SOUTHERN AFRICAN MIGRATION PROJECT

Migration News - April 2001

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Click on the country title above theheadlines for the entire article.

Regional:
Police in Southern Africa step up cross border operations

Angola:
Angola ups efforts to free foreign hostages

Botswana:
Emigration of nurses accelerates
Hotels empty as tourist arrivals slump
Racism increases in Botswana, says Botswana Centre for HumanRights

Lesotho:
SA, Lesotho to sign agreements

Malawi:
Police seize 40 refugee owned minibuses
DRC refugees ask for asylum in Malawi

Mozambique:
SA, Maputo work on new labour agreement
SA tourism operators accused of racism in Mozambique
Moz issues new 'quick' visas

Namibia:
Citizens who help non-citizens to be "dealt withseverely"
Over 80 alleged Unita members face deportation

South Africa:
Court to set precedent on deportation
Illegal extradition of SA men discussed
DHA officials held on corruption charges
Compulsory community service for doctors could worsen brain drain
Plan for aggressive recruitment of foreign skills
Challenge to DHA asylum policy
Outrage at import of Cuban teachers
Buthelezi defends proposed immigration bill
The new face of SA racism: xenophobia
WCape Home Affairs needs more funds says DA
Stop stealing our doctors says SA
Court allows convicted murderer to stay in SA
Aliens decision welcome
New asylum regulations anger refugees
Many SA citizens in jails abroad
Asylum seekers in SA fear arrest, deportation
South Africa to import Cuban teachers
Asylum seekers will be treated as illegal immigrants
SA not viable for foreign airlines
Lies, white lies and damned statistics
UDM calls on Mbeki to fire Buthelezi
Govt plans to stem teacher flight, says Asmal
SA is halting the brain drain, says Zuma
Strategy to protect tourists

Tanzania:
EU to send humanitarian aid to Tanzania to help refugee problemthere
France to donate food for Tanzania refugees
Tanzania contemplates tourism impact survey
UNHCR asks Tanzania to list Zanzibari exiles
UN plans repatriation of Congolese refugees in Tanzania
Mwinyi warns against doctors' exodus

Zambia:
Angolan refugees continue to arrive
More Angolan refugees arrive
DRC refugees riot in Zambia over food shortages
UNHCR studies repatriation of refugees to DRC
Angolan government troops among refugees

Zimbabwe:
Health sector records massive brain drain

Regional

Police in Southern Africa step up crossborder operations (SABC News, 15/04) - Police insouthern Africa are stepping up cross border operations in theirbattle against organised crime, under a deal that allows policeto enter another country and make arrests for crimes committed athome, Mozambican police officials said. Malawi, Mozambique, SouthAfrica, Swaziland and Zambia have all agreed to permit theirpolice forces to operate across their borders, as long as thegovernment notifies the country before police move in. Althoughthe Southern African Regional Police Co-operation (Sarpco)agreement was signed in 1995, police forces in the region areincreasingly taking advantage of the deal. The agreement has seenlaw enforcement officers, including those of Mozambique and SouthAfrica, work together in various operations, including thedestruction of arms caches and a drug factory in the Mozambicancapital. In February last year, Mozambican and South Africanpolice raided a mandrax factory which fronted as a plastic pipemanufacturer, netting drugs worth $112 million. Mozambique isviewed as especially vulnerable to crime, because of itsstrategic but poorly patrolled shipping ports, rail corridors androads, as well as its fragile judiciary still struggling to findits feet after the 16-year civil war. Analysts say that over thelast five years, Mozambican prosecutors have had a weak record inconvicting criminals, even those charged with serious crimes suchas drugs manufacturing and trafficking, multimillion-dollar fraudcases, massive tax evasion, arms smuggling and car theft.Mozambique is considered a safe crossing point to South Africa,the region's economic powerhouse, for criminals disguised asasylum or job seekers, the analysts added. Mozambique also has alarge number of illegal firearms and weapons caches; a legacy ofthe brutal civil war that ended in 1992. South African policehave especially become involved in operations inside Mozambique,particularly in cases of stolen vehicles and searching out armscaches. Mozambican police have also taken advantage of the pact,most recently when Mozambican police went into Swaziland toarrest two suspects in the murder of investigative journalistCarlos Cardoso. The increased police co-operation comes amid avariety of cross border projects in the region. Mozambique andSouth Africa have also boosted their co-ordination onrepatriation of illegal Mozambican immigrants to South Africa.Maputo had complained that immigrants were being dumped at itsborders, even if they were not all Mozambican. The two countrieshave also struck a number of business deals, notably a recentagreement on a gas pipeline and key tourism development contractson Mozambican beaches. Meanwhile, Mozambique, South Africa andZimbabwe have agreed to create a 35 000 square kilometretransfrontier park, by removing their borders inside threenational parks.

Angola

Angola ups efforts to free foreignhostages (Reuters, 20/04) - Angola has intensifiedmilitary efforts to free seven Portuguese nationals and anAngolan who were kidnapped by separatist guerrillas in theoil-rich Cabinda province, diplomatic sources said on Friday. Atthe same time, Portugal continued diplomatic efforts to securethe release of the five construction workers and their driver,who were kidnapped in March this year, and two men who wereabducted in May last year, an official said. A ninth hostage wasreleased earlier this month because he was ill. "Portugalwill not negotiate with the factions because they are holdinghostages," an official close to the situation said."But it doesn't mean we're not doing our best to set themfree." The official declined to describe the efforts,calling them confidential. A spokesperson for the Portugueseembassy in Luanda declined to comment on reports this week thatthe hostages had been moved within Cabinda to escape Luanda'smilitary offensive. The hostage crisis has created tensionbetween Angola and Portugal over Luanda's military strategy.Lisbon is concerned about the safety of the hostages. "It'sa difficult situation," an official close to the situationsaid. "The Angolan military has said it will not be doinganything of major significance, but witnesses tellotherwise." Local Roman Catholic priests told the CatholicRadio Ecclesia this week that the Angolan military had moved in 5000 troops and based its operations at the logging town of BucoZau in the province's centre. The priests called the situation"volatile" and that Cabindans had fled into the bush."Hunger is killing five or six people a day," theBishop of Cabinda, Paulino Madeca, told Radio Ecclesia. "Thesituation is worse away from the towns, but even there much isstill lacking." The construction workers, aged between 34 to50, and their Angolan driver were abducted on March 9 by theCabinda Enclave Liberation Front-Renewed (FLEC-R). A splintergroup known as FLEC-Cabinda Armed Forces (FLEC-FAC) abductedthree Portuguese workers last May 24 but released an ill hostageearlier this month. The rebel factions want Portugal, the formercolonial power, to persuade the Angolan government to negotiateon their demands for independence for the province, which isseparated from the rest of Angola by a sliver of the DemocraticRepublic of Congo. The rebels also want a higher share of therevenues from Cabinda's lucrative offshore oil fields. Abouttwo-thirds of Angola's 750 000 barrels a day of crude is pumpedfrom wells off the coast of the province operated by oil giantChevron.

Botswana

Emigration of nurses accelerates (BOPA,19/04) - Government should improve the workingconditions for nurses to give them job satisfaction if it wishesto retain them in its employ, Seboifeng Matlhabaphiri, thepresident of the Nurses Association of Botswana, has said.Interviewed by BOPA, Matlhabaphiri said the government shouldrecognise role of nurses because they are a backbone of thehealth sector. "The nurses who are leaving are mostly themost productive category the (20s-40s) who were going to servethe country for the next coming years, needed improvedpackage," she said. Matlhabaphiri said Botswana-trainednurses are internationally competitive and marketable because ofthe high standard of training. She said there would be no problemfor government to recruit nurses from other countries if theInstitute of Health Sciences did not train enough of personnel.She added, however, that there was nothing wrong with recruitingexpatriates because it was a trend that was going on around theworld. A nurse who did not want to be identified said nurses arethe major stakeholders in the health sector. "A clinic or ahealth facility can operate without a doctor as is the case withmost clinics," she said. "Doctors may have spent manyyears of training, the truth is that we do most of the job,doctors are just auxiliary staff supporters," she said. Shefurther said she is against the recruitment of expatriate nursesbecause of the language problem. A medical practitioner needs toget subjective data from patients so as to get the history, whichleads to the diagnosis. "Most patients either do not have agood command of English or do not know it at all," sheadded. "Therefore it means expatriate nurses won't be ableto take good care of patients because as a nurse you have toalways be around the patient and communicate with them." Shealso said since nursing is a human centred profession, night dutyand overtime allowance must be de-linked because, on its own,night duty is stressful as they have to monitor patients allnight and also submit reports before knocking off. She also saidnurses deserve risk allowance because they are exposed to riskssuch as patho-physiological causes like getting exposed topulmonary tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. In addition, shesaid mental health patients have assaulted a lot of nurses, butstill there has never been risk allowance for them. "Theother major risk is psychological and emotional damage becausehaving to nurse patients everyday affect us a great deal becausewe are human," she explained. At the time of writing thestory, the Ministry of Health had not responded to BOPA's writtenquestions on the same issues.

