Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Should Zanu PF members in the UK lose their refugee status?

By Tino Chinyoka

I recently read an article written by a prominent website about Zanu PF agents crawling out the woodwork and I felt my skin crawl. Not again! 

Tino Chinyoka
Tino Chinyoka

Of course, in the society that we have created (and by this I mean Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom), I fully expect that many ‘better’ people will look at the by-line and condemn this article without so much as reading a sentence. Such people might even put comments thereon, anonymized of course, with no idea of what is being said.

Some, not in agreement with constitutionally permissible choices made by the writer, which are also accorded to him under the European Convention on Human Rights as read with The Human Rights Act, 1998, will gleefully append comments about how poorly written this piece is, not rising to the standard of a PhD student, conveniently forgetting of course that they are not my supervisor and therefore need not receive PhD assignments on their internet device from me.

Others, of the more insidious variety, will append vile personal attacks the effect of which has been to incite violent outbreaks of laughter from myself, and a slight sense of relevance. All in all, I expect that there will be no shortage of internet trolls hiding under fake names to attack the truth. Facts are stubborn.

Indeed, it is this same positively vile lack of goodwill to our fellow man (and woman) that allows our society (as defined above) to delight in the pain that is clearly being caused to a certain couple from High Wycombe by those unfortunate videos, to denigrate Derrick Chisora’s achievements on the basis that ‘he does not speak English very well and embarrasses “us” (really? He embarrasses me not); it the very same mean-spiritedness that I witnessed in 11 hears as an immigration lawyer when you find relatives refusing to go to court to testify on behalf of their relatives (‘ndinozotorerwa angu mapepa kana nyaya dzikanosiyana,’ or ‘lawyer rako handiri traste’ being favourite excuses), the same shayisano that sees a married man’s girlfriend calling the Home Office to tell them that the man’s wife is working illegally at such and such a place please go now and catch her; the same gunyengu that sees someone taking their own cousin’s (bhudhi kana sis vekwa mainini) documents and faxing them to the Home Office to prove that ‘paakati passport yakaraswa ne Zanu PF ainyepa’; the same foolishness that pretends to understand things and goes around maligning reputations based on half-baked knowledge.

In fact, what I have witnessed in those 11 years would fill a book. So bad is our record as a people that many a time, brothers from Nigeria, Guinea etc would ask me ‘my broda, how is it that Zimbabweans can be so cruel to one another that they can report each ada to da Home Office?’ Now, no-one is saying that criminal activity should not be reported, but they are talking about telling the Home Office that this person who has claimed asylum saying that she was a teacher in Mutorashanga was in fact working for Chicken Inn in Harare, and here are his severance papers to prove it (fact!).

I used to encourage my clients to try and get prominent MDC officials in the UK to testify at their hearings, until l discovered in one case that the so called witnesses were being paid up to £600 to come and say that the person was active in the MDC. If those people won, and yet never attend  any of the MDC of meetings, are they refugees? Of course not.

Somalis give each other crib-sheets to cram all the information you need to know about minority clans so as to win their cases, but Zimbabweans will not help anyone with their case. Nigerians will happily marry their cousin to get them status, but Zimbabweans will say ‘dont mention me in your case, zvinozoklasha.’

Then when the relative loses (because Home Office knows you gave false family details and the judge thinks if your own relative won’t come to say you are telling truth why should l believe you), it is the zvonozoklasha relative who is in the forefront of blaming Chinyoka, Yvonne Mahlunge, Mtisi or Madanhi – vanongodhla mari dzevanhu! Ask any Zimbabwe lawyer in the UK how many complaints they have had to the Law Society and you will learn that it is a few too many. Ask the nationality of the complainants and be amazed that it is all from Zimbabweans.

An Iranian will buy you flowers when you win their case and a Somali will bring you some sweets that are, ehhh, too sweet(!), but a successful Zimbabwean will say ‘haana chaakaita uyu, ndini ndakamuudza kuti tiise tsamba yeku Vigil iye asingade.’

Not everyone is afflicted of course. I know a few, but I can only speak for myself. It is not a secret that I am not Catsen Matewu’s favourite person, in fact he calls me a ‘political reject’ every chance he gets, but that does not stop me holding him out as an example to the youths I try and mentor as someone that is clearly succeeding because he went to University and seems to not suffer from a victim mentality.

Makusha Mugabe likely hates me, but I routinely use his references to me as examples for other people to see how you can disagree with someone, tell them that fact directly, and not be offensive about it. perhaps Casten and I need to take lessons from Makusha!

