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Measures which time and again were dismissed as unacceptable and unhelpful are now being adopted as it becomes clear that Mugabe and his ZANU-PF thugs
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will not respond to conventional pressure of any sort—political or diplomatic. Strong and unequivocal action, which isolates his regime and cuts off the sources of payment, patronage, privilege, travel, fuel and energy, is needed to reduce the benefits that he receives and which fuel the machinery of oppression. It is heartening to see the growing international mood towards serious engagement to bring an end to Mugabe’s madness and the tragedy of Zimbabwe. I pay tribute to the voices of two archbishops—John Sentamu and Desmond Tutu. Their passion for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe stands in stark contrast to the silence and inaction of so many political leaders in Africa.

The hon. Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley), who chairs the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, has already spoken. I say with regret that, sadly, the Commonwealth has failed to live up to the challenge that Mugabe presented when he withdrew Zimbabwe from membership. Many of us feel huge good will towards the Commonwealth and feel that it can still play a valuable role in international affairs. It is not too late for the Commonwealth to fulfil its potential and protect the citizens of Zimbabwe, who should surely still be considered to be members of the Commonwealth. They have an even greater need for support since Mugabe petulantly abducted them rather than fulfil his obligations to uphold democracy and decent behaviour.

I should like to refer briefly to the G8, which meets in a matter of hours. It should not only issue a stinging rebuke to Mugabe, but ask pertinent, searching questions of President Mbeki of South Africa and perhaps deliver to him a slightly less stinging rebuke. He has failed miserably to live up to his side of the bargain with the G8. The House may not know this, but the whole basis on which he attends the annual G8 summits as an observer is the understanding that he will take a lead in Africa on upholding good governance and respect for human rights. He has failed to do that.

This weekend, Morgan Tsvangirai told a South African newspaper:

that is, the position that Mugabe is president. He went on:

We must resist the voices of those who tell us that we have no right to involve ourselves with what they claim is a purely African matter. That surely overlooks the massive financial contribution that we in this country make towards the humanitarian effort in Zimbabwe and in other SADC countries. I say sincerely to the Foreign Secretary that SADC leaders and the African Union must be reminded that our continuing commitment to the development of all the countries in the region makes it incumbent on them to join us as partners in protecting the development that we are promoting. A failure to confront Mugabe’s wanton destruction of Zimbabwe is hostile to any genuine commitment to ongoing development in the area.

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Much help will be needed in establishing the rule of law again in Zimbabwe. The House will know that its traditions of professionalism in the armed services and the police were drawn largely from our own tradition. Similarly, the links between the education systems, legal professions and judiciaries in Zimbabwe and this country are strong. I hope that we will do much to nurture a revival of those professions. The bonds between the people of the country and the United Kingdom are strong. They have remained strong despite the viciousness of Mugabe’s actions and his vitriol. I look forward to visiting Zimbabwe again one day soon and celebrating rebirth, stability, peace and economic progress in that wonderful country.

1.24 pm

Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell) (Con): It gives me particular pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton) and the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey), both of whom, from different sides of the House, have relentlessly and unstintingly raised the plight of Zimbabwe and ordinary Zimbabwean people. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.

It was absolutely right for the Foreign Secretary to open by saying that the House will and must show total unity today. There have been moments of slight disagreement in the past, because we were all pushing for action at a different pace. I readily acknowledge that the Government had a difficult hand to play. However, I suggest to the Foreign Secretary that now that last week’s sham election is over, the pace has changed completely. People can no longer say, “Oh well, the ex-colonial power should not look as if it is interfering in Zimbabwe. It is counter-productive to speak out, as it might give succour to Mugabe.” I put it to the Foreign Secretary that a brief topical debate such as this is inadequate, although better than nothing. It is important that there should be a full-scale debate on the Floor of the House. It is also important that the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development return to the Dispatch Box regularly to update us on developments as events unfold.

We all know what horrors have been happening in Zimbabwe; we do not need to rehearse them again in the short time available. However, I wish to make two specific points, which I have raised before in Westminster Hall debates. The first is about smart sanctions, which, as the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) said, have not really worked. There has not been the necessary professionalism and desire to make them work.

