HL Deb 23 May 1984 vol 452 cc231-62

3.10 p.m.

Lord Paget of Northampton rose to call attention to the state of judicial procedure in Zimbabwe, and in particular to the imprisonment of Bishop Muzorewa and to the need for Her Majesty's Government to make representations for his release; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, four years ago we brought peace and freedom to the new country that was Rhodesia. Perhaps it is time to look at how we did it. Your Lordships will remember that at Lancaster House, the elected Prime Minister, Bishop Muzorewa, was persuaded to stand down and Her Majesty's Government assumed direct rule and promised fair and free elections. That was a promise that Her Majesty's Government was in no position to fulfil. Zimbabwe was not a united nation. First there were the Bushmen; then the Hottentots. In the early middle ages the Shona came. The Matabele had been there only just over a century. They were a Zulu regiment that escaped from Chaka's Army. The Shona were no match for them. In order to acquire his status the Matabele warrior had to wet his spear. The method of wetting his spear was to set light to a Shona hut and spear the people who ran out of it. The result was that the Shona gave up sleeping in their huts and slept in the bush.

That went on for over a generation, until the white man came: the Europeans and the Rhodes. They made peace. The Shonas could once again sleep in their houses. As in Cyprus, one had two mutually hostile nations. In Cyprus one has the Greeks and Turks; in Rhodesia one had the Shona and the Matabele. Peace was possible only as long as the British were there. Certainly nobody can deny the huge success that the British made of this territory. It came to be called the Jewel of Africa. It was Africa's model of civilisation.

Then unhappily there came the wind of change irresponsibly fanned by both the United Nations and the United States, blown up without any realisation of the real situation in so many lands where it was blowing. For 12 years the people of Rhodesia resisted that storm but eventually they had to give way to the wind. After 12 years, in spite of the efforts of the guerrillas, free and fair elections were held in Rhodesia (as it then was). I was there and I saw them.

I am afraid they are probably the last free and fair elections Zimbabwe is ever likely to see. At that point Britain changed the Government. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, became Foreign Secretary. He persuaded Bishop Muzorewa, the democratically elected Prime Minister, to come here and agree to new elections under British management. The bishop was warned. He was warned by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, by Mr. Julian Amery, and by myself that he was walking into a trap. But he said, "Her Majesty's Government have promised me free elections with full election facilities in all parts of the country and they have assured me that I shall win this election as I did the last one". At any event, that is what Bishop Muzorewa believed had been said to him by Her Majesty's Government.

But Robert Mugabe had different ideas. His party ZANU was organised and armed. Nobody else was allowed to electioneer in Shona country. All the muscle was his and so was a great part of the votes. Of course we knew what was happening but it was too late. We just had to pretend that Mugabe had been freely and fairly elected. After all, we had achieved our primary object: we had got out of Rhodesia and the United Nations were pleased with us.

Mr. Mugabe is an educated man but he has been dedicated to one single and over-riding objective: one party with one leader. I think he has clearly studied Mein Kampf because nobody could by coincidence have followed it as accurately as he has. He posed as a legalist, the lover of the constitution, just as Hitler did. At one point in his career Hitler was known in jibe by some of his followers who felt they could run faster than their leader, as "legality Hitler". The same position was assumed by Robert Mugabe. He also posed as the father figure, a traditionalist respecting the army, the tribes, and the chiefs. But he only did this until he was strong enough to do without the law and without the traditional authorities. I am afraid this has come and passed.

But the trick worked. Her Majesty's Government organised lavish aid. They urged the whites to trust Mugabe. They urged the whites to invest, to stay and work the farms, the factories and the mines. They urged civil and military public servants to stay in the service. They were assured that their pensions would be all right. Mugabe also played his part. He created an atmosphere in which the more naive of our people talked of a new Kenyatta. But the act only went on until Mugabe felt strong enough to do without the law and without rivals.

As with Hitler, the press was the first target. ZANU founded a mass media trust, which acquired all the papers and appointed all the editors. then came the turn of the armed forces. The first victims were the Matabele generals. A group of them were arrested on the 10th March 1982. What happened to Lieutenant General Look Out Mosuto and others? They were held for a year without a trial. They were then acquitted. They were promptly re-arrested. They are still detained. Many others are also detained. Dr. Ushewokunze, the Home Affairs Minister, believes in detention. I have the names of at least 20 distinguished men who have been acquitted, re-detained and the court orders ignored. The constitution is ignored and insulted. Remember, my Lords, it was our constitution; we were a party to it. Mugabe is now strong enough to ignore the law and is doing so.

I now turn to the airmen and will refer to them in a little more detail because we have a very special responsibility to them. They were our servants—servants of the noble Lord, who was Governor then—whom we advised to continue to keep the air force going under a new government. What happened to them? There was sabotage. Aeroplanes were burnt. Who did it? Probably the CIO. They were the only people who would seem to have had a motive. They were certainly looking for a pretext to get the white commanding officers. There is no evidence against anyone else. But whether the CIO did the sabotage job themselves or merely used the work of someone else as a pretext, they certainly never had any kind of reason for believing that air force officers, let alone the six they picked up more or less at random, had any responsibility. Why on earth should air force officers conspire to set alight their own aeroplanes? It is fantastically improbable. I do not think today that any fair-minded person can have any doubt at all that the arrest of the air force officers was a plant from the start, designed by the CIO to discredit white command.

The officers were held in solitary confinement and entrusted to torturers. The torturers were highly professional, probably Korean-trained. The latest electrical equipment was available—attachments to the penis and anus. It gave a tremendous and agonising kick. How bad it was may be gauged from the fact that the kick was so severe that the spasm broke Lieutenant Barrington-Lloyd's leg. That was the kind of torture to which they were submitted. Psychologically it was worse: solitary confinement, darkness, starved, kept awake, out of touch with time, disorientated, threatened, woken, and served only with confessions said to have been given by others of their number.

At the end of a month, the torturers had six confessions from six brave men who had nothing to confess. One cannot have any doubt that it was a highly professional job that they had done. I have no doubt that they were pleased with it. But although they were very professional torturers, they were not good interrogators. A confession is no good in court unless it can be corroborated. You have to produce from those confessions the detail that you can corroborate and which only a guilty man can have known. When it came to the trial, nothing of that sort was available. Not one single piece of corroboration of any part of any one of those confessions was produced—not one scintilla.

Indeed, it was at the trial that the plot went wrong. This was the very last thing that the plotters had expected. The judge was a Mugabe appointment, a Shona. The judge, to their enormous surprise and shock, went honest on them. That is what wrecked the plot. He was a very brave man. He needed to be. He threw out all this worthless evidence. If ever a man earned the honour of his profession and deserves to be recognised for it, it was that judge.

At that point, my Lords, the plotters, surprised and shocked, lost their head. The Minister of Justice promptly announced that the Criminal Justice and Procedure Act would be amended to compel judges to accept confessions obtained under torture. Can the Foreign Office tell us how far that legislative proposal has got? Is that ultimate disgrace passing on to the legislature that we created within the constitution that was made? What has happened to this?

Next, the accused were all re-arrested. It was something that the Minister for Home Affairs was quite in the habit of doing. But this time the bodies were too hot to hold. World opinion forced their release.My God!, what those men must have suffered, not only in pure physical and scientific agony but in the awful humiliation of those weeks. They came out skeletons, stones lighter than when they were arrested.

The next step in Mugabe's campaign was the creation of his own personal SS. The Shona fifth and sixth brigades became the presidential bodyguard responsible only to the presidential office. The fifth were trained by Koreans. Money was not stinted. After Jordan and Israel, Mr. Mugabe's country has had the highest per capita expenditure on armaments of any country in the world. However, these were not armaments to protect her from external threat. Mugabe explained their purpose when he addressed the passing-out parade of his presidential guard and said: The rate at which we become a socialist one-party state will depend on the amount of persuasion you give".

This brings me to the most serious charge—Mugabe's adventure into racial war or, as the Catholic bishops called it, genocide. This began just over a year ago in North Matabeleland. Some farmers—white farmers—had been murdered. Tourists had been kidnapped. Arms caches were found on farms belonging to ZAPU, the rival Nkomo Matabele party. Action had to be taken. One recognises that it was called for, but the action of sending the fifth brigade was really appalling. An Austrian priest who had been in his country during the whole of the Nazi occupation and who had suffered under the Gestapo said that, compared to the fifth brigade, the Gestapo were gentlemen.

I give an example of the sort of incident that occurred, vouched for by a missionary. A patrol of the fifth brigade rounded a corner. Two little boys aged six or seven ran away. A soldier promptly shot them. People wept. The commander shouted out, "No, leave them for the dogs". This is the kind of thing that you are up against. They caught very few dissidents. The dissidents knew the country, and there was an open border. They simply moved into Botswana. Whether the civilians who were murdered number hundreds or thousands is a moot point.

