The government says there is nothing strange about the deportation of 14 Zimbabwean nationals by the United Kingdom government.
The deportees landed in Harare on Thursday following their forced removal from the UK for various crimes they committed in that country.
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Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade acting spokesperson, Livit Mugejo, said the UK deportees were just a fraction of those being received from neighbouring countries. He said:
There is nothing unique in the deportations. South Africa last week deported 220 Zimbabwean citizens, including some who were released from jails.
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.
He said those returning involuntarily, like in this case, would have exhausted administrative and legal remedies to preserve their stay in the host country. Said Mugejo:
Zimbabwe cannot refuse to accept its citizens and will welcome them back into the country.
They will receive the necessary social psychosocial support to help them with reintegration.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi told The Sunday Mail that since the deportees did not commit the crimes in Zimbabwe, they will be allowed to reintegrate freely. He said:
Our duty as the Zimbabwe Republic Police is to maintain law and order. We only come in if they have committed any crime.
However, the issue of these deportees is being handled by relevant government Ministries.
A UK-based lawyer who has been helping some with court appeals against deportation said a number of people were mounting last-ditch efforts to preserve their stay in the country. Said Nyamayaro:
They were deported because they fall into the definition of Foreign National Offenders. Some may have tried to challenge their deportation and failed.
The majority remained after making applications to the Home Office or to the court.
Some remained for other reasons and an outbreak of COVID-19 at one of the detention centres has been mentioned.
Meanwhile, social commentator Rebecca Chisamba called for empathy in dealing with the returnees.
She said the deportees need help from their communities especially now and should not be discriminated against.