HL Deb 14 April 1980 vol 408 cc70-107

5.45 p.m.

Lord HATCH of LUSBY rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a further statement on their preparations for the independence of Zimbabwe. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. Those of us who have been in any way involved in the events of the last few months in Rhodesia, soon to become Zimbabwe, feel that it is a privilege, indeed a privilege unique in human history, to have participated in what is nothing less than a peaceful social revolution in that country. Indeed, with apologies to Mr. Reed, one might describe it as "Ten Weeks that Shook the World".

I want to repeat the congratulations that I made to the Government for that part of their policy in which they re-assumed British authority over Rhodesia.

I also want to take this opportunity of adding my congratulations to the numerous individuals and groups who participated in this extraordinary exercise. I would mention in particular the election supervisors, the British policemen, the election directorate, the observers who came from all over the world, above all the observers from the Commonwealth.

It seems to me to be a great pity that one has to make this kind of occasion the only parliamentary discussion of these events before independence takes place on Friday of this week. We have been told by Administrations of both parties, continually for the past 20 years, that what the future of Rhodesia should be is a British responsibility, that that responsibility lies essentially with Parliament, that only Parliament here in Westminster can grant independence, and that it is our parliamentary responsibility to supervise what happens in that country. And yet independence is to be granted on Friday of this week without a major debate in either House of our Parliament. This is something which I deeply regret. I also regret the fact that from what I can see from the list there would appear to be no Members supporting the Government participating in this discussion this evening. It really says very little for the Government's policy that none of their supporters appear to have come to cheer them on tonight.

Despite the historic importance of the events of these last few weeks, nobody would deny that we are leaving the new Zimbabwe State with massive problems that will take many years to solve. I need only outline them briefly: unemployment, with at least 1 million Africans unemployed out of a total population of 7 million; hunger, where it is estimated that at least 20 per cent, of the population is suffering from acute malnutrition; the land issue, which has got to be resettled after a long period in which the white population was granted 50 per cent, of the land area of the country, despite the fact that it never rose above at the very most 5 per cent, of the population; the education issue, the contrast between the luxury educational provision for white children and complete absence of educational provision for a very large number of African children.

Then there is the health situation. As I mentioned before in this House, what I think concerns me more deeply than any other issue residual on our handing over of independence is the fact that the medical experts will tell you that it must be that 20 per cent, of the present generation of African children are permanently mentally retarded and damaged simply through malnutrition in their infant years.

I should mention, too, perhaps, one of the most pressing and immediate problems: the overblown army which, when the five component parts come together, will number something like 50,000 to 60,000 in a country where an army of perhaps 10,000 to 15,000 would be more appropriate. Those of us who have had any dealings with Africa know what a tremendous danger this has been in a country like Nigeria since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.

The problem left to the new Government of how to reduce the numbers of that army, how to integrate that army, how to govern in a country where it has become commonplace, particularly for the Europeans, to carry guns as they would carry handbags or umbrellas—this is indeed a tremendous menace to the stability of the new government. In a country which has one of the highest birthrates in the world, where the population is increasing at 3.6 per cent, per annum, these are really massive problems for the new State of Zimbabwe to face. They are facing them after a period of 90 years which has been dominated by racism, by tribalism, by a whole set of divisive influences. They are facing them and now having to start to build a new nation.

It is my contention—and I suggested to the Government that this would be the thread of my remarks—that over the past 12 months Conservative policy, first in Opposition and then in Government, has exacerbated these problems and left the situation much worse than it need have been. I would start from the undermining of the plan put forward by David Owen and Cyrus Vance, the undermining by the cold water thrown on it by the then Opposition, the Conservative Party, and by many of its members who were quite blatantly telling the whites under Ian Smith 12 months ago, "Just hold on. We shall be coming to power after the next election. We shall see that things change in your favour." That influence in the year in which there was bound to be a general election in this country sabotaged the Owen-Vance plan.

I come secondly to the Conservative Party manifesto on which it fought the last election. The manifesto included this phrase: If the Six Principles, which all British governments have supported for the last 15 years, are fully satisfied following the present Rhodesian Election"—

that is, that of April last year— the next government will have the duty to return Rhodesia to a state of legality, move to lift sanctions, and do its utmost to ensure that the new independent state gains international recognition".

To the Rhodesians, and indeed most of our electorate, that meant that the Conservative Party was first promising recognition of the Smith-Muzorewa regime, if it was elected, and the lifting of sanctions. But when I asked repeatedly in this House after the election whether the new Government considered that the Six Principles had been met, I was then referred to the report of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd and his team of observers who went to Rhodesia during that April election. When I referred to the Boyd Report I found that the only relevant phrase in it was the following: The people expressed their own view, in numbers which demonstrate a significant judgment on the constitutional basis of the election itself".

In other words, according to the Government and the Boyd Report the Six Principles had been satisfied. That was then followed, you will remember, by the disastrous Press conference given by the Prime Minister in Canberra, in which she said it was unlikely that the British Parliament would renew sanctions in November.

When you put these factors together, it is not surprising that the people of Rhodesia believed that when the Conservative Government were elected last May they would do their utmost to recognise the existing Smith-Muzorewa regime and to lift sanctions. They banked on that, and they were justified in so doing. Indeed, that was what the Government wanted to do. They were prevented from doing so by the Commonwealth. If anybody comes out of this whole story with credit it is the Commonwealth, because it was only in Lusaka, following the investigations that had been made by representatives sent out by the Government, that the new Conservative Government discovered that, if it went ahead with its policy of recognising the Smith-Muzorewa regime and lifting sanctions, it would be isolated.


My Lords, I appreciate that the noble Lord is speaking for the first time, and I am perhaps stretching the indulgence of the House a little by intervening now, but I really must tell him that he is quite mistaken in this view. When we debated Rhodesia first in this session of Parliament on 10th July, I said from this Box quite clearly that we could not and would not recognise Bishop Muzorewa's Government at that time. That was before the conference at Lusaka.


My Lords, that was on 10th July, two months after the election. During those two months Lord Harlech had been sent on his mission. Other missions, other investigations had been made, and by that time the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary was already holding on to the skirts of the Prime Minister. He did so successfully with the vital assistance of people like Malcolm Fraser of Australia, a Conservative, and Michael Manley of Jamaica, a Socialist, along with President Nyerere, President Kaunda and President Seretse Khama from the front-line States. The Commonwealth had shown the British Government that they faced virtually total isolation if they carried forward the policy which their party had persuaded both the Rhodesians and the British electorate would be their actions if they became the Government.

Lusaka laid the basis for the Lancaster House Conference, which, as we now know, lasted for 13 weeks. All I have to say about the Lancaster House Conference is that the criticisms that we made during the debates that took place while that conference was in session have, every one of them, been substantiated since. We suggested that the Owen-Vance plan was much more realistic in its mobilisation of a peace-keeping force because a peace-keeping force would be needed if an election was to be held in Rhodesia without a great deal of intimidation. We suggested that during the interim period before the election the various forces should be integrated into a national army. It was the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary who said at his party conference in Blackpool that integration of the forces during the interim period was neither possible nor desirable.

We said that it was unfair that the Ministers in the Muzorewa/Smith Government should be allowed to keep their perquisites, their houses, their cars and their status during the election—but so it was. It was favourable to the Bishop's party, to the UANC. We said that the election period should be longer because the Bishop already had an electoral machine, whereas the two external guerrilla parties had no machine at all. We were proved right. It was only two weeks before the election actually took place that either of those parties had a single telephone in their offices, and I went round personally in order to investigate the situation. One of the parties had to use a telephone from a shop underneath its office.


