By Elisha Shamba
The People’s United Party, a newly formed political party is set to be launched Saturday 13 April in Coventry. The party was founded in February by Zimbabweans based in the United Kingdom.
Speaking to HATNews, the party’s Information and Publicity Secretary Tongai Masanzu said “the People’s United Party has a duty to care for the people of Zimbabwe from all walks of life and will provide policy alternatives.”
“The PUP will continue building its structure in the UK and other countries outside Zimbabwe. Campaigns in Zimbabwe to mobilise communities will start shortly once the party is registered,” Masanzu added.
Masanzu gave an indication that his party will be contesting in the forthcoming general elections.
The launch event will be held at Britannia Hotel in Coventry 3rd floor in the PINE SUITE between 1600 – 1930hrs.
Meanwhile The Zimbabwean today carries a report revealing another political party (Progressive Alliance for Democracy) which was recently launched by young Zimbabweans.
The nation of Zimbabwe approaches crucial general elections to be held at a yet to be announced date this year. The elections come after a relatively peaceful referendum held in March. It (the referendum) approved a new constitution that will curb presidential powers.
Eddie Cross says that without property rights there can be no real progress
(IRIN) – A car-guarding business in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, some 30km south of the capital Harare, thrived for about four months – until Zimbabwe’s acrid party politics intervened.
This report online: http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportID=96514
LAST year more than 1,500 people sought refuge in Wales claiming they faced persecution. David James examines the politically difficult question of asylum.
IT is just one part of the controversial story of migration into Wales, yet one of the most politically difficult.
Every year, between 1,500 and 2,000 people ask for asylum in the UK and are housed in one of Wales’ four largest cities and towns.
The Refugee Council today welcomed Ed Miliband’s comments that his core values came from his parents’ experiences as refugees from Nazi Europe, in his first speech as new Labour leader at the Labour party political conference today.
In response, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“We are delighted that in Ed Miliband’s first speech as Labour leader he acknowledged his parents’ refugee background as having a significant influence on his values and strength of character. This is testament to the outstanding contribution refugees have brought to the UK over the years.
“Next year is the 60th anniversary of the UN Convention for Refugees – a timely reminder that refugees arriving in the UK today in need of safety have as much right to protection here as refugees, like Miliband’s parents, who arrived here from Europe all those years ago.
“This month, as the political parties debate immigration policy at their conferences, we urge them to remember the importance of refugee protection and to work together to develop an asylum system that ensures those fleeing unimaginable horrors in their own countries can have the protection they need here in the UK.”
The Refugee Council is holding a fringe meeting in conjunction with UNHCR at the Labour political party conference in Manchester entitled Ensuring refugee protection while building public trust in immigration, on Wednesday 29 September from 6-7.30pm at the Manchester Central Hotel, Central room 3.
By Frances Webber
Electoral politics, rather than economic necessity, are behind the cap on non-EU economic immigration.
On 19 July, an ‘interim cap’ is to be imposed on non-EU economic migration to the UK, pending more permanent measures which will be introduced in March 2011. The cap will affect those seeking entry for work under the points-based system. The number of points required for admission under Tier 1 of the system as a highly skilled migrant (based on age, earnings and qualifications) goes up immediately, and the numbers admitted to find employment in this category between 19 July and the end of March 2011 are to be pegged at 2009 levels. The number of approvals under Tier 2 (for those coming to fill vacancies in shortage occupations, or which employers cannot fill from the resident labour force) will be cut by about six per cent from 2009 levels. This will mean a reduction of around 2,000 migrants admitted over a period of nearly nine months.
The March 2011 measures to cut non-EU economic migration are currently the subject of a consultation exercise, in which the government is asking employers and other interested parties to respond to questions about how the reduction should be achieved. The consultation asks whether the government should follow the Australian and New Zealand ‘pool’ system, which introduces competition among applicants who obtain the requisite number of points, or the American ‘first come first served’ system. Certain categories are to be exempt from capping in both the interim and the permanent scheme, such as entrepreneurs and investors, representatives of overseas companies, ‘elite’ sports people, religious ministers and the domestic servants of the very rich. And the consultation document asks respondents how more of the very wealthy can be attracted to the UK.
The measures reflect the pledge in the Conservative election manifesto, which promised that only those with most to offer the British economy would be allowed in – as part of a package to ‘mend Britain’s broken society’ and ‘restore a sense of national purpose’. The Liberal Democrats pledged ‘firm but fair’ immigration policies, including a regional points-based system to ensure that migrants can work only where they are needed. Their proposed amnesty for undocumented migrants was an early casualty of the coalition.
