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My Lords, I too thank the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, for initiating this timely debate. As he rightly said, there was great hope that the departure of Robert Mugabe would usher in a new era for Zimbabwe. However, any optimism has now evaporated. Since the presidential elections, we have seen the killing of protesters, the arbitrary detention of opposition activists and further curbs on the freedom of the press.
As Harriett Baldwin said in the Westminster Hall debate yesterday, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has recorded a wide range of human rights violations since the fuel protests and general strike that began on
On his return to Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa committed to holding his security forces to account for human rights violations and spoke of the urgent need for a national dialogue and reconciliation. However, as Harriett Baldwin said yesterday, words need to be followed by deeds. I hope the Minister will urge the Government of Zimbabwe to immediately release the trade union leadership so that they can engage in good-faith negotiations with them on a peaceful and constructive way out of the economic crisis, with full respect for human rights and workers’ rights.
The Minister assured the House last week, during the Question from the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, that the UK was working very closely with international partners such as the SADC and the African Union and in particular with South Africa to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to stop their disproportionate use of force. We know that Harriett Baldwin, the Minister for Africa, attended the EU/AU ministerial in Brussels on
As Harriett Baldwin also reported yesterday, and as we have heard mentioned in today’s debate, targeted EU sanctions remain in place, including on Vice-President Chiwenga. Can the Minister indicate whether our discussions with allies there involve any plans to extend those sanctions, or indeed introduce new ones, to put more pressure on the Government of Zimbabwe?
On development aid, I acknowledge DfID’s long-standing decision not to channel funds directly, which, as we heard from the noble Viscount during the debate, flows from concerns about the role of the ruling party, ZANU-PF. Taking it sector by sector, 50% of DfID spending in 2018-19 will be on human development, with economic development the second biggest sector on 24%, while 18% will be spent on governance and security. I understand that there are currently 19 active UK aid projects. What assessment has been made of the governance and security projects? Can the Minister assure the House that no funds are ending up in the hands of the Zimbabwean Government or their agents?