What happened in North Matabeleland was nothing compared to what was to happen in the south. There, the president's guard moved in on 3rd February. They declared a curfew over 4,000 square miles. That area was drought stricken. Only white farmers were allowed to move in and out of the area. The search was on for dissidents. Mugabe said of dissidents: Dissidents are not only armed men; they include civilians". In this Matabele area they seem to have included anybody who spoke Matabele. Drought had emptied the country of supplies; all shops were closed; no food could be brought in. The real purpose was expressed at a public meeting by the brigade major of the Fifth Brigade. He said this: First you will eat your chickens; then you will eat your goats; then you will eat your cattle and then you will eat your children".

A concentration camp was put up at Bolaque. There were 1,000 men and 860 women in it. There were 136 per block, with no bedding, no blankets. The prisoners were fed and watered—let me emphasise watered—only every other day. Night was for cleaning out the area. Corpses—a great many of them—were moved every night. Every night one lorry, often two, went to a mining shaft which, oddly enough, belonged to Mr. Tiny Rowland. When they left, explosives were thrown down, I suppose to conceal the bodies; but it did not conceal the smell of the bodies.

These horrors—really, they are horrors, and something the world has seen very rarely—were described in detail by the Catholic bishops on first-hand evidence, and that report was brought to the government by Bishop Karlen on 16th April 1984. It is interesting to see the reaction to this report, which says what I have said but a great deal more. First, what was Mugabe's reaction? I quote him: I rule, not a clutch of sanctimonious bishops who belong to ZAPU". He went on to say: But the troops have done a wonderful duty and restored a perfect peace". My God, it is a peace beyond all understanding!

Mr. Calistrus Nclloou—I am not quite certain how he pronounces his name—one of the remaining ZAPU ministers in Mr. Mugabe's Government, resigned. In resigning, he said: Anyone who thinks he can effectively take part in this country's affairs is whistling in a graveyard".

How did the media behave? They were astonishingly quiet, considering what there was to report. The local press never mentioned it and has not mentioned it today. Exceptions to this are the Telegraph, which published a lot of brave articles by David Graves, and Mr. Telford, the editor of the Observer, who published a splendid article on what he himself had seen. This brings us back to Mr. Rowland. Mr. Rowland, the owner of the Observer, I understand promised not to interfere with the editorial. But Mr. Rowland was engaged in swopping sides, a job to which he is not unaccustomed. He was swopping over from Nkomo to Mugabe only just before Nkomo, his old friend whom he had invited to London, received a notice that his income had been stopped and he must clear out in 12 hours.

Viscount Whitelaw

My Lords, I am sorry to intervene but the noble Lord did say he had a 20-minute speech. He has now taken 25 minutes and I hope that he will have some regard for the many noble Lords who want to speak after him in this short debate.

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, I am sorry. I will swop straight over from there. It is a very long subject, but I must come to the final things I want to ask the Government.

The terrible results from Lancaster House must weigh on the conscience of the Government, if, indeed, they have one. But what can they do now to repair the situation? I would say three things. First, there is the question of the airmen. The airmen's trial cost them £100,000; it took all their savings. That is a bill the Government must pick up. Secondly, they must give them their pensions. Thirdly, they must give them some compensation. This should be subtracted from the next payment of aid we may think of passing there. It is something which, in all conscience and decency, should be paid.

Secondly, we should require that the president's guard should be moved from Matabele country into its own country. And I think we should say this to them: "If you don't move these assassin troops and Mr. Nkomo follows the example of President Machel and appeals for rescue for his people to the only country that can give it, then we will give him all the support we can". At this point, I would congratulate the Government on having invited Mr. Botha. He is the man who probably could do best on this.

Finally, I want to mention Bishop Muzorewa. I know we trapped him, but he is held without charge. The only thing alleged against him is what he said in Israel, and the constitution entitled him to do that. I do not think we are absolved from letting him out of his trap. He should be released. The Americans have shown us the only argument that works with Mr. Mugabe, and that is a threat to remove aid. That is what made them take off the curfew. Similar talk should be directed to him. It is no use talking pussyfooty with a man of that sort. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.39 p.m.

Lord Gridley

My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord, Lord Paget, for introducing this Motion, I find it very difficult to go down the road which he has taken in his speech. To some extent, his speech was a slashing attack on the freedom and independence granted to Rhodesia by Her Majesty's Government, added to which, any description of tortures and excesses which the noble Lord has mentioned, and which might possibly be read by Mugabe or his government out there at the present time, would not, in my opinion, assist the people whom we are trying to assist and help attain some semblance of understanding between Mugabe's government and the existing situation in Rhodesia.

I happened to be out in Zimbabwe—or Rhodesia, as it was then—when the Lancaster House Conference was in session. I was invited there by the government servants of that country to discuss some of their problems. I had talks not only with white officers of that government, but also with many blacks who were present and who had concerns of their own to express to me. Much of what they said was to the effect that if there was one thing that they desired under independence, it was stability and peace. I tried to impress on them as I flew to various areas of that country, landing on airstrips which had been cut out of the reserve property lands and the tribal trust lands, that they now had an opportunity to decide the future of their own country, that that was a responsibility that they should take in their hands and that they should do their best to attain a good name for themselves, and prosperity and happiness for all. That was the one desire that they expressed.

Having heard the noble Lord's speech, I am not going to comment on any of the other matters which he mentioned. We have to be very careful today how we act. Obviously what we all desire is the release of Bishop Muzorewa. I consider that Her Majesty's Government are in a difficult position. Whatever representations our Government make to a government of the type which is in office in Zimbabwe at the moment, will have to be very carefully considered. I ask my noble friend the Minister who is to reply whether already representations have been made to our High Commissioner in Harare to get his opinion on the situation and to seek his advice.

There is just one thing that I would like to say about excesses which are perpetrated in various areas of the world. This has not happened only in Zimbabwe; it has happened elsewhere. It is a terrible thing that is going on in many places at the present time. I do not want to give descriptions, because I myself suffered under some of those excesses. I was held under water for goodness knows how long in order to make a confession. Then I was brought out when I was drowning to make that confession. So these things do go on. We must try to ensure that these things are wiped from the face of the earth. We should strive by our activities, ingenuity and everything that we can do to bring that situation about. By all means let us seek the release of Muzorewa. Let us try to make contact with the people who are perpetrating these horrors, and let us try and make a better world for all of us to live in. I have made an extempore speech and it is completely different from what I had planned to say.

3.44 p.m.

Lord Walston

My Lords, I have always held the noble Lord, Lord Paget, in the highest esteem, but I have to say that never in my experience in your Lordships' House have I listened for 28 minutes to what I can only describe as a farrago of insinuation, imagination, inaccuracy and distortion. The picture that the noble Lord purports to give of Zimbabwe is one which nobody who has the remotest concern with the country can possible recognise; nor, indeed, anybody who has studied it even in the newspapers. I shall move quickly, because the time is running out fast.

Let me say at the outset that I share with the noble Lord, and I am sure with all noble Lords here, an utter abhorrence of torture, of detention without trial and of brutality. I also, regretfully and reluctantly, accept that in Zimbabwe at the present time there are instances of all those things; just as there are instances—as we heard on the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, today—of detention without trial for many years of many people in Namibia. It goes on in far too many areas as the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, who made an admirable speech, if I may say so—just what was needed at this stage—has pointed out.

But it is important for us to look at the question of Zimbabwe, including the detention of the bishop, in some perspective. After all, it is not many years since that country was subjected to a savage, brutal and lengthy civil war. Very many of the young men and women in the country today were brought up not at school, not with education, but in the bush fighting—fighting against their fellow Zimbabweans. That was all that they had been trained to do. So when eventually, after free and fair elections, as attested by very many people, Mr. Mugabe became the Prime Minister of that country, it was with enormous relief that we all heard that he was to pursue a policy of reconciliation. One of the first things that he did in pursuing that policy was to appoint the white General Walls to be in command of the army. I will not go into the details of the extraordinary behaviour of General Walls which led eventually to his dismissal. But that was simply one indication of the attempt at reconciliation.

Not only was the country full of young men and women who had been under arms for many years, but it also had a very fair proportion of discontented politicians who had not won the election, who were not going to reap the fruits which they thought were theirs by right from their years of fighting, and who were not going to enjoy the privileges and the responsibilities of office. In addition to that, there were the white settlers who had decided that Rhodesia was no longer a place for them since it had now become Zimbabwe. They moved across the border into South Africa where they were received with open arms by many of the white South Africans as people who had experienced similar situations, and also with covert assistance by the Government of South Africa. Indeed, the South African Government, for reasons best known to themselves but which are very hard for me to understand—in fact, impossible for me to understand—seem to believe that it is in their interests to have a disorganised and disrupted economy on their northern borders in Zimbabwe instead of a prosperous country which they could do so much to help create. That was the situation with which Mugabe and his colleagues found themselves faced.

What has happened since then? A large number of those people under arms have now been absorbed into civilian occupations. Admittedly there is a large army and the reason for that large army is not for defence internally or externally, but because it is the only way of controlling these people who otherwise would be a very dangerous element in society, just as throughout the history of Europe, after the lengthy wars in Europe, the soldiers with no work to do roamed about in robber bands and caused so much death and disruption.