Very dubious rationale
In her announcement, home secretary, Theresa May paid tribute to the ‘contribution that migrants have brought … not just to the economy’. So what is the rationale for the cap? It is, she said, designed to tackle ‘unlimited migration’, which ‘places unacceptable pressure on public services, school places, and the provision of housing’.
The phrase ‘unlimited migration’ gives the impression of complete, anarchic lack of controls and of public services being overwhelmed by the numbers. When it comes to non-EU migrants, nothing could be further from the truth. Since 1973, when Britain joined the Common Market (the previous name for the EU), there has been a stark contrast between the free movement rights of EU nationals and the tight controls imposed on non-EU migrants, for whom obtaining a work permit is a tortuous, lengthy and rigorous process. The only unskilled occupation for which work permits are available – seasonal agricultural work – is reserved for workers from the new EU member states of Romania and Bulgaria (and even then, the number of permits is limited under provisions allowing member states to impose transitional controls on ‘accession state’ workers). As for workers from outside the EU, employers may only hire them to fill posts in ’shortage occupations’ (which are set out in a very precise, detailed and regularly updated list), or to fill posts for which no resident or EU worker can be found. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), numbers of people migrating to the UK are on a downward curve – and non-EU migrants coming for work are a small fraction of those.
So migration for work from outside Europe is certainly not ‘unlimited’. What about ‘unacceptable pressure on public services, school places and the provision of housing’? Once again, this is misleading. While EU nationals generally have full access to all social benefits and housing on the same basis as British citizens (those from the central and eastern European accession states have to be in registered employment for a year first), the visas of non-EU economic migrants are issued subject to the condition of ‘no recourse to public funds’. That means no welfare benefits and no public housing. Only schools and NHS treatment are freely available to non-EU economic migrant workers and their families – but the small numbers involved mean that the impact is negligible. And in terms of social justice, why shouldn’t migrant workers be entitled to public services funded by their taxes and national insurance contributions?
But pressures on services result from a market approach to migration, whereby the benefits accrue to employers and to the economy, but the migrants themselves and local populations bear the burdens. Taking housing as an example, in the housing bubble of the last couple of decades, the social housing sector, ravaged by Thatcher’s policies of council house sales, was completely neglected, resulting in an acute and widespread shortage of low-cost housing. Local authorities could not even use revenues from the sales to replace the properties sold. Now, migrants are being blamed for ‘pressures’ on social housing caused by government policies.
The impact on the economy
The coalition says that migrants should only be brought in where every reasonable avenue to recruit a resident worker has been exhausted. This mantra echoes the Tory press’s tireless campaign against migration during the election campaign, with the Spectator claiming at one point that over ninety-eight per cent of new jobs were filled by migrants – a story repeated by the tabloids but found to be untrue by Left Foot Forward (http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/04/the-express-is-wrong-half-of-all-new-jobs-have-gone-to-uk-citizens/), which analysed the statistics. The argument also echoes Gordon Brown’s rash ‘British jobs for British workers’ soundbite. The consultation document suggests that employers should be given more responsibility for training local workers, to enable them to do the jobs currently filled by migrants. (Whether, after England’s abysmal showing in the World Cup, the training will include football, an area notoriously short of home-grown talent, is a moot point.)
Frank Field, cross-party enforcer and scourge of single fathers and migrants, recently proposed bringing in much harsher discipline to deal with what might be described as the recalcitrant unemployed who, he claims (at least in his Birkenhead constituency) don’t think it’s worth while to take jobs paying under £300 per week. He represents a school of thought apparently gaining ground within the coalition, which would use the recession to force unemployed people into low-wage jobs on pain of withdrawal of benefits and destitution. Capping migration would, they argue, feed into this strategy, not only returning British jobs to British workers but also disciplining the native unemployed.
But the argument that the cap will restore jobs to Britons ignores the fact that, as mentioned above, non-EU workers’ jobs tend to demand a high level of skills and qualifications, which native workers can’t be trained up to do at short notice. The argument also ignores research which shows that migration actually creates more jobs, rather than taking them from local people. These points were obliquely acknowledged by Theresa May, who in her speech introducing the cap, went out of her way to reassure business that the cap would not harm the economy. But employers’ organisations warned against measures which made it more difficult and expensive to hire workers with the skills they need. May’s cabinet colleagues Michael Gove and David Willetts, education and universities secretaries of state, were not convinced either. And the government’s impact assessment of the interim scheme accepted that ‘as fewer migrant workers will be available, there may be negative impacts in the short-term on businesses and the labour market, particularly in sectors where there are higher volumes of migrant workers [including] health, education, financial services, tourism and hospitality, business services, computer services, and public administration’. The only benefit listed is the decrease in UK Border Agency (UKBA) case-working costs – but even assuming that fewer people will apply for visas, which is by no means certain, any reduction in administrative costs would be more than offset by the loss of fee income from applications.
