186. In his foreword to the 2007 edition, the Foreign
Secretary notes that Zimbabwe has appeared as a "major country
of concern" in each of the ten FCO annual human rights reports.
It is a tragedy that recent events in Zimbabwe will justify its
receiving more coverage than ever before in next year's report.
Whilst the FCO report deals mainly with the events of 2007, we
also consider here the human rights fallout of the 2008 elections
187. The FCO report vividly illustrates the erosion
of any semblance of human rights or stability in Zimbabwe. It
notes a "marked escalation in the use of intimidation and
violence" since 2006. There has been a collapse in the formal
economy. State agents are responsible for a number of abuses,
"including assault, torture and illegal detentions".
In March 2007, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was severely
beaten. President Robert Mugabe's comments speak for themselves:
"Of course he was bashed. He deserved it
I told the
police beat him a lot".
188. The FCO notes that life expectancy in Zimbabwe
is now the lowest in the world.
In 2006, a woman could expect to live for 34 years, and a man
37 years. According
to the UN Common Database, life expectancy was one of the highest
in Africa - 58 years - for an infant born in 1980, the year of
It has the world's highest rate of orphans, and more than 3,000
people a week die from AIDS-related illness. It is estimated that
between 3 and 4 million people have fled Zimbabwe, over 80% of
the population is unemployed, and even before the recent world
food crisis, the FCO was estimating that 4 million people are
in need of food aid.
189. The FCO report, published in March 2008, called
for "free and fair elections".
Parliamentary and Presidential elections were held later that
month. The elections were held in clearly undemocratic conditions.
Parliamentary results were announced in relatively good time,
with Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party losing its majority to the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). However, in the Presidential
election, it took nearly six weeks for the results to be announced.
A candidate requires 50% to win in the first round, and there
was speculation that Morgan Tsvangirai, the candidate of the MDC,
may have attained this figure and that the results were being
tampered with. Lord Malloch-Brown told us that the delay left
"very little confidence in the accuracy of the vote".
In a written statement on 21 April 2008 (before the results were
announced), the Foreign Secretary claimed Mugabe had an "ambition
to steal the election" and said that Zanu-PF had launched
a "campaign of violence" against ordinary Zimbabweans.
The Times reported that the Prime Minister believed the
situation could be best resolved through the influence of regional
states such as South Africa, but President Thabo Mbeki went so
far as to state that there was "no crisis in Zimbabwe"
following a meeting with President Mugabe.
190. When the result was eventually announced on
2 May, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission gave Mr Tsvangirai 47.9%
of the vote, automatically triggering a second round of voting
on 27 June. Lord Malloch-Brown told us that "we cannot accept
an outcome that is a perversion of democracy and human rights
values". However, he acknowledged that, because the Movement
for Democratic Change only claimed that Morgan Tsvangirai won
by a "paper-thin" majority of 50.3%, it was difficult
for the Government to say beyond any reasonable doubt that he
received over half the votes cast. He argued that the "cleanest
constitutional outcome of this terribly flawed, first round process
is a second round that is adequately monitored" both for
the integrity of the vote and the security of the opposition before
it. He argued
that any second round "has to be free and fair", and
that the international community should not accept a situation
where Mr Mugabe was allowed to "steal" the election
by refusing to acknowledge his Government.
He claimed that there was a greater chance of this happening than
before because there "has been a massive diplomatic shift"
and a "much higher degree of unity" that "is necessarily
apparent publicly". He said there was "tremendous support
among the regional leaders [
] for the view that the result
cannot be allowed to stand".
191. Kate Allen was more sceptical of the role of
states in the international community, noting her disappointment
at the opposition of South Africa and China to the Security Council
sending an envoy into Zimbabwe. She argued that South Africa's
"quiet diplomacy" approach was "completely inappropriate
for the current situation". Both she and Tom Porteous noted
that, amongst the regional states, Zambia was starting to speak
out more vocally against President Mugabe's abuses. Mr Porteous
argued that the African Union should "unite and tell Mugabe
that the game is up, and that he must go. If he does not, it must
think about imposing serious economic and political sanctions
on him to go". With regard to the UK, Ms Allen said that
the Government worries that "their speaking out is counter-productive.
