Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Zimbabwe

Delivered in Plenary - 4th July 2002

Mr President

This Parliament has been a consistent critic of the Mugabe dictatorship in Zimbabwe, a country which, 20 years ago, was deemed to be a model for a prosperous, multi-racial African democracy. However, after the slaughter of thousands in Matabeleland the ZANU-PF Government has brought the country to the verge of economic collapse and starvation. The March presidential elections were a travesty of democracy, with repression of a free press and the MDC opposition leader now on trial for treason.

Mugabe has rewarded his cronies - or so-called "veterans" - with confiscated white farmers' land. The Land Acquisition Act is even now preventing the harvesting of the crops to feed the hungry.

The EU sanctions have been poorly applied, with the Minster of Police recently attending an Interpol function in Spain and Mugabe attending a hunger conference in Rome, which is a clear affront to world opinion. Children of the regime's leaders are allegedly attending expensive British boarding schools. The New Partnership for African Development and the EU Troika have been supine in galvanising regional - particularly South African and Nigerian - opinion against the president.

Although Zimbabwe faces expulsion from the Commonwealth on 25 July, the government seems more concerned with prosecuting a disastrous war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to safeguard Mugabe's cronies' diamond mining interests.

I strongly urge the General Affairs Council, on 22 July, to beef up the sanctions and to allow no excuses from Member States that their multilateral treaty obligations override the sanction restrictions. I also call on the Commonwealth to suspend Zimbabwe from the forthcoming Commonwealth Games on 25 July in Manchester.

Ordinary people can rest assured that the EU will continue to provide emergency humanitarian aid in order to prevent undue suffering and a total breakdown in civil society.