18 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Sport Proves We Are Peaceful People

Photo: Damien Glez/This is Africa
Damien Glez of This is Africa on developments in Zimbabwe.

SPORT plays a very important role in our society and, in these days when our gallant military's call for all sectors in the country to function normally in the wake of their intervention to ensure our beloved nation doesn't slip into the abyss, it's refreshing to note that our sporting disciplines are playing their part.

On Wednesday, eight Castle Lager Premiership football matches were played across the country while on Thursday another football match was played at Barbourfields in Bulawayo featuring Highlanders and How Mine.

Thousands of football fans left their homes and work stations to go and watch these key fixtures, as our domestic top-flight league programme draws towards a close, and there was not even one reported incident at any of the matches.

While our detractors would have wanted to see chaos, not only on our streets, but also at our stadiums, to justify their selfish interests that the intervention of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to stabilise the country was failing, we are happy that nothing of that sort has unfolded.

Instead, not only is it business as usual across the entire country, which the ZDF leadership demanded, but we have even seen thousands of fans going to watch their favourite football teams at various venues throughout the week.

Usually, when there is chaos in a country and its peace is at risk, sport takes a hammering and the last thing one expects to see are sporting events being held and fans going to watch them in their thousands and returning home without any incidents.

Usually, the norm in such circumstances is for sporting events to be cancelled and we have seen that in Libya, the national football team has been forced to play their games outside the country because of the unrest in that nation.

CAPS United, our league champions, had to go to Tunisia for their CAF Champions League match against Libyan champions Al Ahli Tripoli because the CAF leaders ruled that there was no way the security of our team could be guaranteed in the Libyan capital or anywhere in that country.

Syria, too, were forced to play their 2018 World Cup qualifiers outside their country because FIFA could not guarantee the security of the visiting teams and even the safety of the home team if the matches were played in the upheaval in that country.

We have seen Afghanistan being forced to play their "home" cricket matches in the United Arab Emirates because of the situation in their country which is not conducive for sport to be played and when they tried to have their domestic top-flight Twenty20 tournament in Kabul this year, a suicide bomber blew himself outside the stadium that was being used to host the tourney.

A number of foreign players, who had taken the chance to go there and play cricket, were forced to flee on the earlier flight out of Kabul.

Now, look at our situation and you get a very pretty picture that our case is totally different from what is obtaining in countries that can be said to be at crossroads and that we can even have a full programme of our top-flight league matches being played is a big demonstration of the peace and tranquillity that is prevailing here right now.

We have shamed our enemies who have been hoping that things must go wrong and a host of foreign correspondents, who have descended on Harare hoping to see chaos on the streets, are now a disappointed lot as they battle to understand that we are, indeed, a very peaceful people.

Now they can't file stories that there is mayhem in Harare and Zimbabwe because even our sporting events are going on as scheduled across the whole country. It's not only football that is being played, but even our top-flight cricket tournament, the Logan Cup, is in full swing and that tells a big story.

In the first days of the intervention by our military, we saw a number of people calling for the important ICC Cricket World Cup qualifier, scheduled for Zimbabwe next March, to be moved to another country. Now, those voices have been disappearing from the scene as we prove them wrong that everything is normal in this country.

Credit should go to our defence forces for providing the assurance that the safety and security of every individual in the country will be taken care of during this period and calling for our society to continue its business as usual while they complete their great mission.


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