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I refer to Mr. Mugabe's election result rather than his victory, because the word "victory" has glamorous connotations. Yesterday's result in Zimbabwe contained nothing glamorous at all. It was sordid, dishonest, underhand, undemocratic and wrong. It should not be allowed to stand. President Bush is right to have made it clear that he will not recognise the result, and we should do the same. For all the Foreign Secretary's fine words, I am disappointed that nothing in what he said suggested that that would be the case.
We must avoid the temptation of a emotional reaction. We need to look dispassionately at the evidence of what has happened and to be able to demonstrate that the election was not only flawed, but rigged well in advance of polling and neither free nor fair. It has not been free for months. The long run-up to the elections has been marked by violence, intimidation and the use of terror as a political weapon. The House should not forget that in the 12 months to January this year we had already seen
Nor was the election fair. From the outset the process has been corrupted, as the Foreign Secretary set out in detail today and as the reports from the Commonwealth and SADC so clearly and graphically confirm. It is worth remembering that in March last year SADC set out 11 election recommendations that were subsequently endorsed by all SADC members, including Zimbabwe. Not one of the 11 recommendations has been adhered to.
I shall remind the House of some of those recommendations and what happened. They included impartial international and regional election observers at the earliest possible stagethat did not happen; equal access to the media for opposition partiesthat was not allowed; impartial policing of the ballotlaughable; presidential candidates to be provided with free and adequate security during the election processlaughable; and unimpeded freedom to campaign and freedom to vote throughout the countrylaughable.
The result sets several serious tests in different areas. It is a test for southern Africa of whether the region genuinely adheres to the principles of democracy set out in the Harare declaration. It is a test for the Commonwealth of whether the principles on which it is founded mean anything at all. It is also a test for the Prime Minister, who has spoken about
I do not believe that what the Foreign Secretary has said today goes nearly far enoughit sounded like just more of what we have heard before. Once again, it is hope against experience. Why does not the Foreign Secretary today make it clear that the Government do not recognise the result or the legitimacy of the Zimbabwean Government and take steps accordingly?
Will the Foreign Secretary urgently consult his European Union counterparts in Barcelona this evening to see whether the targets of the sanctions can be extended in the way that the MDC has called for today? Will he seek the maximum degree of non-recognition of this result and of the Government of Zimbabwe throughout the international community, including suspension from the Commonwealth? Will he and the Prime Minister, together with the United States, take a lead in building an international coalition, including Europe and responsible members of the Commonwealth, to bring real and determined pressure to bear on Zimbabwe for new presidential elections to be held? Mr. Mugabe has got away with this election because the international community in general, and our Government in particular, did not show him months ago that we meant business when we called for free and fair elections. Like all tyrants, Mugabe has fed on the belief that brave statements from
The time for mere words is now over. There must be no more quiet diplomacy, no more hand wringing and no more supine inaction. They have all failed, and they have failed the people of Zimbabwe in the process. For the sake of the people of Zimbabwe, and for the sake of democracy, the Government must recognise that the time has come to stop talking and to start doing.
Mr. Straw: I understand fully the right hon. Gentleman's anger and frustration about what has happened because I share it, but much of his response amounted to tilting at windmills. He asks for us to take action in the Commonwealth. We have sought to do so. I have been in the lead in that regard, but the fact is that the Commonwealth is a free association of 54 countries. There was not a majorityand still less unanimityin the Commonwealth for suspension before elections took place. I hope that there is now agreement inside the troika, because that would be an important mark of the Commonwealth's disapproval of what has happened.
The right hon. Gentleman asks us to build an international consensus. With respect, that is exactly what we have been doing. He asks for action. That is exactly what has been secured inside the European Union.
Mr. Straw: I thought that I had made it palpably obvious that we do not recognise the result or its legitimacy. There is no difference between the position that we have taken and that taken by President Bush.
As the right hon. Gentleman asked for action, I say to him gently that we were able to secure the required unanimous approval of the European Union to impose sanctions. As it happens, those sanctions are being imposed on a broader basis than those that the United States, with which we have been working closely, has introduced up to now. Had the right hon. Gentleman been holding my office, with his party's approach to the European Union, would that unanimity have been achieved?
I regret the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's concluding remarks. Neither Opposition spokesmen nor anyone else should move the blame for what has happened from where it must lie. It cannot be moved to the international community or to the House. The blame and responsibility must lie fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Nothing would please them more than if they were let off the hook by the kind of ill-advised remarks that we have heard from the Opposition Front Bench.
I hope that the House will send out its determination that it recognises where the responsibility lies but, equally, that it recognises our responsibility to continue relentlessly to do all that we can by deeds as well as words to ensure that Mugabe and ZANU-PF are accorded neither the international status nor the assistance and recognition that they seek. Instead, we shall strive for a democratic election in Zimbabwe and a democratic Government.
The Foreign Secretary said that we should not be surprised by the result. We should not be surprised either by the conduct of the elections, as the behaviour of ZANU-PF during them was entirely consistent with the campaign of violence, abuse and intimidation that characterised its behaviour towards opponents in the period running up to them. The sad and unpalatable truth is that, for all its optimism, it would have taken little short of a miracle for the Movement for Democratic Change to have won the election.
In light of the Commonwealth observers group's trenchant and unequivocal condemnation, would not it be inconceivable for the troika to reach any conclusion other than that suspension was a necessary and inevitable response from the Commonwealth? What hope would there be for the Commonwealth as an institution based on the rule of law and on respect for human rights if its response to these events was seen to be feeble?
The Foreign Secretary is right to put his trust in concerted action, and to engage the European Union. This is an occasion on which we should acknowledge the helpful, even exemplary, support that the United States has shown in these matters, both in the Administration and in the Congress.
Finally, does the Foreign Secretary share my disappointment about the consequences of Mr. Mugabe's re-election? The right hon. Gentleman outlined the terrible domestic conditions in Zimbabwe, which will now continue, but Mr. Mugabe's behaviour has also placed an enormous burden on the whole of the region of southern Africa. Is not it a terrible tragedy that these events may set back, perhaps irretrievably, the renaissance for Africa in which so much hope has been invested?