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Bouquet and brickbat to Government on Zimbabwe

23 June 2005

Bouquet and brickbat to Government on Zimbabwe

Foreign Minister Phil Goff deserves congratulations for making it clear that the Zimbabwean cricket team would not be welcome in New Zealand, the Green Party says.

"I would urge the Government to back Goff's call by declaring that it would refuse to issue visas to the Zimbabwe cricket team if Robert Mugabe is still in power in December," Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said.

"And I challenge National leader Don Brash to back this boycott so Mugabe gets a clear message that our whole country opposes the atrocities his odious regime is committing against his own people.

"However I remain hugely disappointed that the Government hasn't done more to halt the Black Caps' tour to Zimbabwe in August.

"It would be wonderful if the Government's new-found principles on this issue could extend to also working with NZ Cricket to find ways to cancel that tour without financial penalty.

"The least Phil Goff should do is send an urgent letter to the International Cricket Council, which is meeting in London this week, urging them to suspend Zimbabwe from international cricket competitions.

Mr Donald remains confident that the Black Caps tour will not take place.

"Even if we cannot persuade the Labour Government to stop the Black Caps tour I doubt it will proceed because either civil unrest in Zimbabwe will make it unsafe to travel there or Robert Mugabe will block the tour himself.

"Mugabe is well-known on the international stage as a sulk and a bully, and he may retaliate against his team being refused entry to New Zealand by declaring that the Black Caps aren't welcome in Zimbabwe.

"That would save the Black Caps the indignity of having to take part in a PR exercise for this brutal man.

"But the paradox remains: on the one hand, our Government is saying that NZ Cricket's contractual arrangements prevent it from stepping in to stop the Black Caps' tour of Zimbabwe; on the other hand, it is saying that it is quite happy to ignore those contractual arrangements by blocking Zimbabwe's tour here."

ENDS

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