BRITAIN said on Thursday it had no plans to go back on its October 2010 decision to deport all failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers despite Harare supposedly rejecting White Hall’s requests for cooperation over the issue.
Thousands of Zimbabweans moved to the UK in the last decade to escape a collapsing economy back home with the majority claiming political asylum. However, some were not successful and it is these London wants to forcibly return home.
Speaking during the burial of the late Major General, Eliah Bandama, last week, President Robert Mugabe said Britain had badgered his administration with requests to help repatriate Zimbabweans stranded in the former colonial power.
The Zanu PF leader did not disclose whether he was minded to help London with its predicament but a state media columnist who is believed to be presidential spokesman George Charamba indicated that Harare would not play ball.
Manheru claimed in his latest column: “Denied any sympathies let alone cooperation on the issue of repatriating the so-called Zimbabwean political refugees currently in Britain, so-called refugees who are in reality British-political-fodder-now-gone-bad-or-useless-and-expensive, and stuffed in the face in respect of residual white land ownership in Zimbabwe, the British are collecting raw materials for a second round of conflict with Zimbabwe.”
Relations between Harare and London remain frosty more than a decade after Britain – according to Mugabe – wheedled her allies into imposing devastating sanctions which the Zanu PF leader blames for Zimbabwe’s unending economic woe.
At Bandama’s burial, Mugabe further accused Britain of embracing thousands fleeing Zimbabwean economic refugees in the last decade, hoping this would help win international support for plans to oust his regime over alleged human rights violations.
However, responding to questions on Thursday, the British embassy in Harare said the decision to throw out Zimbabwean migrants was backed by a UK court decision.
“In October 2010, the UK Government announced the resumption of enforced returns to Zimbabwe for failed asylum seekers judged by the Home Office and the independent courts to have no right to remain in the UK,” the embassy said in a statement.
“This decision reflects the improved stability in Zimbabwe since 2009 and the UK court’s view that not all Zimbabweans are in need of international protection. Failed asylum seekers are currently returned to Zimbabwe and there are no plans to alter our policy at present, but the Government will obviously continue to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe closely.”
Regarding Mugabe’s claim that London was pestering his regime to help facilitate the deportations, the British envoy said dialogue has been a routine feature of relations between the two countries.
“The UK government and the government of Zimbabwe have maintained a regular dialogue on migration, given our shared interests, for many years, We consider it an important part of our bilateral relationship. The discussions are wide ranging, and include a range of issues of possible cooperation. This includes issues such as enforced returns and visas,” she said.
In 2010, Zimbabwe’s unity government dispatched a ministerial delegation led by then Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa on a mission to press for re-engagement with UK.
But the mission fell flat on its face after the London insisted that Mugabe implement fully the power sharing agreement with his rivals – so-called Global Political Agreement.
While the European Union has moved to ease tensions with Harare, relations between Zimbabwe and the UK remain icy with no direct contact between Mugabe and the Conservative-led government in London.
The UK embassy in Harare however, played the alleged tensions down, insisting the former allies have always been talking.
“The governments have maintained regular dialogue through our embassies and through occasional meetings in the margins of international events. In our view the Chinamasa, Misihairabwi re-engagement mission two years ago was very successful.”
In his one hour and several minutes-long address to mourners at the national shrine last week, Mugabe seemingly rejoiced at Britain’s pickle over the burdensome group of Zimbabweans now stranded in the UK after their asylum claims were rejected.
Asked if the British government accommodated Zimbabweans to hoodwink the international community into buying its claims Mugabe was oppressive, the British envoy answered, “No”.