Zimbabwean is sent back to die. (Not the one who just won the Ashes)

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Duncan Fletcher, the coach of the victorious England cricket team, and a resident of the UK since 1997, has finally been given British citizenship. Further sporting and financial riches beckon as the unsung hero of England's Ashes triumph receives the acclaim he has never sought.

Hainy, 37, an asylum-seeker with HIV, will be sent back to Zimbabwe, where he will likely die because of a lack of treatment.

Fletcher received the news on Tuesday that his 14-year wait for a British passport was over - it was a "happy coincidence" that Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, reviewed his application a day after England won the Ashes, the Home Office said. But while Fletcher celebrated in Trafalgar Square, Hainy sat in the Staffordshire home of a friend holding the latest letter from immigration officials, reiterating their intent to deport him regardless of the repercussions.

"Good luck to Duncan Fletcher," said Hainy yesterday. "As a Zimbabwean I'm proud of what he has done and it is right he can stay here. But the system seems so fake. Some are allowed to stay for sport but others are not, even for health. I would like to go back to Zimbabwe but I wouldn't get treatment and I'd die. I don't want to die." Although Zimbabwe has the world's fourth-highest rate of HIV/Aids - about a quarter of all adults are infected - it has a tiny anti-retroviral drugs distribution programme.

The World Health Organisation has said that 295,000 Zimbabweans need anti-retroviral therapy to survive, but only 8,000 receive it, almost all self-funded. Treatment costs up to 400,000 Zimbabwe dollars (£13) a month - but the average annual income is Z$270 and falling. "In Zimbabwe you buy your own drugs, you buy your own drip to take to the hospital and then you pay to be admitted," said Hainy. "They [the Home Office] seem to be saying that treatment is available. But it is only available for people who have money."

The former anti-Mugabe activist, who fled to the UK in 2001 after receiving death threats, has twice nearly died from HIV-related meningitis. British doctors have submitted evidence to the authorities on his behalf, warning it would be "life-threatening in the very short term if he were to be denied treatment".

The Home Office has rejected the fresh evidence from Hainy's solicitor, however, and plans to deport him at the earliest opportunity. In a recent letter, it said that access to medication in Zimbabwe was improving and it had faith in the Mugabe government not to discriminate against people with HIV/Aids.

Fletcher's own longer (if less critical) battle with immigration authorities is over. His parents and grandparents are British, but he was denied a passport because he spent more than three months a year out of the country on England cricket tours. Born in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) in 1948, one of five brothers, the then-computer programmer played one-day cricket for his country part time, famously upsetting Australia at the 1983 World Cup. In 1984 he emigrated to Cape Town, not taking up full-time coaching for another nine years. He moved to the UK in 1997 to coach Glamorgan and led them to the county championship. Two years later he became England's first foreign coach.

Hainy, formerly a resident of Norton, about 20 miles south of Harare, is applying for a judicial review in the High Court, accusing the Home Office of failing to properly consider his case. In Zimbabwe the harassment, imprisonment and torture facing some returnees continues.

Hainy's wife died two weeks ago in Norton from an as-yet-undiagnosed illness; his mother is looking after his two young sons.