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Govt fails to save Black Caps from Mugabe's grasp

22 June 2005

Govt fails to save Black Caps from Mugabe's grasp

The Government has completely failed to live up to its own rhetoric by not cancelling the Black Caps' tour of Zimbabwe, the Green Party says.

The team for the New Zealand cricket tour of Zimbabwe in August and September will be announced this afternoon.

"It would be so easy for the Government to step in and stop the tour, with no financial penalty for New Zealand Cricket," Green Co-Leader Rod Donald says. "Helen Clark is holding a 'Get-Out-of-Zimbabwe Free' card, but she has chosen not to play it."

"The International Cricket Council recognises the right of governments to pull their national sides out of a cricket tour for political reasons. In such instances, the cricketing board of that country is not liable for a fine.

"However, the Government has simply failed to exercise that recognised right, saying that it doesn't want to get involved in NZ Cricket's affairs. In short, the Government has failed to save the Black Caps from the tyrannical grasp of Robert Mugabe."

Mr Donald says there is a gaping gulf between the Government's rhetoric on Zimbabwe and its actions.

"The Prime Minister has said she wouldn't be seen dead in Zimbabwe, and Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has confirmed the Government would rather that the tour didn't go ahead. However, in reality, Labour hasn't so much as lifted a finger to prevent this tour from happening."

For several years earlier this decade, the Indian Government cancelled all Indian cricket tours of Pakistan as a matter of foreign policy. The Indian cricket board was not financially penalised for the actions of its government.

Last year, ICC President Ehsan Mani said in a press release: "International cricket boards have previously agreed that unless they received a direct order from their government not to tour they would honour their touring commitments. All countries recognise that there is a link between sport and politics and that it is the right of governments to take actions, including the imposition of sporting sanctions, which they consider to be in their national interest."

Mr Donald: "This clear ICC policy gives the Government a simple way to stop the tour with no adverse financial effects on NZ Cricket. It beggars belief that it has chosen not to make use of this opportunity.

"It is clearly not in New Zealand's national interest for our top cricketers to travel to Zimbabwe and bestow legitimacy on one of the world's most odious regimes. It's deplorable that the Government is dodging this foreign policy challenge by washing its hands of the issue."

ENDS


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