HL Deb 02 December 1982 vol 436 cc1376-91

8 p.m.

Lord Paget of Northampton rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a statement about the harassment of the Zimbabwean opposition and public service in Zimbabwe.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to ask the Unstarred Question which appears in my name on the Order Paper. I feel it is time that we looked at what is happening in Zimbabwe. This state is very largely the creation of the present Government. When they came to power, Bishop Muzorewa was heading a multiracial government. This government had been endorsed by an election which I personally attended and which internationally was largely regarded as fair. The Government could have accepted the Muzorewa government. Instead of that, they rejected it and insisted at Lancaster House on a new constitution and new elections. I do not think that the Government can really escape responsibility for that constitution. It required the assistance of British citizens, service personnel, civil servants and administrators to make it work. Those men are in Zimbabwe only because our Government gave them assurances and advised them to be there.

The constitution provided for a public service which should be non-political and non-racial and for armed services which should work under the kind of rules to which civilised society has become accustomed. We advised senior officers of our armed forces, including the Royal Air Force, to accept service in Zimbabwe under the new constitution and also—this is most important—to accept Zimbabwean citizenship.

It is very natural and understandable that Zimbabwe should wish to have its own citizens commanding its own forces. That is perfectly right and proper. But were those officers warned before they accepted Zimbabwean citizenship that this would involve the abdication by Her Majesty's Government of all control over their interests and of all consular services? This has become a formidable consideration.

Senior officers from the Royal Air Force joined the Zimbabwean Air Force, took control of it and commanded it. By custom, in a service of that kind, the discipline within the service is a matter for the service. Certainly senior officers can be negligent, can do wrong. Many senior officers in our Navy have been court-martialled for hazarding their ships. I have no doubt— I was not in the Royal Air Force; I was in the Navy—that the same thing has happened in the Royal Air Force. But that, if it be justice, is trial by the service. When one moves over and finds that instead of the service looking to its own discipline, a political force, the CIO, moves in—not even the civil police—and arrests those officers, one begins to have one's suspicions.

On 24th August last a considerable part of the Air Force was sabotaged on the ground at the Thornhill base. Somebody—we do not know who—cut a gate through the surrounding barbed wire, got in and destroyed a large number of aeroplanes. It may have been the South Africans. I believe this was suggested by the government. That is unlikely. One cannot really see its objective. If they wanted to take out the Air Force they had an overwhelming superiority with which to do so. It may have been the Matabele who have been in rebellion against the Mugabe Government. But that does not stand up. It seems to me to be far more likely to have been the Communists, because at that point the Air Force was the only organised instrument of force which was not under Marxist control. Whatever it may be, those aeroplanes were destroyed.

As one would expect, the Air Force ordered a court of inquiry under Air Commodore Pile, of which Group Captain Briscoe was a member. Before that inquiry could report, Air Commodore Pile and Group Captain Briscoe were arrested, as was Air Vice-Marshal Hugh Slatter—not, your Lordships will observe, by the services, not by the civil police, but by the new political police who have no legal existence under the constitution.

Another curious thing to observe is that where an Air Force is attacked on the ground one would expect the people responsible to be the people responsible for guarding the ground: the guards, the Air Defence Regiment. None of them were arrested. No action was taken against any of them. It has merely been taken against senior white officers of the Air Force. The charge against them, of conspiring to destroy their own means of livelihood and their own jobs, seems almost too improbable to be taken seriously in any circumstances. This is politics. It is nothing to do with justice.

These officers were denied access to their lawyers. Somebody instructed a very distinguished firm, Gardner and Hartmann. At a press conference they said that they had been denied access and that their clients had been tortured—as, indeed, they had been and as is now acknowledged. They had been tortured by the application within their bodies of electrodes and they were in a pretty bad case.

What happened? The lawyers were arrested. On 25th September our Secretary of State for Defence went to Zimbabwe. We are told that he inquired about the detainees, these people who had been so very shockingly arrested, but that he got no satisfaction on that score. On the other hand, Mr. Mugabe requested an increase in our mission to train and provide them with an army and air force. This request was granted.

I do not know whether the people who asked to take part were warned of the kind of support they would be likely to get but it does seem incredible. What will happen? I presume that these officers will eventually be brought to trial and we shall probably be faced with "confessions"; "confessions" that they conspired to destroy their own airplanes. Confessions of that sort prove absolutely nothing except the efficiency of the tortures.

