British MP asks: “Why should we talk about Middle East instead of Southern Africa which is part of our home?”


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A British Member of Parliament, Oliver Colvile, says the United Kingdom should be more concerned about the likely food shortages in Southern Africa than what is happening in the Middle East because that part of Africa “is part of our home”.

Contributing to the debate in which he was arguing that Britain should remain committed to spending 0.7 percent of its gross domestic product to aid, Colvile said  it looked like 2.8 million households in Zimbabwe would face difficulties, including getting food.

“This issue is incredibly important and we need to take it seriously, and if I am honest I am rather surprised that we spend much more time talking about the middle east than we do talking about a really important part of Africa, which, frankly, is part of our home, because we have a responsibility there. Actually, my great-uncles were both deputy governors down in Malawi and I know the place very well indeed,” he said.

Full contribution:

Oliver Colvile Conservative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

Thank you very much, Mr Gapes, for calling me to speak. I will keep my contribution very short, very brief and to the point.

First, may I congratulate my hon. Friend Steve Double on securing this debate, which is a really good idea? Secondly, I declare my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I am the chairman of the all-party group on Zambia and Malawi as well. Indeed, I was in Zambia with Dr Cameron last summer, where we learned quite a bit about how it is that places such as Zambia are being affected very badly by tuberculosis and HIV. As hon. Members know, HIV ends up cutting down the immune system and makes a sufferer much more likely to get TB. During the course of this year, we have seen a lot of people coming into this country by ship and we do not know whether they are coming in with TB. That is one very good reason why we should most certainly remain committed to spending the 0.7%.

The other issue that I will talk about very briefly is the whole business of what is happening down in southern Africa, especially in Zimbabwe. I am the vice-chair of the all-party group on Zimbabwe—indeed, I will be going to Zambia and Zimbabwe, and hopefully Malawi too, during the course of the summer, including for the Zambian presidential election. There is a very bad problem developing with El Niño, which is badly affecting people. It looks as if 2.8 million households will face real difficulty, including difficulty in just getting food.

This issue is incredibly important and we need to take it seriously, and if I am honest I am rather surprised that we spend much more time talking about the middle east than we do talking about a really important part of Africa, which, frankly, is part of our home, because we have a responsibility there. Actually, my great-uncles were both deputy governors down in Malawi and I know the place very well indeed.

(54 VIEWS)

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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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