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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10369

Mrs MOYLAN (9:25 PM) —I have now spoken on motions and brought motions in relation to Zimbabwe several times over the last few years. I have to say that it saddens me to think that we are again debating this issue in this chamber, but I thank the member for Melbourne Ports for once again raising the matter. When I spoke on this in 2005—and I had spoken on it three years earlier than that—I said that it was terrible to think that in 2005 there were still what I call tin-pot dictators running around countries like Zimbabwe, treating their citizens appallingly. What has also been appalling is the way in which the leaders of the African continent have fed the ego of this particular tin-pot dictator, Mr Mugabe. They have done that while millions of innocent men, women and children have suffered the most appalling deprivation, needlessly, purely for the sake of ego for someone who has stayed too long. It should be a matter of great shame for that continent that they have continued to support this individual in the way that they have.

By contrast, we have seen Mr Tsvangirai, the man who was elected as president but who has been unable to act fully and take control of that country in the way that he was elected to do, demonstrate amazing courage to the world. I do not know of too many people who would have the courage to continue to fight for the people of Zimbabwe in the way that he has. It is incredibly moving when you think that every day his life has been threatened and that now, having been properly elected in democratic, or so-called democratic, difficult elections, he is unable to start ruling that country in a way that diminishes the terrible suffering that these people have had to face in these last few years.

It is a human disaster of monumental proportions. The unwillingness to act is very hard to fathom in a country that now has the world’s lowest life expectancy, the highest inflation and in excess, as the member for Fremantle said, of perhaps 1½ million orphaned children with AIDS, with AIDS now killing an estimated 3,500 people a week in Zimbabwe. How can the leaders of the African continent continue to support a leader who has presided over such appalling human suffering? It is a human rights tragedy of monumental proportions, and it is a disgrace that so far we in the democratic countries of the world have not been able to take effective action to prevent the ongoing tragedy which unfolds before our very eyes. When I spoke in 2007, I made a comment that over the past 10 years Mugabe, in seeking power for power’s sake, has brought his people to their knees.

I then read out the statistics on inflation, which of course are much worse now than they were then, and the fact that gross domestic product at that time had dropped to $5 billion, almost half of what it was seven years earlier. Ignoring the rule of law and legitimate democratic processes, the despot Mugabe has driven white farmers from their land and is now ruling through brutality and fear. These misbegotten policies have seriously eroded food production and employment opportunities—and this in a country that was the food bowl of Africa. It is unbelievable, as I said, at this time that we can continue to countenance the kinds of things that are happening in Zimbabwe today.