180. The FCO Report discusses various examples of
poor governance which have led to human rights violations throughout
Zimbabwe. 'Operation Murambatsvina' ('Drive Out the Filth'), a
campaign of forced evictions and housing demolitions has affected
nearly a fifth of the population - or roughly 3.1 million people
- leaving them without shelter, sanitation or education. In her
report, Kofi Annan's Special Envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, explained
that an estimated 700,000 of these have been left homeless, unemployed
Those affected throughout the past year have still received little
or no help. 'Operation Garikai' ('Live Well') was devised to re-house
those made homeless by previous evictions but in practice only
3,325 houses have been built and a large proportion of these have
gone to police, civil servants and those favourably viewed by
the ruling ZANU (PF) party.
Further themes explored in the FCO report are the ban on carrying
excess cash, draconian punishments for those participating in
the Valentine's Day marches and the intimidating rhetoric used
against the opposition regarding the organisation of peaceful
181. The FCO report goes on to discuss other current
Civil and political repression, including the
removal of elected opposition mayors;
Freedom of expression being eroded by new legislation;
Constitutional amendment 17 which has nationalised
land ownership, imposed restrictions on the freedom of international
movement by Zimbabwean citizens and the restriction in electoral
participation by second and third generation citizens;
The food crisis: 'Operation Taguta/Sisuthi' ('Eat
Well') has only exacerbated the population's reliance on the government
for food, which has been explicitly used as a political tool.
182. The British Government's attempts to put unilateral
pressure on Zimbabwe have been hampered by its colonial history
because, as Human Rights Watch explained, it allows the current
regime to describe the scenario as "a neo-colonial crisis
According to Amnesty International, therefore, a better allocation
of resources would be found in "talking to African countries
about the ways in which they might bring pressure to bear upon
the Mugabe regime."
183. The FCO Report states that there has been some
success in getting Zimbabwe on the UN Security Council agenda,
but this is not a course of action that attracts universal support.
Tom Porteous of Human Rights Watch said, "I do not know whether
the situation in Zimbabwe merits referral to the Security Council"
and "South Africa has played a very unhelpful role."
Amnesty International argued for the need to take a harder line
with South Africa: "We are very disappointed by South African
quiet diplomacy over the past seven years and would say that it
has not produced anything".
184. The question of involving other partners in
putting pressure on Zimbabwe has frequently been raised. Ian McCartney
explained that it is important that "we [the EU] have a comprehensive
and effective trade arrangement that takes into account economic
development and builds the capacity of those countries in southern
Africa to develop human rights awareness."
185. During March 2007 the situation in Zimbabwe
deteriorated even further as Robert Mugabe and his ZANU (PF) party
continued their clamp-down on political opposition. The leader
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai,
was severely beaten on 11 March for trying to attend a meeting
organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a pro-democracy coalition
of civic and opposition groups. He was hospitalised by his injuries,
which were severe enough to attract accusations that the attack
was in fact "attempted murder".
Many more of Tsvangirai's MDC colleagues have also faced increasing
intimidation and violence from Mugabe's "hit-squads".
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa was attacked by a gang of eight,
leaving him with severe facial injuries while MDC leaders Sekai
Holland and Grace Kwinje were prevented from boarding a flight
to South Africa for important medical checks.
Foreign diplomats have also been warned that the increased intensity
of the Mugabe regime will be redirected towards them. A Zimbabwean
foreign affairs official outlined the regime's hostility towards
the British and American diplomats in particular, stating that
"if these two don't shut up from now on, their expulsions
186. In response to questions over the current situation
in Zimbabwe, the Foreign Secretary told the House on 20 March
of the need to promote and maintain strong multilateral pressure
on the Mugabe regime. She made it clear that the United Kingdom's
concerns must be shared by the EU, the African Union and the UN.
Therefore, and in spite of the obvious deepening of the Zimbabwean
crisis, there have been a number of developments which give cause
for cautious optimism. In response to the recent violence, South
Africa has shown tentative signs of a movement away from its quiet
diplomacy and has become more vocal in its criticism of Mugabe's
regime, describing the beatings as "obviously unacceptable
to us as a government."
Furthermore, Thabo Mbeki's recent appointment by the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) as a mediator in the Zimbabwean
crisis has been seen as a "critical new departure by insiders".
He is mandated to ensure that next year's presidential elections
are free and fair. The African Union, which itself has faced criticism
because of the perceived unwillingness of its member Heads of
State to put significant pressure on the Mugabe regime, has also
raised its voice over the issue. The Chairperson of the Commission,
Alpha Oumar Konare, has urged "all concerned parties to commence
a sincere and constructive dialogue"
with Zimbabwe. Perhaps the most critical development, however,
could be the opening up of fissures within the ZANU (PF) party
itself, with Mugabe recently conceding that some of his colleagues
are "plotting against him", as the country moves towards
a perceived tipping point.
187. We conclude that the appalling human rights
situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated over the past year. We
recommend that the Government continue strongly to urge South
Africa to apply greater pressure on the Mugabe regime. We further
recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government
set out what progress has been made on the issue of Zimbabwe at
the UN Security Council.