The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Fear, violence grip Zim as deadlock persists: Rights group

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Cuthbert Nzou Friday 07 November 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe remains blanketed in a climate of fear because of
continuing political violence as the country's political leaders bicker over
sharing of key Cabinet posts in a proposed unity government, a local human
rights group has said.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said in its latest report released
this week that cases of political violence and human rights abuses shot up
39 percent from August to September - ironically the same month Zimbabwe's
political leaders agreed to bury the hatchet and join hands in a unity
government.

The rights group said: "Violence toll increased by 39 percent from its
August level of 964 to 1336 by September with incidents of murder, rape,
kidnapping, assault, looting, harassment, displacements . . . maintaining a
disturbing visibility after the signing of the 15 September power-sharing
Agreement.

The ZPP noted that September violence shifted to more extreme forms of
violence and abuse with seven murders, five rapes and 20 cases of abduction
recorded in the month - a situation it said was "at odds with the spirit of
unity and reconciliation enshrined in the power-sharing deal".

The rights group said there was noticeable fear across the country:
"Two strands of fear are noticeable in all the 10 provinces; the traditional
fear (by victims) of further retribution and the new fear of guilty where
those associated with the perpetration of violence are afraid of possible
investigations and arrests.

"In all provinces freedom of expression is still curtailed with people
reportedly assaulted for publicly expressing their opinions on the causes of
the economic meltdown (or for) celebrating the signing of the
(power-sharing) deal."

President Robert Mugabe, opposition MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara agreed to form an all-inclusive government under a
power-sharing deal that retains Mugabe as president while making Tsvangirai
prime minister and Mutambara deputy prime minister.

Analysts see such a power-sharing government as the first step to
ending decade-long food shortages and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. But seven
weeks after agreeing to share power the political rivals are yet to form a
unity government because they cannot agree on who should control the most
powerful ministries.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) prepares to hold an
emergency summit next Sunday to try to coax the Zimbabwean adversaries to
reach agreement on the composition of the unity government.

Political analysts remain pessimistic that Sunday's regional summit
will be able to break the power-sharing deadlock, saying SADC lacks the
collective will to force Mugabe to compromise with his main rival
Tsvangirai.

The ZPP said as leaders wrangled over political power, their
supporters on the ground remained intolerant of each other, particularly
pro-Mugabe war veterans who the rights group said were moving around telling
people that the ruling ZANU PF party would never agree to form a unity
government with the MDC.

"There is a business as usual, indifferent attitude to the 15
September agreement in all the 10 provinces with war veterans reportedly
openly downplaying the possibility of an all-inclusive government with the
MDC factions whom they still refer to as sell-outs," the ZPP said.

In addition to being subjected to violence and abuse, MDC supporters
were also being denied government-supplied food aid as punishment for
backing the opposition, according to the ZPP.

Meanwhile the Tsvangirai-led MDC accused ZANU PF of unleashing "a new
orgy of brutality and assaults" against its supporters and said by this
action Mugabe's party had unilaterally put a "full stop" to negotiations on
forming a government.

"In short ZANU PF has killed the dialogue despite the hopes, patience
and expectations of the people of Zimbabwe. The bottom line is that ZANU PF
must be upfront with the Zimbabwean people and openly bury the corpse of
these talks," the opposition party said in a statement.

There was no immediate reaction from ZANU PF to the charges by the
MDC. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe accuses Botswana of training MDC militia

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Jameson Mombe Friday 07 November 2008

JOHANNESBURG - President Robert Mugabe's government has accused Botswana of
interference and that it was training youths from opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's MDC party to destabilise Zimbabwe, in a dangerous twist to a
diplomatic row between the two neighbours.

Jeff Ramsay, press secretary to Botswana President Ian Khama said in a
statement that Zimbabwe made the charges at an extraordinary meeting of
regional security ministers in Mozambique on Wednesday.

