Now that the reality of a brutal New Zimbabwe has sunk in, the UK Government must immediately suspend enforced removals to Zimbabwe


The budding romance between the UK and Zimbabwean government has been short-lived. The UK Government has suddenly dropped all pretence at demureness.

In light of the human rights violations emanating from security forces in Zimbabwe, media reports in the last few days are to the effect that Britain’s Minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, has said that the UK supports an extension of EU sanctions against Zimbabwe and will not back its plan to return to the Commonwealth.

The start of the year saw an invigorated return to violent suppression of oppositionist supporters in Zimbabwe. Disregard of the rule of law and breaches of fundamental human rights seem to be the order of the day.

It is now time to consistently and persistently remind the UK government of its previous policy of suspension of enforced returns to Zimbabwe in response to unstable conditions in that country.

It will be remembered that between 2002 and 2010, UK policy was not to enforce removals of Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers living in the UK. That position was right having regard to the gross violations of human rights prevailing in Zimbabwe.

In January 2002, the UK government’s stated position was that it would assess the country situation in Zimbabwe and the risks faced by individual returnees and decide whether to resume removals.

On 5 May 2009, the policy of Her Majesty’s Government as regards returns to Zimbabwe, was expressly that it would always take account of the political and humanitarian factors before doing so.

What however justified the change of policy on 14 October 2010 was the UK’s view that since the formation of the Inclusive Government in 2009, Zimbabwe was now considered stable enough to receive returnees.

Having regard however to current conditions, wholly different to those of 2010, let us remind the UK Government that its policy for a considerable number of years has been to assess the country situation in Zimbabwe in consideration of whether enforced returns should proceed.

Draw it to their attention that there was an assurance in 2009 that the UK government would consider the pertaining political and humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe prior to enforced removals.

Additionally, remind the government that in October 2010, the UK expressed commitment to taking, “its international responsibilities seriously and will always grant protection to those in genuine need and continue to monitor events in Zimbabwe.” It is time to seriously monitor events in Zimbabwe and for the UK government to make the right decision.

The reality of the brutality of the Mnangagwa regime under ZANU(PF) having now truly sunk in, the right and humane decision is for the UK government to immediately suspend enforced removals to Zimbabwe.