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So alarmed were the SADC governments by the violence, that a summit meeting was called in Dar es Salaam. These are some of the extracts from the communiqué of the meeting.

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Not surprisingly after that, Mugabe returned home in triumph. He proceeded to get agreement from ZANU-PF to increase the number of Members of Parliament from 150 to 210, with the bulk of the new constituencies in the rural areas where ZANU-PF is strong. Voting in the senate will be altered to the advantage of ZANU-PF. The constitution will be changed so that when an elected president dies or retires his successor will be chosen by Parliament and not by direct elections as at present.

South Africa is now in the UN Security Council, and was last month its president. Its record in that body is interesting. On a mild motion criticising Myanmar, alias Burma, calling for national reconciliation and release of political prisoners, and other measures not even including sanctions, South Africa cast a no vote—it voted against that mild resolution. It also used its position in the presidency to block debate on violent repression of the opposition in Zimbabwe. Archbishop Tutu, who with Vaclav Havel had taken part in reporting on conditions in Burma, said:

He is, as we know, a Nobel Prize winner. He has also criticised the Government of South Africa on their stand in the Security Council on Zimbabwe.

President Mbeki, as we all know, has had extraordinary views, which defied modern medical knowledge, on the question of HIV and AIDS. He is clearly capable of major misjudgments or self-deception and his record casts grave doubt on his suitability, to use the words of the Dar es Salaam communiqué, to facilitate dialogue between the opposition and the Government of Zimbabwe. It is not surprising that his so-called quiet diplomacy between ZANU-PF and the opposition in Zimbabwe was not successful. It looked more like quiet protection for Mugabe.

An interesting new light has been cast on the role of President Mbeki in relation to Zimbabwe by the remarks of Moeletsi Mbeki in a BBC Radio 4 “Today” programme a couple of weeks ago. He is a South African business man, brother of the president, who worked as a journalist in Zimbabwe. Asked by Edward Stourton what we should make of what happened at the SADC meeting in Dar es Salaam he replied as follows:

Those words cast the most illuminating light on President Mbeki’s behaviour that I can remember. They do the same for the behaviour of SADC heads of Government in Dar es Salaam. I doubt that we should put much hope on success for President Mbeki in the role given to him by the SADC summit.

What should be our policy towards Zimbabwe now, in a situation which is worse than any other since Mugabe set out on his regime of terror seven years ago? There is one course that could succeed that has

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not been followed—that is, firm action by the G8. The Prime Minister, in a speech on 2 October 2001, called for,

and other suggestions. He continued by saying that,

I say Zimbabwe is a scar on the conscience of Africa. Some countries in Africa are not living up to their part in the partnership. Early in this decade, President Mbeki seemed to cast doubt on the validity of the partnership, declaring that the problems of Africa should be left to Africans to resolve. But the present situation in Zimbabwe is so grave that it calls for a new and bold approach.

Almost all the African countries have joined the African Union, which replaced the OAU, which was wound up in failure a few years ago. The AU treaty committed its members to observe good governance, human rights and the rule of law and to use peer pressure to achieve them. The treaty for the SADC contained very similar obligations; Mugabe is in major breach of both treaties.

In two months’ time the next meeting of the G8 will take place in Germany under the chairmanship of Chancellor Merkel, who has been displaying considerable skill and determination. I have suggested in each of the past two years that the annual G8 meeting, which is attended regularly by President Mbeki, who will also attend the next one, and other world leaders, should be used by the G8 to persuade him and any other African leaders who may be present that the Zimbabwe problem must be resolved. The eight most economically powerful countries in the world should be able to persuade the countries of southern Africa, through President Mbeki, of the great importance of living up to their solemn obligations in the AU and SADC, as well as NePAD. It would be very much to the advantage of both sides in the partnership.

Mugabe is turning Zimbabwe into a failed state. It is time that we made it clear to the members of SADC, the AU and NePAD that the time has come to stop the rot.

7.36 pm

Lord Acton: My Lords, South Africa speaks with a voice that thunders throughout southern Africa, yet President Mbeki will not speak out against President Mugabe. The thunder is silent. The finest words from South Africa on the silence over President Mugabe’s conduct came on 16 March from Archbishop Tutu, who said:

On 26 March in another place, the Minister for Trade, Mr Ian McCartney, said that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York and others had increasingly been,

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I should be grateful if my noble friend the Minister would confirm that British policy is to request of President Mbeki that South Africa takes a more proactive role and in particular that British policy is to exert pressure on President Mbeki to use that voice of thunder. I trust that that is indeed the case, for if it is not people in Britain will increasingly adopt the attitude of Archbishop Tutu and hang their heads in shame.

