Pressure mounts on UK over former spy

Pressure has continued to mount on Phillip Machemedze, the former Central Intelligence Organisation operative granted asylum in the United Kingdom, with Zimbabweans demonstrating to have him deported or be prosecuted.

On Friday, political activists in the UK organised demonstrations against Machemedze, who is said to have confessed torturing political activists, an allegation his lawyer, Masimba Mavaza denies.

A pressure group Zimbabwe Vigil, was incensed by the approval of Machemedze’s asylum application and was petitioning the government to reverse the court’s decision. Meanwhile they have organised demonstrations.

Mavaza confirmed pressure had mounted against Machemedze but blamed “ex-Rhodesians and the British media for whipping up emotions” against his client. A group of former Rhodesians under the name New Rhodesia Front, wrote to the British Prime Minister urging him to deport Machemedze.

Mavaza also claimed the British media was publishing pictures of Zimbabweans who were tortured in the 2008 presidential election run-off and alleging that Machemedze was behind the torture.

“He (Machemedze) is under unnecessary stress. He is in a difficult position,” Mavaza said in an interview.

“But some Rhodesian racists have hijacked this unfortunate story, which has been blown out of proportion by the media. The Rhodesians think they have a right of determining who must stay in England and who mustn’t. They think it’s a place for known anti-Mugabe activists only.

“But any human who is in danger or under threat has a right to protection.”

The lawyer said the Zimbabwe Vigil, a pressure group of Zimbabweans that are anti-Mugabe, was “off-track”.

“I have respect for the Vigil but the problem is that they have not read the judgement. Anybody who read the judgement would have understood the reasoning by the judge.

“If they had read the judgement, they would not have taken that position.”

In a statement the pressure group said: “The Vigil cannot understand the immigration judge’s decision not to send Machemedze back to Zimbabwe ‘because he might face ill-treatment there’.

“For Zimbabweans who have fled to the UK to escape persecution from people like him, his very presence here among us is a threat. ”

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