Gaborone denied the charges and immediately asked the inter-state defence
and security committee of the regional SADC grouping's Organ on Politics,
Defence and Security Troika as well as the Zimbabwean government to
undertake a fact-finding mission to Botswana to probe the allegations,
according to Ramsay.

Ramsay said: "The Government of Zimbabwe alleged that Botswana has been
training MDC-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) youths to destabilise Zimbabwe since 2002.

"The Government of Botswana dismissed the Zimbabwean allegation as false,
baseless, and completely unfounded. The Government of Botswana further
requested that the Government of Zimbabwe provides documented evidence on
the allegations.

"In this regard, the Government of Botswana invited the Organ Troika,
together with the Government of Zimbabwe, to undertake a fact-finding
mission to Botswana at their earliest opportunity. The Troika accepted the
invitation.

"For its part, the Organ Troika required that the Government of Zimbabwe
provide it with documented evidence, which would be availed to the
Government of Botswana."

Ramsay said Gaborone had also pointed out that the Botswana-Zimbabwe Joint
Permanent Commission on Defence and Security has met 25 times, during which
Harare had never raised the allegations it was now making.

Zimbabwe Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Information Minister as well
as government spokesman Sikhanyiso Ndlovu were not immediately available for
comment on the matter.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana have been strained in recent years
chiefly because of Gaborone's outspoken criticism of Mugabe's controversial
rule.

The two southern African countries that share a long frontier between them
clashed this week after Khama told Botswana's parliament on Monday that a
fresh vote was the only way out of the deadlock that threatens to derail a
power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe angrily reacted to Khama's call for fresh elections saying it was
unwarranted interference in its internal affairs and amounted to "extreme
provocation".

Mugabe's government accused Khama of trying to "pick a quarrel with
Zimbabwe" and said the Botswana leader had spoken based on false
information supplied to him by Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe also vowed that it would get to the bottom of the matter to find
out the motivation behind what it described as an "unholy alliance" between
Khama and Tsvangirai.

Khama, just like late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa who was also a critic
of Mugabe, has openly embraced Tsvangirai.

The diplomatic row between Harare and Gaborone comes as the SADC prepares to
hold an emergency summit on Sunday to try to coax Mugabe and Tsvangirai to
reach agreement on the composition of a new unity government.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and another opposition leader Arthur Mutambara agreed to
form an all-inclusive government under a September 15 power-sharing deal
that retains Mugabe as president while making Tsvangirai prime minister and
Mutambara deputy prime minister.

Analysts see such a power-sharing government as the first step to ending
decade-long food shortages and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. But six weeks
after agreeing to share power political leaders are yet to form a unity
government because they cannot agree on should control the most powerful
ministries. - ZimOnline


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SA to get tough with Zimbabwe's leaders

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Nokuthula Sibanda Friday 07 November 2008

HARARE - South Africa will take a tough stance at a regional summit on
Sunday to push for a resolution of neighbouring Zimbabwe's power-sharing
deadlock, government spokesman Themba Maseko said on Thursday.

Signaling growing impatience in the region over the lack of a solution
to Zimbabwe's political impasse Maseko said the deepening crisis in Harare
was becoming a threat to regional stability and a breakthrough would have to
be found at the summit.

"We are getting a bit anxious about the failure of the parties to
reach a political settlement," Maseko said during a media briefing following
Wednesday's regular Cabinet meeting.

"We believe the failure of the parties to agree on the new Cabinet is
something that is becoming a major hindrance to the political stability that
we so desire in the SADC region," he said.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state are to
gather at Johannesburg's Sandton convention centre on Sunday to discuss
Zimbabwe's deadlocked power-sharing agreement and raging war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.

Maseko said South Africa - the region's biggest economic power - was
extremely concerned at the slow progress in the power-sharing talks, and the
SADC heads of state now had to take urgent steps to make sure political
solutions were found.

