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Nyathi Should get his Facts Right

I WAS concerned by elements of Joram Nyathi’s Candid Comment, “A Tale of Two Britains” (Zimbabwe Independent, February 27).

He wrote that Britain was planning to “evacuate” its elderly nationals from Zimbabwe because of deteriorating social and political conditions.

He asked: “Was this plan racism? You impose sanctions on the natives and airlift your own to safety!”
Nyathi profoundly misunderstands three things:

Our programme is not an evacuation. It is an offer of assistance to British people who meet certain criteria of age or vulnerability, and who wish to leave Zimbabwe because they can no longer maintain themselves here.

It is limited in scope, focused in recipient, and entirely voluntary.

It is no more than a government taking responsibility for its citizens.

The UK has no economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. With the EU, its measures consist solely of an asset freeze and visa ban on 203 people responsible for the destruction of good governance, democracy and rule of law in Zimbabwe.

There is also an arms embargo. These have no adverse economic impact.  Zimbabweans have been impoverished by a decade of Zanu PF policy, not sanctions.

lNyathi overlooks the UK humanitarian contribution of £49 million this financial year –– and over £260 million since 2001 to help Zimbabweans survive these policies.

We have contributed to food security, rural livelihoods, orphans and vulnerable children, fighting HIV and cholera, providing essential medicines and paying retention fees to nurses and doctors.

We also maintain contacts with Zimbabweans through the kind of visits and programmes Nyathi participated in.

We applaud Nyathi’s exercise of candid comment. But he needs to get his facts right.

Dr Andrew Pocock,
British Embassy, Harare.   

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