Australia to cancel student visas given to Zanu PF kids
By Lance Guma
17 August 2007.
After months of pressure the Australian Government has decided to cancel the visas of eight Zimbabwean students studying in that country because their parents are senior Zanu PF and government chefs. Privacy issues have prevented the government from releasing the names, but Newsreel sources say Gideon Gono’s twin daughters Pride and Praise Gono have been included on the list. Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer confirmed to journalists that he is set to revoke their visas. Observers say the move signals a strengthening of sanctions against the Mugabe regime.
Under ‘smart sanctions’ individuals who are part of Mugabe’s regime are barred from travel to E.U. and Western countries and have their assets frozen in an attempt to put pressure for democratic reforms. The targeted sanctions were expanded by Australia on Friday to include the children of officials who are on the banned list.
Downer said: “We have eight children of people in the Zimbabwean regime studying in Australia. I've decided to cancel their visas so they can go back to Zimbabwe. They are of course being paid for to go to universities here in Australia, by their parents presumably. It's a tough thing to do but, to be honest, those regime people who are paying those fees are people who are doing immense damage to the people of Zimbabwe.”
Downer conceded that he was putting the sins of the parents on their children but that he had reflected on it carefully and concluded that human rights violations in Zimbabwe deserved such a drastic move. Under Australia’s immigration laws the Minister has the power to cancel visas if they are not in the country’s best interests.
Most of the students affected are studying in the Australian town of Perth. Farai Maguwu from the Civic Alliance for Democracy and Governance says the visa cancellations are a step in the right direction. This he said would send a clear message to Mugabe and his regime of the disapproval felt by the international community over their his governments behaviour.