The Green Party is praising the Government for extending permanent residency to some Zimbabweans living in New Zealand.
“This is a much needed compassionate gesture,” Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke says.
Zimbabweans who entered New Zealand before 23 September last year can, as of today, apply for permanent residence without having to clear the usual points system. About 450 could gain residence under this ‘one-off’ policy
“The 450 or so people it will affect have been living here for nearly a year and are generally well-settled. It would be inhuman to ask them to go back to the chaos and violence that is Zimbabwe today.
“New Zealand should be open to these ‘one-off’ moves, as we were when we gave special consideration to Chinese students stranded here in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square massacre.
“These people would certainly be picked on by Mugabe if they went home, because expatriates have been at the core of the international protest against his regime’s suppression of dissent. Just being in a democratic country like New Zealand could be a cause for suspicion for the paranoid dictator.
“Although it has been tested in recent years, New Zealand has a well-deserved reputation for being generous and open-hearted when it comes to giving refuge to those displaced by upheaval. This move today is the latest example of this tradition that I hope will continue to be upheld in future.
“The next step on the Zimbabwe issue is to stop the Black Caps’ tour,” says Mr Locke.