SOUTHERN AFRICAN MIGRATION PROJECT

Migration News - August 2001

Click here for archives

Click here for current news

AUGUST 2001 - Click on the country titleabove the headlines for the entire article.

Regional:
Recruiting of teachersfor UK
Region readies for Zimbabwe refugees
Focus on regional border trade
Brain drain poses threat to SADC economies
SADC refugee problem on the rise
Brain drain hurts poverty alleviation, says IOM
New initiative to tackle regional brain drain

Angola:
More refugees enter DRC
Death toll in ambush of refugee train to 252
Report on plight of refugees
Thirteen Zambians held hostage in Angola
New refugee influx in Cuanza Norte
Angolan opposition charges irregularities in relocation of 60,000
Angolan refugees to be repatriated

DRC:
UNHCR begins transfer of Angolan refugees
Angolan refugees continue to arrive in DRC
More Angolan refugees enter DRC

Lesotho:
Queen comments employment of locals at UN

South Africa:
Policing of the eastern border
Immigration Bill inadequate, says CDE
ID fraud costing banks R6bn a year
South Africa ready to deal with any Zimbabwean influx
Foreign crime rings 'smashed'
Home Affairs clamps down on syndicates selling ID's
Zulu king slams foreigners for 'taking jobs'
Discrimination against black non-citizens
Constitutionality of Immigration Bill questioned
South Africa braces for Zimbabwean refugees
Police swoop on Hillbrow drug dens
Conflict between Minister and Director-General of Home Affairs
SAHRC and Home Affairs inpublic spat over xenophobia
Buthelezi gets a public scolding from SAHRC
No influx of Zimbabwean asylum seekers claims Home Affairs
Home Affairs probes Beit Bridge crime syndicate
Police brutality trial postponed
Xenophobia on the rise in South Africa says survey
Mozambican migrants trampled by elephants
Home Affairs in red-tape knot
Burundian stowaways brought ashore in South Africa
No agreement yet on SA-Namibia border
Home Affairs to clamp down on employers of undocumented migrants
Alarming gap as medics quit SA
Malawian wins right to stay
SAHRC to monitor extradition of Zimbabweans
Price of imported skills in spotlight
Insurance men have to prove citizenship in court

Zambia:
Students living onthe border attend Malawian schools
Fresh refugee influx
War veterans close Zambia border
Zambia jails 12 soldiers for illegal entry
Security fears among refugees
UNHCR tackles HIV/AIDS in refugee camps
Police blame increased crime figures on refugees

Zimbabwe:
Forced removal of farmworkers
New farm disruptions displace 2,500 Zimbabwe families
Mugabe rejects reported plan to expel whites
Mugabe aims to evict all whites, claims report
UK plans evacuation of nationals
White South Africans refused work permits

Regional

Recruiting of teachers for UK (BBCNews, 30/08) - UK schools which recruitteachers from overseas in a desperate bid to fill vacancies are"sucking vital resources" from the world's poorestchildren, a charity has claimed. The Voluntary Service Overseas(VSO) believes at least 1,000 teachers have come to the UK fromdeveloping countries in the last 12 months. But children indeveloping countries were often in classes of 100 with just oneteachers, VSO said. "Our own teacher shortage pales incomparison with those in countries such as India, Namibia,Nigeria and South Africa, where UK teacher recruitment agenciesare able to recruit aggressively, unchecked and unbound byguidelines or regulations," the charity said. In Februarythe South African Government criticised the UK for poaching itsbest teachers. Education Minister Kadar Asmal said Britishrecruiters were "raiding" the country's resources at acrucial time in the nation's development. VSO is now calling onthe Department for Education to issue a code of practice forschools and recruitment agencies. "The morality of lootingteachers from developing countries is being lost in the fervourto fill our own classrooms," said VSO chief executive MarkGoldring. "Try telling one of the 40 million Indian childrenwho have no access to education that British children are moredeserving of an Indian teacher's skills." "It ismadness to be investing in India's education system via theDepartment of International Development and yet sanctioning - bydefault - the extraction of the very teachers needed to buildit," said Mr Goldring. The Department for Education said:"We do not support taking teachers from a region where thatwould damage its long-term development". "We haverecently worked with the South African Government to ensure bothcountries benefit from an international sharing of bestpractice," said a department spokeswoman. The government wasdeveloping a quality mark scheme for agencies and localauthorities supplying schools with temporary teachers. This wouldnot be awarded to organisations who engaged in unethicalrecruitment practices at home or overseas, she stressed."Our primary focus remains on delivering policies thatattract and retain teachers from this country," thespokeswoman said. Overseas teachers who came to UK schools madean important contribution to those schools and were wellqualified, she added.

Region readies for Zimbabwe refugees(The Financial Gazette, 23/08) - SouthAfrica, the likely destination of most Zimbabweans should theyflee their country, is reportedly planning a tented refugee campat Beit Bridge on its border with Zimbabwe. Mozambique’sGaza regional government was this week said to be making similarpreparations at the port city of Beira while Botswana was lookingat providing food and temporary shelter near its Caprivi Stripborder with Zimbabwe. Heather Pretorius, the first secretary atSouth Africa’s high commission in Harare, confirmed Pretoriawas considering such contingencies but said the embassy did nothave any further details about these plans. "South Africa isnot in a position to speak on behalf of Mozambique and Botswana,but contingency plans are being considered by South Africa,"Pretorius told the Financial Gazette yesterday. MmamosadinynaMolefe, a counsellor at Botswana’s Harare high commission,said she was not aware of any preparations to receive refugeesfrom Zimbabwe by the Gaborone authorities. No comment could beobtained from Mozambique’s embassy, where the ambassador andall senior staff were said to be in Maputo. Foreign AffairsMinister Stan Mudenge and his permanent secretary Willard Chiweweand information director Jonathan Wutawunashe were out of Harareyesterday on tour of Mashonaland West province and could not becontacted. Fears that Zimbabwe could explode because of adeepening political and economic crisis gathered momentum thisweek as it emerged that a Commonwealth mission that had beenbanked on to resolve the crisis had hit a snag over its mandate.The panel is led by Nigeria. Diplomatic sources said PresidentRobert Mugabe and his government were adamant that the missionshould confine itself strictly to the quarrel between Britain andZimbabwe over funding of land reforms in the African country. Butthe other countries in the seven-nation Commonwealth mission,including South Africa and Britain, are insisting that the panelexamines Mugabe’s controversial land reforms as well as hisfailure to uphold the rule of law. "It is important that theCommonwealth ministers address all issues of concern in Zimbabwe,not just the land issue. Any programme of land reform would beunsustainable unless carried out on the basis of the rule of lawand sound economics," a spokesman for the British highcommission in Harare said. Pretorius said: "South Africaagrees with other Commonwealth countries that it is not only theland issue that needs to be discussed, but also problemscontributing in this area ¾ that is the rule of law and the(independence of the) judiciary and the media. "South Africabelieves that democratic principles should be adhered to ¾ thatis respect of private property and title deeds." SouthAfrica’s President Thabo Mbeki admitted three weeks ago thathis quiet diplomacy had failed to move Mugabe off hiscontroversial policies that have plunged the once prosperouscountry into chaos. But Mbeki, southern Africa’s powerbroker, said he was now banking on the Common wealth mission tofind a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis. The 14-nation SouthernAfrica Development Community (SADC), at its summit last week,also tasked Mbeki, Botswana’s President Festus Mogae andMozambique’s President Joacquim Chissano to compliment theCommonwealth initiative and liaise with Mugabe at presidentiallevel to defuse the crisis. The Commonwealth mission bringingtogether the foreign ministers of Britain, South Africa, Kenya,Jamaica, Australia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe could not meet on August16 2001 as had been planned. Media reports quoted the convenorsof the meeting as saying it had not taken place because of theproblem of availability of the ministers. But sources this weeksaid the real problem was that no agreement could be reached onthe agenda of the meeting. A Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ministryofficial, speaking to this newspaper by telephone from Abuja thisweek, would not deny or confirm that the meeting had flopped overthe agenda. But the official conceded: "Obviously they haveto agree on the agenda first." With the Commonwealthinitiative unlikely to provide a solution soon enough and theUnited States (US) government likely to impose sanctions onHarare, there are fears now within both SADC and the Commonwealththat Mugabe could declare a state of emergency and even cancelthe presidential. The US Senate has already a Bill that imposessanctions on Mugabe and his officials such as freezing theiroverseas assets and bank accounts and barring them fromtravelling to the US. The Bill will now come before the full USCongress, where it is expected to be approved by next month andthen signed into law by President George W Bush. The EuropeanUnion is also considering similar smart sanctions against Mugabeand top officials of his government and the army. It is fearedthat the imposition of sanctions, plus a looming shortage ofbread and the staple maize meal, could spark unrest which couldforce many Zimbabweans to flee into neigbhouring countries.According to the sources, the defence forces of Mozambique, SouthAfrica and Botswana are already accumulating food, temporaryhousing and other survival equipment that could be rapidly put atthe service of fleeing Zimbabweans. Mugabe has been accused offomenting violence by allowing his supporters to seizewhite-owned commercial farms, of suspending the rule of law andof cracking down on the independent media and the judiciary. Hedenies this and says his land reforms, though judged illegal bythe Supreme Court, are aimed at addressing colonial imbalances inthe ownership of the land. But many Zimbabweans say the landreforms are nothing but a front to intimidate voters and theopposition ahead of a critical presidential election Mugabe couldlose to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The poll is dueearly next year.

Focus on regional border trade (Irin,11/08) - An IRIN focus report this week looked at thecross-border trade between Zambia and Angola. Historically,Angola's remote eastern provinces of Moxico and Cuando Cubangohave been rebel strongholds. UNITA soldiers share kinship tieswith communities across the border in Zambia, and up untilAngolan independence in 1975, Lusaka backed Jonas Savimbi's rebelmovement. The unsubstantiated stories in Mongu - 280 km away -are of senior UNITA officers seen shopping for supplies, and thealleged endurance of the unofficial links between UNITA andsenior Zambian officials has been repeatedly protested by Luanda.Shangombo, in western Zambia, is one of the places along the longborder where UNITA-mined diamonds are brought into Zambia andtraded. It is difficult to get an accurate assessment of thescale of a business which, as a subject of internationalsanctions and Angola's extreme annoyance, is necessarilyclandestine. But official sources who asked to remain anonymoustold IRIN that the trade this year has been modest, with onlysmall, low quality stones available and in most cases no buyerswere found. What passes for legitimate trade in Shangombo ismostly barter. Officially, around 20 or 30 Angolan peasants aweek cross into the town to grind their corn or sell maize,sometimes swapped for second-hand clothes. Previously, rebelswould also come in for medical treatment or to buy drugs. Butwhat is clear from the two-hour bone-rattling journey in a 4x4from the Zambian settlement of Nangweshi on the western bank ofthe Zambezi river to Shangombo, is that people do slip across theporous border. And judging by the way they dart into the bushwhen approached, would prefer to remain undetected. "Thereare too many spontaneous refugees in the area, and we are afraidbecause we don't know what they are carrying - they could becarrying weapons," Shangombo's District AdministratorDominic Simuchinga told IRIN. "They are very free, they movefrom the refugee camps, do some odd jobs, but really we don'tknow what they are doing." He admitted that the localauthorities, despite the bolstered presence of the Zambian armyalong the border, were "intimidated" by UNITA, who inthe past have abducted Zambian villagers. "If we say nobodycan cross there could be trouble for us," Simuchinga saidflatly. Another government official noted that Zambia was"trying to maintain our neutrality" by avoiding contactwith the rebels all together. "The [military] situation isnot as good as we would want, in fact it's bad,"acknowledged Manuel Armando Chibia, deputy consul in the Angolanconsulate in Zambia's western provincial capital of Mongu."Moxico's population is very small and the province is veryvast. It makes it very difficult to control the borderareas." An IRIN focus report on Zambian-Angolan cross-bordertrade can be found at:http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/zambia/20010809.phtml

Brain drain poses threat to SADCeconomies (Johannesburg, Business Day, 07/08) - Experts call for regional and integrated approach toprotect and develop community's skills base and draw investors.The Southern African Development Community (SADC) faces a skillsshortage that threatens to hinder much-needed economic growth inthe region. While skills migration is a global problem, thereality is that it is more acute in poor and developingcountries. According to experts, the best way to deal with theproblem is through an integrated and holistic regional approach.Last week, the SA Institute of International Relations hosted aconference on skills migration in southern Africa. The institutesaid: "The depletion of skilled labour poses seriouschallenges for regional economies, especially in terms of globalcompetitiveness." Debate about the shortage of skilledlabour in SA has been raging for a while, with some commentatorswarning that it has reached crisis proportions. Labour departmentdirectorgeneral Rams Ramashia spoke recently about the importanceof retaining and building SA's skills base. Ramashia said thiswas an important prerequisite for foreign investment. SallyPeberdy, a project manager at the Southern African MigrationProject, said that the problem of skills shortages and migrationof skills was not a new phenomenon in SA. "Not everyonewants to (emigrate) and the people who do think about it do notnecessarily act on it," said Peberdy. "We need toaddress issues that make people want to leave. "This loss ofskills is ongoing (but) there is still time to put in place astrong preventative or recovery strategy." However, Peberdysaid: "The country is not about to collapse in a sudden lossof skills, as has been presented sometimes." The exchange ofskills between SADC member countries could help to strengthen theregion and stem the brain drain, she said. According to Peberdy:"Research suggests that the SADC needs to celebrate theinteraction of skills. That includes (the skills of) people whocome from outside (the SADC region)." Nhlanhla Nxumalo, aprogramme officer in the SADC's sector co-ordinating unit inSwaziland, said that the challenge facing the region was todevelop and retain its human resources base in order to"have a competitive advantage in the increasinglyglobalising labour market". Nxumalo said HIV/AIDS would havean adverse effect on the skills base of the region. "Wecannot talk about the depletion of skills in the SADC withoutmaking mention of the HIV/AIDS pandemic," he said. Nxumalosaid AIDS-related deaths "continue to strike predominantlyat individuals in midcareer". A rising mortality rate istherefore likely to be pronounced in the case of people withhighly specialised skills. The challenge was for the SADC regionto respond to the problem in an integrated way. In hisstate-of-the-nation address in February, President Thabo Mbekiannounced a government plan to recruit skilled workers fromabroad. This plan was welcomed by Ann Bernstein, executivedirector of the Centre for Development and Enterprise. However,Bernstein cautioned against the intention of the plan, known asthe Human Resource Development Strategy, to recruit "onlyapproved skills". She said: "In the context of SA'sdeepening skills crisis, why will we recruit only skilled peopleafter various interests have told us that they are short ofpeople." Bernstein said SA should recruit "any skilled,entrepreneurial and honest person who would like to come and workhere". The Centre for Development and Enterprise has askedgovernment to pass "the necessary immigration legislation asa matter of urgency and to make sure that it is unambiguouslywelcoming to all skilled foreigners". The centre, a privatesectorfunded think-tank, said SA should stem the emigration ofhighly skilled South Africans, "not through restrictions butby addressing the issues that most concern skilled people leavingthe country". Sanusha Naidu, a senior researcher at the SAInstitute of International Relations, said attempts at addressingthe skills migration problem needed to be accompanied by a"broad forum for consultation and should not be confined togovernment". The Immigration Bill, which is intended to makeit easier for people with skills to enter the SA job market, iscurrently being debated in Parliament.

