Situation in Zimbabwe: Statements (Resumed).

I also welcome the Minister and congratulate him on his appointment. Like Senator Alex White I congratulate him on the strong terms in which he referred to this situation. It is necessary. He mentioned Nelson Mandela's words, the "tragic failure of leadership" in Zimbabwe. It risks becoming a tragic failure of leadership on the African continent. Senator Alex White ended his speech questioning how the African Union deals with this issue. The credibility of the world is somewhat at stake if we stand by and allow this to happen. People have alluded to instances, which we can read about in the newspapers, of what that man is doing to his people. Earlier Senator Boyle asked why he would want to preside over the utter destruction of his nation.

I found it really tragic when I watched him hold up the Bible during his inauguration ceremony and promise the people of Zimbabwe that he would always act in good faith and in their better interests. How dare that man say that? How dare the courts, which Senator Alex White mentioned, determine that this was a legitimate thing to do? The Minister spoke of how Mugabe, during the course of the election campaign, said he would declare war on the country if he did not like the result. How could that possibly be determined to have been a free and fair election? That is why the credibility of the rest of the world is at stake, particularly as the African leaders gather in Egypt. They need to have a good look at themselves and ask if this is the type of democracy they want, because the world is watching their response. I accept that, for historic reasons, the western world may not have the same legitimacy as Mugabe's peers, the African leaders. They have the most to gain by utter condemnation of how the elections have been conduced in Zimbabwe. I am glad to see that South Africa and Senegal have been quite firm on it. I agree with others who might have thought that South Africa was the shining star in the development of democracy in Africa.

One of the proudest things that Irish people have is the work we have done through development aid and we can hold our heads high in that regard. However, much of the Irish taxpayers' money we invest is focused on developing democracy and strengthening those democracies. We have a right to expect basic human rights are being observed.

I agree with Senator Alex White's comments on the African Union. That three African observer missions have condemned the election is far more important than what any of the rest of us in Europe or the western world would say. Africa itself realises it wants a higher standard. It is time for the African Union, although a young institution, to strengthen itself in terms of helping democracies for the people and citizens of Africa rather than, as Senator White noted, the governments, because all governments in Africa are not necessarily benign.

If the African Union does not stand up for democratic principles, there is a danger the citizens in these countries will resort to tribal violence and the like because they are not getting a good example and democracy will have been proven not to work. A key point to lament is that political stability has not really taken root in Africa, try as we might through institutions like the African Union. This is an opportunity. We are at a critical point in terms of what democracy in Africa means.

This brings me back to the UN and the credibility of the rest of the world. If we do nothing, what credibility has the UN? The UN must protect the Zimbabwean people because by doing so it will protect African people and others who are subject to dictatorship. I agree with the idea of seeking an arms embargo, which is the only way forward. Other sanctions will only affect the very vulnerable. It is extraordinary and speaks volumes that a country like Zimbabwe which is falling apart has no problem getting weapons.

I am surprised no other speaker has asked whether Robert Mugabe is guilty of genocide. He is effectively wiping out his population — that is the truth of it. Will we stand by? While I do not just mean Ireland, as we are a small nation, the UN needs to ensure it does something and shows itself to be a strong body that supports and stands by the basic, fundamental rights of citizens, especially those in Zimbabwe.

I rise with a degree of sadness, having listened to the Minister's words, which are correct, when he referred to an "insult to democracy", "obscene charade" and "terrified voters". I will not repeat all we have heard today because the newspapers have been full of this for so long, it is just a horror.

I rise in sadness given that in 1984, when I was chairman of the Irish Management Institute, it was given the task of welcoming Robert Mugabe. He was Prime Minister of a bright new nation that was only four years old. In Ireland, for the State, the missionaries and the non-government agencies that had helped invest in the future of Africa, he was taken as the bright star of Africa and the future. I rise in sadness, therefore, because I think of the hope, confidence and faith we had in the future, our belief in democracy and our belief that this was going to work. It has not.

While we look back and wonder what went wrong and how it went wrong, the question I would most like to address, with the Minister and other speakers, is what we should do. I am concerned because I have read about and spoken to a number of those in Africa who have a history of imperialist aggression in their countries and they do not have confidence that help or anything else should come from those they distrust. This is why Ireland has such a strong say and why the words the Minister uses are so important.

During the week I quoted President Omar Bongo of Gabon, who just yesterday said that "African leaders would not allow western governments to dictate their view of Zimbabwe". I gather that a Member of the Oireachtas said on radio the other day that somebody should kill Mugabe. I am horrified at even the thought of this. We must be very careful of what we say and what we do. The words used by Senator O'Malley, Senator Alex White and other speakers were strong and mean a great deal. However, we must be careful that the steps we take or encourage are in the right direction.

