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Tuesday, 1 April 1980
Page: 1276

Senator SIM (Western Australia) - I wish to speak for only a few moments. I concur with the speeches made by Senator Robertson and Senator Sibraa. I wish to join them in giving congratulations to Mr Neil Brown, who led the observer team, and to the team for the work they did on behalf of Australia and for this report. Of course, we have not had time to read the report, but some of us were fortunate enough to hear a report at the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence from Mr Brown, Senator Robertson, Dr Blewett, and Mr Katter. I think the result of the election is the best result which could possibly have been achieved. I noted with interest the comments made by Senator Sibraa that Mr Mugabe was condemned as a Marxist and as an extremist. I always took the view that these sorts of tags do not always fit. What sort of a Marxist was he? Was he a Russian Marxist, a Chinese Marxist or was he, in fact, an African Nationalist? I always believe that a sense of responsibility finds a man. The slogans which came forth from Mr Mugabe in those days were not necessarily the policies he would adopt upon success. I think all the signs indicate that he is adopting a most moderate stance. An example is his appointment of General Walls, his former greatest enemy, as the commander of the forces. His appointment of two white people to the ministry, particularly to key portfolios- one of agriculture- was to reassure the white farmers, whose presence is essential to the future economic development of Zimbabwe. These are all indications that his policies are moderate.

Senator Sibraareferred to President Machel of Mozambique who was held up to be the strongest Marxist in Africa. Quite apart from that, I remember that when Dr Vorster was the Prime Minister of South Africa he announced with great pride that South Africa was giving more aid to Mozambique than all the eastern European countries combined. The tins of canned food being used by the Frelimo forces were marked 'made in South Africa'. The South Africans were, in fact, running the railways and the ports.

Senator Sibraa - It was crucial to the development of Mozambique.

Senator SIM - This was crucial to the economy of Mozambique. President Machel has now been the go-between between Mr Mugabe and the South Africans, or so the reports would indicate. Senator Sibraa also said that Mr Mugabe, in his recent announcements, is now looking to the West to provide him with the economic aid to restore his shattered economy. I think it is always very dangerous to take hard line stances on these issues in these countries. This is true with Mr Mugabe.

I wish to make only two further comments. I think that at this moment, when there is jubilation at the success so far in Zimbabwe, we should look- as Senator Sibraa reminded us- to the future. The future is perhaps not as bright as one would hope. Senator Sibraa very correctly referred to the expectations that have been raised in the community. It is a sort of cargo cult mentality, that once a country gets its independence all its problems are solved. I think that the greatest challenge, and maybe the greatest threat to the stability of Mr Mugabe's Government, is how he can satisfy the expectations of his supporters in the months and years ahead. He will require a tremendous amount of aid and assistance from outside. I believe that already the United Kingdom has announced a very significant aid program. It is the responsibility of the countries of the West to provide the economic assistance which will enable Mr Mugabe continually to raise the standard of living of his followers.

I have always argued that the Russians and the Chinese can supply only the guns in Africa; it is the West who eventually can supply the economic and technological assistance to enable the African nations to achieve growing economic strength. This has been proved in Mozambique and will be proved again in Zimbabwe.

Senator Robertsonreferred to the role of the British Government. I believe it was only the diplomatic skills of the British that made possible the achievement in Zimbabwe. No other country could have achieved what it did. At this moment we should be very grateful to Lord Carrington and the British Government for what they achieved at Lancaster House and to Lord Soames for the very difficult role he had to play and for the delicate balance he had to maintain prior to the elections.

Senator Wriedt - Why weren't they able to do that earlier than they did?

Senator SIM -We are looking into the past now. We can all be wise after the event, and maybe it is true that it could have been done earlier. Let us be grateful that it has been done now.

Senator Bishop - There was a bloke named Smith.

Senator SIM - Yes. As Senator Sibraa said, the tragedy is that there is always too little too late. However, something has been achieved and now we have to try to assist the Government of Zimbabwe to build upon it.

Finally, I pay tribute to the Australian troops who served in Zimbabwe. The report from the Australian observers indicates that they did a magnificent job, as we would expect them to do. The Senate should pay tribute to the officers and men of the small Australian contingent who upheld the honour of the Australian military forces. The role which they had to play they played with great tolerance and skill. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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