The murders which have taken place and which have received so much publicity in this country—particularly the murders of white farmers—have virtually ceased at the present time due to this general policy. Peace has been restored. It is a far safer country now than is, for instance, New York or Chicago. There is a general feeling of peace, except in a relatively small area. I repeat, I do not condone what has been happening there, but the threat which has been posed to the legally constituted Government of Zimbabwe is a very real one and must be dealt with.

It is not for us to say what are the right methods to deal with this, any more than it is for them to tell us what are the right methods to deal with what is happening in Northern Ireland. Remember, not only are some horrible things happening in Northern Ireland today, but we do not have a great deal to be proud of when we look back to the Black and Tans in Ireland after the First World War. If we really looked into the position in detail we would find that some of the things which went on in General Templer's very successful operation in the jungles of Malaya would make even the unsqueamish among us feel rather unhappy.

These things do happen and they are horrible. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, says, our job is to try to create a country, an area and a world where these things do not happen. That is what the Government of Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe personally are attempting to do. Excesses have taken place. They are appalling and we must tell him so—indeed, I believe that we have told him so. By all means let us use all the influence we have to achieve the release of Bishop Muzorewa. That would be a humane action to take, just as we should strive to obtain the release—and so far we have been unsuccessful—of Rudolf Hess and many other prisoners of conscience throughout the world. Let us do that, but let us keep this matter in proportion. We should not indulge in a form of histrionics which can do a great deal of damage to our relations with Zimbabwe, to our influence on Zimbabwe, and to the attitude which those who are not so well versed in that country may have about it, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Paget.

3.53 p.m.

The Marquess of Salisbury

My Lords, I welcome the initiative of the noble Lord, Lord Paget, in introducing this debate this afternoon and I entirely support his view over affairs in Rhodesia or Zimbabwe, as it is now. I cannot bring myself to agree with either of the two previous speakers. In view of the grievous suffering that he experienced, I should have thought that it would have been clear to my noble friend Lord Gridley that the only way in which to prevent a continuation of those conditions is by bringing that government or the military regime responsible for it to an end. I do not think that the plea which the noble Lord, Lord Walston, made will have any other effect than to encourage Mr. Mugabe to continue on his present course. If we support what Mr. Mugabe is doing (which is what I understood the noble Lord to say) he will think that he is perfectly entitled to continue.

The noble Lord, Lord Paget, mentioned Lancaster House and the position of the bishop. My understanding of that situation is the same as his. Indeed, we both saw the bishop the night before the conference started. I think that he was under the impression that Her Majesty's Government had given him certain undertakings, which subsequently was found not to be the case. I was all in favour of a settlement and I understood that the Government's proposals at Lancaster House would have given certain security and have brought peace at the end of many years of strife. However, events did not turn out like that and we know what has happened to the bishop, so I shall not add to what has already been said on that point.

However, I understand that the bishop's son is also in detention. Apparently he had his ticket and he was due here some weeks ago but has never turned up. It is also thought that he is now being held in detention without charge or without any prospect of being tried. He was coming here to try to obtain support for his father in order to help get him released.

So we are faced with a situation where law and order are distorted to such an extent that one might say that human rights have ceased to exist. One of the most worrying aspects is the question of detention without trial. The courts can acquit an accused on perfectly good evidence, or lack of it, and that person can then be re-detained; a decision of the courts can be overridden, indicating that the government there are above the law and that they have the most complete contempt for the law. While that situation continues, I do not see how we can support what is taking place in Zimbabwe or the government that are doing this.

It has been suggested that the torture and beatings that take place could take place anywhere. That is no reason to condone them. They appear to be particularly sadistic and are used as a means not only to extract confessions but to create a situation of intimidation. This is not in keeping with what we were given to understand happens.

I have re-read what my noble friend Lord Belstead said on 2nd December 1982 when we last discussed this subject. He painted a rather rosy picture of what is going on. He also said that as a country we were no longer in a position to influence what happens in Zimbabwe, and no doubt he was quite correct in saying that. But to my mind he was really saying that we have got rid of the situation at Lancaster House, that we do not want to have any more to do with it, and that it is very fortunate that we were able to get rid of it so comfortably. My noble friend also said that Mr. Mugabe intended to pursue a policy of conciliation. I can see no sign of that at the present time.

We have heard of many cases of hardships and torture and I should like to mention one in connection with the situation in Matabeleland. I quote from the Occasional Newsletter of the Rhodesian Christian Group of April this year. It says: One of many typical accounts of security forces brutality is that of 17-year-old Nomsa Ngwenya who reached Bulawayo after a two-day journey. During interrogation on suspicion of feeding "dissidents" she was forced to lie flat on the ground. Two soldiers held her hands and two her feet, while another beat her violently across the buttocks and another asked questions and took notes. She claims the treatment was repeated over three days". The same newsletter says: An opposition ZAPU Member of Parliament, 61-year-old Mr. Sikwili Moyo, was recently beaten almost senseless by the Fifth Brigade. Another ZAPU MP Mr. Vote Moyo, is in Chikurubi untried". This surely is a sorry state of affairs. I should like to ask the Government what the position is about the conditions in Matabeleland. Has a protest been made about the treatment being meted out there? Is it true, as was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Paget, that the United States Government refused to continue with aid unless the present conditions in Matabeleland were improved? As a result, have the North Korean advisers been withdrawn from that brigade? If so, is it true, as I have been told, that they have been replaced by British advisers, and what steps are they taking to deal with the atrocities?

There is no doubt that there is a serious programme of genocide going on in Matabeleland. I would hope that Her Majesty's Government will see their way to making vigorous protests about it. Earlier in the Sitting today the noble Baroness who is to reply said that they were constantly making representations to the Government of South Africa about conditions there, and I hope that this applies also to the Government of Zimbabwe.

There is one other point I should like to mention on the behaviour of the police. As your Lordships may know—it was reported in the press here—there was a police sweep in Harare and lot of perfectly respectable ladies, both black and white, were rounded up and taken to the prison. They were held there and not allowed to communicate with their families or lawyers for a considerable time before being released.

May I put to the noble Baroness who is to reply: how would she like it, a very respectable lady as we all know, if this had happened to her: if she had been arrested by the Oxford police, accused of being a prostitute, taken into a wagon, perhaps raped on the way, and then stripped naked in the police station? These are the conditions that these people are having to face, and we should take due note about it.

I would suggest to the noble Baroness that so long as we continue to give aid to this government without strings as to its behaviour, the Government—and the Government in our name—are making themselves accessories to what is going on there. Surely they realise that we are dealing with a lot of savages whose behaviour was kept somewhat under control while the white regime existed, but now freed of it they are reverting to type.

I would finish by quoting from the same speech that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, made on 2nd December. He said, at col. 1391: 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". My Lords, does not that sound rather hollow today?

4.3 p.m.

Viscount Buckmaster

My Lords, I warmly welcome the debate this afternoon because in tabling this Motion the noble Lord, Lord Paget, has put his finger on one facet of a vast and terrifying problem, the full extent of which few of us realise. Disraeli said: Justice is truth in action. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in Africa today is that it is not justice hand in hand with truth which walks the land abroad, but all too often injustice hand in hand with falsehood; hatred hand in hand with fear.

Instead of the Old Bailey with its glorious traditions of criminal justice probably unsurpassed throughout the world, we have in much of Africa today the New Bailey where impartial justice is virtually unknown, truth is manipulated to suit the whims of unscrupulous dictators, and one's sentence depends more than anything else on the size of the bribe one is prepared to pay the judge. This situation prevails throughout the greater part of Africa today: from Libya to Liberia; from Morocco to Malawi; from Somalia to Sudan; and from Zaire to Zimbabwe.

If your Lordships think I am exaggerating I would call your attention to this magnificent report by Amnesty International which gives particulars of violations of human rights in no less than 45 of the 53 countries in Africa, 16 of which I have either served in or have visited, though unfortunately Zimbabwe is not one of them. I am sad to say that this report of 1983 contains practically no record of improvement on the previous year's report, about which I spoke when I asked an Unstarred Question in your Lordships' House in July of last year.

The cases which Amnesty International continue to deal with are concerned mainly with extra-judicial execution (that means, of course, execution without trial); abduction; imprisonment without trial; torture preceding trial (to extract confessions); and the denial of legal representation. Details of all these horrible happenings are to found in the Amnesty booklet. If you still have the stomach for anything stronger I would recommend this other pamphlet of theirs, Torture in the '80s, but that is outside the scope of our debate this afternoon.

Perhaps the most disturbing feature of the Amnesty International report is that almost all the Commonwealth territories are included in it: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, and of course Zimbabwe. It is indeed important to point out that of all these countries the one with the most terrible record on human rights is Uganda. I served there from 1969 to 1971. I have many Ugandan friends, both in Uganda and Britain and elsewhere. Every single one of them without exception has lost friends and relations who have been killed either by the security forces or by the guerrillas. The sum total of this tragedy is so great that I can hardly speak about it without emotion.