7.38 pm

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, your Lordships may know that my diocese is twinned with three of the dioceses in Zimbabwe and over the years there have been frequent visits of church leaders and others in both directions. In fact, there is a party of two dozen people led by the Bishop of Croydon visiting at present. Through these visits and communications we are very well aware of the contribution that local churches in Zimbabwe are making to ease the lot of their neighbours and the extremely delicate and sometimes dangerous situation in which they find themselves. It has not always been easy to judge how the church in England can best support them because any criticism of the Zimbabwean Government coming from us is swiftly denounced as the predictable opposition of an ex-colonialist church, and Anglicans in Zimbabwe can then be disregarded as being the lackeys of colonialism. In spite of this, several of the bishops, particularly the Roman Catholic bishops, have been courageous in seeking to resist the excesses of oppression which they and their people experience. I say “several” because Anglicans here are also embarrassed by the part being played by the Bishop of Harare, Dr Nolbert Kunonga, who is very close to the Mugabe regime.

All this is happening at a time when SADC decided to commission a team to develop a paper on possible solutions to the crisis. It would be good if the Minister could tell us what is the strategy of Her Majesty’s Government and the EU in working with this. It would also be good to know how the British Government will continue to support food aid and the World Food Programme without seeming to be propping up the regime.

It is difficult not to be pessimistic about the situation but the network of community care represented by local churches in Zimbabwe will still be there when the Mugabe regime has disappeared and it will be part of the basis for nation building. We in the church will do all we can to support them.

7.40 pm

Lord Kinnock: My Lords, Robert Mugabe’s cruel, corrupt misrule has cumulatively caused the economic and social decomposition of his country. The beginning of the answer to the tragedy of Zimbabwe must be his departure, but that answer can be applied only by the leaders of southern Africa. Realistically, no other group has the political status, security and strength speedily to propel the changes that are vital.

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Initiatives from outside Africa will be dishonestly exploited by Mugabe as “neo-imperialism”. Inside Zimbabwe, the MDC—correctly and courageously—will not resort to violence. Inside ZANU-PF, the certainty of vicious reprisal still subdues those who now despise Mugabe’s reign of ruin.

I understand, of course, why some SADC leaders have felt a debt of solidarity to Robert Mugabe. But he has long treated their “mediation mandates” to President Mbeki—five since 2000—with a contempt that corrodes their credibility. More tangibly, the Mugabe-made catastrophe generates mass emigration which adds hugely to the already severe pressures on neighbouring countries.

Mugabe is not therefore the historic moral creditor of southern Africa’s leaders; he is now the direct cause of greatly worsened burdens on their economies. That will continue until they tell him forcefully and urgently that the only help now available from southern Africa is to facilitate his exile. Only when that happens will transition to meaningful democracy and reconstruction begin. The ultimatum should be public. Mugabe should face retribution. But if pressure has to be private in order to achieve very rapid results, I will rationalise that as a price worth paying.

For the sake of Zimbabweans and their own people and reputations, I urge the leaders of southern Africa now to exert that pressure relentlessly. The reliberation of Zimbabwe depends upon it.

7.42 pm

Lord Waddington: My Lords, so great is the suffering within Zimbabwe that the hardship being suffered here in Britain by people who served the Crown in southern Rhodesia before UDI and in many cases continued to serve thereafter and have been robbed of their public service pensions seems very small in comparison. But they are victims nevertheless: victims of the catastrophe which has overtaken Zimbabwe for whom the British Government have a clear responsibility; victims who, unlike many other victims of the catastrophe, the British Government really can help. I declare an interest as president of the Overseas Service Pensioners’ Association, which is doing its best to help these people, about 600 of them, including widows, who are dependent on social security and charity.

After UDI the British Government reaffirmed southern Rhodesia’s status as a British colony by appointing a new governor. They then negotiated a constitution for an independent Zimbabwe which, according to the then Minister, provided full safeguards for public service pensions and their remittability. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that that assurance was not worth the paper it was written on. During the 1980s and 1990s the value of the pensions remitted by the Government of Zimbabwe to former Crown servants steadily declined. Then in February 2003 payments ceased entirely.

Her Majesty’s Government did not then, as one might have expected, step in to help these former servants of the Crown. They said that although southern Rhodesia was a colony, its civil servants were not appointed by the Secretary of State but by the colonial Government. They failed to explain why

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it should make the slightest difference whether a person was appointed by the Secretary of State or by the colonial Government under the authority given them by the then Secretary of State, because that must have been the case it being a colony.

Ministers have often claimed that because of our colonial past there is not much we as a country can do to help Mugabe’s victims, but there are some people who were part of that colonial past who the Government can help—British people who went out to a British colony as servants of the Crown and have suffered loss following the decision by Britain to hand over responsibility for their pensions to Zimbabwe.

Earlier Governments also claimed that they were under no legal duty to guarantee payment of the pensions, but the point is that in those days the pensions were still being paid, now they are not. Whatever the legal position, the Government’s moral duty is plain.

7.45 pm

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I echo what the right reverend Prelate said. I quote from the remarkable statement of the Roman Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe on 30 March:

That was a brave thing to say and all those men risked their lives saying it. We must recognise that some of the most trenchant criticism of the awful Zimbabwe regime comes from African individuals showing immense commitment and courage in making clear their opposition to what that regime is doing.

What can we do? A number of noble Lords referred to things that we might do, including the noble Lord, Lord Waddington. First, we should check up—as we have not done—on the extent to which the sanctions, which we have supported, are actually being carried out. My information is that on investment, and to some extent on the education of the elite of Zimbabwe, our position is, to say the least, not exactly wholly of one piece. Her Majesty’s Government need to look at that as well as rightly calling on South Africa to take much stronger steps.

