Zims agree on Home Office meeting

LONDON - In a show of unity, Zimbabweans representing various groups met here on Friday and agreed on a delegation to discuss the asylum situation with the Home Office. Representatives of the Vigil, the Zimbabwe Association, the Zimbabwe Action Group, the Zimbabwe Community Association, Free-Zim You

th and both factions of the MDC attended.
Harris Nyatsanza, who initiated the project, was chosen to be part of the three-person delegation to the Home Office, together with Ephraim Tapa, chair of the MDC Central London Branch, and Yvonne Mahlunge, a well-known lawyer. Another lawyer, Julius Mutyambizi-Dewa of the Vigil would assist and two others, Lucia Dube of the Zimbabwe Community Association and Faith Nyamuti of MDC, were chosen as reserves in case the Home Office objected to any of the delegates.
Fazil Kawani of the Refugee Council will facilitate the Home Office meeting, as he did with a similar approach on behalf of Zimbabweans last year. He said the Home Office must be made to understand that the situation in Zimbabwe continues to worsen.
The meeting felt that the main focus should be on protecting people who were in fear of their lives should they be forced home. Others, who had perhaps only become politically active in exile, should be strongly supported. Some asylum seekers, whose cases had been badly represented by dodgy lawyers must be allowed new hearings. While there was general sympathy for Zimbabwean economic migrants, there was criticism that too few of them had been active in the struggle on behalf of their more unfortunate compatriots back home.
Mahlunge said the asylum system had been abused, and the Zimbabwean protest movement in the UK did not have the necessary critical mass to influence government decisions: not enough people, for instance, attended the Vigil. It was also pointed out from the floor that the Home Office knows that many Zimbabweans come and go to Zimbabwe. It was essential to be honest. A ban on sending back Zimbabweans should not include supporters of Zanu (PF) and other nationals pretending to be Zimbabweans. It was suggested that the delegation should offer to help the Home Office in weeding out bogus asylum claims. – Own correspondent

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