Zanu PF UK asylum network exposed
POLICE swoop on an address in London last week where 20 people were arrested including Zimbabweans over another immigration scam
--Last updated: 06/20/2004 14:00:29
AN illegal network has channelled hundreds of members of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party into Britain, a BBC investigation has found.
Birmingham-based Zimbabwean Community UK is thought to have given fake documents to party members and coached them on how to falsely claim asylum.
Undercover reporters for Radio 5 Live were sold a Home Office letter granting asylum and a national insurance number.
The Home Office has said it will be investigating the BBC's evidence.
Zimbabwean Community UK was created last year with an initial £5,000 grant of lottery money.
Director Albert Matapo claimed to have smuggled in the adult children of several members of Zimbabwe's cabinet by saying they were members of the opposition MDC party.
The organisation's ledger book showed Mr Matapo had processed more than 1,000 clients.
Radio 5 Live sent along an undercover reporter who had been told he would be able to con his way into Britain.
In an interview re-recorded using actors Mr Matapo's wife is heard to stop the reporter speaking until he shows her the payment for the deal.
After that Mr Matapo comes in and explains how to fool the Home Office.
The government blames drought for food shortages
He says: "For the purpose of winning, we advise you to tell the white man that you are a member of the MDC. How can you tell the white man that you are Zanu PF when you want to stay in this country?
"We will teach you the one, two, threes of the MDC so that when you are asked who the president is you can immediately say Morgan Tsvangirai.
"But we are not teaching you to be an MDC supporter. Do you get what I am saying? So when we start talking about politics, don't assume that we want you to be in politics. All we are telling you is what the white man will ask you, what he wants to hear."
Radio Five Live reporter Matthew Chapman was in Zimbabwe four years ago reporting on the seizure of white farms.
He says: "One of the men leading the land grab is a man who styles himself Stalin Mau Mau - a name which celebrates mass murder in the USSR and Africa.
"Many would be shocked to learn that such a notorious figure now had addresses and a business in Britain."
People are bringing the Zimbabwean corruption and fraudulent system into this country.
Head of the opposition MDC party in Britain Washington Ali told Radio 5 Live: "It's a very worrisome situation where people are bringing the Zimbabwean corruption and fraudulent system into this country.
"What's worrying is that we've got a number of genuine asylum seekers, including some of our senior membership who are failing to get these claims and then the fake people are getting claims like this.
"I think it's really a challenge to the British Government to deal with these people."
The revelation comes amid evidence that increasing numbers of prominent Zanu PF members are coming to Britain to escape the deteriorating situation in their homeland.
Members of President Robert Mugabe's government and senior members of Zanu PF are banned from entering the European Union.
Three months ago, the bankers responsible for the Zanu PF's finances relocated to this country, the investigation found.
Zimbabwe is grappling with an economy in tatters and severe food shortages, which led to fears of famine in 2003.
Aid agencies and critics partly blamed the shortages on a controversial land reform programme; the government blamed a long-running drought.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth after President Robert Mugabe's re-election in 2002, in a poll considered seriously flawed by the opposition and foreign observers.
In March this year, the US State Department released its annual human-rights report which condemned Zimbabwe for using "torture by various methods" against those politically opposed to Mugabe's regime.
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