I will leave that subject and turn now to the other conditions of this constitution, of which we were really the authors and are responsible; the idea of the rule of law. The rule of law constitutes a police force responsible to the law and responsible to the constitution. Since then we have had a Minister for Home Affairs whose name I will not attempt other than to say that he is generally known as Dr. Ushe. Dr. Ushe has said very loudly and politely that he does not like white men. He has first created the CIO with its agents, which is a sort of Gestapo of the place—the political police force. Within that there is what may be described as the new SS, the Zipolis, with 300 specially selected men responsible to Dr. Ushe, in his own words, to deal with whites who have not fully accepted black rule".

We have an example of the operation of this police force. Mrs. Grace Cauvin had a son who, perhaps, did not fully accept black rule. She is the matron of the Queen Elizabeth Home for Children in Bulawayo. The Zipolis called to inquire about Mrs. Cauvin's son. Those who found Mrs. Cauvin some time later found that both of her hands and both of her feet were heavily bandaged to cover extensive cigarette burns apparently inflicted while she was under interrogation. They found that her face and much of her body was badly bruised and her eyes and mouth swollen. This is the matron of a children's home who happened to have a son which this body of new police wished to interrogate. Is this the kind of rule of law which we expected when we introduced this constitution?

The third point I would like to mention, which was very much in our minds when we introduced this constitution, concerns the legality of the Opposition. There should be an Opposition Party and that Opposition Party should have the right to criticise and the right to contest. When the elections came, the leader of the largest Opposition Party was Mr. Ian Smith. As provided by the constitution and as expected, this was a white interest. Did we expect him, his party and the Opposition to be treated with the kind of courtesies which my party in Opposition here expect and receive from the Government? I do not think we set a very good example.

Right from the start, when Prince Charles went to the celebration of independence, neither Mr. Smith nor any members of his party—the main parliamentary Opposition party elected to Parliament according to the constitution we created—were invited. According to the Daily Telegraph of two days ago, neither Mr. Smith nor any member of the official parliamentary Opposition party have ever received an invitation to anything at the High Commission. I would ask the noble Lord the Minister to reply to this question specifically: We have many ambassadors and a good number of high commissioners, yet is there a single high commissioner, other than this one, who has never invited the leaders of the Opposition in the country to which he was accredited to any high commission party? I do not suppose so, but if there is, he should be sacked.

Now I want to turn to how some members of this Opposition have been treated. First I will refer to Mr. Wally Stuttaford. Mr. Stuttaford was a Member of Parliament. He came from Bulawayo and he was interested in the Matabele; they were his constitutents. He was charged—I do not know how—with conspiring with Matabele politicians in order to upset the Government by violence. He was arrested. He is a man of 63. He was tortured. Biro pens were put into his hand until his knuckles were crushed. He was forced to jog until he became exhausted. Handcuffs were twisted on his wrists until they were cut and crushed. The back of his hands have now lost all feeling as a result of that torture. But he was a very brave man—I am sure a great deal braver than I am.

He resisted, but there were certain black witnesses. First there was Monwadisa Malumisa, who had been a Minister in the Bishop's Government. He made a statement incriminating Mr. Stuttaford. So did two brothers named Manhlela, both prominent Matabele politicians. When, after 10 months of detention, the matter was brought to trial, these three black witnesses who had been released from all charges some 10 weeks before the trial went into the witness box and there totally repudiated the statements which they had made incriminating Mr. Stuttaford. They said that they had made the statement under torture because the Home Office, that is the doctor, wanted to get Stuttaford. With this happening to their witnesses, naturally the case was thrown out; Mr. Stuttaford was acquitted.

Immediately afterwards he was re-arrested. What was said to Mr. Stuttaford was this, "Don't you imagine you can be protected up there. We are the bosses here and we rule this country". Every newspaper was on to this; I do not know this, but I think Mr. Mugabe, greatly to his credit, intervened, and that night Mr. Stuttaford was duly released. But the unfortunate witnesses are arrested and are still in prison. As to the principal charge with which they have been jointly charged with Stuttaford they have been released. The charge for which they are in prison now is telling the truth. I do not feel that we should stand for that. I do think that of all things I am raising tonight possibly those three witnesses may be the most important, and I would like to see some of the various organisations which go to the assistance of the wrongly imprisoned pay a bit of attention to this one.