It is in the sphere of judicial procedures that we must speak this afternoon. What is happening now is that the judiciary and the Bar are continually being intimidated. This movement stared way back in 1972 under Amin—I stress Amin—when, as some of your Lordships may recall, the Chief Justice, Kiwanuka, was removed from a session of the High Court.

At that time there were a number of Ugandan judges who were trained in England. They were called to the English Bar. Many of them took silk. I can say without fear of contradiction that their judgments, which were a pleasure to listen to, were in the finest traditions of the English Bar. Now of course they have nearly all followed in the footsteps of Kiwanuka; some have fled, and some have been killed. Those that remain—a few Ugandans do remain—continue to be seriously circumscribed in all their actions by this continuous government oppression.

However, I must return to Zimbabwe and Bishop Muzorewa. Although his arrest was as a politician rather than as a Christian, this arrest was surely an affront to christianity not only in Africa but throughout the world, and, if I may be permitted to say so, I am sorry that we shall not have a contribution from the spiritual Bench this afternoon.

One must bear in mind that there has been a tremendous resurgence of christianity in Africa. There is a vigorous and vibrant christianity pulsating throughout the heart of black Africa today. I have heard of it from friends in the Church in Kampala, for example,where I used to worship. A friend there tells me that the congregations are full to the doors. The same is true in Nairobi, Botswana, and elsewhere. The interesting thing about it all, as some right reverend Prelates are likely to confirm, is that this christianity has taken on an essentially African image. It has succeeded because it has managed, if I may say so, to shake off the shackles of Canterbury and Rome. Indeed, this vigorous and vibrant christianity is an inspiration for all of us when we feel, as I often feel, overwhelmed by the terror, the torture, the senseless suffering and slaughter that seems to engulf so much of Africa today.

However, we must be constructive. What can one do? I want briefly to turn to what Amnesty International are doing. As your Lordships presumably know, Amnesty's main concern is with prisoners of conscience, like Muzorewa, and it is looking after or trying to help about 5,557 such prisoners. There are more than 3,000 Amnesty International groups, nearly 300 more than there were last year. These workers are, I like to think, like a great multitude of mice, gradually nibbling away at this vast problem; and although they may have the teeth of mice, they have the perseverance of beavers and the hearts of lions. Some measure of Amnesty's success can be judged from the fact that of these 5,000 prisoners that I have mentioned, no fewer than 1,000 were released last year: a great achievement of which Amnesty can be justly proud.

What of Her Majesty's Government's attitude? We have spoken about progress and representations. I want to put to your Lordships one other possibility—it has but a remote possibility of success, I fear. In my days in the diplomatic service we had a very well-organised system of visits for overseas visitors, Ministers, officials and so on. I wonder whether perhaps we might not invite judges and others connected with the law from Commonwealth Africa and perhaps outside. We would do this not in the spirit that we were trying to force our ideas down their throats. We would say, "Come here to see what we have to offer. It has been working here for many hundreds of years. It has evolved. We realise that there are differences between Britain and Africa, but we hope that perhaps you might like to take note of what we can offer".

So my final thought is this: in dealing with Africa and African problems, particularly in the sphere of human rights and judicial procedures, we shall get nowhere if we try to force our own environment, our own milieu on them. In other words, we cannot transfer the milieu of the Middle Temple and Chancery Lane into the cities of the African bush, any more than we can transplant a Westminster-type democracy or Canterbury-type christianity.

I would say, let the courts in Africa evolve in their own way. Let the judges wear their tribal robes and let them bring drums into court if they like, spears as well. But in all their counsels and deliberations, in all their judgments, let them always remember those great and stirring words of Disraeli: "Justice is truth in action".

4.13 p.m.

Lord Soames

My Lords, in the short time available I find it necessary to talk in shorthand. There are many things I should like to say—for instance, about the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton—but they were said, and well said, by the noble Lord, Lord Walston. I agree with him, and I leave it there.

This debate so far, with the notable exception of the speech by my noble friend Lord Gridley and that by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, has referred to a large extent to stories of horrors, violence and torture in Zimbabwe. Much of what we hear is inexcusable; it is indefensible. We do not know the details of it, but it is a part, alas!, of the story of Zimbabwe—and, indeed, of a number of other countries in Africa, as the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, has said. But it is not the whole story of Zimbabwe by a long way.

I think it would be a mistake if this House concentrated only on those horrors and did not put them into the perspective of what is going on in that country. Though there has not been much talk about it in the debate, the Motion is about the judiciary and Bishop Muzorewa. First, a word about the judiciary. I doubt whether there is any black country in Africa today which has a better and a more fair judiciary than Zimbabwe, with members drawn from all races: black, white and Asian. I should like to hear if any noble Lord knows of any better judiciary in black Africa than that in Zimbabwe. Doubtless it was noticed by your Lordships that in the debate that was held in another place after the trial of the airmen the Prime Minister said that the behaviour of the judiciary had been impeccable. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Paget, referred to the judge who sat upon that case and said that the government had been let down by the judge. I should have thought that it would not have passed unnoticed by him, as it seems to have been, what, after that trial, the Prime Minister, Mr. Mugabe, did to that judge. He made him Lord Chief Justice—that is what happened to that judge. I think perhaps this taints somewhat some of the things said by the noble Lord, Lord Paget.

Now to Bishop Muzorewa. I grieve very much that circumstances should be such that a man who sought to serve to the best of his ability the highest interests of his country as he saw them should have been held in detention without trial for many months already. But such detention is not imposed by the judiciary but by the government acting under emergency power regulations. What we all should abhor is the fact that there is need still in Zimbabwe today, as there was for all too many years when it was Rhodesia, for the existence of the emergency power regulations. But these regulations were more or less inherited from the previous government; and, indeed, they formed part of the agreement made between Her Majesty's Government and all other parties at the Lancaster House Conference. Perhaps when my noble friend the Minister winds up she will say whether or not anything has been done in regard to Bishop Muzorewa which falls outside the constitution as agreed at Lancaster House. I would say here in parenthesis that some of what has been said in this debate is undoubtedly true, though I think there has been some gross exaggeration. But I am not in any better position to judge than others of your Lordships what is happening within Matabeleland today.

Much has been said about the Lancaster House agreement. What would have happened if the Lancaster House Conference had not taken place? There had already been seven years of war. It was a war to attrition. For every white man that was killed, others left the country. For every black man that was killed, for every guerrilla, or terrorist as he was called then, 10 more came into the country. One thing is absolutely certain: without the Lancaster House Conference and subsequent election there would never have been the sort of situation that there is in Zimbabwe today of a multi-racial society with, for instance, as many white farmers farming the land of Zimbabwe today as were farming the land of Rhodesia before. My opinion is that if there had not been the Lancaster House agreement, if elections had not taken place, the war would have continued unabated with horrific results.

My second point is that of course there was intimidation during those elections; but there were an awful lot of observers watching closely. It seemed to me at one time that there were probably more observers than there were voters. And the elections, given all the circumstances, were given a clean bill of health by the observers. There was intimidation, but the intimidation was not throughout the country and the pattern of the voting was remarkably similar throughout the country. There were also large majorities for Mr. Mugabe in areas where there had not been intimidation. Why? I do not know if the noble Lord, Lord Paget, has considered this. Undoubtedly, the main issue in that election was which party was likely to bring an end to the war. That is what it was all about. It had been going on for seven years, and the mass of the people were sick and tired of it. Bishop Muzorewa had been Prime Minister, but there was no prospect at the time of the election, as the people saw it, of the war being brought to an end. That, in my view, was the main reason for the enormous majority that there was.

When Mr. Mugabe, the Prime Minister, took office he had to face a world recession—a recession which affected all the countries in southern black Africa. The country has had three consecutive years of drought—unheard of before. It is necessary for them this year to be importing as much maize as they normally export. It has been totally impossible in that situation to meet in any way either the expectations of their own people—expectations which were very high, after what they saw as a victory—or our expectations of what we hoped would happen in Zimbabwe if the world situation had been different and if there had not been the drought. Then, there were the after-effects of the civil war. When I was there I noted that there was probably as much hostility between Zaula and Zipra as there was between each of them and the security forces.

There are a lot of dissidents left in Matabeleland; there are a lot of men who were under arms and who feel that their interests are not sufficiently well represented in the government today. There are a lot of bandits, there are a lot of young men who have never known any other life than living off their wits in the bush. There is a genuine and serious law-and-order problem.

We might wish that it was being handled in a different way, but we are not talking about experienced white countries; we are talking about a black, African country only recently independent. Of course, we regret a lot that is happening there. But it is necessary when thinking about the inexcusable things that are happening to bear in mind also the good things that have happened in the past three years, and to bear in mind the exceptionally difficult situation facing the government, no matter what government would have been in power, in Zimbabwe today.

4.23 p.m.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I regret the fact that this debate, it appears, is being used by certain noble Lords for intemperate attacks on the government and state of Zimbabwe, and I believe that there is a great deal of hypocrisy being talked around this subject. We have heard from noble Lords who, I know, were silent when the allegations that they have mede this afternoon were being perpetrated by the Ian Smith government against black Africans. Nor have we heard from them any complaints made against either the judiciary or the Administration of the Republic of South Africa. Yet one of the notable parliamentarians of South Africa (herself well known to many Members of this House), Helen Suzman, has in the last few days complained that the Government of South Africa are appointing judges to try cases on such a basis that if you are white and are accused and convicted of murder you tend to get a suspended sentence, whereas if you are black the sentence is always death.

