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Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife): The collapse of Zimbabwe's economy has been well documented in the debate. However, it is worth reminding ourselves briefly of its scale. As we have heard, inflation is 122 per cent., almost two thirds of the population are unemployed, foreign direct investment has decreased from $430 million in 1998 to $4 million in 2001, and gross domestic product in 2003 is predicted to be half that of 2001. The impact on the people of Zimbabwe is almost incalculable. The economic impact of Mr. Mugabe's policies extends beyond the borders of his country to affect the whole region. It has deeply damaged investment and the tourism on which so many of the surrounding countries' economies depend.

The ordinary people of Zimbabwe are the victims. A country that was once the granary of southern Africa is reduced to receiving food aid from Britain, the European Union and the United Nations. Today we see the absurdity of farmers being forbidden by law to work their land, while the spectre of famine hangs over the country. We also understand that the food aid that is admitted is used for political purposes. Baroness Amos told the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs that World Food Programme aid is subject to Government and party distribution networks.

That underlines many of the points that the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) made, perhaps more dramatically, when he spoke about the extent to which mere membership, or even suspicion of membership, of the Movement for Democratic Change is sufficient to provoke the most terrible atrocities.

The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short): The World Food Programme would not allow food aid to be used for political purposes. Attempts are being made to do that, and we are all struggling to thwart them in the coming crisis. The World Food Programme is not colluding in those efforts. We are all doing what we can to resist the political manipulation of food aid.

Mr. Campbell: I am grateful for that assurance from the Secretary of State, who pays considerable and close attention to such matters.

The political environment in Zimbabwe is no better. Press freedom has been extinguished, intimidation is commonplace and the Government's opponents are vilified and persecuted. Journalists stand trial under repressive and self-serving legislation, and judges are intimidated and subsequently "persuaded" to leave office. The talks brokered by Nigeria and South Africa between the governing party, ZANU-PF, and the MDC have broken down because ZANU-PF insists that the MDC should abandon its legal challenge to the March election result. It sometimes appears that ZANU-PF is the only institution in the world that believes that that election could legitimately be described as free and fair.

The internal crisis has the capacity to spill over into the region if citizens of Zimbabwe, displaced by famine or fear, seek refuge in neighbouring countries where they will add to the existing economic and social burdens induced by what we might call the "Mugabe effect".

In the cloistered calm of the Chamber, we should not forget the countless instances of terror to which many citizens of Zimbabwe have been subject. For example,

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let us consider the episodes of personal pain as families are forced to shoot their dogs and then their cattle, made to pack their belongings into a couple of suitcases, run the gauntlet of Mr. Mugabe's thugs and so make their escape from land that has been in their family perhaps for generations. Not only the whites suffer the consequences of such actions. Black families who have worked on farms, sometimes for generations, are uprooted and sent on their way so that Mr. Mugabe's political objectives can be achieved.

I suspect that in 20 years' time, someone reading the two opening speeches would note a difference in flavour but not in substance. The analysis is relatively easy; providing solutions is infinitely more difficult. We have a duty to ourselves, and especially to the citizens of Zimbabwe, to be realistic. The range of action available to us is affected, even circumscribed, by numerous factors.

The right hon. Member for Devizes mentioned military intervention, although I am not sure about the extent to which he was prepared to pin his colours to that idea. My party has not been slow when we have believed it necessary to urge such intervention, sometimes against the prevailing views of the Labour party and the Conservative party.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire): Like Thorpe.

Mr. Campbell: Indeed. If Mr. Jeremy Thorpe's suggestions had been executed as swiftly as they might have been, some of the current problems, and especially some of the difficulties that the Labour Government experienced with Mr. Ian Smith, might have been avoided. In Kosovo and Bosnia, Lord Ashdown, as he now is, never displayed any slackness in urging military intervention.

Before we raise the possibility of military intervention in this case, however, we should ask ourselves several searching questions. The distance between here and Zimbabwe is considerable, and the size of the country is also considerable. We could not look for host nation support from surrounding countries, and I doubt whether we could expect regional political support in the current climate. Could we achieve UN endorsement? Which counties would offer to be allies in any attempt to intervene militarily? Those questions are fundamental, and we should at least ask them and ascertain whether we can provide adequate answers before we discuss military intervention.