Hotels empty as tourist arrivals slump(BOPA, 19/04) - Tour operators and lodges in the ChobeDistrict feel that not much has been done to market Botswanaabroad. As a result, most overseas tourists think Botswana is oneof the war-torn southern African countries. In a series ofinterviews in Kasane, operators said that tourism had declinedover the past 12 months because of the political and economicsituation in neighbouring Zimbabwe, forcing Botswana-boundtourists using agents in Zimbabwe to cancel their bookings. Theysaid the number of tourists had dropped from 80 per cent tobetween 20 and 25 per cent since last year, basically because oflack of knowledge about Botswana's location in relation to herneighbours. Mowana Lodge general manager Georges Romarin said thesituation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had forcedsome of his clients from Europe to cancel their bookings because"they thought the DRC was part of Botswana". Romarinsaid that with the introduction of direct Air Botswana flightsbetween Kasane and Johannesburg, the situation was likely tochange for the better. He said arrangements were already in placeto take clients on a day trip from Kasane to the Victoria Fallsin Zimbabwe. The general manager said that most of their clientswere South Africans and locals. For her part, Chobe Safari Lodgereservations officer Christine Kani told BOPA that they werefully booked until December. Tourism officer in the department oftourism, Milton Kachana was hopeful that tourism, would improveafter the introduction of direct British Airways (BA) flightsinto Zimbabwe next month. Kachana concurred that the situation inZimbabwe, where war veterans have occupied white-owned farms, hadadversely impacted on Botswana's tourism industry. Botswanagovernment takes tourism seriously as it creates employment forBatswana. Rural peasants in the Chobe enclave, for instance, aregradually developing into big time entrepreneurs. Villagers ofKachikau, Satau, Mabele, Parakarungu and Kavimba have so farbecome recipients of an average of 20 000 US dollars annually.The communities pay 2 000 US dollars annual lease to thegovernment for using state land for hunting. Fifteen per cent ofthe annual revenue generated from sport hunting is given to theConservation Trust to cover administrative costs and to developjoint projects, which benefit all the five villages.

Racism increases in Botswana, saysBotswana Centre for Human Rights (BOPA, 05/04) - Ditshwanelo,(the Botswana Centre for Human Rights), says there has been anincrease in racism, racially-based opinions in the media, racialdiscrimination and xenophobia in Botswana. As a result,Ditshwanelo will tomorrow host a one-day seminar on racism atwhich chairperson of the South African Human Rights CommissionBarney Pityana will be the guest speaker at the Gaborone SunHotel. The seminar will discuss issues leading to theilltreatment of groups of people in Botswana on the basis ofcolour, race, religion, sex, gender, language, origin, nationalor ethnic identity, disability, sexual orientation, age andreligion. It will attract participants from civil society,government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well asSouthern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat anddiplomats.

Lesotho

SA, Lesotho to sign agreements (Maseru,Dispatch Online, 19/04) - President ThaboMbeki is to sign several bilateral agreements and an extraditiontreaty with Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili here today.Mbeki is leading a delegation of four Cabinet ministers in talkswith the Lesotho government. Lesotho Foreign Minister Tom Thabanesaid on the eve of Mbeki's arrival that the president wasexpected to sign an important bilateral commission onco-operation between the two countries. The agreements areexpected to include a treaty on mutual legal assistance in whichSouth African authorities would aid Lesotho in criminalinvestigations aimed at establishing prima facie cases againstsuspected criminal offenders before their extradition from SouthAfrica to Lesotho, or vice versa. The two governments are alsoexpected to sign an extradition treaty. There were serioushitches in carrying out an extradition treaty with South Africaduring the apartheid era because Lesotho granted political asylumto numerous South African activists in the ANC, PAC, SACP andother banned organisations. Thabane said that, in terms of thesetwo treaties, "there will be no place to hide" forcriminals from Lesotho and South Africa. He said there was a needto forge a special relationship between Lesotho and South Africabecause of their historical links and the unique geographicalsituation of Lesotho as a neighbour of South Africa.

Malawi

Police seize 40 refugee owned minibuses(Dakar, Pana, 19/04) - Authorities of the Road TrafficCommission in Lilongwe have seized at least 40 minibusesbelonging to refugees saying the vehicles did not comply withMalawian traffic rules and regulations. Jomo Mkandawire, the RoadTraffic Commissioner, said the vehicles were seized notnecessarily because they belonged to refugees but because theydid not comply with traffic regulations. He said Malawi has oflate been experiencing an increase in traffic accidents so hisdepartment has to be more vigilant. But representatives of therefugees said the move was discriminatory. Metvsela Gakumba, arefugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, told journaliststhat the seizure was a violation of Malawi's commitment tointernational refugee protocols. "We did not come into thecountry via the back door. We registered as refugees. The countryand the UNHCR recognise our status as refugees," he said.Gakuma said all the refugee minibus operators were given thegreen light by the department of Disaster Preparedness, Reliefand Rehabilitation to operate businesses. He said Lucius Chikuni,the department's head, told them since government cannot meet alltheir needs they could engage in small-scale businesses assupplement. Meanwhile, the head of the UNHCR mission in Malawi,Michael Owor Wednesday visited the 32 Congolese refugees who arein detention in the northern border district of Chitipa and saidhe would shortly negotiate their release for them to be screened.Police spokesman Oliver Soko said the Congolese were detainedover the Easter weekend because they did not have validdocuments. But Owor wondered how a refugee, fleeing a volatilesituation, can find time to think of papers. There are 6,000refugees in Malawi from DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Angola, Sudanand Somalia.

DRC refugees ask for asylum in Malawi(Blantyre, Sapa-AFP, 17/04) - Thirty-two refugees fromthe Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are refusing to returnhome and have asked for asylum in Malawi, police said on Tuesday.Their request has sparked a diplomatic row between the governmentand the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),because police say the refugees do not have documents to allowthem to stay in Malawi. "The government is takingprecautions as some of them might be criminals disguised asasylum seekers," police spokesperson Oliver Soko said. Therefugees arrived last week and are being kept in Chitipa districtin northern Malawi, near the Tanzanian border. Malawi alreadyhosts about 5 000 refugees, mainly from the troubled Rwanda, DRCand Burundi. The Malawian Red Cross is looking after the asylumseekers at a community centre, Soko said. But the UNHCR chief inMalawi, Michael Owor, accused the government of floutinginternational conventions on refugees, saying "you cannotturn them away at the border". Owor said asylum seekersshould be allowed to present their case to the nationaleligibility committee for individual assessment. "Refugeesdon't need papers. What sort of papers do the authoritieswant?" he said. Owor said he was travelling to Chitipa onTuesday, reachable only by road, to assess the situation.

Mozambique

SA, Maputo work on new labour agreement(Business Day, 25/04) - SAand Mozambique are working on an agreement that will see theeffective management of, among other things, labour relationsbetween the two countries. "We are under pressure from bothheads of state to find a solution," said SA Labour MinisterMembathisi Mdladlana. This follows a host of complaints from theMozambican labour ministry about the often inhumane treatment ofits citizens by SA. Mdladlana will visit Mozambique next week topave the way to the signing of the agreement. "We need tohave clear policy on these matters," said Mdladlana and adraft agreement already exists. Mdladlana said it was alsoimportant for bilateral talks to take place between thecountries' home affairs departments on the issue of immigrantsworking in SA. Mozambican labour minister Mario Lampiao Sevenevisited SA last year with several grievances. The most importantwas the Mozambican government's charge that SA mining housestested workers for HIV/AIDS without their consent and thendismissed them. But the country has not given clear evidence ofthis practice. Mdladlana said mining houses had denied theallegation. "Mozambique has yet to provide information onthis matter so that we can investigate the allegations,"Mdladlana said. Sevene also raised concern over the issue ofabout 2000 mineworkers who were dismissed from ERPM Mines on theEast Rand last year. According to Mdladlana, his concern is thatthese workers are not accommodated in the country's social planfor retrenched workers. "They are worried that SA is notdoing anything about it and that we have the power to dosomething." Including Mozambican mine workers in the socialplan is, however, on the cards. "We are exploring forming asocial plan centre for mining which will be distinct from othersbecause of the issues faced by miners," Mdladlana said. Thecentre will also focus on the training and re-skilling of migrantworkers. He said the plan would go a long way towards addressingthe problems of Mozambique. Mdladlana will hold discussions onthe mining social plan centre with Sevene. Also expressed was aconcern over Rand Mutual Association's payment of pension moneyto Mozambican workers. Workers claimed that they did not receivetheir pension money from the association. "We have nowagreed to send the money to the Mozambican government," saidMdladlana. Once the ministers agree on how to deal with theissues, presidents Thabo Mbeki and Joaquim Chissano will endorsethe agreement.

SA tourism operators accused of racism inMozambique (Maputo, Sapa-AFP, 17/04) - Mozambique’stop tourism official accused several SA tourist companies ofracism on Monday, and said the government had moved to disciplinethem. “We are fighting against all kinds of racism becauseour tourist resources are public and not private assets,”national tourism director Antonio Saia said. Allegations ofracist practices by some SA tourist companies were raisedrecently at public consultation meetings in southern Mozambique.Saia said the most flagrant examples of racism were notices atresorts in Gaza province, which read: “No entry forMozambican children”. “We are taking swift actionagainst behaviours like these, and as I am speaking inspectorsare being deployed in the field and those racist notices havebeen removed,” he said. Similar public meetings are plannedfor central and northern Mozambique, he said. With 2 600km ofcoast on the Indian Ocean, Mozambique has a vast tourismpotential. Before the 16-year civil war which ended eight yearsago, the country was one of the most popular tourist destinationsin southern Africa. The tourism industry here is taking offagain, with the government making it a top priority in itsnational development strategy, Saia said. Last year, the countryreceived about 300 000 tourists, though the figure is still farbelow the nation’s capacity, he said. Most tourists camefrom SA, Zimbabwe, Portugal, England, Germany, Spain and Italy,Saia said.

Moz issues new 'quick' visas (Maputo,Sapa-AFP, 16/04) - Mozambique has begun issuing touristvisas at the country's main borders and at Maputo airport, thenation's top tourism official said on Monday. "The measureis aimed at increasing tourism in our country, which has made asignificant contribution to the national economy," nationaltourism director Antonio Saia told AFP. Although called a touristvisa, Saia said it "is not only for the man in shorts andsunglasses, but also for business people for instance." Thevisa issued at the border is no different from visas issued by anembassy or consulate, Saia said. "In order to get this visa,one will have to comply with same traditional requirementsapplied at Mozambican diplomatic missions anywhere," hesaid. The government hopes the new visa will make it easier fortourists to travel from countries where Mozambique has nodiplomatic representation. "These tourists can now gostraight to the border and airport and get their visa therewithout the trouble of travelling to the nearest country whereMozambique is diplomatically represented," he said.Mozambique is looking to tourism as a key part of its developmentplan, with the government creating a tourism ministry last year.