That has not happened in Zimbabwe. I think that it would be much more consistent if those noble Lords who have been attacking the Government and the state of Zimbabwe this afternoon had at least widened their attack against detention without trial wherever it may occur, torture wherever it may occur, and violence wherever it may occur—whether it be in Zimbabwe, in South Africa, in Vietnam, in the Soviet Union or in Northern Ireland. I would declare myself against detention without trial and against the use of violence wherever they may occur.

I will not attempt to answer Lord Paget's Rider Haggard version of history, but I would suggest to him that he would learn a good deal more about the realities of Africa if he were to watch the excellent programme of Basil Davidson now being shown on Channel 4 on Monday evenings. One thing I can say to him, and say to him quite directly and specifically, is that it is untrue to say that there was no electioneering in Shona country other than that by the party of Mr. Mugabe. I know that to say that would be untrue because I, too, was there and saw the electioneering taking place. There are other Members of your Lordships' House who will bear me out on that.

Nor is it true to suggest that the violence and intimidation during the election, to which the noble Lord, Lord Soames, has quite correctly drawn our attention, took place simply from one side. Again, I have specific evidence that that intimidation took place from various sides, including from the party of Bishop Muzorewa. However, the noble Lord did not draw our attention to the fact that, under the government of Mr. Mugabe, many of the white Members of Parliament have left the party of Mr. Smith in order to collaborate more closely with that government. And these are the elected, European, white Members of that Parliament.

Finally, on the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Paget, surely he can see that he destroyed his own case. This is supposed to be a Motion about the judiciary and about the judicial processes. When he described the fact that when you bring a case to court you have to have corroboration, then, yes, you have to have corroboration in the courts in Zimbabwe. You do not have to have corroboration in the courts in South Africa; or, indeed, in many other countries. I would draw to his attention, as has the noble Lord, Lord Soames, the attitude of the government of Mr. Mugabe to Judge Dumbutshena, well known to, and trusted by, many Members of your Lordships' House. When he passed his verdict on the airmen and dismissed the allegations against them, the reaction of the government of Mr. Mugabe was to promote him to Lord Chief Justice.

We have heard from a number of noble Lords and from the noble Lord, Lord Paget, and the noble Marquess. Lord Salisbury, that there is a feeling that the Government should use some form of coercion against the government of Zimbabwe for their present actions. Does that also apply to the Government of South Africa? And does it apply in the same way to the practices of apartheid? We have not heard it from either noble Lord. We have never heard any plea for the release of Nelson Mandela or Walter Sisulu, two old friends of mine with whom I worked closely 30 years ago and who have been imprisoned in vile conditions for over 20 years.

Nor have we heard any protest about the number of South Africans who have died in police stations and in cells. Nor have we heard any protests about the forcible removal of two million to three million black Africans under the policy of apartheid. I would suggest that the pleas that have been made this afternoon would carry more weight and more conviction if they applied to opposition to the use of violence in any circumstances, and not just in the country of Zimbabwe.

When the noble Marquess talked about the officials and members of the government of Zimbabwe acting like savages, does he include also the actions of the white officials and the white members of the Administration in the Republic of South Africa? Have they acted like savages? If so, let him say so, and let him say so as forcefully and as often as he has done against similar people in Zimbabwe

The Marquess of Salisbury

My Lords, I do not accept the noble Lord's contention that conditions in South Africa are the same as they are in Zimbabwe today. Quite apart from anything else, the African population there have a higher standard of living than anywhere else in the world. What I am criticising is the behaviour of the Government in Zimbabwe in attacking defenceless people. I disagree entirely with him and with other speakers who have said that they were likely to cause trouble. It seems to me that the difference in South Africa is that there are dissidents who are trying to cause difficulties and disturbances against the government who are trying to maintain law and order.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I leave that intervention for noble Lords to read in Hansard.

My Lords, this is supposed to be a debate about the judicial processes, and particularly about the detention of Bishop Muzorewa. Let us be quite clear as to what the situation is, since it has been very greatly distorted so far. Bishop Muzorewa is in preventive detention, which is permitted during a period of public emergency by express provision of the terms of the Lancaster House Constitution. As required by paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 to the constitution, the regulations provide for due observance of all the safeguards: notice of reasons for detention; access to legal representation; review by tribunal within 30 days, and thereafter at intervals of 180 days; legal representation before the tribunal. All those conditions have been carried out.

Zimbabwe is at present under a state of emergency. Like the noble Lord, Lord Soames, I very much regret the need for that; but a great deal of Africa—indeed, a great deal of the world—is in a permanent state of war: war against poverty, war against infiltration from outside influences and forces, war to establish a state where no state had existed before colonial days. There is a constant state of war. We may regret it, but it is there.

The review tribunal is composed of members appointed by the president acting on the advice of the Judical Service Commission, which is an independent body presided over by the Chief Justice, Chief Justice Dumbutshena. Detainees have the right to seek relief from the High Court and the Supreme Court if they allege failure to comply with the constitution or the regulations. Section 24 of the constitution provides a special jurisdiction for the Supreme Court in enforcing the Declaration of Rights, and Section 69 entrenches the right of any person to go to the High Court to protect his civil rights. These rights have been used by detainees.

The bishop's case was heard by the review tribunal on 25th and 27th January of this year, and the bishop was represented at the hearing by two legal practitioners (in effect, by counsel and an instructing solicitor). The report of the review tribunal was submitted to the Minister of Home Affairs on 16th March 1984, and already the government had pledged that it would abide by the decision of the review tribunal.

The review tribunal recommended the continued detention of the bishop, and that the case be resubmitted for review on the expiry of 180 days, that is, for normal periodical review as required by the constitution. In every case in the past in which the review tribunal has recommended release of any detained persons, the minister has complied with that recommendation and in no case has the president been approached for a direction overruling the tribunal as provided by the constitution.

In detention, the bishop is allowed two visitors per day, including family, lawyers, church colleagues. He is allowed newspapers and other reading material. I wonder how that compares with the conditions under which Mr. Mugabe was detained, or Mr. Nkomo.

Viscount Whitelaw

My Lords, I hope that noble Lord will watch the time, otherwise noble Lords will be in great difficulty over this debate.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I was interrupted, after all. The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Paget, has done a disservice to the reputation of this country. It has done a disservice to Bishop Muzorewa, and it has done a disservice to those who are trying to preserve the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

4.35 p.m.

Lord Saint Oswald

My Lords, this is a debate which I had assumed was bound to be conducted in a mood of deep sorrow and dire disappointment. The noble Lord, Lord Paget, in whose name it stands and upon whose thoughtful initiative it was set down and opened, has explained why, in trenchant terms, not mincing his phraseology or fears for the future. In contrast, one or two noble Lords have found protection in a kind of complacency, which I am unable to envy or to emulate. Among the congenital optimists in your Lordships' House I am certainly one. Yet the fate of this beautiful land which we are discussing, of its people—exultantly happy by nature, as I have seen them—seems bleak indeed unless leadership can alter in some magical or sensible way. This is in no sense an attack upon the black rule in Zimbabwe within southern Africa, which had been inevitable for many years.

Our feelings of sadness are intensified by the memory of those high hopes at the time of the Lancaster House talks, and even during the early days of the governorship of my noble friend Lord Soames. The contrast between those hopes and the realities of today is stark and identifiable. The promises offered in good faith have been swept aside and, as is so often the case, the innocent are the victims.

What benefits were those charming, intelligent and trusting people led to expect? The independence of the judiciary, for instance, has been eaten away, devoured in a variety of forms. Citizens have been detained without trial for long periods, in direct contravention of the Lancaster House agreement. Accused persons, after having been acquitted by the High Court, have immediately been re-arrested and incarcerated by ministerial order. For once in my career, I find the explanation of my noble and beloved friend Lord Soames, that it was necessary for the government to by-pass the judiciary, unappealing and unconvincing.

Lord Soames

My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting? Could he give the House one example where the judiciary has misbehaved in the manner which he has just described?

Lord Saint Oswald

My Lords, I have not given, nor have I intended to give, any example where the judiciary has misbehaved. I can give examples where the judiciary has been by-passed. That is my complaint. To cite a few distinguished cases, Bishop Muzorewa, mentioned in the noble Lord's Motion, and Mr. Vote Moyo have been detained for over eight months without trial. General Lookout Masuku and Mr. Dumiso Dabangwa and others were re-detained after acquittal by the High Court and are still detained, more than a year later.

To be fair to Mr. Mugabe, and without echoing at length the relevant words of the noble Lord, Lord Paget, Mr. Mugabe has never at any point in his career concealed his belief in a one-party state under one man's leadership, or his intention to establish and maintain such a state in Zimbabwe. The Lancaster House agreement clearly envisaged a democratic state allowing free political activities within a multi-party pattern. This is now being openly repudiated by the announcement of a one-party Zimbabwe.