But a few anecdotal examples do not a society make, and nowhere was this aptly demonstrated that in the unfortunate story titled ‘Zanu PF agents crawl out of the woodwork’. Agents? Crawl? Woodwork? You get the picture of some trolls in dark glasses emerging like maggots from hiding, infesting this fine society with their grime.

You see, language, and choice of words matter. The West is very adept at using language to good effect, and it appears that we have learnt well. The government of Syria is a regime, the ministers around Asad a ‘cabal’, the criminals who toppled Yanukovich were revolutionaries while those that did for Qaddafi were ‘rebels’, the killings attributed to the Inkatha Freedom Party at the birth of a new South Africa were ‘black on black violence’ while the killings by the IRA in Northern Ireland were part of a ‘sectarian strife’.

Now, I am sure we all want to be revolutionaries involved in sectarian strifes where we are forced to fight for our rights, but once you become a bunch of rebels trying to topple a junta headed by a cabal that sustains a regime, you know you are not in Europe anymore. So, maggots crawling out of some grunge, that is the picture you get of these Zanu PF agents.

Une gunyengu rakaita kuti nyimo dzifukwe, so said one of Gararirimo’s wives in I.M. Zvarevashe’s masterpice, Kurauone. I swear that I until I came to the UK and witnessed first hand what we Zimbabweans do to one another, I never quite knew what that meant.

That is the same as talk of ‘agents crawling out the woodwork’. I did laugh, then thought, kuseka nhamo kunge rugare. You see, some of the people attending these Zanu PF meetings are very nice people, some quite funny; indeed some of them bring their children, who run around making a mess of things and dropping decorations or making noise while adults are talking: that is, things that children do. These adults cracking jokes and kids being kids are many things, but not agents. And given the asphalt jungles we live in , woodwork? Surely?

Anyway, this is not a laughing matter. The report raises a serious issue, and one that not only shows our bias towards bringing each other down at all costs, but one that is flawed.

The law if very clear about when refugee status might be revoked. The Immigration Rules provide that:

Revocation or refusal to renew a grant of asylum

339A. A person’s grant of asylum under paragraph 334 will be revoked or not renewed if the Secretary of State is satisfied that:

(i) he has voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the country of nationality;

(ii) having lost his nationality, he has voluntarily re-acquired it; or

(iii) he has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality;

(iv) he has voluntarily re-established himself in the country which he left or outside which he remained owing to a fear of persecution;

(v) he can no longer, because the circumstances in connection with which he has been recognised as a refugee have ceased to exist, continue to refuse to avail himself of the protection of the country of nationality;

(vi) being a stateless person with no nationality, he is able, because the circumstances in connection with which he has been recognised a refugee have ceased to exist, to return to the country of former habitual residence;

(vii) he should have been or is excluded from being a refugee in accordance with regulation 7 of The Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection (Qualification) Regulations 2006;

(viii) his misrepresentation or omission or facts, including the use of false documents, were decisive for the grant of asylum;

(ix) there are reasonable grounds for regarding him as a danger to the security of the United Kingdom; or

(x) having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime he constitutes danger to the community of the United Kingdom.

In considering (v) and (vi), the Secretary of State shall have regard to whether the change of circumstances is of such a significant and non-temporary nature that the refugee’s fear of persecution can no longer be regarded as well-founded.

Where an application for asylum was made on or after the 21st October 2004, the Secretary of State will revoke or refuse to renew a person’s grant of asylum where he is satisfied that at least one of the provisions in sub-paragraph (i)-(vi) apply.

Guidance on cessation on the Home Office website is found at : http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/asylumpolicyinstructions/apis/cessation.pdf?view=Binary

So, people that are still holding refugee papers, and assuming that they claimed asylum after 21 October 2004 (when the power to revoke was put into law),  and assuming that they have said that their fear was of Zanu PF, then if such a person joined Zanu PF in the UK they can have their status revoked. Clearly, this law goes further than that: and it is necessary to summarise in everyday language:

339A. A person’s grant of asylum under paragraph 334 will be revoked or not renewed if the Secretary of State is satisfied that:

(i)  he has voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the country of nationality;

(a)  If you, as the holder of refugee status in the UK, go to the Zimbabwe Embassy in London to renew your Zimbabwe passport (the same one that you told the Home Office had been lost, stolen perhaps?!), then you are no longer a refugee, whether or not the Home Office finds out. If they do find out, then your status could be revoked,

(b)Arguably, this might also apply to those parents who, after their children came to join them on ‘family reunion’ upon being granted refugee status, they go to the Zimbabwe Embassy to renew those children’s passports.