"So we will be taking a very firm position as government to make sure
that the parties in Zimbabwe understand the urgency of finding a settlement.
We believe that South Africa and the region cannot be held to ransom by
three parties that are failing to reach agreement on the allocation of
Cabinet posts," Maseko said.

The South African official noted that Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party
and the two opposition MDC formations had already agreed on the major issues
but were deadlocked over allocation of Cabinet positions in the unity
government outlined under the September 15 power-sharing deal.

"It was problematic that the only outstanding issue was the allocation
of Cabinet positions. The parties need to see the urgency with which this
matter needs to be attended to," he said.

President Robert Mugabe, opposition MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara agreed to form an all-inclusive government under a
power-sharing deal that retains Mugabe as president while making Tsvangirai
prime minister and Mutambara deputy prime minister.

Analysts see such a power-sharing government as the first step to
ending decade-long food shortages and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. But seven
weeks after agreeing to share power the political rivals are yet to form a
unity government because they cannot agree on who should control the most
powerful ministries.

Maseko said South Africa was optimistic that the SADC summit will be
able coax the Zimbabwean rivals to reach agreement on the composition of the
unity government.

However political analysts are pessimistic that Sunday's regional
summit will be able to break the power-sharing deadlock, saying SADC lacks
the collective will to force Mugabe to compromise with his main rival
Tsvangirai.

Meanwhile South African ruling ANC party leader Jacob Zuma called on
SADC leaders to take the gloves off on Sunday and order Zimbabwe's leaders
to stop bickering and form the long-awaited unity government.

Zuma, probably the most powerful man in South Africa and strongly
tipped to be president after elections next year, said: "I think SADC must
put its pressure more strongly to these colleagues because what happens in
Zimbabwe has effect on the region.

"I think the region should say to the Zimbabwe leaders that enough is
enough. You must resolve this matter, you can't leave South Africa without
resolving this matter. That is what I am expecting." - ZimOnline


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STATEMENT: ZCTU rejects calling strike

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

Friday 07 November 2008

STATEMENT: We would like to correct a story that has been appearing on
online news, and in particular, Zimonline alleging that the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called for an indefinite strike by
workers beginning next Tuesday to press for the establishment of a
transitional authority to draw up a new Constitution for the country that
will lead to free and fair elections.

The ZCTU wants to put it on record that it has NOT penciled any action for
Tuesday 11 November 2008 and has never issued statements to that effect.

Although it is ZCTU's position that only a Transitional Authority can help
solve the country's current political impasse, it has not resolved to take
action to effect same.

As a mass driven organisation, the ZCTU can only take action after it has
consulted its membership and has been given the go ahead by the General
Council, the highest decision making body, to embark on such action. The
ZCTU general council has not met to make a decision on the date and type of
action to take. When the ZCTU decides to take any action workers will have
been consulted through the structures and not just through the Press.

Wellington Chibebe, Secretary-General

06 November 2008


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Robert Mugabe bank accused of stealing aid cash

http://www.timesonline.co.uk

The Times
November 7, 2008

Jan Raath in Harare
An international aid agency froze its donations to Zimbabwe yesterday after
President Mugabe's central bank was found to have pilfered 4.5 million from
funds meant to help millions of seriously ill people.

The missing money was part of a 65million grant from the Global Fund to
Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, one of the world's largest private
organisations dedicated to helping poor countries to combat disease.

An audit by the fund last month discovered that its grant, deposited in the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, had disappeared. The money should have been used
to train 50,000 people and buy drugs for a complex national anti-malaria
campaign. Instead, only 495 people have been trained.

Aid agency officials said the loss of the money was a severe setback in the
fight against a frequently fatal disease that affects 2.7 million
Zimbabweans.