The Lancaster House agreement, while it is respected, ensures freedom of the press and freedom of expression; but the present government has deprived the people of Zimbabwe of the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression. Other parties which have opposite views from those of the ruling party are deprived of access to the national newspapers, which have become government-owned and directed; they are deprived of access to the national radio and the national television, which are also government-controlled, owned and directed, and this against the spirit of the Lancaster House agreement, and completely altering the letter and the spirit of that agreement and thereby the the true nature of the state of Zimbabwe as envisaged in that agreement.

The dishonouring of important parts of the agreement by the government is having serious consequences in that it has the potential of releasing the people's loyalty to that agreement and of causing destabilisation of the new state, as well as potential chaos and economic and social upheaval, the innocent and the guilty suffering alike. In the eyes of most Zimbabweans, the government itself is disparaging, even degrading that solemn agreement. The results of this will be disastrous for the government and the people of Zimbabwe. The agreement upon which so many trusted will be a dead letter.

The methods being employed in this process of destruction are themselves shocking brutalities—by which I mean large-scale assassinations against the Matebele—which continue to be committed by the Fifth Brigade; and it is important to know what the Fifth Brigade is. It is totally distinct from the Zimbabwe army, which was brought into being with such care and skill by my noble friend Lord Soames and General Acland. It is a private army at the direct command of Mr. Mugabe, and employed in the elimination of his opponents after bloody destruction.

The noble Lord, Lord Paget, drew a telling comparison between the theory and the ambitious thought processes of Mr. Robert Mugabe and the late Adolf Hitler. It would not be exaggerated to compare the Fifth Brigade with the infamous SS. It exists to incite and conduct a reign of terror. The whole of this odious policy has been, and remains, a costly matter to the country. The problems of security, or lack of security, drive commercial farmers, many industrialists and businessmen out of the country, thus bringing close to ruin an economy which had been in my recollection second only to that of South Africa in that whole vast continent. This beautiful and once prosperous nation is being reduced to a beggar state. As in so many captive nations, it is the terrible silence from the outside which undermines the morale. The atrocities reported in Britain and other western countries are only heard of in Zimbabwe by clandestine means.

These words, and as I solemnly affirm these truths, will cause great pain to my dear colleague the noble Lord, Lord Walston, the sweetness and honesty of whose disposition over many years has been revealed to me. He is, I know, a personal and affectionate friend of Mr. Robert Mugabe and is unwilling to credit much of what is told to us about events. I too am fortunate in having a personal friend in Zimbabwe: the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole. He is an African leader of stature, who until today has failed in political terms. Unlike others, he has never been a terrorist. He has never I think conceived, still less committed, any act of violence in his life. He is deeply religious and deeply thoughtful. I speak with some knowledge because he has been in my house as I have been in his and I have had the opportunity of having long and inspiring discussions with him.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, would the noble Lord give way? I should like to ask him quickly: if that is the case, why then was the Reverend Sithole gaoled before independence?

Lord Saint Oswald

My Lords, he was gaoled for thoroughly unsatisfactory and improper reasons by Mr. Ian Smith; and that I would not attempt to contradict. He was, as I was just about to say, imprisoned for 12 years by Mr. Ian Smith and yet he has emerged without rancour towards any man or towards any race. Notwithstanding, he is a man of powerful character whom I am happy to regard as a friend, as I hope he may regard me.

He has written a book which so far to my great regret has found no publisher in England or elsewhere in the West. The book is written as a warning to the West and its message overlaps the boundaries of Zimbabwe. It is a warning to the West, as I say, spelled out in calm tones in order to conceal the anguish that the whole of Africa is liable to be converted to Marxism. The effect of such an occurrence over a number of years would be so disastrous for humanity at large that I believe we owe it to that world, so far as our influence counts, to warn of the danger. It is our special responsibility, because we were as a nation responsible for shaping the minds and more latterly the future of what was a kind of an African paradise and is now becoming a type of hell. While recognising the proper caution that Her Majesty's Government have to apply, I beg them as my contribution to this debate to ensure that the good will which still, though perhaps on a waning scale, in observed towards our country is turned to useful account in terms of guidance.

4.46 p.m.

Lord Harris of High Cross

My Lords, I wish to speak very briefly from the Cross-Benches as one who, unlike many other noble Lords, has no specialist knowledge of the long development of southern Rhodesia and the unhappy developments in Zimbabwe since the high hopes of independence. I make no apology, because in this respect I am no different from the majority of our fellow countrymen who might overcome any reluctance to speak out of turn in order to join in denouncing the evils we have heard about in this latest Marxist regime. I wonder myself, when I listen to the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, how someone who can criticise so vehemently every blemish and every imperfection of free societies and liberal economies in the West, can moderate his criticisms when confronted by the progressive oppression that appears inseparable from advanced socialist dictatorships.

The Motion before us calls attention to the state of judicial procedure in Zimbabwe, and the noble Lord, Lord Soames, has helpfully pointed out that many of the worst abuses occur under the emergency regulations. My Lords, it makes not much difference to the victims of these arrangements and, in my view, the incidents that we have heard recounted by the noble Lord, Lord Paget, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, have not the remotest link with any kind of systematic law as we know it.

It is surely a mockery that, despite the brave efforts we have heard about of the higher courts, the system allows bishops, MPs, airmen, farmers and even women to be subjected to the whims of vengeful tyrants. One feature which may give small comfort to the defenders of this system is that there seems to be equality for blacks and whites, in that both might receive equally inhumane treatment.

Since I am not able to stay for the following debate, which calls for increased trade with developing countries, I should like to link this Motion with the one in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, although I fear it may be stretching optimism just a little to regard Zimbabwe as a developing country when we see what state control has done to Tanzania and to neighbouring economies.

As a staunch upholder of free trade and the market economy, I am often accused of such crimes as believing in laissez-faire, which some translate, quite wrongly, as allowing no role for government. Whatever their differences about M3 or M0, adherents of the free market accord a number of vital functions to government. Indeed, the first duty of a ruler in the most free of free societies is to uphold the safety and the security of property. Here again, socialists often misunderstand "property" to mean no more than material wealth and possessions—and certainly they require protection. But even more important, as Adam Smith declared 200 years ago, is the property which every man has in his own person and labour which, said Smith: as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable". Economic analysis confirms the promptings of common sense in suggesting that in the absence of entrenched safeguards for personal safety, people are unlikely for long to work and invest in forward-looking productive enterprises. It is not therefore surprising that in Zimbabwe we have seen the emigration of trained and talented people continuing since independence. Nor does it take any great prescience to predict an accelerating decline in wealth-creating activities if the arbitrary abuse of power frightens more families into quitting.

If some of the horrors we have heard about continue, whether or not under emergency regulations, it is not fanciful to foresee the possible collapse of the inherited apparatus of orderly production on which the welfare of the mass of the people depends. When there are so many countries, as we have been reminded, of whose domestic policies we may variously and vigorously disapprove, I agree with others that it is hardly for us to interfere if Mr. Mugabe and his Marxist friends put their restrictive ideology before the fostering of conditions favourable to expanding economic prosperity. The consequences will in time be fully brought home to their unfortunate subjects, though the perpetrators may take refuge in the rather unsubtle device of a one-party state. But if this goes on, it is certain that in due course their exports, and then their imports, will decline and dwindle, without our having to consider the unrewarding policy of contemplating a trade embargo.

However, when we come to consider what we can do to influence a better outcome, I join with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I would strongly urge the Government to announce an early date when all foreign aid would be terminated, unless cast-iron guarantees are given of an end to what we have heard of as the perversion of "judicial procedures" through brutality and even terror. Foreign aid is taxpayers' money handed over—not to the poor or afflicted, nor to beneficial commercial enterprise, but to a group of often cruel party zealots who, with its help, are digging themselves in as the future dictators of Zimbabwe.

Foreign aid is always a soft option. It everywhere enables the recipient governments to live beyond their means by neglecting to create the conditions of security and safety which would attract commercial investment in truly productive enterprise. But foreign aid to countries like Zimbabwe is, in my view, far worse than a soft option. It is a subsidy to what stands out, even in this wicked world, as a harsh and oppressive regime which has forfeited any claims it might ever have had to our charity.

4.55 p.m.

Lord Boston of Faversham

My Lords, as so often happens in your Lordships' House, this debate has taken an even more interesting and powerful turn than might have been expected beforehand by the subject matter. First, I am sure that we are all grateful to my noble friend Lord Paget of Northampton for providing this opportunity to discuss this matter today. Whatever view is taken about the particular matters he has raised, especially the detention of Bishop Muzorewa and the other disturbing matters about which we have heard this afternoon, I hope that we can all agree on one thing: that we all hope for the success of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean people. I say that because we on this Bench, and, I am sure, elsewhere in your Lordships' House, approach this matter with that basic aim in mind—in a constructive way. I should also add at the outset that I propose to concentrate on the matters referred to in my noble friend's Motion—the judiciary and Bishop Muzorewa.

