STATE-controlled broadcaster ZBC’s senior reporter Reuben Barwe has been roundly criticized for unprofessional behaviour after taunted the fourteen deportees who arrived from the United Kingdom yesterday saying they came back with nothing to show for all their stay in Britain.
Reporting on the returnees in Wednesday’s main news bulletin, Barwe sang Nashil Pishen’s 1980s classic ‘aPhiri anabwera‘. The song is about a Malawian immigrant who returns home to Blantyre with nothing despite having worked in Harare.
Most Zimbabweans took to social media to blast Barwe for sliding beyond news reportage and ‘getting personal’ with the returning citizens.
Zimbabwe says the fourteen of its citizens who arrived in the country yesterday as well as the other thousands still to be deported were criminals and the UK had a right to send them back home.
Government said this as the first group of Zimbabwean nationals being deported from Britain arrived in the country. Some of those being deported have lived in the UK for decades and have been forced to leave their families behind. They also said they fear political persecution by authorities as they left the country years ago fleeing Robert Mugabe’s Government.
But Government, which struck a deal with the UK Government for the deportations, dismissed fears that the returnees would be persecuted.
On Thursday, 14 of the deportees arrived at the main airport in the capital, Harare, and were quickly put into waiting buses to go to a quarantine centre where they will stay for 10 days before they can rejoin their families. Distraught relatives waited outside the Harare airport Thursday but were not able to meet the deportees.
The first flight was supposed to carry 50 passengers classified as “foreign national offenders,” but the deportations of some were postponed because of a coronavirus outbreak at a detention centre and ongoing legal processes, said Livit Mugejo, spokesman for Zimbabwe’s ministry of foreign affairs.
He said: “Some were isolated and could not travel. Others lodged last-minute appeals arguing that they were supposed to be deported five years ago and that their circumstances have now changed so the courts there agreed to hear their cases.”
He added: “The deportations are ongoing. It’s only that the UK had temporarily halted them at some point but deportations are not unique. Some of these people committed crimes such as murder and rape so the UK or any other country has a right to deport them.”
Bryan Mucheriwa, who has been in the UK for 20 years and has three British children, claimed asylum in the early 2000s on the basis that he faced political persecution in Zimbabwe because he had opposed the government, but has been refused asylum a number of times.
“I feel so afraid. The Home Office called me last year to verify my identity, but they used someone from the government in Zimbabwe to confirm my identity. Even if I tried to relocate in Zimbabwe, someone in the government has all my information,” he said.
Mucheriwa, who has not been eligible to work or receive state support for most of his time in the UK, told The Independent he spent a year in prison a decade ago for drug offences, which he says he committed because he needed to “put food on the table”.
The United Kingdom says it has a right to deport foreigners who commit serious crimes after they serve out their sentences, and the first group of deported Zimbabweans was people convicted of committing crimes in Britain.
Although there are no exact figures, scores of thousands left Zimbabwe for the UK, the former colonial power, to escape a biting political and economic crisis at the turn of the century. Many Zimbabweans whose bids for asylum were rejected by Britain also face deportation.