Global Fund officials cited internal correspondence from Zimbabwe's Central
Bank in which Gideon Gono, the bank governor, stated that the money was used
"for other national priorities". Mr Gono refused to meet the audit team
while it was in the country to explain the shortfall. "It's theft, plain and
simple," said a Western diplomatic source.
The global fund has now suspended its current operation in Zimbabwe and will
not make the 2009 payment for 320million. At its meeting in Delhi
yesterday, the fund's board withdrew the allocation. "We will not sign any
new grants, even if the fund board approves future grants to Zimbabwe,
unless that money is fully recovered," said Michel Kazatchkine, its
executive director.

The brazenness of the "diversion" of the money has shocked health workers in
Zimbabwe. The country's economic crisis has been accompanied by famine, one
of the highest rates of Aids infection in the world and rampant TB and
malaria. The country also faces a potential epidemic of cholera as urban
townships wallow in rivers of raw sewage and mountains of uncollected
garbage amid the collapsing infrastructure.

Mr Mugabe's Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa, tacitly admitted that the
money had been misappropriated when he promised that it would be paid back,
without explaining what had happened to it. He also appeared to be asking
for extra time to pay, when he said repayment would be "in the next seven
days".

Like all other aid agencies, the global fund deposited the cash in foreign
currency accounts in commercial banks, but transferred into the custody of
the central bank. The institution is "technically bankrupt", according to
the International Monetary Fund, and has a publicly acknowledged policy of
printing money to pay for state expenditure.

Shortly before elections in March, the accounts of the aid agencies and
thousands of private businesses were systematically looted by the central
bank.

Officials and businessmen trying to withdraw their foreign currency were
politely told the bank was "unable to pay at this time", but that the cash
would be released later.

"To my knowledge, not one has been repaid," said a senior commercial bank
executive.

Since then, the Government has spent a fortune importing tractors, combine
harvesters, limousines, plasma televisions and a range of other expensive
items. These were handed out to Mr Mugabe's cronies, with cash used to bribe
voters.

"We have never refused to acknowledge the liability," Mr Gono said
yesterday. "Only cheap minds would go as far as to suggest that the money
was used to buy tractors and TV sets."


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Zimbabwe: Reserve Bank Repays $7.3. Million

http://www.nytimes.com

By CELIA W. DUGGER
Published: November 6, 2008
Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank on Thursday repaid $7.3 million that an aid group
had demanded and had said had been misspent. The bank acted a day before the
group, the Global Fund to Fights AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was to
decide on $188 million in new grants for Zimbabwe. The fund's inspector
general has insisted on new safeguards on donations. In the state media,
Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, did not explain where the money
went.


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Lawyers Ask Zimbabwe High Court For Access To Opposition Clients

http://www.voanews.com

By Jonga Kandemiiri
Washington
06 November 2008

Lawyers for eight Zimbabwean opposition activists from Mashonaland West
province who were seized and prosecuted on charges they sought to topple the
government said they have asked the high court to order they are provided
access to their clients.

The application was to be heard in Harare high court on Friday morning,
according to lawyers for the Movement for Democratic Change.

The lawyers said they had checked with all of the police stations in Harare
where the activists might be held, but said they received little cooperation
from police.

MDC sources said six activists and a two year-old baby were abducted by
suspected state agents in Banket, Mashonaland West, between Wednesday and
Sunday. Two more were abducted in Chinhoyi on Tuesday. The whereabouts of
all is unknown.

Attorney Alec Muchadehama, representing the missing activists, told reporter
Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he suspects his clients
have been tortured, which would explain why the police have not produced
them.


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Bishop Bakare wins human rights award

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=6908

November 6, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Zimbabwe 's Anglican Bishop, the Right Reverend Dr Sebastian
Bakare, flew to Stockholm, Sweden, Thursday to receive a US$18,900 human
rights award for his fight against oppression in the Anglican Church in
Zimbabwe.

Bishop Bakare is set to receive the Swedish human rights award for his work
to promote "freedom of speech and of opinion in a difficult political
situation".

He was due to accept the 2008 Per Anger prize at a ceremony in Stockholm on
November 10. Bakare has been honoured by the Swedish government agency,
Living History Forum.