Following the Lancaster House Conference and the transition to independence, we on this Bench were encouraged and, indeed, impressed by the course of events in the newly-emerged sovereign state and the way it was grappling with its problems. Here I should like to pay tribute to the preparatory work done by the then Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. We have also had the benefit this afternoon of hearing from another Member of your Lordships' House who played a key part in those preparations and in the transitional period, the noble Lord, Lord Soames. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Soames, who emphasised the need to keep the whole matter very much in perspective.

I want at once to refer to a particular part of that preparatory work—the constitution itself—because it bears directly on my noble friend's Motion. It is worth keeping firmly in mind and stating at the outset that the constitution is in line with basic British models for Commonwealth countries gaining independence and is adapted to suit the needs of this particular African state. As the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Mr. Mugabe, has observed: The constitution is British rather than Zimbabwean in origin". Mr. Mugabe referred to that fact in an article in the Parliamentarian of January 1984. Not least is it British in origin in its judicial system. One of the fundamental aims of that constitution—I cannot think of any other constitution which might have done better than that one did in paving the way for the independence of Zimbabwe—was to provide for an independent judiciary. Whatever criticisms may be made, as they have been made this afternoon, of certain events within Zimbabwe, of one thing, in our view, there can be no doubt: that the judiciary in Zimbabwe has acted in an exemplary fashion. It has asserted its independence. Let me also say, because it is a corollary of that fact, that its independence has been preserved.

There are numerous examples of the way in which the judges have shown their independence. One or two examples have been mentioned this afternoon. I wish to refer to one or two other examples. As Mr. Mugabe himself said: Whilst as an executive we by no means always agree with the decisions of our judges, our constitution requires and has ensured an independent judiciary". Mr. Mugabe goes on to point out—I do not believe that we can ignore facts of this kind—that of the three major constitutional cases which have gone to the Supreme Court, the court upheld the executive's case in one—Hewlett v. Minister of Finance and Another—and found against the executive in the other two—Minister of Home Affairs v. Dabengwa and Another and Minister of Home Affairs v. York and Another. There has been a number of cases involving security matters as well, in which those accused have been acquitted. The most celebrated, no doubt, of those cases is the one to which reference has been made this afternoon by a number of noble Lords: the air force officers' case, the case of The State v. Slattery and Others.

Without going into further matters, already covered this afternoon, which are connected with that case, it is nevertheless worthwhile, I believe, looking at one or two other parts of the judgment which was delivered by the judge who heard that case, sitting with two assessors—Mr. Justice Dumbutshena. He said that the case rested entirely on the officers' alleged confessions to the police and then ruled, as we have heard, that those incriminating statements were not valid because the officers had been "persistently and deliberately"—those are the judge's own words—denied access to their lawyers before making their confessions, and also because of the evidence that four of the men had been tortured with electric shocks by police interrogators. Mr. Dumbutshena went on to say, as reported in The Times of 1st September 1983: The evidence of prosecution witnesses did not come close to establishing the guilt of the accused and the State's case rested purely on the confessions". He also said: Although the police denied mistreatment, the officers' stories corroborated each other and had the ring of truth". He added: The psychological effects of lengthy interrogation, incommunicado incarceration and torture suffered at the hands of the police drive an accused person to hopelessness". He said: However, even without this evidence he would have had to have ruled the confessions inadmissible because they were obtained after the officers had clearly been denied access to lawyers—a right enshrined in the legal code and the constitution". If the judiciary is not free, it does not make statements of that kind. As has been pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Soames, and by my noble friend—and perhaps I could just add this point to theirs: he was the first black judge to be appointed in Zimbabwe—he was later promoted to Chief Justice. This was despite his having acted against the supposed wishes of members of the Zimbabwean Government. Of course, as we know, further grave disquiet arose when the officers were detained minutes after their acquittal.

This brings me to the question of preventive detention. This is a subject that we view with, to say the least, extreme distaste. In fairness, it must be said, too, that Mr. Mugabe has stated that detention has been used there, to quote his words, reluctantly and as a last resort". It is also the case that preventive detention is provided for under the Zimbabwe constitution, as my noble friend Lord Hatch has said, and he quoted the relevant passages. It should be emphasised also that detainees' cases are reviewed, as my noble friend Lord Hatch has also indicated, by an independent review tribunal appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission. It is headed by the Chief Justice himself. The tribunal can recommend that the detainee be released. That recommendation is binding on the government unless the president directs otherwise. I gather that, as reported in The Times on 13th February this year, all detainees recommended for release have been released and that the president has not used his power to direct otherwise.

That commission is not the only body other than the courts themselves in Zimbabwe which safeguards constitutional rights in that country. There is also, for example, the Senate Legal Committee appointed under the constitution, which reports on whether proposed legislation contravenes the provisions of the constitution concerning fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual. Where it has reported that, for example, the provisions in a Bill were unconstitutional, the Bill has been amended accordingly to meet the committee's objectives—further provisions foreseen in the Lancaster House Constitution. I say all this because I believe it is essential to view the whole situation in perspective and not to be blinded by some very disturbing happenings into believing that absolutely everything is wrong and that nothing is right.

To return to the judiciary and preventive detention, as the Prime Minister said in another place on 1st December last year, the judicial process in Zimbabwe was impeccable".—[Official Report, Commons, 1/12/83; col. 996.] And as the noble Baroness the Minister, Lady Young, has said of the detention of Bishop Muzorewa, What the Zimbabwean Government is doing is not unconstitutional and is not illegal". But just as disturbing happenings must not be allowed to blind us to what is good in Zimbabwe, so by the same token those very advantages must not be allowed to blind us to what is not good. We cannot disguise the fact that there have been the reports coming out of Zimbabwe of which we have heard this afternoon, and elsewhere, which have been causing grave disquiet to many—including friends of that country as well.

There can be no doubt that the detention of Bishop Muzorewa is an internal matter for the Zimbabwean Government—and we of course bear in mind what has been said about the state of emergency. Zimbabwe is an independent, sovereign state—and we cannot ignore that, either—and neither we nor anyone else has the right to interfere with the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Nor, despite our historic links with that country, do we have any right or, I hope, any wish, to adopt anything even remotely approaching a paternalistic attitude. That would be wrong; it would be resented; it would be misunderstood; and quite possibly—and perhaps this is the most salient point—it would be counter-productive. Here, too, I agree with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, in respect of his approach to these matters.

What I feel we have to say is something which I hope would be taken as coming from a country being one equal partner to another equal partner. What concerns us, and what is alien to us and to our two judicial systems, is detention without trial for more than a limited period. We ourselves recall the anguish we felt over our Prevention of Terrorism Act and the reluctant way in which we have accepted the need—and I myself certainly accept this need in present circumstances—for very limited detention for not more than a few days without charges being preferred, and then only to enable inquiries to be pursued.

We simply could not condone indefinite detention without trial. Such a course would be bound in time to tarnish a country with even the finest judicial system in the world. That tarnishing is something which we and friends of Zimbabwe especially do not wish to see happening.

I could not help noting that my noble friend Lord Paget did not dwell upon the situation under the previous regime of Mr. Ian Smith—which, after all, was so much responsible for the civil war. Responsibility should certainly weigh very heavily indeed upon Mr. Smith's shoulders, and he has a very great deal to answer for. In respect of other matters before independence, the noble Lord, Lord Soames, referred to earlier years as well. I am reminded, too, that when it comes to more recent events after the election, Mr. Mugabe did offer the presidency of that country to Mr. Nkomo but it was rejected.

In conclusion, I will go just one stage further. I believe that every country of the Commonwealth has a special duty to seek to maintain the highest standards; to uphold the reputation of the Commonwealth—for so many people both inside and outside the Commonwealth still regard it as a great force for good in the world; to set an example; and to strive as best we can to act in a way that is as close as is humanly possible to being beyond reproach.

We know, of course, of the difficulties. We know of the problems which will face Zimbabwe for some time to come. But we cannot build a strong and happy nation on the basis of fear. Acts of magnanimity and conciliation can be seen as signs of strength and not of weakness. I would just express the hope that the Zimbabwean Government will act accordingly and with that approach in mind.

5.8 p.m.

Baroness Young

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Paget, introduced a debate today on Zimbabwe in a speech that went well beyond the Motion he has down on the Order Paper. May I say at once that the Government condemn the violation of human rights wherever it may occur. In the course of my remarks this afternoon I shall refer to the steps we have taken to make the Zimbabwean Government aware of our concern.

To begin, I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Soames for his speech. He speaks from very considerable recent experience in Zimbabwe. As he said, while in no way condoning violence wherever it may occur, we have to set what has happened in Zimbabwe since 1979 in perspective. That is a very good starting point for any discussion on Zimbabwe.

I should like to thank also my noble friend Lord Gridley. I believe we were all very moved by his speech. He is a man who has suffered and therefore he speaks from particular personal experience. He asked me one specific question which I should like to answer right away; namely, whether or not we have the views of our High Commissioner in Harare on what is happening in Matabeleland. I confirm to him that we are naturally in the closest touch with our High Commissioner and pay careful attention to his reports. He is under instruction to keep us closely informed of developments in Matabeleland.

