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PM's Presser: Zimbabwe Cricket Tour Special

Prime Minister's Post-Cabinet Presser 4 July 2005

Prime Minister’s Presser Zimbabwe Cricket Tour Special

By Kevin List - Scoop chief reporter.

“For Parliament to legislate in this area really raises a number of very unfortunate precedents. I think that it is important in a democracy that when we try and deal with a problem you don’t end up compromising your own values in seeking to deal with that problem,” the Prime Minister explained today, at her regular Monday post-cabinet press conference.

The Prime Minister was responding to questions regarding legislation proposed by the Green Party - legislation that proposed a fine and loss of Government funding, should New Zealand cricket send a team to Zimbabwe.

It is understood that the Progressive Party is also exploring a legislative solution in an attempt to halt the upcoming cricket tour of strife torn Zimbabwe.

Whilst the Prime Minister was reluctant to use legislation to impede New Zealand touring Zimbabwe, she was more than happy to use the full weight of executive power to stop the planned reciprocal tour.

“At this point the representative bi-lateral tour of a representative team from Zimbabwe isn’t acceptable,” she said.

The Government has stated that it will deny visas to any players or support staff of the Zimbabwean cricket team.

NZ Cricket’s chief executive Martin Snedden is understood to have been displeased by this decision as it may result in a loss of millions of dollars for the organisation he heads. Mr Snedden would be meeting with Phil Goff, Jim Anderton and Trevor Mallard later this week to discuss the issues surrounding both tours.

Other people associated with the Mugabe regime such as a group of Zimbabwe’s central bank officials were also likely to end up on the New Zealand Immigration Service’s watch list.

Although the Prime Minister was only aware of anecdotal reports concerning the Zimbabwean bank officials, she explained that they would not be welcome in New Zealand because New Zealand has, “sanctions that prohibit the entry of Mr Mugabe and his associates.”

Scoop contacted Green Party Leader Rod Donald following the post cabinet press conference. Mr Donald was concerned that if the Government didn’t attempt to prevent the tour through legislative means the tour was virtually guaranteed to go ahead.

Mr Donald pointed out that NZ Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden couldn’t cancel the tour unless it was on the grounds of civil commotion, and therefore a risk to the health and safety of the cricketers.

“Snedden has to do what he is doing, though I probably wish he wasn’t doing it so enthusiastically. He has to look like he wants to go other wise he risks the International Cricket Council’s wrath. The Government has to do more than pronounce that the team doesn’t go – it needs to give effect to stopping the team from going,” he said.

As well as facing millions of dollars of fines for not touring Zimbabwe, it is understood that New Zealand Cricket could also face a boycott for up to a year should they decide on their own behalf to cancel the tour of Zimbabwe.

Mr Donald was also disappointed in the timid reaction to the situation in Zimbabwe by other African leaders.

“I’m just as critical of the South African Government at the moment for putting on blinkers to what is happening in Zimbabwe,” he told Scoop.

Mr Donald explained that the International Cricket Council has said that it is a country's right to tell their sports teams not to travel somewhere. Mr Donald pointed out that the Indian team aborted a tour of Pakistan following governmental pressure two years back and escaped being fined.

Whilst reluctant to legislate against the tour, the New Zealand Government is now working with Australia in looking for a diplomatic solution that would enable New Zealand to cancel the tour of Zimbabwe.

The Prime Minister considered a way forward may be “a motion to be moved in Parliament.”

“Virtually every party in Parliament has said they are very reluctant to see the team go. Virtually every party has said they don’t want to see the Zimbabwean team playing here.”

The ACT Party has accused both the Labour Party and National Party of scoring cheap political points regarding the Black Caps tour of Zimbabwe

“ACT has always opposed Mugabe’s repressive socialist regime. But we believe that it’s up to New Zealand cricket to determine who they play with – not politicians,” said ACT Party Leader Rodney Hide in a recent press release.

The Maori Party has also taken a cautious approach regarding the upcoming New Zealand Cricket tour and the current situation in Zimbabwe. Today in a press release Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia expressed a reluctance to comment on the issue until she knew more about the situation in Zimbabwe.

“It is difficult to know the full extent of the situation in Zimbabwe given our reliance on media commentary for an accurate portrayal of the events as they unfold” said Mrs Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party.

Ms Turia was also reluctant to single Zimbabwe out as a pariah state.

“We are uncomfortable about the appropriateness of selecting one country out for international condemnation, when we are aware of human abuses being reported in other countries whom we are happy to trade with” stated Mrs Turia.


© Scoop Media

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