Guaranteed welcome for Zimbabwe cup side disappointing

The Government should not give away the right to refuse entry to cricket team representing Mugabe’s Zimbabwe when negotiating to host the 2011 Cricket World Cup, according to Green Party Foreign Affairs and Sports Spokesperson Keith Locke.

New Zealand Cricket has just completed a joint bid with Australia to host the 2011 Cricket World Cup. As part of the Government’s support for the bid, Immigration Minister David Cunliffe has offered a guarantee to New Zealand Cricket “of support for the World Cup bid in the knowledge that that will involve a Zimbabwe team.”

“Of course, everyone hopes that by 2011 there won’t be a Mugabe regime, and New Zealanders will be welcoming the cricketers from a democratic Zimbabwe,” Mr Locke says.

“But the Government shouldn’t rule out doing what it did last year and refusing visas to the Zimbabwe cricket team. Last year this decision was made to illustrate New Zealand’s total opposition to Mugabe’s abuse of power and the large-scale demolition of people’s homes, and we should retain the right to express this opposition in future.

“Denying visas to a sports team should never be done lightly, and only in response to a strong call from the oppressed majority of a nation. And obviously, the views of international sporting bodies must be fully taken into account in the case of large-scale events like World Cup tournaments. But they shouldn’t be given a blank cheque.

“New Zealand should say it is willing to host the World Cup, but with a clause in the contract that reserves us the right, after consultation with the International Cricket Council, to refuse entry to a team from a country that is experiencing extreme human rights violations. This right should only be exercised when there is a call from the people of that country for us to do so, as was the case with Zimbabwe last year and with South Africa under Apartheid,” Mr Locke says.