Calls to expel Bona Mugabe from Hong Kong University mount

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong government was yesterday urged to review a decision to allow the daughter of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to live and study in the city.

Bona Mugabe — whose father is banned from travelling to Britain, the US and Europe — has been studying at the University of Hong Kong since late last year, according to the Sunday Morning Post newspaper.

Bona Mugabe’s presence in Hong Kong emerged after her 43-year-old mother Grace allegedly assaulted photographer Richard Jones 10 days ago as he took pictures of her shopping while visiting the city.

Robert Mugabe also reportedly visited Hong Kong in August, before being refused permission to fly on to China for the Olympic Games.

Senior Hong Kong legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing called for a review of the decision to admit Bona Mugabe. She is studying under an assumed name and her identity is not known to her fellow students.

Australia last year deported eight students whose parents were senior members of the Mugabe regime, saying it wanted to prevent those involved in human rights abuses giving their children education denied to ordinary Zimbabweans.

Asked about Bona Mugabe’s admission, a University of Hong Kong spokeswoman said: “We believe that education should be above politics and young people should not be denied of the right to education because of their family background or what their parents have done.”

She also denied there had been any negative reaction from fellow students to the presence of Bona Mugabe, saying: “We are not aware of any reactions relating to the case you refer to.

“We believe that many of our students will share our belief of right of education for everybody and our view that people should not be responsible for what other members of their family have done.”

A university official, who asked not to be named, said Bona Mugabe — who has returned to Zimbabwe with her mother for the Chinese New Year holiday — had enrolled under a different name and many students were unaware of her presence.

When she returns to Hong Kong, the university would “keep a watchful eye more from a student life perspective”, the official said.

Legislator Emily Lau called for a debate over the admission of students such as Bona Mugabe.

“Because there is (currently) no policy, obviously anybody can come to study in Hong Kong. Nobody has ever raised this issue.

“If a regime is so atrocious and responsible for the deaths and suffering of so many people every day, maybe there should be a way for us in Hong Kong to show our repugnance. Many people find Zimbabwe a very, very obnoxious regime.”

Bona Mugabe’s presence has provoked an outcry from some residents, with one writing to a Sunday newspaper: “Send her back to be educated by the system that her father destroyed.

“Could the (government) indicate why it allowed the daughter of a man who has so much blood on his hands to come to Hong Kong in the first place?”