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9.4 pm

Hugh Bayley (City of York): I had not originally intended to speak in this debate, but I am prompted to do so by a number of hon. Members' contributions and, indeed, by the response to my intervention from the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram). I am pleased to see that he is still in his place. I congratulate the Opposition on initiating this debate, and I agree with much of what the right hon. Gentleman said about the horror of the human rights abuses. No hon. Member would disagree about condemning the catalogue of atrocities that was described by the right hon. Gentleman, by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Tony Cunningham) and by the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack). Nor would I disagree about the need to increase pressure, in any way we can, on President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF co-leaders.

The right hon. Member for Devizes was correct in telling me that the Conservative Government's failure to respond to Mugabe's repression in Matabeleland in the early 1980s would be no excuse for a failure to respond now, and he was right to raise the issue in the House. While all cases of torture or political killing are equally horrific, however, it is important to recognise the scale of a problem.

The Human Rights Forum, a Zimbabwean non-governmental organisation, estimates that between January 2001 and 14 May this year 146 people have been killed in political violence. That is a shocking, terrible figure, but it is not the 10,000 who were slaughtered in Matabeleland when Mugabe was trying to make the Zimbabwe leadership a Shona-only leadership rather than the partnership that existed, during the Patriotic Front's struggle for independence, between the Shona ZANU and the Ndebele ZAPU liberation movements.

What all of us, on both sides of the House, must resolve to do is to work with our friends in Africa in every way we can to stop the death toll from rising into the thousands this time—to stop it from rising, heaven forbid, as high as it did in the early 1980s. The fact remains, nevertheless, that more people will die from hunger in Malawi than will die from political violence in Zimbabwe, more will die from hunger in Zambia than from political violence in Zimbabwe, and more will die from hunger in Zimbabwe itself than from political violence there. A child who dies of hunger, whether south or north of the Zambezi, dies in the same way. We as a Government must respond to a crisis that exists in many southern African countries.

There is no doubt that Mugabe's land reform programme has made the food shortage crisis in Zimbabwe much worse, but let us not forget that other factors are involved. It would be wrong to blame solely the land reform for the problems of hunger. Poor economic policies are also to blame. The official Government exchange rate—the rate that Ministers pay to obtain foreign exchange with which to buy bottles of whisky—is 50 Zimbabwean dollars to the pound. The street value—the market rate—is 750 Zimbabwean dollars to the pound. That is what others must pay. Those

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economic policies destroy local production. Who will buy Zimbabwean produce when people have to sell for 10, maybe even 15, times its real price?

There are bad economic policies, bad agricultural policies, and drought. I returned from Zambia a few years ago with photographs of the Victoria falls. The Shona call them "mosi oi tunya", which means "the mist that thunders". But when I was there, there was no mist, no thunder, and no water. One of my photographs was exhibited in the Upper Waiting Hall a couple of years ago—a photograph of the Victoria falls as a dry cliff. Drought is certainly a problem: we are not talking just about economic policies.

Clare Short: My hon. Friend is right—there is drought—but drought does not become famine without misgovernment. That was the great finding of Professor Sen. A drought crisis that could be handled otherwise may become a famine owing to misgovernment. In that sense, if people die it is political.

Hugh Bayley: I agree. I have said myself that the policies of Mugabe's Government make the drought much worse. It is not just a Zimbabwean drought, however; it is causing hunger in a number of countries in southern Africa.

Hunger is also a consequence of the slow progress on land reform since Mugabe came to power. Land reform needs to happen, but it must be based on the rule of law, and not be achieved through violence. Above all, it must distribute land to poor, rural, landless people, and not to the cronies, supporters and leaders of ZANU-PF. It must be backed up by good policies on agriculture and rural development, so that smaller farms will be productive and support people in Zimbabwe.

Recently, I attended the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's conference here. I was quizzed in a debate with association members largely from African states about the UK's policy on land reform. We have made a commitment to use development assistance to support land reform if the basic conditions that I set out earlier are met—that is, that land reform benefits poor, landless people rather than Government elites, and that it is provided in a transparent and legally based way.