SADC refugee problem on the rise(Irin, 07/08) - The global refugee population inSouthern Africa is on the rise according to an UNHCR statementreleased on Friday. The number of new asylum seekers in theregion has increased by 7.8 percent over the first six months of2001, from 320,563 to 345,720. The increase is even higher at 9.6percent if one includes the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)and Tanzania, which are also part of the Southern AfricanDevelopment Community (SADC) and together host 72 percent of thearea's refugees. The report noted that the upward trend is mainlydue to protracted crises in the region showing little signs ofrespite, such as the Angolan civil conflict and the slow progressin the DRC and Burundi peace processes. In Zambia alone, newarrivals over the past six months total 17,900 DRC refugees and9,100 Angolan refugees. Existing camps and settlements have beenextended, sometimes stretching beyond their capacity. Despite theongoing peace process in the DRC, arrivals of Congolese intoNorthern Zambia have increased again recently to about 200 perweek, after regressing for several months. This may be explainedby the fact that people fear further violence in the wake of theretreat of foreign armies. There is also still a steady trickleinto Zambia of Angolans from Moxico and Cuando Cubango provinces.The global increase in Southern Africa is particularly sharp incountries with traditionally small refugee populations likeZimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. In Zimbabwe, the refugeepopulation more than doubled from 4,127 to 8,416 between Januaryand June this year, and Mozambique, saw an increase of 85percent, from 2,278 to 4,216, while new arrivals in Malawi roseby 23 percent, from 3,900 to 4,810. The three countries continuereceiving a small but regular inflow of asylum seekers from theGreat Lakes (DRC, Rwanda and Burundi), including Rwandans who mayhave been on the move since the 1994 genocide, circulatingthrough other countries before reaching Southern Africa. Thenumber of Burundi refugees in Southern Africa however remainssmall (5,630, of which 2,008 are in Zambia) compared tostaggering numbers in Tanzania (388,502) and the DRC (19,775). InNamibia the global refugee population has so far increased by 9percent in 2001. However, new arrivals, mainly from Angola, havedropped to 300 per month on average, down from 500 last year.This drop could be attributed to heavy rains, flooded rivers andthe possible blocking of safe refugee routes into Namibia byvarious armed forces. Namibia's refugee population grew by 60percent in 2000 and has now reached 30,635 at the end of June2001.

Brain drain hurts povertyalleviation, says IOM (Business Day, 03/08) - THEbrain drain of highly skilled professionals from Africa tooverseas opportunities was making economic growth and povertyalleviation almost impossible across the continent, theGenevabased International Organisation for Migration saidyesterday. Every year 23000 graduates leave Africa for overseas,mainly Europe. Emigration from SA alone is estimated to have costthe country R67,8bn in lost human capital since 1997, andretarded economic growth. "Long-term economic growth cannotbe achieved by primarily exporting natural resources," saidKatrin Cowan-Louw, an assistant programme officer of theorganisation. The shortage of a highly qualified middle classencouraged poor governance, rights abuses, corruption andundemocratic political systems. One of the worst examples ofbrain drain is Zambia. A few years ago it had 1600 doctors, butnow only 400 are in practice. SA is experiencing a growing braindrain to more developed English-speaking countries. The reasonsmost frequently given by skilled professionals for theirdeparture are crime, low salaries, limited prospects foradvancement and a deteriorating medical infrastructure. Officialstatistics show 10000 people emigrated from SA last year, butmany others leave without making an official declaration.Unofficial estimates put the number of emigrating professionalsat three times that stated by government. A study by theParisbased Institute for Development Research of emigration tothe UK, US, New Zealand, Canada and Australia estimated 233609people left SA for these countries between 1987 and 1997, 41000of them professionals.

New initiative to tackle regionalbrain drain (Johannesburg, Irin, 01/08) - A newproject to stem the tide of skilled migrants from southern Africawas unveiled on Wednesday in Johannesburg. Sponsored by theInternational Organisation for Migration (IOM), the schemecentres around bringing diaspora skills and capital back to theregion to promote sustainable development. "This is aboutmuch more than just bringing qualified Africans back to theircountry of origin," Katrin Cowan-Louw of IOM told IRIN."That had been tried, but with only moderate success, mainlybecause of the expense involved," she added. The IOM'sReturn of Qualified African Nationals (ROQAN) initiative, whichran from 1993-1998 and was funded primarily by the EU,successfully placed 2,000 skilled Africans back in targetedcountries, but ran into funding difficulties due to the high costof repatriation. The 'Migration for Development' initiative wouldbe different, Cowan-Louw said. "We're looking at threepossibilities here; temporary return' virtual return and economicreturn," she said. The scheme allows skilled Africansworking abroad to contribute to the development of their homecountries without giving up the better salaries and lifestylesthat they left to pursue. The migration of skilled professionalsfrom southern Africa - the so-called brain drain, is having amajor economic and social impact on the region. "Skills areflowing from the region much more readily now as southern Africainteracts more fully with the globalised economy," SallyPeberdy of the Johannesburg-based Southern Africa MigrationProject (SAMP) told IRIN. Although skills migration is a headachefor many countries, it's hitting sub-Saharan African countriesparticularly hard. "The Southern Africa DevelopmentCommunity (SADC) is adversely affected by poverty, food scarcity,unemployment, as well as HIV/AIDS, and recruiting and retainingskilled and experienced people is a major problem for theregion," Nhlanlha Nxumalo of the SADC's Human ResourcesDevelopment sector told IRIN. He added that at least 10,000teachers had left SADC countries for greener pastures since 1996.Ann Bernstein of the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE)told IRIN the migration of skilled people combined with thedifficulties of importing qualified foreigners were key factorsholding back economic growth, particularly in South Africa."There is a real crisis here and we need to face it. We needeconomic growth of between 6 and 8 percent. To get that we need amuch more flexible immigration policy and strategies to get ourskilled expatriates back here," Bernstein said. Analysts saythe long-term solution to skilled migration is economic growth.Under the IOM's temporary return programme, a qualified andexperienced Zambian doctor working in Canada, for example, wouldbe assisted to return home to teach, perform operations or shareskills for a finite period. Virtual return involves skillsharing, teaching, mentoring and even marking exam papers via theinternet. "A Zimbabwean academic in the UK could make a realcontribution to further education at home by creative use of theinternet and video conferencing," Cowan-Louw said. Already,video conferencing is changing the lecturer-student relationshipin countries with access to the technology. Medical students inLos Angeles can watch a surgical proceedure being conducted inreal time in London via the internet and satellite. Jean-BaptisteMeyer, a migration researcher, told IRIN that at least one thirdof science and technology professionals from developing countrieswere currently working in Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia.The third component of the 'Migration for Development' programmeinvolves encouraging investment in southern African countries byprofessionals abroad. "The scheme would allow people withcritical skills and accumulated capital to contribute in a waywhich would not disrupt their lives," added Cowan-Louw. Theidea is to hook potential investors up with regional agencies andinvestment houses. Lack of investment is another factorinhibiting economic growth in southern Africa. "In 1996 SADCreceived just 0.3 percent of foreign direct investment and ithasn't got much better since," Nxumalo said. Althoughregional analysts agree that economic growth is the key tostemming the growing tide of skilled migrants, the IOM'sinitiative, if it can attract sufficient funding and support fromthe diaspora, could be a step in the right direction.

Angola

More refugees enter DRC (Irin, Johannesburg, 17/08) - More than 2,000 new Angolan refugees have arrived in theDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border town of Kimvula overthe past few days, bringing to nearly 10,000 the total number whohave fled to the DRC, UNHCR said in a statement on Friday. NGOsworking in Kimvula reported that the estimated 2,000 refugees whobegan arriving in the small town during this week have settled inseveral villages in the area. Kimvula is some 120 kms east of anarea called Kitompolo, which has also received in the last 10days thousands of new Angolan refugees fleeing a UNITA rebelattack on the northern towns of Beu and Cuilo Futa. By Thursday,UNHCR had registered some 7,200 new refugees in Kitompolo. Anestimated 700 others are also still in border villages near thearea, the statement said. The Angolan refugees, mainly women andchildren, fled with few belongings and are living in extremelydifficult conditions along the border under rudimentary shelters.They are in generally good physical condition, although a fewcases of diarrhoea have been reported. UNHCR has deployedadditional staff to the border to assist with registration, thedistribution of basic supplies and to expedite arrangements forthe transfer of the refugees away from border areas. FernandoMendes, head of the UNHCR office in the northern Angolan town ofUige, told IRIN that the region's military commander had assuredhumanitarian workers on Tuesday that the government wasdetermined to prevent UNITA from capturing the border town ofMaquela de Zombo. Humanitarian sources said the fighting aroundBeu and Cuilo Futa was strategically significant as UNITA wastrying to re-establish a supply corridor between the DRC andAngola.

Death toll in ambush of refugee train to 252 (BusinessDay, Luanda, 16/08) - The death toll in the ambush of arefugee train by Angolan rebels rose yesterday to 252 afterrescue workers identified another 100 bodies in the smoulderingwreck, the government said. The train carrying more than 500people fleeing fighting between the government and Unita rebelshit two mines on Friday, derailing and bursting into flames.Unita guerrillas then sprayed the survivors with gunfire. Thedead were being buried in a mass grave near the ambush site,radio station Ecclesia reported. Unita claimed that the train wascarrying troops and munitions as it headed from the capital,Luanda, to the southern city of Dondo. Although the army hasdenied troops were on the train, a survivor told Angolan statetelevision station TPA that at least 50 soldiers were on board.TPA showed pictures of people with severe burns being taken tohospitals in Luanda, 130km away. Official figures said 165 peoplewere injured. Meanwhile, Catholic bishops in eight Africancountries appealed to both sides to stop the war. "In thename of Christ and the suffering Angolan people we ask Angola'spresident and Unita's leader to meet in a neutral place for talksto end the war," they said in a joint statement quoted byPortugal's government-run agency, Lusa. Angolan bishops meetingin Luanda also issued a statement calling for a cease-fire.United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan also condemned theattack and blamed Unita "for this indefensible loss oflife". "This incident underlines the urgent need for apolitical settlement of the conflict, to achieve durable peaceand stability in Angola," Annan said on Tuesday. PresidentJose Eduardo dos Santos said the attack cast further doubt onUnita chief Jonas Savimbi's claims that he was ready to negotiatean end to the civil war. More than 3-million people about aquarter of Angola's population have been driven from their homesby fighting that has raged since Angola's independence fromPortugal in 1975.

Report on plight of refugees (The Financial Gazette,Kuito, 16/08) - In February he and his wife, a daughterand five grandchildren slogged across Angola on foot for a week,fleeing a 26-year civil war that has killed more than a millionpeople. Now they live in a small grass hut in a camp housing 17000 others like them just outside the central highland city ofKuito, where the temperature dips to four degrees Celsius (39Fahrenheit) during these winter months. They came with nothingbut the clothes on their backs. "We came from Ringoma inCamacupa municipality about 90 km (55 miles) northeast of Kuitoafter fighting in the area," Bango said. "Thegovernment said it was not safe and we had to move here."Aid workers at Kuito said during a visit to the remote regionthat the humanitarian disaster prompted by military clashes inthe central highlands had stabilised. But while the death rate isdown from the five-a-day peak, thousands of women and childrenremain without food or shelter. "Since May, you can see theresult: things are being stabilised," said Danny Decuyper,field coordinator for the aid agency Medicins Sans Frontieres,Belgium (MSF-B). The disaster was discovered in April in the areaof Camacupa, 72 km (44 miles) northeast of Kuito, but the firstproper food aid didn’t arrive until June, Decuyper said.Bango’s Chissindo camp is one of 27 that together hold 84500 people around Kuito, the provincial capital of about 200 000,according to MSF-B. As Angolan government forces continue tofight the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola(UNITA) in Bie province, more people flee to Kuito. It’spart of an undeclared effort to prevent the rebels from livingoff locals. The war has forced three million from their landsince it resumed in 1998 after an uneasy four-year peace. Aidofficials in Kuito expect about 13 000 more refugees in the nexttwo months or so. Although they come looking for a better life,it’s elusive. "It’s the worst place in the countrywhere there is humanitarian aid access," said MichaelGolden, a British medical professor employed by another aidgroup. There are vast swathes of Angola that aid workersdon’t get to. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)has battled to keep up with demand due to poor runways andattacks on its aircraft that led to a 10-day suspension of itsflights in June. Most food aid is airlifted because of rebel andbandit attacks along Angola’s roads. "Only 23 percentof people received food who were entitled to in June," saidDecuyper said. "There was already a food‘pipeline’ problem so the whole month wasproblematic." At that point, more people were leaving Kuitothan arriving because there was no food there, an aid officialsaid. "With no food distribution in the camps for a fewweeks, people were weakened, malnutrition increased and there wasgreater risk from infections. It was not a stable situation atall. It was not under control," the official said. Angola issecond only to Sierra Leone for the world’s worst death ratefor children under age five: 29.5 per cent die. Of the five Bangograndchildren, two are being tended by their mother at atherapeutic feeding centre operated by MSF-B. They were amongabout 800 severely malnourished children arriving at the centrefrom Camacupa at the end of February. The centre’s rationsinclude a peanut butter take-home snack to provide nutrientsvital to prevent a condition called pellagra, which can developinto a deadly neurological disease. The number of cases soaredfrom seven in April to 300 in June. Although pellagra is atepidemic proportions, Golden said he had seen no severe cases."The problem is not the quantity of food available,it’s the quality and diversity. There’s little besidesthe maize and beans supplied by the WFP," he said.Contributing factors include a thriving black market in the IDcards needed to obtain food aid and a lack of tools, seeds and,because of landmines, a lack of arable land.

Thirteen Zambians held hostage in Angola (Irin,Johannesburg, 14/08) - Thirteen Zambiancitizens were being held hostage in neighbouring Angola, Zambiannews reports said on Tuesday. According to the 'Daily Mail' theZambians were taken hostage by soldiers thought to be Angolangovernment troops in exchange for 12 Angolan soldiers who wererecently convicted for illegally entering the country. Thenewspaper said that the soldiers allegedly rounded-up villagersin northwest Zambia and drove them across the border into Angola.Hudson Beenzu, the police commander in northwest Zambia, wasquoted as saying that the Zambian government would have tonegotiate their release.

New refugee influx in Cuanza Norte (Irin,Johannesburg, 07/08) - About 1,100 civil war refugeeshave in the past few days crossed into Angola's Cuanza Norteprovince, fleeing military instability and food shortages intheir home areas of South Cuanza province, LUSA reported onTuesday. Reports indicate that many more refugees are on the way,coming from the villages of Munenga and Cabuta in the Libolodistrict of Cuanza Sul. The new arrivals have concentrated on theoutskirts of the Cuanza Norte town of Dondo, about 150 kmsoutheast of the capital Luanda, where they have yet to receiveany humanitarian assistance, reports said. The soba (traditionalauthority) of Cabuta, Antonio Lucas, said on Monday that food,medicine and shelters were urgently needed. "The people arefleeing from hunger, but mainly from frequent skirmishes betweengovernment forces and UNITA (rebels)", he said. Elsewhere inCuanza Norte, 900 refugees fleeing fighting in the Samba-Lucalaand Samba-Caju districts have in the last few days reportedlyreached the town of Lucala, about 270 km east of Luanda. CuanzaNorte province currently shelters about 135,000 civil warrefugees, most of them from the neighbouring provinces of Uige,Malange and South Cuanza.

Angolan opposition charges irregularities inrelocation of 60,000 (Sapa-DPA, Luanda, 03/08) - Angolanopposition parties Thursday charged "irregularities" inthe government's plan to transfer about 60,000 residents tooutside the city centre and said their officials would visit theBoavista neighbourhood on Friday to gather facts, a news agencyreported. The cliffside community - overlooking Luanda's port andnear to the embassy district - has been condemned by thegovernment. Officials said they wanted to move the 13,000families because of oncoming rains, which they fear will createnew mudslides, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported. Voice ofAmerica (VOA) radio, citing "authoritative independentsources in Luanda", reported Thursday however that moversand shakers in Angola are eyeing the Boavista site, with itslocation near the city, for an upscale shopping centre andhousing complex. "Various irregularities are taking placeand we must put an end to them," Filomeno Vieira Lopes,leader of the Front for Democracy, was quoted as saying by Lusa.VOA said that the "main force" behind the project isthe Eduardo Dos Santos Foundation, a non-profit group named afterAngola's President. Dos Santos sits on the board. Theconstruction project is being financed by Sonangol, the Angolanstate oil company, and both the foundation and the company standto profit from the endeavour, VOA quoted sources as saying. Thefamilies are being moved to a location 40 kilometres outside thecity, where there is no housing, roads, basic services, or publictransport to jobs in the capital city, reports said. Whenresidents resisted the first transports in early July, two peopledied and 20 were injured in clashes with police.