Namibia

Citizens who help non-citizens to be"dealt with severely" (Nampa/MFAIB, 18/04) - NamibiaPrincipal Immigration Officer in the Kavango region, Mr MascarKashembe, has urged Namibian residents in the Kavango region toreport any Angolans crossing illegally into Namibia to theauthorities, and not to hide them or find ways to register themas Namibians. All those people coming into Namibia seekingrefugee status should be reported immediately to the nearestpolice station or immigration officials in order to be assisted.He explained that any Namibian citizen found guilty of trying toassist a non-Namibian citizen to get ‘legal’ documentsby not following the right procedures, would be dealt withseverely. Last month, over 200 Angolans fleeing from the Gcirikotown in southern Angola after Unita rebels attacked that town,refused to be taken to Osire. The group decided to return toGciriko town. Most recently immigration officials in the Kavangoregion rounded up a family of ten Angolan nationals at the Halilivillage on Friday, 13 April. Mr Kashembe told Nampa that thegroup that comprises seven young children and a man and his twowives, was rounded up at the house of a certain villager known asMr Moses Matego after the officials received a tip from thepublic. He said the group crossed into Namibia on 6 April thisyear from Port Quangar town opposite Nkurenkuru in southernAngola in search of their relatives in Namibia.  The Halilivillage is about 35 kilometres west of the capital of the Kavangoregion, Rundu. According to Mr Kashembe, the group fled the civilwar between the Angolan government soldiers and Unita rebels inthe area of Mawe village early last year, and resided at PortQuangar town before crossing into Namibia. He further noted thatthe family was handed over to the office of the United NationsHigh Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at Rundu to be transportedto the Osire Refugee Camp near Otjiwarongo. Rundu is about 700kilometres southeast of the Namibian capital, Windhoek, whileOtjiwarongo is about 245 kilometres north of the capital.

Over 80 alleged Unita members facedeportation (Windhoek, Pana, 12/04) - The Namibiagovernment is going ahead with arrangements to deport over 80alleged UNITA "soldiers and collaborators" who havebeen detained at a camp near Windhoek for the past eight monthswithout being charged. This is despite a recent high court rulingin which one of the accused, Jose Domingos Sikunda, was set freeon grounds that the decision to deport him was illegal. Thealleged UNITA "soldiers and collaborators", accused bythe government of having committed murder and mayhem in Namibia'snorth-eastern Kavango region, were declared prohibited immigrantsand set for deportation on recommendations of the government'ssecurity commission, which the high court recently declared asbeing defective. The detainees were rounded up in the Kavangoregion in June and July last year and were secretly held at asecurity camp for more than a month. The government has beenworking with the UNHCR on how best to deport the group and whichcountry would accept them. Meanwhile, Home Affairs ministryPermanent Secretary, Niilo Taapopi Thursday refused to comment onthe high court's ruling that the continued detention of the menand the intention to deport them was illegal because of theillegality of the commission which determined their fate.However, Attorney General Pendukeni Ithana said the high courtruling applied to only Sikunda and not the rest of the detainees.The rebel UNITA movement of Angola has been a thorn in the fleshof the Namibian government as it has continuously carried outkillings, mayhem, looting and several other atrocities in theKavango region. UNITA has vowed to wage a "total war"against the Namibian government for harbouring regular Angolantroops on its soil who are fighting the rebel movement fromNamibian soil.

South Africa

Illegal extradition of SAmen discussed (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online, 30/04) - TwoSouth Africans currently on trial for murder in Botswana were notlegally extradited to that country, a Justice Departmentspokesperson said yesterday. Paul Setsetse said the two men werearrested by South African and Botswana police in North Westprovince a few weeks ago. They were then taken to Botswana andheld in custody until the trial began. However, it subsequentlyemerged that they had not been legally extradited from SouthAfrica. Setsetse said the government had yet to receive anextradition application from Botswana. If South Africa'sneighbour applied formally its application would be considered onits merits, Setsetse said. Police from both countries had beenholding consultations on the matter and it appeared that Botswanapolice had initially believed the men were Botswana citizens, headded. The men's names were not released.

DHA officials held on corruption charges(The Star, 29/04) - An immigration officer from theDepartment of Home Affairs was arrested on charges of corruptionafter he detained a legal Nigerian immigrant in police cells fornine days and tried to blackmail him. The officer was arrested inKempton Park by members of the Anti-Corruption unit on Friday.Prince Edoba Nino Oni, 41, was held at Pretoria's Hercules policestation and allegedly threatened with deportation. The officerallegedly told Oni that if he didn't give him R5 000, he would bedeported. Oni, who was kept in custody for nine days, said he hadmanaged to convince the officer to release him by telling himthat he needed time to raise money to pay the bribe. CaptainHendrik Wagener, head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, arrested theimmigration officer at the McDonald's in Kempton Park. He saidthe unit became involved in the case after Oni had approachedthem with details of the corruption. Oni alleged that he wasarrested by an officer from Home Affairs before the Easterweekend and taken to Johannesburg Central police station. "Idid not have my passport because I do not carry it with me incase people try to steal it. I had a card with details of myresidence here, but it wasn't good enough for the police."Oni is married to 39-year-old Nonkululeko Mfiyo, a South Africancitizen. "I told an immigration official called Nico that Iwas married to a South African. He said my wife had to come tothe department with my passport and our marriagecertificate." However, when Mfiyo arrived at Home Affairsthe following day with the documents, Nico refused to release Onibecause he was not co-operating with officials. "It wasThursday. Nico told my wife to come back on Tuesday and theywould let me go. "On Tuesday, Nico and another immigrationofficial called Victor picked me up from the cells and took me tothe Home Affairs office. They told my wife that they wanted R5000. "They said Nigerians are all rich. But I am a poor man.They threatened to deport me if my wife didn't find themoney." Oni was taken back to police cells, where he claimshe tried to speak to police officers there about his predicament,but they refused to help. "A white man told me that my blackbrother had put me there and there was nothing he could do. Hegave me the number of a lawyer, who asked for a fee of R3000." Oni managed to convince the officials to release himso that he could raise the money. Oni claims that other Nigeriansare held in the police cells by the same immigration official,who had also demanded money before they could be released.

Compulsory community service for doctorscould worsen brain drain (Cape Town, Sapa, 24/04) - Compulsorycommunity service could be worsening rather than reducing thetendency of young doctors to leave South Africa, anewly-published study has concluded. The study, in the latestissue of the South African Medical Journal, found that a third ofdoctors surveyed intended to seek employment outside South Africaafter completing their year of community service. Its author, DrSteve Reid of the University of Natal's Centre for Health andSocial Studies, said this was disturbing. He said one of theimplicit aims of the department of health in introducingcommunity service had been to slow the exodus of young SouthAfrican medical graduates to greener pastures overseas. "Itwould appear that community service has no effect on the careerplans of the doctors, but merely delays them by a year," hesaid. "This brings into question the long-term effects ofcommunity service, which may even be exacerbating rather thanlessening the tendency of young doctors to leave thecountry." The survey on which the findings are based wasconducted at the end of 1999, the first full-scale year ofcommunity service. Reid said the department's main aim ofensuring better health services to all South Africans was"most probably" being met by the programme. All healthfacilities surveyed that received community service doctorsreported positive effects, except for one tertiary hospital whichregarded them as a "nuisance". The secondary aim, togive young professionals a chance to develop skills and acquireknowledge, had applied to some but not all of the communityservice doctors. Those in rural hospitals felt relativelydisadvantaged in terms of clinical supervision, opportunities tostudy and psychological coping. In general, however, the responseof community service doctors to the challenges and difficultiesin public service hospitals around the country had beenencouragingly positive, particularly in terms of professionaldevelopment. The realisation by many community service doctorsthat they were actually making the difference in the communitiesthey were working in, had been a huge motivation. A minorityfound their environment demoralising, and felt resentful at theunfairness of the allocation process which placed them where theywere. Reid recommended that a comprehensive human resource policybe developed for the distribution of medical personnel, plus anexplicit strategy for meeting medical needs in rural andunderserved areas of the country. Discussions should be held withstakeholders on excluding tertiary and central hospitals fromreceiving community service doctors, and employing them only inareas of need. This would return to the original goals of thescheme, which were to address maldistribution. Reid said it wasimportant to acknowledge the training component of communityservice. There should be an adequate ratio of experienced seniordoctors to community service doctors in each hospital to ensureproper supervision.

Plan for aggressive recruitment offoreign skills (Business Day, 24/04) - SA intended torecruit foreign skills aggressively for at least the next 20years, a top government official said yesterday. "We willuse our foreign affairs offices to aggressively recruit foreignskills," said labour director-general Rams Ramashia. Thiswould go a long way towards addressing the country's acute skillsdeficit, details of which are contained in the human resourcesdevelopment strategy report released in Midrand yesterday. Thereport recommends that government consider importing skills.Ramashia said skills were crucial to the stimulation of the SAeconomy and the creation of jobs, hence the decision to lookoutside the country. Government was quick to point out therecruitment of skilled foreign workers was a temporary measurewhile the local skills base was being broadened. "Some ofthese skills will take a long time to develop," saidRamashia. "Meantime, we need to attract foreignlabour." The strategy, launched by the education and labourdepartments, is a result of President Thabo Mbeki's call for theskills shortage to be addressed. The aim of the strategy is alsoto develop skills by focusing on general education, with theemphasis on early childhood development and adult basiceducation. By focusing on a foundation of mathematics and scienceat an early stage, skills shortages such as those in informationtechnology (IT) would be alleviated. However, this could take atleast 20 years. It was government's plan, through the strategy,to "facilitate importation of approved scarce skills fromother countries through finalisation and implementation of newlegislation". Sector education and training authorities, setup in terms of the Skills Development Act, would be enlisted toidentify the skills that were needed. Ramashia said: "Wewill analyse the information from the different(authorities).This is primarily because each (one) looks at thegrowth potential within the sector in which (it operates)."Some skills can be provided through training, but someareas are of such a nature that we need to import (them). Theworld economy is not waiting for us to come up to speed. "Ifwe wait, we may get marginalised," he said. Ramashia saidgovernment would recruit from wherever skills were available, buthe noted an interest in India, which has been churning out ITspecialists. "We seek to find the best," he said.Congress of SA Trade Unions deputy general secretary BhekiNtshalintshali said the federation was not opposed to theimportation of skills that could not be provided locally,"but we cannot rely on these skills forever".

