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Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con):
The hon. Gentleman has quite rightly outlined the facts and gave the statistics about land invasions, saying that something like 220,000 farm workers have been robbed
of their jobs, their accommodation and a good quality of life. Does that statistic indicate that those of us who have stood up and opposed the farm invasions are seeking merely to support our kith and kin? We are concerned about Zimbabweans and the prosperity and future of their country. Is that not the position of the overwhelming majority of Members of this House who have taken an interest in Zimbabwe and land reform there?
Hugh Bayley: I believe that that is the case and I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman, who has been vocal on this issue for as long as I have been a Member of Parliament, stating that as clearly and as forcefully as he just has.
The all-party group wanted to do two things in our report: to set the record straight and to look forwards, not backwards-to try to develop ideas about the types of policies that would provide the basis for a new and better relationship between our country and Zimbabwe. The report set out three broad objectives: first, to establish what was actually agreed at Lancaster house; secondly, to document what development assistance has been provided by the UK to Zimbabwe, for land reform specifically and more generally; and thirdly, to examine what future land reform policies would re-establish a productive agriculture sector in Zimbabwe, which would support rural livelihoods and offer job opportunities once again for the many farm workers who have lost their jobs through the farm invasions.
We sought and obtained evidence from the widest possible range of people. They included representatives of the UK Government, and we are grateful to the Secretary of State for International Development for providing a detailed draft of written evidence. Through the Zimbabwean ambassador in London, we received evidence from ZANU-PF. We also received evidence from various participants at the Lancaster house talks, including members of the ZANU and ZAPU teams who were legal advisers to their respective party presidents, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. Furthermore, we received evidence from Lord Carrington, who gave oral evidence in a very sharp way. He remembered a huge amount of detail and it was important to capture that detail to understand what actually happened in those discussions at Lancaster house. In addition, we sought and obtained evidence from academics, both in the UK and Zimbabwe; from Chester Crocker, the US Assistant Secretary of State who had special responsibility for Africa at the time of the Lancaster house talks, and from others.
In all the evidence that we obtained, we found no evidence that Britain had betrayed promises on land reform made at Lancaster house. In fact, the most interesting evidence of all came from ZANU-PF. The Zimbabwean embassy in London did not claim that there was a secret deal that the UK would provide funds to pay for land reform. It is true that both Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo sought commitments on land reform at Lancaster house-land reform was a very important issue for those who had been involved in the liberation struggle-but the UK had to broker a deal between Ian Smith and his regime's military on the one hand and the liberation movements on the other hand, and there was no agreement on land.
At one stage in the talks, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo threatened to walk out of Lancaster house, but
a great deal of pressure was put on them by the Presidents of the front-line states, particularly Zambia and Mozambique, which were used by the Zimbabwean liberation movement fighters for their training camps and supply lines. Pressure from those neighbouring countries was put on the Zimbabwean liberation movements to agree a deal so that the war might end. The leaders of those movements were urged to compromise, and they did.
There is nothing in the Lancaster house agreement promising to pay for land reform, and nothing in our conversations with the principal western Ministers involved at the time-Lord Carrington and Chester Crocker-suggested that there was any secret deal to do so. Nevertheless, Britain made aid available for land reform on a "willing seller, willing buyer" basis, and by 1986, 71,000 families had been resettled on land formerly owned by commercial farmers. The Economist described it at the time as
"one of the most successful aid schemes in Africa".
In 1997, Robert Mugabe was losing support within his party, ZANU-PF, and came under pressure from war veterans for pensions. He capitulated to those demands, seeking support from a constituency within his party, but his capitulation did not end the demands. The veterans came back with more demands, including demands for land, and in 2000 Robert Mugabe instituted a fast-track land reform process. From that time onwards, Zimbabwe's relationship with the UK, the European Union and the United States deteriorated.
As a result of fast-track land reform, Zimbabwe's agricultural output has fallen by 60 per cent. and the economy more generally has gone into freefall, with mounting inflation. I came back from Zimbabwe recently with a note for either 50 million or 50 billion Zimbabwean dollars-I cannot remember which. I should have looked at it again this weekend. At the end of the inflation spiral, prices were doubling every 24 hours.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the change in process that led to the collapse in productive capacity. One of the biggest underlying problems is that, because the process does not give legal title to the new owners and the transfer has no proper legal underpinning, the new owners have no means of investing in the farms. We therefore need to bring back legal stability and a proper legal process to land ownership in countries such as Zimbabwe, to enable investment for the future so that productive capacity can be restored.
Hugh Bayley: The only thing with which I disagree is the use of "we". It is not for us but for the Government of Zimbabwe to bring that back. However, I know the hon. Gentleman well, and I am sure that that was a slip of the tongue.
