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04.11.2005 General News

Mugabe pleaded with UK to give Ghanaian wife sanctuary

By The Times
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BRITISH Foreign Office documents released this week at the British National Archive reveal that though Robert Mugabe's hatred of Britain is well-known, 35 years ago he pleaded with the then Prime Minister to give sanctuary to his wife.

In 1969 and 1970 he sent telegrams and begging letters to Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister, and James Callaghan, the Home Secretary, arguing the case of his first wife, Sally, who wanted to live in London.

Sally Mugabe, who died in 1992, came to Britain as a student in 1967 and a year later applied for the right to remain in the country while her husband was in prison in Rhodesia, where she was wanted on suspicion of a political offence.

Her application was turned down on the grounds that, as a Ghanaian passport holder, she should have applied from Ghana "in the proper way" as it was technically her home country, according to the documents. The file did not say if she applied again from Ghana.

The refusal prompted begging letters from Mugabe to Downing Street and the Home Office urging a rethink.

While the refusal was a Home Office decision discussed at ministerial level, it caused concern in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, especially in the Rhodesia Political Department, where there were worries about upsetting Mugabe, then a nationalist leader. - .

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