The next man I would like to refer to is Mr. Walker, another Member of Parliament, a member of the Opposition, a man who had held Cabinet office in both Mr. Smith's Government and in Bishop Muzorewa's Government. He had been a Minister of Mines. When Mr. Stuttaford was arrested warrants had been issued at the same time for the arrest of Mr. Walker, who happened at that time to be on holiday in South Africa with his family. He heard of Mr. Stuttaford's arrest and he heard that he had been tortured. And with the kind of courage that I certainly do not know, that I could not meet or live up to, he came back to Rhodesia to face it. He came back, slipped into the Parliament and appeared in the Parliament on the Thursday, and when he was seen there he was cheered, not only by the white Members, which was a fairly remarkable demonstration. At that meeting he made a formidable speech attacking the Rhodesian Government over their attempt to seize the mines; he had been a Minister of Mines. He pointed out that this was in order to provide the North Koreans with those metals according to a bargain way below the world prices. This was the conspiracy which he denounced in Parliament. He was referred to in the press as "the hunted M.P." And after that meeting and that speech he disappeared. In point of fact, he had gone into his constituency, he had gone into the country. Then, to the astonishment of everybody, on the next Tuesday suddenly there he was in Parliament again. The report came that the CIO had got the place surrounded, they had their men on every back door; they had them everywhere except the front door. He walked out of the front door, straight down the steps into a car, and disappeared. He is now in England and I was with him this morning. That is a very brave man. But you cannot really conduct an opposition on those kind of terms.

Now I come back to the latest, smallest but widest, where the Leader of the Opposition, and if you like to call it so, the Shadow Cabinet, and its inner Committee, are at an art show, a show by an artist of his works, and are arrested again by this CIO on the ground that they are holding an illegal meeting. This is in flagrant breach of the constitution which provides for the right of meetings. It is some hours before they are released. Can one really conduct a civilised Opposition, a civilised Parliamentary system when this sort of thing happens.

Are we not, in a very broad moral sense, the guarantors of that constitution? At least we are its paymasters, and to a large degree its paymasters. In the days of illegal rule, when they were subject to sanctions, the Rhodesian economy had the strongest currency in Africa, and at one point I think the second largest capital expansion in the world. But since then that has not happened. Their economy is in an appalling mess and it exists on aid. It keeps going on aid and we provide a good deal of that aid. Certainly if we said, no, I have little doubt that the Americans, who I think are an even bigger contributor, would act with us. Before we go on financing and maintaining this form of Government ought we not to be a little firmer in seeing that the constitution is observed just a little sometimes, or even occasionally? At present they are passing over to a form of one-Party oppression, in which the Opposition are harassed and a racialist policy is being applied to terrorise one section of the population. Surely the Government cannot just sit back and say nothing.

8.29 p.m.

The Marquess of Salisbury

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Paget, for raising this rather depressing matter, and I would like to congratulate him on the way he has presented his case. It is indeed a formidable one and one that deserves the widest possible publicity. He has covered most of the aspects of the subject matter and I do not want to go over the same ground again, but there are one or two points which he made that I would like to emphasise, and one or two further questions I would like to ask. First, may I ask something about the formulation of the constitution? I hope that, just for information, the Minister will be able to tell me what the position is. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, when he opened the Lancaster House conference, said The United Kingdom intends to take direct responsibility for the Independence Constitution". So far as I have been able to discover, there is no mention on our statute book of any constitution. There is, however, Command Paper 7802 of January 1980. Is that the constitution as agreed? Is it regarded as binding? If not, I do not follow what the position is and what Lord Carrington's guarantee can mean in legal terms. I ask for some enlightenment on that point.

The noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, mentioned the election that took place after Lancaster House. From such information as I can gather it appears that there were matters that took place during that period which would not be acceptable in a normal democratic country. There were accusations of intimidation, of altering the roll and other things of that sort. I am driven to the conclusion that when protests were made, as indeed they were, our representatives there did nothing about them because they were anxious to get out of what was then Rhodesia as quickly as possible without running into further trouble. However, they reported the election to be fair, although I question whether in fact it was as fair as the election held some months earlier. That election was pronounced fair by a number of noble Lords, such as the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, himself, the noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres, and others. However that may be, it seems to me that this election was the beginning of the rot that set in and of the conditions which have arisen that the noble Lord, Lord Paget, described so cogently.

After that, Zimbabwe was completely independent. Mr. Mugabe is on record as having said that he accepted the arrangements at Lancaster House. He did so in his address to the nation on 4th March 1980. In that address he also stated: Only a government that subjects itself to the Rule of Law has any moral right to demand of its citizens obedience to the Rule of Law". Surely we must ask ourselves, in view of what the noble Lord, Lord Paget, said, whether he has stuck to that statement or not.

I draw attention to some of the provisions in the Command Paper dealing with the rule of law, the rights of individuals, the personal freedom of individuals and the freedom of the press. They all seem to have a bearing—at least, to me they do—on the matters to which the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, has drawn attention. First, in the preamble to the constitution it is stated that there shall be no oppression by a majority of a minority. I wonder whether your Lordships will consider that this treatment is being accorded to the Matabele by the present Zimbabwean Government.

The noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, dealt with most of the points in dealing with the cases of arrest, but again I wonder whether either the CIO or Zimpol are subject to the commissioner of police as laid down in the Command Paper. If not, clearly they have no right to exist under the constitution as it is set up. I emphasise this because it is one of the most important points that the noble Lord made in his speech. However, he has pointed out the effects of this unconstitutional force more than adequately and I shall not say any more about it.

The noble Lord also referred to torture. This, again, is expressly forbidden in the Command Paper. The noble Lord said enough to show exactly what is happening in that country. I support him entirely in asking what Her Majesty's Government intend to do about it? Do they accept that that is a reasonable way to behave? Surely they have a responsibility in view of the part they played in drawing up the constitution.

The protection of the individual is clearly covered in the Command Paper. First, there has to be freedom of expression. I do not know how much there is, but it seems to be very truncated. For instance, the television and broadcasting systems are not only controlled by the Government but are heavily censored. I am told that they pour out a constant flow of Government propaganda, communist propaganda and vitriolic anti-white sentiments. Again, that is against what was laid down in the Command Paper—that there should be no differentiation on grounds of race. The only paper is the Herald which is controlled and censored. I am advised that foreign correspondents resident in Zimbabwe take their line from the Herald because they do not feel it is safe to say anything not mentioned in it.

The second protection written into the Command Paper is a Bill of Rights. I believe it exists, but it seems to be conspicuous by its lack of application. The third protection is the appointment of an ombudsman. He is supposed to protect individuals, as in this country, especially against incursions on their rights by civil servants. The sole exception, I believe I am right in saying, is in matters connected with defence. In fact, the exception has been extended to cover the activities of a number of other Government departments. It would seem, therefore, that the function of the ombudsman has been entirely negatived.

We may ask ourselves; on what grounds have these sections of the constitution been abrogated? I believe the reason given is that there is a state of emergency. We should seriously ask ourselves whether there is a genuine emergency or whether this is not a case of finding an excuse for setting up a tyranny. To me it looks like the beginning of a Uganda-type situation. We must remember one thing: that mosts of the whites in a serious emergency would probably be able to leave the country even although they were destitute, but most of the Africans would not be in a position to do so. They would have to stay and suffer under the rigours of the régime. Many whites have already left. Others are leaving, having found the present situation to be intolerable. Do Her Majesty's Government regard themselves as having a responsibility for those unfortunate people? Many of them will be destitute, as I said. Will Her Majesty's Government consider giving some form of compensation as was done in the case of Kenya? I concur with the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, in saying that there is an obligation when the present situation is largely of Her Majesty's Government's making.

I should also like to ask whether the noble Lord in his reply could say something about dual citizenship, which is expressly included in the Command Paper. I believe that it is unusual because, for obvious reasons affecting nationality problems, it has usually been excluded from other constitutions on the granting of independence. I can only presume that it was included to afford some protection for citizens who previously had some connection with this country.

I understand that recently an Act has been passed in the Zimbabwe Parliament giving the Government there power to make changes in the status of citizens with dual nationality. I wonder whether Her Majesty's Government have been consulted about this, because presumably it affects the citizenship of people for whom we have a certain responsibility. Is anything being done about it? Will Her Majesty's Government consider giving full United Kingdom citizenship to those inhabitants of Zimbabwe who are of British descent on either side? I should like to remind your Lordships that that was suggested for the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands during the passage of the Nationality Bill and it was rejected. However, I note that on Monday the Government changed their mind in that case and are now offering them citizenship. Clearly the two situations are not entirely comparable, but in both cases one would be looking, by the granting of citizenship, to giving protection. I should have thought that there was just as compelling a reason in the case of the people in Zimbabwe as there was for the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands.

I should like to ask for a little more information on the question of the hand-outs given by Her Majesty's Government—a matter which has already been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Paget. How much have we given so far? Is there more in the pipeline? Are we promising more? I support the noble Lord entirely in saying that strings should be attached to it. It is taxpayers' money which is being paid out to support a tyranny, and surely that is an intolerable situation. I urge that as regards any further grants of money Her Majesty's Government take steps to see how the money is spent and to control it if necessary. That is perhaps the most effective weapon we have in making our feelings clear to the Government of Zimbabwe.

