Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60 - 66)



  60. This is another pressure then.
  (Mr Dowden) It is not just bad government it is a weather problem as well.

  61. Exacerbating what is happening in Zimbabwe.
  (Mr Dowden) Yes; indeed.

  62. And potentially South Africa.
  (Mr Dowden) And potentially South Africa.

Mr Pope

  63. It seems hopeless, does it not? If we do not want to direct food via the Mugabe regime and their armed forces, the only external organisation which might be able to do it are the South African armed forces, but I must say that if I were Mugabe, I would not fancy 10,000 or 20,000 or however many South African troops stationed in my country. It is not going to happen, is it?
  (Mr Keane) No, but there are creative ways. It is never hopeless. That is the first thing I would say to you, that it is never hopeless in Africa. Too much of the way we have viewed Africa has been through this prism of hopelessness. It is not. If it is not hopeless for the brave activists who are going out as we seek, as we sit here safely in London, knocking door to door, collecting human rights information, it is not hopeless for the rest of us. There are creative ways it can be done through SADC for example and other groups. It is possible and Mbeki in particular has the kind of leverage which would make it possible.

  64. He has the leverage.
  (Mr Keane) He has. It does not have to be South African troops parading all over Zimbabwe. I do not believe that is going to happen, but there is the kind of logistical infrastructure which Mr Mugabe's neighbours have, the SADC countries have, which could be used.

  65. He has the leverage, he has the capability, but it is not happening.
  (Mr Keane) That is where you, where the Government and politicians come in.

  66. People are starving, it is a terrible situation and there is a drought. How much of this in your estimation is due to the drought and how much of it is due to the way in which the taking over of the farms has been badly handled and has impacted adversely on agricultural output?
  (Mr Dowden) My impression is that this year it is largely drought. It is hard to put a figure on it. Next year is instability because people just do not know whether to plant or not. The big commercial farms are being expropriated and they are not going to invest in that, so they are not going to plant. Next year it will be political.

  Chairman: Even this afternoon, you may have seen the latest news, "Zimbabwe has declared a state of disaster as worsening food shortages threaten widespread famine. The disaster declaration, which is effective for three months, will give President Robert Mugabe the authority to order `extraordinary measures' to deliver food to those in need". "It allows aid agencies to set up emergency programmes for the estimated 7.8 million of the country's 13 million population in need of urgent food aid". That is some indication of the scale of the disaster facing the suffering people of Zimbabwe. I know you both will seek to raise that on our consciousness. May I thank you both? You probably know that we are meeting Baroness Amos on 14 May and this has been an extremely helpful background for the Committee in allowing us to prepare. If there are any other matters which you would like to send to us, we should be very happy to receive them. In the meantime, may I thank you both very sincerely indeed on behalf of the Committee.

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