Having shamefully hedged, National has finally gotten on board the anti-tour bus, declaring that they are willing to pay the ICC's fine to stop the tour from going ahead. Now, there are problems with this - the money effectively going to Mugabe being one of them - but the public seem more than willing to ignore this and buy off the ICC simply in order to feel clean. I expect they're rather less willing if the cost is $50 million rather than $3 million, but that figure hasn't really sunk into public consciousness yet.
In any case, the government's reaction - hysterically rounding on the Opposition - seems inexplicable. They're willing to help find a way out of this mess; shouldn't their help be welcomed? You'd almost think the government had been moving gradually and grudgingly towards paying the fine, but now feel they can't because National offered first. Pillocks.
As for the $50 million, Frogblog points out that this is for lost revenue and is money the Zimbabwe Cricket Union will be getting anyway.
If the tour goes ahead, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union will make a profit. If the tour doesn’t go ahead and NZ Cricket is fined, then the Zimbabwe Cricket Union will be reimbursed for the profit they would have made. So, Goff can bleat all he likes about New Zealand money going to Robert Mugabe, but the money would go to him either way. The only difference between the two scenarios is whether the money comes as a result of the tour or as a result of the tour’s cancellation.
The question then is not whether Mugabe is going to get any money - its whether we're happier for him to get it through the Black Caps' touring (with its attendant media coverage) or through a fine. I'd prefer the latter, but only as an absolute last resort, and I don't think its necessary. There is another option, one which the government has steadfastly refused to consider, and that is to impose full economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, covering both trade in goods and trade in services (including professional sports). This doesn't involve stopping people from leaving the country, but it does involve them not being allowed to help the Mugabe regime profit to the tune of $50 million. The government has an unquestionable right to do this. It would clearly be covered by the "Force Majeure" clause in the ICC contract, so NZC wouldn't have to pay a cent. And it would be showing the world how we think thuggish regimes should be treated. The only question is why we didn't do it a long time ago.