My Lords, I think that this is quite the most extraordinary speech that I have ever heard on this subject. The noble Lord is complaining that Bishop Muzorewa had all the advantages. Did the noble Lord not hear that the Bishop won only three of the total seats on offer?


My Lords, the Bishop won only three seats despite the assistance that he was given from this country—read the Financial Times and see who was assisting him financially—despite the assistance he was receiving from American business, despite the assistance he was receiving from the South Africans, and he must be unique in history—he should go into the Guinness Book of Records—as the only leader of a party who has finished up with more helicopters than he has seats!

Finally, as regards the Lancaster House Conference, we pleaded from this side of the House to get rid of the concept of racial representation. We believed that the 20 white seats would perpetuate racialism and racial consciousness—and they did so. The election, as it took place for the white seats, was seen to be an election that would persuade the whites that nothing was going to change, that "Smithy" would get them out of it again. Certain statements were made during that election—public statements from political platforms—which would have warranted a charge of treason because they were suggesting, and clearly suggesting, that if the Mugabe party were to win the election then the Security Forces would organise a military coup. Nothing was done about those speeches.


My Lords, talking of speeches during the election campaign, perhaps the noble Lord would tell the House what he said at his Press conference in Lusaka?


My Lords, at my Press Conference in Lusaka I said that I believed that the election should be postponed to give a longer period, which I have just explained I still believe would have been a much fairer way of conducting that election.


My Lords, what about the noble Lord's remark that the elections would not be free and fair and that the noble Lord, Lord Soames, was too closely associated with the Conservative Party?


My Lords, it was simply a repetition in Lusaka of what I had already said in this House. I considered that the appointment of Lord Soames as the Governor was a mistake, not because I have any personal anomosity towards Lord Soames as a person, but because Lord Soames was a prominent member of the Conservative Party that had fought the election on the policy of recognising the Muzorewa/Smith régime. What I was advocating in this House, and what I advocated in Lusaka, was that the Governor should be an impartial person not drawn from either side of the House, as had already been done under the Owen/Vance plan.

During the course of the election there were a number of important breaches of the Lancaster House Agreement. The first important one occurred on 6th January. We had been assured here that the Security Forces would be confined to the vicinity of their bases while at the same time the guerrillas were assembling at their assembly points. Instead of that happening, on 6th January the Security Forces were deployed all over the country and, according to the Rhodesia Herald, with the consent of the Governor—in other words, with the consent of the British Government. But is it not strange that at the same time the Governor had fixed the date of the election? Again, I am not making any personal attacks on the Governor whatsoever: I am talking about the policy of the British Government. The date of the election had been fixed. According to the Lancaster House Agreement that election was to be fixed eight to nine weeks after the cease-fire had become effective. If the cease-fire had become effective so that the election date could be fixed, why was not martial law lifted? We were told—again Lancaster House was told—that, once the ceasefire was effective, there would be no need for martial law.

However, martial law continued throughout the election and that meant that the police, the auxiliary forces and the security forces could arrest anyone and detain anyone for 30 days without charge or trial. Indeed, they did so, and they did so among such notable people as Enos Nkala, who is now the Minister of Finance, and Nathan Shamuyarira, who was an internationally known figure and who was picked up and put in prison only three days before polling day. Yet, throughout this period we were constantly being told through the Press in Rhodesia and here that the intimidation that was souring the election was coming from Mr. Mugabe's forces and to a lesser extent from those of Mr. Nkomo.

However, it does not need my words to make the point. Let us take the opinion of The Times newspaper which had this to say during February as a result of what had occurred between the arrival of the Governor and 15th February, only two weeks before the election. This is a quotation from The Times of that date. It reads as follows: The impression among independent observers in Salisbury is that Lord Soames's claim to be acting even-handedly is beginning to wear thin. In particular, it is felt that his over-reliance on the existing Rhodesian administration, particularly for information about what is happening around the country, is mainly responsible for his apparent one-sidedness". That is not me: that is The Times.

Every observer I met—and I am talking here about observers from Australia, America, Canada, Denmark, Holland and Scandinavia—indeed, the whole population that one spoke to, recognised the fact that the British administration wanted to see its original policy put into practice. It wanted the Bishop to win so that it could recognise the Bishop's Government, or, as it began to get closer to the election date and was advised that perhaps the Bishop was not going to win, it took an action that was even more dangerous: it tried to divide the Patriotic Front—which unfortunately had already divided itself electorally—deeper and deeper by suggesting that, if Mr. Nkomo and the Bishop would get together, then there was an opportunity to exclude Mr. Mugabe. I am not talking here about hearsay; I am talking about personal knowledge only a few days before the election. The trouble is—


My Lords, will the noble Lord give way? May I say that I was fortunte enough to be in Rhodesia as an observer and what the noble Lord has said was not—and I repeat "not"—the impression that we had. The noble Lord has been speaking for 24 minutes and I would suggest that he has been speaking with very little relevance to the Question which he put down. The Question reads: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a further statement on their preparations for the independence of Zimbabwe". To my way of thinking, almost everything that the noble Lord has said is totally irrelevant and unhelpful. The elections have taken place and the consensus is that they expressed the will of the people. I would suggest that his speech is totally unhelpful.


My Lords, I would remind the noble Earl that I have now been interrupted four or five times, so he might like to take that off the clock. As to the relevance of what I am saying, what I have been describing are the preparations of the British Government for the independence of Zimbabwe. Briefly, I shall outline their direct relevance not only to the independence of Zimbabwe but to the problems which Zimbabweans now face. I would mention in passing what can be read in the report of the Commonwealth observers regarding the censorship that was maintained during the election and the propaganda of all aspects of the media—the newspapers, radio and television—all of which were slanted almost horizontally in favour of the Bishop's party.

What is the relevance of this to the legacy that we are handing over? It is three-fold. First, I charge the Government with having misled the white population of Rhodesia into believing that there would be no substantial change. I believe—and I have said this in this House before the election—that it was the responsibility of the British Government to prepare the white population for the changes that were bound to take place, whoever won the election. Secondly, I charge the British Government with having made it much more difficult for the leading administrators in the Rhodesian administration, through whom they were working, to work with their new political masters, because of what was allowed to go on during that election conducted by certain members of the administration.

Finally—and this is the point I was on when I was interrupted—I charge the Government with having deepened the very dangerous forms—and I specifically put that in the plural—of tribalism which are to be found in that country. The attempt to divide the Patriotic Front and the attempt to divide Nkomo from Mugabe was a very dangerous influence, not just in the election but in what happens after the election in holding together a national Government which is essential for the future peace of Zimbabwe. I believe that the only serious factor which prevented this policy ending in disaster was the presence of Commonwealth observers. Indeed it was a member of Mr. Mugabe's own party—a successful candidate who is now a Minister—who said to me on the day the election results were announced: "If the Commonwealth observers had not been here, we would not have won."

I simply refer your Lordships to the report now published by the Commonwealth observers to see at least the credibility of what I am saying; the fact that it was seen in much the same way by 11 members from different countries, all with their different experiences and their different perspectives—Commonwealth ob- servers and their staff whom I cannot praise too highly; and Commonwealth observers—I do not know whether the Government know this—some of whom were grossly insulted during the performance of their duties. Prejudice was shown to some of the coloured Commonwealth observers which in this country would have been material for criminal charges. I should like to ask the noble Lord who is to reply whether or not the Government intend to answer those parts of the Commonwealth observers' report which are critical of British policy. However, what is perhaps much more important is that the sterling work that was done by these men and women has created a new perspective, a new hope, a new resilience and a new vigour in the Commonwealth itself, and bodes well for the future.

