UK Parliament – Zimbabwe 5 November 2008



House of Commons

Wednesday 5 November 2008

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The Secretary of State was asked—
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con): The Minister will know that a very high percentage of the population of Zimbabwe is starving as a result of the activities of ex-President Mugabe.

What assurance can he give me that the aid that we are giving to that country, and rightly so, is getting through to the people who need it and is not being used by Mr. Mugabe and his henchmen for political purposes?

Mr. Lewis: The hon. Gentleman raises an issue that unites Members on both sides of the House. The aid that we give to Zimbabwe goes directly through the United Nations and does not go through any governmental organisations within Zimbabwe. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met the head of our Zimbabwe office only last week, and those assurances were reaffirmed. Let us send a very strong message from this House today that we expect Mugabe to honour the commitments that were made in the agreement on a political settlement. Until that happens, the people of Zimbabwe are suffering as a consequence of Mugabe’s failure to honour those commitments.

PRIME MINISTER

The Prime Minister was asked—

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): The Prime Minister will be aware that this weekend South Africa will host the Southern African Development Community conference to discuss Zimbabwe and the atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Will he continue to do all he can to ensure that the African leaders and the rest of the world realise that Zimbabwe, under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai, has resisted violence and stuck to peaceful and democratic means, and to ensure that that country is not sidelined because of what is happening in the DRC?

The Prime Minister: I welcome my hon. Friend’s long-term interest in Zimbabwe issues. I gather that the Speaker of the Zimbabwe Parliament is with us in this building today. I am determined that the international community act in a strong, united and decisive way on this issue. We have offered humanitarian aid—food aid going into Zimbabwe—but we regret that, despite all the discussions led by former President Mbeki, no agreement has yet been reached on the future of Zimbabwe and the personnel in the Government.

While we are determined to avoid a catastrophe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—and we will take action as the Foreign Secretary said—by giving humanitarian aid and protecting civilians, and while Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit the DRC in the next few days, a regional summit will be held to look further into this matter and a UN envoy will, I believe, be appointed very soon, I can assure my hon. Friend that we will not take our eyes off the humanitarian aid that we need to give to Zimbabwe and that we will not stop applying pressure for a political settlement that recognises the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people.

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