There is no sound economic reason for limiting migration, which generally benefits employers and the local and national economy. The impact, in the short term at least, will be damaging to the economy. When the media is not being alarmist over immigration, it is bemoaning Britain’s ageing population and asking who will work to pay for all the extra pensions. But consistency has never been seen as a virtue in politics, and the cap satisfies the political need to appear to be doing something to allay voters’ tabloid-inflated ‘concerns’ about immigration. As May said in her announcement, ‘Controls … will provide the public with greater confidence in the system’. The government cannot limit migration from EU member states (except, temporarily, from the two newest accession states, Romania and Bulgaria) without leaving the European Union, which is not an option – at least at present, as it would probably destroy not just the coalition but the Conservative Party too.
The government has followed many of the suggestions of the anti-immigration organisation MigrationWatch, which has argued for an explicit cap on immigration, and for breaking the link between working in the UK and obtaining settlement. It was the Labour government which introduced the concept of ‘earned citizenship’ and provided for the expulsion of those who failed an integration test. The price for the coalition’s electoral politics will, as usual, be paid by migrants. The cap plays to and feeds the relentless popular racism of the tabloids, which blames poor ‘immigrants’ – whether from Africa, Asia or eastern Europe – for all of society’s ills, and which perpetuates the shocking rise in racial attacks recently documented (http://www.irr.org.uk/2010/june/ha000048.html) by the IRR.
Guardian (28 June 2010): ‘Theresa May: immigration cap will not harm UK economy’ (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/28/theresa-may-immigration-cap-economy)
Left Foot Forward (8 April 2010): ‘The Express is wrong: Half of all new jobs have gone to UK citizens’ (http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/04/the-express-is-wrong-half-of-all-new-jobs-have-gone-to-uk-citizens/)
Guardian (26 June 2010): ‘Non-EU immigration to the UK: the statistics’ (http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jun/26/non-eu-immigration-uk-statistics)
Spectator (7 April 2010): ‘British jobs for British workers…’ (http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/5895033/british-jobs-for-british-workers.thtml
By Mbiriyashe Chiratidzo Mungaraza
Zimbabwe’s once popular political party ZANU PF, has undergone a major metamorphosis which has seen its political life hanging by a thin thread as the MDC emerged from the harmonised general elections in March 2008 as the dominant political force of new Millenium.
ZANU PF has mastered the art of political coercion to perfection. It has within its rank and file, a rag tag army rabble rousers who are trained to intimidate, torture, maim, injure, rape and kill with impunity. These hired mercenaries, easily amenable to manipulation, are mere pawns in a dangerous political game that has pushed a once promising country to the brink of anarchy.
MDC supporters, human rights activists, lawyers, teachers, journalists, and members of the general public branded enemies of the state, are subjected to all forms of degrading treatment. Thousands of Zimbabweans have fled the country to seek sanctuary in neighbouring countries and abroad, depriving a once prosperous nation of its much needed professionals.
ZANU PF’s onslaught on the people has a long and consistent history. It started soon after independence when the former guerrilla movement unleashed the North Korean trained fifth brigade to fight dissidents in the Matebeleland region. The fifth brigade was Mugabe’s personal army not accountable to the country’s central military command structure. The notorious fifth brigade was responsible for the death and disappearance of over 20000 civilians who were butchered with impunity. While the geriatric leader, Mugabe has acknowledged that this war on civilians was ‘a moment of madness’, he has never apologised for the senseless and merciless killings that continue to defy all logic.
It appears such a murderous campaign has hardened Mugabe’s resolve to the point of no return. Regretably, he has come to accept violence as an important political tool, especially in situations where his political fortunes are threatened and appear doomed. In fact, for a long time now, Mugabe has relied heavily on coercion through violence in order to maintain a ruthless stranglehold on power.
