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Published: November 30, 2012
Xenophobia is the deep-seated but open hatred of foreigners as driven by discomfort of the refugee presence in a country. The hatred could at times be triggered by the fear for challenges on availability of jobs, resources and various other market products. In some instances, xenophobia could simply be manifested racism or disregard of a particular genre of people.
A few years ago, South Africa practised this xenophobia on Zimbabweans.Some were burnt or skinned alive on the streets or on public transport while some Zimbabweans hopelessly lost their lives in their lodgings without trace. Zimbabweans were observed as the notorious cause of the suffering of poor South Africans. This barbarity Resulted in a witch hunt that brought fear and jitters among many hopeless Zimbabweans who had to remain in hiding as South African police became helpless and hopeless at times.
Within the past 48 hours, it comes with shock that two Zimbabwean ladies (Paxina Muchengi and Chipo Hazel Tafirenyika) have been placed on the deportation list from the U.K. by the U.K immigration system. While there is not enough information on the compelling reasons for the urgent deportations, such an arbitrary measure could be the mark of the beginning of horrendous experiences of many more Zimbabwean folks in the region who have become deportation targets.
The irony of this whole exercise is that those who by law should be deported, like former thugs, violent criminals and violators of human rights are the very people who have been favoured with asylum than those who are really in need of protection ans support. At the same time, the mockery of being granted refugee status by the authorities in the British system has been the inconsistency in the criteria for awards as well as a seeming favour for those immigrants emerging from the European Economic Community. At the end of the day, anyone can be forgiven for making a conclusion that the grant or denial of asylum could be a purely political question based on many factors of consideration including race, background and social standing.
Additionally, continued deportations of certain races could be perceived as a justified act of xenophobia by the authorities who exercise heavy-handedness on Africans without affording them due consideration of what may befall the person who is facing deportation.
In the case of the deportation of Paxina Muchengi as a human rights activist in England who has spoken boldly against bad governance, abuse of rule of law or violation of human rights in Zimbabwe, many people will live to experience the hypocrisy among these so called developed nations because some of their folks have reduced themselves to computers that reason with aid of formulas when attending to different issues.
It is a fact that Paxina will face persecution at home once deported. By being abandoned in her hour of need by immigration authorities, this simply works as an epitome that the system does not care or pay special consideration to immigrants of African descent that are thrown back to their systems to be intimidated or be faced with more persecution and torture after leaving their safe zones. This is a travesty and I am sure if this case would be given wider coverage, the immigration authorities could revise their thoughts and issue a sober consideration of her circumstances.
The search for a refugee status is not a luxurious means to stay in another country away from familiar friends and family. There are many unreported horrors in countries that cause people to escape for their own safety. For Zimbabwe, this is not a good time for any refugee to be returning home because the smoke of violence has started.
Yesterday soldiers ran amok and beat up MDC-T supporters in Zhombe. Many accounts of violence are going unreported and it seems rather incompassionate that in her time of need this is the hour that British authorities would choose to send someone who has served as an activist against atrocities in Zimbabwe, back there to face the music after such a long period of time.
This case should be given fair consideration because some of the people that have actually benefitted through the immigration system have been the culprits of violence, torture and intimidation in Zimbabwe. They have had their share of malice and blood there and moved over to the UK to claim asylum.
These are the people that have enjoyed both worlds as they have walked away scot free without facing any consequences. On this list can be added sons, daughters, nephews and nieces of ZANU PF politiburo members who have had asylum granted in a situation where their parents and uncles have been the ones causing havoc and mayhem in Zimbabwe.
The UK immigration system should be revised and have some elements of reality planted in it so that the officials stop thinking like computers. They should be people with hearts and blood and should empathize with those they deport for no valid reason. Criminals, fraudsters and rapists are staying as human rights activists while the genuine activists,honest and fighting for a great cause are the very people getting sent home for more torture simply because they are from Africa.
If they were from Europe it would be a different story altogether.
There is a hidden reality in that in every system in this so called developed world, the same rules are applied to people differently and it’s a matter of which country you are coming from. If it’s the Third World, well, the rules are fastened up to squeeze you out but if you are from Europe or America, the rules are relaxed to offer you a chance to enjoy the benefits. It’s either this is racism or xenophobia in the strictest interpretation.
While we blame the system for being inconsiderate, let me also take this opportunity to express my open disappointment with my fellow Zimbabweans. The news about someone being deported brings relief, joy and celebration for some spiteful souls that drink and hold barbecues over someone’s suffering. The comments written after Paxina ‘s issue on Zimeye simply help to show how low we Zimbabweans can go in betraying our own people.
To the contrary, folks from countries like Nigeria, would do anything to try and save their own from injury. Even their own ambassadors would become vocal or even confrontational in protecting the liberty and interests of their own. For Zimbabwe, it’s the opposite. We have a long way to go because we trust the back-biting agenda, calling hotlines to cause someone to be deported for fun. What do we gain from someone’s suffering?
As for the Zimbabwean government, it’s about time it started considering the Diaspora community as a strong partner in all respects. The cash remittances from the Diaspora community in 2011 grossed half a billion as small cash proceeds fed and clothed diverse families nationwide. Books, toys, medicines, clothes, cars, computers, agriculture equipment and various other items were shipped home by the very people that are considered state enemies. The diaspora folks moved the economy at a time when the country was in the ditch. No one acknowledges that. Those who are at home at times appreciate this but some would rather laugh and smile to hear about the news of someone being deported so that “you come home early and we all endure the hardships at home”.
The Zimbabwean government needs to form a practical task force that collaborates with the Diaspora folks and form permanent partnerships to develop trade and boost tourism and other aspects of bi-lateral relations. The interests of those in the refugee status should be protected via diplomatic channels. Mexico, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cuba and Jamaica do this. Government should exploit the existence of these folks to promote Zimbabwean interests.
In that capacity, it does not make sense for these hard-working folks to be held at ransom and be tormented and persecuted for being in the Diaspora by their own folks yet they play such a critical role to many households in Zimbabwe.
Information sharing, awareness, latest developments, promotion of Zimbabwean music artists abroad and many other important tasks have been made possible through this Diaspora window that many of our folks in Zimbabwe especially in government take for granted.
A Zimbabwean refugee overseas is still Zimbabwean and will directly or indirectly help Zimbabwe through some way. The folks in the Diaspora are not State enemies. They love Zimbabwe and deserve the support of government. Their absence has also created more room for others to get jobs and resources at home. Besides that, the Diaspora folks have helped promote business interests and various other benefits for Zimbabwe abroad.
Zimbabweans, let us stop being childish and place ourselves in the shoes of those suffering at the hands of foreign immigration authorities. It could be xenophobia and you are sitting there cheering the decapitation or persecution of your sister or brother. Where is your heart? That’s wrong!Tweet