27 October 2020 Volume 807
Question Asked by Lord Oates: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of their policy in respect of Zimbabwe.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Baroness Sugg) (Con): My Lords, sadly we have not seen sufficient progress towards the economic and political reforms that the Government themselves set out. The onus must be on the Zimbabwean Government to deliver that progress. Our policy remains to support the people of Zimbabwe in moving towards a more democratic, stable and prosperous country.
Lord Oates (LD): My Lords, do the Government recognise that, if we continue with our current policy, we will see the same results—injustice and repression continuing to be visited on the Zimbabwean people by their Government, a growing humanitarian crisis and the need for ever-increasing amounts of emergency aid to prevent starvation? So will the Minister consider convening a round table of experts to develop a more strategic political and economic approach, including looking at how a post-Covid Marshall plan for the region, accessible to countries that met specified governance and rule-of-law standards, could stimulate both economic recovery and democratic renewal in Zimbabwe and further afield?
Baroness Sugg (Con): My Lords, as I said, we have not seen the progress that we want and, like the noble Lord, we want to see both economic recovery and democratic renewal. So I am very happy to meet with the noble Lord to discuss that idea and to help bring that about.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Con): My Lords, Zimbabwe continues to have high rates of gender assaults throughout the country. Can my noble friend say what progress has been made by a DfID-launched programme, started 18 months ago, called Stopping Abuse and Female Exploitation?
Baroness Sugg (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for highlighting this issue. Even before the pandemic, Zimbabwe already had one of the highest prevalence rates of violence against women. We are investing in trying to help stop gender-based violence: as my noble friend said, we have funded a preventing sexual exploitation and abuse co-ordinator within Zimbabwe, and we are also working hard on a programme to stop abuse and female exploitation.
The Earl of Sandwich (CB) [V]: Would the Minister agree, first, that, with over half the population facing food insecurity, family farms deserve much greater priority and need more international support? Mozambique was a good example of that. Secondly, would she agree that the UK has a historic responsibility to join Zimbabwe in resolving the land reform issue, along with compensation for evicted farmers, so that, in time, the country can return to food self-sufficiency?
Baroness Sugg (Con): My Lords, we note the signing of a recent $3.5 billion compensation deal between the Zimbabwean Government and farmers for improvements to land, but we remain concerned that the agreement is not underpinned by the finance necessary to deliver the agreement. Officials at the British embassy in Harare speak regularly with a full range of stakeholders, who are interested in reaching an agreement on compensation.
Continued next page