Angolan refugees to be repatriated (Irin,Johannesburg, 02/08) - More than 800Angolan refugees in the Republic of Congo (ROC) are to be sent tothe enclave of Cabinda in northern Angola, Kris Janowski UNHCRspokesman said at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations inGeneva on Tuesday. Cabinda is an oil-rich piece of Angolanterritory separated from the rest of the country by a strip ofCongolese territory. Janowski said that UNHCR saw the enclave as"the only safe place in Angola". "Returnees willmake the 120 km trip by truck from Pointe-Noire to Cacongo, 46 kmnorth of Cabinda City, where Angola's ministry of socialintegration has allocated a site for a transit centre. The 182families will stay a maximum of five nights before beingcollected by relatives or transported back to their home areas inand around Cacongo and Cabinda city," Janowski said. He saidCabinda's provincial authorities had equipped the transit sitewith tents, water, electricity and a provisional health post withtwo nurses and a doctor. "Officials from the ministry ofjustice will carry out civil registration of the returnees, whowill also be assisted later in obtaining ID cards. The governmentis providing rice, beans and vegetable oil, while UNHCR issending family kits which include plastic sheeting, pots and pansand buckets," he added. Janowski said each returnee would begiven a large enough plot of land to build a three-bedroomedhouse and half a hectare of arable land. They will also receiveconstruction material and a cash allocation of US $65 per person."Next week's returnees have been living in Pointe Noire,Congo-Brazzaville, since 1993. But many more have been in bothCongos for much longer, having fled Cabinda in the seventies whenseparatist troops sparked trouble in the oil-rich enclave. Thereare still 13,000 Angolan refugees from Cabinda inPointe-Noire," Janowski told journalists.

DRC

UNHCR begins transfer of Angolan refugees (Irin,Nairobi, 29/08) - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) on Tuesday began the transfer of nearly 10,000 Angolanrefugees from two locations in southwestern DRC - nearly 8,000 inKidompolo and another 2,000 in Kimvula - to villages 50 km awayfrom the Angolan border. The refugees had fled a 3 August UNITAoffensive on the town of Beu in northern Angola and have beenliving in makeshift shelters under difficult conditions in recentweeks, UNHCR spokeswoman Millicent Mutuli announced on Tuesday."Because of poor road conditions in the area, a first groupof 600 refugees is scheduled to depart on foot this morning forthe villages of Zulu and Zomfi. They will stop briefly at a reststation 17 km away and are scheduled to spend the night at atransit centre more than 30 km from the border." Therefugees were expected to arrive Tuesday morning at the villagesof settlement, where each family will receive half a hectare ofland. Eight villages have been prepared the refugees' arrival.According to UNHCR, the plan is to move an average of 600refugees daily, thereby completing the operation by 5 or 6September. Vulnerable refugees such as young children, the sick,the disabled and the elderly will be transported by truck.

Angolan refugees continue to arrive in DRC (Irin,Johannesburg, 14/08) - Angolan refugees have continuedto arrive in the Bas Congo province of the Democratic Republic ofCongo (DRC), a UNHCR spokesman in Geneva said on Tuesday. KrisJanowski noted that by Monday UNHCR had registered nearly 6,118refugees and was finalising plans to transfer the refugees tovillages further away from the border. The refugees fled acrossthe border following a UNITA offensive on the northern Angolantown of Beu and surrounding villages on 3 August. "Anestimated 1,500 refugees also remain scattered across severalborder villages. Over the weekend, UNHCR staff visited threevillages that have been proposed by local authorities for thesettlement of the refugees. The villages, some 50 km from the DRCborder, can accommodate a total of 6,000 people," Janowskitold journalists. He said UNHCR had deployed teams to theproposed villages to begin parcelling out land for theresettlement, adding that each family was expected to receive 0.5hectares. "Because of extremely poor road conditions fromthe border areas, refugees will be expected to walk to thesettlement areas later this week when UNHCR hopes to complete thedistribution of basic supplies sent from the DRC capital,Kinshasa, last week," said Janowski. "Arrangements arealso being made to set up temporary support stations along the 50km stretch from the border to provide basic en route assistanceto the refugees. Mobile medical units will also patrol theroute." He added that by Monday medical supplies - enough tocover the needs of 10,000 people for three months - had beenreceived and were being distributed to health clinics in thearea. "UNHCR and health partners also plan to sendadditional medical staff to the clinics to cope with the increasein numbers in the area," Janowski told journalists.

More Angolan refugees enter DRC (Irin, Johannesburg,13/08) - UNHCR in the Bas-Congo region ofthe Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is rushing emergencyrelief supplies to more than 6,000 new Angolan refugees who havefled attacks by suspected UNITA rebels, UNHCR spokesman KrisJanowski told a press briefing at the Palais des Nations inGeneva on Friday. "Refugees told UNHCR workers that a UNITAattack on the Angolan town of Beu and surrounding villages on 3August drove thousands of people from their homes," Janowskisaid. The town of Beu is situated near the Congolese border inAngola's northern Uige province. "Four successive waves ofarrivals were recorded in bordering DRC villages. Some injuredAngolan soldiers have arrived among the refugees and they arebeing taken care of by DRC authorities. Fears are that a further3,000 refugees could be on their way to cross the border,"Janowski said. Janowski added that early medical assessments ofthe refugees by UNHCR showed that about five percent of childrenunder five suffered from malnutrition. "Some injuries havealso been initially reported. Medical workers say that damp andrelatively cool weather poses the risk of malaria and respiratoryproblems," he said. According to Janowski the Congoleseauthorities have asked UNHCR to relocate the refugees away formthe border as soon as possible. He said that the government hadidentified three villages where the refugees could be givenshelter and arable land.

Lesotho

Queen comments employment of locals at UN (Mopheme/TheSurvivor, Maseru, 02/08) - Queen Karabo Mohato Seeisohas commended the United Nations for employing Basotho nationalsto fill the organisation's positions; a state she said wasencouraging as those positions used to be occupied byexpatriates. The Queen noted that this was an appropriate move,as the Basotho nationals would effectively respond to the needsof the country, as they were familiar with its conditions. Shealso wished that the magnitude of employment would increase tocater for more Basotho candidates who would qualify for thepositions available at the organisation. She said this at hervisit to the UN House last week, where the UN staff briefed theQueen about their respective activities in Lesotho. She wasdelighted to see that a number of UN staff who seemingly filledthe whole Conference Hall, were local people. "As I lookaround the room, I see quite a number of Basotho who now formpart of the UN staff in Lesotho . This is encouraging as opposedto some time ago when the UN staff was almost exclusivelyexpatriate," she remarked. Queen Karabo had been invited totour the UN House and facilities. The Queen, who is visiblyexpectant was received with great acclaim by ululating visitorswho were not only exulted by her presence but also by the anxiousexpectation of the Heir to the throne to be born in the next fewmonths. UN Agencies that were represented were WHO, FAO, UNDP,UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP, UNIC, IOM, and the World Bank. In her remarksabout the activities carried out by the World Health Organisation(WHO), the Resident Coordinator, Dr. Ruth Tshabalala noted thather organisation was bent on ensuring an equitable socialwell-being of the Basotho Children, women and all people throughgood health monitored programmes. She indicated that herorganisation was carrying out some research and assessment on awide array of issues like early pregnancy of young girls, addingthat after completion of the study, WHO would provide advisory onhow this could be tackled. A representative from theInternational Organisation for Migration, Pascal Lebracois notedthat IOM was addressing issues related to return of retrenchedmineworkers who worked in South African Mines. She indicated thatthey provide social counseling and creation of a database ofretrenched mine workers. She said mine-workers needed awarenesson how they could cope with life at home after been retrenched,adding that the workshops they organised were particularlyfocusing on family reunification, addiction, career guidance andalso with exceptional emphasis on counseling on HIV/AIDSpandemic. "IOM provides social counseling, awareness raisingworkshops and therapeutic group counseling in the areas of familyreunification, addiction, career guidance and a particularattention is given to HIV/AIDS," she said. Viney Jain, whois the officer in charge of WFP, noted that the organisation wasleaning towards responding to emergencies in the country. He saiddisasters like droughts that lead to poor harvest are their majorareas of concern. He told Mopheme - The Survivor, in an exclusiveinterview that WFP was organising a scheme to assist Basothonationals who have been hit by the snowfall in the mountain areasof the country, saying the scheme would provide aid in terms ofmaize and food. He said that his organisation works inconjunction with the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) to spotthose areas that need the most urgent assistance in the tendistricts of the country. Jain expressed that the net foodproduction was estimated at 8000 tons of food for this year, butdue to absence of rainfall during the planting season, theharvest has been lessened to 2000 tons. He therefore said thescheme would assist farmers with seeds in the five targeteddistricts, of Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka, Mohale's Hoek and Qacha'sNek where drought has hit hard and heavy snowfall has beenexperienced. He noted that this is a collaborative effort betweenWFP and the government.

South Africa

Policing of the eastern border (Sapa, Skukuza, 31/08)- Military staff officers were more concerned about thesituation along South Africa's border with Mozambique than itsfrontier with Zimbabwe. Military officers told journalists on atwo-day visit to the Komatipoort-Skukuza area that trans-nationalcrime in the area was escalating. Colonel Dave Peddle,responsible for border-line control, said vehicle theftsyndicates were regularly ripping out sections of the borderfence between Komatipoort and Swaziland to smuggle expensivevehicles stolen or hijacked in Gauteng into Mozambique. Peddlesaid the SA National Defence Force was planning to put upanti-vehicle barriers at six known criminal crossing points tostop the smuggling and protect the anti-personnel fence -originally built to detect, deter and delay guerrillas and now"undocumented migrants" as illegal immigrants areincreasingly called. A new problem was also that wealthysyndicates were bribing soldiers to stay out of sight for theduration of their smuggling activities. Colonel Hein Visser,commander of Group 33 - the SANDF formation responsible for thatfrontier - said 1498 migrants had been arrested during Augustalone at an average cost of R1060 each. He said 1283 migrantswere caught and deported in July, 621 in June and 503 in May. Atleast 180 vehicles also crossed into Mozambique. "This isonly the tip of the iceberg. There are not enough troopsavailable to man the frontier and many who crawl under the fenceare long gone by the time we get to the scene of the alarm,"Visser said. "Chasing people is not our job," he added.Standing along the fence at a hilly spot just south ofKomatipoort on Thursday he told the media that border-crossersoften had cellphones with them with which to hail taxis. "Amajor problem is that road (parallel with the border at thebottom of the hill-range). We have about 15 minutes to catch thembefore they are in a taxi bound for Gauteng," Visser said.It also took experienced border-crossers - and many who arecaught were known by name to soldiers along the frontier - aminute, 45 seconds to scale two game fences and crawl underneaththe razor-wire coils that made up the Norex fence. A furtherproblem was that many of the farmers along the border had becomedependent on cheap illegal labour from Mozambique which providedmigrants with both motivation to cross and cover from detection.Along the northern frontier, no such fence existed and a sisalplant line established along the Limpopo's banks was removed someyears ago. The river and its crocodile denizens, however, servedthe same purpose. Officers such as Peddle and Colonel Flip leRoux of Joint Regional Task Force North - the SANDF headquartersresponsible for both borders -were not expecting a wave ofrefugees to descend on South Africa from Zimbabwe even if thesituation there deteriorated further. The number of undocumentedmigrants was likely to gradually increase. Contingency plans werebeing drawn up to cope with all eventualities.

Immigration Bill inadequate, says CDE (Business Day,30/08) - Redrafting a must, if SA is to meet its urgentneed for talented immigrants. In his state of the nation speechat the beginning of this year, President Thabo Mbeki committedgovernment to "improving competitiveness by lowering inputcosts throughout the economy". He also said:"Immigration laws and procedures will be reviewed urgentlyto enable us to attract skills into our country." How welldoes the Immigration Bill meet the requirements specified by thepresident? The bill reflects an intention to address the skillsneeds of the country and in this respect is an advance onexisting legislation. However, there are harsh and prescriptiveclauses which could have the effect of contradicting the soundgeneral principles. This means the bill cannot be guaranteed toreduce skills bottlenecks and some provisions will actually raiseoperating costs substantially in areas of operations affected bythe skills shortage and foreign contract labour. The Centre forDevelopment and Enterprise is convinced the legislation will notachieve the twin purposes outlined in the president's speech. Thebill is littered with qualifying terms, all of which usurp theprinciple of market demand and replace it with an elaboratesystem of categories. The objectives of the new bill are toensure "needed skills" are acquired by the economy. Acritical issue is who decides what foreigners are"needed" and on what basis the discretion is exercised.We challenge the assumption that "needed skills" can becategorised, calculated, predicted or anticipated. The onlyproper test of "needed skills" are the market's demandsand requirements. What this bill does is to empower officials todecide what is best for the economy. One is expected to believethe officials have the best of intentions and that theirregulations and prescriptions will honour the commitments of thepresident. Unless the bill itself specifies very clearly what theoutcomes of its provisions should be, it should not be supported.This bill does not do that, and for this reason it falls woefullyshort of what SA desperately needs. SA is not a developed countrylike Switzerland, Singapore or Japan. Our economic growth is muchmore constrained by skills shortages than theirs; and instead ofhordes of qualified people trying to get in, too many of ourskilled people want to get out. This is yet another ambiguousresponse to SA's desperate need for foreign skills. The bill iswritten as though the country is not facing a deepening skillscrisis. The bill in its current form should not be supported.What is required is a rapid review and redrafting processpreferably influenced by the ministries committed to economicgrowth. It is vital that the bill itself incorporates clearguidelines that will allow skilled people in, rather than keepthem out. Bernstein is executive director at and Schlemmer asenior consultant to the Centre for Development and Enterprise.

ID fraud costing banks R6bn a year (The Sowetan,Johannesburg, 30/08) - Banks are losing at least R6billion a year through the fraudulent issuing of passports, visasand identity documents by international crime syndicates, theDepartment of Home Affairs has revealed. Illegal immigrants wereusing fraudulent South African passports and identity documentsto defraud banks by opening credit accounts, buying or rentinghouses, running up hotel bills and later leaving the country,according to Home Affairs spokesman Mr Lesley Mashokwe. However,the general manager of crime strategies of the Banking Council ofSouth Africa, Mr Mossie Myburg, questioned the accuracy of thelosses, saying banks did not have reliable figures. He said thefigure released by the police in 1999 was R8 billion a year."It is impossible to quantify, but we are aware of thefraudulent identity documents which are used to open accounts.The issue is already being addressed," said Myburg. He saidthey were using the zero tolerance method to curb the acts ofcriminals. Any staff member found to be involved in fraud wouldbe subject to prosecution, Myburg said. "This is a socialproblem that will never end. We are dealing with the footsoldiers, the ordinary people in the syndicates," saidMashokwe. He said if people were prepared to pay large amounts ofmoney to gain South African citizenship, it meant they had farbigger intentions. Mashokwe said South African citizenshipappeared to open doors for unscrupulous people from other partsof the world. He said the the Home Affairs Department would holdinterviews with all its employees to highlight the need forintegrity. The Department of Home Affairs also intended to workwith the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to eradicate theproblem. Mashokwe said the SARS would look into the lifestyles ofsuspected criminals and compare them with their declaredearnings.

South Africa ready to deal with any Zimbabwean influx(Reuters, Malelane, 30/08) - South Africa hascontingency plans to deal with any influx of Zimbabweans fleeingpolitical and economic woes at home, a military official said onThursday. “Contingency plans are in place on a provincialand regional level. Our early warning system is in place,”said Colonel Flip le Roux, who is responsible for forces in SouthAfrica’s Northern Province bordering Zimbabwe. Speaking toreporters on a trip to the region, le Roux said there had been noincrease in the number of Zimbabweans illegally crossing intoSouth Africa in the past few weeks, despite a worsening economiccrisis there and fears of food shortages. “So far this monthwe have apprehended around 4,000 undocumented (Zimbabwean)migrants, compared to 8,000 for the whole of August last year.There is no increase at this stage.” He said the governmenthad plans in place to provide accommodation, transport andmedical support to Zimbabwean refugees should the situationdeteriorate. Zimbabwe, a former British colony, has been incrisis since February 2000 when self-styled veterans of the 1970sliberation war began invading white-owned farms, arguing thatmore land should be turned over to the black majority. Theinvasions have disrupted food production and industry officialssay Zimbabwe needs to import at least 600,000 tonnes of maize tosupplement the 1.5 million tonnes produced this year compared to2.14 million tonnes last season. So far this year, the SouthAfrican military has deported almost 11,700 Zimbabweans who haveillegally crossed into the country, a figure le Roux conceded was“probably the tip of the iceberg.” The Department ofHome Affairs says a total of nearly 23,000 Zimbabweans weredeported between January and July. The military’s figuredeals only with people arrested close to the border. As thecrisis in Zimbabwe worsens, South Africa is gradually raising itsvoice against its neighbour. In the most outspoken comments yetfrom a senior South African official Reserve Bank Governor TitoMboweni -- alarmed by South Africa’s currency slide torecord lows against the dollar -- said last week that “thewheels have come off’ in Zimbabwe.