Challenge to DHA asylum policy (BusinessDay, 24/04) - HomeAffairs director-general Billy Masetlha has warned"peace-time heroes" that they will make a"fool" of themselves if they challenge the department'sasylum policy in court. Masetlha was reacting to a threat byLawyers for Human Rights (LHR) to challenge in court a circularordering border authorities to turn back asylumseekers andrefugees coming through neighbouring states. The LHR claims thecircular contravenes the Refugee Act, which states thatasylum-seekers must be allowed to enter SA and should be giventemporary residence permits while their applications areconsidered. Masetlha said in an interview yesterday that the"so-called human rights activists" were "flying akite". "They don't understand the basic principles ofan asylum regime," he said. Masetlha said the circular wasan "internal" document that could not be taken at facevalue. It had to be read in conjunction with the act and theUnited Nations convention on refugees. This provided for theturning back of people who were given asylum in neighbouringstates, but tried to enter SA because they did not want to livethere. He wanted to give an assurance that other asylum-seekerswould not be barred entry. SA currently had fewer than 10000people with refugee status. Applications from another 63000asylum-seekers would be cleared by June. "There will be nobacklog then, and we will be in a position to make determinations(on future applications) within three months," Masetlhasaid. He denied the department intended to set up refugee campswhere asylum-seekers would be detained. Instead, the departmentwanted to provide them with "humane accommodation".

Outrage at import of Cuban teachers (TheStar, 22/04) - South Africa's teachers are angry withEducation Minister Kader Asmal and his department for importingCuban teachers without consulting them. Hassen Lorgat,spokesperson for the South African Democratic Teachers Union(Sadtu), said: "We are very unhappy with the way Asmal hashandled the issue. We don't know any details." He added,however, that South Africa had a lot to learn from Cuba."Cuba values its teachers as professionals, not people to beretrenched, dumped, or have their holidays taken away. But if theteachers are here to take our jobs, there will be a bigproblem." Sadtu planned to hold an urgent meeting with Asmaland Cuba's ambassador to South Africa to discuss the issue, hesaid. Asmal's spokesperson, Molatwane Likhethe, dismissed theteachers' fears. "There have been concerns, particularlyabout language, but one of the conditions is that the teacherswill speak English. These people will come to train our teachers,they won't take jobs away." Meanwhile, it has also emergedthat the minister plans to dissolve school governing bodies thatare no longer functioning. The proposal to allow the dissolutionof governing bodies that are unable to perform their duties andreplace them with curators is mooted in an amendment to the SouthAfrican Schools Act in the latest Government Gazette. When aschool is under such curatorship, the superintendent-general isexpected to ensure the election of a new governing body within ayear. So far the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) hasappointed curators to replace principals at schools where therehas been a managerial collapse. Lebelo Maloka, a GDEspokesperson, said no governing body had been dissolved by theprovincial department so far. Schools and interested parties haveuntil May 7 to comment to the minister.

Buthelezi defends proposed immigrationbill (Business Day, 21/04) - In his article titled Buthelezi set to lose on migrationbill, Farouk Chothia gets up to his old tricks. When he used toreport on constitutional matters he was convinced that anything Iand my party submitted in the debates had to be"secessionist" and he described and reported it assuch, polluting negotiations and progress and artificiallycreating political frictions. Now he has convinced himself thatthe immigration bill would move migration control out of the corebusiness of government, which is utterly wrong, and keeps reportsabout this bill in such a vein. I do not know whether Mr Chothiaacts out of ignorance or with malice, but he harps over and againon a note which is destructive and factually wrong, no matter howmany times I write to correct him. The policy requiringgovernment to retain its "core" functions, whichChothia invokes to justify his prophecy my bill will not becleared by the Cabinet, relates to partnership with the privatesector and outsourcing. The debate around the immigration servicehas nothing to do with outsourcing, privatisation of functions ormoving anything out of government's core functions. Theimmigration service is in no way independent of government but isa part of government, administratively organised as an agencyunder the control of the minister, but exercising powers in termsof administrative law. In my own department we have the Film andPublications Control Board in a similar position, which in facthas much greater autonomy from me, as the minister, than theimmigration service would have. And there are many other examplesthroughout government. The idea that the bill proposes"hiving off" migration control from government is justsurreal. I cannot help thinking that it is repeated to ridiculeand discredit me in the same way in which my federalconstitutional arguments, which with hindsight anyone nowrecognises as sound and beneficial for the country, were oncelabelled as "secessionist". A legitimate way ofcommenting would be inquiring whether the envisagedadministrative model suits the field of migration, the permitprocedures and the law enforcement techniques and strategiesenvisaged in the bill. But this would require Mr Chothia to applyhis mind to the subject matter, which he did not bother doing inthe past and does not seem to be willing to do now. - MangosuthuButhelezi Home Affairs Minister

The new face of SA racism: xenophobia(Nelspruit, Mail & Guardian, 19/04) - Tribalism,class privilege and xenophobia are the new face of racism inSouth Africa, delegates to Mpumalanga's first summit on racialdiscrimination heard on Wednesday. Ehlanzeni districtmunicipality mayor Jeri Ngomane warned that ethnic power groupsin the country, including former Apartheid Bantustan leaders,were using tribalism to preserve their privileges. Tribalisttensions had, he said, risen in Mpumalanga since the ousting ofSiSwati-speaking premier Mathews Phosa and appointment of hisisiNdebele-speaking successor Ndaweni Mahlangu in June 1999."We have drawn the battled lines against tribalism inMpumalanga, but some tribalist Swazis still see the Ndebele asbeing in power now, and some tribalist Ndebele [openly] say theyare now in control and will grow wealthy. These are thechallenges [we] have to face," said Ngomane. Warning thattribalism and ethnic discrimination were the result of Apartheidpolicies that deliberately balkanised the country's blackinhabitants into small "manageable" ethnic groups,Ngomane urged South African leaders to recognise that tribalismwas racism. "People were balkanised into [ethnic homelands].This institutionalised racism and ultimately led to xenophobiawith each group trying to protect their own terrain and[privileges]," said Ngomane. He warned that these samediscriminatory policies had distorted South African history byignoring the often vital roles played by Khoi San and blackpeople in major events such as the Great Trek, the Anglo Boerwars and the nation's economic development. Premier Mahlangu alsoattacked tribalism and xenophobia during his keynote speech,noting that racism remained widespread despite a concertedgovernment and civil society drive to eliminate unfairdiscrimination over the past seven years. Highlightinggovernment's attempts to legislate against racism, Mahlangu saidthe groundwork had been laid and it was now essential forindividual citizens to proactively tackle discrimination."We must, however, be wary of those who oppose our fightagainst racism. It is easy to identify such people. They areeager to block fundamental social transformation [and] underminethe capacity of the State to intervene by arguing that suchthings should be left to the market and that the State should beminimalist," said Mahlangu. These 'counter-revolutionaries'were invariably part of minority groups, he said, and protectedexisting privileges and land ownership granted to the whitecommunity under apartheid. "[They] use threats of investmentstrikes and the 'brain drain' as a means to drive thisagenda," Mahlangu argued. The answer, he said, was thedevelopment of public education campaigns to liberate SouthAfricans from the "psychological shackles" ofcolonialism and Apartheid and replace outdated loyalties with anew patriotism towards a non-racial nation.

WCape Home Affairs needs more funds saysDA (Cape Town, Sapa, 18/04) - The Democratic Alliancehas requested an urgent meeting with Home Affairs MinisterMangosuthu Buthelezi about resources allocated to the WesternCape. The DA wanted Buthelezi's department to allocate more fundsand aids to the regional office and other offices in theprovince, spokesman Francois Beukman said on Wednesday.Indications were that the department's staff numbers in theWestern Cape were still on 1995 strength, despite the dramaticincrease in the province's demand for civil services. Thedepartment's Western Cape offices received 29 percent of allapplications for immigration to the republic. "We are deeplyconcerned that applications of merit from potential investors toobtain permanent residence and work permits are being delayed bya budget deficit and staff shortages," Beukman said. As atemporary measure, more resources had to be made available to theprovincial immigration panel to deal with the current workloadand the 100 applications received monthly by the Cape Townoffice. The DA was especially concerned about government'sinability to deal with the increasing number of illegalimmigrants coming to South Africa due to conflict elsewhere onthe continent. The additional pressure being put on social andgovernment services in the Western Cape by these new arrivalsshould not be underestimated. "It is mainly the shortage ofimmigration officials in the Western Cape that seriously hindersthe department in tracking down illegal immigrants and those whoare not bona fide refugees. "The integrity of South Africancitizenship must not be compromised by a shortage ofresources," Beukman said.

