British lawmakers and Zimbabwean activists based in London on Thursday saved a Zimbabwean female activist from being hauled onto a Kenyan Airways plane, for deportation to Zimbabwe after they launched a fierce campaign against the move.
Josephine Chari, a stern critic of President Robert Mugabe, was set to be deported Thursday night after her applications for asylum failed.
Among her campaigners were organizations like Zimbabwe Vigil, a group comprising Zimbabweans based in the UK that advocates for democracy in their motherland, and the rights of Zimbabweans living in the former colonial power.
“We don’t believe that failed asylum seekers should be removed until the situation is safe for opponents of (President) Robert Mugabe. Josephine is being deported when there are no guarantees of her safety, particularly as she is a person who has been visible as a Vigil activist,” said Rose Benton, Zimbabwe Vigil co-ordinator told the media in the UK last week.
British lawmakers are also understood to have covertly pushed for the deportation to stop.
The full reason for the reversal of deportation was not yet clear, but reports said Chari would not be deported.
The reports said her lawyer had begun proceedings to challenge any future deportation by the United Kingdom Border Agency.
British immigration officials had booked for her to fly out of the UK on a Kenya Airways flight to Harare via Nairobi.
However, on Thursday the acting British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Tim Cole, opted to be diplomatic when contacted for comment by NewsDay.
“The British Embassy does not comment on individual asylum cases. However, all failed asylum seeker cases have been considered carefully by the courts. Where someone has been found not to need international protection, we expect them to leave voluntarily.
“For those who choose not to do so, the UK Border Agency will seek to enforce their departure.”