Very briefly, what is the future for Zimbabwe? Have we learned the lesson? Apparently not. Let us think back. Among all Administrations of Britain over the last 40 to 50 years let us think of our treatment of Nehru, Nasser, Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Makarios, Kaunda and Seretse Khama. Now we have Mugabe. What I suggest to the Government is that there are many more Mugabes in Southern Africa. In facing this new situation and in facing it as a British Government who are responsible and who have always claimed responsibility for the independence of Zimbabwe, we cannot simply brush aside the past and forget what has happened, because it affects the present and the future. Mr. Mugabe has shown remarkable tolerance, but Mr. Mugabe is pledged to change; radical change compared with the last 90 years must come in Zimbabwe if Mr. Mugabe is to remain the leader of that country. The change is demanded by the people of Zimbabwe.

We also have a responsibility to those countries which have suffered as a result of the rebellion against British authority: to Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana. But, above all, we have a responsibility to see the new Southern African scene with this new State as one of its keystones. I should like the Government to say tonight that they recognise that there must be radical social, economic and political change; there must be change in the Civil Service, in land division, in education and in health, and in every social, economic and political aspect; and that their support, their economic aid and their technical aid to the new Government will not depend on whether or not they approve of the policies of that Government.

I was somewhat alarmed to hear the Lord Privy Seal, Sir Ian Gilmour, in another place say that future aid would be determined after the new Government have set their priorities. I hope that does not mean that aid will depend upon whether the British Government approve of the actions of the new Zimbabwean Government; because we have a responsibility to undo what has been done in our name for over 14 years and what has been done partially in our name for the last 90 years. That is a responsibility of the British Parliament, the British Government and the British people.

6.19 p.m.


My Lords, I have listened with interest and attention to the rather long statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby; but having done so, and in spite of the short talk I had with him earlier in the afternoon, I confess that, apart from his apparent desire to have a full debate on the Rhodesian question before the noble Lord, Lord Soames, returns to this country, I am still rather at a loss to know what he is getting at. Perhaps—and this may conceivably be unfair—he is trying to show that a Conservative Government do not deserve much credit for a settlement which, as he believes, ought only to have been achieved by a Socialist Government which might, among other things, have backed Mr. Mugabe to the hilt from the start, though I am not sure they would have. In any case, though it was not necessarily their fault that over many years the Labour Government were not successful in this matter, the fact remains that they were not successful and that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, admittedly with the help of the Commonwealth, was.

Anyhow, what is otherwise the point of raking up the past and endeavouring to prove that things might have been better if some other kind of policy had been pursued than the policy that was pursued? What is the point of it? Perhaps it might have been better, though I rather doubt it. But what matter? The fact is that elections have been held; they have been declared by independent Com- monwealth observers to be as free and as fair as might be expected; and the important thing now is surely to see to it that the new régime actually works once independence is declared, as it will be in a few days from now. I do not myself see how the Government can now prepare for independence by doing anything more than they are doing at the present, other, that is, than pulling down the flag and sending Prince Charles out in a few days' time. How else can they "prepare for independence"? What therefore is the actual point of the noble Lord's Question? I fail to see it.


My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? There is a very simple answer to that. What I suggest is that unless we learn the dimension of the problems which are the legacy that we are leaving to the new Zimbabwe State and give our pledge to assist in the solution of those problems then we are leaving the people of Zimbabwe virtually helpless.


My Lords, I am sure that the Government are going to do what they can to help the new regime in Zimbabwe. There is no reason to suppose that they will not. They are going to give aid, and so on. What else can they do? Heaven knows! all this will be difficult enough; and it is still, unfortunately, possible that a considerable number of Zimbabwe citizens of white complexion may decide to leave, believing that a country ruled by blacks is not one in which they would still enjoy a satisfactory life. I am afraid that that is still possible. Nobody can actually blame them if they decide to get out. Many no doubt were not responsible for the quite deplorable policies which ended in a civil war and in the destruction of much of the economy and the whole countryside of Zimbabwe. Indeed, I would say that there is even a case for compensating some who may come out with little or no means of support, more especially if part or all of their holdings in the country have been nationalised or seized.

There will of course be many other causes of friction. Undoubtedly there will be. What is to happen to the whole system of education, and more particularly to the white-dominated schools, for instance? Will sporting links be main- tained with the Republic of South Africa? How will taxes be apportioned? How will labour relations be organised? What exactly will be the functions of the police? Let us hope that this all goes smoothly, as these sort of things have gone in Kenya more or less over the years. But no one can be sure. The civil war must have left appalling scars, and it is astonishing that things have gone as well as they have gone up to now.

However, if we are to look back at recent events, let us not, for heaven's sake, look back in anger. No doubt there were highly regrettable incidents on all sides. I would not dispute that for a moment. Bishop Muzorewa's private army, for instance, if we may believe some reports, often behaved like a gang of thugs. Mugabe's troops were certainly not always under control, and were probably responsible for most of the breaches of the cease-fire. Perhaps it was not all their fault because they were by far the largest forces in the field. The Rhodesian Army itself, although it seems that on the whole it was well controlled by General Walls, contained elements such as the Selous Scouts who may have been responsible for some very unfortunate incidents. Only Mr. Joshua Nkomo's forces seem to have been largely without reproach, but then they were more disciplined and considerably less numerous.

Of course there are all kinds of horrors possibly in store for the country, some of which were mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch. The state of the country itself is frightful. Malnutrition is formidable. The countryside is largely ruined and will have to be repaired. All that of course was the result of the civil war, for which some of us may think that certain people were more responsible than others. The overblown army will naturally have to be reduced. Civilians may still have to carry guns; but I would point out that in America nearly every citizen has a gun. It is not as bad as all that. You will have to restore order even if the citizens do carry guns. There is the high birth rate; well, you cannot do anything about that. It is deplorable, and that is a thing which is with us. Tribalism, which the noble Lord thinks was encouraged by the Government—well, I do not think it really was—seems to be a less potent force than many people suspected it would be. Mr. Nkomo at the moment shows signs of co-operating with Mr. Mugabe. The Matabele and the Shonas do not show signs of being at each other's throats, as many people thought. All that does not seem to be as bad as many suggested.

I imagine that we shall have a formal debate—I hope the noble Lord will assure us that that is so—on the whole question when the Governor returns at the end of the month. We shall then be in a better position than we are at present to judge how things are going to turn out. Certainly if there should be a minimum of good will the future of the new State should, over the years, be assured. There is no reason why, given its resources, it should not become one of the most prosperous of the new African States. It may well not be as efficient as it was when it was ruled by the whites. I think there is every reason to suppose that it will not be as efficient, but on the other hand efficiency is not everything. Happiness is perhaps more important still. The recent decision of the President of Maputo to abandon strict Marxist dogma and to go in for some kind of fairly free economy is also an excellent portent. Things may go sadly wrong, but at least there is now reasonable hope for the future. And I certainly should not like to blame the Government for anything that has happened up to now.

6.28 p.m.