Foreign crime rings 'smashed' (The Sowetan,Johannesburg, 28/08) - The Department of Home Affairsand police have smashed a number of major foreign crimesyndicates that have been working with corrupt local officials indealing with passports, visa labels and false identity documents.The syndicate members have been identified as being Cameroonians,Ivorians, Senegalese, Chinese, Nigerians and Pakistanis. HomeAffairs director-general Billy Masetlha said in Pretoriayesterday the successes followed an operation codenamed"Project Molopo" that was launched by police and HomeAffairs on June 13. The aim of the project was to identify,investigate and prosecute Home Affairs and customs officials whowere involved in corrupt practices at all ports of entry into thecountry, he said. Three hundred staffers at Home Affairs' headoffice in Pretoria were being investigated for corruption. Hesaid the suspects included 40 immigration officials, 127 officeclerks and 40 officials at head office in Civitas Building inPretoria. Among the syndicates busted were: l A syndicate ofpeople from West Africa who used false identity documents toconduct criminal activities. The syndicate is made up ofCameroonians, Senegalese and Ivorians; l A syndicate mostly ofChinese, Nigerians and Pakistanis, assisted by corrupt HomeAffairs officials, who took advantage of poor controls to acquireSouth African citizenship. The syndicate operated in Gauteng andNorthern Province; and l A visa label syndicate which operatedfrom Civitas Building in Pretoria and had connections in WestAfrica, Europe and Asia. Maseetlha said the department was busyfinalising new measures to curb the flow of illegal immigrantsoperating inside and outside the country as South Africans. Theseincluded a Cabinet memorandum aimed at improving informationtechnology at all ports of entry. Discussions on fraud-relatedmatters were being held with banks, insurance companies and otherservice providers who relied on the department for the positiveidentification of clients. Masetlha said a passport syndicateresponsible for hijacking a Government vehicle transporting 4 000passports outside Civitas Building was in the process of beingbusted. "It was an inside job," he said. Departmentalofficial Mr Phillip Sechele and his wife had been arrested andwere on bail,h e said. Masetlha said Sechele had not reported forwork following the discovery of more than 2 000 of the hijackedpassports hidden at Garankuwa, near Pretoria. He saidinvestigations indicated that the hijackers were from the EastRand. Three police officers had also been arrested on corruptioncharges. Masetlha said Home Affairs was in the process of ropingin the South African Revenue Services as an integral part of theinvestigations. The investigations would also include: l Vettingall immigration officials, police and custom officials to thesecurity clearance level of "secret". The programme wasbeing led by the National Intelligence Agency; and l Conductingdetailed inspections at all port control offices to highlight anyadministrative, management and general office security weaknessesand making recommendations.

Home Affairs clamps down on syndicates selling ID's(Sapa, Pretoria, 27/08) - At least 12 syndicatesoperating a scam involving the selling of fake identity documentsto illegal immigrants has been uncovered, Home Affairs Departmentdirector-general Billy Masetlha said on Monday. These syndicatesconsisted of Chinese, Nigerian and Pakistani nationals, assistedby officials within the department, he told reporters inPretoria. "Over 300 departmental officials are currently(being) investigated. These include 40 immigration officials, 127clerks and 40 officials based in the department headquarters inPretoria," Masetlha said. Several priests and ordinary SouthAfrican citizens were also being probed. Masetlha was givingreporters an update on Project Molopo, which was launched in Mayto curb the influx of illegal immigrants into South Africa. Hesaid the project aimed at identifying, investigating andprosecuting officials in the police, customs and the department,who were involved in corrupt practices at all ports of entry intothe country. Masetlha said there was also an African syndicateoperating on a regional and international level. "Evidenceavailable indicates that this syndicate comprises Cameroonians,Ivory Coast nationals and Senegalese who use false identitydocuments as a basis to conduct criminal activities worldwide."Recently in China a Senegalese man was arrested for fraudafter he produced a fake South African passport and identitydocument. There are many other examples like this one." Hesaid his department was busy finalising new measures to curb theflow of illegal immigrants operating inside and outside thecountry as South Africans. These included a Cabinet memorandumaimed at improving information technology at all ports of entry.Discussions on fraud-related matters were being held with banks,insurance companies and other service providers who relied on thedepartment for the positive identification of clients. The SARevenue Service formed an integral part of the department'sinvestigations, he said. Also in the pipeline was upgrading thesecurity clearance level of all immigration officials, police andcustoms officials, Masetlha said. Turning to the recent hijackingof a government vehicle carrying 4000 passports, he said the casewas in the process of being finalised. "In this regard adepartmental official, Phillip Sechele, and his wife werearrested and were released on bail. "Now it seems Phillip isanother (convicted thief Colin) 'Chauke' because after he wasgranted bail he disappeared but the police are following histrail," Masetlha said.

Zulu king slams foreigners for 'taking jobs' (TheMercury, 26/08) - Foreigners were targeted by KingGoodwill Zwelithini at a dinner in Durban on Friday night when hesaid they contributed to poverty and unemployment in South Africaby "taking our jobs". His remarks, on the eve of theWorld Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and RelatedIntolerance, to be held from August 31 to September 1, have beendescribed as "unfortunate" by United Nations officialswho are in Durban to attend the conference. King Zwelithini alsolashed out at people who employed immigrants instead of SouthAfricans. However, he tempered his comments by saying: "Idon't hate foreigners." The dinner, called University for aNight, was the debut dinner of the Ilimo Network, a provincialsupport forum for local corporate social responsibilitypractitioners. Ilimo is a Zulu tradition of community support andsharing. Guests at the dinner included academics, business peopleand members of the non-governmental organisation community.Several said they were appalled by the king's remarks as theyfeared his words would lead to attacks on foreigners, many ofwhom had fled from their countries because they feared for theirlives. Xenophobia will be a key issue at the conference. Leadingfigures have spoken out against xenophobia, pointing out othercountries willingly sheltered and assisted members of theliberation movement who were forced to flee from the apartheidgovernment. At the weekend, a community forum organised by theUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the KwaZulu-NatalRefugee Network and Roll Back Xenophobia was held in Umlazi todiscuss xenophobia and its effect on refugees. One of thespeakers, former political exile Fana Msomi, said xenophobiaexisted worldwide but was at a higher degree in South Africa.This was caused by many factors, including unemployment."South Africans are fearful that the opportunities they nowenjoy would be taken away by foreigners. The misconception ofrefugees taking our jobs is unfounded. Most of them do work wedon't want to do, such as car-guarding. You hardly find themworking at factories." Jenny Parsley, the co-ordinator ofRoll Back Xenophobia, said her organisation strongly disagreedwith the king's sentiments. "There seems to be no evidencethat immigrants take jobs away from locals. Asylum-seekers, inany event, can work legally in South Africa." However, shesaid many asylum-seekers could not find jobs and were pushed intothe informal sector. Sudeshan Reddy, associate public relationsofficer at the UNHCR for southern Africa, said the king's remarkswere unfortunate. "Such a position requires careful analysisof the facts. I hope it does not lead to attacks on foreigners,but responses are difficult to gauge."

Discrimination against black non-citizens (Mail &Guardian, Johannesburg, 24/08) - Foreigners fromnon-African countries have been living harassment-free in SouthAfrica for years. Jeanette Lutova (44) cannot pronounce the word"elbow" in all 11 official languages. She has notell-tale "Marie biscuit" immunisation scar. Though sheand her two daughters are up to date on the current plot twistsin Generations, she hasn't heard of, let alone can understand,the lyrics of Mandoza's kwaito hit, Nkalakata. And though she haslived through political turmoil, she cannot toyi-toyi. Adog-eared Russian translation of Sidney Sheldon's A Stranger inthe Dark is tucked next to the passenger seat of the taxi shedrives. Lutoya is a "kwere-kwere". A foreigner. One ofthousands of foreigners supposedly streaming across SouthAfrica's borders to sponge up national resources, steal jobs,commit crimes, and make off with our men (or women). But sinceshe arrived in the country with her family nine years ago,fair-haired, blue-eyed Lutova has not been subjected to theunscientific modus operandi of local police in sniffing out"amakwere-kwere" ñ she has not been asked what theword "elbow" is in any South African language. She andher husband Shamil, a former musician with the famous BolshoiTheatre in Moscow, work as cab drivers, ferrying people in andaround the City of Gold. If she has any insecurities, they areabout being a woman out late at night, or relating to a few minoraltercations with colleagues when she worked for a butchery inRandburg. But on the whole, South Africa and its people are"wonderful" ñ compared to famously aloof Muscoviteswho were as cold, she recalls, as the air they breathed. Theliving room of Esther Favel's flat bears testimony to how muchshe loves South Africa. Every nook and cranny is filled withsandstone carvings, wooden sculptures, skin-covered drums andstacks of Huisgenoot magazines. Her three daughters, two of whomsit on the carpet finishing Afrikaans homework, titter as sheexplains in broken English her only encounter with xenophobia. Itwas a tussle over whose day it was to use the washing line, whichended with her then-friend, a stout Afrikaans-speaking woman."Why don't you just go back to your country, these flats arefor Afrikaners anyway!" the woman yelled at her. Born in asmall town called Ma'lot in Israel, Favel and her husband Davidsettled permanently in South Africa 10 years ago. Their threedaughters attend local schools and switch fluently between Hebrewand English, and their mother can whip up a dish of pap as easilyas she makes latkes. Petite, clad in platform takkies and with atwinkle in her eye, Favel refers to her countless friends bytheir flat numbers ñ the lady in 10, or the family in 27. Sheeven shares breyani tips with the Muslim couple living next door.And as the caretaker of the building, she makes it her businessto know and be friendly to everyone. That foreigners should feelso at home may appear surprising in a country notorious for its"frighteningly high" levels of xenophobia. In its 1999Still Waiting for the Barbarians research document, the SouthAfrican Migration Project (Samp) found that "the majority ofSouth Africans are resoundingly negative towards any immigrationpolicy that might welcome newcomers". The researchers notedthat opposition to immigrants cuts across colour lines. Varioushuman rights bodies in South Africa, such as the Roll BackXenophobia campaign and Lawyers for Human Rights, have documentedabuses by authorities directed at black foreigners. Several havereported being harassed by police because they are "tooblack" to be nationals, or "don't sound SouthAfrican" ñ and are thus assumed to be illegal immigrants.Even dark-skinned locals have been herded into police vans andrepatriated. But at any given time the sight of a pale face atthe Lindela detention facility in Krugersdorp, a transit pointfor illegal foreigners prior to deportation or repatriation, israre. An inmates' list by geographical breakdown is telling. Withthe exception of a handful of Pakistani nationals, an Iraqi and alone Taiwanese citizen, the names of non-African countries do notfeature. Sometimes groups of East Asian woman are brought in whenpolice smash prostitution rings. But non-African foreigners arenot all necessarily in South Africa legally. In Johannesburgthere are pockets of communities from Eastern Europe, Portugal,Russia, several North African countries and states that wereformed after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Hassan Rifat*, aLebanese national, entered South Africa illegally three monthsago. He lives with two cousins at their crockery shop in downtownJohannesburg. Though he admits apprehension that he can be"caught any day", chances of that are slim. With hiswhite skin he blends in with the crowd and can pass for Greek.Because of the difficult nature of tracking down illegalimmigrants, the exact figures of illegal foreigners by countryare unknown. One source, working with an international refugeerights body, said illegal immigrants from these countries may insome cases apply for asylum when they arrive in the country, whenthey might actually just be economic migrants. As a result, theysecure documents enabling them to live and work in the countrywith relative ease. According to a Department of Home Affairsofficial based at Lindela, the discrepancy between the numbers ofblacks and "non-blacks" arrested for being illegal issimple to explain. "The minute they're locked up, they callfor their lawyers ñ most of them can afford it," he said.Kamal Ebrahim's striking green eyes and olive skin give him aslight Mediterranean appearance. The Iraqi national was arrested,found to be without papers and sent to Lindela, where he hasspent the past month. But he says he landed there quite bychance. Ebrahim, who entered South Africa illegally throughMozambique last year, says he has never experienced hostilityfrom locals, not even from fellow hawkers in Johannesburg who arenotoriously "turf-conscious" about where newcomers mayor may not work. Outsider status does, however, have itspitfalls, regardless of skin colour. An accomplished interiordecorator by profession, Lutova has struggled to continue hercareer because, she says, she has either been told she is"too qualified" or, in somewhat nebulous terms, toldshe "lacks a South African education". Favel's problemsare related to language. She's a qualified primary school teacherbut because she is not fluent in English education authoritiessay Favel's only option is trying to find work as a Hebrewteacher at local religious schools. In a study published in theAfrica Insight journal last year researchers tried to determinewhether skilled non-citizens were immune to the general hostilityfrom locals, assumed to apply to all foreigners. Though in smallnumbers, African respondents who reported negative relations withpeople from South Africa outweighed those of their counterpartsfrom other countries. But on the whole it was found that theprofessional status of the respondents "shielded" themfrom harsh treatment meted out to ordinary workers, immigrants orrefugees. Xenophobia is one of the issues expected to be hotlydebated at the World Conference against Racism in Durban nextweek. * Not his real name

Constitutionality of Immigration Bill questioned(Sapa, Parliament, 24/08) - The controversialImmigration Bill, tabled in Parliament by Home Affairs MinisterDr Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Thursday after almost two years ofhaggling, has been referred to Parliament's Joint TaggingMechanism to decide on its constitutionality. National AssemblySpeaker Dr Frene Ginwala on Friday told a joint rules committeemeeting this process would take place on Monday. She tabledcorrespondence between herself and Buthelezi in which the twoexchange opposing views, and Buthelezi refers to the history ofthe bill's passage through Parliament as being "filled withsubterfuge, ambush and trickery". The bill, a draft of whichwas published in the Government Gazette on June 29, provides,among other things, for the admission of people into SouthAfrica, as well as their residence in and departure from thecountry. Buthelezi told Ginwala in a letter on Tuesday that dueto his having been informed in July that state law advisers hadstill to vet the constitutionality of the bill, his office hadhad it certified by advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, SC, chairman ofthe General Bar Council of South Africa. Replying to this in aletter on Wednesday, Ginwala said she was advised on Friday lastweek, by Parliament's chief law adviser, advocate Anton Meyer SC,that the bill was unconstitutional because it contained monetaryprovisions. Such legislation could only be introduced by thefinance minister, Meyer had said. Buthelezi reacted in writing onthe same day that he did not agree with Meyer's opinion."Just on the basis of my parliamentary experience, I canremember a large number of bills which make provision forlicensing fees, or fees to be raised in respect of concessions,or a wide variety of permits and benefits which have beenintroduced by the competent minister," he wrote. "I amalso unaware of any precedent in our Parliament, and possibly anyother, in which a Speaker has imposed a pre-emptive andpreliminary assessment of constitutionality on a bill."Buthelezi also wrote: "You will appreciate - given thehistory of this bill, which can only be compared to a politicalobstacle race filled with subterfuge, ambush and trickery - thatI must look at this last-moment turn of events with some degreeof perplexity. "There is nothing intrinsically unusual orpeculiar about this bill, other than the extrinsic politicalconnotation and denotations which have accompanied itsdevelopment during the past two years." Ginwala replied onThursday that she had assumed Buthelezi was advised of therequirements for the classification of bills, as provided for inSouth Africa's Constitution and the rules of Parliament."When a bill is introduced, it must without delay bereferred to the Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM), consisting of thepresiding officers of both Houses, to take a final decision onthe classification of the bill. "This classificationincludes consideration of whether bills are constitutionally andprocedurally in order." Ginwala told Buthelezi in thisletter that Monday's meeting would consider the classification ofthe Immigration Bill as submitted. "In that process, the JTMwould consider any opinions you may wish to submit," shewrote.