Senator Ross said he did not believe Robert Mugabe is any longer in power and that he may just be the puppet. It is likely the Zimbabwean army has a role. If one watches it on television, one can see it is a strict, disciplined army. This situation is not coming about because of that 84 year old man who held up the Bible and swore to uphold the constitution. I do not believe he is the leader.

We must be careful that we watch what we say and do, but let us continue to use words of the strength the Minister used today. There are many in Africa who oppose him. Kenya's Prime Minister Odinga called for the African Union to send peace forces to ensure fair elections. Peace forces would keep the peace but we must enforce the peace before we do that. This must come from African people themselves. It will not easily come from outside Africa, whether from the United Nations or a country with as good a history as Ireland. The danger is that those in Africa will look on anybody coming from outside Africa as being imperialistic in some form or other. We must be very careful.

I was impressed that Sir Terry Leahy, the chairman of Tesco, announced yesterday it had decided it would no longer buy any products from Zimbabwe during the current crisis. These are the sort of steps we must take. I well remember during the apartheid era that some of us had a choice whether we would buy South African products. The argument was made that if one boycotted South African products, one would hurt those who were worst off in South Africa. The same argument is being made that if one boycotts Zimbabwean products, those who will suffer will be the poorest of the poor. However, there is no choice but to take this type of step.

We must let it be known to the authorities in Zimbabwe — probably the army rather than Mugabe himself — that, given the words used by the Minister and all other speakers in the House today, it is just not possible to accept the behaviour taking place in Zimbabwe. We must ensure they understand how they are regarded by the rest of the world. However, let us be very careful of the words we use.

While some called for people in the North of Ireland to be killed because they disagreed with what they were doing, we would not have peace in Northern Ireland if we had not managed to achieve a solution through those who were regarded by others as the creators of the problem. We were able to solve that problem but we must be careful of the words we use in this case. The Minister used the correct words today. Let us use the power of words and the power of political pressure to ensure we get a solution for those poor people in Zimbabwe who are suffering so much, as we have heard. I urge the Minister to continue with the words he has used and the confidence he has expressed.

My uncle, Austin Daly, who lives in South Africa, sent me a report of friends of his, William and Annette Rogers, who on 7 May were terrorised in their home in Zimbabwe during the hours of darkness. They were tortured by 15 thugs who wanted to make sure they left the farm. This is not a one-off incident. Robert Mugabe himself has been quoted as saying: "We are no longer going to ask for the land but we are going to take it without negotiating." This policy of forcing people to leave their land, whether they be white farmers, which they mostly are, or others, has turned Zimbabwe from the bread basket of Africa into an economic basket case.

This is an example of how Robert Mugabe has changed one form of terror government, that of the white government he replaced, into his own form of terror government where he has terrorised not only the white farmers he so hates but also anyone who opposes him. Any man who says he would like to be associated with Adolf Hitler is a person one would wish was not in power in any country. When he was compared to Hitler, Mugabe is quoted as saying:

This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold.

This is the man that we wish would leave Zimbabwe and let democracy rule in that country but, as the Minister is aware, the key is South Africa. However, South Africa's policy of quiet diplomacy is not quite working. While President Mbeki has been gently urged by the international community to do more, he fails to do so. The more he fails to recognise that quiet diplomacy is not going to work, the longer the situation will continue.

Ireland's role as a non-colonial power has been recognised by Senator Feargal Quinn and we must do more. There is not a lot we can do, but through the good offices of our ambassador in South Africa, we can place pressure on the South Africans, who are the king-makers in the situation, to ensure Robert Mugabe leaves office.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this issue. The speakers preceding me have outlined in great detail the difficulties in Zimbabwe. The major difficulty we face is the question of how to deal with the issue. If one examines the embargo on Iraq and the people who benefited and suffered because of it, it is obvious we must be very careful in determining how we act as a global community. I suggest that a similar situation to that which pertained in Spainvis-à-vis President Pinochet of Chile should apply to Mr. Mugabe. Should Mr. Mugabe enter certain third countries, he should be arrested and sent for trial to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. There is no surer way of cutting off the oxygen of publicity that the rulers of Zimbabwe strive for and are getting today at the African Union conference in Egypt.

Sometimes the efforts we make are not enough. We have heard of the type of man with whom we are dealing. Any man who would freely associate himself with Hitler is telling us what he intends to do and, indeed, is doing, namely, terrorising his own people. The economy of Zimbabwe has totally collapsed and its deterioration has reached farcical proportions. The people of that very rich and beautiful country are destitute. We have a choice as to how we deal with this dictator and I suggest we support the International Criminal Court in The Hague in initiating proceedings against Mr. Mugabe, who holds himself out to be President of Zimbabwe, for crimes against humanity. That would be a positive step for us to take as a nation.

I thank all Senators for their contributions to this debate, begun by Senator Maurice Cummins. As he and many others pointed out, Ireland has strong links with Zimbabwe and Africa in general and we are genuinely concerned about the situation that has developed. I share the high level of concern articulated by all Members of this House.

