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House of Commons Hansard
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03 September 2019
Volume 664

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7. What recent assessment he has made of the UK’s diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe. [912246]

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We are gravely concerned at the heavy-handed response to protests in Harare on 16 August, and the recent arrest and abductions of Opposition figures. President Mnangagwa must hold to account those responsible for human rights violations. We have made our position clear to the Zimbabwe Government that UK support depends on fundamental political and economic reform. Zimbabwe must now translate its commitment into actions.

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Does my hon. Friend agree that President Mnangagwa and his Administration have been a grave disappointment to this country and indeed to their own countrymen? Does he nevertheless also agree that the aid we give to Zimbabwe, particularly the DFID aid that goes into education, is absolutely vital and plays an extraordinarily good role in Zimbabwean education? Will he assure me that at the same time as keeping up the pressure on human rights and making absolutely clear our horror at the behaviour of President Mnangagwa and his gang of thugs, we will continue to support the education system in Zimbabwe?

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I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. The UK provided £94 million of aid to Zimbabwe in 2018-19. None of that money is channelled through the Zimbabwe Government. I reiterate the point that the UK’s ongoing support through our DFID work depends on fundamental political and economic reform in Zimbabwe.

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Does the Minister agree that any semblance of the rule of law has now broken down in Zimbabwe? We saw that just last week when a peaceful protest was banned at the very last minute by Mnangagwa. What more are Her Majesty’s Government doing to get the Southern African Development Community and the African Union on board to make their views known about the appalling way that Mnangagwa is treating the people of Zimbabwe?

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I thank the hon. Lady for her question. I know she has considerable expertise as the chairman of the all-party group on Zimbabwe. We are very concerned about the current human rights issues in that country. The violations, such as those seen in January and August 2019, have no place in a democratic society. We will continue to work with all international partners to ensure that those responsible are held to account.