Stop stealing our doctors says SA(Dispatch Online, 18/04) - Thousands ofSouth Africa's top doctors are being lured overseas by betterremuneration and working conditions, worsening the localshortage. The ads target South Africa's doctors with all thesubtlety of a get-rich-quick huckster in an ill-fitting suit."$$$ New Zealand and Australia $$$. "Are you ready fora change and adventure?" The recent pitches, in the SouthAfrican Medical Journal, have helped lure thousands of thecountry's top doctors "seeking lifestyle and incomebonus" to Australia, Canada, Britain and New Zealand. Thejob migration is worsening a shortage of medical professionals inSouth Africa as it struggles to plug an alarming gap in ruralhealth care and braces for a looming Aids crisis. In a global jobmarket, health care professionals increasingly go to the highestbidder, hitting hardest the nations that need them the most. Manypoor countries, from Ghana in West Africa to Jamaica in theCaribbean, are watching their nurses stream to better paying andlower stress jobs of the West. South Africa is losing nurses,too, but the poaching of its doctors stands out becausefirst-rate medical schools here -- rare in the developing world-- make its physicians highly desirable. Doctors start at R105000in South Africa's state hospitals, a big jump from the R65000they earned a few years ago, but far below Western salaries.Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma called on wealthycountries late last year to stop recruiting doctors from SouthAfrica to ease their own shortages. Andre Jaquet, South Africa'sambassador to Canada, sent a letter to all that country'sprovincial health commissioners pleading for them to stopenticing South Africa's doctors. South Africa estimates that 3500of its 26000 practising doctors work abroad. Many were lured tohard-to-staff rural clinics in the West. Nearly 20 percent ofdoctors in Canada's Saskatchewan province earned their medicaldegrees in South Africa. The medical exodus is devastating thestaff at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit, 350 kilometres eastof Johannesburg. This month, six doctors are departing for Canadaand another for Britain. Dr Thys von Mollendorff, the hospital'smedical superintendent, worries he may not be able to replacethem. The hospital, which serves 500000 people in Nelspruit andsurrounding townships, will be left with only 13 senior doctors,including four Cubans working temporarily. The world's wealthycountries talk of the urgent need to invest in impoverished ones,but once they experience a doctor shortage, they start recruitingin desperately poor areas, said Dr Malegapuru Makgoba, presidentof the South African Medical Research Council. The medicalmigration is part of a decade-long brain drain from South Africaas people flee rising crime rates, political uncertainty andeconomic difficulties. About eight percent of highly educatedSouth Africans have emigrated, an International Monetary Fundstudy estimated in 1999. SINCE apartheid ended in 1994, thegovernment has worked to transform a health care sector thatcatered to the mainly white suburbs, inadequately served blacktownships and ignored black rural areas. In the cities, SouthAfrica has one doctor for every 700 people. In rural areas, ithas one for every 10000, according to the South African MedicalAssociation. With the health care system spreading thinner toreach into needy areas, doctors in the public health system --which serves the majority of South Africans -- find work moredifficult. The equipment is old, and there is no money to replaceit. Doctors are forced to work longer hours and see morepatients. Many of the best-trained nurses are lured to SaudiArabia and other wealthier countries, said Dr David Morrell,vice-chairman of the South African Medical Association. Dr StevenResnick, a 27-year-old general practitioner who worked in statehospitals for two years, recalls watching in frustration as twonurses struggled in vain to care for 75 patients. Many of thepatients never got their medicine. With 4,7 million SouthAfricans infected with the Aids virus, the problem is bound togrow. "What we've seen now is the tip, the very tip, of theiceberg," Resnick said. "What people fail to realise isthat HIV will only make things worse."

Court allows convicted murderer to stayin SA (Cape Times, 16/04) - A convicted murderer, whowas facing deportation to Britain after his release from prisonafter serving an 18-year sentence for the murder of his adoptiveparents, has been granted a reprieve. Arthur Philip Solomon, 40,who was adopted in the UK and brought to South Africa, was facingdeportation to the country he left as a five-year-old, at theinsistence of South African authorities. Last Wednesday, after anurgent application was brought in the Johannesburg High Court,the judge ordered the director of the department of home affairsto restore Solomon's South African citizenship, of which he hadbeen stripped. The judge also interdicted the minister and thedirector of Home Affairs "and all other officials andemployees from taking any action, whether by arrest, physicalremoval or otherwise" from deporting Solomon. The date forthe hearing must still be set. Solomon was convicted of murderinghis adoptive parents, Arthur and Edna Solomon, in their Plumsteadhome in 1982, after a court heard how he had strangled his motherearly one morning, and then waited in the house for six hours forhis father to return. While his father was kneeling over the bodyof his dead mother, Solomon hit him over the head with a fullbottle of wine before strangling him. He then spent the night inthe house waiting for his adoptive sister, who was due to joinher parents for dinner. She forgot about the arrangement andfailed to turn up which, she says, probably saved her life. Hewas sentenced in 1982 to an effective 26 years in jail for themurders, and has subsequently received a remission of sentence.In 1995, while Solomon was still serving his sentence, HomeAffairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi wrote to his uncle, HughSolomon, confirming that a deportation order had been issuedagainst his nephew. After his release from prison early inJanuary this year, Solomon - who was described during the trialas a psychopath - was transferred immediately to a specialholding facility near Johannesburg pending his deportation. But,as a result of a bureaucratic bungle, he was allowed to walk freeafter officials examined his records and discovered that he was anaturalised South African. Within weeks of his release, Solomonwas re-arrested and held in the police cells in Kempton Parkwhile the South African authorities negotiated his deportationwith their British counterparts. Two weeks ago he was released,but the department home affairs made it clear that it waspressing ahead with plans for his deportation - even thoughSolomon last lived in the UK 35 years ago and has no family orfriends there. His attorney, Chris Watters, then launched lastweek's urgent application in the Johannesburg High Court to stopthe deportation and have Solomon's South African citizenshipreinstated. Said Watters: "We were concerned that thedeportation order in 1995 and the subsequent deprivation of hisSouth African citizenship went beyond the powers of the minister."We doubt that depriving a person of citizenship can be donein these circumstances." Although the British HighCommission could not be contacted for comment on Monday,spokesperson Michael Doig confirmed earlier that discussions wereunderway with the South African government. "We are incontact with the authorities with regard to his situation andpotential deportation. We would like to see the best outcome forall concerned." Doig confirmed that Solomon had been visitedregularly in prison by consular officials "in the same waythat any British prisoner would be". In Britain, news ofSolomon's pending deportation has caused alarm and fears for thegeneral public. Michael Howlett, director of the Zita Trust,which works with released offenders, said: "We don't knowmuch about him and what kind of risk he might be to the generalpublic. He would be a free man here, and if he did get intodifficulty he will find it very difficult to get help." ABritish Home Office spokesperson said in a statement soon afterit was revealed that Solomon might be deported to the UK:"The government does recognise that there is a problem of alack of powers for returning offenders. "If they have notbeen convicted of an offence in this country (the UK), they arenot subject to the supervision of the British authorities. Weacknowledge this is a problem. We are looking at how we can bestdeal with it." A friend of Solomon's, who declined to benamed, said: "Philip has served his time and paid his debtto society. It is unfair to deport him to Britain, a country heleft when he was five and does not know at all. "He has nofamily, friends or any other kind of support structure there andI do not know how he would make ends meet."

Aliens decision welcome (Sowetan, 11/04)- The status of illegal immigrants has become an emotiveissue in this country amid general concerns among many SouthAfricans about the apparent inability of our immigration laws tocontrol and regulate their entry and movement. Underlying theseconcerns are fears that immigrants place severe strain on thecountry's scarce resources and that some actually contribute tothe rising crime statistics. Worse still, there are perceptionsthat immigrants lucky enough get jobs undercut local jobseekersby opting to work for ridiculously low wages. But while some ofthe concerns are legitimate, the reality is that South Africa ispart of the global community and as such has to comply withinternational conventions that protect the rights of immigrants.So the Government's decision to grant temporary South Africancitizenship to 63 000 refugees, to enable them to access localresources, is welcome. The step is in keeping with the humanrights culture existing in the country, which has faced strongcriticism from other African countries over treatment ofimmigrants.

New asylum regulations anger refugees(Irin, 09/04) - Asylum seekers not inpossession of permits issued under a new refugee act will betreated as illegal immigrants from next month, the South Africangovernment announced last Thursday. In a joint communiqué withUNHCR, South Africa's department of home affairs said decisionswould be made by the end of April on the thousands of asylumseekers in the country. Those successful would receive a newrefugee identity card, unsuccessful applicants would be treatedas illegal aliens, the communiqué added. "We're notconfident home affairs has the resources to implement this in afew short weeks," Yussuf Abbas of the Somali Association ofSouth Africa told IRIN on Monday. "Our experience is thathome affairs works very slowly, now we're told if we don't havethe right paper by May we'll be deported." Others workingwith refugees in South Africa believe the new regulations willcreate mayhem. "There's no way they can process all thesepeople by May," Nobuntu Mbelle of the South African HumanRights Committee told IRIN, "then it'll be open season, thepolice will arrest everybody without the new document to bump uptheir crime figures." Under the Refugees Act of 1998, whensomeone claims asylum in South Africa, they remain an asylumseeker until their status as a refugee is confirmed or denied.But by 1 April 2000, when the Act came into effect, more than27,000 applications for asylum had not been processed. It's takena team of forty lawyers working in conjunction with UNHCR andLawyers for Human Rights (LHR), six months to clear the backlog.Home affairs said 18,000 applications had now been finalised,while 9,000 constituted cancelled applications. But asylumseekers complain that attempts to deal with the backlog has ledto hasty judgements. "How can informed decisions be madeabout applicants when they rushed through them in this way?"an Ethiopian refugee told IRIN. Even though the government saysits working under an expanded definition of who qualifies forrefugee status, many asylum seekers expect bad news when theypresent themselves to home affairs in the next three weeks."I applied to be a refugee three years ago, I've got a wifeand a life here now," Abdou, a Senegalese asylum seeker toldIRIN, "they'll probably turn me down because I have no proofof persecution and I'll have to leave," he added. UNHCRCountry Representative Bemma Donkoh said the implementation ofthe Act was a good thing for refugees. "For the first timein South Africa we have a clarification of the status ofrefugees," she said. Donkoh pointed out that under the Act,refugees would be able to study, work, open bank accounts andenjoy the protection of the law. "And there's a properappeals procedure, its simply not the case that those who areturned down will be deported," she added. In a countryreportedly renowned for its xenophobia, other refugees areunhappy with the new documents they are to be issued with."Officially they want to integrate us, but now we're gettinga red refugee book in contrast to the green South Africanidentity document," Dosso Ndessomin, a refugee from Côted'Ivoire told IRIN. "When we show those red books, ourchances of getting work or finance are slim," he added."They want to label us as different."