One matter that we examined in some detail in our report was Zimbabwe's dual land ownership law. Roughly 70 per cent. of land was originally commercially farmed, with a system of title, which brought with it the sort of benefit that the hon. Gentleman describes. Owners can
use the equity in the land title to borrow for the purchase of inputs such as seeds and fertilisers and to pay for irrigation; when good legal title is lost, such benefits disappear. However, on the remaining 30 per cent. of the land-the so-called communal lands used largely by African farmers-an individual farmer does not have legal title and is therefore unable to gain the credit necessary to raise farm productivity. I would like a system of title to be established for land across Zimbabwe as a whole, but that of course is a matter for the Zimbabweans, not us.
Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): I was an official observer in the Rhodesian elections back in 1982 and I remember meeting members of the then Government. Among the matters that came up that the hon. Gentleman has not yet mentioned was the question whether the money that came from land, if compensation were payable under reform, could be taken out of the country. Of course, a different regime altogether applied to mines. Did he discuss with Lord Carrington article 5 of the constitution-if I recall it correctly; it was a long time ago? That was a hot issue at the time. It locked people in and it has in many ways been a contributory factor in the conflict, violence and hatred that Robert Mugabe has tended to generate.
Hugh Bayley: We did not discuss with Lord Carrington the situation after the Lancaster house talks, other than in the most general terms. However, one pillar on which the agreement rested was the principle that the political arrangements-the constitution as agreed at Lancaster House-would remain in force for either 10 or 20 years. Somebody will correct me-[Hon. Members: "Ten years."] Yes, of course, because it was 10 years later that the constitution was changed to create a different political arrangement. One plank of the Lancaster house agreement was that until or unless the constitution was changed, land title would change only on the basis that a willing seller sold to a willing buyer. In fairness to Robert Mugabe, after a bloody war against an illegal settler regime, he honoured that agreement to the letter. The problems arose later.
Mr. Cash: "Willing seller, willing buyer" is one thing, but the fact that the seller could not repatriate the money to the United Kingdom or wherever else they wanted to send it created a lot of pressure on the practicalities of the reform system. As I recall, in the mining sector, Lonrho negotiated a deal enabling it to take mining money out of the country. The whole thing was a complete mess, which is what generated a lot of the pressure.
Hugh Bayley: We did not consider capital flows in detail in the report, but that is an important issue. Perhaps if the hon. Gentleman catches your eye, Mrs. Dean, he will be able to expand on it. It is crucial to the future as well as the past.
On finance and money, although the Lancaster house agreement did not require the UK to set up a land reform fund, the UK put up money for that purpose. The UK has always been one of the biggest aid donors to Zimbabwe: since 1998, it has been among the top three countries in the world giving aid to Zimbabwe, and for five of those 11 years, we have been the largest single bilateral donor to Zimbabwe. Since 2000, when political relations between the UK and Zimbabwe became
strained, far from penalising Zimbabwe for farm invasions, the UK has recognised the country's growing humanitarian needs and has increased aid from $20 million in 2000 to $89 million in 2008, according to independent figures from the OECD's development assistance committee. I totted up the figures last night: since independence, the UK has provided Zimbabwe with $1.128 billion in aid-a considerable sum.
In the early years, $50 million was set aside for land reform, which paid for the resettlement of 71,000 smallholders. That was the scheme described by The Economist as particularly successful. In fact, not quite all the $50 million was used; $2 million or so was not. The only reason why the scheme did not continue is that the rule of law broke down and land was redistributed not to the rural landless poor, but to rich and powerful members of the ruling elite. I regard it as perfectly proper that British aid is used to provide livelihoods for poor African peasant farmers, but it should not be used to provide large capital assets to members of a country's elite.
Mr. Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP): The hon. Gentleman is coming on to something that afflicts Zimbabwe and much of Africa: corruption. Does the all-party group's report examine in detail the part played by corruption, particularly in the past five or six years?
Hugh Bayley: This report does not, but I remind the hon. Gentleman that the group's last report entitled "The Other Side of the Coin" was on exactly that issue. It focused on corruption in Africa, and in particular on the corrupt relationships between people in this country and in Africa. The hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) has taken a close interest in the matter and brought a Bill before the House. Similarly, I brought forward an International Bribery and Corruption Bill 12 years ago. We are both happy that the Government have brought forward the Bribery Bill, which is before the House and will hopefully be on the statute book before the election.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: The hon. Gentleman is right. I had the honour of chairing the Bribery Public Bill Committee, and the Committee stage was completed this week. I also hope that the Bill makes rapid progress, as it has all-party support in the House.
In 2001, the law on bribery in the UK was changed to make explicit for the first time the fact that transnational bribes made by British citizens or companies were contrary to law. That meant that the UK complied with the requirements of the OECD convention on bribery. However, it was not an effective law in terms of bringing cases before the courts. A few cases have been brought recently by the Serious Fraud Office, with convictions being secured through the courts or civil penalties being paid by companies in breach of the law. If the Bribery Bill becomes law, it will significantly strengthen the powers of the Government and help to prevent bad apples from the UK fuelling corruption abroad.
