THE British government is deporting around 50 Zimbabweans who have been released from detention after serving jail terms for various offences.
This comes as the Second Republic agreed with the United Kingdom in June that Zimbabweans, some of whom have been in the European country on false pretences, can safely return home.
Those affected are involuntary returnees who have exhausted the administrative and legal procedures and have lost the legal right to remain in that country.
In a statement the UK government said the two countries will be working closely to provide a safe landing for the returning citizens, particularly in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We agreed returnees who presented a regular Covid-19 test taken less than 48 hours before arrival in Zimbabwe would be allowed to quarantine for 10 days from their chosen location.”
Part of the agreement between the UK embassy and the Zimbabwean Government, as represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is that no more than 100 people will be arriving on a monthly basis, while for logistical reasons only 50 will arrive tomorrow, the first batch in many years as the Second Republic opens its arms to its citizens.
Zimbabweans, however, need not fear the returnees as adequate measures have been put in place to ensure everyone is tested before being released.
“We discussed the issue of some returnees potentially refusing to undertake the Covid-19 testing in the UK prior to the flight and agreed that they would be tested in Zimbabwe,” read the statement from the UK Harare Embassy.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry acting spokesperson Mr Livit Mugejo confirmed the development saying the individuals are classified as Foreign National Offenders.
“Any country in the world has a right to deport any foreigner from its country. The advent of Covid-19 had slowed down involuntary repatriations,” he said.
Mr Mugejo said there is nothing amiss in the deportations as they have always been taking place with nationals from other African countries and the Caribbeans also going to be affected by the latest spate of deportations from the UK.
Last week South Africa deported 220 Zimbabweans via Beitbridge border post as the neighbouring country moves to decongest migrants holding centres and minimise the rate of new Covid-19 infections.
Most of those deported had violated immigration laws (undocumented and overstaying).
“There is nothing unique in the deportations, as South Africa last week deported 220 Zimbabwean citizens, including some who were released from jails,” he said.
In the case of voluntary returns, he said the UK government is offering support through various programmes for reintegration back into the community in co-operation with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
“This category of deportees from the UK is different from voluntary returnees, who are our citizens who opt to come back home on their own. These are involuntary returnees who have utilised the administrative and legal procedures and have lost the legal right to remain in that country,” said Mr Mugejo.
Zimbabwe, he said, cannot refuse to accept its citizens and will welcome them back into the country. The deportees will receive the necessary social psycho support to help them with reintegration.
The UK deportees are scheduled to arrive in Zimbabwe tomorrow.