The position of South Africa as facilitator in the negotiations on Zimbabwe has been far from even-handed British Parliamentarians discussed Zimbabwe in the House of Commons last week. The Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, was in generous mood. He claimed: The position of the South Africans has certainly been to urge adherence to the Global Political Agreement, which requires compromise on all sides, and I do not think that they have been less than even-handed in the way in which they have done that.
Not many of the Zimbabweans Ive spoken to over recent years would agree with that. They feel the position of South Africa as facilitator in the negotiations on Zimbabwe has been far from even-handed. Most have told me that if Thabo Mbeki had not protected Zanu (PF) it would have been removed from power long ago.
The Foreign Secretary was answering a question I had raised prompted by reports that President Jacob Zuma was urging Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC negotiating team to make ever more compromises on top of the many concessions they have already made to overcome the obstructive refusal of Zanu (PF) to implement in full the Global Political Agreement.
The agreement bears Robert Mugabes signature but it seems that, along with so many other documents he has signed and promises he has made, his signature isnt worth the paper its written on. Thirty years ago this week, on January 27, 1980, he arrived back in Zimbabwe from exile in Mozambique. In the speech he made on his return he declared: “We will not seize land from anyone who has a use for it. Farmers who are able to be productive and prove useful to society will find us co-operative.”
It is tragic to read those words considering the collapse in agricultural output that has resulted from the seizure of land from Zimbabwean farmers over recent years. How sad to see the productivity of land now it is in the hands of Mugabes favoured comrades.
In the past those commercial farms not only fed the nation and the region but also provided vital export earnings to sustain the programmes of improvement in healthcare, education and housing that are so desperately needed by the people of Zimbabwe, now more than ever.
In the same speech he warned: Take note therefore, that as we move our forces into assembly points we have not done so as cowards. It is not an act of surrender; it is mere compliance with an agreement. And equally take note, that in the same way as we have moved to assembly places we can move out of those assembly places.
In view of his current disregard for the terms of the Global Political Agreement that phrase mere compliance with an agreement is as ominous now as it was then. In 1980 the people of Zimbabwe were tired of bloodshed and the threat we can move out of those assembly places was clearly meant to send the message vote for us – or else we will go back to war.
The past 30 years have seen many occasions when personnel whose duty is to defend and protect the people of Zimbabwe, the army, the youth militias and the CIO, were mobilised to carry out programmes of intimidation and purges on behalf of Zanu (PF). Whether in the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s or Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, the oppressive use of violence has been an evil hallmark of the Mugabe regime.
While we were discussing Zimbabwe this week, MPs raised the issue of those Zimbabweans who are banned from travelling in EU countries, including the United Kingdom, and whose assets are frozen.
The list of names comes up for renewal next month; it is made up of people involved in human rights abuse in Zimbabwe or closely associated with the Zanu (PF) regime, which is held responsible, by EU countries, for having sustained a repressive political regime that meted out violence on the people of Zimbabwe.
I, and most MPs in the House of Commons, believe the list must be renewed for another year. It is far too early to take pressure off Zanu (PF). As well as dragging their heels over full implementation of the Global Political Agreement, there is already evidence that violence is being used to coerce the electorate into supporting Zanu (PF) during the outreach programme of consultation on the new constitution.
After everything that the people of Zimbabwe have suffered over the past 10 years it makes me very angry that the only thing many leaders in Southern Africa really seem to care about is the EU travel ban on Zanu (PF) ministers. All the people on the list belong to a corrupt elite who live in luxury beyond the wildest dreams of most Zimbabweans.
If only the communiqus issued after Southern African Development Community summits expressed as much concern about the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans as they do about the inability of a few ministers to visit London and Paris for expensive holidays and shopping trips. Kate Hoey is the Labour MP for Vauxhall and Chair of the parliamentary committee on Zimbabwe.Post published in: Opinions