Text of the letter received by the ECB from the Foreign Secretary

‘Thank you for your letter of 15th January concerning the proposed England tour of Zimbabwe in October.

The decision whether or not to tour must be one for you and your colleagues in the England and Wales Cricket Board to make. But I recognise your need for the Government’s assessment of the present situation in Zimbabwe in helping you make a properly informed decision. I draw your attention to the appalling human rights situation in Zimbabwe and the resulting isolation of that country’s government by the international community.

The situation in Zimbabwe is bleak, and is deteriorating. Political repression remains a daily reality for many Zimbabweans, particularly those who are active in civil society, the independent media or opposition politics. Hunger is widespread, largely as a result of the disastrous policies of the Zimbabwe regime. As the harvest season approaches, the World Food Programme estimates that approximately 6 million people (half the country’s population) are dependent on emergency food aid. The UK is the biggest cash donor to the humanitarian emergency in Zimbabwe, having donated over £62m (USD 100 million) since September 2001. This would be the background to any sports tour taking place in Zimbabwe this year.

Given this, it is the Government’s view that the overall situation in Zimbabwe is worse today than it was during the cricket world cup last year.

Zimbabwe is increasingly isolated from the international community. In December, following the Commonwealth’s decision to maintain Zimbabwe’s suspension from its Councils, the Government of Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth. At around the same time, the IMF voted to begin the process of expelling Zimbabwe. The EU, the US and others maintain targeted restrictive measures against leading members of the Zimbabwean regime, and the UK has taken a leading role on this issue.

You may wish to consider whether a high profile England cricket tour at this time is consistent with that approach.’

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Foreign Secretary