Finally, in view of the rapidly deteriorating situation, I suggest that the time has come for Her Majesty's Government to take some action. At present they give the impression that they do not care what is happening to the people of Zimbabwe; they only have a desire not to get involved again. They might just care to remember that it is not only the condition of the people of Zimbabwe that is at stake; there is their own reputation, and that of the people of this country.

8.45 p.m.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I apologise for not having put my name down to speak on this Unstarred Question, but I had no idea as to whether I would be able to get back for the uncertain time at which it might begin. The noble Lord, Lord Paget, who asked the Unstarred Question, has always puzzled me. In my observations of him when he was in another place, and since I became a Member of your Lordships' House, I have known him as a man of great kindness and compassion, at least so far as the social affairs of this country are concerned. Yet for many years now he seems to have been obsessed by skin colour and I cannot understand why. It is unfortunate that this is an Unstarred Question and therefore the noble Lord does not have the opportunity to answer my question, but perhaps the occasion will arise in the future.

Why is it that the question of the alleged ill-treatment of these white airforce officers in Zimbabwe and white politicians in Zimbabwe, so agitates the noble Lord's mind when it is a matter of less than three years ago that black Zimbabweans were being treated, and had been treated for many, many years, in at least as cruel a way as he has described the alleged ill-treatment of the white members of the Opposition today? I do not know the answer to that question; I would be fascinated to discover it.

As I said during an intervention on a Question put, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, last week, I believe that all Members of this House and, indeed, the population of this country as a whole, condemn any form of torture as inhumanity, irrespective of the skin colour of the victim, and I certainly do so. Whether the allegations that the noble Lord, Lord Paget, makes are true or untrue, accurate or inaccurate, I do not know; nor do I believe that anyone will know until the trial is held. They may very well be true; it would not surprise me. Anybody who has visited what was Rhodesia during the war there, who has had experience of life over the past 20 or 30 years in that part of the continent of Africa, would not be surprised if cruelty persists, because cruelty has been one of the basic elements of life for many, many years, and it is only over the last two and a half years that the responsible authorities have been black rather than white.

I also ask myself: Why does the noble Lord pay such attention to the alleged cruelties in Zimbabwe? And why does he, and the noble Marquess who has just spoken, concentrate on what is happening in Zimbabwe when I at least, in a long experience of attending both this House and the other place, have never heard either of them mention the kind of things that have been happening in South Africa? I say to the noble Lord who is to answer for the Government that it would appear to me that the British Government have no direct responsibility for what is happening in Zimbabwe once Zimbabwe became independent.

But if it is suggested, as the noble Lord, Lord Paget, suggested, that we have some responsibility because we participated in the drawing up of that constitution, then I ask: did we not participate in the drawing up of the constitution of South Africa? Was the constitution of South Africa not an Act of this Parliament? Why is it then that these allegations come—and if they are correct I condemn them as absolutely as the noble Lord and the noble Marquess who have spoken—when they are perpetrated against white people, but not against black people? Why is it that Zimbabwe is picked out, and not South Africa? Why is the provision of overseas aid by the British Government to Zimbabwe picked out, but not the provision of overseas aid, say, to Chile, Turkey or Pakistan?—where surely noble Lords will agree not only is there no opposition, but there is no civilian government; not only is there proven torture and cruelty, but there has been constant British economic assistance over many years. Why Zimbabwe?

All I would say from my own experience of this part of the world—that is, the whole of the southern part of Africa—is that I find it quite amazing that after the cruelties, the tortures and the oppression that have been characteristic of this area for so many years, since these countries, including Zimbabwe, became independent there has been so little racial discrimination, so few attempts at paying back, at taking revenge, for what has happened in the past.

Remember that Robert Mugabe, the Prime Minister, was detained for 10 years. Remember that Joshua Nkomo was detained for 10 years. Remember that Joshua Nkomo's house in Lusaka, which is very near where I have been living for the past two years, was destroyed by Rhodesian forces. Yet it is only a few weeks ago that I was playing cricket in Lusaka against a cricket team from Zimbabwe that consisted of black, brown and white players. Remember that Robert Mugabe has two Europeans in his Cabinet; that it is not all the whites in Zimbabwe who feel oppressed or who feel in danger. Certainly there are some, and I grant you that there is a very disturbed situation in Zimbabwe, and some of us have been predicting that that was the inevitable consequence of the illegal régime of Ian Smith and, going back even further, of the Central African Federation. Certainly there is a desperately dangerous and complex conflict between at least the majority of the Matabele tribe and the majority of the Shona. Certainly there are great problems for the Government of Robert Mugabe to overcome. He has had only two and a half years as Prime Minister.