I reiterate the Government's utter condemnation of the violence and intimidation which characterised last week's run-off election and the lead-up to it, as well as the illegitimate reinauguration of Mr. Mugabe as President. Our thoughts are with the people of Zimbabwe — those who have been brutally terrorised and injured, those who have lost their lives and those who have lost their homes and possessions in the ongoing violence.

We know that many of our African partners share our concern and outrage. We believe that African citizens deserve and demand the same standards of human rights protection and democratic accountability which we expect. All three election observer missions from the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and the Pan-African Parliament which observed last Friday's run-off poll concluded that the election was neither free, fair nor credible and argued that it did not allow for the expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe. These findings stand as an international indictment of the regime of Mr. Robert Mugabe.

I am encouraged by reports today from Sharm el-Sheikh that efforts to promote a negotiated process are under way. This, in our view, would represent a step in the right direction following yesterday's call by South Africa for talks between the Mugabe regime and the MDC. As I said earlier, however, any such talks must be credible, substantive, time limited and based on the outcome of the election of 29 March.

With regard to various comments on my reference to the efforts of President Mbeki of South Africa, I am very much taken by what Senator Feargal Quinn said. We must keep our heads as we move through this crisis in terms of ensuring a regional solution is found. We are all, understandably, very frustrated. People are despairing of the apparent impotence of the international community to stop a tyrant like Robert Mugabe in his tracks. However, there is a way to try to resolve this and the United Nations Security Council resolution of last week is significant in terms of the unanimity displayed and the nature of the actual resolution. I take on board Senator Quinn's comments and welcome what he has said in terms of the importance of us positioning ourselves strategically and endeavouring to empower and support the regional powers, including South Africa, no matter how disappointed we might be with the lack of progress to date. We must keep at this, both through the European Union and the United Nations.

While we work through the European Union and United Nations, we are also, as a country in our own right, pursuing the issues with our regional partners. Through Irish Aid we have significant respect in Africa. We have made a very significant contribution to the development of Africa and, as Senator Alex White said, not just in terms of aid but also rule of law missions. Senators O'Malley and Ormonde also alluded to such missions and to the fact the modern Irish contribution is very much focused on trying to assist in the establishment of good governance systems through rule of law missions and assistance to legal and judicial systems. Clearly, from what Senator Alex White has said, there is a clear need for such work in Zimbabwe.

Our ambassador to South Africa has put a great deal of effort into visiting Zimbabwe on a regular basis, which he has found very helpful. His contacts with the Irish community in Zimbabwe, of which there are approximately 2,000 citizens, some of whom are very vulnerable, have been very helpful in terms of giving him a sense of developments on the ground there. Such contacts will continue.

We would support any measures the United Nations would put in place regarding an arms embargo. Indeed, various reports are circulating as to who is doing what, but we would support any efforts to identify those supplying arms and call on them to desist from doing so. We would be willing to use every power we have internationally in that regard.

Senator Shane Ross asked whether Robert Mugabe is a puppet or the person pulling the strings. There are various reports on that issue, some of which hold that the chiefs of the army, the central intelligence office and the police are jockeying for position within the regime and it is they who are keeping Mugabe in power. On the other hand, many of those who are guilty of pursuing and perpetrating the acts of violence that have been committed are mindful of the fact that they potentially face their day of judgment in the International Criminal Court in the context of an international approach to who is responsible for this state-sponsored violence and are perhaps aware of what is in store down the line. In scenarios like this, there is inevitably a group or cohort which believes that it is better to hang in there as opposed to seeing the writing on the wall.

From our perspective, this is a very dark hour for Zimbabwe. It is difficult at this point in time to be optimistic about the future. We admire the courage shown by many ordinary Zimbabweans in terms of the election of 29 March when they went out to vote and exercised their democratic rights. That resoluteness in the most difficult of circumstances must be admired and gives one some sense of hope for the future.

I believe the Zimbabewean nation and people have the resilience to resume the path towards development once the rule of law is restored and responsible economic policies are put in place to replace the destructiveness of the Mugabe regime. I know all Members of the House will agree with me that we stand ready as a nation to support the reconstruction of Zimbabwe, to which we have already committed significant aid this year and in previous years, once the conditions are right, and we would facilitate additional aid in terms of supporting any programme to rebuild that country, particularly to ensure that the vital necessities of life are made available to the people of Zimbabwe over the coming months and years.

I thank all of the Senators. I am mindful of the individual stories articulated by people here, including Senator Daly who spoke about friends of his uncle, which gives a very personal dimension to the connections people have with Zimbabwe. I appreciate the contribution Members have made which will help us. I assure Senator Norris that we will stand firm. We have been very firm in terms of the fundamental principles we have articulated from the outset in respect of this issue and its resolution and we intend to continue that.