By Alex Bell
Concern is high for the fate of scores of Zimbabweans living in the UK as asylum seekers, with that country said to be stepping up its practice of deportations.
The UK resumed deportations in 2012 after suspending the practice four years earlier. The moratorium was put in place because of politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe during the 2008 elections, a situation which was deemed too risky for people to be forcibly returned to.
But last year, the UK started the deportations again, saying it was safe for people to go home.
Regis Manyanya, from the Nottingham Zimbabwe Community Network, told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that the deportations have since been stepped up in recent months. He said this was a serious concern, because some of the people that have been picked up are active members of the MDC in the UK, and could be vicitmised in Zimbabwe for this.
Manyanya explained that two MDC UK members, including the Coventry branch Secretary Grant Maboyi, have been deported in the past month. Maboyi was picked up by immigration officials at the UK Border Authority offices, where he was undergoing routine reporting. He was deported last week.
Another MDC member, Nancy Bonongwe, was also picked up and deported last month. She was a member of the MDC Nottingham branch. Manyanya said that several other Zimbabweans have been picked up and some have been deported, calling the trend “disturbing.”
“It is a concern to us that if you have been actively involved and campaigning for regime removal in Zimbabwe and highlighting the bad things that they do, then you are instantly recognisable once you reach the airport,” Manyanya said.
He added: “From what we have heard from people, some people are locked up in detention, some disappear. So it is very disturbing.”
He explained that they have not received any word about Maboyi’s or Bonongwe’s whereabouts since they were deported.
“They (the UK authorities) need to reconsider their position on deportations. They know what happens in Zimbabwe during elections. No one needs to remind them that when Zimbabwe is heading towards such an election, like now, there could be violence,” Manyanya said. SW Radio Africa