Lord Hayward (Con): My Lords, my noble friend just made reference to democracy in Zimbabwe, which is clearly sadly lacking. Could she give an indication of the work that this Government are undertaking with the EU and Commonwealth in relation to preparations for the next elections because, if the groundwork is not done now in relation to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, constituencies and free access to the media, the next elections will be stolen like so many others?
Baroness Sugg (Con): My Lords, I agree with my noble friend. As we look forward to the elections in 2023, a lot needs to be done to ensure a level playing field. The 2018 elections were an acknowledged improvement, but our observer mission still highlighted significant shortcomings. We will continue to engage with the Commonwealth and the EU, alongside the Government of Zimbabwe, on the observer-mission recommendations.
Lord St John of Bletso (CB): Is the Minister aware that President Mnangagwa’s niece was arrested in Harare yesterday for attempting to smuggle six kilograms of gold to Dubai? At a time when there have been no prosecutions for corruption, despite overwhelming evidence of gross corruption by ZANU-PF government officials, what measures can Her Majesty’s Government and the European Union take to ensure the independence of the judiciary in Zimbabwe, and what measures can be taken to encourage the South African Government to use their political and economic leverage with Zimbabwe to help resolve the crisis?
Baroness Sugg (Con): My Lords, I am afraid that I was not aware of the noble Lord’s information on the arrest yesterday. We are working closely with our partners in the EU to try to avoid corruption and we will continue to do so with the African Union and South Africa to try to reduce corruption in Zimbabwe.
Lord Hain (Lab) [V]: My Lords, what specific steps have the Government taken to sanction those responsible, including government Ministers, for massive human rights violations in Zimbabwe, such as the abduction and torture of Joana Mamombe and her colleagues in June? She continues to be viciously harassed through the criminal justice system, and police brutality is continuing with impunity: for example, throwing tear gas into a crowded bus on 12 October.
Baroness Sugg (Con): My Lords, the UK remains aligned to the EU’s restrictive measures on Zimbabwe. Suspended targeted measures are in place against three current and former security sector chiefs, and Grace Mugabe. The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 now provides the legal basis for the UK to impose autonomous sanctions, and we are in the process of considering our approach to the future sanctions regime in Zimbabwe.
Baroness Northover (LD): My Lords, the FCO has tended to look at things by country and DfID has often looked at things across the region. Given the effectiveness of the African Union in the coronavirus crisis in getting countries to work together, is the new department looking at how best to help the region and, with it, Zimbabwe?
Baroness Sugg (Con): My Lords, the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office does offer further opportunities to help integrate development and diplomacy into a single new department that aims to bring together the best of our diplomatic and development efforts. We will continue to work with the African Union—I agree with the noble Baroness that it has done a sterling job on Covid-19—in order to try to bring about long-lasting change.
The Lord Speaker (Lord Fowler): My Lords, the time allowed for this Question has elapsed and we now come to the second Oral Question.
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