More support needed for Zimbabwean people

Green MP Keith Locke supported calls from visiting a Zimbabwean opposition politician, Sekai Holland, for greater humanitarian assistance.

“New Zealand can do more, both in stepping up aid to Zimbabwean NGOs, and in helping loosen the pockets of the UN and other aid agencies,” said Mr Locke, the party’s foreign affairs spokesperson.

“At present we only give $1.04 million in aid to the Zimbabwe people, through NGOs and UNICEF. This is down from $1.7 million in 2005/06.

“Zimbabwe is a disaster zone. The economy and health system has collapsed, and a quarter of the population has migrated to neighbouring countries.

“Sekai Holland is a living example of why the world must keep pressing Mugabe to return to the rule of law. She was put in hospital last March when Mugabe’s thugs attacked her with iron bar, breaking several bones.

“Helen Clark should press other Commonwealth leaders, when they meet in Uganda this November, to take a strong, united stand for a return to democracy. The scheduled talks between Mugabe’s regime and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change will come to naught unless there is an end to the violence.

“The Greens support Ms Holland’s call for New Zealand and other countries to step up their support to Zimbabweans who have fled the country, particularly in the area of job training — which will be particularly useful to help reconstruct Zimbabwe, post-Mugabe.”