South Africa braces for Zimbabwean refugees (TheSaturday Star, 24/08) - The government is bracing itselffor a possible mass exodus of Zimbabweans fleeing to South Africaif violence and economic turmoil get worse. "There are nopanic buttons being pressed at the moment, no need for alarmbells that we're approaching a meltdown situation inZimbabwe," said Department of Home Affairs spokespersonLeslie Mashokwe. "But there is an interdepartmental steeringcommittee in Northern Province which is looking at a contingencyplan in case we need it. "We're now arresting up to 20people a day - instead of about 10 - whom we send straightback," said Home Affairs Director-General Billy Masetlha."At the moment there are almost 2 000 people being heldat Lindela (the repatriation centre for illegal immigrants) andbetween 40 percent and 50 percent of these are Zimbabweans."He said his department had not calculated the percentage increaseof illegal immigrants picked up from Zimbabwe, but estimated thatabout 1 200 were now being deported every week. "Weused to have deportation trains running every fortnight; nowthey're running weekly. That has been happening since thebeginning of the year," Masetlha added. SeniorSuperintendent Ryno du Toit, permanent member of the provincialjoint operations centre in Pietersburg, Northern Province, said acontingency plan devised last year was being "dustedoff" to see if it was still appropriate. "We looked athow we would deal with people fleeing without valid identitydocuments, when it was expected that white Zimbabwean farmersmight come over the border to seek asylum. "The plan was toaccommodate them at the Messina Showgrounds, where they wouldhave been housed in army tents, and to leave it to Home Affairsto determine conditions for them to stay in South Africa. Thesecurity forces would have given the necessary protection."I'm quite sure that if anything happens now, we won't belooking only at white farmers coming across. We need to see whatelse needs to be done to prepare for a possible emergency,"Du Toit said. Masetlha said he was aware of the plan in NorthernProvince but his department had not worked out a plan for a"meltdown" situation in Zimbabwe. He added that if thisdid happen, "we would have to use the army and the police ina disaster management plan". He said there had been anincrease in the number of illegal immigrants, while along theLimpopo River, "there are just too many holes which havecropped up in the fence". Foreign Affairs spokespersonRonnie Mamoepa said his department knew nothing of the NorthernProvince's contingency planning. Reserve Bank governor TitoMboweni told an investment conference this week that "thewheels have come off" in Zimbabwe. "It is untenablewhen the highest office in that land seems to support illegalland invasions, the occupation of land, beating up of people,blood flowing everywhere," he said.

Police swoop on Hillbrow drug dens (The Star, 23/08) -Hundreds of policemen, soldiers, sniffer dogs andimmigration officials swooped in on drug dealers and illegalimmigrants, from above and below, during a massive raid on twoHillbrow hotels on Thursday. The Mimosa and Sunnyridge hotelshave been under surveillance for the past month, with CrimeIntelligence officers gathering information and watching drugdeals go down on the premises. The well-planned raid started withpolicemen dropping onto the hotel roofs from hoveringhelicopters, as carloads of policemen and women roared in fromall sides, leaving hotel residents and visitors no escape routes.The operation, which involved kicking down doors and rounding uphordes of people, was hailed as a success. Inspector DennisAdriao said police arrested five Nigerians for dealing innarcotics and 150 illegal immigrants were apprehended during theraid. Drugs found included 523 Ecstasy tablets, 1,5kg of dagga,137 dagga joints, 16g of heroin, 15g of cocaine, seven giantcrack cocaine rocks, six regular-sized crack cocaine rocks and103 units of LSD. A revolver, 156 rounds of ammunition, fourcameras, computers and printers, cellphones and chargers, and UScurrency amounting to $50 were among items seized. Johannesburgpolice spokesperson Superintendent Chris Wilken said the directorof public prosecutions had issued a warrant through the HighCourt entitling police to cordon off both hotels and search theproperties and all the people on them. The action began shortlyafter 1pm, with various units and the military all striking inunison. As policemen abseiled onto rooftops from three SA AirForce Oryx helicopters and started raiding the premises from theroof down, others moved in from the streets. Cordons were thrownround the areas, and everyone caught in the marked-out terrainwas subjected to a search. The crackdown was watched by defenceforce soldiers armed with assault rifles, who maintained a quiet,watchful presence. The surrounding pavements were littered withdamaged goods which had been blown off hawkers' tables by thechoppers' arrival, and washing blown from balconies dangled fromnearby trees. Locked doors were kicked in, chained barricadeswere smashed open with crowbars and furniture ripped open as roomafter room was scoured. Policemen roamed the balconies. Protectedby heavy-duty rubber gloves, they found packets of scheduleddrugs hidden in the trash. Beds were torn apart, causingcockroaches to scurry as heroin and other illegal stashes wereuncovered. Residents looked on glumly from outside, seeminglyunconcerned by the loud raid action going on inside. One man saidhe paid R150 a month to live at the Mimosa. Others refused to letthe raid spoil their day. As they gathered in the Mimosa'sdimly-lit pub area, they continued drinking, dancing and playingpool. Several hours later, the police left en masse, taking withthem truckloads of arrested people and stolen property. "Ourintention is to ultimately close down these hotels," saidWilken, describing the venues as havens for drug dealers andillegal immigrants.

Conflict between Minister and Director-General of HomeAffairs (Sapa, Cape Town, 22/08) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Wednesdaybroke his silence on his director-general Billy Masetlha'semployment status and confirmed there was no prescribed contractbetween himself and the former ANC intelligence operative.Buthelezi has effectively charged that all actions undertaken orauthorised by Masetlha since June 20 may be invalid. Replying toa written query from Sapa, Buthelezi also confirmed media reportsof a conflict with Masetlha, a former director-general of theSouth African Secret Service (SASS). Masetlha was redeployed tohome affairs by President Thabo Mbeki after the axing of AlbertMokoena. The dispute over the legal status of Masetlha's contracthas divided Parliament's watchdog public accounts committee.Opposition party members have expressed concern that the absenceof a legally appointed accounting officer may have implicationsfor the status of departmental expenditure. Masetlha on Tuesdaysaid that a contract signed in 1999 when he was appointed SASSdirector-general had been extended by President Thabo Mbeki forone year. He said Buthelezi had agreed to the extension and therewas no need to sign a new contract. Buthelezi on Wednesdaydeclined to comment on any statement made or attributed toMasetlha, but then proceeded to contradict him. A letter faxed toSapa in the name of Buthelezi's private secretary, RainerNiedermeier, stated: "The minister will limit himself toplace on record the following relevant facts which the ministerbelieves fall within matters of public record or ... the OpenDemocracy Act." Masetlha was employed as a civil servantwithout a prescribed contract but in terms of a letter ofappointment expiring on June 20, 2001, the letter stated. Interms of a transitional provision of the Public Service Act,Masetlha could continue to be employed without a prescribedcontract until such expiry date. The letter stated that anyextension or renewal could only take place with a prescribedcontract set out in the Public Service Regulations. Buthelezi hadbefore the expiry of Masetlha's five-year contract notifiedMbeki, Public Service Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and thedirector-general "that a breach in the necessary relation oftrust between the executive authority and the head of departmenthad occurred. "The minister did not intend to retain theservices of the director-general after the expiry of his originalcontract". The power to extend or renew contracts had beendelegated to Buthelezi by the president, who retained the powerto redeploy and redetermine contracts, the letter said. However,on June 20, Buthelezi held talks with Mbeki about the issue ofextending Masetlha's contract. "The context of suchdiscussion is privileged." Buthelezi thereafter signed aprescribed contract extending Masetlha's term of office for 12months on June 23, which embodied the contents of his talks withMbeki, the letter said. The contract effectively indicatedthat Masetlha's appointment was made "pending imminentredeployment, redetermination of service, or other action thePresident may see fit". Buthelezi on June 27 apprisedCabinet of the background of this matter, including his talkswith Mbeki and the specific terms and conditions of the contractshe gave to Masetlha. "Cabinet noted such details andconcurred with the action taken by the Minister." It was notuntil August 16 that Buthelezi was officially informed byMasetlha that he had not counter-signed the contract offered tohim, the letter said. Buthelezi immediately wrote to Mbekiinforming him of the situation. "Against the backdrop oftheir June 20 conversation the minister sought the President'sguidance indicating that since the President has now been seizedwith the matter the Minister will not take action. "As pertoday the Minister has not received any indication that thecontractual offer made to Mr Masetlha has been accepted andcounter-signed and therefore, there is no prescribed contractbetween Mr Masetlha and the Minister," the letter states.

SAHRC and Home Affairs in public spatover xenophobia (Business Day, 22/08) - HOME Affairsdirector-general Billy Masetlha and SA Human Rights Commissionchairperson Barney Pityana have again become entangled in apublic spat, and again the issue is xenophobia in the ranks ofthe home affairs department. In an address to the Johannesburgpress club on Monday, Pityana said home affairs was "rabidlyxenophobic". He said, in a direct rebuke to Masetlha andHome Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, that "every bitof interaction I have had with the department, from the ministerto the director-general, does not give me much hope". Anangry Masetlha hit back yesterday saying "it would have beennice of Barney to raise the matter with me before shooting hismouth off in public. "I had endless meetings with Barneyearlier this year where we came to firm agreement on what to doabout training police and immigration officials to respect humanrights," Masetlha said. "I thought the process wasgoing pretty well and I thought, until this morning, that Barneythought so too." Masetlha and Pityana last crossed swords inDecember when the commission criticised conditions at the Lindeladetention centre outside Johannesburg a pre-deportation holdingcentre for illegal immigrants. The commission said in itsDecember report that inmates were living in poor conditions, afinding that earned Masetlha's wrath at the time. Masetlha saidyesterday that Lindela had been cleaned up since the commission'sreport, and also that if Pityana was laying the blame forxenophobia at home affairs's door, he was misguided. "Thereare underlying material causes for xenophobia in SA,"Masetlha said. "One of them is that greedy businessmen,pursuing superprofits, create an artificial level of unemploymentby hiring illegal immigrants for peanuts. So Barney shouldaddress the root problem." In his address on Monday, Pityanaimplied that institutional xenophobia in the home affairsdepartment ran so deep that the commission had little chance ofstemming it. "When you are dealing with a situation of rabidxenophobia in an organisation," he said, "there is verylittle an outsider can do."

Buthelezi gets public scolding fromSAHRC (Business Day, 21/08) - SA Human Rights Commission chairman Barney Pityana haspublicly scolded Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi anddirector-general Billy Masetlha for allowing "rabidxenophobia" in their department. In reference to the worldconference on racism in Durban later this month, Pityana said atthe Johannesburg press club yesterday that SA's "treatmentof foreigners should cause us shame". "Every bit ofinteraction (I have had) with the home affairs department, fromthe minister to the director-general, does not give me muchhope," Pityana said. "The blockage (to change)intolerance is enormous." Pityana suggested that there waslittle the commission itself could do to stamp out xenophobiaamong immigration officials. "When you are dealing with asituation of rabid xenophobia in an organisation, there is verylittle an outsider can do." Racist and xenophobic practicesamong immigration officials were "sufficiently serious to bethe subject of misconduct". Home affairs spokesman LeslieMashokwe would not comment, saying he had not seen the context ofthe speech. Asked to speak about his position on state-sponsoredinvasion of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, Pityana said:"The targeting of white landowners is blatantly racist."We are talking of a campaign that is orchestrated andtargeted in a racial fashion." However, he said that theZimbabwean government might legitimately feel that it had beensingled out for criticism because the victims of the campaignwere white. "In Swaziland, for instance, the entireopposition is not allowed to exist. Journalists are thrown injail. Yet nobody says anything. So the charge is that there ishysteria about Zimbabwe because whites are involved." On theDurban conference, Pityana said there was "no way you canavoid dealing with the question of Palestine and the occupiedterritories". The world "has perhaps moved on from theZionism as racism' slogan", but "you do not need thatslogan to address the terrible oppression of a largelydefenceless Palestinian state".

No influx of Zimbabwean asylumseekers claims Home Affairs (Sapa, Parliament, 21/08) - SouthAfrica had not experienced an influx of asylum seekers fromneighbouring Zimbabwe, Home Affairs director-general BillyMasetlha said on Tuesday. "We have very few Zimbabweans whohave applied over the last 18 months," he told reporters inCape Town. Although the situation in Zimbabwe had been of concernto the South African government for while a "it has notreached a point which the president (Thabo Mbeki) calls a meltdown", he said. However, should an influx of Zimbabweansapply for political asylum the department would be ready to meetthe demand as required by law. There were many Zimbabweans inSouth Africa, but they were not looking for political asylum.They were people who worked or were visiting relatives in thecountry, Masetlha said.

Home Affairs probes Beit Bridge crimesyndicate (Sapa, Parliament, 21/08) - At least fiveSouth African immigration officials at the Beit Bridge borderpost were found to be illegal immigrants involved in a crimesyndicate, Home Affairs director-general Billy Masetlha said onTuesday. His department was investigating at least 90 officialsbelieved to be involved in the organised crime syndicate. Therehad been at least 12 arrests so far, including at least seven onTuesday, Masetlha told reporters after appearing beforeParliament's public accounts committee. He said the syndicate wasalso linked to the police and South African Revenue Serviceofficials. Earlier, Masetlha told the committee the syndicateincluded members of the department's head office, and reached allthe way to KwaZulu-Natal. Three officials from head office werein jail awaiting trial on crimes including corruption and fraud.Masetlha said: "My strategy is to nail the big fish. I'm notinterested in the foot soldiers." He said the syndicateinvolved both South Africans and West Africans.

Police brutality trial postponed(AFP, Pretoria, 20/08) - The High Court trial of sixwhite South African policemen accused of setting their dogs onthree suspected black illegal immigrants during a “trainingexercise”, was postponed on Monday until November. JudgeEberhardt Bertelsmann granted the request by both prosecutors andthe defence council that the trial be postponed to November 19,because of overloaded court schedules. Bertelsmann extended thebail of 2,000 rand (242 dollars) for policemen Jacobus PetrusSmith, Lodewyk Christiaan Koch, Robert Benjamin Henzen, NicolaasKenneth Loubser, Dm0 Guiotto and Eugene Werner Truter. The sixare charged with three counts of serious assault, one ofcorruption, and one of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.The 1998 attack -- recorded on amateur video and broadcast onstate television in November last year -- horrified SouthAfricans. The film showed dogs attacking the three illegalimmigrants for 40 minutes in a field outside Johannesburg as thepolicemen urged them on. The policemen also punched and slappedthe three men, calling them “bastards” and“kaffirs” -- a derogatory term for blacks. ThreeMozambicans -- Gabriel Pedro Timane, Alexandre Pedro Timane, andSylvester Cose -- were identified as the victims. The sixpolicemen were suspended from the police dog unit in Benoni,northeast of Johannesburg following their arrest. Loubser,Guiotto and Truter subsequently resigned their jobs. They werearrested on November 7 just before the video was aired, and theirfirst court appearance was met with protesters chanting slogansoutside the courthouse. One of the accused, Sergeant JacobusSmith, said in an affidavit handed to court at the time that thedogs were old, and that their teeth were blunt. The corruptioncharge relates to the men allegedly promising to free theMozambicans for a payment of R300 (36 dollars). They were chargedwith attempting to defeat the ends of justice for allegedlymaking false entries in police Iogbooks regarding the incident.The state was expected to call 18 witnesses, includinginvestigators, the three Mozambicans and SABC investigativejournalist Jacques Pauw, who was involved in the making of the TVprogramme. In an interview published in November last year, aSwiss national who trains police dogs said the methods used bythe officers were similar to those used to train dogs to attackrunaway slaves in the United States in the 18th century. HansSchegel said 90 percent of police dogs in South Africa wereundisciplined and dangerous, suggesting that dogs employed by theSouth African Police Service be evaluated and those too dangerousbe put to death.

