Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
Zimbabweans living abroad, including failed asylum seekers, are free to return home and help rebuild the country after years of ruinous Western sanctions. This was said by Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana in a statement yesterday, in response to a United Kindgom newspaper article claiming that British and Zimbabwean governments wanted to forcibly repatriate failed asylum seekers in that country.
The article, published by The Independent newspaper, suggested that 2 500 failed asylum seekers who faced persecution back home, had been handed over to the Zimbabwean consulate in London for questioning.
However, Mr Mangwana said Harare welcomed back its sons and daughters regardless of the circumstances under which they had left the country to settle in a foreign country.
“Zimbabweans from all over the world are voluntarily returning to their country. There is no single returnee that has been persecuted regardless of the circumstances of their departure. Those who have failed to meet immigration requirements in their countries of sojourn are welcome home and their safety is guaranteed,” said Mr Mangwana.
He clarified that Zimbabwean consular services were assisting compatriots with relevant documentation, failing which would render the emigres stateless in terms of international law.
“The Government does not encourage any Zimbabwean to be undocumented. Therefore, when required it facilitates appropriate documents for its citizens using its consular staff in different countries. This is in order to fulfil its constitutional responsibility that no Zimbabwean should be deemed stateless,” explained Mr Mangwana.
“It is common consular procedure and practice that those immigrants without proper identification or documentation and alleged to be Zimbabweans by the host country be interviewed by consular officers from the embassy to establish whether indeed they are who they are purported to be, in this case whether indeed they are bona fide Zimbabweans. This is a standard consular procedure to avoid countries admitting foreign nationals into their jurisdictions in error.”
Mr Mangwana dismissed allegations that there was persecution of opposition supporters, saying Zimbabwe under the new dispensation had opened up the political and democratic space while upholding human rights in terms of the country’s Constitution and the Universal Bill of Rights.
“There are no political persecutions in Zimbabwe, neither are there any political prisoners and Zimbabweans who have lived abroad for many years are returning every day and living happily and contributing to the country’s development towards Vision 2030,” he said.
The Independent said in the article it had learnt that at least seven Zimbabwewan nationals, some of whom had lived in the UK for more than a decade, had last week been ordered to attend meetings at a Home Office building in the city of Sheffield “where they were asked ‘distressing’ questions by an embassy official from their country”.
The paper claimed the process was taking place in other parts of the UK.