Many SA citizens in jails abroad(Pretoria, Sapa, 09/04) - The South African governmentwas aware of 467 of its citizens serving prison sentences in 40countries abroad, the Department of Foreign Affairs said onMonday. "The figures have increased fairly dramatically overthe past year," head of foreign service management IsmailCoovadia told reporters in Pretoria. Most of the 467 prisonerswere convicted on drug-related charges. Three South Africans wereon death row abroad, as far as the government knew. One prisonerdid not want any intervention from the South African government.The other two cases were in Swaziland and Botswana and the SouthAfrican missions in the two countries were investigating the twocases, Coovadia said. He would not provide the names of the deathrow prisoners. According to media reports, 22-year-old BonganiMkhwanazi of Durban is on death row in Swaziland for murdering ateacher in March 1998. Lehlohonolo Bernard Kobedi, 41, wassentenced to death in Botswana in 1998 for the murder of apoliceman. A third South African, Sebastian Bridges, 37, is to beexecuted by injection in Nevada in the United States on April 21.He was convicted of killing his estranged wife's lover. Bridges,who conducted his own defence, reportedly refuses to file anappeal to stop his execution. Instead, he filed a petition withthe state Supreme Court to move up the execution, claiming he wasimprisoned unjustly and so any delay in his death was cruel andunusual punishment. The petition was turned down. The issue ofSouth African prison inmates abroad, especially those with deathsentences, arose recently with the execution of Mariette Bosch inBotswana. She was hanged for killing a friend, whose husband shelater married. Coovadia said the South African government wouldonly intervene on behalf of someone awaiting execution if theirnext of kin requested that. Foreign Affairs spokesman RonnieMamoepa said it was up to the President to decide how to dealwith the matter once the judicial process was complete. As theSouth African government was opposed to the death penalty, thePresident would be more likely to appeal for clemency but thefinal decision rests with the authorities in those countries,Mamoepa said. Coovadia said the figure of 467 South Africansserving prison sentences abroad might not be complete, as somecountries did not convey the information and some detaineespreferred confidentiality. The government's policy was not tointerfere with the judicial process of another state but offeredconsular services to all detained citizens. This includedliaising with next of kin, monitoring the trial for fairness andensuring representation. Normally the host country provided astate lawyer, often free of charge. Other consular dutiesincluded ensuring the receipt of mail, money and medication withstaff often supplying intimate essentials from their own pockets.This was in fact the responsibility of the Department of HomeAffairs, but there was no budget for that purpose, Coovadia said.South Africa had no prisoner exchange agreements whereby itscitizens convicted abroad could serve their sentences here, hesaid. The countries where most South African prisoners were beingheld, were Brazil (54), Botswana (41), Swaziland (36), Australia(33), Lesotho (32), Peru (27), the US (25), other North Americancountries (17), Thailand (13), Venezuela (12) and Japan (11).Besides drug-related crimes, the charges against the convictsincluded murder, rape, armed robbery, fraud, theft, embezzlement,burglary, indecent assault and illegal entry, Coovadia said.Figures for South Africans awaiting trial abroad were notimmediately available.

Asylum seekers in SA fear arrest,deportation (Johannesburg, AFP, 09/04) - Asylum seekersin South Africa face arrest and deportation if they fail to meetthe "unrealistic deadline" of acquiring new permits byApril 30, activists warned on Monday. Bruno Geddo, the seniorprotection officer in Pretoria for the UN High Commissioner forRefugees, said that between 19 000 and 20 000 refugeeswere seeking asylum. Most come from African countries torn bycivil wars. "As late as Friday [April 6], officials at thePretoria Home Affairs office had no personnel to deal with thematter and there are only three weeks to go," said JoyceTlou of the National Consortium for Refugee Affairs.

South Africa to import Cuban teachers(BBC News, 07/04) - A spokesman for the South Africanpresident, Thabo Mbeki, has announced that Cuban teachers are tobe brought to South Africa, to relieve shortages in the country.The spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, said that Cuba was a fast trackanswer to the problem of not having enough qualified teachers.Many South African teachers left the profession in the late 1990swhen the government introduced measures to correct the racialimbalances caused by apartheid; other have since left for betterpaid posts in Europe. Cuba already has an agreement to supplymedical staff to South Africa, and has sent some four hundreddoctors to work there.

Asylum seekers will be treated as illegalimmigrants (SABC News, 07/04) - Asylum seekers not inpossession of permits issued in terms of the new South AfricanRefugee Act will be treated as illegal immigrants from nextmonth. Refugees will be deported in accordance with theprovisions of the Aliens Control Act of 1991, which deniesrefugees the right to live in a country seeking asylum. However,a debate on the status of refugees seeking asylum in South Africais still in progress, as some refugees believe they are beingdiscriminated against despite the implementation of the newRefugees Act. When the Act came into effect last year, more than27 000 applications for asylum had not been processed. Accordingto the home affairs department and the United Nations HighCommissioner for Refugees, say they are doing everything in theirpower to rectify this situation. Refugee concerns include allegedintimidation by the local police, lack of interests by therefugees commission to deal with their problems and thedifficulty of being integrated into the South African society.Most refugees in South Africa are said to be from war torncountries.

SA not viable for foreign airlines (Mail& Guardian, 06/04) - There are now 1 300 fewer seatson international flights each week for foreign tourists to jetinto South Africa. In just three months several airlines haveleft South Africa for more lucrative shores " with seriouseconomic consequences. Sabena and Austrian airlines left earlierthis year and now two more " Alitalia and Air Portugal" are poised to follow suit. Departures over the past fewyears have included Air India, Gulf Air and Balkan Airlines. Eachforeign tourist is estimated to spend $100 a day in South Africa.With the loss of seats, the country could lose up to R50-milliona year in potential expenditure from travellers, says Juan vanRensburg, chair of the Board of Airline Representatives of SouthAfrica. According to international airlines, several issues lieat the heart of the problem: the strong dollar compared to theever-weakening rand, volatile fuel prices, disincentives fortourists, such as the newly introduced airport departure tax,crime against tourists, the poor quality of service and thepolitical situation in Zimbabwe negatively affecting SouthAfrica's image. Industry analysts say part of the problem is thedevaluation of the rand by 22% over the past year. Revenue growthhas not kept up with devaluation of currency. When the negativetrend stops, international airlines may find South Africa a moreviable destination. Van Rensburg says there has been a growth inthe number of international passengers but not to the extentneeded to recover costs " or even make a profit. He saysinternational airlines believe that the South African governmentshould also improve safety measures for tourists, servicedelivery and the quality of services and goods, transport andinfrastructure for tourists. "Dubai, for instance, is agreat tourist destination because it is planning ahead, workingon producing infrastructure for the years 2025 to 2030. We arelazy here " we have to deliver quality service," hesaid. "Many services and products here are too expensive forthe bad quality you get, if you compare us with the Maldives,Australia or the Caribbean islands, where there is goodinfrastructure for tourists." The South African governmentbelieves that for every tourist visiting South Africa, eight jobsare created. In an attempt to improve development through tourismand showcase South Africa as a desirable destination, theGovernment Com-munication and Infor-mation System is about tolaunch a massive tourist drive. It kicks off on a high note inLondon next month with the "Celebrate South Africa"campaign. South African high commissioner to Britain CherylCarolus said the intention for the six-week celebration is tohighlight what is "excellent" about South Africa.Because of the support the Anti-Apartheid Movement had enjoyed inBritain, and because the country is South Africa's largest tradeand investment partner, the festival is an opportunity tocelebrate the relationship between the two countries. As planninghas proceeded, the results have been "astounding".London's Globe Theatre will now open its summer season withUmabatha, "The Zulu Macbeth". The National Film Theatreis hosting a month-long programme of South African film, whilethe Royal Festival Hall will be the venue on Freedom Day for anight of theatre and music from South Africa. The festival willinclude an education programme in schools near South AfricaHouse, an exhibition of innovation and technology, a fashionshow, an showcase for crafts and a dance programme. The festivalstarts with an open-air concert in central London, and the smellof braaied boerewors is expected to waft over the city."South Africa is a world-class country and we want to showpeople that we have come a long way since the days of apartheid" and that we have succeeded because of our people,"Carolus said.

Lies, white lies and damned statistics(Financial Mail, 06/04) - The brain drain from SA isseriously underestimated by official statistics, it seems.Analysts suggest that the loss of skills to the economy could bedouble that reflected by Statistics SA, which sources itsmigration figures from the Department of Home Affairs. "Acomplete overhaul of the way in which migration statistics arecollected is needed," says the director of the CapeTown-based Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU), HaroonBhorat. SA's emigration figures come from questionnaires put tothose leaving at departure points, usually airports. But manypeople lie because they are embarrassed or uncertain (they maywant to return) about leaving and often provide inaccuratedetails. Also, one in five white South Africans holds a secondpassport, which means his or her emigration will not be reflectedin the official estimates. It would be far better, Bhorat says,to collect information from destination countries, whereimmigrants have to go through residence application procedures.That's what his unit did for the period 1994-1997, in a projectcalled the SA Network of Skills Abroad (Sansa). The Sansa projectfound that 21 796 skilled South Africans had taken up residencein the "big five" destinations - the UK, the US, NewZealand, Australia and Canada, which account for about 77% oftotal emigration - from 1994 through 1997. It found that SA lost43 000 economically active people in the four years; 66% of themwere skilled. Statistics SA, on the other hand, recorded 20 000economically active citizens emigrating in that time. "Oneof the key labour market constraints is the skillsshortage," says Bhorat. "You can't devise policy on thebasis of a poor information base". He recommends that SA askreceiving countries for their numbers of SA immigrants so as toobtain more accurate data for planning.

