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Notice of Motion: Zimbabwe

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

26 July 2005 Media Statement

Notice of Motion: Zimbabwe

The following motion was this afternoon put to the House by the Prime Minister.

That this House, noting with grave concern the oppression by the Government of Zimbabwe of its own people and its gross violation of human rights, calls upon New Zealand Cricket to abandon the proposed Black Caps tour to Zimbabwe, and urges the International Cricket Council to exclude Zimbabwe from international tours while gross human rights abuses continue in that country.

The Government of Zimbabwe launched its abhorrent so-called "Operation Clear Out Rubbish" campaign on 19 May. It is estimated that more than 700,000 people have been made homeless or jobless, and that another 2.4 million have been affected to varying degrees. The victims represent some of the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.

The New Zealand Government has long been outspoken against the growing authoritarianism and abuses of the Mugabe regime. We have spoken out about the corruption of the election process, the abuse of human rights, and the undermining of a free judiciary and media. We have condemned the mismanagement of a corrupt and self-serving regime which has destroyed the country’s economy and left eighty per cent of the people unemployed. We deplore the near halving of the life expectancy of Zimbabweans, to thirty-three years.

This latest action prompted the UN Secretary General to send a Special Envoy to Zimbabwe to assess the situation. Her report, released over the weekend, said that the Zimbabwe Government's campaign to demolish homes and displace people is a “disastrous venture” which has been carried out “in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering, and, in repeated cases, with disregard to several provisions of national and international legal frameworks”. Noting that the Operation has precipitated a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions, she calls for it to stop immediately.

It is against this background that the New Zealand Government along with most political parties in this House has continually urged New Zealand Cricket to abandon the Black Caps tour of Zimbabwe. Most New Zealanders agree that playing cricket in Zimbabwe at this time of profound crisis is deeply inappropriate.

New Zealand Cricket has undoubtedly been placed in a difficult position by the International Cricket Council. It is obliged either to carry out the tour or face crippling financial penalties, some of which would be payable to Zimbabwe. The New Zealand Government has asked the ICC to cancel the tour, and to change its rules so that tours can be called off on the grounds of gross human rights violations. The ICC has refused, and has made it clear that the imposition of penalties on New Zealand Cricket could only be avoided by passage of legislation in New Zealand making the tour to Zimbabwe illegal. The government is not prepared to support such legislation. Freedom of passage to and from this country is a basic right enjoyed by New Zealanders. Abrogating those rights is not an option for us.

This motion calls on the International Cricket Council to act now in the interests of cricket and the international reputation of the Council.

The New Zealand Government has also been in dialogue with a range of countries urging that pressure be brought to bear on Mr Mugabe and his government, to stop the destruction of homes and to restore good governance and the rule of law to Zimbabwe.

This is the time for leadership from the wider international community. The United Nations Security Council and the Commission on Human Rights should not stand back. We also urge Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the Southern African Development Community to condemn the home clearance campaign by the Mugabe regime. We call on countries supporting that regime through military and other forms of assistance to cease such assistance.

Through this motion, the New Zealand Parliament urges New Zealand Cricket and the International Cricket Council to heed the call of public opinion in New Zealand and around the world, and to abandon the Black Caps tour of Zimbabwe.

ENDS

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