My Lords, I intervene briefly and start with an apology. I have already explained to the Minister and to my noble friend who initiated this debate that, unfortunately, I shall not be able to stay for the rest of this extremely fascinating debate. It contains debates within the debate which I found equally diverting. Like my noble friend Lord Gladwyn, we all look forward to a more expansive occasion on which we can have a good look at how things have gone in Zimbabwe, and how we should all seek to assist that country in the future when the Governor-General has returned and takes his place and makes his statement from that Dispatch Box. In the meantime, I think that my noble friend is entirely justified in raising the points that he has done just in case there is no other opportunity.

I am sure that the Government will examine with great care everything my noble friend has said. I am sure that he did not say what he did without a personal feeling of justification as one who has spent a good deal of his time in Africa and is a responsible student of, and indeed political consultant on, African affairs. I am sure that he did not speak as he did in any tone of sterile recrimination. I know him well enough to know that he wishes to see this new departure in Southern Africa, the credit for which a great many people and organisations are entitled to, to go ahead with the advantages of having learned the lessons of the past, and of the recent past.

In that sense I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and I, speaking from the two Opposition Benches, would support the desire of my noble friend Lord Hatch that we should learn the lessons. I hope the Government will learn the big lesson, namely, that it is just as well to examine the policy of their predecessors carefully before they commit themselves during or immediately after an election to resist them. In essence, the policy followed successfully by the present Government in Rhodesia was that of the preceding Government; that is to say, to call to conference everybody concerned with the future of Zimbabwe. At times, if I may say so, I said that it had to include the leaders of the Patriotic Front as well as the front-line Presidents. I was assailed and criticised—I was at the receiving end—but mercifully a U-turn was effected; somewhere between Canberra and Lusaka there was a U-turn, for which we are all very grateful indeed. Thank goodness it happened. That is the first major lesson to be learned. I insist on that.

When I was defending exactly the kind of policy which has been implemented successfully by the present Foreign Secretary, I was constantly being criticised from this side of the House when the party opposite were in Opposition. They resisted all along the very idea of including in the constitutional negotiations the leaders of the Patriotic Front. As if you could do anything in Rhodesia without them, or as if you can do anything in the future without continuing to consult and assist them. So it is no good having recriminatory rumbles today, but I will not pursue that further. I am heartily glad that there emerged a consensus on both sides of the House, and we in Opposition, as we found ourselves, strongly supported the present Foreign Secretary and Lord Soames and indeed the Government when they adopted the only possible policy for a solution of the Zimbabwe question. That is the big lesson to learn, that there must be continuity and consensus in foreign policy and in defence. That is the specific gravity of responsibility which all parties, all Members, must keep in mind, whether or not they are in Government. If we do that in this country then we shall solve similar difficult problems in future.

That brings me to the other point I wish to make, which springs from what my noble friend said. Even more important to this country and the West is a solution of the problem of Namibia, of German South-West Africa. I agree entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said about the potential wealth of Rhodesia. It is there to be developed, I hope very much in a major way by British capital and expertise. But more urgent—and essential perhaps to the survival of the West—is a solution of the question of Namibia so that a successor State emerges there which co-operates as an independent State, politically and commercially, with this country and the West; and it is right, therefore, to examine our experience in Rhodesia to realise the undoubted achievements that the Government and others (certainly the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Secretary-General) were able to reach in Rhodesia, and to learn the lessons of what we must avoid in Namibia.

I hope the Government are doing two things. I hope they are addressing themselves very carefully to the Namibian question. It seems to be in a kind of lull. I may be wrong about that, but it is urgent that there should emerge in that part of South Africa an agreed, peaceful, democratically-oriented development, and we can learn a lot about how to do it from what has been done in Rhodesia. We can eqully, as my noble friend pointed out, learn what to avoid when we approach that problem. I will not go into detail about Namibia, except to say what I have said before, that I think this question is even more difficult than Rhodesia, and that it is certainly more important to this country and the West that it should be successfully solved.

In my final point I echo what was said by the two speakers who preceded me. I have no doubt that the Government are examining how best to come to the aid of the new Rhodesia, or Zambabwe. A few weeks ago we had an excellent debate on the Brandt Commission Report. Everybody agreed—there was inter-party consensus—that the developed countries must make a major effort to assist in bringing up the developing countries. This is the first test case; here is an African country poised between a number of options as to its future. If we in the developed West grasp the opportunity—it is not a question of sacrifice but of opportunity—of helping this strategically important part of Africa and the world to get on its feet again, so that the option it has so far exercised in favour of democracy is sustained and fortified, then we shall have served ourselves as well as we shall have served Zimbabwe.

Let us not niggle at the cost of this. It will be an investment in democracy and peace, and incidentally in British employment, if we go about it in a wholehearted way. It is not a question of generosity only or of obligation. As Mr. Edward Heath said in a recent speech on the Brandt Commission Report, which he helped to write, it is not only a matter of generosity and obligation; it is a matter of cold commonsense. I therefore hope very much that the Government are addressing themselves to the question of how much they can provide in resources, money, manpower and machines, to help Zimbabwe to implement in its new life the option it has so far expressed in its political life.

It is cheering to read reports of remarks made by the American President yesterday about the United States attitude to this matter. They have said they will help, and help substantially, and I hope they will be joined not only by us but by other developed countries in the West and North, and in that way, perhaps starting with Rhodesia and certainly going on swiftly with Namibia, we may in Africa be giving effect to the purposes of the Brandt Commission Report, which all parties have welcomed and which I hope the Government, with the support of the Opposition, will help to implement.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, the Question which we are discussing this evening relates to the preparations for the independence of Zimbabwe and I shall be devoting most of my remarks to this; but perhaps the House will forgive me if first I refer to another aspect of the matter, because during the proceedings which have resulted in the early independence of Zimbabwe I refrained from criticism. I did so because I did not want to prejudice the development of the proceedings.

Over the years I have been concerned in the negotiations concerning independence of many countries in Africa and Asia. Strangely, it was under a Conservative Colonial Secretary that I was most often consulted. I pay my tribute to Iain Macleod. On this occasion I did not take part in the negotiations, partly because I was ill and partly because there were younger and abler men to act as advisers. However, I am compelled to say that there was a quite extraordinary difference between the negotiations which have led to the independence of other African and Asian nations and the negotiations that have taken place on this occasion. At Lancaster House there were no real negotiations. The attitude of the Government was ultimatum—take it or leave it.

Anyone who watched those proceedings must have been extraordinarily impressed by the attitude of the Patriotic Front Leaders, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. At the very beginning they decided that, whatever the provocation, they would not walk out during those discussions. They had one aim in view; namely, the settlement in Zimbabwe by elections which they knew they would win. Because they had that attitude at Lancaster House, they made their strong protests, but they were prepared to compromise if they gained the right to hold the elections.

One has to acknowledge this fact—and I think that the Government must do so: they did not want the Patriotic Front to win in Zimbabwe. I do not complain. They are a capitalist Government; they are the most capitalist Government that this country has ever had. Therefore they wanted the system of capitalism and of feudalism to remain in Zimbabwe. Just as they wished the Bishop Muzorewa and Ian Smith coalition to win, so I wanted Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe to win. I do not complain; but the Government cannot resist the fact that both at the Lancaster House negotiations and in the administration under the noble Lord, Lord Soames, before the election took place, all their pressure and influence were on the side of a victory for Bishop Muzerewa and Ian Smith, and every influence was exerted against a victory by the Patriotic Front, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo—


My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? It is quite clear both that he was not at Lancaster House and that he has not been in Rhodesia recently. What he says is wholly wrong.


