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Former Africa University faculty member deported

 


Former Africa University faculty member deported

June 8, 2005

A UMNS Report
By Linda Green*

A former volunteer instructor at Africa University has been deported for violating Zimbabwe's censorship and immigration laws.

Howard S. Gilman, 68, who was arrested May 27, was a volunteer geography instructor at the United Methodist-related school in Mutare, Zimbabwe, until 2004, when his three-year teaching tenure expired. He remained in the country to work with the area's orphans, the community, and is reported to have been paying school fees for 73 children in Mutare.

Gilman, a member of Covenant United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Md., was arrested for filming police demolishing the shacks of urban poor in Mutare and charged with breaking media laws. He spent 10 days in jail. More than 200,000 people have been reported to be homeless as a result of a government cleanup of shacks and trading stalls. In Zimbabwe, taking photographs of police discharging their duties is illegal.

A court on June 6 did not convict him on charges under Zimbabwe's media laws, which impose a two-year jail term for practicing journalism without permission from the government, according to international media reports. He was charged with violating censorship laws and immigration laws for overstaying his visa. Gilman was deported June 6.

"He is not an unpaid faculty member at the university, as has been reported internationally; he is not on the faculty," said Andra Stevens, director of information and public affairs at Africa University. "His association with Africa University ended in August 2004. His permit to teach at Africa University expired last year.

"We are deeply saddened by the situation," Stevens said. "We hold Howard Gilman in our prayers. He gave help to marginalized people in Zimbabwe, particularly orphans and gave great service to Africa University as a volunteer member of the faculty."

Published reports quoting Gilman's attorney, Innocent Gonese, say Gilman was fined a total of $33US on alternative charges of breaking the country's censorship and immigration laws, and was deported to the United States.

"Africa University is an institution that respects and lives within the laws of Zimbabwe," said James Salley, vice chancellor for institutional advancement, based in Nashville, Tenn.

"We have never had any kind of problem with people operating outside the law," Salley said. "Any person who comes to the university is advised about the law." What has happened to Gilman "is an unfortunate situation," he said.

Africa University is a pan-African and United Methodist-related institution that opened in March 1992 as the first private, international university in Zimbabwe.

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*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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