(ii)   having lost his nationality, he has voluntarily re-acquired it; or

(a)  Reacquiring the nationality of a country from which you escaped as a refugee would have the effect of extinguishing the need for international protection.

(iii) he has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality;

(a)  anyone that is now a British citizen is no longer a refugee, and cannot have any refugee status status revoked, as they no longer have any. Such a person can join the MDC, Zanu PF, NDU or whoever, based on facts on the ground now and a conscious exercise of their freedom of choice.

(b)It would be foolish to suggest that if someone came here in 2002 and claimed asylum on the basis that they supported the MDC, and if the MDC got into power and started killing people then such a person is not allowed to stop supporting them for fear of having their status revoked. Now, the reverse of also true: if someone came and claimed asylum because they were afraid of Zanu PF since they had seem Zanu PF members beating up their colleagues, got granted leave, stayed, became British, and found out that, as we saw at the last elections, Zanu PF does not beat people anymore, such a person is not prevented from supporting them.

(c)   In other words, there is a no law that prevents British citizens from supporting foreign political parties, unless if those parties are involved in terrorism, war crimes etc. The careers of Peter Hain and that man Thatchell would perhaps be less notorious if that were not the case.

(d)  as British nationals, these former refugees are allowed to take interests in the events happening in The Crimea, in Haiti, and yes, in Zimbabwe. If a political party from abroad recruits supporters in the UK, that is for its own purposes, and there is nothing wrong with British citizens deciding whether or not to join such a grouping. The only problem is if that party is involved in criminal activity, in which case different sanctions apply,

(iv)  he has voluntarily re-established himself in the country which he left or outside which he remained owing to a fear of persecution;

(a)  I do not know if Ms Makosi Musambasi was ever granted refugee status (this is one of our many problems: many people claimed asylum but were granted different forms of leave, some of it not refugee status but they still claim to be or people think that they are refugees!), but if she was, the fact that she has now gone back to Zimbabwe and openly lives there would mean that any grant of refugee status is liable to be revoked,

(b)The rationale behind this is that you are no longer ‘out of your country, owing to a well founded fear of persecution’, as provided in the UN Refugee Convention as the definition of a refugee.

(v) he can no longer, because the circumstances in connection with which he has been recognised as a refugee have ceased to exist, continue to refuse to avail himself of the protection of the country of nationality;

(a)  If you came here to escape Biggie Chitoro and got asylum by proving that in the climate that prevailed then, he would not be prosecuted because of the impunity that perpetrators of political violence enjoyed, then the moment that he died you are no longer a refugee. The law allows a review in such cases.

(b)In fact, people must be careful what they ask for. The Home Office likes this kind of power, because like those chemical weapons that kill the rebels and their neighbours alike, any possible reviews will catch vamwe vasiri munyaya but still meet the Home Office purpose of reducing the number of migrants here.

(c)   Tsvangirai came to the UK and said kumusha kwanaka. That signaled not only the end of Zimbabweans getting asylum (I tell you the number of times Home Office officials repeated those words in Tribunals around the UK, it was nauseating), but also meant all those on asylum as MDC members were no longer refugees, technically speaking.

(d)  So if the Home Office decided to review all current holders of refugee status from Zimbabwe for example, chances are that this statement from Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as the current position where the Home Office’s own Country of Origin Information Services report says that Zimbabwe is very peaceful; then most, if not all, Zimbabwean refugees would be found to no longer deserve international protection;

(e)  in fact, this is the provision that some refugee lawyers regard as the ‘nuclear clause’, one that, if the Home Office so decided, would see thousands of ‘refugees’ being sent back home once conditions in their country of origin change. It is one of those things that all lawyers secretly wish are never activated, and one that articles such as the one in question here risk activating,

(vi)  being a stateless person with no nationality, he is able, because the circumstances in connection with which he has been recognised a refugee have ceased to exist, to return to the country of former habitual residence;

(a)  I was tempted here to say: ‘No Zimbabwean is stateless’ and leave it at that.

(b)However, because I am aware of a certain message circulating on Whatsapp and chat forums (no, not the foolish one telling lies about me, but the one asking people to go talk to their lawyers because the Home Office is giving people 3 years leave to remain to people that are stateless), I feel that it is important to explain.

