New Forest East



Lymington Times – 16 February 2002

New Forest East MP Julian Lewis has pressed the Government for stronger action against Robert Mugabe’s destruction of democracy in Zimbabwe. Together with two other Conservative MPs he has raised the matter at Business Questions in the House of Commons with former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

It was not enough for Mr Cook to endorse their criticisms of Mugabe's behaviour, he said: "the Government have done too little, too late to pro­test about Zimbabwe" and failure of the Commonwealth to take any action could only lead people to conclude that the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the British Government had been ineffective.

According to Mr Cook, however, Labour had "taken every possible step to bring home to the Govern­ment of President Mugabe our deep concern and alarm at the state of affairs within the country".

The exchange came a week after Dr Lewis had been the opening speaker in a Parliamentary debate on Zimbabwe in which he compared Mugabe's tactics to those of the Na­zis as they consolidated their grip on Germany in the 1930s.

"The foreign press is being excluded from the country and the local press is threatened with being licensed year by year. The Chief Justice of Zimbabwe has been forced from office, opposition politicians have been murdered; their rallies have been tear-gassed and their offices torched. An electoral register excluding up to 2 million Zimbabweans on the basis that one parent was born abroad has been drawn up, while the same electoral register allows large numbers of long-dead voters the privilege of receiving a ballot paper,"

the MP said.

"More than 150 opposition supporters had been murdered", he added, and the military had said that they would not support a government led by Mugabe's only rival for the presidency. According to the head of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists "critics say the new laws exceed the worst excesses of Rhodesia's white minority government or Apartheid South Africa".