House debates

Monday, 26 March 2007

Private Members’ Business

Human Rights in Zimbabwe

3:44 pm

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I thank my friend the honourable member for Moreton for his support. One of the issues raised with me constantly as the member for Fisher is the plight of people in Zimbabwe and the complete and total lack of democracy in that country. In my own street, we have a lot of people who have moved from Zimbabwe and South Africa. There seems to be a very large Zimbabwean community right around the Sunshine Coast. Coming through in their discussions with me is the fact that Zimbabwe has a government—a regime—which is absolutely brutal. The regime has no regard for the rule of law and no regard for human rights. It is a regime that is prepared to tear up the rule book and do absolutely anything to keep itself in power. This regime has been clinically brutal in its treatment of Africans, and its treatment of white Zimbabweans has been equally appalling.

It is always disheartening to see nations suffering civil turmoil and hopelessness as a result of a self-serving and oppressive dictatorship. Nations like Zimbabwe are technically wealthy countries, and it could show so much promise and could develop such prosperity if the country had a democratic system where the people of Zimbabwe, black and white, were able to democratically choose their government in the same way as people in this part of the world are able to. Leaders who resort to anything and everything to preserve their own positions are, unfortunately, blind to the needs of their people and to their responsibility as leaders. Sadly, Robert Mugabe is a thug. He is a dictator and, in my view, a criminal. The sooner we get Robert Mugabe before an international tribunal, the better off the world community will be. Frankly, what he has done is absolute savagery.

When you hear the stories coming out of Zimbabwe—the way that Zimbabweans, white and black, have been mistreated by this individual—you can only be appalled. That is why I am heartened that people on both sides of the chamber are standing up and being counted. The government and the opposition in this place will not tolerate what is happening in Zimbabwe. We will continue to speak out. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has spoken out. I think the Leader of the Opposition has, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs constantly has spoken out both before the international media and in international fora, including through the Commonwealth.

The government of Zimbabwe have claimed that the policies of their regime are supposed to be implemented for the benefit of the black population. They really ought to take a reality check because what is happening is exactly the opposite. What has occurred is that tourism has collapsed. Mineral and agricultural exports are faltering as a result of an unreliable, inefficient and dictatorial government. The ongoing land distribution problems have cut the legs out of the farming sector and created widespread food supply problems. Many of my constituents have had farms confiscated. They say to me that it is bad enough to lose a farm that they have had in their family often for generations, but hundreds of the black population who worked on and who received income from those farms for their family have also been made destitute and turned off as the so-called war veteran friends of President Mugabe march in and take over these highly productive farms and basically turn them into a wasteland which delivers absolutely nothing for the people of Zimbabwe.

The leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change are being arrested and beaten. Morgan Tsvangirai recently suffered that fate. Another high-profile incident was the bashing on Sunday, 18 March of Nelson Chamisa, who was at an airport and about to board a plane when he was set upon by two thugs who beat him with crowbars, cracking his skull. I want to place on record my admiration for the archbishop in Zimbabwe who has said that he is prepared to do whatever is necessary. Zimbabwe’s government is a blight on the world and it stands condemned.


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