|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Zimbabwe asylum removals protest
Campaigners say the government is putting lives at risk after it reversed its policy of not sending people back to the country.
One of US President George W Bush's top team has described Robert Mugabe's regime as an "outpost of tyranny".
But the Home Office says it has resumed removals to Zimbabwe to tackle a rise in unfounded applications.
In November last year, immigration minister Des Browne ended a two-year suspension on removals, put in place because of the security situation in the country.
Large numbers of Zimbabwean opposition activists have fled the country, saying their lives were in danger. BBC reporters are banned from entering Zimbabwe.
Some 14,000 Zimbabweans have claimed asylum since 2000. The most recent figures show that only 55 of 650 cases considered were considered genuine, although a further 110 won the right to stay on appeal.
The Home Office will not confirm any figures but community sources estimate up to 100 failed asylum seekers and visa over-stayers may have already been put on planes out of the UK.
Zimbabwean campaigners are fighting the returns, saying people are being sent back to an uncertain fate amid growing tension ahead of elections in March.
Brighton Chireka, spokesman for the Zimbabwean campaign, said removals were contradicting the government's own statements on the situation in the country.
"The Foreign Office says there is a crisis in Zimbabwe and that there has been no change [in the risks to opposition activists] so the question we ask is why has the Home Office changed its policy to send people back?" said Dr Chireka.
"We believe they are removing Zimbabweans by any means possible so they can meet their removal targets, yet you cannot hand these people over to the Zimbabwean authorities."
A spokesman for the Home Office said the returns were justified because of the increased proportion of unfounded claims from the region.
The suspension of removals had become a "pull factor" for fraudulent applicants posing as Zimbabweans, said the spokesman.
"This change in asylum policy is entirely about operating a firm and fair asylum system. It does not reflect any change in the Government's categorical opposition to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe," she said.
"Genuine refugees, including members of opposition parties, will continue to be protected.
"We will also continue to push the government of Zimbabwe to end human rights abuses, and restore democracy so that all Zimbabweans can in time return safely to build a prosperous and stable country."
BBC News contacted the Zimbabwe High Commission in London for comment but a spokesperson was not available.
|Zimbabwe tells Cosatu to mind its own business|
|29 January 2005 11:26|
Khaleej Times OnlineIran offers help to Zimbabwe in $250m power plant upgrade
29 January 2005
HARARE - Iran will help Zimbabwe to upgrade one of its power stations at a cost of $250 million to increase electricity output as President Robert Mugabe’s government moves to bolster ties with Muslim and Asian nations.
State power utility ZESA said Iran would provide 60 per cent of the project funds as a loan to be repaid after 10 years, while the utility would contribute 40 per cent.
ZESA has failed to import enough power from its neighbours in past years. This has led to frequent power cuts that have disrupted industrial production as the southern African country battles its worst economic crisis in decades.
ZESA wants to increase output by 40 per cent from 750 megawatts at its second largest power station, the Kariba hydro-power plant in northwestern Zimbabwe, which produces 39.5 per cent of the country’s power.
“In three weeks’ time we will start the upgrading of Kariba Power Station with the help of the Iranian Government at a cost of $250 million,” ZESA said, responding to questions from Reuters.
Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami paid a three-day visit to Zimbabwe last week and pledged to stand by the country, which is battling international isolation over Mugabe’s land policies and his controversial re-election 2002.
Zimbabwe, like its neighbours, is pushing up power output, with household electricity usage expected to rise and industrial demand outstrip supply.
Zimbabwe imports 35 percent of its electricity from South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo but has battled to pay for imports as a result of biting foreign currency shortages.
The government has been shunned by the West after disputed parliamentary elections in 2000 won by the ruling ZANU-PF party and the 2002 presidential poll won by Mugabe.
But Mugabe, 81 next month, is forging ahead with a “look east” policy to strengthen economic and political ties with Asian and Muslim countries, some of which backed his liberation party to win independence in 1980 from colonial power Britain.
ZESA says it has secured loans from China under a US$2.4 billion investment deal signed last year to upgrade the country’s power plants.
Black, Ullyett win Aus Open doubles title
MELBOURNE: Zimbabweans Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett upset second seeds Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4, 6-4 to win the Australian Open men's doubles title.
The fifth seeds broke the Bryan twins once in each set to clinch their second grand slam title together, completing victory with- out dropping a set in the tournament.
It was the second Grand Slam title for the Zimbabwe pair, who also won the 2001 US Open title in their only other appearance in a Grand Slam final.
For the Bryans, it was a second defeat in two years after they were beaten in the 2004 Australian Open final by Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro.
Urgent action is required to help 5.8 million people out of a population of 12.5 million who are now at risk from food shortages, the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network said in its latest report.
It ranked Zimbabwe's food emergency second in Africa to Ethiopia's, where 8.2 million people are at risk from hunger.
The report contradicted Harare's assertion that the country had harvested more food - mainly staple corn - than it needs. "Staple food availability is declining as market prices continue to rise," it said. Malnutrition and related illnesses were forecast to peak in March, before the next harvests.
In many areas, families were forced to reduce food consumption drastically, while projects to help the old, the sick, orphans and other vulnerable groups were said to be grossly inadequate.
The report echoed concerns voiced this week by James Morris, the head of the World Food Programme, over Harare's refusal of international food aid.
Agricultural production has collapsed in the five years since Robert Mugabe ordered the seizure of about 5,000 white-owned farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans.
In what was once a regional breadbasket, about 5.5 million people received food handouts from international agencies in 2003. But most food aid agreements were cancelled last year as the government said they were no longer necessary.