He told The Zimbabwe Times on the sidelines of a meeting held on Wednesday
at ambassador James McGee's Chisipite home to discuss the US elections that
he was flying to Sweden Thursday, where he was also slotted to be keynote
speaker at a human rights conference in Lulea, northern Sweden.

"I am humbled by this award," Bakare told The Zimbabwe Times. "It amply
demonstrates that good will always reign over evil."

The Swedish agency, in its citation said Bakare was an important voice who
had "received threats as a result of his open and clear criticism of the
government, his condemnation of local police brutality and his defence of
human rights" in Zimbabwe.

The award, worth 150,000 kronor (US$18,900), was created in 2004 in honour
of Swedish diplomat Per Anger and honours people and organizations that risk
their own safety to defend the rights of the individual against oppression
and inhumanity.

Bakare has waged a fierce fight against renegade defrocked Anglican bishop
Nolbert Kunonga, a close ally of President Robert Mugabe, who has refused to
share dozens of churches in Harare , the Zimbabwean capital, with Bakare's
followers.

The number of parishioners attending Kunonga's Sunday Mass has successively
collapsed since Kunonga preached pro-Zanu-PF sermons from the pulpit,
earning him the condemnation of the Anglican Communion's 77 million members
worldwide.

The majority of church officials and parishioners who have rallied behind
Bakare have been harassed and locked out of the bulk of the city's Anglican
churches by State security agents reportedly requested by Kunonga.

Despite open harassment and threats against him, Bakare has continued to
rally his flock for church services every Sunday.

Bakare has widespread support of Anglicans in Zimbabwe, mainly because of
his message of hope and his outspokenness against the brutality of the
Mugabe regime and the use of State security agents to persecute and assault
Anglicans in an attempt to stop them from worshipping.

Bakare has told his flock in sermons to pray for a stop to the political
interference in the Anglican church, instigated by Kunonga and asserts the
police were "getting orders from above".

Bishop Kunonga has been excommunicated from the church as a result of the
stand-off, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Phillips, describing
Bakare as "a deeply respected and courageous elder Statesman of the
Zimbabwean church".


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Zim barters 3.5 tonnes of ivory for guns

http://www.zimdaily.com/

By NOZIPHO MASEKO

Published: Friday 07 November 2008

ZIMBABWE - HARARE - The 3.5 tonnes of ivory sold for over US$450,000 by the
bankrupt Zimbabwe regime of Robert Mugabe to Chinese buyers in Harare on
Monday is thought to have been part payment for military hardware set to be
flown into the Zimbabwean capital soon, top official sources said.

Worth almost USD50 million, the one-off sale has been okayed Geneva-based
secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(Cites) amid protests from wildlife rights groups.
News of the illicit guns-for-ivory deal has rekindled fears among wildlife
organisations that the Zimbabwean government's official claim to be a
protector of the elephant is a sham.

Zimbabwe's tourist literature makes great play of a supposedly rising
elephant population, but experts in the country believe the figures have
been distorted as part of an attempt by Mugabe's cash-strapped regime to
make Cites relax its ivory trading rules.

Brigadier Albert Kanunga, a retired army officer who heads Zimbabwe's
department of parks and wildlife, appealed to Cites earlier this year for
clearance to sell 10 tons of ivory, but failed in a complicated negotiation
involving Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

Cites only approved the sale of 3.5 tonnes.

At about the same time substantial quantities of high-calibre ammunition
allegedly went missing from the wildlife department's armoury near State
House in Harare, coinciding with an upsurge in poaching in the Zambezi
Valley bordering Zambia, where experts claim up to 200 elephants have been
killed this year alone in prepartion of this sale.

The Zimbabwean government blamed much of the carnage on foreign animal
rights groups, which it claimed were trying to thwart Mugabe's bid to have
the Cites rules relaxed.