I hope that the Foreign Secretary will soon be able to answer the pertinent question posed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague). Many believe that a significant number of children of members of the Mugabe regime are at private boarding school or university in this country. Every single one should be slung out, because they have absolutely no right to benefit from being in this country. If sharp sanctions are to mean what they say and are not to affect the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, we should go for what I have suggested.

Mr. MacShane rose—

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Mr. Mackay: I shall not give way; as my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield said, many others who want to speak have been waiting patiently. Giving way would eat into their time.

The second issue that I wish to raise is that it is clear that very little progress will be made at the United Nations. Deep down, the Foreign Secretary knows that. The reason is simple: China will veto again and again. Yes, we can play our part within the European Union and the G8, but we all know that the final solution has to be in the hands of Africa. Some progress was made at Sharm el-Sheikh, although the summit was deeply disappointing in many ways. However, more and more African countries are speaking out—Nigeria and Kenya, as well as SADC countries. Progress has also been made at SADC. The role of the President of Zambia has already been mentioned, but Botswana and Tanzania have also been important.

The real problem, however, is South Africa. South Africa holds the key; it is the economic and political giant of southern Africa. If South Africa were to lead, the rest would fall into place. We have seen the courage of ex-President Mandela in speaking out, we have heard the wise words of Archbishop Tutu, we have seen some movement from Mr. Zuma on behalf of the African National Congress, and we were delighted by the stance of the South African trade union movement in refusing to allow— [ Interruption . ] The Foreign Secretary seems to think that this is funny. I do not think that it is at all funny that trade unionists—dockers—in South Africa rightly did not allow the Chinese ship to dock with its arms and munitions for Zimbabwe. That lead should have come from the South African Government, but it did not—it was taken by trade unionists.

As the hon. Member for Vauxhall said, the real culprit is President Mbeki. He could do more but does nothing whatsoever. Huge pressure must be put on him and huge condemnation must be made of him. It is vital that he is shamed into taking greater action. One can perfectly well understand why Mr. Tsvangirai does not feel that this man can be a mediator. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will assure us that when he visits South Africa he is very plain-speaking with President Mbeki, who is letting down the people of South Africa and affecting the reputation of that democracy.

1.31 pm

Mr. Hugo Swire (East Devon) (Con): It is a pleasure almost to follow the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey), who gave an extremely well balanced and thoughtful speech, in stark contrast to some other Labour Members who are always under the shadow of the post-colonial guilt that has led to virtual paralysis in dealing with Zimbabwe over the past decade.

Last time we had a full debate on Zimbabwe in this Chamber, the Foreign Secretary urged us to be temperate with our language, on the grounds that Mugabe was listening to us. I sincerely hope that Mugabe will get a report of today’s proceedings. I welcome the fact that, belatedly, the Foreign Secretary’s language has got tougher. It is clear that the African solution that was envisaged as being the answer for so many years is not working. Why? Because while President Mbeki is around, nothing is going to happen. We must rest our hopes on Jacob Zuma and other African leaders who genuinely want to move matters forward.

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There are several things that we can do, and I am sure that the Foreign Secretary will do them. At the forthcoming G8 summit in Japan next week, he should urge all states to refuse to recognise the legitimacy of Mugabe’s regime and call on the Southern African Development Community and African Union countries not to recognise the legitimacy of the regime; at the European Union, he should call for wider EU sanctions on Mugabe’s regime members; at the United Nations, he should call for a UN commission of inquiry into human rights abuses in China; and he should urge British businesses and individuals not to make any investments that prop up Mugabe’s regime. We have addressed many of those issues during the debate.

At Prime Minister’s questions recently, when I asked the Prime Minister whether he would summon the Chinese ambassador and tell her that the eyes of the world were on China in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, he gave me the brush-off. I urge the Foreign Secretary to use every possible pressure that he can to persuade the Chinese that they must desist immediately from financially shoring up this evil, criminal regime. Without China, we will not get the resolution that we need at the UN, and that needs to be spelled out to China in very bleak terms. It is possible to intervene in Zimbabwe under the UN responsibility to protect, or R2P. Equally, it is possible to refer some of these criminals to the International Criminal Court, but that would also need to be supported by China.