UDM calls on Mbeki to fire Buthelezi(Cape Town, Sapa, 06/04) - The United DemocraticMovement on Friday called on President Thabo Mbeki to fire HomeAffairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, following a damning reporton the home affairs department. UDM home affairs spokeswomanAnnelize van Wyk said the report - tabled in Parliament onThursday by the Public Service Commission (PSC) - was such aserious charge against Buthelezi and the department that theminister should be removed from his position. "If President(Thabo) Mbeki does not take serious and decisive action, he willmake a mockery of his own promises of delivery," Van Wyksaid. In the report, the PSC strongly criticised the home affairsdepartment, saying it needed to learn to deliver an acceptablelevel of service within a limited budget. It said the departmentwould not achieve the required efficiency levels withoutfundamentally rethinking and changing the way it did business.The PSC said the department had all the financial and humanresource management policies and procedures it needed in place,but "lapses in adherence to these" had occurred."These (lapses) are ascribed to the integrity of theindividuals involved, and the dubiousness which arises when rulesare perceived as hampering effective service delivery."Referring to the department's anti-corruption unit, the PSC saidit lacked capacity, and was largely unable to deliver on itsmandate. The department should embark on a "fundamentalre-engineering of all its business processes". Van Wyk said:"After seven years in this position, the politicalappointment of Minister Buthelezi should now make way forefficiency." In his reaction, Democratic Alliance spokesmanMike Waters said the department deserved criticism for itsperformance as an employer. It was intolerable a governmentdepartment did not comply with employment procedures, he said."Time frames for the filling of vacancies must beimplemented and adhered to, to bring an end to the currentsituation in which employees are expected to shoulder extra workloads while the department procrastinates endlessly in theplacement of new people." This would immediately address thestress and resentment among personnel, which undoubtedly causedlow morale and high absenteeism, Waters said.

Govt plans to stem teacher flight, saysAsmal (Cape Town, Dispatch Online, 05/04) - South Africa plans to enter into an agreement withBritain on the recruitment of teachers, Education Minister KaderAsmal has told the National Assembly. Replying to a question fromJohan Horne (NNP), Asmal said the government knew that a largenumber of qualified teachers had left the profession and thismight impact on the quality of teaching, particularly in theareas of mathematics, the sciences, accounting and technology.The government was aware that recruitment agencies from developedcountries had been actively involved in the recruitment of SouthAfrican teachers. "In most instances these arewell-qualified and experienced teachers". "Clearly thisis a most unfortunate situation, but we are a democratic countryand we cannot prevent teachers from leaving." He had agreedwith his British counterpart, David Blunkett, that an agreementwould be reached. "Such an agreement would includepreferential recruitment of unemployed and newly qualifiedteachers; the avoidance of recruitment in shortage subjects,recruitment for a specific period after which the teachers wouldreturn to South Africa and a contribution by the host country toteachers' development," Asmal said.

SA is halting the brain drain, says Zuma(Cape Town, The Star, 03/04) - The government believesit is taking adequate measures to counter the brain drain ofinformation technology professionals. In the National Council ofProvinces on Tuesday, Democratic Party MP Celia-Sandra Bothaasked whether the presidency was taking steps to reverse theflow, and whether an assessment had been made about the loss ofskills. Deputy President Jacob Zuma said the government was doingenough to make South Africa's economy competitive toprofessionals.

Strategy to protect tourists (Sapa,02/04) - A comprehensive strategy to deal with touristsfalling victims to crime will be developed by the department ofenvironmental affairs and tourism. Minister Valli Moosa said at aworkshop on Monday on the improvement of tourist safety in SouthAfrica that all citizens should become involved in marketing thecountry. The workshop was organised by the department and theCrime Prevention Research Resources Centre. The goal of theworkshop is to define and determine the roles andresponsibilities of those contributing towards a safer and secureenvironment for travellers, the resources centre said in astatement. "Crime levels and the crimes involving touristshave made a comprehensive strategy to deal with tourist safety animportant issue. "The department has undertaken to develop anational framework in collaboration with all roleplayers to allowfor a co-ordinated response to tourism-related crime within thecontext of the national crime prevention strategy," thecentre said. The workshop was attended by experts in tourism,crime prevention and marketing. Other issues on the agendaincluded the role of technology (surveillance) in touristprotection, as well as pilot projects in key centres which offerevidence of crime reduction, improve perceptions of safety andsupport tourists who fall victims to crime.

Tanzania

EU to send humanitarian aid toTanzania to help refugee problem there (Brussels, Sapa-AP, 20/04)- The European Union said Friday it will send euros 32million (dlrs 29 million) in humanitarian assistance to Tanzania,which continues to deal with the largest refugee population inAfrica. The EU's head office said Tanzania currently hosts overhalf a million refugees, of which more than 370,000 areBurundians and 110,000 Congolese. Most refugees have been placedin 14 camps located in the western part of the East Africancountry, which borders the nations of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi andUganda, all of which have been embroiled in conflict in recentyears. The EU said refugee numbers were likely to remain high inthe next years, "given the continuing instability in theregion." The money will be distributed through the EU'shumanitarian aid office, ECHO, which will fund essential needssuch as shelter, food, medicines, sanitation, and education.

France to donate food for Tanzaniarefugees (Dar Es Salaam, AFP, 14/04) - France is todonate 5,000 tonnes of food to the UN food agency to feedrefugees in Tanzania, the French embassy here said. The donationfollows an appeal by the World Food Programme (WFP) which hasbeen forced in recent months to reduce food rations to therefugees because of insufficient supplies. "It is the wishof the government of France to see the massive malnutritioncrisis looming avoided," said the embassy in a statementissued late on Thursday. The food will be distributed to refugeesfrom the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundiliving in camps in Tanzania. Tanzania hosts more than 500,000refugees who fled war in the neighbouring countries.

Tanzania contemplates tourismimpact survey (Dar Es Salaam, Pana, 12/04) - Tanzaniaplans to conduct a six-month study to determine the impact of itstourism industry in the national economy. Tourism director SalehPamba Thursday said the 170-million Tanzanian shilling project (1US dollar = 887 Tsh), scheduled to begin early next month, wouldbe undertaken by the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism incollaboration with the country's Central Bank. The majorobjective of the nation-wide survey would be to uncover financialleakages in the sector, he said. "Although most of thetourism attractions belong to government, it earns very littlerevenue compared to tour operators and travel agents," Pambasaid. "The study," he added, "will also try tofind out where and how funds collected by travel agents and otherstakeholders is invested." Planned to cover about 90,000tourists, who would be interviewed at entry points and at placesthey visit, the tourism impact-assessment survey would alsoenvelop 600 tourist establishments in the country. Stakeholdersin the industry have been complaining that tour operators andtravel agents, who remit small amounts of money to thegovernment, take a huge chunk of the sector's revenue thatcontributes 12 per cent of the GDP. Official records show thatTanzania's earnings from tourism have increased from 259.44million US dollars in 1995 to 733.28 million dollars in 1999,making the industry a major foreign exchange earner in the EastAfrica country. In its recently reviewed master plan Tanzania,which boasts of abundant natural wealth and beauty in Africa,plans to star-grade its hotels in line with internationallyrecognised standards to boost its booming tourism. In addition tograding of hotels, the government also plans an internationalhotel training curriculum in Tanzania's tourism schools tosatisfy hotel operators, who have been complaining about thequality of locally trained manpower.

UNHCR asks Tanzania to listZanzibari exiles (Dar Es Salaam, AFP, 08/04) - The UNHCRhas called on Tanzania to reveal which Zanzibari asylum seekersface prosecution for participating in a banned demonstration, sothat other refugees can freely return home. "It is thesovereign responsibility of Tanzania to decide who will be put ontrial," UNHCR chief Ruud Lubbers told a news conference lateon Friday. "If you let us know who in your opinion haveviolated laws and you want to put on trial, then we'll know howmany people can return," the head of the UN refugee agencysaid. "For those who may be put on trial, maybe they mightthink that time is not ready for them to return, but the majorityof those who have not violated any law can return easily,"Lubbers added. Riots during illegal demonstrations on the islandof Pemba in the semi-autonomous offshore state of Zanzibar killedat least 33 people on January 27. Protesters on Pemba werecalling for a rerun of last year's elections which returnedTanzania's long-ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM - RevolutionaryParty) to power in Zanzibar, which has its own government andlegislature. The opposition Civic United Front (CUF) said morethan 50 people were killed. In Dar Es Salaam, Lubbers said thebest solution for about 2,000 Tanzanians exiled in Kenya, most ofthem from from Pemba, was to return to home. But he reiteratedthat they needed to be guaranteed immunity from criminal charges."The few who may face criminal charges may choose to remainin Kenya and be moved to permanent refugee camps or resettled ina third country," Lubbers said. Tanzanian President BenjaminMkapa told Lubbers earlier Friday that the asylum seekers werefree to return home without fear of prosecution. "There isno cause for those in exile to fear for their lives, since thereare other 300,000 people on Pemba island right now carrying outtheir daily activities normally," Mkapa told Lubbers, who isa four day visit here. Lubbers is to tour the Mtabila andMuyovosi refugee camps in Tanzania's western region of Kigoma onSaturday, and will meet representatives of Burundian andDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC) refugees to get their views ontheir prospects for repatriation. Lubbers will then travel toBujumbura on Sunday for talks with Burundian President PierreBuyoya on the repatriation plans. He said DRC refugees would berepatriated, but not until peace was restored in the war-torncountry. On the other hand, Rwandan refugees have not expressedtheir desire to return home, despite the situation in Rwandabeing "relatively stable." Tanzania hosts more than525,000 refugees from mainly Burundi, Rwanda, DRC and Somalia.