I would suggest to the noble Lord who represents the Government here that the pleas to make public denouncements of this Government are destructive, if not in their purpose certainly in their effect. I hope that the noble Lord will be able to help us, or, if he is not able to tell us—which might be indiscreet—I hope that the British Government's representative in Harare is giving quiet advice. I hope that he will maintain the economic aid from this country which we owe to a country that was our colony and which we abandoned to an illegal Government. I hope, and I would believe from what I know of the British Diplomatic Service, that our representative in Harare is talking quietly and constructively with the Prime Minister of that country. I know that there are many white men, women and children in Zimbabwe who are anxious that the experiment will succeed, who know the terrible problems with which this Government were left, but who recognise that there is, at least among the vast majority of Africans living in that country—not all, I will give you that—a desire to make this an equally non-racial society as that in their neighbour, Zambia.

8.56 p.m.

Lord Stewart of Fulham

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Paget and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, have described to us a number of the acts of cruelty and tyranny occurring in Zimbabwe, because although neither I nor, I think, anyone here is in a position to state exactly how much of these accounts we believe, I do not think there can be any doubt that there have been serious acts of cruelty and tyranny and that in many cases the victims of them have been white people and people for whom this Government have morally, if not legally, a responsibility. We shall, therefore, want to hear from the Government, so far as it is prudent for them to tell us, what steps they are taking to help these unfortunate people.

In addition to those two speeches, we have had one from my noble friend Lord Hatch, who has invited us to put the matter in a wider perspective of Zimbabwean and African history. It seems to me that we must do that, because the present Zimbabwean Government is inescapably and unavoidably the child of violence. First, there was the violence inflicted on the British colony of Southern Rhodesia by the illegal usurpation of power by Mr. Ian Smith; there was the violence by which Smith's Government was brought to an end. I think that we ought not to talk as if Her Majesty's Government at Lancaster House were in a position to frame an ideal constitution and plant it on the people of Zimbabwe. What was to happen there was to reflect the power structure in Zimbabwe. There is no getting away from that. I think it is inevitable, therefore, that Mr. Mugabe and his party should emerge as the rulers of Rhodesia.

In this country we can look back on a long history of legal development of government and of human rights. The history of the Government of Zimbabwe is, as I say, that of a child of violence and of conflict. In addition to that, there were the personal rivalries between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo and the tribal differences which they personified. In addition, there was the inevitable suspicion of white people in Zimbabwe and the constant wondering by black rulers of Zimbabwe whether they could rely on the loyalty of white people. In many cases, of course, they could rely on the loyalty of white people. In many cases, of course, they could, but I think that this was one of the things poisoning the general atmosphere.

So these factors—the history of violence, the tribal conflicts and the suspicion between black and white—gave a situation in which any Government would have been bound to go through great difficulties and in which injustices would occur. We have, of course, noticed as this year has gone on growing disorders, connected partly with the activity of ZAPU guerrillas, illustrated by the attack on Mr. Mugabe's house, and, as several commentators have been quick to point out, by the increased use by the Zimbabwean Government of methods whose legality closely resembles the legality of Ian Smith's Government.

Indeed, it is noticeable that commentators who are neither black nor British have been inclined to point out that what some British people and other white people in Zimbabwe are suffering now can be set against, and compared with, what many black people suffered from Smith's régime. This was a point developed by my noble friend Lord Hatch. We are told that the Zimbabwean Government will be unwilling to listen to complaints which come from people who did not, at the proper time, complain about the violence and illegality and cruelty of Ian Smith's Government.

This is understandable, but I do not think that we can let the matter rest there, because some of the complaints against the Zimbabwean Government come from somebody who commands universal respect. I refer to Mr. Garfield Todd. It is he who has said that there is a fear affecting everybody now in Zimbabwe, of whatever race or colour to which they belong. This is something to which the Zimbabwean Government ought to pay attention. It is not enough, although it is very natural, for them to turn round and say, "If some white people have suffered injustices this is no more than many black people suffered at the hands of Ian Smith".

It is going to be a very bleak prospect for mankind if black men are going to try to assert their belief in racial equality by showing that if they are put to it they can be just as cruel and unjust as any white man. We must earnestly hope that that doctrine is not going to take hold, because we have seen this in other African countries, and indeed not in African countries alone. A wrong is committed on one side, a counter wrong is committed in revenge for it, and you go on in an apparently unbreakable chain of wrong and conflict. It is that that Zimbabwe now has to guard against. It is she who is required by the necessities of history to show generosity; to say that, whatever was done in the past, "it is our business to try to create an example of a free and civilised government".

