Zimbabwe elections debate in the British House of Lords


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Several British peers yesterday asked what the British government was going to do about the “flawed” elections held by Zimbabwe recently and won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

Junior Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledown was evasive about the action his government was going to take.

Below is the full debate:

Baroness Hoey Non-affiliated: To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the result of the recent election in Zimbabwe, and whether it was free and fair.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office):My Lords, the United Kingdom commends the Zimbabwean voters for their peaceful participation in Zimbabwe’s recent elections. However, the UK shares the view expressed in international election observation mission preliminary statements that the pre-election period and election day fell short of regional and international standards. The UK is also concerned about the lack of transparency surrounding the compiling of results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the severe disruption of domestic observation.

Baroness Hoey Non-affiliated: My Lords, it was obvious to every independent observer that those elections were not free and fair. In the words of Nelson Chamisa himself, they were a “blatant and gigantic fraud”, but the hard-hitting SADC report questioned the credibility of the elections and the breaches of its own standards. The saddest thing is that, as the election observers left, the familiar pattern of widespread arrests, abductions and torture of grass-roots supporters of the opposition is taking place as we speak all over the country. There were even lawyers arrested last night in a hospital where they were representing tortured victims—the same kind of retribution that Mugabe did after 2008. Does the noble Lord agree that now is the time for full support by His Majesty’s Government for SADC’s efforts to resolve the crisis, and in particular for our newly arrived ambassador to re-evaluate all facets of our relationship with a Zimbabwean Government who flout their own laws through acts of violence and torture, and to give some hope even in the darkest days to the perseverance and courage of the Zimbabwean people?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office): My Lords, the noble Baroness refers to the arrival of our new ambassador. He arrived today and brings both diplomatic and development experience. I am sure he will play an exemplary role in our relations with Zimbabwe, its communities and all parties in Zimbabwe as well. The noble Baroness mentioned the abduction and torture of opposition CCC members, which we have raised directly. I can report that we are relieved that they have been found and are receiving treatment for their injuries. We also note the arrest and subsequent bail of two lawyers acting on behalf of the alleged victims on 4 September.

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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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