British lord asks whether UK has ever thought of recolonising Zimbabwe because of what is going on


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Lord Collins of Highbury Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (International Development)

My Lords, 12 months ago in this Chamber the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie, reported on behalf of the Government about the EU-AU summit to which the Minister referred and outlined a programme of reform as a consequence of the change of Government. We have had 12 months of those discussions. What have the Government been doing with our partners in Europe and with the African Union to ensure that the programme of reform outlined 12 months ago is maintained? It clearly has not been maintained in the past few weeks.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State

My Lords, I assure your Lordships’ House that, as I have already indicated, we are working with international partners to see that from the desperate situation in Zimbabwe over many years we see the emergence of sustainable democracy, investment in state institutions, particularly the justice system, and the opening up and the lifting of all sanctions. However, the conditions on the ground, as we have seen in the most recent events, do not allow that to happen. We will continue to work with international partners and bilaterally. Our ambassador is working very hard on the ground. She has recently met the leaders of the opposition as well, to ensure that we remain a constructive friend to Zimbabwe—but the human rights violations cannot be ignored.

Lord Howell of Guildford Chair, International Relations Committee

As British Minister for the Commonwealth, will my noble friend use his considerable influence with the Commonwealth authorities and the secretariat to urge them in turn to point out to the authorities in Zimbabwe that, if ever they wish to rejoin the Commonwealth, as some aspire to do, and to gain the investment and trade benefits of doing so, they are not going about it in at all the right way?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State

Let me reassure my noble friend, who makes an important point. We will work very closely with the Commonwealth and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth to ensure that that is made absolutely clear to the Government of Zimbabwe. They have to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law. At the moment, the situation on the ground is clear: they are doing neither of those things.

Baroness Northover Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

My Lords, what we are hearing is very shocking and deeply depressing, when people had been optimistic about where Zimbabwe was heading. The EU has condemned this violence and sought an inquiry. It has tended to look to the United Kingdom for a lead on Zimbabwe. Will the Minister say how we are going to co-ordinate an approach with our EU partners in future should we leave the EU? Additionally, does he agree that the UK has sufficient information to cut off illicit financial flows to the current leadership and to the Zimbabwean military? Are the Government going to take action in this area?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State

My Lords, I shall take the noble Baroness’s second question first. She will be aware that there are quite specific targeted sanctions, first and foremost on the previous president, President Mugabe, his wife and others connected with that Administration, including members of the military. On our partnership with the European Union, as I have already said, my honourable friend the Minister for Africa will be meeting European colleagues today and tomorrow. On the wider question of what happens post Brexit, I assure the noble Baroness that as we see other countries, including, most notably, Germany and Belgium, joining the Security Council, I will be heading to New York later this week to, hope, extend discussions about how we can work together, Brexit aside, on the importance of having a European view on issues of international importance.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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