Ivory commands a black market price of more than US$100 a kilogram. Demand
is greatest in Japan and China. The Beijing government is officially opposed
to the trade, but wildlife experts in Harare say that unofficially, Chinese
demand is high.

They identified a string of Zambian and Senegalese middlemen who, they say,
arrange deals through the close-knit Chinese community in South Africa. The
wildlife experts, many of them sacked by Kanunga's predecessor, Willas
Makombe, claim Mugabe was approached by the Chinese shortly after his
devastating loss in March elections.

Worried that his grip on power was slipping after almost three decades in
power, he knew he might need arms in the build-up to the run off election,
which he claimed victory from a one man presidential race boycotted by his
rival Morgan Tsvangirai because of violence.

An earlier consignment of weapons loaded into a Chinese ship bound for
Harare was turned away at the Durban harbour during the run up to the
elections.

ZimDaily heard that the 3.5 tonnes consignment sold in Harare Monday was
allegedly flown out of Harare's international airport yesterday. The
military consignment will be flown in secretly to avoid the scandal that
characterised the last consignment aboard "the Chinese ship of death."

ZimDaily heard Zimbabwe's wildlife department has just over 23 tons of ivory
stored at its Harare headquarters, one ton less than when Cites last
inquired in April. Officials said the missing ton had been legitimately sold
on the local market to craftsmen.

But former wildlife department employees say the official statistics are
almost meaningless, given that up to 50 elephants can be killed by poachers
in a typical raid lasting between two and three weeks, bringing anything up
to two tons of ivory onto the illegal market.

If Zimbabwe's claims to have an elephant population of 70,000 are anywhere
near accurate, then scientists say natural rates of attrition would also
yield several tons of ivory each year.

Other former officials said Mugabe would ideally like to sell off the
country's entire stock because of the cost of maintaining it at a constant
humidity and temperature. Only a handful of trusted officials - all loyal to
Zanu-PF party - have access to the stores.

The bartering of ivory for military hardware comes amid a military embargo
on the Mugabe regime banning gunrunning with the rest of the Western world.
An acute forex crunch has forced the government to barter its stockpiles
instead of paying cash for ammunition from China.


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Zim loses $2bn worth of diamonds a month through smuggling - central bank

http://www.miningweekly.com/

By: Oscar Nkala
Published on 7th November 2008
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says the country is losing nearly
US$1,2-billion worth of diamonds a month to more than 500 syndicates that
are operating in the diamondfields of Chiadzwa and Marange, in the east of
the country.
In a paper presented to a law enforcement symposium in Harare, RBZ governor
Gideon Gono says the staggering losses are enough to rescue the sliding
economy from total ruin and return the country to prosperity in less than a
decade.

"A reliable estimate shows that US$1,2-billion per month would be realised
from diamond sales in the country, enough to solve the economic challenges
the country is currently facing. We have investors who are able to mine and
[generate] US$1,2-billion every month while we only need US$100-million a
month for all our difficulties to go [away]," he adds.

Gono says illegal dealing and smuggling are also rife in the gold-mining
sector.

He says members of the main syndicates operating in Manicaland are dealers
and smugglers from Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Mozambique, Mali, Congo, Senegal, Angola, Zambia and the Central African
Republic.

Despite the arrest and deportation of more than 20 foreign nationals from
the area last year, the problem is far from over.

Illegal diamond-mining in Zimbabwe took off four years ago, following the
discovery of the gems in Manicaland province.

However, a senior police officer from Manicaland tells Mining Weekly that
the diamond smuggling syndicates cannot be uprooted because they have
political and security establishment connections.

"Like all illegal activities that involve huge amounts of money, this
problem of illegal panning and smuggling will simply not go away. Many a
time we have arrested people with big stashes of diamonds and even cash in
US dollars, only to get a phone call from some high-ranking government or
party official to say we should release the suspects and give them back
'their' loot.

