You can’t have missed the massive uproar this week as Gamu Nhengu – a hot favourite to win this year’s X Factor – got dropped from the series.
Cheryl Cole broke the news to her on the show, but many people believe that Cheryl was told who to put through, partly due to narrative that favoured Katie Waissel and Cher Lloyd, and partly because she’d been out of the loop of auditions due to her illness with malaria.
As you all know, our sister site, Unreality TV, is one of the largest hubs for X Factor news and gossip in the UK. I can tell you from the calibre of comments left that for every comment that accused Cheryl Cole of being racist in her decision, there was an alternative comment about Gamu deserving to be kicked out of the country. It’s interesting that many viewers see Gamu’s story as a racism/immigration issue.
Lisa reported yesterday on stories about Gamu and her family facing deportation. In that article, there are comments from Border Control and from production sources that claim Gamu had to be dropped because her visa was a grey area.
The applications made by Ms Ngazana and her family were considered in line with the published immigration rules. Ms Ngazana’s application was refused as it did not meet all of the conditions for approval. Skilled workers are not allowed recourse to public funds. Her family, who had applied as her dependants, were therefore also refused.
Where people are found to have no right to remain in the UK we expect them to leave voluntarily.
This all relates to the fact that Gamu’s mother, Nokutula is a trained nurse and not eligible for assistance. It seems the family claimed in the region of £16,000 in benefits that they weren’t entitled to. I’ve got a few points to make here:
- No-one’s complaining about the clerical error that allowed benefit to be paid in the first place.
- I feel sorry for the girl, because she went on X Factor hoping to pursue a dream of becoming a singer, but ended up drawing attention to her family. And think of the devastation this causes to the family before you shout about my bleeding heart. Put yourself in their shoes. It must be terrifying to be facing deportation.
- Would the family have ended up in this situation if the X Factor hadn’t spun her story as an immigration fairytale – we came to Britain for a chance of a better life? Isn’t it ironic that the tabloid scrutiny on the show ended up in a nightmare for that family?
- I would argue that there should be some degree of clemency for the family as well. When a family receives an overpayment of benefits, they’re given the opportunity to repay it, aren’t they? Surely they should be given the chance to repay the amount and remain in the country?
I’m not saying this as a fan of Gamu’s singing. I personally didn’t think that she had the right look and sound to be a popstar. Not from the Simon Cowell school of pop, anyway. That said, my wife has taken to singing “the Gamu version” of Walking on Sunshine around the house, so she’s made some impact.
Incidentally, there’s no chance of Gamu returning to X Factor this year. However, sources with the show say that if she can resolve her visa issues, they’d be happy for her to return next time.
(This post is a more detailed version of the comment I left on our Was Gamu Nhengu Robbed? post.)