SADC Human Development Report launched
Ivorien passports for UNITA officials to be withdrawn
Illegal immigrants flock to Maun
Residents call for review of salaries to curb exodus
No job for people without Omang and work permits says MP
Extradition hearing for thirteen Namibians resumes
Government sends over 20 000 students abroad
South African murder suspect might be returned
Don't commit crime in South Africa says High Commissioner
Another border post necessary at Bobirwa says MP
Workshop on empowering immigration officers to deal with illegalimmigrants
Salary adjustment meant to retain nurses - says Finance Minister
Parrs Halt border post closed on advice of experts
Congo and rebels say they want foreign troops out ofcountry
Malawi concerned by number of deportations
18 arms caches destroyed in five Mozambique provinces
Dead Angolan detainees named
Fur flies over shifting Namibia-Angola border
UNHCR to screen exiles before return
Exiles to return home from Botswana
Namibian criminals in South Africa on the increase
Villagers flee from Angola into Namibia
Sweden comes to rescue at Osire
Osire refugees face starvation
World Food Programme says forced to cut food aid to Angolanrefugees in Namibia
Embassy bomber's case now in US hands says JusticeMinistry
SA will not petition US over convicted bomber
Constitutional Court may lighten foreign spouses' load
Sars not responsible for border problems says Gordhan
Constitutional Court hears case for changes to Aliens Act
Buthelezi warns on Home Affairs underfunding
Border controls inadequate between SA and Mozambique and Zimbabwe
Constitutional Court to review Aliens Control Act
Mdladlana frustrated by labour law delays
Framework for Immigration Bill approved
Immigration Bill inches towards finality
Cabinet approves Immigration Bill Framework / SA prepares for UNWorld Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance
New standoff over immigration policy
Controversial quota on foreign traders mooted in plan to revivecity flea markets
Pledge to probe 'train murder' of illegal migrants
Home Affairs slated for R19m of illicit spending
Report on Home Affairs reveals gross disorganisation
Immigration Bill creates ANC/IFP tensions
Finance Minister set for grilling on Home Affairs budget
Department of Home Affairs backs down on asylum policy
Buthelezi's immigration bill at centre of new row
Immigration Bill goes to Cabinet
Pastures not so green for Somalian taximen in city
State set to fight asylum policy action in high court
SA won't be flooded by Cuban teachers says Asmal
Plan to import skills broadly welcomed
Home Affairs department committed to rule of law says Minister
South Africa seeks to exclude refugees
Many nurses seeking better paid jobs abroad
First batch of refugee ID cards to be issued
Full rights for refugees with new identity document
Pemba refugees return home
South African farmers petition for Zimbabwean workers
The maze in acquiring Zimbabwean citizenship
SADC Human Development Report launched(Sapa, Windhoek, 06/05) - A 304-page Southern AfricanDevelopment Community (SADC) Regional Human Development report onthe challenges and opportunities for regional integration in theregion has been launched. The SADC regional Development Report,released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), useshuman development indices to measure the quality of life in theSADC members states. The main constraints on regional integrationand human development, the report argues, are economic threatsposed by globalisation, threats to peace and security, theproblems of migration and refugees, the HIV/Aids pandemic andenvironmental insecurity. The report also explores the weaknessesin the current institutional policies of SADC countries. Itfurther proposes ways in which the region can both fast-tracktheir respective progress and address constraints. The potentialof the regions resources stands to be harnessed through ashared vision of creating a single economic space and collectiveregional efforts towards cross-border trade, investment and thefree movement for other factors of production.
Ivorien passports for UNITA officialsto be withdrawn (ANGOP, Luanda, 29/05) - By the end ofthis month, the new government in Cote d'Ivoire has promised towithdraw Ivoirien passports granted to officials within JonasSavimbi's rebel movement, UNITA. According to the IvorienMinister of State for Defense and Civil Protection, Lida KonasiMoise, the hunt for the said passports is already underway. Whiletouring the headquarters of the Angolan Army in Luanda, theminister exclaimed that rebels, attempting to carry out actionsthat would destabilize the Angolan government and people, will nolonger be able to count on Ivorien passports. He said the newregime installed in Abidjan wants to shift to a new page andfully apply all international accords on the sanctions imposed onthe Jonas Savimbi's movement. He added that any Angolan citizenwilling to stay in Cote d'Ivoire, without political intentionsagainst the normal functioning of the states' centralinstitutions, is welcome and will enjoy full support from thelocal government. Cote d'Ivoire wishes for peace to be achievedrapidly in Angola and for Africa to utilize her potential. Also,he added that his country is ready to cooperate with Angola on adefinitive peace plan, "because the current government ofCote d'Ivoire is not available to cooperate with rebelgroups".