"All the security services are here - police, police intelligence, the
Central Intelligence Organisation, the army and its Military Intelligence.
But the area is still swarming with foreign dealers who openly hire entire
communities to do illegal panning on their behalf. These are the
untouchables.

"It defeats logic - you try to arrest one of these people and the next
officer on duty releases them [after charging them with] loitering, which
attracts a meagre fine of Z$20. That is why everyone now takes a bribe. "The
RBZ may want to see this ended quickly, but they would have to arrest top
government and security establishment officers, who are bleeding this
country to death," says the officer.


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UK still considering permits for Zimbabweans

http://www.nehandaradio.com

07 November 2008

Response from Home Office on permission to work for failed asylum seekers
with pending cases

Letter dated 23 October 2008

Thank you for your petition of 11 July to the Prime Minister requesting
permission to work for failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe who do not have
leave to remain in the United Kingdom. Your letter has been passed to me to
reply.

I apologise for the delay in responding to you. The UK Border Agency
maintains this country's proud tradition of providing protection to those
who need it, in accordance with its international obligations. All asylum
claims are considered on their individual merits and when someone needs our
protection we will provide it.

The Government welcomes the enormous contribution that recognised refugees
make to our society and economy.
Unsuccessful asylum seekers have had their case considered by a trained,
specialist case worker and will have had the opportunity to appeal their
case to the independent Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and, where
appropriate, to the High Court and Court of Appeal.

It has been determined through a fair and transparent process that they do
not need international protection. Where a decision has been made that a
person does not require international protection, and there are no remaining
rights of appeal or obstacles to their return, we expect unsuccessful asylum
seekers to return to their country of origin.

Return and reintegration assistance is available through the International
Organization for Migration. We have no current plans to enforce the removal
of failed asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe but we will continue to help those
who want to go home voluntarily.
Generally, it is not our policy to allow asylum seekers or failed asylum
seekers to work.

The only exception is asylum seekers who have been waiting 12 months for an
initial asylum decision where this delay cannot be attributed to them.
Allowing asylum seekers to work in these circumstances is standard practice
in countries which have implemented the EC Directive on reception of asylum
seekers.

The Government believes that managed migration is a valuable source of
skills and labour to the British economy and there are recognised routes
into the UK for those seeking to. work - currently several thousand
Zimbabweans are working legally in the United Kingdom on valid work permits
obtained through the managed migration process.

However, entering the country for economic reasons is not the same as
seeking asylum, and it is important to maintain a clear distinction between
the two. It is also important that those who apply for asylum in the UK have
their applications processed as quickly as possible.

The UK Border Agency is on track to conclude the majority of cases within 6
months by the end of the year and has a target to conclude 90 per cent of
asylum applications within 6 months by December 2011. Those who are
recognised as refugees are allowed to work and refugees will therefore
increasingly be permitted to work here legally much sooner than in the past.

The skills of new arrivals are unlikely to have become out-of-date within 6
months. Our policy on working is integrated with our policy on asylum
support. Asylum seekers who need support to avoid destitution are given it
from the time they arrive in the UK until their claim is fully determined
(i.e. when their appeal rights are exhausted). Support takes the form of
accommodation or subsistence or both.

Even after a claim has been refused and any appeal against that refusal
dismissed, we continue to provide support for families whose household
included a dependent child aged under 18 years at the time that the asylum
claim was fully determined. They continue to be eligible for this support
until the youngest child reaches the age of 18 or they depart from the UK.

Similarly, support continues for children and vulnerable adults qualifying
for local authority care provision. Other failed asylum seekers can also
receive support if they are taking reasonable steps to return or are able to
point to a legitimate barrier to return.

The above general position on working applies irrespective of nationality.
However, the Prime Minister informed Parliament on 10 July that the
Government is actively looking at the situation of those Zimbabweans who do
not have a protection need but who have not returned home voluntarily.

That consideration is currently ongoing and the Government will report back
to Parliament once this has been completed.

MEG HILLIER MP
PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE

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