It is quite true, my Lords, I was not there: One need not have been at Lancaster House, and one need not have been in Rhodesia. One had very full reports and very detailed information from those concerned—very detailed.


All wrong.


Not so. The Government cannot avoid the fact that not only did they desire a victory for the Bishop Muzerewa and Ian Smith coalition, but that their actions were exerted against a victory for the Patriotic Front. For example, the Lancaster House agreement was that the troops on both sides should go to assembly points or be in barracks. Instead of that, even the private army of the bishop was used extensively in security operations.

My Lords, I had to express that view this evening because I have refrained from doing so previously, but I want to return to the Question which is before us about preparations for the independence of Zimbabwe. I hope that the Minister and the Government will pay very great attention to the article which appeared in The Times on 31st March. It depicted the appalling conditions in Zimbabwe after the war following which independence begins. Three-quarters of all the schools have been destroyed. Medical services outside the urban areas have collapsed. More than a million people are still to be resettled. One-third of the national agricultural herd has been lost. There is a desperate transport shortage. There is malnutrition and even starvation, not only because of the war, but also because of the drought that has followed. The maize crop this year is one-third below normal. Two million people will need emergency food supplies. More than 1 million people have to be resettled, including 250,000 families of refugees. There is also the question of the re-accommodation of 225,000 persons from the insanitary "protected villages" set up by Ian Smith. Furthermore, there is the redistribution of the population from the towns to the country. Salisbury's population is now three times that of pre-war years. Irrigation schemes have collapsed throughout the country. Five-hundred thousand young people have missed years of education and now have no work.

That is a description of Zimbabwe as it starts its independence. Britain should not escape its responsibility for that situation—


My Lords, I do not think that I can allow the noble Lord to get away with that. He is describing, quite accurately I think, the results of the war that so tragically ravaged Rhodesia for all those years. Is he saying that the British Government were responsible for that war? And if it was so evil, as indeed it was, why, then, did the Patriotic Front not agree to a ceasefire at the beginning of the Lancaster House Conference, as Bishop Muzorewa did?


My Lords, I always appreciate interruptions from the noble Lord because they help me so much. Britain has the main responsibility. Southern Rhodesia was a British colony. There was a rebellion there by Ian Smith. What action did we take? If it had been a black rebellion, we would have intervened at once. We allowed it to occur. We applied sanctions; and there is the revelation that, even with the knowledge of members of the Government—


A Labour Government


Yes, of a Labour Government—oil sanctions were broken and oil poured into Southern Rhodesia. They were able to maintain their rebellion by reason of British failure in those respects. I say emphatically that the present condition in Rhodesia is the result mainly of the failure of—yes—the previous Labour Government and this Government to deal with the rebellion by the whites.

My Lords, I conclude by saying that there is hope. The highly-developed infrastructure and the great agricultural and economic potential of Zimbabwe give promise for the future. I want to pay a tribute to the whites who have remained. I pay a tribute to the Civil Service, which has prepared a £50 million scheme to restore the basic rural amenities even before the Mugabe Government has given authority. There is hope because in Zimbabwe there are 19,000 black graduates who can take part in the restoration of that country.

My Lords, I hope that the British Government, despite our financial position, will give every possible aid to Zimbabwe as it embarks upon independence, and will use their influence in the European Community, which has already done very much, to do even more; because the whole future of what happens in southern Africa will depend largely on whether, in these appalling conditions, Zimbabwe can recover to the extent of achieving stability and bringing about reconciliation between the races of that territory.

6.54 p.m.


My Lords, however the occasion has arisen, I think it is probably a good thing that in this House we can spend a short time discussing Zimbabwe at the start of this most exciting week in that country's history, and after the rather extraordinary year through which that country has passed. Co-incidentally, it was exactly a year ago today that I was in Salisbury at a party held by Bishop Muzorewa's United African National Congress when the general election in this country was in progress and the Labour Government were quite clearly under threat from the Conservative Opposition. Much of my time at that party was spent listening to, and I hope prudently being somewhat dis- couraging to, white Rhodesians who were expressing the earnest hope that the Conservatives would win because the immediate result, they somewhat naively thought, would be that Bishop Muzorewa's Government would be recognised and sanctions lifted and so forth. Who would have thought then—and I certainly did not—that twelve months later we in this House would be celebrating or noting the independence of Zimbabwe under the prime ministership of a man who most of those white Rhodesians considered to be a "Communist terrorist", Robert Mugabe?

My Lords, it is surely somewhat unfair to assume that this remarkable change has taken place unintentionally or accidentally, or that the Foreign Office, under the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, did not from the start recognise that this was likely to be the result of the procedures which they initiated on taking office. Not to have realised this would have been monstrously incompetent, because it was reasonably clear last year in Rhodesia that there was considerable latent support for the two wings of the then united Patriotic Front; and their absence from the lists was one of the main reasons for my view that the 1979 election was invalid. This was contained in a report which the Foreign Office has been notably less keen to put about than that of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, but it is just possible that the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, may have seen a copy of it.

This year it was absolutely clear to me, and surely to others, from the time of my arrival in Rhodesia in mid-January, that ZANU PF and the PF together commanded the majority support of the people of that country, though I admit that the extent to which they did surprised me and, I suspect, all other observers. It must have been equally clear to anybody who considered the political situation there objectively. One can only assume, therefore, that the Foreign Office and the Governor's staff realised this, too, and recognised that the conclusion of the processes begun at the Commonwealth Conference was likely to be the sort of Government which has in the event emerged. This being so, all that remains for me to do is to withdraw any suggestion I have made in previous speeches on Rhodesia that the Government were trying to do Mr. Mugabe and, to a lesser extent, Mr. Nkomo down; to recognise that the rumours of senior British civil servants going round Salisbury trying to create a split between the PF and ZANU PF were as exaggerated and misleading as the Commonwealth observers say the reports of intimidation by the Patriotic Front were; to join with President Machel and other world leaders in congratulating the Foreign Secretary and the Governor on their success—because, whatever else happens during the lifetime of this Parliament, this will surely rank as one of their most outstanding triumphs in foreign policy; to recognise, as of course the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, has said so often in the House over the past few weeks, that things have changed in Rhodesia, and wish him a happy trip to that country to celebrate this great success; to wish the independent State of Zimbabwe well; and, as this country is one of the five-member contact group, to hope indeed that we can have a similar success in Namibia.

6.57 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby for initiating this debate by means of an Unstarred Question; but, frankly, I would have preferred that we were debating it on a Government Motion, and also a Government Motion in another place, with perhaps a full House, rather than in a thinly-attended House of Lords, so that on Friday of this week, on the morning when independence is acclaimed, a message from this country would have gone out from both Houses of Parliament wishing "Bon voyage!" and good luck to the new State of Zimbabwe as they move into the future. I know it would be contrary to what is normally done on independence occasions, but this is not an ordinary independence occasion. It is the end of many years of illegality; the end of many years during which successive British Governments have tried unsuccessfully to reach a conclusion there; and it would have been a great thing if a message of that sort had been received in Salisbury on Friday morning of this week.

