FUGITIVE Zanu PF MP David Butau was not granted political sanctuary by the UK to evade arrest in Zimbabwe on allegations of contravening exchange control re
gulations, it became clear this week.
Information gathered this week by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that contrary to government claims that the Guruve North lawmaker had secured asylum in Britain, Butau flew into London on a five-year visitor’s visa issued to him in 2004.
Butau was also not on the European Union’s travel-ban list adopted against President Robert Mugabe, his cabinet ministers and senior officials barred from travelling to Europe.
Mugabe’s spokesperson and permanent secretary in the Information and Publicity ministry, George Charamba, this week accused European countries, notably Britain, Australia, the US and New Zealand, of providing safe havens to high profile Zimbabweans wanted for alleged criminal offences in the country.
But British Embassy spokesman Keith Scott yesterday denied that the UK was harbouring criminals.
Scott, in a written response to questions from the Independent, described Charamba’s claims as nonsense, pointing out that Butau was in the UK on a visitor’s visa.
“David Butau was issued a five-year visitor’s visa in 2004,” Scott said. “He is not on the EU visa ban list and is free to visit the UK for six months at a time while his visa is still valid.”
Butau’s visa will expire in 2009, but he will have to leave the UK in the coming six months if he still remains there.
The lawmaker skipped the country after the police initially said they wanted to interview him in connection with violation of foreign exchange regulations. The police later placed him on the wanted list after he failed to surrender himself.
Speaking from London to the Sunday Mail this week, Butau said he fled the country to avoid rotting in remand prison awaiting trial or the conclusion of his case.
Butau is the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development.
He claimed that he was set up by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono whom his committee was investigating on allegations of graft.