Xenophobia on the rise in SouthAfrica says survey (Reuters, Pretoria, 20/08) - Xenophobiais on the rise in South Africa seven years after the end ofapartheid, as not only black Africans but also economic migrantstake the brunt of a new wave of violence, a survey released onMonday showed. The report, based on interviews with more than 100Africans living in the continent’s richest economy, madedepressing reading for South African policymakers keen to upholdthe country’s non-racial credentials. “Xenophobia is aphenomenon that is on the increase.. .foreigners are the newenemy,” Bronwyn Harris, the survey’s author at theCentre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) toldReuters. The findings come as South Africa prepares to host aU.N. World Racism Conference on August 31, which has been miredin controversy after a move by Arab states to equate Zionism withracism and African attempts to usher in reparations for slavery.Attitudes towards Africans, including refugees, were marked byintolerance, prejudice, extortion, harassment, abuse and evenviolence, the CSVR survey found. Victims, usually black Africans,were blamed for the country’s social ills. Many Nigerians inSouth Africa were viewed by the authorities and public as drugdealers and Zimbabweans were labelled as criminals, Harris said.Perpetrators crossed the country’s racial lines, with blacksand whites alike fearful that Africans from neighbouringcountries may take away scarce jobs and other resources, Harrissaid.

Mozambican migrants trampled byelephants (The Star, 16/08) - A mother and daughter,believed to be Mozambican immigrants trying to enter SouthAfrica, have been killed by an elephant in the Kruger NationalPark, officials said on Wednesday. "An elephant trampled amother and her daughter - aged about three years - to death onSunday night in the Kruger Park. They were part of a group of 14people believed to be illegal Mozambican immigrants," saidpark official William Mabasa. He said the group were walking westfrom the Mozambican border when they stumbled upon two breedingherds of elephants. An elephant charged at the people, whoscattered in panic. Mabasa said this was the fourth knownincident in five years in which animals had killed illegalimmigrants in the park, home to a host of dangerous wild animals.

Home Affairs in red-tape knot(Business Day, 13/08) - Home affairsdirectorgeneral Billy Masetlha has not yet signed the 12-monthcontract of employment approved by the cabinet at the end ofJune, raising concerns over the status of departmentalexpenditure in the absence of a legally appointed accountingofficer. Confusion over Masetlha's employment brings a new twistto the long-running strife between African National Congress(ANC)-aligned officials and Home Affairs Minister MangosuthuButhelezi, who is also the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party.Informed sources have confirmed that the contract has not yetbeen signed, but Masetlha himself has refused to comment. Homeaffairs communications head Leslie Mashokwe said the matter wasbeing dealt with between Buthelezi and President Thabo Mbeki. Nocomment was available from Buthelezi's office, while Mbeki'soffice referred the matter to Public Service and AdministrationMinister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, who is in Malaysia.ANC-aligned Masetlha, who has long been at odds with hisminister, is resisting signing the performance contract, which islimited to 12 months, because he finds the terms unacceptable.Normally contracts for directorsgeneral are for three to fiveyears. Mbeki overrode Buthelezi's objections to Masetlha, aformer member of the ANC's intelligence unit, by appointing himin 1999. Wrangles between Buthelezi and Masetlha over policyparticularly immigration policy and the administration of thedepartment have been longstanding and bitter, with Butheleziaccusing Masetlha on several occasions of acting without hisauthority. Last week United Democratic Movement leader BantuHolomisa sent a letter to Fraser-Moleketi raising concerns aboutthe nonexistence of a signed contract which would define hisrights and obligations, and calling on her to investigate.Holomisa believed that this "unsatisfactory, unlawful stateof affairs has persisted for the entire duration of the periodduring which he acted as director-general" that is since1999. Democratic Alliance spokeswoman Raenette Taljaard has askedthat the matter be raised at the hearing on August 22 of thestanding committee on public accounts on the auditor-general'sreport on home affairs. "If the allegation about MrMasetlha's contract proved correct, every expenditure in the homeaffairs department would be unauthorised. "Both thedepartment and Mr Masetlha will have a lot of explaining to dowhen they appear before (the committee)," Taljaard said. Shesaid the unauthorised expenditure could represent a significantamount and even though it could be authorised subsequently, itset a very wrong precedent. "It is hugely problematic as itmeans Masetlha has been acting without a legal mandate," shesaid. Public accounts chairman Gavin Woods said inefficiencieswithin the home affairs department would be under the spotlightat the hearing. While the department's performance in formeryears had been good, some deterioration had been recorded in theauditor-general's report.

Burundian stowaways brought ashore inSouth Africa (AFP, Cape Town, 09/08) - Two Burundianboys who stowed away aboard a South African Navy icebreaker on arescue mission to Marion Island said Thursday they tried to fleeSouth Africa because their brother was stabbed to death here.“We wanted to get out of South Africa because my brother waskilled. He was stabbed here and here,” Mohamed Oscar, 17,said in Swahili pointing to both sides of his neck. Mohamed andhis 14-year-old brother Oscar were brought to shore inSimonstown, south of Cape Town, by the Outeniqua along with twoill weathermen the vessel rescued off Marion Island, some 1,700kilometres (1,020 miles) southeast of South Africa. The twoteenagers were found shivering in the hull of the ship last week,two days after it left Durban harbour on South Africa’s eastcoast. “They were cold and thirsty and one of them wasseasick. It is three degrees (Celsius) down there,” CaptainGlen Knox told journalists. Mohamed said they had contemplatedthree ships in Durban harbour before settling for the Outeniquabecause it appeared to be preparing to set sail. He said they haddecided to leave immediately after their older brother Ebrahim,20, was killed in a township outside Durban two weeks after theyarrived in the city and started working at a market there. Theboys fled Bujumbura in June to escape the civil war in thatcountry, Mohamed said, adding that both their parents are dead.“There is war in Burundi and we have nobody left there.Ebrahim said we should come to South Africa because this is whereother Burundian people had come.” It took the brothers morethan a month to make their way from the Burundian capital toDurban, coming via Tanzania, Malawi -- where they briefly stayedin a refugee camp -- and Mozambique by truck, train and on foot.They walked across the Mozambican border, then came to Durban.The two will be held in a police cell or at Pollsmoor prisonbefore being deported to Burundi or Tanzania, said the aliencontrol officer for Western Cape province, Gideon Christians.“They have no papers and they have no status here. We haveto verify their story. If they were refugees in Tanzania, thatcountry has a responsibility to take care of them.” Askedwhat they hoped to do, Mohamed said: “We just want to workand to survive.” The two rescued weathermen have beenadmitted to hospital, one with heart heart problems and the otherwith a bleeding ulcer, Captain Knox said. South Africa annexedMarion island in 1948, and operates a weather station there.

No agreement yet on SA-Namibia border(AFP, Windhoek, 07/08) - Namibia and South Africa havestill not reached an agreement on where the exact border betweenthe two countries lies. Foreign Affairs Minister Theo-Ben Guriraband his South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma arestill discussing the issue, Zuma’s Director ofCommunications Ronnie Mamoepa told The Namibian yesterday.Mamoepa said the two ministers were engaged in official talks onwhether the border was in the middle of the Orange River, asNamibia claims, or on the northern high-water mark as SAmaintains. Another SA Foreign Affairs spokesman DumisaniRasheleng wrote a letter recently to the Business IJay inSouth Africa stating that the border was definitely on thenorthern side of the river. Rasheleng said the Orange Riverboundary between SA and Namibia was established when erstwhilecolonial powers Great Britain and Germany signed a treaty to thateffect in Berlin on July 1,1890. After the change of governmentin SA in 1994, the boundary issue was brought to the attention ofthe new cabinet, which after thorough consideration decided“the existing Orange River boundary should be retained, inother words no change of the land border”, Rasheleng said.He said the decision was in accordance with internationalpractices and was relayed to President Sam Nujoma by PresidentThabo Mbeki during the heads of state economic bilateral meetingin Windhoek on August 8 last year. Rasheleng also urged Namibiato respect the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) policy ofrespecting colonial borders. The South African official madesimilar comments about the dispute in January this year. At thetime Gurirab said Namibia had been told by Pretoria that thestatement was made by a junior official who was not well-informedon the issue. Rasheleng’s statement did not reflect theposition of the SA government, Namibia was informed. Yesterday,the Foreign Minister told The Namibian that he did notwant to be drawn into saying anything on the issue beyond what hehad already stated several times.’ “This is not thebest channel to discuss important state matters of bilateralconcern,” Gurirab said. Negotiations on demarcating theboundary started way back in 1991 with the previous SAgovernment. There was a change in government in 1994 but thenegotiations continuedwith President Nelson Mandela’sgovernment and ultimately resulted in an agreement by the twosurveyor generals. The result was that officials from the twosides initialled the agreement, which placed the border in themiddle of the river, at a technical level. The agreed text wasput before the two governments but has not been signed. Prior to1990 SA claimed sovereignty over the entire river. The hazinesson the whereabouts of the exact border has resulted indifferences over mineral rights in the river and grazing rightson its islands, as well as a “free-for-all” by fishingvessels. Both countries claim that with no clear-cut boundarythey are unable to prosecute fishing vessels for“trespassing” in the river.

Home Affairs to clamp down onemployers of undocumented migrants (Sapa, 06/08) - Employersof illegal aliens could expect to meet the full force of the law,the Home Affairs Department said on Monday. "Thedepartment... will in future come down heavily on persons orinstitutions that employ, educate or assist aliens incontravention of the Aliens Control Act of 1996," it said ina statement. The department had repatriated more than 55000illegal aliens from January to June this year, with an annualaverage of 180000. "Most illegal aliens come to South Africafor economic reasons, well knowing that they will be employed byunscrupulous employers, usually at wages much lower than thatpaid to South Africans." If convicted, employers could befined up to R40,000 per illegal alien in their employ, thestatement said. Immigration officials of the department would, interms of the Aliens Control Act, request particulars aboutemployees to ensure that they were entitled to be in the country.The officials would also visit suspect employers with search andentry warrants and could issue spot fines where warranted."Educational institutions that enrol aliens in contraventionof the ... Act and members of the public who provide assistanceto them, will be dealt with in similar fashion," thedepartment said.

Alarming gap as medics quit SA (TheStar, 02/08) - Enticing ads are targeting SouthAfrica’s doctors with offers such as “Are you ready fora change and adventure?” and “Do you want to earn dlrsdlrs dlrs New Zealand and Australia dlrs dlrs dlrs?” Theserecent pitches in the South African Medical Journal havehelped to lure hundreds of the country’s top doctors“seeking lifestyle and income bonus” to Australia,Canada, Britain or New Zealand. In fact, a recent study by the SAMedical Association (Sama) has found that more than a quarter ofall South African doctors who graduated between 1990 and 1997 arcworking abroad. The reasons for the exodus are a combination of“push factors” which include shrinking personal income,crime, involuntary community service and affirmative action, theSaina study has revealed. Doctors who had left or who wereplanning to leave also cited frustration with the HIV/Aidsepidemic, claiming the government had failed to set up aholistic, goal-oriented plan of action. The job migration ismaking a shortage of medical professionals in South Africa worseas it struggles to plug an alarming gap in rural healthcare andbraces for a looming Aids crisis. The problem is compoundedbecause South Africa can’t compete with the packages offeredabroad. In a global job market, healthcare professionalsincreasingly go to the highest bidder, hitting hardest thenations that need them the most. Although most doctors who leaveare young white graduates, the number of black professionalsbeing recruited internationally is also on the increase, Starlinewas told. South Africa is losing nurses too, but the poaching ofits doctors stands out because first-rate medical schools here -rare in in the developing world - make its physicians highlydesirable. Last year, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zumacalled on wealthy countries to stop recruiting doctors from SouthAfrica to ease their shortages. And Andre Jaquet, SouthAfrica’s ambassador to Canada sent a letter to all of thecountry’s provincial health commissioners pleading for themto stop enticing South Africa’s doctors. Some of SouthAfrica’s 26 000 practising doctors were lured tohard-to-staff rural clinics overseas. For example, nearly 20% ofdoctors in Canada’s Saskatchewan province earned theirmedical degrees in South Africa. The medical exodus isdevastating the staff at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit. Sixdoctors are poised to leave for Canada and another for Britain.Dr Thys von Mollendorff, the hospital's medical superintendent,is worried that he might not be able to replace them. Thehospital, which serves 500 000 people in Nelspruit andsurrounding townships, will be left with only 13 senior doctors,including four Cubans working temporarily. Dr Malegapuru Makgoba,president of the South Africa Medical Research Council, says theworld's wealthy countries talk of the urgent need to invest inimpoverished ones, but once they experience a shortage ofdoctors, they start recruiting from desperately poor areas.According to Sama, there is one doctor for every 700 people inthe country's cities, whereas in rural areas there is one doctorfor every 10 000. And with the healthcare system spreadingthinner to reach into needy areas, doctors in the public healthsystem - which serves most South Africans - find work moredifficult. Much of the equipment is old, and there is no money toreplace it. Doctors are forced to work longer hours and see morepatients. Sama liaison manager Helen Strong notes that because ofthe staffing crisis and patient overloads, sixth-year medicalstudents are increasingly being used to attend to patients,rather than broadening their own education.

Malawian wins right to stay (CapeTimes, 01/08) - Immigration officials so violated aMalawian driver's rights that the Cape High Court, instead ofreturning his case to the department of home affairs forreconsideration, has ruled that he may stay in South Africa.Judges John Foxcroft and Belinda van Heerden set aside thedecisions by the regional and central committees of theimmigrants selection board to reject Tony Masamba's immigrationapplication. They ordered that home affairs issue Masamba with animmigration permit and the authorities bear his legal costs. Thecourt concluded that Masamba, 40, had had to endure uncertaintyabout his future for almost three years. During this time, hisconstitutional rights to fair administrative action had beeninfringed. According to court papers, Malawi-born Masamba hasdriven supermarket magnate Raymond Ackerman and his wife, Wendy,around Cape Town since 1993. His long court battle was funded byhis employer. On Wednesday, Masamba thanked the family for theirsupport: "I feel great, like I'm on top of TableMountain." Masamba's attorney, Paul Berman, earlier told thecourt: "Mr Masamba is inextricably linked to the Ackermanfamily, their lifestyle and business... they have investedsubstantial time and money to ensure that he has the necessaryskills and experience to perform the functions he does."Wendy Ackerman said she and her husband had advertised theposition widely, but had been unsuccessful until they met Masambain 1992. In addition to being the family driver, Masamba headsthe household staff and serves as a bodyguard and a minder fortheir grandchildren. "No local South African now, or when MrMasamba was originally employed, is able to perform the functionsthat he performs," she told the court. Ackerman said she wasthrilled with decision.

SAHRC to monitor extradition ofZimbabweans (Sapa, Pietersburg, 01/08) - The SA HumanRights Commission (SAHRC) on Wednesday said it would bemonitoring the treatment of four Zimbabwean men who were arrestedin the Northern Province in connection with a murder in Botswana.The men were arrested on Tuesday for the killing on Sunday andwould likely appear in the Louis Trichardt Magistrate's Court onThursday. Police spokesman Captain Ailwei Mushavhanamadi said thefour, aged between 20 and 35, and a fifth Zimbabwean worked inSouth Africa during the week and apparently returned home overthe weekends. On Sunday, while returning to Alldays fromZimbabwe, by way of Botswana, the four argued with the fifth man,who was strangled and beaten to death. The four men returned tothe farm on which they worked but were reported to the police bymembers of the public. The victim's body was found by Botswanapolice and the men were arrested in South Africa on Tuesdaynight. The men now face extradition to Botswana where they couldface the death penalty if convicted for the murder. A SouthAfrican woman, Mariette Bosch was hanged in Botswana earlier thisyear while a South African man is currently on death row inGaborone. Two other South Africans were unlawfully deported toBotswana earlier this year and now also face the gallows.Although South Africa has asked for the men to be returned toface a proper extradition hearing, Botswana's Attorney Generalhas refused to do so. If the four Zimbabweans are extradited,South Africa has to insist as a prerequisite that they not behanged, as it belatedly did in the case of Tanzanian KhalfanKhamis Mohamed. Mohamed was recently sentenced to lifeimprisonment by a United States federal court for his part in the1998 bombing of the US embassy in Dar-es-Salaam in which 11people died. The Constitutional Court ruled in May that thegovernment had acted illegally because it had failed to secure apromise from the US that Mohamed would not be executed. The courtabolished the death penalty in one of its first judgements. Itwas international practice that countries that did not have thedeath penalty could refuse to extradite accused persons to thosethat had it if no assurance was obtained that it would notexecute them. Germany recently refused to hand over a man to theUS after it refused to give such an undertaking. SAHRCcommissioner Jody Kollapen said he would on Thursday morningcontact the prosecutors at the court to inform them of thecommission's interest in the matter. He said the SAHRC's interestsprang from a number of recent unlawful and irregularextraditions and deportations involving South Africans andforeigners arrested here. "Given what has happenedpreviously, we have to be quite careful to prevent arecurrence," he said. Kollapen said the court had been"emphatic" that the South African government had anobligation to seek appropriate assurances that people extraditedto other countries would not face sentences there they would notface under South African law. "The legal principal isclear," he said. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesmanRonnie Mamoepa said the men would be extradited to Botswana onlyafter that country had made a proper request had been received.The men would also have to appear before a South African court todetermine whether they were accused of an extraditable offenceand whether there was a case for them to answer.

