Zimbabwe — [Mrs Anne Main in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:05 pm on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 3:05 pm, 30th January 2019

I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. She reiterates the facts of the case that we all know of. There is evidence of violence, corruption, attacks on women, and the stealing of property. I do not say that everyone is innocent; some looting has taken place, but that does not take away from the overall corruption within the new Government. Such attacks are not the actions of a democratic Government. They are the actions displayed by Mugabe during his dictatorship, which we thought we had got rid of. Very little has changed, which is so sad, but it must change if we are to continue working so closely with the Government.

It is believed that Zimbabwe’s application to rejoin the Commonwealth, submitted in May 2018, having withdrawn from the organisation in 2003, is being considered, and the Government said in April 2018 that they would

“strongly support Zimbabwe’s re-entry”.

To me, Zimbabwe has done little to engender that level of support and we need to be very careful about what we do. Membership of the Commonwealth has many facets: respect for the Queen, respect for others, and dedication to running a country in a democratic way. So are we really supporting Zimbabwe by bringing it back into the Commonwealth, which I would love to see, but with conditions that have to be met? We cannot expect it to come in willy-nilly and continue what it is doing. Should we really support that at this time? Should we be willing to observe, monitor and regulate what is happening? I understand that membership of the Commonwealth allows us perhaps to have a greater influence that we can use for the good of some countries, but if the millions that we pour in are not influencing—this is the question I ask—I fail to see how our support of membership will influence.

In conclusion, I understand that changes are not made overnight, but there has been time and there has been no improvement for the people on the farms—the breadbaskets of Zimbabwe. There has been time, but no improvement for schoolchildren and teachers who have small wages and not even books in schools; no improvement for patients and doctors, so money needs to be spent there; and no sign of change. We must make it clear that giving time is not the answer. Action is the only answer, and we must see it now.