Sekai Holland’s visit to New Zealand described as hugely successful
By Tichaona Sibanda
12 October 2007
Members of Parliament from the Maori party of New Zealand have withdrawn their support for Robert Mugabe’s regime, after it was explained to them that the land redistribution exercise has only benefited an elite few from Zanu-PF.
MDC secretary for Research and Policy, Sekai Holland spent a week in New Zealand, meeting with various political groupings including Prime Minister Helen Clark and the Foreign Minister Winston Peters. Driden Kunaka, chairman of Save Zimbabwe Campaign told us from Wellington, the highlight of Holland’s visit was her meeting with four influential MPs of the Maori Party.
The Maori are the native inhabitants of New Zealand and their population today stands at 500 000, representing 15 percent of New Zealand’s total population. Before the arrival of European colonists in the late 18th century, the Maori had settled throughout New Zealand but much of their land was confiscated illegally.
Since 1980, a government body established to settle legal claims has been engaged in compensating the Maori for land that was illegally confiscated.
This has similarities to what is happening in Zimbabwe, except that the regime in Zimbabwe has used violence to kill and subdue people it is taking land from. Kunaka said the impression the Maori people had was that Mugabe was taking land back for the people.
‘They genuinely thought the regime was empowering the indigenous blacks in Zimbabwe until Sekai Holland gave them the correct picture. They were shocked and immediately withdrew their support for Mugabe’s land redistribution exercise,’ Kunaka said.
Part of the discussions between Holland and other members of parliament explored the current negotiations mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki. Kunaka added that the MPs strongly supported calls from the MDC for an immediate end to violent repression of the opposition.
Holland is currently based in Australia were she’s still receiving medical treatment for injuries sustained during the 11th March beatings of the opposition.