Price of imported skills in spotlight(Sapa-NewsStream, Johannesburg, 01/08) - The SouthAfrican government was questioned on Wednesday as to why it hadnot backed down on a provision in the Immigration Bill, expectedto be debated soon in Parliament, which recommended thatemployers wanting to give jobs to foreigners should have to do soat cost. Mario Ambrosini, adviser to Home Affairs MinisterMangosuthu Buthelezi, told a conference on migration and skillsat the SA Institute of International Relations that this wouldcover the cost to government of processing applications.Answering a question from Ann Bernstein, executive director ofthe business oriented think-tank Centre for Development andEnterprise (CDE), as to why such a "tax" be imposed atthe cost of economic growth, Ambrosini commented: "Take itout and it can't be replaced by nothing". Contrary to twospeakers who told the conference South Africa should not react toits "brain drain" with alarm, Bernstein stressed thatit was a crisis that could be averted only by importing skills."South Africa's primary need to deal with unemployment andpoverty is to get growth. Not 2-3%. It must be 6% to startgetting into the unemployment backlog we have." She furtherpointed out that South Africa was losing six people in the toprank of professions for every such individual it gained, and thatthe Aids pandemic would have an impact on skills training forlocals. "We must acknowledge this as a harsh reality,"she said. Bernstein complimented the government on working in theright direction-noting that the Immigration Bill would replacethe more negatively named Aliens Control Act inherited from theapartheid government. "Because of history we are not anormal society. It is not like Germany where skills might beneeded in the information sector. South Africa needs skills inevery field." Ambrosini said other features of theImmigration Bill included handing over skills evaluation toemployers, provision for work permits applications to be madewithin the country, allowing educational institutions that takein foreign students to decide whether they qualify for permitsand introducing corporate permits. "Companies can issuepermits within certain parameters," he said. "It willbe an agile system with less concern about who is in the country... but what they are doing here," he said. Calling for lessalarm about the "brain drain" were Sally Perbedy of theSouthern African Migration Project and Jean-Baptiste Meyer of theInstiut de Rescherche pour Developpement in Paris. Perbedycautioned that much talk on the outflow of skills and emigrationfrom South Africa had been based on anecdotal evidence andmisrepresentation, including reports based on unmethodicalresearch. She added that her research in South Africa andBotswana had shown that while many skilled people said they were"thinking of leaving", the question remained on howlikely they were to act on it. "Even if the problem isimportant, dramatization should not take place," saidPerbedy. "This loss of skills and talents is ongoing. We cansee there is time to put in place some strong preventive orrecovery strategy. "The country is not about to collapse ina sudden loss of skills as has been presented sometimes."Meyer pointed out that there were 50,000 highly skilled SouthAfricans abroad, which was only 4% of the total. "France has10% of its talents outside (the country)," he said. However,he said there was a marked difference between the official SouthAfrican statistics on emigration and those made with inquiries tothe main recipient countries - Australia, New Zealand, Canada,the United States and Britain. Thousands more had left than SouthAfrica was counting. He said Africa was the obvious place fromwhere South Africa would source skills. Perbedy added that saidthe effects of globalization would add to this because SouthAfrica could expect increased numbers of skilled people from therest of Africa as Western Europe and North America raised theirentry barriers as those countries tried to keep their wealth.This, along with an exchange of skills between Southern AfricanDevelopment Community (SADC) countries, would play a vital rolein the strengthening of the region. "Research suggests thatSADC needs to celebrate the interaction of skills. That includespeople who come from outside (their own countries)," shesaid.

Insurance men have to provecitizenship in court (East Cape News, Grahamstown, 01/08) - AGrahamstown high court judge has ruled that two men seeking adeclaratory order certifying that they are South African citizensmust first prove that their ID book and birth certificates werenot issued based on "fraudulent" information. PortElizabeth and East London insurance brokers Julius Njuguna, 31and his partner Clement Moses Khumalo, 30, who both possess SouthAfrican identity documents (ID) had to apply for the order afterthe Department of Home Affairs informed them that their statuswas questionable. Njuguna, an insurance broker, said in histestimony that he was born in Port Elizabeth and that it was just"jealous" former business partners who informed HomeAffairs that he was a foreigner. Advocate Glenn Goosen, arguingfor the department, said that producing an ID book or birthcertificate did not not confer citizenship which was onlyconfered in terms of the Citizenship Act. An ID book or birthcertificate served merely as proof of details entered in thepopulation register. In affidavits before the court, he said thedepartment believed the information which formed the basis onwhich the ID documents and birth certificates were issued, wasinsufficient to establish whether they were entitled tocitizenship. It suspected the documents may have been issuedfraudulently. Goosen said Khumalo and Njuguna could not supplythem with the names of their parents or where their parents died.Advocate Jock McConnachie appeared for Khumalo and Njuguna. JudgeBonisile Sandi presided.

Zambia

Students living on the border attendMalawian schools (The Post, Lusaka, 31/08) - Zambiansliving along the border with Malawi in Northern Province haveopted to send their children to schools in Malawi because of lackof teachers. A Zambian headteacher Wilbroad Kisowa, based atChaswata Basic School, said most of the school going pupils inthe area had stopped going to Zambian schools due to lack ofteachers. "Most of the children are flocking to Malawibecause they want free education in that country and also becausethere are not enough teachers at most schools that are along theborder," Kisowa said. "I am the only teacher heremanning seven grades. I will be retiring on December 31 and I donot know how one can teach seven classes." Kisowa said hehad sent away pupils to go and learn at Chaba, Mubanga andChipanja full primary schools in Malawi because of the burden hehad as a teacher. "I am not teaching. I am telling you weare forgotten. Even my children are suffering because they cannotget education," complained Kisowa.

Fresh refugee influx (Irin,Johannesburg, 28/08) - Zambian immigration officials havewarned they are expecting an influx of more Angolan refugees intothe southwest corner of the country as fighting across the borderintensifies, UNHCR told IRIN on Tuesday. According to theauthorities, 103 refugees arrived at the border post of Shangomboon Sunday and Monday. UNHCR has been unable to confirm thefigure, but said last week 42 Angolans crossed into Kalabodistrict further to the north. Philip Ramaga, the head of UNHCR'sMongu sub-office in Zambia's Western province, described thecondition of the first group of refugees as "very poor"compared to earlier influxes. "The fighting has justworsened things," he told IRIN. Meanwhile, the Portuguesenews agency Lusa on Monday reported a UNITA claim that its forceshad attacked Angolan and Namibian troops in the southeasternRivungo region of Cuando Cubango province on 19 August. Thecommuniqué, issued in Lisbon, alleged that 13 Angolan and 9Namibian soldiers died in the fighting. Rivungo bordersShangombo, and is east of the strategic Angolan town of Mavinga,which was recently also the scene of clashes between the twosides.

War veterans close Zambia border (ThePost, Lusaka, 24/08) - War veterans in Zimbabwe'sVictoria Falls Town on Tuesday morning closed the border post foralmost an hour to bar Zambians from entering Zimbabwe. Accordingto Daily News of Zimbabwe, the war veterans on Tuesday morningforced the closure of Jays Superama Supermarket, PSM Wholesalers,Red Star and Victoria Wholesale before proceeding to the borderpost which they closed for almost an hour. An area councillorfrom Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF, Thembinkosi Sinbindi, said thewar veterans have complained that goods and foodstuffs insupermarkets were becoming too expensive with most Zimbabwean'sfailing to afford them. The war veterans charged that this washappening when foreigners, especially Zambians, were easilybuying the goods and foodstuffs causing shortages. Sibindi saidthe veterans accused Zambians of taking advantage of the fastdepreciating Zimbabwean dollar whose rate stands at Z$1 to K15.Commenting on the incident, Cross Border Association actingchairperson Mary Tonga said Zambians had nothing to do with thehardships or shortages of foodstuffs which the Zimbabweans werefacing. She said the Zimbabweans should instead be thankful thatZambians were entering their country and leaving money for theircountry at the expense of Zambian goods. "We have Zimbabweanwomen who are all over selling foods in offices door to door andsome of them are spending nights at our markets selling goods butwe are not complaining because we are in a free trade area,"she said. A check at the border found a poster by the warveterans banning Zambians from buying cooking oil, bread, sugar,mealie meal and flour from Zimbabwe while some supermarkets, as asafety precaution, had reduced the number of foods items to bepurchased.

Zambia jails 12 soldiers for illegalentry (Irin, 14/08) - Twelve Angolan soldiers havebeen convicted of illegally crossing into Zambia and sentenced toone year in prison by a Zambian court, news reports said onMonday. The soldiers were reportedly jailed by a magistrate inSolwezi, about 600 km northwest of Lusaka. The Zambia 'DailyMail' said on Saturday that the soldiers were arrested after theycrossed into Zambia's Northwestern province in search of food butlater surrendered to the authorities after being spotted in thearea. Hudson Beenzu, police chief of the province was quoted assaying that security agencies were still investigating moreoffences allegedly committed by the soldiers. It added that lastmonth about 10 Angolan government troops were arrested foralleged banditry in Zambian villagers closest to the Angolanborder.

Security fears among refugees (Irin,Nangweshi, 10/08) - Two-years-ago Nangweshi was justanother remote farming community on the western fringe of Zambia- isolated from the rest of the country by the Zambezi river andmarshes that flood during the rainy season. Now it is home to15,000 Angolan refugees, fugitives from intense fighting lastyear between government troops and UNITA rebels. Many of therefugees had initially run to Sinjembela in the southwest cornerof Zambia. But marooned by flood waters and uncomfortably closeto an insecure border, UNHCR and the Zambian government organiseda rescue mission, with Nangweshi as the final destination. Theflow of Angolan arrivals - albeit at a reduced rate in the lastfew months - has continued. But Nangweshi, restricted by agazetted forest and swampland, has reached its maximum capacityand UNHCR is scouting for more land in Zambia's Western Provinceto accommodate any new influx. Nangweshi is unlike most otherrefugee camps in Zambia. Mayukwayukwa to the northeast is also apredominantly Angolan settlement, but the refugees there are oldcaseload who have been in the country for as many as 20 years.The Nangweshi residents on the other hand are mainly UNITAsupporters, who fled the fall of the rebel headquarters of Jambain southeast Angola, and include a relatively large number ofprofessionals. They are highly suspicious of outsiders, includingAngolan refugees from Mayukwayukwa. Nangweshi is a place wherethis month the refugees refused to come for a food distributionbecause they were celebrating the birthday of UNITA leader JonasSavimbi. Some still build bunkers for homes, with only a low wallshowing there is a structure there at all, and UNITA officialsfill most leadership positions among the residents in the camp.To allay concerns by the Angolan government that Nangweshi couldserve as a recruiting ground for UNITA, UNHCR has begun tore-screen refugees with a possible military background. As mostof the men have carried a weapon at some stage, and may even havebeen forced to fight, the selection criterion has been thoserefugees with military training. So far around 100 people havebeen identified - mostly middle-ranking UNITA officers - and theyare to be moved to the Ukwimi refugee camp in eastern Zambia bythe end of the month, UNHCR protection officer Sylvester BriggesNkpaji told IRIN. But with their close association to UNITA, theNangweshi refugees are especially concerned about their security."What I fear is I'm coming from a conflict area but I can beharassed up to this place by the person who chased me,"refugee camp leader Sylvester Seketali told IRIN through aninterpreter. "What we need most is protection. It'simportant that we are protected by UNHCR and the Zambiangovernment." In July, a group of six journalists that hadworked with the former UNITA propaganda station radio Vorgantried to present the visiting UN High Commissioner for RefugeesRuud Lubbers with a letter alleging that colleagues had"disappeared" from Nangweshi and claiming that theirlives were now at risk. "At least five of our colleagueshave disappeared mysteriously from this camp and from thiscountry and they are being used as propaganda instruments for theAngolan government in Luanda," the letter read."Because of our past employment, our lives are [at] risk andwe need political asylum." Among the five former Vorganemployees who "disappeared" from Nangweshi was thestation's deputy director Arlindo Chimbili, who left in Marchalong with seven family members. He has since been heardbroadcasting on national radio in Angola calling on hiscolleagues still in the camp to join him in Luanda. However, theremaining journalists insist that Chimbili and the others did notleave of their own free will. "We can't believe they did soon their own as they left during the night and didn't say goodbyeto their neighbours," one of the Vorgan journalists AlbertoChinjumbia told IRIN. Suggesting that the Angolan consulate inthe Western Province capital of Mongu was involved, he added:"We know that the MPLA government needs those people thatspread the UNITA message to turn round and do it the otherway." Vorgan, the "Voice of the Black Cockrell",was closed in 1998 under the terms of the Lusaka peace accord.Its national broadcasts had unflaggingly - and often venomously -pushed the UNITA line. Its impact was such that when thestation's former director Clarindo Kaputu crossed into Zambialast year with others fleeing Jamba, he was granted politicalasylum and resettled in a Scandinavian country. Chimbili, hisdeputy, did not stay long in Nangweshi either. Apparently he hadbusiness interests in Zambia and travelled regularly to Lusakavia Mongu. Rather than a clandestine departure, the story in thecamp was that when he chose to leave a vehicle drove in andpicked him and his family up. "He went voluntarily, maybeafter being enticed after the [Mongu] consulate madecontact," the Zambian government's refugee officer and headof security Dominic Sekeleti told IRIN. He denied there was anysecurity risk at the camp. UNHCR also insists that the fiveVorgan employees left Nangweshi of their own free will. At leastone of them, Armandio Gomes Delgado, left a letter explaining hisdecision. He like Jose de Aranjo, a Vorgan technician and newswriter Russo de Carvhalo had been captured by UNITA and taken toJamba. All three had family in Luanda they wanted to see, UNHCRsaid. "They fear each other, they cannot leave openly, eachone is trying to see what the other one is doing so they go atnight," Robert Machalo the UNHCR field assistant atNangweshi told IRIN. "That's their culture, they don't trustanybody, these people have lived under a guerrilla type oflife." What is emerging in Nangweshi is that there arefamilies who were kidnapped by the rebels and are not willingsupporters. What is also expected to be reflected in upcomingelections for refugee office bearers is that UNITA's politicalhold is on the wane. Even among the remaining Vorgan journaliststheir is a feeling that Zambia has offered an opportunity toescape what is widely documented as a harsh regime under UNITAand a bitter war. "For every country in war there is norespect for human rights," one of them explained."That's why we are here, we had a chance to choose and weleft (Jamba)." What they however fear, and is the basis oftheir asylum request, is that they if they chose to leave forLuanda they could not be neutral. "Since the war is stillgoing on I don't think it's a good time to go to Luanda. Thegovernment doesn't want us for anything constructive but todestroy the other side," the journalist added.

