Auckland Protest Sends Goff Strong Message - No Zimbabwe Tour!
By Selwyn Manning - Scoop Co-Editor.
Foreign Minister Phil Goff faced a staunch Global Peace and Justice Auckland (GPJA) protest today calling for the Government to legislate to prevent New Zealand's Black Caps cricket team from touring Zimbabwe.
Opposition to the August tour has been mounting due to ongoing human rights abuses against Zimbabwe's people by its president, Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe's outspoken critic of the Mugabe regime, Judith Todd (Sir Garfield Todd's daughter) also attended the protest. She thanked New Zealanders for turning out in what is believed to be the first of such protests worldwide opposing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Auckland - Zimbabwe former cricket great, Henry Olonga, and Sir Garfield Todd's daughter, Judith Todd, led protests today against a New Zealand cricket tour of Zimbabwe. Click here to listen… Scoop Audio: Zimbabwe’s Judith Todd.
The New Zealand Government has been outspoken against the Mugabe regime but has backed off passing a law that would prevent New Zealand sportsmen from touring Zimbabwe. Also, if New Zealand Cricket called off the tour, then the International Cricket Council would fine it millions of dollars.
The ICC wrote to the government this week stating that it would waiver the fine should New Zealand make the tour unlawful.
A public meeting in Auckland last night passed a resolution insisting the Government move to prevent the tour from proceeding without interfering with New Zealanders' right to travel.
GPJA spokesperson, John Minto said today, that people "can have it both ways". He said the Government must enact a law, or promote a means that would prevent the cricketers from touring Zimbabwe while still honouring New Zealanders' right to freedom of travel. Click here to listen to… Scoop Audio: John Minto’s brief’s the protest march of the issue.
But Phil Goff said today, only concerns for the safety of New Zealand's players would stop the tour from going ahead.
New Zealand foreign minister, Phil Goff, said his government cannot create a law that would prevent New Zealanders' right to travel. Click here to listen… Scoop Audio: Foreign Minister Phil Goff.
He told a group of hecklers that to pass a law that prevented free New Zealand citizens from exercising their right to travel would be wrong and would mirror the same style of human rights abuses that Zimbabwe's leader Robert Mugabe had imposed on that nation's peoples. He also said that such a law would create a dangerous precedence in New Zealand that could be exploited by future governments.
Phil Goff added, that a planned tour of New Zealand by Zimbawe Cricket in December will not go ahead.
Goff said his government has lobbied all International Cricket Council nations to group with New Zealand to force an ICC sporting ban on Zimbabwe. He told the group of around 2000 protesters that only Australia and the United Kingdom had agreed with New Zealand's stance.
New Zealand and Australia has also lobbied European Union nations for support, and also the United Nations security council, and has asked the International Criminal Court to have Mugabe investigated and tried for human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.
Global Peace and Justice Auckland spokesperson, John Minto, calls for a total boycott of sporting contact with Zimbabwe.Click here to listen to John Minto's response to Phil Goff's stance… Scoop Audio: John Minto responds to Phil Goff’s stance.
Green Party co-leader Rod Donald has been calling for legislation to be rushed before Parliament that would prevent the tour from going ahead. Rod Donald said the Government could stop this tour from going ahead if it was firm in its resolve to do so. He also said it is able to outlaw this tour without eroding the right of New Zealanders to freely travel where the so wish.
Green Party co-leader, Rod Donald, says his bill provides a solution that would stop the tour while protecting New Zealanders' right to travel. Click here to listen… Scoop Audio: Green Party co-leader Rod Donald.
Earlier this month, Rod Donald drafted a bill that he said would stop the tour, but uphold New Zealanders' right to travel.
The Zimbabwe Sporting Sanction Bill would make it an offence for any New Zealand national sporting organisation to send a team on a tour of Zimbabwe. If any team defied the law, their national body would be fined $50,000 and have all its government funding revoked for one financial year.
"New Zealanders don't want the Black Caps to tour Zimbabwe and they don't want NZ Cricket punished financially if the tour is called off," Mr Donald said. "This Green Bill offers the best of both worlds: it stops the tour and gets NZ Cricket off the hook with regard to any ICC fine," Rod Donald said.
He said: "I have drafted the Bill in such a way that it preserves the freedoms of individual New Zealanders enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that no national sports team can give comfort to Robert Mugabe's genocidal regime, bringing New Zealand into disrepute and opening us up to the accusation that we are failing to live up to our international human rights commitments.
"NZ Cricket's Future Tours Agreement explicitly states that where a government action makes it illegal for a national team to undertake a tour of another country, then that team is not liable for any financial penalty. As such, this Bill will ensure that NZ Cricket will be able to pull out of the Zimbabwe tour and avoid any financial penalty," Rod Donald said.
Yesterday, New Zealand High Commissioner to London Jonathan Hunt met with the International Cricket Council president Ehsan Mani. Hunt is well known for his love of Cricket and wine.
Hunt was required to ask the ICC what its actions would be should New Zealand Cricket heed the Government's request that the tour be cancelled. The ICC said in this circumstance, its fines would not be waived. It informed Hunt that the tour ought to go ahead unless New Zealand ruled the tour unlawful - clearly a move the Labour-Progressive Government is loath to do.