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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Zimbabwean seeks UK sanctuary
By Themba Nkosi
BBC, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Thomas Moyo is a troubled man.

Zimbabwean activist
The ex-student leader is now in hiding
The 29-year-old former Zimbabwean student leader and activist for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change is in serious trouble with the authorities.

He is a prominent MDC youth league leader in Bulawayo and was one of the radicals who mobilised Zimbabwean workers to stay at home during June's nationwide stayaway which paralysed industries.

When I met him recently on the outskirts of Bulawayo, he told me he was planning to leave Zimbabwe to seek political asylum in the United Kingdom, the former colonial power.

My life is in danger. That's why I want to leave the country soon
Thomas Moyo
He is in hiding and sleeps at different places every day to avoid being caught.

He says he is being monitored by agents of the Central Intelligence Organisation, the government agency blamed by human rights organisations for the disappearance of thousands of Ndebele people in the 1980s.

Fear

Thomas says he knows what government agents are capable of doing to him and does not want to take chances.

"My life is in danger. That's why I want to leave the country soon," he told me at his hiding place.

He says he now lives like a hunted animal in his own country. He is also facing employment problems, because according to him, pictures of him were distributed to different police stations during the presidential elections last year.

"Zanu-PF supporters have been telling companies that I am a dangerous person who is working with foreigners to overthrow the government," he said.

"I can't even get employed locally. That's why I have to leave to find a better life in Britain," he said.

He said he was sure he would be granted asylum by the British Government if he arrived in that country.

"I want to go and try my luck but I am sure they will give me the asylum because I am being persecuted by Mugabe's government," he said.

British duty

According to Thomas, Britain has a duty to bring the Mugabe government to its senses; it has been accused of human rights abuses and of ruining a once vibrant economy.

ZIMBABWE CRISIS
Eight million need food aid
Shortages of petrol, bread, sugar
Inflation over 300%
Opposition complains of persecution
They reject last year's elections

He says his sister who lives in London has agreed to pay for his air fare from Bulawayo to Britain.

Thomas plans to leave behind his wife and the one child they have while he tries to get asylum.

"I will be reunited with my wife and child once I am settled in Britain," he said. He said he would not leave his wife at home because he fears the police will harass her.

Family name

Mr Moyo's plight is exacerbated by a family connection to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Protests
Protests in June brought Zimbabwe to a standstill
In Zimbabwe, people who carry the name Tsvangirai have been having problems with government supporters.

Thomas's problems worsened last year when the police accused him of assisting many unaccredited foreign journalists with entering Zimbabwe illegally to cover the elections.

Thomas took journalists, most of them from the UK, to trouble spots around Matabeleland during the elections last year.

After the elections, police raided his home but he was not there.

He has earned the respect of senior MDC leaders in Matabeleland for his bravery as a youth leader and says he does not regret his involvement with the opposition.

"Freedom is around the corner for thousands of Zimbabweans who are suffering at the hands of the government."




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