UNHCR tackles HIV/AIDS in refugeecamps (Irin, Lusaka, 06/09) - They hadlost literally everything - their homes, their families, andtheir sense of security - and crossed the border into Zambia inthe hope of a fresh start in life. Instead, they were met withdisappointment as restrictive laws prevented them from leavingthe refugee camps they were housed in and from engaging insalaried employment. Human rights watchers allege that thelimitations that Zambian law imposes on refugees means they areoften unable to realise their full potential and could point to agrowing tendency towards xenophobia. Expression of these concernsis being led by the Catholic Church of Zambia, which in Juneissued a pastoral letter deploring laws that denied refugees therights to move freely, engage in salaried work, own property andhold a nationality. For a growing number of women in the refugeecamps, the way out of exclusion and deprivation lies in findingan indigenous male partner. Marriage to a local means a femalerefugee can automatically assume Zambian citizenship, while lesspermanent relationships imply at least a level of materialsupport. Such 'marriages of convenience' have inadvertentlyexcited a backlash from concerned locals. Recently, for example,Zambian women in some northern communities bordering theDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC) lodged a formal complaint withthe ministry of home affairs about refugee women"stealing" their husbands. For humanitarianorganisations working with refugees, such marriages presentanother, perhaps more serious, problem: the spread of HIV/AIDSamong vulnerable refugees. Zambia has one of the highestincidences of HIV/AIDS in the world, with an estimated 20 percentof its 10 million people believed to be HIV-positive. The effectsof the epidemic saw life expectancy in the country slipping from43 years in 1995 to around 37 years in 1997. The number ofchildren orphaned by HIV/AIDS, meanwhile, was estimated at360,000 four years ago. No scientific studies into the prevalenceof HIV/AIDS infection among refugees has been carried out so far,but experts assume that displaced people separated from theirfamilies and with no independent source of income, may be moresusceptible to the threat of HIV/AIDS than other groups.Moreover, the refugee population has so far being excluded frominterventions aimed at slowing down the rate of HIV-infection. Aconcerted campaign targeted at the youth in Zambia that iscredited with curbing the rate of HIV-infection among urbanteenagers, for example, has not been extended to the refugeecamps. Consequently, UNHCR has embarked on an aggressiveanti-AIDS campaign targeted at slowing down the rate ofHIV-infection in the refugee camps. Working with an initialbudget of US $200,000, the UN agency will conduct studies intothe prevalence of HIV/AIDS infection among refugees. It will alsoconduct a concerted awareness campaign to discourage the spreadof HIV/AIDS in the camps. "Among other things, we will setup youth clubs to educate the refugee population about HIV/AIDSand reproductive health. We will also intensify the condomdistribution exercise in the camps," UNHCR publicinformation assistant Kelvin Shimo told IRIN. Several otherhumanitarian organisations, including Care International and thelocal Family Health Trust are working with UNHCR in the anti-AIDSdrive among refugees. Zambia has the highest number of refugeesin southern Africa, most of them from Angola and the DRC, and thenumbers continue to rise every month as fighting in the twocountries persists. According to new statistics released by UNHCRin June, the total number of refugees in the country rose byaround 3,000 to around 258,000 over the past year. The refugeesinclude some 200,000 Angolans and around 50,000 Congolese, aswell as several thousand from Burundi and Rwanda. Most of themlive in long-term refugee camps in northern and western Zambia.But while the number of refugees in the country continues torise, donor support is dwindling and living conditions in thecamps are deteriorating. Early this year, hundreds of refugees atan under-funded camp in the north of the country ran riot inprotest against allegedly inadequate food supplies. Unless thedonor community commits more resources to refugee programmes inthe country, UNHCR fears that its anti-AIDS programme may becurtailed. "We hope to intensify the AIDS awareness campaignamong refugees next year, but it will all depend on donorsupport," Shimo said.

Police blame increased crime figureson refugees (Synergy Africa, Lusaka, 06/08) - TheZambia Police (ZP) blames increasing murder cases in mostbordering towns of Zambia on the influx of armed refugees comingfrom warring situations in neighboring countries. ZP spokespersonLemmy Kajoba said in an interview that statistics of murder inthe country were high in border towns because of the caches offirearms in civilian hands. Kajoba observed that automatic gunsthat were supposed to be used by military men were now foundamong private citizens. He appealed to the public and anyonepossessing an unlicensed firearm to hand it over to police inexchange of cash under the ongoing Firearm Amnesty in the countrythat aims to reduce the prevailing cases of aggravated robberycrimes in the country. Kajoba explained that the police had madeheadway with the Firearms Amnesty in that a number of people hadbeen encouraged to surrender their firearms to the ZP with noquestions asked. The spokesperson hoped the violence that haderupted recently in the Chawama by-elections would not create aprecedent for the forthcoming presidential and parliamentaryelections due to take place later in the year. He pledged thathis officers would be attentive to the needs of the Zambianpeople and ensure their protection during election timeespecially that there are still some firearms with unlicensedusers. He said claims by the public that ZP was corrupt, unfairand partial in administering justice could only be dealt with ifthe people concerned reported erring officers to theirsupervisors. "There are relevant channels to follow andsurely no supervisor would want an officer who conducts himselfunprofessionally." He said that mostly such matters ofunbecoming behavior involving police officers were not brought tothe attention of ZP officers.

Zimbabwe

Forced removal of farm workers(Sapa-DPA, Wedza, 30/08) - More than 5,000 farmworkers and their families have been driven out of their homes inone district of Zimbabe as President Robert Mugabe's militiasimplement a policy of mass force removals to empty the country'swhite farming areas, reports said. Meanwhile 60 workers in theWedza district about 100 kilometres east of Harare were remandedin custody in the magistrate's court in the nearby town ofMarondera Thursday on allegations of "public violence"until they next appear on September 12. Farm owner Peter Bibbysaid a guerrilla war veteran opened fire on the workers with ashotgun on Wednesday, injuring two, one of them seriously, whenthey protested against attempts by the militias to take overtheir farm. He said police arrested the farm workers, but not theveteran, who was issuing "plots" on the farm Thursdayto a mob of ruling ZANU(PF) party supporters brought there in twoarmy trucks. The farm workers' evictions are the second majoroffensive against white-owned farming areas by Mugabe's regime inthree weeks.

New farm disruptions displace 2,500Zimbabwe families (Sapa-AFP, Harare, 29/08) - Zimbabwe'swhite commercial farmers Wednesday said fresh farm disruptions ineastern Hwedza prime farming district have left at least 2,500labourers and their families displaced. The Commercial FarmersUnion (CFU) said in a statement that work stoppages on 22 farmsin the district have been ordered by illegal occupiers. Workerson 14 of the affected farms have been forced off the properties,said the CFU, which represents some 4,500 embattled whitefarmers. "In excess of 2,500 farm worker families have beendisplaced in the district over the past 10 days," the CFUsaid in a statement The CFU also reported an increase in burningof fields and eviction orders by the self-styled war veterans andthousands of landless blacks who have occupied hundreds of farmshere for 19 months. "The region is being burnt out on alarge scale through acts of arson," said the CFU, addingthat at least 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres) of land was burntover the weekend. A wave of widespread destruction and lootingtwo weeks ago in Chinhoyi, a farming region 100 kilometers (60miles) northeast Harare, left another 4,000 farm workersdestitute. Some 350 whites fled the district as mobs ransackedmore than 50 farms. President Robert Mugabe's government hasearmarked almost all white-owned farms in Zimbabwe forresettlement with blacks, in a bid to correct colonial-erainequities in ownership. Authorities originally said they wouldresettle about half the white-owned lands, or about five millionhectares (12.3 million acres). The area of white-owned farmingland to be seized has now risen to 5,327 farms totalling 9.5million hectares (24 million acres). The white commercial farmershave offered 557 farms totalling 911,000 hectares to thegovernment as part of an initiative to help solve the landdispute. The regular disruptions of the farms come as thetraditionally self-sufficient nation faces a looming foodshortage, which Zimbabweans are expected to begin to feel in thenext few months. Government has finally admitted the shortage,but downplayed the requirements saying only 100,000 tonnes of thestaple maize would be requried when experts insist that thecountry will have to import 500,000 from neighbouring SouthAfrica. Meantime, six regional leaders are due to meet inZimbabwe next month for a major conference to tackle thecountry's land reform row which has also seen relations with itsformer colonial power, Britain severely strained.

Mugabe rejects reported plan to expelwhites (Sapa-AFP, Harare, 26/08) - The Zimbabwegovernment Sunday said a story in the British Sunday Telegraphalleging that President Robert Mugabe had hatched a plan to expelwhite farmers from the country before next year's presidentialpolls amounted to "idiocy". Information MinisterJonathan Moyo said he preferred not to comment on such"idiocy" because doing so would give it "asemblance of rationality". "It is out of the realm ofrationality," he told AFP when asked about the report."It's the same thing as the ghost story," Moyo said inreference to another British paper, the Sunday Times, whichreported two weeks ago that Mugabe was being haunted by the ghostof a liberation war military commander. The Sunday Telegraph saida secret document from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to pro-governmentwar veterans outlined the political goals of a campaign beingwaged against white farmers. Entitled "Operation Give up andLeave", the British broadsheet said the document read:"The operation should be thoroughly planned so that farmersare systematically harassed and mentally tortured and their farmsdestabilised until they give in and give up." Mugabe hasembarked on land reforms aimed at redressing colonial inequitieswhich left 70 percent of prime agricultural land in the hands ofrelatively few white farmers.

Mugabe aims to evict all whites,claims report (Sapa-AFP, London, 26/08) - PresidentRobert Mugabe aims to expel all white farmers from Zimbabwebefore next year's elections, the Sunday Telegraph reported,citing a secret document which outlines the plans. The Britishbroadsheet said a secret order from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party toself-styled war veterans outlines the political goals of thecampaign being waged against white farmers. Entitled"Operation Give up and Leave", it reads: "Theoperation should be thoroughly planned so that farmers aresystematically harassed and mentally tortured and their farmsdestabilised until they give in and give up," the SundayTelegraph said. It added that the document was circulated inJuly, just before a recent round of invasions in which manyfarmers were evicted and farms brought to a standstill by theforced removal of their workers. Farmers who resist, the documentsays, should face the "Pamire-silencing method", areference to Chris Pamire, a businessman and former ZANU-PFsupporter who fell out with Mugabe and was killed in a mysteriousroad accident, according to the Sunday Telegraph. Referring tothe opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the document says:"The opposition should be systematically infiltrated withhighly-paid people to destabilise and cause divisions andinfighting." Meanwhile war veterans were promised "bigrewards if the opposition and white farmers are brought to theirknees", the newspaper reported. Concerns have been growingthat violence will intensify as Mugabe, angered by the continuedpresence of the whites, steps up his election campaign.Meanwhile, Richard Caborn, Britain's minister for sport, wasurging the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to reconsiderits October tour of Zimbabwe after the BBC was banned from theevent, the Sunday Telegraph reported. In an interview with thepaper, Caborn said Britain viewed Zimbabwe's ban on the BBC"very seriously". Zimbabwe is unhappy at the BBC'scoverage of the violence against white farmers and has expelledits correspondents. Land reforms in the southern African nation -aimed at redressing colonial inequities which left 70 percent ofprime agricultural land in the hands of relatively few whitefarmers - have poisoned its political and economic life. Violencehas left dozens of blacks and at least seven white farmers dead.

UK plans evacuation of nationals (TheFinancial Gazette, 16/08) - THE Britishgovernment said yesterday it had made contingency plans toevacuate its 25 000 nationals out of Zimbabwe should lawlessnessin the country worsen but dismissed speculation that it isalready massing troops around Zimbabwe’s neighbours inreadiness for such an evacuation. "Yes, it is true that wehave a plan in place to help our citizens in Zimbabwe but Icannot disclose the details of the plan," Richard Lindsay,the second secretary at the British High Commission in Harare,told the Financial Gazette. "It is however grossly untruethat we are deploying troops in neighbouring countries. We haveno troops massed around the borders of Zimbabwe at all," hesaid. Lindsay spoke as pressure mounted on the British governmentto lead efforts to stop President Robert Mugabe from attendingthe Commonwealth summit in Brisbane, Australia, in October overthe continued violence and lawlessness by his supporters oncommercial farms and against political opponents. Britain’sopposition Conservative Party yesterday called forZimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth and for Mugabeto be barred from the Commonwealth summit over the lawlessness.The Tory party’s shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude madethe call in interviews with the British media. British cricketauthorities said they were considering scrapping a tour toZimbabwe by their country next month. A spokeswoman inMaude’s office told the Financial Gazette that the shadowforeign secretary and his colleagues in the Conservative Partyfirmly believed that it was high time stern measures were takenagainst Mugabe and his officials. "Mr Mugabe has gone on andon and we sincerely believe it’s high time that the Britishgovernment took stern action against him before the situationdegenerates," she said. However, Lindsay said the positionof Britain was that Mugabe would attend the Brisbane summit justlike any other Commonwealth head of state or government."Zimbabwe is a member of the Commonwealth and PresidentMugabe is its head of state so he has an entitlement toattend," Lindsay said. "Our position is that he shouldfreely attend if he so wishes. Any issues about Zimbabwe canalways be discussed at the forum if the members so wish," headded. A Commonwealth diplomat said the Tory party’s callsto drop Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth were misguided assuspension was only applied to a government that seized powerthrough a military coup. The diplomat said there were other meansof exerting pressure against wayward Commonwealth regimes and theemphasis should be on using those measures against Zimbabwe. Hewould not elaborate on the measures. Zimbabwe has made headlinesin the international media in the past week over the arrest of 22white farmers in Chinhoyi after their clashes with illegalsettlers on their commercial farms. The arrests were followed byan orgy of looting by rowdy ruling ZANU PF party supporters. TheCommercial Farmers’ Union says nearly $200 million worth ofproperty was either looted or destroyed around the Chinhoyi areain Mashonaland West Province. Police claim that most of thelooters were farm workers, but farmers deny this. Roseline Zigomoof Atherstone and Cook, the firm representing the white farmerswho have been denied bail, said she had filed an appeal in theHigh Court demanding bail for her clients on Tuesday morning buthad not found a judge to consider the matter at the time of goingto print. Mugabe is also threatened with punitive sanctions fromthe 15-nation European Union, which gave him 60 days frommid-June to restore law and order, respect court rulings,publicly guarantee that next year’s presidential electionswould be free and fair and that international monitors wouldoversee the poll. In Washington, the United States Senate hasalready approved sanctions which bar the Zimbabwean leader, hissenior Cabinet members and military chiefs from travelling to theUS and freezes their overseas bank accounts if he does not endviolence, which has killed nearly 40 people since last year. TheUS sanctions bill is now set to be approved by a full Congressnext month after which it will be signed into law by PresidentGeorge W Bush.

White South Africans refused workpermits (The Financial Gazette, Bulawayo, 09/08) - Industry officials said Armsco, which holds a 51 percentstake in TA Holdings which owns Blue Ribbons, had recruited thetwo executives to turn around the fortunes of the food chain,whose performance has failed to rise in the face of a slump inZimbabwe’s economy. Rachel Kupara, TA Holdings’investor relations executive, acknowledged to this newspaper thatproblems had arisen over the work permits of the two expatriates,but did not elaborate. Industry sources said the work permitapplications were turned down after Zimbabwean managers andworkers, who apparently enjoy the support of the ruling ZANU PFparty, lobbied the Department of Immigration not to approve them.The workers have levelled allegations of racism against the twoexecutives, who are already working at Blue Ribbons. They havealso apparently told Elasto Mugwadi, the immigration boss, thatit is not necessary to bring expatriates into the firm becausethere are equally qualified locals. Mugwadi could not be reachedfor comment yesterday. His office said he was not taking callsbecause he was attending meetings. "The applications for thework permits for the two managers were declined about two weeksago," one industry source said. "There was a barrage ofverbal complaints and numerous anonymous letters from localemployees against the employment of the two whites. "Somewent directly to the immigration bosses to complain about therecruitment of these people. They were alleging racism." Thesources said the refusal by immigration to issue the twoexecutives with work permits flew in the face of a recommendationfrom the Labour Department, which had recommended that theapplications be approved. One said: "It smacks of politicalinterference if you consider that one arm of government hadalready recommended that the work permits be issued."

This page last updated 09 July 2004.