Zimbabwean cricket was dealt yet another blow on Friday as the West Indies Cricket Board's canceled a three-week tour of the Southern African country by its “A” team, citing concern for the safety of its players though politics loomed in the matter.
The decision came on the heels of Australia’s cancellation of a September tour by its national cricket team over Harare’s alleged violations of human rights - in particular in March of this year when opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was badly beaten after being arrested at an abortive Harare prayer meeting broken up by police.
Zimbabwe Republic Police Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said in an interview that the West Indian fears were unfounded as conditions in Zimbabwe are stable.
Some observers welcomed the West Indian decision as boosting pressure on Harare to change policies. Human rights groups and other critics including the United States and European Union have accused Harare of routinely violating human rights and abrogating basic civil rights such as free assembly and freedom of the press.
Former Zimbabwe cricketer Henry Olonga, who quit in protest of government policies, told reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the West Indies move was unlikely to faze Harare, which has more pressing issues.