Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Feeding The Maw

The Blair government demonstrated their unwillingness to countenance steps that would not sully Britain's traditional reputation as a haven for those who escape or oppose tyranny. This is an episode in our asylum farce where the roles appear to have been reversed. Whilst Mugabe instigates "Drive Out Trash", the government refuses to commit itself to another moratorium on sending asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe, including MDC activists.

The government has insisted that the establishment of a moratorium would reverse its successes in regaining control over asylum. On this occasion, the spin machine has picked the wrong target. Mugabe is the most egregious and public example of African corruption in Britain. The black Zimbabweans, 57 of them, are alleged to be on hunger strike, including MDC activists. Whilst Mugabe kills or impoverishes those who voted for the opposition, it is extraordinary that he can claim there is no evidence that returnees have not been harmed. 'Disappearances' do not count. Chris Mullin, former Minister of Africa, alleged that MDC cards were being forged to provide stories for illegal asylum seekers and accused the Tories of hypocrisy, as Simon Hoggart's parliamentary sketch attests:

Chris Mullin, once a blazing leftwinger, stood up to support the home secretary. He had suffered a "shameless" attack by Mr Davis. And, he revealed, there was even a factory where refugees could get forged membership cards for the Zimbabwe Movement for Democratic Change.

I think if I feared being sent back to Mugabe's goons I might be inclined to try to acquire one of these. But Mr Mullin sounded enraged by the subterfuge.

He has changed an awful lot.

The MDC has claimed that returnees are viewed as spies by the Mugabe regime and their safety cannot be vouched for. Given the excesses carried out in Zimbabwe, the self-serving rhetoric of Clarke and his ilk should be discounted.

A leader of the opposition, Crispen Kulinji, was spared from being deported this weekend at the last minute. Mr Kulinji, in a wheelchair from beatings he says he suffered at the hands of Mr Mugabe's men, had said: "I will be killed if I go home - it's as black and white as that."

Perhaps Clarke should be willing to personally wheel Mr. Kulinji to the passport booth at Harare Airport and stand by his claims of 'safe passage'.


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