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Rod Donald Speech: "It's Just Not Cricket"

Making a difference

Speech by Rod Donald to "It's Just Not Cricket" protest rally in Auckland.

Oppression is colour blind. Whether white on black, black on white, white on white, or black on black, all oppression is equally bad.

It must be challenged, it must be stopped before it chokes freedom and hope to death. Good people can make a difference. You are all good people and your presence here today is making a difference.

As Margaret Mead once said, "Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." The world is watching what we do here today.

New Zealand is the first country in the world to take to the streets in protest at Robert Mugabe's deliberate campaign of genocide. I hope we will not be the last.

Mugabe's behaviour is not the last gasp of a senile despot. It is the culmination of 25 years of increasingly autocratic rule. It is a deliberate campaign to crush democracy, a campaign to systematically eliminate his political opponents.

His demolition squads have now moved from the so-called slums - in reality, vibrant communities - into the suburbs of Harare, as he seeks to punish all those who oppose his regime. He must be stopped.

New Zealand must not give him any comfort, any legitimacy. We must not allow any of our sporting heroes to become pawns in his power play.

The International Cricket Council lives in a moral vacuum. It portrays cricket as a gentleman's sport, yet it refuses to sanction the patron of Zimbabwe Cricket Union, Robert Mugabe. Our own government has been slow to act on our behalf. It has followed rather than led, but at least it has acted. By refusing visas to the proposed Zimbabwe tour to NZ in December, Helen Clark's government has taken a stand.

But stopping one tour is not enough. It is simply unacceptable for our national team to be playing cricket in Zimbabwe while outside the stadium the Government continues to bulldoze the homes of innocent civilians and buries children and the elderly in the rubble.

The Green Party asked the government back in April to do everything in its power to stop the Black Caps tour of Zimbabwe. I ask Phil Goff again today to take action on behalf of everyone here and on behalf of the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders who want the tour stopped. If legislation is the only way that can happen, then so be it.

Which is the greater evil? Suspending the right of New Zealand Cricket to send a sports team to Zimbabwe or letting Robert Mugabe and his henchmen continue to destroy the hopes and dreams of a nation? All too often, we are powerless in the face of government bullying and human tragedy. With Zimbabwe, we can make a difference.

When Norman Kirk sent the frigate Canterbury to Mururoa in 1973 he didn't expect the French Government to stop nuclear testing overnight. But that symbolic protest galvanised our nation and changed the course of history. Stopping the Black Caps' tour is another symbolic gesture. It will not stop Mugabe and his atrocities overnight, but it will help to end his reign of terror.

Rod Donald, Co-Leader

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