UN plans repatriation of Congoleserefugees in Tanzania (People's Daily, 07/04) - TheUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Fridayexpressed its optimism over the possibility of repatriating therefugees of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) shelteredin Tanzania as the situation in their home country is improving.Speaking to reporters here, Ruud Lubbers, the visiting U.N. HighCommissioner for Refugees, said the developments in the DRC arevery positive and the U.N. agency is planning for therepatriation of its refugees in Tanzania. "We have startedto be a bit pro-active. We're planning for therepatriation," said the UNHCR boss, who arrived Thursday fora four-day visit. Lubbers met with Tanzanian President BenjaminMkapa Friday and is scheduled to visit refugee camps in westernTanzania Saturday to see the Burundian and Congolese refugees."I thank the president and the home affairs minister for thehospitality of Tanzania for refugees for a long time," hesaid, adding, "we do hope very much that we really see now apeace process in the DRC, which will give opportunity to a numberof people to go home." "We are not only there to takecare of refugees, but to try to find solutions. And the bestsolution always is that people can go home to where they comefrom," Lubbers added. "We'll try to explain (to theBurundian government) that refugees going back will not be aburden for Burundi, but in fact an investment in peace and in thefuture of the country," he said, when commenting on thepeace process in Burundi. According to the latest UNHCRstatistics, as at March 31, 2001, about 528,000 refugees,including 380,000 Burundians, 115,000 Congolese and 28,000Rwandans were hosted by Tanzania, a country most seriouslyaffected by refugee flows in the Great Lakes Region. Last yearthe country saw an flow-in of more than 90,000 refugees, thestatistics said.

Mwinyi warns against doctors'exodus (The Express Online, 05/04) - The flight ofdoctors from Tanzania to greener pastures abroad is threateningto undermine health care development in one of the poorestcountries on earth, former president Ally Hassan Mwinyi haswarned. Mwinyi, who pioneered the country’s transformationfrom a socialist economy to free market during his decade’srule from 1985, was speaking in the capital Dar es Salaam duringthe opening of the Annual General Meeting of the Association forPhysicians for Tanzania, held at Sheraton Hotel last week.“In Tanzania, the number of doctors is not yet enough toprovide adequate services,” Mwinyi said, noting that the gapbetween the numbers of doctors needed and those that areavailable was quite large. According to statistics from UnitedStates’ Central Intelligent Agency (CIA), Tanzania has apopulation of 35 million and there is one doctor for 30,000people. “This situation is made worse by doctors who leavethe country for green pastures beyond our borders. I do realisethat the government has attempted to address this problem byincreasing the salaries for doctors as much as it could andallowing them to work in the private health facilities,”Mwinyi said. Noting that among the leading diseases in thecountry that require attention of doctors and specialists is theHIV infection/ AIDS, the former president urged medicalprofessionals to be more publicly engaged in the ongoing fightagainst the disease. The estimate of HIV-infected in the countryis three million while there are 500,000 full-blown cases ofAIDS.  However, Dr. Rajendra Maharaj, Deputy Director atVectorborne Disease department of Health in South Africa, saidanother disease which is threatening the SADC countries isMalaria and noted that Tanzania is leading with 2million cases.Malaria not only affects the health of a nation but also imposesvery significant economic costs to some of the poorest countriesin the Southern countries where the treatment cost per annum isTsh 30,672 million, he indicated. The private health sector hasdeveloped rapidly over the past few years. It is important tomaintain the private-public partnership in this sector andexperiences must be shared for the mutual benefit and for thebenefit of the patients, Mwinyi urged. 

Zambia

Angolan refugees continue to arrive(Nairobi, Irin, 25/04) - Angolan refugees are continuingto cross into Zambia to escape fighting between government forcesand UNITA rebels, UNHCR told IRIN on Tuesday. UNHCR spokesmanKelvin Shimo said that 200 refugees entered northwestern Zambiaon Friday. They were fleeing a "mercurial" militarysituation in eastern Angola centred around the border towns ofKalipande and Kamene. In March, some 1,000 Angolans arrived inZambia from Angola's eastern Moxico province, following a lull ofseveral months in new arrivals. Shimo said UNHCR was coping withthe influx, but it was "putting a strain on ourresources". The refugees are being settled at Maheba camp inwestern Zambia.

More Angolan refugees arrive (Nairobi,Irin, 19/04) - More than 260 Angolan refugees crossedthe border and looked around for shelter and food in Zambianvillages in the past four days. Quoting a Thursday 'Times ofZambia' report, the Xinhua news agency reported that the latestarrivals had increased to about 800 the number of Angolans whosought refuge in Zambia in the past three weeks. Zambia's NorthWestern Province Permanent Secretary, Maybin Mubanga, was quotedas saying on Wednesday in Solwezi, the provincial capital, thatbetween 60 and 70 Angolan refugees were entering Zambia every daythrough the strategic border town of Mwinilunga. The refugeesfled Angola mainly due to the prolonged civil war betweengovernment troops and rebel forces, and the worsening starvationsituation in the country, Mubanga was quoted as saying. A totalof 190,000 Angolan refugees were in Zambia, according to thereport, in addition to more than 60,000 from the DemocraticRepublic of the Congo and other neighboring countries.

DRC refugees riot in Zambia over foodshortages (Lusaka, Sapa-AFP, 15/04) - A food riot byhundreds of refugees and former soldiers from the DemocraticRepublic of Congo (DRC) at a camp in northern Zambia has left oneperson dead. About 28 other people were injured during theclashes on Friday between the refugees demanding increased foodrations and Zambian police officers at Kala refugee camp. 16people were arrested and charged for riotous behaviour. Policespokesperson Lemmy Kajoba said police were forced to fire teargasto disperse the rioters. Kajoba said the rioting refugees damagedthree police vehicles, adding that the 16 arrested were expectedto appear in court soon. People fleeing wars in the neighboringDRC and Angola have poured into Zambia, which now hosts more than250 000 refugees, the largest refugee population in southernAfrica. In December, Ilunga Ngandu, regional director for the UNHigh Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), admitted that funding forrefugees was inadequate, warning that Zambia was a "timebomb". Early this year, a visiting UNHCR assistant highcommissioner, Soren Jessen-Petersen, said it was a "very bigburden" for impoverished Zambia to host so many refugees."Zambia needs urgent international support," he said.Food shortages in refugee camps had prompted inmates to invadenearby Zambian villages to steal crops belonging to localcommunities.

UNHCR studies repatriation of refugees toDRC (Lusaka, The Post, 12/04) - United Nations HighCommission for Refugees (UNHCR) is closely monitoring therelative peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a view torepatriating the refugees currently in Zambia. UNHCR officer-in-charge for Lusaka George Obbo yesterday said his organisationhad started studying the possibility of repatriation as peace wasslowly starting to hold. However, Obbo said there have been newrefugee arrivals coming through North- Western Province and werebeing taken to Meheba refugee resettlement camp. And speakingduring the three nations' seminar in Siavonga, Obbo said due tothe sheer size of the caseload in Zambia, 99 per cent of therefugees were residing in designated areas in Northern,North-Western and Western parts of the country. He said Zambiacurrently hosts 260,000 refugees with 14,000 residing in urbanareas. Opening the seminar involving Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawion refugees, home affairs permanent secretary Peter Mwamfuli saidZambia had faced difficulties in the registration of refugees asnationals because of their mass exodus. "Complex massinfluxes comprising persons with a military background formed amajor pre-occupation of the government in the preceding year andindeed it challenged the current frameworks under which refugeestatus determination is conducted," Mwamfuli said. Heannounced that due to the evolving nature of the refugee problemin Zambia, it had become apparent to the government that currentlegislation on refugees did not adequately respond to the needsand therefore plans were underway to repeal and replace thelegislation pertaining to refugees. Obbo explained that therecent food riots by refugees in Mayukwayukwa camp in WesternProvince were caused by the reduction in rations. "In thelast two months we have had an instability in the food pipelineand over the last two months we were not able to provide therefugees with full ration which caused food tension and riotingin Mayukwayukwa," he said. According to the UNHCR foodrations, the refugees are entitled to 13.5 kgs of maize, 3.5 kgsof beans, 300 grams of salt, 600 millilitres of cooking oil permonth. Obbo said the problem has since been resolved.

Angolan government troops among refugees(Nairobi, Irin, 03/04) - Angolan government troops wereamong a group of Angolan refugees who fled into northwesternZambia last week, a spokesman for the Zambian ministry of defencetold IRIN on Tuesday. "The exact number are not yet known.But the men have been disarmed and we are entering intonegotiations with the Angolan government about theirrepatriation," the official said. Kelvin Shimo, UNHCR'sspokesman in Lusaka, told IRIN on Monday that 657 Angolanrefugees had entered Zambia's Northwestern province from Angola'sMoxico region after an attack by UNITA rebels on governmentmilitary positions. Shimo said the refugees were currently beingtransported to the Maheba refugee camp. Meanwhile, news reportson Tuesday said that Zambian Foreign Minister Keli Walubita wasin Angola for talks with his counterpart Joao Miranda duringwhich security issues along the common border would be discussed.

Zimbabwe

Health sector records massive brain drain(Nairobi, Irin, 10/04) - More than 100 doctors and about18,000 nurses have left Zimbabwe for greener pastures since 1998,leaving the country's health delivery system on the brink ofcollapse, the 'Daily News' reported on Tuesday. Timothy Stamps,the minister of health and child welfare, confirmed the braindrain of medical professionals to Britain, Australia and otherEnglish-speaking countries. "It's not just doctors leaving,we are also losing pharmacists, physiotherapists, medicallaboratory technologists and paediatricians to mention only afew," said Stamps. "The whole of the health sector isbeing preyed upon by agencies from the English-speaking part ofthe world. There is generally a strong attraction to go for jobswhich pay well," Stamps added. According to a governmentreport for 1998, there were 569 established posts for generaldoctors, but only 462 of them were taken up, leaving 107 postsvacant. Zimbabwean health professionals are reportedly leavingthe country in droves because of poor remuneration, workingconditions and lack of medical equipment. Sibert Mandega, thepresident of the Hospital Doctors' Association (HDA), said:"There is a great outflux of doctors because they arefrustrated. We are working so hard, but paid peanuts." Lastmonth, junior doctors across the country went on strike pressingfor on-call allowances, clarification of the employment statusand better communication with their employer, the Public ServiceCommission. Last year, Britain announced plans to recruit morethan 21,000 nurses from other countries.

This page last updated 09 July 2004.