Britain says it cannot count on the Southern African countries for support to impose stiffer sanctions on Zimbabwe as they are already calling for their lifting.
Southern African Development Community executive secretary Stergomena Tax this week called on the international community to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe so that the country could develop.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi is currently in Zimbabwe for bilateral talks and is reported to have promised to bail out Zimbabwe.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is coming to Zimbabwe for bilateral talks on 12 March.
Responding to questions in Parliament on Tuesday Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) Harriett Baldwin said: “I do not think we can particularly count on the southern area nations for support for sanctions; in fact their public statements have been critical of the sanctions that the EU has put in place.”
She said Britain was, however, providing wider support to non-governmental organisations in Zimbabwe.
“I had a meeting with civil society leaders when I was in South Africa recently. My right hon. Friend will be aware that for their own security we cannot disclose which organisations we support, but we endorse the credible reports he alludes to,” she said,
Q & A:
Henry Bellingham: What recent assessment the Government have made of the prospects for peace and stability in Zimbabwe.
Harriett BaldwinHarriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development): Fundamental political and economic reform in line with Zimbabwe’s own constitution is vital for a peaceful and stable Zimbabwe. I spoke to Foreign Minister Moyo on 29 January, and made clear that the Zimbabwean Government must investigate all alleged human rights violations and deliver on President Mnangagwa’s public commitment to reform.
Henry Bellingham: Does the Minister agree that, first, the elections in Zimbabwe were seriously flawed, and secondly, the recent repression of peaceful protests was completely unacceptable and outrageous? Can she confirm that there is currently no question of Her Majesty’s Government’s supporting Zimbabwe’s return to the Commonwealth, and does she agree that we should now consider extending targeted sanctions?
Harriett Baldwin: External and international observers were invited to see the recent elections, and judged that, while imperfect, they were freer and fairer than those that took place in 2013 and 2008. As for sanctions, my hon. Friend will be aware that, along with the EU, we renewed them recently, targeting specific individuals and focusing on one organisation.
Zimbabwe has applied to join the Commonwealth. I must say that given the recent behaviour of the security forces, it would be difficult for the UK to support the application were it to come before the Commonwealth Secretariat in the near future, but that is a hypothetical situation.
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