Zimbabwe has never experienced free and fair elections because violence has been deployed reckless abandon and alarming regularity, since 1980. What is more shocking is ZANU PF’s willingness to use force whenever and wherever, with no due regard for its consequences. In fact, Mugabe and his mandarins are aware that they do not owe their political positions to the electorate. In their wisdom or none of it, political expedience is paramount, whatever the socio-economic ramifications of their heinous actions. At the core of their political survival strategy has been the systematic abduction, torture and murder of perceived political opponents. Such blatant human rights violations have persisted with no recourse to justice for the innocent victims. What made the situation worse was the arrival of a viable and vibrant political movement in the MDC, which offered hope for a realistic change of government as opposed to the token challenges offered by the previous one-off fly by night political parties.
The MDC’s political prospects shook ZANU PF’s fortunes to the very core. After successfully campaigning for a NO Vote in the referendum for a new but defective constitution in 2000, sponsored by Mugabe’s government intended to give him absolute power, the then young political party’s supporters were systematically targeted. The fact that the MDC successfully campaigned against Mugabe’s preferred position and won, sent shock waves that shook the revolutionary party to the very core of its foundation. This marked the beginning of a systematic and well orchestrated violent campaign against a properly constituted and legitimate opposition.
In order to nip the growing popularity of an emerging workers union sponsored political party in the bud, ZANU PF deployed their preferred, trusted and reliable political weapon – violence. It has served them well since 1980 and has continued to serve them effectively since then.
As such, ZANU PF’s potent weapon of mass destruction’ was unleashed with calculated malice from 2000 onwards. Hundred were tortured, raped, injured, maimed and killed, all in the name of political expedience. Perpetrators of violence are given state protection and a stay from prosecution. They know they are untouchable and have maximum protection from state security agents.
The persecution of human right activists, teachers, journalists, political activists and ordinary supporters of the opposition MDC, intensified since 2000. MDC politicians, activists, members and supporters continue to endure arrests, torture, imprisonment and ill-treatment at the hands of state agents.
In recent years calculated and targeted attacks have been deliberately and carefully executed. Notable among the victims are prominent people within civil society who are being harassed and intimidated for obvious political reasons. Their only crime is their courage to challenge the political establishment to account.
Mugabe sees political enemies everywhere. He is even afraid of his shadow. Such paranoid has reached dangerous levels. To worsen, matters Mugabe is showing no signs of relinquishing power. He has clearly stated that he is available for re-election if his party nominates him for leadership.
What boggles the mind is that an 86 year old still wants to continue ruining a country that desperately needs a captain with fresh ideas that can steer this sinking ship from the murky waters. The Global Political Agreement which was supposed to usher a new political dispensation characterised by compromise, is being scuttled by a deep sense of selfishness from a government that claims to champion the people’s cause.
Tsvangirai, the MDC leader has tasted Mugabe’s ruthless violent machine when he was arrested at a legal rally and was tortured while in police custody. Right now as I write, there is widespread violence in rural areas. ZANU PF’s foot soldiers are disrupting, with the blessings of corrupt and power hungry ZANU PF leaders, the activities of the constitutional committe gathering people’s views regarding the new constitution.
The period between 2009 and 2010 has seen a marked increase in politically motivated abductions. Under a normal government that respects the rule of law, the natural course of justice is allowed to take its course. Natural justice dictates that you investigate in order to arrest. Yet in Zimbabwe one is arrested in order to investigate. ZANU PF is allergic to normalcy. Opposition politicians are arrested willy-nilly on trumped up charges. It is high time the seemingly toothless SADC grouping stood up to Mugabe to ensure sanity prevails.
HAT News is precluded from expressing a corporate view: the opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.
© HAT News 2010
By Neil O’Brien
I am struck by the blandness of the Labour leadership debate so far. Almost all Labour commentators, from new Labour architect Anthony Giddens to the main leadership candidates David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham have produced an almost identical analysis: “the voters thought we had lost touch… 10p tax… crime…not taking people for granted” etc etc. The only distinctive thing about any of them so far has been Andy Burnham’s intriguing 1980s website.
As James Forsyth has pointed out, so far no one has had the guts to tell the party anything very brave yet. In fact the two big trends in the Labour leadership race are about what is not being said: the denial about debt, and confusion about immigration.
As Danny Finkelstein has noted, not one of the candidates has mentioned the deficit. With concern about the economy hitting an all time high this week (higher even than the 1980s or 1990s recessions) this is bizarre, but it reflects a party frozen by 13 years of chanting the “investment versus cuts” mantra. A new approach is needed.
By Ben Schofield
A LIVERPOOL judge who launched a tirade against the Government’s immigration policy was reprimanded yesterday. Read more