HC Deb 25 June 2002 vol 387 cc734-5
13. Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk)

What recent discussions he has had with the members of the Southern African Development Community concerning Zimbabwe. [62116]

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

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and his ministerial colleagues have frequent discussions with their SADC counterparts about Zimbabwe. The most recent was on 20 June, when the Foreign Secretary met the South African Foreign Minister, Dr. Zuma, in London.

Mr. Bellingham

Has the Minister seen the recent report by the distinguished journalist Neil Darbyshire on the disastrous situation in Malawi? To what extent is this tragedy partly the result of the dislocation and deliberate ruination of agriculture in Zimbabwe? Does he agree that the time has come to ratchet up the smart sanctions? At the forthcoming European Council of Ministers, will he look at this point, and at extending a ban on Air Zimbabwe, which obviously will not hit the ordinary people of Zimbabwe but will hit Robert Mugabe and his cronies?

Mr. MacShane

I am happy to ask my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to take all those points on board. I am not sure if the famine problem in Malawi is related directly to the situation in Zimbabwe. We must continue to talk with our friends in SADC to ensure that as much aid as possible gets through to the people who really need it.

Mr. Peter Pike (Burnley)

Is it not a fact that the economic situation and the lack of stability in Zimbabwe is causing tremendous problems for the economy of the whole of southern Africa, and that SADC must be concerned about that? Might not the economics of the situation bring Mugabe and his henchmen to heel in Zimbabwe, forcing them to move forward and return to democracy?

Mr. MacShane

Zimbabwe is the most awful lesson for its neighbours. I hope that the whole of Africa, particularly southern Africa and SADC, understands that democracy and an open economy go hand in hand and that the Zimbabwe road is one that no other African country should contemplate taking.

Forward to