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Zimbabwe - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:57 pm on 31st January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State 2:57 pm, 31st January 2019

My noble friend makes a very pertinent point. I assure him that, as Chair-in-Office, we take our role very seriously. This will be a subject of formal and informal discussion among Commonwealth countries. I assure him that we are using all channels, but most notably we are working with our key Commonwealth partner, South Africa. It has a major influence on the future relations throughout Africa, and particularly on developments in Zimbabwe. I will certainly take particular note of his suggestion, but it is clear that the Commonwealth stands united if these reforms cannot be met. As recent events have shown, words alone are not enough; we need to see action on political reform.

In the interests of time, I will write specifically to the noble Lord on sanctions policy, but the existing sanctions policy remains in place. I assure him that we are continually reviewing sanctions and their most effective use, along with EU partners.

It is vital that Zimbabwe’s political leaders focus on doing what is best for its people, with all parties rejecting violence, upholding the rule of law and putting the best interests of the country first. As the Foreign Secretary said in the House of Commons, President Mnangagwa must not turn the clock back. He must move rapidly from words to action on the political and economic reforms that he has set out to work with all Zimbabweans to build a pathway to a better future. I assure all noble friends, including my noble friend Lord Goschen in particular, that Her Majesty’s Government remain committed to doing the right thing to ensure and to install the hope of the Lancaster House agreement almost 40 years ago. As our departed noble friend Lord Carrington aptly said, in doing so, we will always put the best interests of the Zimbabwean people first.