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Zimbabwe (Ministerial Visit)

Volume 35: debated on Wednesday 19 January 1983

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the visit to Zimbabwe of the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow).

I had a most useful and informative visit to Zimbabwe earlier this month. I am very grateful for the warm welcome I received, and I am particularly grateful to the Prime Minister, Mr. Mugabe, and his colleagues for the arrangements they made.I had frank and useful discussions with the Prime Minister and other members of his Cabinet. I also had the opportunity to meet and talk to a wide range of people: politicians, business men, industrialists and farmers. I am pleased that in all my contacts I found that the ties between Zimbabwe and Britain remain exceptionally close.I was able to see something of the very impressive work of the British military advisory and training team.

During my discussions in Zimbabwe, I was impressed by the Zimbabwe Government's firm and continuing commitment to carry forward their policy of reconciliation and to uphold the due process of law. I was pleased to be able to confirm that we remain fully committed to support Zimbabwe in these policies and to assist its economic progress. These are not easy times for Zimbabwe, but despite the problems and anxieties I was heartened by the strength of the commitment of leaders of all sections of the community to the future of the country and the success of Zimbabwe's economic development programme.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Minister of State, during his visit to Zimbabwe and his talks with the Prime Minister, expressed dissatisfaction at the alleged torture and delayed trial of senior air force officers.

During my recent visit to Zimbabwe I again expressed the concern of Her Majesty's Government that the Zimbabwe air force officers who are at present detained should be brought to trial as soon as possible. I was given assurances that this would be so. I also again reminded the Zimbabwe Government of our concern about the allegations of maltreatment of detainees, and received assurances that these allegations would be investigated and appropriate action taken.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Minister of State, during his visit to Zimbabwe, raised the question of the future of Mr. Stuttaford and Mr. Wilson or of the trial of Dr. F. and Mr. S. Bertrand.

During my recent visit to Zimbabwe I did not raise the question of the future of Mr. Stuttaford or Mr. Walker—to whom I assume my hon. Friend is referring—nor the trial of Dr. Francis and Mr. Stephen Bertrand.Mr. Stuttaford, who is a citizen of Zimbabwe, was acquitted in October 1982 of criminal charges and released. Mr. Denis Walker's future in Zimbabwe, of which he is also a citizen, is a matter between him and the Zimbabwe Government.With regard to Dr. Francis Bertrand and Mr. Stephen Bertrand, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to his question on 22 December.