However, tonight we have the opportunity to say a few words, and I shall certainly be brief, but I felt I should like to add a personal word as one (and I repeat, "one") of the many who tried unsuccessfully to make some sort of contribution to a solution of the problem created in the unhappy country of Southern Rhodesia by the actions of the illegal regime. We sometimes forget (and I think we ought to remember now, even if we forget it on Friday) that for many years that régime was rebelling against the British Government and the Crown—and they showed it very clearly. It was a very unhappy country. Some of those who attempted to do something in those years functioned from Government level, some were parliamentary colleagues sent out by successive British Governments, and there were many individuals who travelled out on their own volition seeking to find a way to restore legality and some form of democratic government to Southern Rhodesia. I could go on for a long time recounting personal experiences, most of which were not very rewarding or were fruitless; but I regard all that as now behind us. So far as I am concerned, it is all behind me and there seems to be no point in resurrecting it.

I should like to make clear one point in case there is any misunderstanding—and I speak only from my own experience—and it is that not all white Rhodesians were behind the Rhodesian Front and Ian Smith. I met many who then thought, something like 14 years ago, that a multiracial State was the only possible and lasting solution. In that context, may I remind the House that there is another minority in Southern Rhodesia (for such it is until Friday) about which we seldom speak. That is the coloured minority; not the whites, not the blacks, but the people of Asian origin who always seem to be squeezed in between the whites and the blacks. They made representations to me and they must have done so to many others. I am sure in my mind that they will not be forgotten by the new Government.

However, my main function in speaking at all is to congratulate very sincerely the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary on his courageous, patient and painstaking handling of the problem which had previously proved so intractable and without solution. I am sure he will not take it unkindly from me when I say that he has shown considerable political courage as well—political courage which it is not always appreciated that one may need to show. Those views in the Conservative Party opposing any form of solution which gave a black majority Government are well known. One watches television; one sees what comes out of Conservative Party conferences; one speaks to Conservative colleagues. I have done so; it is there and it is clear. It was made very clear when the present Foreign Secretary's predecessor, Dr. Owen, tried to involve the Patriotic Front in the discussions to find a solution and when he met the antagonism which must have faced the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary from his own Party during and subsequent to the difficult negotiations at Lancaster House.

I am not unaware of some of those things myself. It is a long time ago, but I remember the talks on HMS "Tiger" when both the then-Prime Minister and myself thought we had reached something—and what a something it was in the light of today's happenings! It would have been black majority rule in time, in a long time. "The calendar and not the clock" was the expression used at the time. Maybe it was as well from my point of view and from that of my Prime Minister that those proposals were rejected in Salisbury; because we would have had (and we both knew it) a great deal of difficulty in selling that solution to many, if not all, or our colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party. But that, again, is behind us.

My Lords, following the Lancaster House agreement—and I pay tribute here to a masterly act of chairmanship—some fears were expressed about who would be appointed as Governor of Rhodesia to take that country through the difficult days of elections, a democratically-elected Government and, finally, independence. I heard many suggestions, many names from various part of this House as to who should not be appointed—and I did not disagree—but I heard no worthwhile or responsible criticism at all of the appointment of the noble Lord, Lord Soames, as Governor until such time as independence came. How right we were! One must accept that immediately he arrived in Salisbury he must have been faced with hundreds of difficult problems, all of which needed tactful handling. Maybe he made a mistake in some of them. If one does not try and if one does not make mistakes, one does not often make any- thing at all. But I am sure that the general agreement now is that he has done a very worthwhile job there. He has shown the wisdom of a Solomon and the patience of a Job. I think that the new Zimbabwe owes him a great deal. In fact, the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe has said so. I think that Zimbabwe appreciates it. I cannot refer to the present Governor without once again referring to the former Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs. It is sometimes forgotten what he and his good lady went through and how they served Britain and the Crown in those early difficult years of the illegal régime with fortitude and courage, despite many hardships and the many indignities that were piled upon them.

Finally, I should like to add my good wishes to the new State and the Government and hope to see them soon (as I believe we shall) as good colleagues within the commonwealth of nations.

I would say to anyone who is fearful for the future of that country that they perhaps might think back some 17 years, to the situation after Mau-Mau and to what happened in Kenya. There were a lot of fears expressed. We were all shocked at the Mau-Mau atrocities. How wrong we were to be fearful of the result! Those fears were unfounded; as I think they will be in Zimbabwe. It is gratifying that the years of illegality are ended, and I hope that all of us on either side of the House, despite our different views, will join in wishing Zimbabwe a very happy and prosperous future, and in doing so will give them a firm promise of every possible assistance in dealing with the many problems which they have inherited from the illegal régime.

7.8 p.m.


My Lords, I could support many of the criticisms and apprehensions of my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby in his opening speech, but I shall not do so, primarily because I think we ought to be looking at the present position in Zimbabwe and to the future. Also, as I made no comments on the elections except to their success, I will not make a criticism of what took place on many sides during the period of the election. However, I should like to make one comment. Reference has been made to the elections being free and fair. I would remind the House of what I said in an earlier speech dealing with the Rhodesia order: that the parliamentary delegation decided not to use those words but to say that the elections provided an opportunity to reflect the general wish of the people of Zimbabwe, particularly in the light of the provincial voting and the list system.

I commented previously on the achievements and the excellent work of the British Commissioner and his staff of provincial and district commissioners and I shall not refer to those again. However, despite the presence of hundreds of observers, the Press and other media representatives, who looked at the election more closely than anyone ever looked at an election before, no one forecast a clear majority for ZANU-PF and Mr. Robert Mugabe. If they did, they kept quiet about it. Even the Sunday Times, in its issue before polling day, said that most estimates gave Robert Mugabe 32 seats. He achieved 57. Many of the forecasts about the Patriotic Front and Joshua Nkomo were about right. But there was general overestimation by all those observers, Press and media representatives about the possible support of Bishop Muzorewa.

It is clear to those of us who were there—and I was with the parliamentary delegation—that most of the whites were apprehensive about Mr. Robert Mugabe. He had been built up as the bogeyman. Until the election period, the Press and media hardly referred to him, except to do so unfavourably. During the election, for the greater part of the period references to him were critical, emphasising his communist nature and also bringing in the question of anti-religion. Because of the censorship, very few whites in Rhodesia had heard or seen Mr. Robert Mugabe until his very notable radio and television appearance on the night of the day that the results were announced.

For years the whites had had their eyes closed. With a little common sense they could have avoided the tragic situation of the last few years; but misguidedly they thought that UDI would solve all their problems. My noble friend Lord Brock-way has referred to many of them; he listed the miseries that have taken place as given in The Times of 31st March, which have been endorsed by other statements. It must be said that most of these tragedies have affected the blacks. In fact the article in The Times said: It is not the consequence of an orgy of destruction inflicted by black upon black, nor is it the result of a black revolt against a white colonial régime which history decreed would have to go home one day anyway. It is the aftermath of a struggle for power between land-hungry blacks and a white settler community which presumed against all logic to try to reverse the tide of history in Africa. It is a heavy responsibility". That was the leading article in The Times of 31st March this year.

Regarding the figures that were given, many of the relief workers regarded them as very conservative. We have a situation that the struggle between the forces of the Patriotic Front ZIPRA and ZANLA, and the Rhodesian security forces, have blighted the lives of a vast number of families in Rhodesia. Figures have been given that the effect has been on one in four of the population.

