HC Deb 19 October 1988 vol 138 cc878-9
6. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to visit Zimbabwe; and what subjects he proposes to discuss.

Mrs. Chalker

My right hon. and learned Friend has no plans, at the present time, to visit Zimbabwe.

Mr. Bowis

When my right hon. Friend manages to get to Zimbabwe, will she remind Mr. Mugabe of the Pope's visit to that country, when he called for apartheid to be ended, not by sanctions and boycott, but by constructive discussion and pressures? Will my right hon. Friend also remind Mr. Mugabe of the recent visit to Harare of the South African white and black rugby organisers and express the hope that the conclusions that have come from those discussons are the way forward? Does she agree that Zimbabwe, the Western world and Africa should respond, when such progress is made towards ending apartheid, by welcoming the South Africans back into the international fold?

Mrs. Chalker

When I next see President Mugabe I shall most certainly point out the importance of what the Pope said, and far more was said on that issue than was probably published in British newspapers. It is only through constructive discussion that apartheid will be brought to an end and a representative system of non-racial government effected in South Africa.

Although I welcome the reports of the meeting of the South African rugby board with various people in Harare, it would be premature to speculate about a change of policy. If the press reports that we have seen are confirmed, I shall agree with my hon. Friend that that change of policy is a worthwhile step in the long progress towards genuine non-racialism in sport in South Africa. We hope sincerely that that will happen.

Mr. Roger King

When my right hon. Friend goes to Zimbabwe, will she ensure that she takes with her—and does not leave any behind—some photographs that she can give to the Zimbabwean Government of notable members of our own political system, so that unfortunate incidents such as the one earlier in the year, when the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition was not known, can be avoided?

Mrs. Chalker

I would recommend to the Zimbabweans that they should have an excellent book such as The Times "Guide to the House of Commons", so that they can recognise hon. Members. In case that is not ready in time, I shall see about a scrapbook that features photographs of members of the Opposition Front Bench.