New Zealand planning to go ahead with tour despite political unrest in Zimbabwe
Despite a worrying political situation in Zimbabwe, New Zealand are planning to ahead with the two-Test series against the African minnows and will leave for South Africa on Monday as scheduled to take part in a week-long preparatory camp, cricket.co.au reports.
Zimbabweans have for long been protesting against the governance of Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since the country’s independence in 1980 but things have taken a turn for the worse lately with violent protests and burning of barricades becoming a daily sight in the capital city of Harare.
People are protesting against high unemployment, an acute cash shortage and corruption for nearly a decade with many civil servants not being paid their salaries for more than three months. Most of the commercial establishments have remained shut down for more than a week.
Kane Williamson’s men are scheduled to play a warm-up game in Harare starting on July 22, followed by Tests in Bulawayo from July 28 and August 6 and though concerns have been raised about the security of the players, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) stated that they are satisfied with the arrangements in place as of now and are intent on honouring the itenary as scheduled.
"We are continuing to monitor the situation," the NZC spokesman said. "There is a bit of time and water to go under the bridge ... and at this stage its business as usual."
The vote of confidence from the NZC comes despite the fact that the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade released an official statement advising their people living in the Southern African nation to remain vigilant and exercise caution while venturing outside their homes.
"The situation in Zimbabwe is mostly calm but some reports of politically-motivated intimidation and violence continue," the ministry said on its website. "New Zealanders should be vigilant and maintain a high level of personal security awareness in Zimbabwe."
Zimbabwe is the latest cricket-playing country to be hit by the threat of international teams pulling out of away tours due to security concerns. Pakistan have been forced to play their home matches in the UAE ever since the visiting Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorists in 2009. Neighbouring Bangladesh also faces a similar concern lately with the recent killing of around 20 foreign nationals at an upscale restaurant in Dhaka.
Should the Zimbabwe tour get called off, the Black Caps are expected to head back to their home country before once departing for South Africa where they will be playing the Proteas in two Tests, with the first at Kingsmead in Durban from August 19-23 and the second in Centurion from August 27.