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Anderton: Zimbabwe Parliamentary Notice of Motion

24 June 2008 Media Statement


Parliamentary Notice of Motion

Madam Speaker, The Progressive Party has no hesitation supporting the motion, and no hesitation standing alongside human rights and democracy.

On Saturday I joined others in Christchurch on a vigil in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.

Among us were some of the seven thousand former Zimbabweans who have made their homes here in New Zealand.

My sympathy and my support goes out to them as they look at the shocking violence in the country of their birth.

They are watching, as the world watches, the political violence and killing, the intimidation, the strangling of the Zimbabwe economy and the crushing of democratic freedom.

They are watching as Mr Mugabe has the breathtaking gall to show up at a global conference on food in Rome that I attended a few weeks ago, and lectures the rest of the world. I had no difficulty choosing to skip that session.

Last year one of the most notable books about global poverty ever written was released. It was written by an Oxford academic and former World Bank economist, Paul Collier. He looked closely at the causes of extreme poverty around the world.

He found very clear patterns: The poorest people in the world invariably live in countries that are cut off from trade with the world; countries that are devastated by violence - and particularly war; and countries where corruption is rampant.

Mr Mugabe has done a tragically good job of importing all these conditions to Zimbabwe.

His repressive behaviour has cut Zimbabwe off from the world.

The use of violence to shore up his faltering authority tears at the fabric of the country. And his corrupt vote-rigging has destroyed the opportunity for Zimbabwe to change course.

Land confiscations and poorly designed price controls, led the economy to contract and exports to falter. Mr Mugabe's government responded by printing money, which has led to hyperinflation and the economy is imploding, isolating it further.

But Paul Collier also identified that the world can make a huge difference to the fortunes of countries like Zimbabwe. He shows that pressure from the outside can lead countries towards the sunlight of democratic freedom.

So I want to express disappointment that the United Nations could not make a stronger statement of condemnation about Mr Mugabe, and could not call on him to stand down.

I am disappointed also, at Zimbabwe's southern neighbour. The pressure of those of who stood along side South Africa's repressed majority helped to bring freedom to that country and end apartheid. The world is looking now to Thabo Mbeki to display some moral leadership and call for change in Zimbabwe.

The episode shows the need for the world to agree on a standard of behaviour and a process for intervening when countries go rogue.

In recent years international law has extended to look through sovereign immunity and hold to account former leaders for criminal behaviour.

It is logical therefore that the world should intervene against dreadful governments while they cling to power.

The motion of this parliament, condemning his regime and calling for change, helps in some way. If we want to rid the world of dreadful government, we have to speak out. We are shining a beacon for Zimbabwe's people in the dark of their nightmare. We are telling them they are not alone and not forgotten.

We stand along side them because we are strong. And because we are strong we have the strength to care for the people of Zimbabwe, just as we should be strong enough to care for each other here at home.

So we say to Zimbabwe's people, as you try under almost impossible odds to march towards a democracy and towards a free country, we will stand with you.


ENDS

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