|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The Commission for Africa report, all 461 pages, deals exhaustively with every aspect of Africa's future and sets out a vast range of new bodies—expert panels, peer reviews, social co-ordination committees, enterprise challenge commissions, presidential initiatives, a peace-building support office, a panel of the wise in the AU Peace and Security Council, an inter-government authority for development, a Social Affairs Commission and very many more, all of which need funding for their secretariats and administrative and operational costs. If all these organisations are created and funded, the AU will very soon become another UN or EU—bureaucratic, out of touch with ordinary people, duplicating much UN effort and likely to absorb much of the money and the skilled people needed for work at the grass roots, work to enable ordinary people to own their own lives and build the economy from below.
I believe that this ambitious plan cannot be
implemented by aid workers on the ground alone. We shall need our embassies to
work closely with African governments. I was struck, incidentally, by the
inclusion of the Chinese in the commission. Was that an African initiative
The G8 meeting is due in July. This month, as we know almost exclusively by the brave act of Kate Hoey MP and her visit to what has become an Iron Curtain country, Zimbabwe, hundreds of thousands of black citizens have had their homes razed to the ground by the police—the forces of law and order who were told to shoot to kill if they encountered resistance. Clinics, hospitals and schools which served them were destroyed and the people, including young children, AIDS sufferers and other sick people, have been brutally driven either into concentration camp areas with no water and no lavatories or to the starving countryside—and this in the depth of winter.
Small free-traders have had their goods confiscated or destroyed. Compassionate men and women and religious orders who have tried to take blankets and food to the people have had them confiscated and have themselves been brutally treated. The Catholic Church has been forbidden by Mugabe to give succour to these people. There is no petrol. No doubt it is fuelling Mugabe's four Chinese jet fighters or his own travel abroad—to the G77, for example.
Why is this relevant to a discussion of the
commission's remit? There are two reasons. The first is that the report,
although it never once speaks of the treatment of the population of
The report adds that AU/NePAD should eliminate any current restrictions on the mass media, should listen to the trade unions and should provide an impartial justice system. Without effective policing, it says, ordinary people suffer violence, crime and insecurity. Justice needs to be impartial, judicial oversight should be strong, and,
Why cannot these clear sighted and honest
assessments in the commission lead to immediate action by the AU to save the
suffering people of
Under the present law, no charity is allowed
to send money into
The commission has made many constructive proposals, but unless and until the chief architect of NePAD and the AU, South Africa—which dominates the SADC countries, which are virtually its satellites—abandons the discredited quiet diplomacy which works only in Mugabe's favour and does nothing for the suffering people of Zimbabwe, the G8 meeting on Africa will be a cynical and disgraceful exercise. It is not reassuring that Mr Mbeki continues to refuse to see anything wrong in Mugabe's wicked behaviour—something that he may come to rue if Zimbabwe collapses and implodes. That can only be bad for all the surrounding countries.
I hope also that as a member of the
commission, President Mkapa of
"ongoing clear-up operation, necessary to deal with some of the activities compounding economic difficulties facing the country, and to wipe out a secondary economy that was becoming increasingly active and exacerbating the challenges the country was already contending with".
I believe that the opposite is true. Clearly the commission has accepted the omission from the report of any reference to Zimbabwe, no doubt reassuring itself that it is enough to make many acknowledgements of weak governance in general and to say that,
However, in the face of the total inaction
of President Mbeki, who has the power but not the will to make Mugabe let in the
world press and the trade unions, and given the active support for Mugabe of
President Mkapa, nothing will be done unless the G8 makes it absolutely clear at
the outset that there will be no talks on aid until the AU, and in particular
South Africa, acts to end the awful tragedy now going on in Zimbabwe. It could
begin by, first, requiring free access by the world press and observers; and
secondly, ceasing to block all discussion of Zimbabwe in the UN, and joining us
in requiring full reports from all the UN bodies present in Zimbabwe,
particularly on the issue of human rights, and immediate action to distribute
food and medicine, but not through the government. A child is dying every 15
Somehow, the G8 meeting and the commission's report must be used to test the good faith of the African countries. At the least, the wall that they have built must come down and aid must flow in freely to those who need it. We are witnessing the death of a people. The G8 meeting must be used to save them, and no empty declarations must be made. The report says that it has tried to be blisteringly honest and face up to unpalatable truths. We are told that the right to life and security is the most basic of human rights—in the context of the Sudan, Somalia and the DRC—and not least that the AU has moved towards putting forward the concept of non-indifference to replace the OAU policy of non-interference. According to the report, that new policy recognises the responsibility of member states to promote human security into practice. It must not forget that it has called its report Our Common Interest.
I have one further proposal for immediate
action—that the Prime Minister should ask President Mbeki to arrange for an
educational visit to
Lord Blaker: My Lords, I too congratulate my noble
The Government have clearly been deterred
from being more positive in their actions by the fear of being accused of
neo-colonialism. They have done nothing to deserve that charge; nevertheless, it
continues to be made by Mr Mugabe. I am a bit doubtful about how many leaders in
All noble Lords are familiar with the horrors of the Mugabe regime. This month, they have got even worse; one believed that they could not get worse, but they can. The so-called Operation Clean Up Filth involves the demolition of many houses and businesses. It has created hundreds of thousands of homeless people. The churches have been instructed not to accept the homeless for shelter. More than 300,000 schoolchildren have dropped out of school because their homes have been destroyed. The police are delivering bills for electricity, water and sewage to the homeless that, of course, they do not deserve to receive.
That policy of new destruction—it is right to call it genocidal—clears out of the townships the people who live there, who tend to support the opposition. It puts them in the countryside, where they are dispersed and disorganised and fall under the control of local chiefs, who are politically appointed. That is what has happened recently to those who support the opposition in the townships. The only valid comparison in the world for that action is Pol Pot. The action makes a solution even more urgent than it has been.
What is to be done? I am sorry not to see
the noble Lord, Lord Hughes of Woodside, with us today. He said last week that
quiet diplomacy had failed, as has megaphone diplomacy; we all have to agree.
The world is at a loss, but there is an exception to that in the form of my
At present, Her Majesty's Government have an
unparalleled opportunity to do something useful. The Prime Minister has the
presidency of the G8, the most influential group of countries in the world,
which has great powers of persuasion. Most of the G8 is committed
to relief for
I want to emphasise that proposal, as it is worth
serious consideration. It involves no need for military force. It does not
necessarily involve every G8 country; you could have a few taking part. There is
no need for much publicity about the proposal. If several G8 countries took
part, it would help to counter the allegations of Mr Mugabe about
neo-colonialism by the
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey:
My Lords, once again, I thank my noble friend Lady
Park of Monmouth for seizing the opportunity for a debate on the Commission for