Let us look at the problems. We had the opportunity to meet Mr. Robert Mugabe privately as a delegation on three occasions. Here are some of the points he listed as being the problems. First, achieving a secure and peaceful situation. It appears that that will be a possible achievement. The creation of one army. That integration is also proceeding. For myself, I will never forget the visit we made to the Foxtrot assembly point the day after the first small contingent of the Rhodesian Army had gone into the Foxtrot camp, when we saw the two generals of the Rhodesian and of the ZANLA armies shaking hands on the parade ground for the integration and development of a single army in Zimbabwe. That was a notable historic moment which I shall keep in my memory for ever.

Mr. Mugabe also said that there was need to resettle something like 1 million people, and this will be mainly resettlement on the land. As my noble friend Lord Brockway has said, another point that Mr. Robert Mugabe stressed to us was the urgent necessity of restoring administration which had broken down during the war in many areas. I said in an earlier speech that some of our British provincial election supervisors had themselves started this work of re-establishing administration in order to get ahead with their election organisation.

Also, Mr. Mugabe stressed that there will be vast efforts needed to ensure the rehabilitation of the economy.

Reference has been made also to the breakdown of health and education services. I, too, should like to refer to this in connection with our visit to the Foxtrot assembly point. There we saw the work of a small contingent of British soldiers with the Commonwealth monitoring forces who had converted a brokendown building into a civilian medical centre which had been opened on 10th February. When we were there they were handling weekly 1,600 civilians who were coming into the camp. That is an indication of the complete breakdown of health services in many parts of the rural areas. Reference has been made also to the serious effect the war has had on agriculture, with a third of the national herd lost by disease, neglect or destruction. We were able to see a number of the cattle dips which have been destroyed.

The problem will be—and Mr. Mugabe recognises this—that the people will want to have their hopes fulfilled. They want jobs—there is a massive problem of unemployment. They will want redistribution of land and higher wages. We have already seen some of the first strikes taking place in Salisbury recently. They will want the provision of education, medical and other services.

On the day before we left, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with the secretary of the Federated Chambers of Commerce, which represents all mining, commercial, industrial and agricultural interests in Rhodesia. It was interesting to learn from him that on the day when the results had been announced he had been in touch with all 17 chairmen of the local chambers of commerce to urge that the white population should stay there in order to work through whatever Government was taking over. This secretary of the Federated Chambers of Commerce was a young, forward-looking man with a pragmatic outlook. He also listed the main problems to us: unemployment—a problem which is going to be accentuated when the refugees come back and when some members of the three forces are demobilised. Again, he emphasised—as have other people—the need for land to be provided for resettlement.

One point he made to us was very important: there are already schemes put away for large irrigation projects, which are essential to revitalise the agricultural economy. He made the point—and I would emphasise this to the Government spokesman—that any aid to be given should be given on practical schemes, not on schemes that are going to require long feasibility studies and may be a waste of considerable extra money in these feasibility studies. He emphasised to us—and this is a man who is in touch with all commercial industrial life—that the new Government have invested a budget deficit of about £370 million, which is 21 per cent, of their GDP. On the other hand, from his own knowledge he emphasised the great possibilities of mining development. As has alrady been mentioned, Zimbabwe is potentially a very rich country. The hopes have already been stressed by my noble friend Lord Brockway: the fact that there are already so many black graduates; the fact that whites are being encouraged to stay.

I can assure your Lordships that before the results were out they were apprehensive and those to whom we spoke—and we spoke to quite a number—were really fearful; but after Mr. Mugabe's TV speech and radio broadcast there was a change of attitude and I think what he has done since has encouraged it. The very fact of the appointment of two whites—one as Minister of Commerce and the other as Minister of Agriculture—bodes well for the possible development of Zimbabwe.

I should like to mention a point which has not been mentioned but which I think should be brought to notice. That is the incredible fact that from Mr. Robert Mugabe there has been no crowing over victory, which could easily have been understood—he seems to have recognised the serious problems inherited by his Government. There has also been no display of bitterness—and remember that he spent 10 years in the jails of Ian Smith's Government. Also there is the fact, the tragedy, that he was not allowed to see his young son who died at the age of three. Yet his statements and actions so far have been encouraging.

May I in a few concluding words say that there are those who may feel, "This won't last and therefore we ought to be apprehensive". Criticism has been made of the actions of the Governor, Lord Soames, over certain things. Praise has also been given. One thing is obvious: he has built up a good personal relationship with Mr. Robert Mugabe, despite possible earlier attitudes on both sides. That, and the fact that the elections were carried through in a manner which has enhanced Britain's position in Zimbabwe itself, and maybe in other parts of Africa, are matters upon which we must build. May I also say to the noble Lord who is to reply—I do not expect him to make any particular comments—that I am certain that the person to be appointed as Britain's High Commissioner will be of the utmost importance to our future relationships and to the help we might be able to give to the independent Zimbabwe.

Mr. Robert Mugabe has said that his country will need financial and technical aid and, as my noble friends have done |I urge that Britain must try to do all she possibly can to assist in this direction. It may be too much to ask that Britain does it all alone. I was looking at previous speeches during our debates on Zimbabwean matters since I have been a Member of this House. The noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, said during one of our discussions that he did not think Britain necessarily ought to take the responsibility of forming an international group to help an independent Zimbabwe. I hope that Britain will take the lead. On the last occasion when we discussed Zimbabwe we were also told that there was no firm information as to what aid might be given by the European Community. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will be able to give us some information about that tonight.

We all know that technical aid will be given, that military training is required, and training will be needed for radio, TV and other things. I would emphasise again that a good deal of aid will be needed for large-scale irrigation if malnutrition is to be avoided and if agriculture can be developed. There must not be any tendency—I do not believe there will be on the ministerial side—on the part of any Members on the opposite Benches to take the view that, because no one knows precisely where Mr. Robert Mugabe's Government will go in the future, we should therefore wash our hands of the country after independence, having got rid of a very awkward problem.

As my noble friend Lord Brockway said, there will be changes but that fact must not make us apprehensive about giving all the help we possibly can.

During our debate on the economy just before the Easter Recess, I referred to the Brandt Commission and I am glad that my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts has referred to that tonight. It is not much use Members in this House paying lip-service to the proposals in the Brandt Report if we do nothing about them. The opportunity is there, staring at us, in the new independent Zimbabwe. I therefore hope that we shall give all the help we possibly can, and that we shall take the lead internationally to ensure that other help is given, recognising of course that help can only be given if requested by the Zimbabwe Government. We must obviously wait for their request, but we are pretty certain from Mr. Robert Mugabe's comments that the request will be made. There are immense opportunities in Zimbabwe, not only for that country but for other parts of Africa, and therefore we should be thinking not only of helping Zimbabwe but of the effect that any developments there may have on the rest of Africa.

7.25 p.m.


My Lords, it is customary on these occasions for those noble Lords participating in a debate to rise and express their thanks to the Peer who has asked the Question. I must confess that my own gratitude this evening is a bit stretched: indeed it is with some considerable surprise that I find myself rising to answer the Unstarred Question of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, this evening. First, I am puzzled as to what additional information the noble Lord imagines the Government are able to give him. Secondly, I cannot understand what useful purpose the noble Lord thinks he is serving by making the mischievous and unfounded allegations which were contained in his speech. Of course he is entitled to express his opinion of Government policies but, as Rhodesia moves to indepencence in conditions of peace and stability that only a few months ago seemed unattainable, I am doubtful whether any useful purpose is served by a further raking over of policies which the noble Lord thinks the Government should have followed.