On the 10,000 to 12,000 Zimbabwean detainees who are currently in this country, in evidence to the human rights committee, the Immigration Minister Mr Liam Byrne said that enforced return to Zimbabwe was safe. I wonder whether that could possibly be true, given that every single person returned to Zimbabwe is now denounced as a British spy and is almost invariably, if not at worst tortured, harassed, pursued and treated as an outcast.

Very shortly the decision made in the AA case that Zimbabweans would not be deported for the time being will come up again because the matter has been referred to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. There appears to be a deep gulf between the Home Office and the Foreign Office. I plead with the Government and the Minister to consider whether we might not do something that was imaginatively done by the German Government back in 1991-92, which

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was to offer a temporary right to remain until such time as the Bosnian Government recovered their democratic and human rights recognition. A similar action in the case of Zimbabwe would be vastly in the interests of the United Kingdom because we would breed a whole regiment and generation of people determined to go back when the time came to rebuild Zimbabwe and make out of it a beacon of democracy.

7.49 pm

Lord Luce: My Lords, it is common ground that Zimbabwe is fast proceeding towards becoming a failed state. I was doing the same job as the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, 27 to 28 years ago when, as Minister for African Affairs under the leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, we negotiated in 1979 independence, a new constitution and a trust fund for land resettlement. It gave an opportunity to end a war that had cost 25,000 lives, and for that country to take its own decisions on whether to build or destroy. The tragic thing is that Mr Mugabe has destroyed rather than built. He has built his own power and wealth at the expense of his people, for whom he has shown the utmost contempt. All that is in sharp contrast to South Africa, where Mandela became president under a democratic system and yielded power under a democratic system; or indeed in Ghana, where President Kufuor, president of the African Union, has twice come to power democratically, following the late President Rawlings.

I have only one point to make. What can we do after Mugabe has gone? What contingency planning are we preparing? I will make one proposition. The initiative should come from the Commonwealth. After all, it was in Harare where the declaration was signed by all Commonwealth leaders in the early 1990s that they would commit themselves to democracy, to a plural society, to human rights, to the rule of law and to freedom of expression. The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe in 2003, and the Commonwealth should prepare to offer to the Zimbabweans, after Mugabe is gone, subject to the right conditions, the mobilisation of Asian, European, African and Caribbean expertise to help to give the Zimbabweans the tools to enable them to rebuild their country.

7.51 pm

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, two questions in two minutes. First, could the United Kingdom have done more to bring pressure on the Mugabe regime as it systematically ruined a once prosperous country? What a contrast with the role of President Mandela, south of Limpopo. I have visited Zimbabwe many times and spoken to key players there and in New York, and I am convinced that a more robust approach by the UK would not have helped, and would indeed have played into the hands of Mugabe’s propaganda machine.

In addition, and alas, African solidarity has prevented that Commonwealth initiative that the noble Lord, Lord Luce, has mentioned, and South Africa refuses to be positively engaged. There is no chance of putting Zimbabwe on the agenda of the

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UN Security Council. Now, pace the African Union summit, there are at least some signs that the southern African leadership is beginning to recognise, at least in words, the damage to its own interests, and it may well be that Zimbabwe is now entering the end game. In what way should we in the UK and our EU partners be involved?

Obviously, we continue to encourage our friends in southern Africa to be more bold and show the damage to their own interests. We build on the remaining strengths of democracy in Zimbabwe from the independent trade unions, non-governmental organisations, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, a credible infrastructure and of course the lingering experience of democracy. We should accept that when change comes it will not be a democratic state immediately but will arise from a palace revolution from the inner circle of Mugabe. Are we therefore ready, both in the UK and the EU, even in those circumstances, to launch an immediate programme of reconstruction, on the condition that the new Government recognise that they are only provisional and honour their pledges? In short, are we and our partners ready to see beyond any such interim Government to prepare for a Government who can restore democracy, revive a disastrous economy and relieve the suffering of their people? So much damage has been done that rehabilitation will indeed take a long time.

7.54 pm

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Luce, and I must meet, because I had intended to speak about a possible Commonwealth initiative, about which I am in touch with the Secretariat. I prefer to denounce the appalling treatment being meted out to members of civil society and the MDC, with 28 cases so far in the past three weeks, among them two Members of Parliament. That needs to go on the record.

Violent beatings and torture have left innocent men and women blinded, deaf and unable to talk, quite apart from many broken limbs. They are told variously: “We are going to take you one by one. By 2008, there will be no MDC. We’ll kill you all so that the party does not succeed”; “If we hear of you at the MDC offices or at a rally, we shall kill you. You will just disappear”; “Go home and you will find your wife and children are not there”. As well as being brutally beaten, prisoners are denied food, water and medicines and are said to have resisted arrest.

The list of victims includes a respected black cameraman, abducted and beaten to death, and two MPs. The CIO claims that it is looking for petrol bombs, but, it says: “This is about death. If you do not admit to one of three offences, you will die. Leave Zimbabwe within seven days or you disappear”.

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