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold) (Con): I am interested to find out what the situation in Zimbabwe is today and what the hon. Gentleman thinks about it. Does he agree with the provisions in the global political agreement that say that there should be a thorough land audit of the current situation in Zimbabwe, or does he think that that would enshrine the current situation? Does he think that those provisions would help in the production of a proper land title system that would allow farmers to borrow against the resulting collateral?
Hugh Bayley: I should make progress or I will be delivering my speech in bits. I agree strongly with the provisions. I am glad that the Government have been instrumental in persuading the World Bank to set up a multi-donor trust fund to pay for such an audit to be carried out. That will be an important basis on which to build a viable land policy for Zimbabwe. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for mentioning the matter.
The International Development Committee, whose Chair, the right hon. Member for Gordon (Malcolm Bruce), is here, has just completed an inquiry into Zimbabwe that is due to be published on Friday. Because of the rules of parliamentary privilege, I cannot reveal what it says, but I can refer to evidence submitted to the Committee; that is in the public domain. The Department for International Development evidence said that in 2009-10, British aid to Zimbabwe will, for the first time, exceed $100 million.
I know that British aid is making a real difference, not only from reading DFID papers, but because I visited Zimbabwe a few weeks ago as a member of the International Development Committee. The aid is being used to distribute seeds and fertiliser to 375,000 smallholder households in Zimbabwe, to compensate those who have lost land and create new livelihoods for them. A great deal of British money goes towards fighting HIV/AIDS, for example through the distribution of tens of millions of male and female condoms. The UK is leading the multi-donor expanded support programme on HIV/AIDS, which is making antiretroviral drugs available to 58,000 people in Zimbabwe who would otherwise suffer from AIDS and die.
The UK is helping the World Food Programme to deliver food aid to 1.6 million people. We are supporting UNICEF to reduce the impact of cholera; in 2008, about 1,500 people died in a cholera epidemic. British money is being used to improve access to clean water and sanitation for 2 million people in Zimbabwe. We have a commitment to provide textbooks to 5,300 primary schools in Zimbabwe. We are providing technical assistance to the office of the Prime Minister and the office of the Finance Minister. British money is being well spent and is channelled largely through multilateral agencies to ensure that it is not misused through corrupt practices within the Zimbabwe Government.
Malcolm Bruce (Gordon) (LD): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for alluding to the work of the International Development Committee. Our report will come out on Friday. Does he agree that we learned from our visit to Zimbabwe that there is a huge capacity for recovery if only all parties come together, and that, contrary to what one might think from the propaganda, the UK Government are playing a pivotal role in co-ordinating aid and development and facilitating further investment in Zimbabwe, should the political process allow it?
Hugh Bayley: I agree absolutely. I must tread cautiously so that I do not reveal what is in the report. However, I feel able to repeat what I said before we received evidence: I think that the global political agreement opens a new opportunity for the UK to advance the cause of development in Zimbabwe and build better relationships with the Zimbabwe Government. I believe that now is the time to engage, not to hold back.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: The hon. Gentleman has not yet mentioned the number of farms that Mr. Mugabe has handed over to members of the army, members of his family, members of ZANU-PF and individuals and companies involved with ZANU-PF. Will he highlight the problem that the country is not able to produce the food that its people need and is therefore reliant on overseas aid and food from other countries, even though it could be and has been the bread basket of central Africa?
Hugh Bayley: This is the central tragedy: a country that used not only to be self-sufficient, but to export food to Zambia, Malawi and other countries in the region now has a food deficit that cannot be made good through commercial trade. In years past, Zimbabwe had a larger commercial sector in its economy than most countries in central and southern Africa. The gap has to be filled by donors from abroad through food aid.
It is to the credit of the UK that we have never flinched from that task, despite our very strong differences with the Government of Zimbabwe. If it is a question of whether people live or starve, the only thing a rich country such as ours can do is provide the food. If we are not welcome in person in the country, we need to find an agency such as the World Food Programme to deliver the aid on our behalf. We have done that, and it is the right thing to do.
When the Committee was in Zimbabwe a couple of weeks ago, we met the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. He urged the UK to think about what he called humanitarian aid-plus. He did not suggest that circumstances are yet appropriate for large-scale aid to be channelled through the Government, but he did say that we ought to be looking at longer-term development, not just immediate humanitarian relief. To a considerable extent, that is what DFID is doing. It is looking at the issues of sewerage and water supplies and the provision of a basic formulary of drugs, rather than just responding to the health problems caused by food shortages. I would like us to do everything we can to move the aid relationship between this country and Zimbabwe on from one of humanitarian relief to one that builds economic and political capacity within the country.
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