(c)   To be stateless, simply put in its most basic meaning, means that there is no country that you can point at and show that you are a citizen of that country. Now, because Zimbabweans acquire citizenship by being born there or having parents who are Zimbabweans, not a single one of the people that came here from Zimbabwe having been born there or on a Zimbabwe passport is stateless. And those that came on Malawi passports? Well, unless they show that their passport is fake (a crime), then they are Malawians and possibly Zimbabwean too. Ergo, not stateless.

(d)  Musanyengerwe, mari dzinoendera mahara if you go for that stateless application.

(vii)  he should have been or is excluded from being a refugee in accordance with regulation 7 of The Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection (Qualification) Regulations 2006;

(a)  The refugee convention bars some people from claiming refugee status. We have a case in the law reports of someone from Zimbabwe that failed to be granted refugee status because she had claimed that she took part in farm invasions on behalf of Zanu PF (dzimwe nhema dzamunoudza Home Office vanhu vokumusha kwangu, dzinokupairai!). So, if any of the Zanu PF agents crawling out of the woodwork did that, then they should have been excluded when they were granted asylum, and might have their status revoked, not for joining Zanu PF now, but because they were excluded and ought not to have been granted in the first place. However, given that the people who actually invaded the farms (language again, invade?) are actually on those farms making a livelihood, I rather suspect that this will not catch anyone in the UK. Nhema aside, hapana kana one arimuno muUK akaenda kunotora purazi, tipeiwo ma serious.

(b)So this does not apply to people that did not do anything covered by the exclusion clauses but have merely joined Zanu PF UK in 2013/4.

(viii)  his misrepresentation or omission or facts, including the use of false documents, were decisive for the grant of asylum;

(a)  vazhini vedu vanoperera pano.

(b) Let’s say that the Home Office starts reviewing grants of refuee status for Zimbabweans. This is done on a case by case basis. That means, twuma arrest warrants twenhema twuya, patwunobuda, status inobvawo yapera. Those MDC officials, either at Harvest House or here in the UK, that were paid to say that you were in danger; all that is covered here.

(c)   However, this does not mean that someone who claimed asylum in 2002 saying that they belonged to the MDC and who then joins Zanu PF in 2013 was lying in 2002. Political support is not immutable, people change their minds – though apparently not ‘genuine’ MDC supporters. This refers to lies told during the claim for asylum, which later come to light.

(d)  Clearly, a Zanu PF UK member who was granted asylum as an MDC supporter but stands up and says ‘I have been Zanu PF from birth’ will have every reason to worry about their status being revoked. Somehow, I suspect that those ‘Zanu PF agents’ are not that foolish.

(ix)  there are reasonable grounds for regarding him as a danger to the security of the United Kingdom; or

(a)  Mese hamukwani apa – ndepe vaya vane ‘courage’ dzokuzvisungirira mabhomba vonozviuraya, maZimba nokuda kwamunoita life hapana kana hwani wenyu anombofa akapomerwawo dze terrorism.

(b)And given how much we all like to live, long may that continue to be the case

(x)  having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime he constitutes danger to the community of the United Kingdom.

(a)  This is self-explanatory and similar to (ix) above, and I seriously doubt that any of our fun-loving people will ever be a danger to UK.

In effect, there are many powers at the Home Office’s disposal to revoke a person’s refugee status, and different provisions will affect different people. However, given that many (if not the majority) of Zimbabweans claimed asylum before 21 October 2004, given that an even higher number got their status under Legacy (this was not refugee status, despite what those holding it think, and despite the fact that the holders have avoided going back to Zimbabwe fearing the Home Office pasina chikonzero), given that many people have naturalised and are now British citizens, given that a good many Zimbabweans came here as spouses of people on work permits (nurses, carers, engineers etc), it is very foolish in the extreme to assume that all the people involved with Zanu PF in the UK are refugees.

While it is true that a vast number of people joined the MDC in the UK in order to bolster weak asylum claims, and that a good few of those taking part in The Vigil do so to get pictures taken so that they can use in their case; the same cannot be said for those now joining Zanu PF and who are not refugees. I would even go on and say that I rather suspect that Zanu PF UK knows about this part of the Immigration Rules, and that they would likely not be reckless enough to put pictures of refugees on their walls.

But, as I have observed at the beginnings, Zimbabweans do not think charitably when it comes to other people.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

PhD Student,

Member, Zanu PF UK

 

 

 

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