A top pastor from Zimbabwe has been refused a UK visa for a visit to talk about his struggle against Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Evan Mawarire is a civil rights campaigner who started the #ThisFlag social media action in April and organised a shutdown to complain against the country’s economic issues and alleged corruption.
Mr Mawarire, who is now living in the US, was one of three activists invited to speak at a meeting in London of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe and at the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs, about injustices in his home country. Fellow campaigners Gift Konjana and Patson Dzamara, who were also invited to speak to MPs but we also turned down by immigration authorities.
Chair of the Parliamentary Group, Kate Hoey labelled the decision to deny visas to the campaigners as “disgraceful”, when the Government has allowed members of Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF regime to visit the UK.
It’s understood that Mr Mawarire had been just hours away from boarding his flight to Britain when he was told that his UK visa application had been rejected. It’s reported that his, and the other two prominent activists’, applications were turned down over financial details.
Mrs Hoey told the meeting in London, which had been organised to discuss land seizures by Mr Mugabe’s government, that the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing was also angry that the activists had been denied UK visas to speak at the event.
She said Ms Laing has now taken up the issue with the Government and she called on people to write to their MPs in support of the campaigners. Mrs Hoey claimed that while supporters of Mr Mugabe were able to visit the UK, campaigners for change in Zimbabwe were increasingly being denied UK visas.