The question was raised in the House of Lords by The Marquess of Lothian who asked on Monday what assessment the British government had made of reports that the government of Russia plans to establish a strategic military base in Zimbabwe.
The Marquess, Michael Kerr, also wanted to know what estimate the government had made of which African countries have Russian military bases, and have made agreements with the government of Russia to establish such bases, on their soil.
Minister of State Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon responded that the British government believes that sovereign states have the right to decide their own security policy.
“We monitor Russia’s developing international defence relationships, including in Africa,” he said without stating whether Russia had any plans to establish a military base in Zimbabwe or not.
Britain and the United States are increasing getting edgy on the inroads that Russia and China are making into Africa.
Zimbabwe has accused the two of funding the country’s opposition and anti-government non-governmental organisations which it claims were responsible for organising recent demonstrations which turned violent leading to the deployment of security forces who cracked down on the protesters.
There has been an outcry from human rights organisations over the excessive use of force by the security forces on innocent civilians but the government has said that the security forces will remain on the ground to ensure peace and sanity in the country.
There has been intense interest in Zimbabwe in the British Parliament since the demonstrations two weeks ago with several questions being tabled on Monday.
Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Harriett Baldwin said Britain is not supporting Zimbabwe’s readmission to the Commonwealth because of human rights violations.
The next Commonwealth meeting is in Rwanda next year.
She also said the British government was providing “specialised medical, counselling and legal assistance as well as extensive financial and technical assistance to a number of civil society organisations aimed at protecting and promoting human rights and upholding Zimbabwe’s democratic principles”.
Zimbabwe will be up for debate again today in the House of Commons and tomorrow in the House of Lords.