The moment for such thinking has gone [
] it has been good
to hear the Prime Minister make clear the Government's view of
192. The second round of the election was due to
be held on June 27. However, following a campaign of violence
against MDC supporters, leading to over 80 deaths, Mr Tsvangirai
pulled out of what he called an " illegitimate sham of an
electoral process", initially seeking refuge in the Dutch
Embassy. A spokesman for the UN Secretary-General called it a
"deeply distressing development".
The Prime Minister described Mugabe's regime as a "criminal
and discredited cabal" which "should not be recognised
The UN Security Council unanimously condemned the violence in
Zimbabwe, and said in a statement that a free and fair run-off
election would be "impossible".
193. Despite international calls for a postponement
of the polls, Robert Mugabe went ahead with the June 27 election.
The continuation of voter intimidation meant that he was able
to claim victory and was inaugurated as President two days after
the poll. Leaders from the 53 African Union states, meeting at
a summit in Egypt, stopped short of directly criticising Mugabe
but called for a government of national unity in Zimbabwe. They
merely "noted" reports of intimidation whilst making
reference to the "complexity of the situation" in the
country. The AU statement also appealed to "states and all
parties concerned to refrain from any actions that may negatively
impact on the climate of dialogue", which was understood
as coded criticism of UK and US moves towards urging the Security
Council to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe.
However, the Prime Minister praised the African Union's efforts.
He said that "it is important to recognise" that it
"did take a step forward yesterday" by calling for mediation
between the MDC and Zanu-PF.
194. The French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner
has said that the EU "will not accept a government other
than one led by Mr Tsvangirai". At the time of agreeing this
Report, the EU is believed to be preparing a package of sanctions
against Zimbabwe, including a widening of asset freezes and travel
bans for key regime figures. Whilst Italy recalled its Ambassador
to Harare in protest, it appears that EU states were unable to
come to a common agreement to take this course of action.
195. At the time of agreeing this Report, the Prime
Minister has announced that the Government is preparing increased
financial and travel sanctions against members of the Mugabe regime,
and that it would prevent players from Zimbabwe from participating
in a bilateral cricket tour of the UK in 2009.
He added that "businesses should also look at their involvement
in Zimbabwe [
] We do not want to do further damage to the
Zimbabwean people, but businesses that are helping the regime
should of course reconsider their position."
The Prime Minister's comments came after newspaper reports that
Anglo American, a mining company, was investing $400m (£200m)
in Zimbabwe. However, The Times later reported that British
companies that "sought the Foreign Office's advice have been
left with the impression that they should not leave Zimbabwe".
196. In 2003, our predecessor Committee recommended
that the Government strip Robert Mugabe of all honours bestowed
upon him, including his knighthood. At the time, the Government
replied that it "has made it clear that removing Mugabe's
honorary knighthood, conferred on him in 1994, on the recommendation
of the previous Government, is not our immediate priority. We
may revisit this question in the future".
Following the election debacle, we wrote to the Foreign Secretary
reminding him of our recommendation.
Lord Malloch-Brown commented that it was "just about the
least-deserved knighthood out there". However, he said there
was an argument about "time and place" and that revoking
the honour at this moment would run "the risk of throwing
us bck into the old tracks of Britain versus Zimbabwe, old colonial
whatevers, and debts to settle".
He acknowledged that the Government should "perhaps have
seized the moment" when the Committee made its original recommendation,
he but felt that "not is probably not the most opportune
However, following the escalation of violence in June 2008, Her
Majesty the Queen annulled Mr Mugabe's honour following a recommendation
from the Government.
197. We conclude that Robert Mugabe's human rights
record is utterly appalling. The first round of the Presidential
election in March 2008 was deeply flawed, and the delay in announcing
the results was unacceptable. We are concerned that South Africa
appears to have maintained its patently ineffectual policy of
"quiet diplomacy" with Zimbabwe, but we are encouraged
that other regional states such as Zambia are beginning to speak
out more forcefully against the brutality of the Mugabe regime.
We conclude that the decision to remove Robert Mugabe's honorary
knighthood was correct. We recommend that the Government should
continue to urge regional states to take the diplomatic lead against
Zimbabwe, and should not recognise any regime led by Mugabe. We
further recommend that the Government should set out in its response
to this Report what action is being taken against British businesses
whose presence in Zimbabwe is helping to prop up the regime.