The Magazine

South Africa Plays Ball with Dictators

So don't play ball in South Africa.

May 12, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 33 • By JAMES KIRCHICK and MARIAN L. TUPY
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Some might question the wisdom of upsetting good relations with Pretoria over Zimbabwe. What we advocate, however, is not an official ban on playing in South Africa. Rather, we call on civil society--independent organizations and individual players--to begin a public debate about the suitability of South Africa as a host for the World Cup. Conceivably, such a debate could shame Pretoria into taking a tougher line against Mugabe.

Since the end of white minority rule in South Africa in 1994, the ANC government has enjoyed a great deal of goodwill in the world. South Africa is the favorite venue for international conferences and sporting events, and the government has high hopes for the World Cup. But it is harder and harder to reconcile South Africa's elevated status with Pretoria's friendliness toward odious dictatorships. A little controversy, therefore, might usefully draw to the attention of President Mbeki and his government that their human rights record increasingly resembles that of the Rainbow Nation's infamous predecessor.

Marian L. Tupy is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. James Kirchick is an assistant editor at the New Republic. Both have reported from Zimbabwe.