The Australian government warned Zimbabwe cricket boss Peter Chingoka that he must have good grounds to enter the country to attend an International Cricket Council conference.
Chingoka is one of 254 Zimbabweans not permitted entry into Australia because of their links with Robert Mugabe’s regime in the strife-torn African nation.
But Chingoka’s position as chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) means he is required to attend the two-day conference of directors that begins January 31.
The ICC on Thursday could not confirm whether Chingoka had applied for a visa to visit Australia,and attempts by the domestic news agency,Australian Associated Press (AAP),to contact ZC’s headquarters were unsuccessful.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said that Chingoka would need “very particular grounds” for Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to grant him entry.
“Australia’s sanctions are an important mechanism for applying pressure on the Mugabe regime,” a DFAT spokesman told AAP.
“They send a clear signal that the government holds the Mugabe regime and its closest supporters accountable for the tragedy occurring in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The DFAT spokesman could not confirm whether Chingoka or ZC chief executive Ozias Bvute,another on the list of banned Zimbabweans,had applied for a visa.
On a recent visit to Australia,ICC president David Morgan said the governing body had made “strenuous efforts” in trying to persuade the government to issue Chingoka a visa.
The doubts over his entry prompted speculation the ICC would re-schedule its meeting to another venue. However,the ICC has confirmed the meeting would proceed in Perth,regardless of Chingoka’s presence.
Chingoka is also not permitted to enter the United Kingdom and it was for that reason the ICC re-scheduled its annual meeting away from Lord’s,to Dubai,for the first time last year.
Zimbabwe’s already shattered economy has plunged to new depths under Mugabe,exacerbating a humanitarian crisis that has left half the population dependent on food aid as a cholera epidemic sweeps the nation.