Let us consider whether to broaden economic sanctions. Wholesale sanctions would undoubtedly damage the lives of ordinary people. Some will say that there were sanctions in the days of apartheid—the days of South Africa at its very worst—but there is an important distinction to be drawn there. Throughout that period, the African National Congress was saying to the outside world, "Please impose sanctions." So far, I have heard no suggestion from Mr. Tsvangirai's party, the MDC, that it would wish for a wholesale regime of sanctions to be imposed, because its members understand—current events make this issue all the more acute—that the need for the continuation of humanitarian assistance is fundamental.

The right hon. Member for Devizes referred to the Commonwealth games, in which I have a passing historical interest. It is worth remembering that when the

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Gleneagles agreement was implemented and sporting sanctions were applied, it was because those who were representing South Africa were being chosen along racial lines. I have a clear memory of going to compete at the White City stadium, and there were two teams from South Africa: a team of white faces wore green and gold; the team of black faces wore black and gold blazers as an alternative.

There is no evidence that teams in Zimbabwe are chosen on the basis of colour, and it would not be right to keep the Zimbabwean athletes who have been selected for the Commonwealth games in Manchester away from that opportunity. The opportunity to take part in a Commonwealth games in which the colours are as varied as the countries represented there will perhaps be a more illuminating experience for them than if their country were banned. I agree with the right hon. Member for Devizes, however, that there should be no question of any Minister in the Mugabe Government coming to Manchester and seeking to take advantage of the hospitality that the protocols of the Commonwealth games will undoubtedly permit.

The road to be taken has to be political. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton) made an interesting point about the need to engage such dominant figures as Nelson Mandela, but there is quite a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that Mr. Mandela and Mr. Mugabe have never seen eye to eye. There are also those who argue that it was not until Mr. Mandela had been replaced by Mr. Mbeki that Mr. Mugabe felt bold enough to embark on some of the conduct that we have seen recently, simply because he feared—and, if I may say so, was intimidated by—Mr. Mandela's robust embrace of a multilateral approach to the problems of South Africa that is a long way from what is currently on offer in Zimbabwe. Archbishop Tutu—another dominating figure—has been unrestrained in his criticism of Mr. Mugabe. The hon. Member for Macclesfield has made an interesting proposition, but we would have to be satisfied in advance that there was at least some hope that influence might be able to be exercised.

No, it has to be the political road, and that is not glamorous or dynamic; it is painstaking. The hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) was absolutely right to say that we must use every opportunity, and the New Partnership for Africa's Development offers an opportunity to say to the African states that surround Zimbabwe, "You have a duty in this. You have a responsibility not to us, but to your own citizens, who are directly suffering the consequences of Mr. Mugabe's behaviour."

It is right that we should target more members of ZANU-PF and its associates. There should be selected sanctions, perhaps at lower levels of that part of society over which Mr. Mugabe holds sway. We should be making efforts to seek a settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, through the United Nations, and to get the Zimbabwean troops out. What is Zimbabwe using the conflict in the DRC for, if not as a much needed opportunity to obtain illegal foreign exchange? We should be encouraging Nigeria and South Africa to reconvene the talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC, and to get them back on track. We should also do everything that we can through the United Nations to ensure that aid and assistance are depoliticised; I acknowledge the

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undertakings made by the Secretary of State for International Development in her intervention a moment ago.

We should also underline—not only for the people of Zimbabwe but for those round about—the fact that land redistribution is a legitimate objective, but it must be carried out in a properly recognised legal framework, with proper compensation, in accordance with the terms of the Abuja agreement. We should also make it clear that the return to full participation in the Commonwealth will not be a formality. It will depend on credible and sustained evidence of a return to—and an intention to maintain, without equivocation—the principles of the Harare declaration.

We should also use Zimbabwe as an example to promote reform of the procedures of the Commonwealth, so that it will be possible to take much earlier action in future. There is an argument that if the Commonwealth had been able to take earlier action, it might perhaps have been able to stop Mr. Mugabe embarking on this course of action.

None of those proposals will grab the headlines, but I believe that, taken together and pursued with diligence, they will make a difference, and it is that course of action that Her Majesty's Government ought to be following.

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