At the end of this week, when independence is granted, we shall have achieved a negotiated settlement of the tragic problems which have beset Rhodesia for so many years. Many people have sought a solution and the settlement which has emerged from Lusaka and Lancaster House owes much to the Commonwealth and other interested parties. For its part, the British Government have for the first time assumed direct responsibility for the country's administration in order to end the war and to organise and supervise the independence elections. Our constitutional responsibility has now been discharged, and Zimbabwe will be starting its international life at peace within itself and with its neighbours, enjoying wide international recognition and, above all, with a government representing the people's considered choice.

I do not propose to make a detailed rebuttal of all the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, but I wish to emphasise that the Government do not accept his interpretation of events. The noble Lord's views, indeed, are not supported by the evidence or opinions of the multitude of international observers who witnessed the elections, and I must confess that I cannot but wonder at his motives in bringing these discredited and mistaken views once more before your Lordships tonight. Indeed, the noble Lord might have better served the cause of impartiality had he not acted and spoken as he did during the election campaign.

Our aim throughout has been to achieve a settlement under which the people of Rhodesia would decide for themselves who should govern them, and thus resolve by negotiation and through the ballot box the political differences which caused a disastrous war—a war that resulted in the loss of over 20,000 lives and the injury, maiming and bereavement of at least as many again.


My Lords, the noble Lord has accused me of making unfounded allegations. May I ask him two related questions: first, has he read the report of the Commonwealth observers appointed by the Commonwealth in order to report on the conduct of the elections? Secondly, can he give any instance during my speech connected with the conduct of the elections which is not supported by the report of the Commonwealth observers?


My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me more than two minutes, he will hear some more things which I have to say: I have by no means finished my remarks.

We are naturally much encouraged by events in Rhodesia since the elections and we are doing all in our power to assist the newly independent Zimbabwe. My noble friend the Foreign Secretary will announce tomorrow a substantial British aid programme for Zimbabwe over the next three years. We shall continue to provide advice and assistance in certain areas where Mr. Mugabe and his colleagues have requested such assistance, as, for example, with the armed forces, the police, broadcasting and the public service.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, spoke of the need, as he saw it, for a peace-keeping force during the pre-election period. I am surprised that the noble Lord has inflicted these arguments once more upon your Lordships. What was agreed at Lancaster House was a monitoring force, whose job was to observe the maintenance of the ceasefire and to supervise the process of assembling the Patriotic Front forces. The monitoring force contingents excelled themselves in that role, and I believe that, even with hindsight, the decision not to involve them as an intervention force has been patently justified by events.

The ceasefire was, despite a few incidents, a success over the major part of the country and, indeed, was maintained only because of the political will of all concerned to make it stick. No amount of force could have maintained it without that political will. As Rhodesia has moved from war, through the ceasefire and, finally, to peace, we have seen that same political will to achieve a negotiated settlement continuing. I am glad to say that it is still so doing and there are heartening moves now under way to amalgamate the various forces in the country into a new integrated Zimbabwean army.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, as well, are mistaken about the provisions of the Lancaster House agreement relating to the disposition of the Rhodesian forces. These forces were required to remain in the close vicinity of their bases, but could be deployed by the Governor if the security situation made this necessary. In the event, they were deployed with the Governor's authority to support the civil police in the maintenance of law and order. In the western part of the country, the Rhodesian forces were deployed on only a very minor scale. It is unfortunate that there was a need in the East, where the majority of the cease-fire breaches occurred, for their deployment; but the responsibility lay with those in breach of the cease-fire agreement in the first place.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, has also misunderstood the provisions of the Lancaster House agreement concerning the timing of the elections and the lifting of martial law. It was agreed that elections were to be held eight or nine weeks after the cease-fire came into effect on 28th December—and so they were. Martial law could clearly not be lifted until the security situation allowed, and violations of the cease-fire had ceased or sufficiently diminished. This position had not been reached at the date of the election, but martial law was lifted on 21st March. The Lancaster House agreement did not tie the lifting of martial law to the date of the election, but referred to the cease-fire "becoming effective". May I say, in parenthesis, that all martial law detainees have now been released.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, made a number of other points which I do not think I will inflict upon your Lordships. I referred to the fact that my noble friend Lord Carrington will be making a Statement tomorrow about aid. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, in a helpful and realistic speech, was broadly accurate in what he said. He asked for a formal debate on Rhodesia in due course and that, I am sure, can be considered through the usual channels. The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, who is not now in his place, was, I thought, disappointing in his measure of support for some of the extraordinary assertions produced by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch. There most certainly has been no U-turn in Government policy on this matter, as the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, suggested.

The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, referred to ultimatums being delivered at Lancaster House and elsewhere. The noble Lord is wholly wrong. That conference lasted for 15 weeks—no less. There was no question of ultimata. Concessions were made not only by the Patriotic Front, as he suggested, but also by Bishop Muzorewa and his colleagues; and, indeed, the British Government made some amendment to their proposals as the conference continued. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, went on to describe the results of the war in Rhodesia. Indeed, the results of all wars are invariably awful, but that war was not the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government and we are now doing what we can to repair the damage.

The noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, I must confess, surprised me. I was not expecting to hear that speech from the noble Lord, but it was none the less welcome for being in the terms that it was, and I thank him for the kind words that he said. The noble Lord, Lord Aylestone, expressed regret that there would be no message from this Parliament at the end of this week. I would, however, tell him that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will be in Salisbury for independence; so will my noble friend the Secretary of State and, indeed, a very large number of world leaders. I do not think that the people of Rhodesia and the new Zimbabwe will be disappointed at the good wishes and the turn-out at their independence celebrations. Finally, it is clear that the visit which the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, made to Rhodesia during the election period made a deep impression upon him. The noble Lord was a distinguished and effective member of the parliamentary observer group, and we thank him for the helpful words that he said.

In conclusion, I wish to reject, with all the vigour that I can muster, the suggestion that the Government supported Bishop Muzorewa's party, or any other. I have lost count of the number of times I have said from this Box that our policy was directed towards providing the people of Rhodesia with a chance to choose for themselves the Government which they wanted. The Bishop does not think that we supported his party, nor is that assertion borne out by the results. As for the decision of the two wings of the Patriotic Front to fight the election separately, our advice was neither sought nor offered. The decision did, however, mean that the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, was not, after all, invited into the new Cabinet. It is not for me to speculate on the nature of the advice tendered by the noble Lord when he was in Rhodesia, nor on the effect of that advice upon the outcome of the election. I can, however, say that the Conservative Party have no plans to retain the noble Lord's services for the next general election here.

So far as the work of the Commonwealth observers is concerned, the noble Lord's criticisms are, again, without foundation. The observers' report has recently been published and it pays tribute to the assistance which they received from the British Election Commissioner and his staff. Furthermore, the report clearly demonstrates the efforts made by the Governor and his advisers to meet the group's requirements. The report was just that—a report—and I do not think that a reply is asked for, as the noble Lord suggested.

I now come to the end of what I have to say. We are content to be judged by the fruits of our labours and our policies. In less than a year we have ended the war, secured agreement to a new constitution, organised and supervised an election and, in a few days, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will hand over the instruments of power to the new President. We have thus honoured our commitment to the Commonwealth made at Lusaka and, at the same time, have discharged our duty to the people of Rhodesia. Are we not now entitled, therefore, to ask for your Lordships' approval and support?


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he answer the question which I put during my intervention? Can he cite any criticism that I made of the British Administration, under Governor Soames during the election period, that is not supported in the report of the Commonwealth observers?


My Lords, I can tell the noble Lord that all his criticisms are without foundation.