ZAPU,GCN Zimbabwe and others meet minister on UK asylum issues
The UK Ambassador to Harare, Mr Mark Canning was in the United Kingdom this week. He took time out to appraise Zimbabweans resident in the United Kingdom on the situation in the country.
The meeting that was hosted by the foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) included the FCO Minister for Africa, Mr Henry Bellingham. Giving his views on the political, economic and humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe, Mr Mark Canning gave a glowing picture of Zimbabwe basing his views on the recent report by the IMF, he confirmed that the Zimbabwean economy had improved tremendously and Zimbabwe was slowly recovering.
With regard to the ongoing constitutional making exercise, Mr Mark Canning was upbeat about the process and that the British embassy staff was monitoring the process.
The FCO Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham gave an outline of Her Majesty’s government policy towards Zimbabwe. He noted that a special relationship that has always existed between Harare and London. “The fact that many Zimbabweans live and work in the UK was testimony of this fact”, he said. He emphasised that the British government was determined to improve the life of Zimbabweans and to work for Zimbabwe until the elections next year.
Zimbabwean organisations at this meeting included ZAPU, Zimbabwe’s opposition political party represented by Mr Martin Chinyanga and the Girl child network Zimbabwe represented by Betty Makoni and various other groups interested in asylum issues. Taken to task by the ZAPU representative over the escalating violence, the posting of army personnel in rural opposition strong holds as Zimbabwe moves towards elections, Mr Mark Canning responded by promising to send observers to all the affected areas before the elections take place.
Also featuring strongly at the meeting was the issue of Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers who made it known to the ambassador that they were not ready to go home under the present circumstances, but felt they were at the same time being victimised by the British legal system that was criminalising failed asylum seekers. It has become common practice for Zimbabweans in the UK to be arrested for crimes that include forgery of documents to work.
Betty Makoni of the Girl Child Network highlighted to the British officials the plight of the girls that are deported together with their parents, the fact that they will be deprived of their right to education and may be exposed to violent crimes that include rape by the militia. She outlined the dangers young girls face as a result of some religious sects in Zimbabwe who believe sex with young girls cures AIDS. She was very critical of the report presented by the UKBA fact finding mission that travelled to Zimbabwe recently over its failure to gather enough information on raped woman.
Thousands of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers battling to stay in the United Kingdom face an uphill task as the British authorities are adamant that Zimbabwe is now safe for Zimbabweans to return.-Africalegalbrief.com