Election Violence Threat Hindering Zimbabwe: British MPs

Progress in Zimbabwe could be reversed at any time due to the violence and intimidation blocking free and fair elections, according to a report by British lawmakers released on Friday.

LONDON — Progress in Zimbabwe could be reversed at any time due to the violence and intimidation blocking free and fair elections, according to a report by British lawmakers released on Friday.

Though some improvements to economic and conditions in Zimbabwe have been made, "governance, human rights and provision of basic services are still falling well below the needs of the people," it said.

The report was drawn up by the International Development Select Committee, a scrutiny panel of 11 lawmakers, as they examined British aid to its former colony.


They welcomed deal under which President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party agreed to share power with rivals the MDC, whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai became prime minister in February 2009.

"However, violence and intimidation, bad government and destruction of the economy have forced millions of people to leave," said committee chairman Malcolm Bruce.

"Many others have been displaced from their homes and are now refugees in their own country. There have been welcome signs of economic recovery under the Inclusive Government.

"Nevertheless, the political situation remains fragile. Until free and fair elections can take place, without intimidation and violence, progress will be limited and could be halted or reversed at any time."

The report said all elements within the unity government mush show their aim to ensure people receive basic services and can earn a living.

"The continuing political violence and harassment is not compatible with this," Bruce said.

The report also said that balance of power was "anything but satisfactory as it ensures that all the main levers of power remain with Mr Mugabe and ZANU-PF who have not fulfilled their undertakings and have sought to undermine the MDC's ability to deliver their limited areas of government."

The report said that European Union sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle could not be lifted.

South African President Jacob Zuma urged British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to get the sanctions removed when he visited London earlier this month.

But said Bruce: "Progress on human rights and democracy must be demonstrated before all the EU's restrictive measures placed on named individuals and organisations in Zimbabwe can be lifted."

The lawmaker also criticised land seizures, which went against a tribunal ruling by the Southern African Development Community.

"Farm invasions have had a devastating impact, both on individual farm-owners and workers and on the agricultural economy, and they must stop," he said.

"The terrible human rights abuses which have taken place as part of land seizures are completely unacceptable."

The report said Britain should continue giving aid through non-governmental channels.

Britain is a leading donor to Zimbabwe. It gave 60 million pounds (90 million dollars, 67 million euros) for humanitarian and development assistance in the country in 2009-10.

Source: AFP