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UK to Zimbabwe: You Can't Play With Our Balls

The U.N. Security Council unanimously ruled today that Zimbabwe is screwed.

More specifically, they ruled that it would be impossible for the country's runoff presidential election to be "free and fair" in light of the fact that President Robert Mugabe has been using some slightly undemocratic campaign tactics, such as slaughtering his opponent's supporters en masse.

President Mugabe has transformed his nation from a beacon of hope and prosperity in Africa, and one of it's largest agricultural producers, into an impoverished shell of a country. Zimbabwe is now dependent on foreign food aid and fully half the population is undernourished. The unemployment rate is 80% and inflation is a world record-shattering 355,000 percent.


So with that less than stellar track record, it wasn't too much of a surprise when challenger Morgan Tsvangirai received more votes than Mugabe in the March 29th election. However, after weeks of delays, the official vote tallies released by Mugabe's government (amid accusations of tampering, rigging, and good old fashioned making shit up) showed that Tsvangirai had won by too close of a margin, forcing a runoff.

Since then, the honorable Mr. Mugabe has engaged in a campaign of violence, intimidation and "outright terror", as the African National Congress termed it.
Human rights groups report that over 80 of Tsvangirai's supporters have been killed since March, with tens of thousands injured and twice as many homes destroyed. Over 200,000 people have been displaced by the violence in total.

Tsvangirai was eventually forced to withdraw in the wake of the violence, as well as regular harassment by Mugabe's government and widespread rumors of state-sponsored assassination attempts. Tsvangirai announced yesterday that he would not be taking part in this “sham of an election process”, explaining that he could not ask Zimbabweans to turn out to vote “when that vote could cost them their lives.”

Tsvangirai then had to flee to the shelter of the Dutch embassy, leading to the U.N.'s declaration today. However, the statement released by the Security Council is actually only a "non-binding" resolution. It is a watered down version of the original statement, drafted by the British, which explicitly blamed Mugabe's government for the crisis and said Tsvangirai would be the legitimate leader if a credible run-off vote could not be held.

So how would the mighty UK respond to being rebuffed in their attempts to condemn Mugabe? Surely a proud nation like Great Britain could not simply collect their crumpets and go quietly into the night? Of course not. So how would they punish the Zimbabwean regime? That's right, you guessed it. They're not going to play cricket with them.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown had British Culture Secretary Andy Burnham hand deliver a letter to the England and Wales Cricket Board conveying the prime minister's position that Zimbabwe not be allowed to play in next summer's one-day internationals or the UK-hosted Twenty20 World Cup.

That's right, hand delivered. Because it would be unthinkable to send a message this important through a medium as undignified and colonial as e-mail.

The International Cricket Council will discuss a possible world ban next week.

Around the world, reactions to the ban ranged from surprise at the harsh reaction to amazement that there is such a thing as The International Cricket Council.
If other nations follow suit, the outlook for Zimbabwe could indeed be grim as they could possibly face being prohibited from playing hockey with Canada, not being able to throw boomerangs at kangaroos with Australia, and being banned from international bobsled competition with Jamaica.

1 offerings of praise:

JJC1138 said...

Of course, you Americans avoid this sort of tricky situation by preemptively banning everyone else from the "World" Series.