HC Deb 25 June 2002 vol 387 cc731-3
11. Tony Cunningham (Workington)

If he will make a statement on the political situation in Zimbabwe. [62114]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Denis MacShane)

As the Foreign Secretary and many hon. Members have made clear, the political situation in Zimbabwe is lamentable. Elections are stolen, journalists are arrested and there is widespread corruption among the governing elite. This issue will of course be debated today on a motion for the Adjournment—[HON. MEMBERS: "It's an Opposition day"]—but I have confidence that the democratic spirit of the people of Zimbabwe will one day rise up, so that they can return their beautiful land to the commonwealth of free nations. I wonder whether, instead of personalising the issue in terms of Mr. Mugabe, we should work harder to show our support for, and solidarity with, those who want true democracy in that great country.

Tony Cunningham

Does the Minister agree that the pronouncements by the Zimbabwean Government attacking my constituent Brian Donnelly, who is the British high commissioner in Harare, are completely outrageous and totally unacceptable? Will the Minister join me in paying tribute to the high commissioner and the staff in Harare, who are doing a superb job?

Mr. MacShane

I very much agree and I hope that those points will be made in the debate on the Opposition's motion later today. Our high commissioner has acted in accordance with the highest standards of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office service, and he has the complete support of the Government and, I am sure, the whole House.

Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

As the Foreign Secretary said earlier, the Government of Mr. Mugabe is destroying Zimbabwe and causing untold misery, starvation and poverty for its people. Many feel that the problems of Kashmir and the middle east are pushing the problems of Zimbabwe on to the back burner, but I have what I think is a unique question on this matter: what thought has been given to using the good offices of the father of modern central southern Africa, Nelson Mandela, in seeking a solution to the problems of Zimbabwe?

Mr. MacShane

We are in discussion with South Africa and neighbouring states on this issue. The House and the people of Zimbabwe would be delighted if Mr. Mandela took a direct personal interest. Whether Mugabe would listen to him is another matter.

Angus Robertson (Moray)

I wish to associate myself with the suggestion about the involvement of former President Mandela as part of the carrot. The Government have rightly been working with European Union partners in a sanctions regime against Mr. Mugabe and his henchmen in ZANU-PF. May I ask what assessment the Government and the EU have made of the effectiveness of targeting ZANU-PF and whether any plans exist to enhance the sanctions regime?

Mr. MacShane

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said earlier, a year ago Mr. Mugabe was receiving red-carpet treatment around the world. Recently he had to cool his heels for eight hours in the waiting room of an airport in Paris, reading back numbers of Le Monde, because the French Government would not let him into the country. His Foreign Minister was not allowed into Germany to attend his daughter's wedding. Mugabe's bank accounts—when we can find them, because most have been moved offshore—are being seized. A further tightening, or examination, of the sanctions will be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of European Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk)

A programme for free and fair elections—which was, of course, ignored—was drawn up by the Southern African Development Community before the presidential elections in Zimbabwe. Does the Minister agree that the programme should apply throughout sub-Saharan Africa and that the terrible political situation in Zimbabwe should be an object lesson to others not to tamper with the democratic political process?

Mr. MacShane