UK wades into Zimbabwe-SADC election roadmap

LONDON – The United Kingdom says it is working with Sadc to ensure free and fair elections are organised in Zimbabwe

Britain’s Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Howell told the House of Commons on this week they were working with international partners including Sadc, to support efforts for an election roadmap which would lead to credible and properly monitored elections.

“We are working with international partners, particularly the South African Development Community, to support their efforts to create an election roadmap leading to credible and properly monitored elections,” Howell said.

The disclosure confirms why President Robert Mugabe may have suddenly become very uneasy with the role of the Sadc-appointed facilitator to Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

Zanu PF on Thursday said it did not want the involvement of the British in such issues.

“We do not accept the British’s involvement in Sadc issues because they are the ones who put us in this mess after they imposed economic sanctions and failed to meet their obligations under the Lancaster House Agreement,” Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu PF spokesperson, said last night.

“We have been fighting the British and we will continue fighting them.”

President Mugabe has threatened not to obey the decisions of Sadc’s Politics, Defence and Security Organ calling for a roadmap to bring an immediate end to violence and persecution of political rivals in Zimbabwe.

In London, Howell said effective election monitoring was critical to avoid a repeat of the violence and irregularities of the 2008 elections which were rendered indecisive forcing the three key political parties into an inclusive government. 

“The UK stands ready to assist in any election monitoring effort, including through multilateral partners such as the EU or Commonwealth. However, any such efforts would have to be in response to an invitation by the Government of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Below is the question and answer debate.

 

Zimbabwe

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the European Union will deploy international observers to monitor the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe. [HL8105]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is clear that effective election monitoring will be critical if there is to be no repeat of the violence and irregularities of the 2008 elections. We are working with international partners, particularly the South African Development Community, to support their efforts to create an election road map leading to credible and properly monitored elections. The UK stands ready to assist in any election monitoring effort, including through multilateral partners such as the EU or Commonwealth. However, any such efforts would have to be in response to an invitation by the Government of Zimbabwe.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the recently renewed arms embargo on Zimbabwe.[HL8106]

Lord Howell of Guildford: There is no evidence of any breaches of the EU arms embargo, and our assessment is that the EU arms embargo has been, and continues to be, effective.

The EU arms embargo only covers the 27 EU member states and does not stop other countries that do not have any measures in place against Zimbabwe from supplying arms.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what aid they are giving to Zimbabwe at present; and whether aid arrangements will change following the elections. [HL8108]

Baroness Verma: In the current situation, it is difficult to be precise about how the Department for International Development (DfID) expects the bilateral development programme in Zimbabwe to evolve. Pre-election DfID’s programme of £80 million (for 2011-12) will be delivered through the United Nations, non-government organisations and the private sector and is largely designed to provide basic services and protect livelihoods for the poorest Zimbabweans. In anticipation of the election of a Government who reflect the will of the people and are prepared to govern in the interests of all Zimbabweans, DfID stands ready to further widen our support.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they are providing to the Southern African Development Community in its efforts to ensure that the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe are free and fair.[HL8109]

Baroness Verma: The Government recognise the Southern African Development Community’s important role as guarantors of Zimbabwe’s global political agreement and we endorse its current efforts to create a road map leading to credible and properly monitored elections. We also continue to look for ways of using UK funding to strengthen regional forums to increase pressure for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, for example through civil society.