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Govt Diplomatic Support for Cricketers Illusory

Government Diplomatic Support for Cricketers Illusory

$400,000 fine or 1 years jail (or both) for black armband protest

The New Zealand government will be unable to provide diplomatic support for New Zealand cricketers who get into trouble in Zimbabwe.

Foreign Minister Goff’s assurances that support will be available through the New Zealand High Commission in Pretoria are illusory.

The erratic, unpredictable and utterly repressive policies followed by the Mugabe regime mean it is difficult to predict Mugabe's reaction to a protest by New Zealand cricketers - such as black armbands - or to attempts by New Zealand officials to get co-operation from Zimbabwe officials in dealing with an arrest for what will be perceived as activity which is “insulting to the President”.

Even in the case of an arrest for "anti-social" behaviour, as has occurred with sports people on tour from time to time in the past, could quickly escalate to a nightmare for the players.

The simple fact is that New Zealand officials will be regarded as officials of an enemy state - one where the Foreign Minister has called for Mugabe to be tried for crimes against humanity by the World Court.
A black armband protest would be construed under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as “publicly” making an “act or a gesture” which is “insulting to the presidency” and therefore carry a liability of up to $400,000 in fines or a year in jail!

In any case there is no place for armband protests – they are yesterday’s tactic. A sporting boycott of Zimbabwe is the only sporting strategy for 2005. The Blackcaps tour must be prevented by the government.

Mike Treen – (09) 3616989 or 0275254744 John Minto – (09) 8463173 (Hm) or (09) 2745764 (Wk) Geraldene Peters - (09) 3765994

The relevant section of Zimbabwe’s Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill is appended here -


33 Undermining authority of or insulting President
(1) In this section— "publicly", in relation to making a statement, means—
(a) making the statement in a public place or any place to which the public or any section of the public have access;
(b) publishing it in any printed or electronic medium for reception by the public; "statement" includes any act or gesture.

(2) Any person who publicly, unlawfully and intentionally—
(a) makes any statement about or concerning the President or an acting President with the knowledge or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that the statement is false and that it may—
(i) engender feelings of hostility towards; or
(ii) cause hatred, contempt or ridicule of; the President or an acting President, whether in person or in respect of the President’s office; or
(b) makes any abusive, indecent or obscene statement about or concerning the President or an acting President, whether in respect of the President personally or the President’s office; shall be guilty of undermining the authority of or insulting the President and liable to a fine not exceeding level six or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both.

Note: A level 6 fine we understand to be $400,000.

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