Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Beast, a victim of black racism and xenophobia

Get your pencils out, this is one for the record books. The ANC's obsession with race is so stupefyingly overarching that even blacks come in for attack. The recent Semenya debacle demonstrated to the world that everyone is susceptible to the ANC race firing squad, regardless of, er, race. In the world of the ANC, everyone is racist, except them, of course, because they have anointed themselves as the world's custodians of all matters racial.

Take the case of Tendai Mtawarira for instance otherwise known as the 'Beast'. He has proven himself to be a very capable rugby player worthy of wearing one of the world's finest team shirts, that of the Springboks. In fact, he has become one of the more popular members of the team and the roar of "beast!" usually follows his contact with the ball in any game. Even foreign fans are aware of the roar. I recall the last match I attended in Brisbane recently when, to my pleasant surprise the crowd roared BEAST when he got the ball, not just the Saffas present, there weren't enough of us to make a difference but the whole stadium, 95% Aussie, nearly 50 000 people, sounded the roar.

The man has earned the colours and unlike the idiot Luke Watson deserves to be in the team. However, this being ANC land, stupid has stepped in. The ANC's ugly obsession with race means there are now calls to stop the Beast playing for South Africa. Why? Simple. A Zimbabwean black is showing his lazy good-for-nothing South African black cousins that one can get ahead if one sets one's mind to it and works hard, no matter the obstacles perceived or real. Oh hail ANC, you've earned the mighty one finger salute again.

Related ILSA post:
Xenophobia: Euphemism for black racism

Mtawarira, a victim of racism, xenophobia

A year ago a young Zimbabwean born player exploded onto the South African rugby scene with the mighty roar of a beast. He quickly established himself as a formidable force in the South African national team.

This month, all of a sudden, controversy over his status exploded in the media.

“He is not a South African!” was the battle-cry of those arrayed against him. The mêlée was soon joined by the highest authority in the sports arena, the Ministry of Sports. They flighted adverts outlining their view of why Tendai Mtawarira should not be allowed to play for South Africa.

“Only citizens can play for a country.” They thundered. “South Africans are not allowed to represent other countries.” They claimed.

Let us start by setting the record straight. Mtawarira is not the first Zimbabwean to play for the Boks. Famous Boks, Adrian Garvey and Bobby Skinstaad, like Mtawarira, were born in Zimbabwe. Steve Elworthy, director of South Africa’s Twenty20 Cricket Tournament in 2007, was also born in Zimbabwe, and played cricket for the SA national team.

The claims of the Ministry of Sport’s not only lay bare their ignorance of the South African law they claim to uphold, but they also reveal anti-black racism and xenophobia. Laws allowing immigration based on exceptional skill do not mean that the skill is non-existent in the country, but are meant to augment the existing skills base.

Snide remarks about Mtawarira’s skills not being scarce smack of envy and jealous. The entire statement is baseless given the number of white Zimbabweans who have played for various South African national teams. The only major difference with previous cases is that Mtawarira is black. Either that or xenophobia only can explain the ministry’s outburst, not merit or precedent.

Also, claims that “only citizens of a country can represent a country” are ignorant. The various international sports codes follow different standards when it comes to allowing athletes to represent countries other than they were born in, or they are citizens of.

The strictest are FIFA.

Under FIFA rules once you represent one country, you cannot subsequently represent any other country the rest of your career. For example Lewin Nyatanga cannot now ever represent Zimbabwe at any level in soccer because he featured for the Welsh under-21 team. Bruce Grobbelaar the famous Zimbabwe and Liverpool goalkeeper was born in Durban, South Africa. But he played for Rhodesia as an 18 year-old and after that he could not represent any other country apart from Zimbabwe. Despite gaining British citizenship based on ancestry and being arguably the best goalkeeper of his time, he could not play for England.

In short even the very strict FIFA standards do not amount to “only citizens of a country can represent a country”. They simply say once you have represented country X at any level you cannot subsequently represent any other country. They do not impose any discrimination based on citizenship, or place of birth.

Most other sports organisations including Rugby Union allow players to switch nationality during their careers. As such there is absolutely nothing that prevents Mtawarira from representing South Africa, except maybe the Sports Ministry’s xenophobia.

Also claims that South African sports persons cannot represent other countries are totally false. Liezel Huber a Durban born lady, started her tennis career in South Africa, and turned professional as a South African. She now plays as an American. She and her Zimbabwean partner, Cara Black, are currently the top ranked women’s doubles tennis players.

The immigration laws of most countries including South Africa, allow the fast track granting of citizenship to talented individuals such as sportspeople, popular musicians and highly skilled people. In short if South Africa want Mtawarira to be travelling on a South African passport, it is a matter of filling out a few forms and submitting them. He has already proven his value to South Africa and no reasonable man would deny him citizenship.

South Africa should be jumping at the opportunity to have another skilful player at their disposal instead of throwing insults at him. Most other countries would.

As a word of advise public figures like the sports ministry should arm themselves with thoroughly researched facts before rushing to flight adverts and make statements which are not based on fact. If they don’t, they risk exposing their lack of thoroughness and application in performing their duties.

However I am willing to forgive the South African politicians. The recent case of Caster Semenya has shown that they are not particularly skilful at handling tricky and high profile issues.

Lastly once Mtawarira gets a South African passport, he automatically loses his Zimbabwean citizenship.
- The Zimbabwe Times

1 Opinion(s):

Islandshark said...

Wasn't Ray Mordt also born in Zimbabwe?

It's a friggen disgrace - but I've learnt to accept that in the cesspool, new lows are possible every step of the way...