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Secondly, we continue to work with states in the region. We believe they are still best placed to apply pressure on President Mugabe and those who surround him, many of whom recognise that it is time for change. I welcome the statements of the African Union and of the Southern African Development Community calling for the presidential results to be released. That SADC states met in an extraordinary session in Lusaka and discussed Zimbabwe and its crisis for over 13 hours shows their concern at what is happening and the threat that it poses to the stability and security of their region. But, as the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, it is important that African leaders do more to engage directly in this crisis to help resolve it. The reaction of South African dockers to the direction to unload arms they believed destined for Zimbabwe shows that ordinary Africans do not condone the way in which President Mugabe is clinging to power and beating his own people to death to ensure he retains it. If President Mugabe and those who keep him in office will listen to anyone, they will listen to their peers in the region and in Africa more widely. But if they will not, Africans and their organisations should be clear in their public condemnation of what is happening and should withhold their recognition of President Mugabe’s regime. His actions pose a threat to democracy and to the values that

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SADC and the AU espouse. Democratic legitimacy throughout Africa is at stake.

Thirdly, we are working through the international community as it remains united in standing up for democracy, it reinforces the confidence of democratic forces, and speaks with a clear voice about the value not just to Zimbabwe but to the whole region of following the will of the people. At the UN Security Council session in New York last week, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister joined other voices from Africa, Europe and Latin America, along with the UN Secretary-General in calling for the election results to be released and in condemning the delay and violence. The UN Secretary-General has called for international monitors to observe any second round in Zimbabwe. We support that call and underline, as SADC leaders themselves did when meeting in Lusaka, that SADC observers must return now to observe the recount. They should be present in Zimbabwe until the election results are announced, so they may witness and ideally prevent the violence that is now occurring.

The European Union, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and many other states have called both for restraint within Zimbabwe and for credible results now to be released. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister, my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown and I continue to engage in intensive private discussions with African leaders and others with influence within Zimbabwe and the region. Our message is simple. Zimbabwe is on a knife edge: inflation is incalculable, life expectancy the lowest in the world and human rights abuses commonplace. Those metrics will all deteriorate if President Mugabe is allowed to steal this election. But if a Government who reflect the will of the people are allowed to emerge, Zimbabwe can begin the painful journey to recovery and once again become a full part of the international community.

Britain has always supported the Zimbabwean people. We are the second largest bilateral donor. We spent £45 million last year on support for the poorest and most vulnerable Zimbabweans. Our support helped feed up to three million people and provided treatment for more than 30,000 HIV/AIDS patients. That support will continue. It has become even more necessary in this period when President Mugabe has unleashed his youth militia on the people. But when there is positive change on the ground in Zimbabwe and a government who are prepared to introduce sound governance and respond to the needs of ordinary Zimbabweans, Britain will play a full part in supporting recovery and development. It will be a huge task. But the Zimbabwean people will have the full support of the UK and the wider international community. The UK and other donors are ready to give that support when there is a return to real democracy and good governance within Zimbabwe.

I am sure the whole House will join the Government in committing themselves to working tirelessly for that day.

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