I support the idea that sanctions should be extended—they have clearly been violated by some members of the Mugabe regime—and, yes, I believe that they should extend to members of the families of those associated with what has been called Mugabe’s criminal cartel. It is perhaps worth doing a roll of dishonour of some of the people who I believe have questions to answer in due course: Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwean army; Augustine Chihuri, the police chief; Perence Shiri, the air force chief; Gideon Gono, the central bank governor; Patrick Chinamasa, laughably called the Justice Minister; George Charamba, Mugabe’s spokesman; Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Rural Housing Minister; and Happyton Bonyongwe, chief of the Central Intelligence Organisation. All those people should be aware that this House and other democratic Parliaments around the world have their eyes on them and will want them to be called to account for their deeds, in Mugabe’s case going back to the Matabeleland massacres and since.

I want to ask the Foreign Secretary about our moral obligation in two fields: first, to the people who are still UK citizens or British passport holders in Zimbabwe; and secondly, to pensioners. I refer him to the recent case of Ben and Laura Freeth, who were violently beaten up by Mugabe’s henchmen, as were their in-laws, Mike and Angela Campbell. Ben Freeth is the holder of a British passport. He, or his parents-in-law, acquired their land after independence. The Zimbabwean Government were offered the farm but chose not to buy it. It was bought in good faith under the law, yet there have been attempts to run them off it. It is a remarkable testament to them that they are intending to stay and defend what is rightfully theirs. On 16 July, the case is coming up at SADC, and that will be a litmus test on land reform in Zimbabwe. So far, the Zimbabwean Government have repeatedly put it off by saying that they do not have the paperwork. I urge the Foreign Secretary to look into this case and to raise it in Japan, because we need to see that justice can still be done.

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I want to turn briefly to our moral obligation to pensioners. The Overseas Service Pensioners Association has been working on this issue for many years. I urge the Foreign Secretary to listen, because it is quite important and quite complicated. At the time of Lancaster House, it was clear what the British Government would or would not do in terms of their obligation to pensioners. They have responsibility for a huge number of pensioners living in this country and a significant number of pensioners living in Zimbabwe, many of whom have not had their pensions paid for many years. Many of the people who have had their pensions transferred into a local currency are in the same situation as all Zimbabweans.

I urge the Foreign Secretary to continue as best he can in next week’s negotiations in trying to bring this evil regime to a close. In the meantime, now that he has discovered a sense of urgency, I ask him to look urgently at how we can protect UK passport holders in Zimbabwe and protect all those to whom we have a moral obligation in ensuring that they have the decent wage that they are entitled to live off, whether they be in Zimbabwe or in the UK.

1.37 pm

Mr. Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con): Casting aside much of what I wanted to say, I want to draw the House’s attention to a couple of quick points.

This week we have had a small success, as Back Benchers sometimes can, in the campaign on Zimbabwe. I do not pretend to believe that early-day motions are anything more than, in effect, parliamentary graffiti. However, following the tabling of EDM 1753 to draw the House’s attention to the actions of a company called Giesecke and Devrient, which was printing banknotes for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the company has withdrawn from that contract. I do not pretend that that action was a result of the EDM. There has also been pressure from the media and political pressure—I give all credit to the Minister for Africa for his involvement, and to the Government of Germany. This is, to an extent, people power, or shareholder power, and shareholders in other companies can learn from it. If I were a shareholder in Anglo-American, I would be looking seriously at that company’s corporate responsibility policy and asking it seriously about investments that it announced last week it is carrying out in Zimbabwe. A company of that size cannot invest in Zimbabwe without dealing with Gideon Gono, at the very least, whom my hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr. Swire) just mentioned. Gideon Gono is Robert Mugabe’s personal banker and he is right at the centre of the illegal criminal cartel that has brought so much misery to that country.

I do not believe that we should let off companies such as Giesecke and Devrient as lightly as we have. We need to look at the other contracts that they have with the British Government, and I have submitted a freedom of information request. Those companies have to be held to account because, year after year, they have been actively conniving with the regime. There is a sense of real frustration among the newer breed of African leaders who have a more enlightened approach to governance in Africa. We in the west have to provide whatever assistance we can, be it overt or covert, to the enlightened leadership of such countries.

