Times newspaper,’’ Mukuhlani said in a statement.
“Our only response is to echo the words of Nelson Mandela in 1995, when he said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”
“Similarly, Zimbabwe Cricket’s vision is to enable individuals and communities to be empowered and inspired by cricket. We stand by that and we believe cricket can be used as a vehicle for emboldening the youth to reach their full potential in any field they choose.
“Cricket has that power and we are committed to the game and its ability to provide an environment that is positive and energetic as well as expands the horizons and dreams of those that play and are involved. That is our purpose.’’
Vice claimed in his vicious article that the Chevrons represented the triumph of oppression and were sporting ambassadors of fascism.
“Zimbabwe’s team represent the triumph of oppression over the dreams of millions who dared harbour hopes for nothing more nor less than a decent life. They fly the flag of fascism,” he wrote on Sunday.
“Should they be detained as co-conspirators in crimes against their compatriots, turned away at the border, or asked what the hell they think they’re doing trying to pretend all is well enough where they come from to indulge in a spot of mere cricket?
“What should not happen, under any circumstances, is that they are let in to smear the second country with their lie of normality.
“Such an act would be a dereliction of the duty all of us have to the natural law of standing up for right in the face of wrong. It would be unconscionable.
“But when Zimbabwe touch down at OR Tambo International late next month to play South Africa in three games in each of the white-ball formats, not only will they be let in, no questions asked, they will be treated as if they are just another cricket team from just another country.
“They aren’t. They represent the triumph of oppression over the dreams of millions who dared harbour hopes for nothing more nor less than a decent life. They fly the flag of fascism.
“Try telling the suits that they should demand Zimbabwe’s expulsion from the International Cricket Council.
All of the above should happen. It won’t because too many people no longer think; neither about principles nor politics nor indeed what’s right and wrong about how other people are treated.”
Vice also praised former Zimbabwe cricketers, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, for their black armband protest during the 2003 Cricket World Cup.
Flower has since revealed, in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Sport’s Alison Mitchell, that David Coltart, a fierce critic of the Government and an opposition politician, was a big part of that protest.
“The meeting I remember most clearly was in David Coltart’s study, at his home and we sat down and wrote the statement,” Flower said.
“When I say we sat down and wrote the statement, obviously, David Coltart was more eloquent that either Henry or I, and it was important that the language we used in the statement was the right sort of language to get our message across.
“So David, with the input from Henry and I, sort of wrote and edited the statement and I do believe it was David who came up with the idea of having a symbol.”
England subsequently forfeited their World Cup match against Zimbabwe scheduled for Harare Sports Club in what, according to former Zimbabwe captain, Duncan Fletcher, who was coach of the English team during that World Cup adventure, was part of the politics of the day.
“Before a decision (to either travel to Harare or not) was to be made, we welcomed two incredibly brave visitors, who came to speak to me and (Nasser) Hussan (then England captain),” wrote Fletcher, in his autobiography, “Behind The Shades”.
“They were Zimbabwean players, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, smuggled in by a member of Zimbabwe’s opposition party, the MDC, who had spoken to the whole team before taking me and Hussain into an adjacent room, where we met Flower and Olonga.
“They told us then of their plan to wear black armbands during their games in the tournament to mourn that (democracy). They even suggested that we might consider wearing black armbands if we decide to play in Harare.”
Coltart confirms that he went to Cape Town during that time, and spoke to the England team, but said he never persuaded them to boycott their World Cup tie against Zimbabwe, but instead, urged them to come and fulfil the match.
They didn’t and have never played a match against Zimbabwe since.
ZC officials say the absence of box-office home series, like a contest against England, has cost them more than $7 million in projected earnings every year and has played a big part in pushing their financial books into the red zone.