I would not, therefore, urge that Her Majesty's Government should approach Zimbabwe with threats of cutting off aid, but should, by whatever means are appropriate, point out that really it is not a question of what Zimbabwe owes to us or to white men over this matter, it is what Zimbabwe owes to herself. Is she going to take the opportunity of creating an example of a civilised country that can forget wrong, that can assert the rule of law, that can, as it were, turn away the evil pages of Zimbabwe's history and embark on a new chapter? It is that, we hope, she will do. It is that that Her Majesty's Government, by whatever means may be appropriate for it, must endeavour to encourage her to do.

9.3 p.m.

Lord Belstead

My Lords, I am grateful for this opportunity to respond on behalf of the Government to Lord Paget's Question on Zimbabwe. First of all, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, for the speech that he has just made, which I thought was wise advice and set in context the matters of concern mentioned in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Paget.

I say that because the first point I feel I have to make is that we are discussing a sovereign independent state. That does not mean that the Government are not concerned with the various points which the noble Lord, Lord Paget, raised, but if I may reply to the noble Marquess. Lord Salisbury, the Command Paper that my noble friend mentioned was a discussion document which pre-dated the statutory instrument that sets out the definitive Zimbabwe constitution, and since independence Mr Mugabe's government has adhered to the constitution. The constitution is in fact set out in the Zimbabwe Constitution Order of 1979. That was Statutory Instrument No. 1,600. Britain relinquished all legal responsibility for Zimbabwe at independence, and Britain is not a legal guarantor of the constitution.

Having said that, may I revert to what I was saying a moment or two ago. Of course, Zimbabwe is a country with which we in Britain have special ties; and since independence we have given it substantial material and moral support. Nevertheless, most of the matters which have been referred to this evening are internal affairs and the responsibility of the Government of Zimbabwe. The noble Lord, Lord Paget, expressed concern about certain particular developments in Zimbabwe, and also referred to the British Government's part in bringing the new constitution into being. I repeat, I share on behalf of the Government some of the noble Lord's expressed concern, but we must see developments in Zimbabwe in a true perspective.

By that I am thinking first of all that when Prime Minister Mugabe's Government came into office early in 1980 it was confronted with formidable political, social and economic problems. From the outset Mr. Mugabe made clear that the time had come for reconciliation: past differences should be forgotten so that all Zimbabweans, no matter what their former allegiance, could work together for the benefit of the country as a whole. That was not pure words. Mr. Mugabe demonstrated his own commitment to this policy by appointing white ministers as well as bringing members of Mr. Nkomo's ZAPU party into the Government.

It is the case that all has not gone smoothly. Mr. Nkomo lost his place in the Government in February, and two Republican Front members of the House of Assembly had serious charges brought against them. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Paget, that in the case of Mr. Stuttaford, who remained in the country to stand trial, the charges were subsequently withdrawn and he was released. I would say in passing that I feel anxious on behalf of the Government about the brief detention and now the impounding of the passport of Mr. Smith. However, if the noble Lord, Lord Paget, will allow me to say so, it is not the case that Mr. Smith has never been invited to see the British High Commissioner. Mr. Smith has been received by the High Commissioner and has been invited to High Commission functions. Despite the things that have not gone right, the Government of Prime Minister Mr. Mugabe still contains members of ZAPU and representatives of the white community, as has been said in the debate tonight.

A particular example of reconciliation—and one for which we can claim some credit—was the amalgamation of the rival armed groups into a united national army. The contribution made by the British military advisory and training team is a matter in which Britain can take pride. Again, there have been problems—desertions and disorder on the part of some soldiers and the arrest of two senior officers in connection with the discovery of caches of arms—yet the amalgamated army has held together, and members of Mr. Nkomo's ex-ZIPRA forces and white people remain among the senior ranks.

Some predicted that independence would be followed by a violent backlash against the white community and a mass exodus of white people. The facts have proved otherwise. White emigration has been running at around 1,500 a month—high, but far from an exodus. Indeed, the vast majority, some three-quarters of the estimated white population at independence, have so far chosen to stay. There is also quite a large number of new expatriates who have been encouraged to take themselves and their skills to Zimbabwe. I do not have the precise figures, but I understand that immigration from all sources has been running at about 600 a month, of whom, it is thought, the greater part have been white people.

My noble friend Lord Salisbury asked about compensation for people who leave Zimbabwe. There is no special financial provision for that. It would have been entirely inconsistent with the spirit of the Lancaster House agreement, which was to create conditions in Zimbabwe in which all Zimbabweans, of whatever race, would be encouraged to stay. But of course any Britsh citizen with a right of abode in this country is entitled to the normal security and other benefits to which all citizens of the country are entitled.

