THE British government has categorically stated it remains “unapologetic” for deporting 14 Zimbabwean ex-convicts who arrived in the country yesterday and would adhere to its policy of flushing out foreign criminals.
This comes in the wake of spirited political manoeuvres by the UK Labour Party to block the deportation of hundreds of Zimbabwean nationals, including cancellation of the flight.
The deportees were quickly whisked away to an undisclosed location in waiting Zupco buses on arrival at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport yesterday morning.
State security agents also blocked journalists from interviewing and photographing the deportees.
Labour representatives in the House of Commons, namely Louise Haigh, Paul Blomfield, Clive Betts and Gill Furniss, sought to block the deportation of the Zimbabweans, as part of the party’s broader strategy to stop expatriation of non-British citizens from the UK.
However, secretary of state for the home department and Witham Member of Parliament (MP) Priti Patel, in a letter addressed to the Labour party representatives, underscored that the UK government would not roll back the deportations meant to protect citizens from “foreign criminals”.
Said Patel: “You have raised concern about the scheduled deportation of Zimbabwe nationals by charter flight on 21 July 2021, urging the cancellation of the flight. Those being detained for return on this charter are all Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) who have been convicted of serious offences including murder, rape, sexual offences against children, robbery and violent crime.
“My key objective is to protect the public. I remain entirely unapologetic about the need to protect victims and remove dangerous foreign offenders who have caused harm on the streets of the United Kingdom.”
Patel further lashed out at key members of the Labour shadow cabinet, whom he accused of also trying to halt the deportations.
“And now, another member of Labour’s shadow cabinet is trying to halt a deportation flight stopping rapists, murderers, and child abusers from leaving our country,” wrote Patel on July 21.
“It is sad but perhaps unsurprising that the Labour Party is standing on the side of the criminal minority instead of the victims affected by their heinous crimes.”
In recent times, Labour has also stressed that it would not collaborate with the French to stem the tide of Channel crossings.
In June, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration agreed with the British government that Zimbabweans who had no legal basis to be in the European country were supposed to return home.
Both governments ensured that deportation of the affected individuals would be carried out in line with Covid-19 safety protocols.
Thousands of Zimbabweans migrated to the UK at the turn of the century as they sought economic refuge from a collapsed economy due to former president Robert Mugabe’s ruinous policies.