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Mawarire's #ThisFlag movement to use the game of cricket for political benefits

06 Aug 2016 at 11:29hrs | Views

POLITICS should never be allowed to interfere with sport and any such attempts must be strongly condemned. The two have always had an uneasy relationship, although it is an undeniable fact that sport often offers politicians some good PR. However, when the two worlds collide, the outcome is usually unpleasant and tends to leave that particular sport somehow bruised.

These two should never mix because sport is all about integrity, cutting across barriers, forging friendship and improving relations.

Social media movement #This Flag has through its leader Evan Mawarire posted a video on YouTube urging his supporters to attend Zimbabwe's second Test against New Zealand at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo this morning and to stand at the beginning of the 36th over and sing the national anthem in the hope of attracting global media attention to their cause.

There is truly no justification for Mawarire's movement to use the game of cricket for political benefits. Worse still, why choose Bulawayo and spoil the fun for cricket-mad residents of this city. The City of Kings has not hosted a Test match in a long time and by electing to pull their stunt in front of a global television audience, Mawarire and his anarchist band of followers might as well have signed the death knell for Queens Sports Club as an international cricket venue.

Cricket is often portrayed as a gentlemen's game, while politics on the other hand can be a dirty game that has no law or code of conduct. If Mawarire and his group want to achieve their desired goals, whatever they are, there are many other ways of doing it without interfering with sport. They should behave in a mature way and strive to achieve their goals without performing gimmicks for relevance.

The famous quote "you can enjoy your freedom till you don't disturb the freedom of others" has to be taught to Mawarire and his supporters. The long weekend in our country started yesterday and people want to enjoy it peacefully and how dare Mawarire and his supporters seek to disturb the peace with their political gimmicks.

Cricket should refuse to be associated with destructive political disturbances that are actually responsible for the state our game finds itself in today. Once upon a time, cricket was the fastest growing sport in the country and even threatened to displace football as the most popular sport.

After the cricket team's strong performance in the 1999 World Cup, the game spread in the country and for the first time, youngsters could be found playing the game on the dusty streets of our high density suburbs using tennis balls.

Suddenly cricket became a dream sport for every youngster, but all that changed when some unscrupulous politicians hijacked the 2003 Cricket World Cup that Zimbabwe co-hosted with South Africa.

Secret meetings were held in South Africa by some opposition activists and former paceman Henry Olonga and former skipper Andy Flower were recruited as the faces of a political protest.

Olonga and Flower embarked on a so called black armband protest to mark what they called the "death of democracy" during their World Cup match against Namibia in February 2003. Sadly their willingness to be used in a political game marked the end of their playing careers.

That politicisation of Zimbabwe cricket back then also saw white players walking out on the team in a deliberate move to cripple the local game. Local cricket has struggled to recover from those political gimmicks and the national team hardly gets any international games, and when they do, the performances are just not good enough.

Zimbabwe remains a full Test member only in name as they get to play the longer format of the game once in a while. The country has even been removed from the official International Cricket Council Test rankings. Political interference and disturbances at sporting events only serve to distabilise that particular sport, so Mawarire and his supporters should keep themselves away from our sport as it is not their duty to disturb the entertainment of peace loving fans.

They should organise their own independent political gatherings and leave sport out of their agenda. We certainly hope the good cricket loving people of Bulawayo will ignore the Mawarire side-show and get on with the business of rallying behind the Chevrons who desperately need to put on a good showing in this Test match.

Source - chronicle
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