By NATION REPORTER
ZIMBABWE’S opposition leader, Tendai Biti intends to challenge Zambian authorities’ decision to send him back to his country claiming that Immigration disobeyed a court order to bring him before the Lusaka High Court to hear his asylum application.
And Mr Biti has been granted $5000 bail after appearing at the Harare Magistrates’ Court late yesterday accused of announcing results of the just ended presidential elections in contravention of the country’s electoral laws.
Meanwhile, Zambian has refused to hand over Moise Katumbi’s brother, Soriano Kitanuka Abraham to authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Soriano was pursued by Congo DR authorities up to the no-man’s land on the border between the two countries.
This was after Soriano successfully filed his parliamentary papers in
Kinshasa for the crucial December 23 elections. After filing his parliamentary papers, a group of hooded armed persornal raided his house forcing him to flee to Zambia. Soriano was pursued by Congolese soldiers up to the border at Kashiba in Mwense
Mr Biti was expected to appear for an ex-parte hearing before High Court Judge Pixie Yangailo in a matter where he is challenging the decision by the government to deny him leave to apply for refugee status in Zambia. When the matter came up for possible hearing yesterday, Mr Biti’s legal team informed the court that their client was not before court because he had been deported.
They sought an adjournment to allow them time to file necessary documents following the alleged disobedience to the court order. According to Mr Biti’s legal team, the Zambian Immigration office handed him to the Zimbabwean authorities at 06:00hrs yesterday despite being served with a court order to bring him to court at 08:00 hrs.
“Because it transpired that the applicant has been removed from the country at 06:00hrs contrary to the order of the court which required him to be brought to court today, it is in that view that we asked for adjournment to allow us time to file an application to address the apparent disobedience to the court order by the state,” Mr Milambo Haimbe said.
Attorney General, Likando Kalaluka objected to the application for adjournment that the court wanted to deal with the disobedient order and adjourned the matter to a date to be advised to the parties.
Government on Wednesday said Mr Biti’s grounds for asylum were weak and he could not be allowed to stay.
This forced Mr Biti to apply for Judicial Review citing the Attorney General as the respondent. Meanwhile, government yesterday clarified that Mr Biti was not deported but handed back to Zimbabwean authorities.
Chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya has explained that Mr Biti was not a prohibited immigrant to be deported but merely handed back to authorities in his country..
Mr Biti, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alliance had fled his country for fear of being arrested on charges of inciting violence in the aftermath of that country’s general elections.
Ms Siliya said that in as much as Mr Biti had requested for asylum from Zambian authorities, the status could not be granted because he did not qualify for such. She told the Daily Nation in an interview that for someone to seek asylum in Zambia, they should demonstrate that their country of origin was under massive violence, law and order totally broken down and lives of citizens under threat.
Ms Siliya said that government had deduced that the situation in Zimbabwe did not warrant anyone being granted asylum. She said that there were no Zimbabweans running into Zambia as an indicator that their lives were in danger.
Ms Siliya reiterated that Zambia would not be used as a safe haven for people running away from due court processes in their countries. And Ms Siliya clarified that Mr Biti was not deported because he had not formally entered with country.
She said that unlike other foreigners who enter Zambia with their rightful documentation, Mr Biti had requested for asylum immediately he reached Chirundu boarder.
Ms Siliya also rubbished claims that the US Government had urged Zambia to allow Mr Biti to remain in the country until his asylum request could be appropriately evaluated.