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A former senior Australian politician has revealed Shane Warne acted as her ‘lifeline’ during a ‘scary’ stand-off with a Zimbabwean war veterans.
Former foreign minister Julie Bishop told The Project how the mere mention of Warne’s name diffused a tense situation that could have turned ugly.
When a ‘gang’ of men heard Bishop was Australian and not British they immediately associated her nationality with the great cricketer instead of any authority that might interfere with their rights.
Bishop was in Zimbabwe as an official Zimbabwean election observer, in an era that mostly white-owned farms were taken over, sometimes violently.
Bishop remembered being asked to interview a gang who took control of a commercial farm about which party they’d vote for in the highly controversial elections.
In 2000 incumbent Robert Mugabe, who was regarded as corrupt towards the end of his time as President, announced the seizure of 804 mostly white-owned farms for the resettlement of poor black farmers.
Years of turmoil over the rightful ownership of Zimbabwean farms at times turned deadly and Bishop remembered how ‘scary’ the situation seemed.
‘It was the most rural, isolated part of Zimbabwe and there were some war veterans that had taken over a commercial farm and it was pretty scary but I had to interview them about the election and the leader of this gang, you know, they were kind of like bikies with no teeth and chains around their necks.’
‘The leader, he was glaring at me and he said, “you are British” and I thought, “here is my moment” and I said, “no, I’m Australian!” and he looked at me and the others and said, “Shane Warne!”
‘I can tell you I’ve never been so relieved to hear Shane Warne’s name as I was then.’
‘He was my lifeline and apparently Warnie had played in Zimbabwe during the 90s and everybody there just fell in love with the great man.
‘So his impact is way beyond Australia and I found time and time again that people would raise Shane Warne as part of the great Australian character.’
Source: Daily Mail