The noble Lord, Lord Paget, asked a number of quite specific questions which I should like to answer before turning either to his Motion or to more general points. First, he asked whether Zimbabwe was to become a one-party state. The Zimbabwean Government have frequently stated their intention of moving towards a one-party state, but have emphasised their wish to proceed constitutionally. The constitution contains provisions for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual. He also asked whether or not there will be changes in the Criminal Justice Act. This, of course, would be a matter for the Zimbabwean Government, but we know of no new legislation.

The noble Lord asked about the position of the air force officers. The trial of the Zimbabwean air force officers was referred to by a number of noble Lords. Again, I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Soames for the point he made, and also the noble Lord, Lord Boston, who referred to this issue in, if I may say so, a most helpful and constructive speech about the judiciary and judicial proceedings in Zimbabwe. The air force officers are all Zimbabwean citizens. At their trial last year the officers were acquitted by the court on charges of sabotage. I can confirm that the judge in their case, Mr. Justice Dumbutshena, has subsequently been made the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe. After their acquittal the officers were detained under the emergency powers regulations and subsequently released over a period of time. All were set free by the end of last year.

The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, asked about the officers' pensions. As I have already indicated, the officers are all Zimbabwean citizens and their claim is against the Zimbabwe Government. They are pursuing it through their legal advisers. We have no formal standing in the matter although some of the men can currently hold British citizenship. Nevertheless, we are in touch with the officers and we have raised the matter informally with the Zimbabwean authorities on several occasions. We shall continue to do what we can properly do to be helpful.

We should remember that Zimbabwe has been an independent country for only four years. Before then the country was ravaged by a long and bitter civil war in which many thousands of people of all races lost their lives. The Lancaster House agreement brought peace and majority rule to the country, but years of civil strife inevitably leave a difficult legacy.

Since independence Zimbabwe has had to cope with the problems inherited from the past, while attempting to meet the newly aroused expectations natural to the people of an emerging country. The task has been made even more daunting by economic problems: world economic recession and the three years of severe drought are two major examples. Despite all these problems the government of Zimbabwe have many considerable achievements to their credit: the three warring armies which entered into an uneasy truce in 1979 are now a unified force; the government themselves contain, as they have done since independence, representatives of different races and political parties; there is a high level of racial harmony and the important continuing contribution of the white community to the country's economy has been recognised; social benefits—once limited to a privileged few—have been more widely spread. The number of pupils in secondary education, for example, has increased fivefold since independence and is set to rise further within the next few years. This is a major accomplishment.

There have been setbacks, too. A great many have been referred to this afternoon. The most worrying has been the situation in Matabeleland. The Zimbabwean Government face a serious security threat from dissidents in Matabeleland and obviously must try to take effective action to deal with it. However, the reported behaviour of elements of the army towards the civilian population there both this year and last must cause concern. I confirm that the Zimbabwean authorities are aware of this concern. That point was raised by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I confirm to him that we have made sure that the Zimbabwean Government are fully aware of our concern at reports of recent excesses by the Zimbabwean national army towards the civilian population in Matabeleland. The Zimbabwean Government have said that specific allegations of misconduct will be investigated. Following earlier allegations of misconduct by elements of the army at the beginning of last year, the Zimbabwean Government set up a committee of inquiry which has since been hearing evidence. It is expected to report shortly. Following the military operations soldiers have been convicted in the courts on charges of rape.

Turning to the main points of the Motion before the House this afternoon—judicial procedure in Zimbabwe and the imprisonment of Bishop Muzorewa—I must remind the House again that we are considering the internal affairs of an independent country. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Boston, made that point; and, as I think my noble friend Lord Gridley put it very well, it is something to which we must give careful consideration.

History has given us a special interest in what happens there, but we have no right to attempt to tell them how to run their own affairs. Zimbabwean judicial procedures (which are not dissimilar from our own) were established at the constitutional conference at Lancaster House in 1979 and incorporated into the Zimbabwe constitution at the end of that year. The constitution and the position of the judiciary remain unchanged. The judiciary is independent of the executive. The constitution contains specific provisions for what courts there shall be, the way in which judges shall be appointed, and the setting up of a Judicial Services Commission. Indeed, it is accepted that the judiciary in Zimbabwe is independent. Judicial integrity has been demonstrated in cases in which Members of this House have taken an interest, and these were referred to this afternoon. That of the air force officers last year is a recent example.

The constitution also provides for emergency powers, and it is under these that Bishop Muzorewa is detained. I can confirm to my noble friend Lord Soames that nothing has happened to Bishop Muzorewa outside the consitution agreed at Lancaster House. The bishop is, I know, held in respect and, indeed, affection by a number of people in Britain. But he is a Zimbabwean citizen and we have no standing to intervene in his case. Nor, if I may be frank with the House, are we in a position to judge the rights and wrongs of it. Nevertheless, the Zimbabwean Government are well aware of public concern here at his continued detention. My honourable friend Mr. Rifkind raised the matter with the Zimbabwean Minister of Home Affairs last month. Under the procedure laid down in the constitution the bishop's case has been before a review tribunal and we understand that he is not to be released yet. Normal procedure under the emergency powers regulations would be for a further review within six months.

Zimbabwe and its place in southern Africa remain of great importance to Britain and the West as a whole. Our ties are a mixture of past history and current trade, investment and the many everyday links between Commonwealth countries. Our interest in Zimbabwe is to do what we can to encourage the development there of a stable, multiracial and prosperous society—and I think that that was the point about which my noble friend Lord Saint Oswald was asking—a society in which civil rights and the rule of law are observed and links with Britain and other western countries are maintained.

To this end we are doing our best to respond to Zimbabwe's most vital needs: since independence we have pledged some £113 million of development aid, over £60 million of which has already been disbursed on a wide variety of projects covering post-war reconstructions, agriculture, and transport. In addition, our military advisory and training team, which has had conspicuous success in helping with the unification of the army following independence, continues to provide training and advice for the Zimbabwe national army.

The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, asked me a question about the military advisory and training team. The number is currently about 60. There are long-standing plans to reduce it to a little over half that number by 1985. It provides training courses and advisers. The point was raised that we might be training the presidential guard and the Fifth Brigade. I should like to confirm that we have not trained those units, but individuals from them have taken part in courses run for the Zimbabwe army as a whole.

The noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, asked whether we would invite to Britain a number of Zimbabweans. I should like to confirm to him that we have invited to this country as our guests visitors from a wide range of countries and professions, including of course the legal field. In the case of Zimbabwe, within the past year our official guests have included the Minister of Home Affairs, who was formerly the Minister of Justice, the Attorney-General and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice (Legal and Parliamentary Affairs). We shall continue with our programme, though we must give due weight to visitors from other fields as well.

The noble Viscount also asked a question about Amnesty International. I can confirm to him that we greatly value the contact and discussions that we have had with Amnesty International on a wide range of countries.

The objectives that I have outlined are important for the interests of all Zimbabwean citizens as well as for British policies in southern Africa as a whole. I can confirm that we have not been, and shall not be, deterred from speaking out on events in Zimbabwe whenever we believe it to be right. Nor shall we be deterred from persevering with our efforts to help Zimbabwe through the difficult period which, given the circumstances leading up to independence, it will inevitably experience for some time to come.

As I said at the beginning of my remarks, we must remember that Zimbabwe is an independent country. We played a part in the achievement of that independence and we naturally have a close interest in Zimbabwe's development, but it was clearly understood at the time that we have no other role. The application of the Zimbabwe constitution is a matter solely for the Zimbabwe Government and courts. We have no responsibility for Zimbabwe's affairs and no right to attempt to interfere. It is, nevertheless, right to express concern. Our hope must be that political reconciliation will be pursued so that Zimbabwe may prosper. That is something which I think everyone who has spoken in this debate tonight would wish.

5.24 p.m.

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, it now falls to me to thank noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, and in particular to thank the noble Baroness who has replied to us. I am sorry that she could not tell us that we were going to be a little more generous to the officers who suffered so grievously in what they believed to be our service.

Of other speeches, I was moved greatly—I think with nostalgia—by the speech that I heard from the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and, to a lesser degree, by that which I heard from the noble Lord, Lord Soames. They were so exactly like the speeches I remember hearing half a century ago when the same sort of news as we have heard today was coming back from Germany: what good does it do; it only makes things worse to raise the matters; can you not keep quiet? It was the wisdom of the three wise monkeys that was imposed on us.

Then, I should particularly like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Saint Oswald. He, I think, knows much more of Rhodesia than anybody else here. He has more personal experience of it. He spoke from a most passionate feeling. In particular, he has known what it has felt like from inside to experience these four dreadful years, when everything has been going backwards. But there was one particular phrase of his that moved me above everything else, and that was, "the terrible silence from outside". It rang in my ears, because it was exactly what a German friend said to me half a century ago. I do not believe that the three wise monkeys are right. If we go on, determined not to see, not to hear and not to speak, what we hear, what we see and what we do not mention will get worse and worse. I thank your Lordships, and beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.