It is fair to refer to the economic growth in the country after independence. In the first two years of independence, an average rate of growth of some 10 per cent. was achieved, though of course there are now the problems of the world economic recession and the growth rate is now more modest. The Zimbabwean Government have retained the mixed economy inherited at independence. The recently-published Guidelines for Foreign Investors reaffirms belief in a "strong and viable private sector", as does the new Development Plan published this week. Where majority shareholdings have been taken in enterprises, that has been done on a fair price basis. The same principle is applied to land acquired for resettlement purposes. I feel bound to say—and I feel this is in line with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stewart—that it could hardly have been expected that the grave problems which Zimbabwe inherited from its turbulent past would disappear overnight. Tensions still exist, some of them serious, but there are many on all sides who are determined to work together in order to make the new country a success. I am sure that all noble Lords, even though we have had dfferent expressions of view in the debate would agree that this path of co-operation and reconciliation is the only one which gives hope for the future.

Now a few words about particular issues which I know have given rise to concern. One—this has not been mentioned in the debate—is the prospect of a one-party system. Whatever views we might have about this system of government, it is entirely for the Zimbabweans to decide whether they prefer a multiparty system, as they have at present, or a one-party system.

Mr. Mugabe has repeatedly said that he has no intention of making any changes in the constitution in an unconstitutional way, and of course the constitution agreed at Lancaster House provides the means to change the political system, if the people of Zimbabwe so wish.

Another issue is the policy of Africanisation in the public service. Although the noble Lord, Lord Paget, talked about the public sevice at some length, he did not, in particular, touch on this point. Nonetheless, I would take this opportunity to say that this is an understandable policy, which has been pursued, as your Lordships know, by other newly-independent governments. Mr. Mugabe has, however, recognised the importance of maintaining a balance, and numerous white officials continue to hold high office. The Zimbabwean Government have also reassured public servants that the Government intend to honour their pensions obligations under the constitution.

We naturally take very seriously reports of brutality by the armed forces and police in any country. Such allegations have been made regarding the treatment of a number of both whites and blacks in Zimbabwe; most recently regarding the ill-treatment of the detained Zimbabwe Air Force personnel, about whom the noble Lord, Lord Paget, spoke for a considerable proportion of his speech. I would add that we are always concerned about failure to observe or uphold human rights, especially as we made provision for this in the constitution. But if I may say so, it is misleading to suggest, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Paget, suggested, that we have merely inquired about the welfare of those detained. The fact is that we voiced our concern about these allegations at the highest level when my honourable friend the Minister of State for Defence visited Zimbabwe, and we urged that all detainees, whatever their nationality, should be brought to trial as soon as possible. It should also be said that the law courts in Zimbabwe maintain an impressive degree of integrity, and there is every reason to believe that people receive a fair trial there.

I should like to answer a few of the remaining questions which were asked me. The noble Lord, Lord Paget, referred to people becoming Zimbabwe citizens and, as he very fairly said, doing so naturally if they were going into the public service, but being encouraged by the British Government to do so. It is true that we welcome people taking up employment in the public service in Zimbabwe, though many of them in fact have retained British citizenship, and I am happy to say that many of them remain in senior positions.

So far as this particular point is concerned, perhaps I may reply to my noble friend Lord Salisbury, who expressed concern about what he had heard regarding moves on the status of dual nationality in Zimbabwe. My information is that the Zimbabwe Government have introduced a Bill which would enable the abolition of the right to dual nationality as provided for in the constitution. However, this provision may be amended by a two-thirds affirmative vote from the Senate and an affirmative vote by 70 members of the House of Assembly.

If I may say so, I do not think that it helps to underestimate the formidable difficulties facing Zimbabwe, and I think this [...] very much the message which came over to [...] the end of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham. But nor does it help to exaggerate them, or to ignore the real achievements in less than three years of independence. When we think of the bitter past, the degree of reconciliation has been remarkable. Today, former enemies are working together as colleagues in the Government, in the Army, in the senior ranks of the Civil Service, and the white community continues to play an important role in the country. Private industry and agriculture are encouraged. Private investment is welcomed, and there is a growing market for British exports. Zimbabwe has emerged as one of the leading countries in the continent of Africa and it has made clear the value that it attaches to its relations with the West.

I repeat that we should not, and we do not, hesitate to voice our concern over certain recent developments in Zimbabwe. But we should also acknowledge freely the real progress achieved by people from all political parties and all tribal and racial backgrounds in the creation and development of their new country.