BA, Virgin told to cut links to Zimbabwe

News Release

4 July 2008
Former Minister Says Cuts Air Links and Disinvest from Zimbabwe
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights and taxpayer’s aid to Zimbabwe should be suspended until the Mugabe regime has been replaced Denis MacShane MP for Rotherham and a former Foreign Office minister has told the House of Commons. He added that Tory MPs who invested in firms propping up Mugabe should be required to disinvest along similar lines that helped bring an end to the apartheid regime. MacShane singled out Robert Goodwill, the Tory MP for Scarborough and Whitby who has refused to sell his shares in a company involved with Zimbabwe on the grounds that “this is not a good time to sell shares.”
MacShane said that BA amd Virgin Atlantic made stopovers in Harare and these should now be cut. He also revealed that Lufthansa and KLM flew directly to Harare and described these flight as a 'life-line for the Zimbabwe regime' which the EU should sever.
MacShane also told the Commons that Gordon Brown should use the forthcoming G8 meeting due to be attended by South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki to step up global pressure for the restoration of democracy in Zimbabwe. But he revealed that the ANC at this week’s congress of the Socialist International – the global federation of centre-left parties, has sought to block an application for membership from the MDC, Zimbabwe’s democratic opposition party which has seen its electoral victory stolen by Mugabe’s thugs. “The ANC is not helping democracy and progressive politics in Zimbabwe and the ANC needs to side with democracy and against tyranny just we the ANC was supported against the tyranny of the non-democratic apartheid regime in South Africa,” said MacShane.
Below, MacShane’s intervention in the Commons (3 July)

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): I very much agree with the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Benyon), who has just spoken. This is the 21st century, and it is time to hold Zimbabwe to the same criteria and standards
as we did South Africa, fascist Germany, fascist Italy and other hideous regimes. Why, therefore, are we unable to take stronger action?
Mr. Swire: China.
Mr. MacShane: The hon. Gentleman says “China” from a sedentary position—all well and good. We must put pressure on China. But why, for example, are Virgin Atlantic and British Airways using Harare as a stopover on flights to South Africa? Why are KLM and Lufthansa flying to South Africa through Zimbabwe? Why are we talking about putting more money into Zimbabwe via the Department for International Development? Why are we not looking at the companies that prop up the Mugabe regime, such as Shell and Rio Tinto, and asking their shareholders whether they should not be divesting—rather than complaining, as the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Goodwill) did, that this is not a good time to sell their shares?
What can we do to get the United Nations to focus on its responsibilities? It is unable to discharge its responsibilities. What can we do to make sanctions work? They failed against Serbia during the Balkan crisis, and they failed against Iraq under Saddam Hussein. They are failing against Sudan and they failed against Burma. What do we want from an effective sanctions policy? I hope the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister will speak personally to all their opposite numbers at the G8 about the importance of this matter. Reference to the International Criminal Court is important, but the United States has refused to ratify the relevant treaty. What is good for the United States goose will be good for the Zimbabwe gander. We have a new culture of international responsibility, and we need to develop sanctions that can work, not just in Zimbabwe, but in other countries around the world, to guide them towards democracy.
This is a huge test case, and it is time for the Government to be robust, and time for Britain to cut financial support of any sort for Zimbabwe. It is time for Britain to take a lead, not wait for others to decide what to do.