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I was particularly pleased to read the words of Raila Odinga, the new Prime Minister of Kenya. His wholehearted condemnation of Mugabe was echoed by brave comments from other Southern African Development Community leaders, such as the leadership in Botswana. We need to work with these people to encourage them; they must be so frustrated with the lumpen rump of Mugabe apologists, led, as was so ably articulated by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey), by Thabo Mbeki. There are few words that one can summon up to denounce him further. The sense of disappointment among those who campaigned so hard for change in South Africa, and the sense of revulsion that he has propped up this regime, is almost tangible.

The hon. Lady made another good point. What about our constituents? Where do they fit into this argument? They fork out substantial amounts of money, through their own taxation, in aid to countries in Africa. It is exactly right to say that if we are involved in Africa in such a way, we have every right to comment on regimes such as Mugabe’s. They cannot take with one hand, while saying, “We do not want your comments on or involvement in Africa in any other way.”

The eyes of the world will very much be on China in the coming weeks, and I hope that the Foreign Secretary will take every opportunity to raise with the Chinese Government the appalling fact that they were prepared, in the first instance, to allow arms to be sent to such a country—as they continue to do to other countries such as Sudan. They then connived with other countries to find an alternative way to do so, after a brave move by elements of the Congress of South African Trade Unions prevented the unloading of an arms shipment. Too often we say that the credibility of the United Nations is at stake, and that can be an overused cliché, but it really will be at stake if the Security Council cannot get its act together and put some robust wording into a resolution dealing with the Government of Zimbabwe.

In the dying seconds of the time left to me, I would just say the following. I had the privilege of attending a meeting last week that was addressed by a brave journalist called Peter Oborne, who described with moving clarity what he witnessed in hospitals in Bulawayo and Harare just a few weeks ago. The courage of individuals such as Peter Oborne was not matched, unfortunately, by a group of people in the room, including a former high commissioner to Zimbabwe, who spoke as much unutterable rubbish then as he did to me and other Members of this House on the Terrace when he was high commissioner in 2001. Those people do no credit to the argument. London is infested with intellectuals, organisations and institutes full of people who want to fight yesterday’s battles on Africa. We must focus on today’s problems, which are urgent, real and dangerous to millions of people. I cannot emphasise enough the need for the Foreign Secretary and all his colleagues in Government to focus with brutal clarity on what is happening today, and on what needs to be done to resolve the problems in Zimbabwe. We need to put in hand the means to bring about change and prosperity for that wonderful country.

1.44 pm

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): I very much agree with the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Benyon), who has just spoken. This is the 21st century, and it is time to hold Zimbabwe to the same criteria and standards
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as we did South Africa, fascist Germany, fascist Italy and other hideous regimes. Why, therefore, are we unable to take stronger action?

Mr. Swire: China.

Mr. MacShane: The hon. Gentleman says “China” from a sedentary position—all well and good. We must put pressure on China. But why, for example, are Virgin Atlantic and British Airways using Harare as a stopover on flights to South Africa? Why are KLM and Lufthansa flying to South Africa through Zimbabwe? Why are we talking about putting more money into Zimbabwe via the Department for International Development? Why are we not looking at the companies that prop up the Mugabe regime, such as Shell and Rio Tinto, and asking their shareholders whether they should not be divesting—rather than complaining, as the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Goodwill) did, that this is not a good time to sell their shares?

What can we do to get the United Nations to focus on its responsibilities? It is unable to discharge its responsibilities. What can we do to make sanctions work? They failed against Serbia during the Balkan crisis, and they failed against Iraq under Saddam Hussein. They are failing against Sudan and they failed against Burma. What do we want from an effective sanctions policy? I hope the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister will speak personally to all their opposite numbers at the G8 about the importance of this matter. Reference to the International Criminal Court is important, but the United States has refused to ratify the relevant treaty. What is good for the United States goose will be good for the Zimbabwe gander. We have a new culture of international responsibility, and we need to develop sanctions that can work, not just in Zimbabwe, but in other countries around the world, to guide them towards democracy.

This is a huge test case, and it is time for the Government to be robust, and time for Britain to cut financial support of any sort for Zimbabwe. It is time for Britain to take a lead, not wait for others to decide what to do.

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