Hon. Members of all parties have asked what can be done to change what is happening in Zimbabwe. They want to know how we can ensure free and fair elections, respect for human rights and just land redistribution, and how we can address hunger. I share the Opposition's view that we should toughen sanctions. The right hon. Member for Devizes proposed extending targeted sanctions to the families of top Zimbabwean leaders, and said that they should not be confined to top leaders only. He also suggested that the targeted sanctions be extended to other leaders, especially business leaders who are ZANU-PF supporters.

I do not think that Government Front-Bench Members would disagree. On 13 June, The Daily Telegraph reported that those proposals were precisely the ones that the Government intended to take to next month's EU meeting. However, we must accept that the proposed changes to the sanctions regime—important but modest as they are—will not change things overnight. We must learn the lessons of history. After Ian Smith made his unilateral declaration of independence, we the British

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imposed tough sanctions. So why did Smith's illegal regime last so many years? It was able to import what it needed for survival—most importantly, oil—through Mozambique and South Africa. Those neighbouring countries did not impose sanctions.

The lesson is clear. If the EU is alone in imposing sanctions, they will not be effective. To coin a phrase, we will be waiting years, not months, before the sanctions bite. We need to impose sanctions that are supported by the Southern African Development Community and the neighbouring southern African countries.

The right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) was right to say that political action was not particularly glamorous, but that it was necessary. A sanctions policy that is not supported by neighbouring African leaders will not have the effect that we seek. The hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) is also right, and I shall end soon so that he can tell the House more about why the New Partnership for Africa's Development is an important part of the answer.

The Government must bring more pressure to bear on the Mugabe Government. We need to get famine aid flowing throughout the region, and to get good development assistance working in neighbouring states—in part to show people in Zimbabwe that good development assistance working constructively with other Governments can bring benefits. People in Zimbabwe would then be able to appreciate that a country under a Mugabe-type regime is unable to make the progress possible for other countries.

In addition, we must seek the resumption of party-to-party talks with the Opposition in Zimbabwe. We must restate our commitment to land reform, according to conditions that are transparent and fair, and which help the poor. We need to investigate where the assets of ZANU-PF are held abroad, and to use our aid to support trade unions, non-governmental organisations and other opposition bodies in Zimbabwe. Those are the things that we need to do to build a coalition that forces the change that Members on both sides of the House want.

9.15 pm

Tony Baldry: As is often the case, I am largely in agreement with the hon. Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley), my colleague on the International Development Committee, although I want to share a few points with the House to put the issue into a slightly broader context.

Jim Morris, the executive director of the World Food Programme, came to brief the International Development Committee last Monday. I want to read to the House the note of the informal meeting:

A rather stark sentence follows:

I suspect that what we are about to see in southern Africa will dwarf the humanitarian aid effort that has been required in Afghanistan. The Secretary of State for International Development shakes her head, but she can tell us whether that is so when she winds up. With

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12 million to 13 million people at risk of loss of life, however, I do not think that the executive director of the World Food Programme would use those words lightly. He went on to tell us:

Interestingly, he added that

In southern Africa, we are about to face a famine of horrific proportions. Whereas Zimbabwe used to export food to neighbouring countries, the whole of that area now suffers from the prospect of substantial loss of life. That is also against a background of the scourge of AIDS. Let us consider this horrific figure: a quarter of the education budget in Malawi goes to pay for the funerals of teachers who have died from AIDS.

This is a test not just for us but for the whole of Africa. We have heard a lot about the New Partnership for Africa's Development. When President Mbeki introduced, with President Obasanjo and others, the NEPAD concept in October 2001, he said:

In an article in The Washington Post the other day, President Museveni of Uganda wrote that

He continued:

As part of NEPAD, African leaders have agreed on a peer review system whereby African countries will judge other African countries—but more than peer review is required.

NEPAD is being discussed in Canada, and African countries are asking us and other G8 countries for substantially more investment in Africa for infrastructure and other projects. I hope that that will be forthcoming, but there is a quid pro quo. There must be a partnership, and part of that partnership means that African countries collectively will have to exert pressure on those who are failing. I suspect that there is substantially more that those countries could do to bring pressure to bear on Mugabe and on the regime in Zimbabwe. We must make it clear to our colleagues in Africa whom we wish to support that this is a test. We and those who want to support them will watch closely to see how they face up to that test.

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9.20 pm

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