In the wake of the British cricket team's decision to play in Zimbabwe, churches from all the main denominations from Bulawayo issued the following statement on Saturday. Christians Together for Justice and Peace, Bulawayo speak for: The voiceless people of Zimbabwe who are forced to suffer the indignity and hardships of spending hours and days in queues waiting, sometimes futilely, for the basic commodities to sustain life. The multitudes of impoverished people without the wherewithal to queue and condemned to die unless they can produce Party cards. The thousands who have to walk miles to work because of the rising cost of fares and the unreliability of transport facilities. The millions of able and trained people who are unemployed and without hope of finding work in this present environment. We are mindful that the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and players need some income, not least to defray the costs of hosting this proposed World Cup to be played in this country and that they seek international recognition for cricket here. We are mindful also that the Zimbabwe Government is desperate to find foreign currency to shore up a collapsing economy. Nevertheless we call on the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and players to stand in solidarity with our suffering, oppressed and neglected people and to play the World Cup matches outside this country. To do this would be to stand for honour and principle, a stance which we believe will win them greater acclaim and respect in the eyes of all fair-minded people throughout the world than the shame and condemnation which would otherwise be their due. If, despite our pleas and the entreaties of all those around the world concerned with human rights, abuses in this country, the matches here should still go ahead, at the very least. We call upon the other competing Cricket teams, Cricket Unions, Reporters and Cricket supporters to insist that the security shields around the grounds be removed. We are told their purpose is to protect the players. In reality we know that their real purpose is to prevent the cricketers and visitors from seeing the plight of people outside. Therefore let the security shields be removed so that all can see the suffering of our people and appreciate that this illegal government is NOT PLAYING CRICKET with its own people. We call upon the International Cricket Council to come to Zimbabwe, meet the people, join them in the queues, hear their stories and discover that the outward calm is superficial for deep down in themselves they are angry but also cowed by the fear of tear gas, bullets, instant arrest, victimisation, torture, famineHow long will they remain outwardly calm? Is Mr Mugabe, patron of the Z.C.U., interested in cricket or is he going to use the World Cup as an opportunity to gain respectability and legitimacy for a regime that in the eyes of many of the competing nations is illegitimate and totalitarian? Can we really speak of promoting cricket in a country where the primary need of the people is not cricket but food and fair play? Judge for yourselves but give Zimbabweans the honour of being the jury.
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