Illegal immigrants flock to Maun(Mmegi, 25/05) - With the continued influx of illegalimmigrants into Maun, local authorities have launched a majormove counter the situation. "We have lots of them and theyuse our health facilities for their benefit. They control thetaxi-combi industry and are taking jobs away from the citizens.We are even suspicious if the recent spate of robbery attackscannot be attributed to their presence. It is not onlyZimbabweans and Zambians. The Angolans and Namibians have alsojoined and they arrive on a daily basis," Maun DistrictCommissioner Michael Maforaga said in an interview. He said hedispatched trucks to fetch 14 more refugees from Shakawe, so theycould be locked up in jail cells before facing repatriation. Buta member of Women Against Rape (WAR) said Maun suffers from amore serious problem than is seen on the surface. She revealedthat the disease that has engulfed Maun for a long time, thoughignored by residents, is rooted in the hatred for foreigners."About two months ago, the Maun Police was packed withpeople and it looked like a major crackdown. There were evenroadblocks around the village to arrest immigrants. There is somuch racism around here - and people from outside are always seenas bad elements thieves, thugs and rapists, when we actually havesuch people in our midst," she said. She further saidinstead of viewing foreigners as bad elements, Batswana shouldnote that they are the ones hiring them to do hard work foralmost no pay. "Botswana is a haven for refugees. Inaddition, some of these arrested people are extremelyimpoverished, old and handicapped men and women. I foresee thesituation getting worse with time. Why don't they crackdown onbrutal safari operators, for example?" she wondered. Effortsto gather details surrounding the police arrests were fruitlessat the time of going to press because the new station commander,Gilbert Mathumo, has been in office for less than five days. Wecould not reach the former officer-in-charge because she had beentransferred.
Residents call for review of salariesto curb exodus (BOPA, 17/05) - Residents of Mosetse havecalled for the review of the public service salary structures tostem the exodus of government workers to the private sector andneighbouring countries. Speaking at kgotla meetings Sebina/Gweta,MP Oliphant Mfa addressed, Mosetse, Kumogoree and Lepasheresidents said the recent salary adjustments would not stop theexodus of nurses but would instead create more problems for thepublic service. The residents criticised the government foraiming at retaining nurses while the whole public service wascomplaining of low salaries. Residents called for the abolitionof salary scales A and B, suggesting that all governmentemployees should be remunerated from the C scale. They asked thegovernment to extend to brigade employees, the same benefitsenjoyed by all civil servants such as leave concession and annualincrements as they also contribute to improving the quality ofeducation in the country. Mfa informed the residents about theCitizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) which takes offin July. He urged residents to engage in projects that wouldcreate employment for other Batswana. Mfa said loans ranging fromP1 000 to P150 000 would be restricted to Batswana at five percent interest. He said the medium scale loans would range fromP150 000 to P2 million at 7.5 per cent interest per annum.
No job for people without Omang andwork permits says MP (BOPA, 17/05) - Bobirwa MP JamesMaruatona has advised the management of Nitani and Zwala farms inthe Tuli Block not to employ people who neither have Omang norwork permits. Addressing the management and workers last week,Maruatona said some companies employed illegal immigrants becausethey provide cheap labour. Maruatona said employers who engagedillegal immigrants encourage crime and lawlessness; it is also anoffence to employ illegal immigrants, he said He also advised theemployers to follow labour laws so that even the workers couldknow their conditions of service. He added that some workers alsohelped illegal immigrants to find jobs in Botswana to thedetriment of other Batswana job seekers. Employment of illegalimmigrants also did not auger well for the economy of Botswana.He also said the workers should ensure that illegal immigrantsdid not take up employment in Botswana and they should reportcriminals, especially poachers. He charged that some farmers inthe Tuli Block are poachers. Maruatona called for cooperationbetween the managers and the employees.
Extradition hearing for thirteenNamibians resumes (BOPA, 15/05) - An extradition treayhearing for 13 Namibians secessionists wanted by the governmentof that country to face charges of murder, high treason andunlawful possession of arms and explosives will resume today. The13 men were part of a group, led by Meshack Mivingo, which fledinto Botswana in 1998 seeking political asylum. Lizo Ngcogco ofthe Attorney General's Chambers said in an interview with BOPAwhile the men had been granted political asylum in Botswana, theyescaped and launched grenade and rocket attacks on theinstallations of the Namibian government in Katima Mulilo inAugust 1999. Ngcogco said the men's attorney, Tengo Rubadiri,asked Magistrate Anna Mathiba not to extradite the fugitives.
Government sends over 20 000 studentsabroad (BOPA, 11/05) - Government sent more than 20 000young Batswana to study in foreign tertiary institutions,Barolong MP Ronald Sebego said last week. Addressing kgotlameetings at Papatlo, Borobadilepe, Madingwane and Metlojane,Sebego said the government spends more money on education than onany other service. Sebego said it was disappointing that some ofthe students to study abroad misbehaved. He said parents shouldmould their children so that they could be worth sponsoring totertiary institutions, especially in other countries. TheBarolong MP asked his constituents to co-operate withagricultural officers stationed along the border with SouthAfrican to prevent the spread of food-and-mouth disease intoBotswana. Sebego said the government did not have enough money totar all roads in the constituency. However, the Southern DistrictCouncil would to gravel roads that connect villages. MosimanegapeGideon, the school head for Iphutheng Community Junior SecondarySchool, asked parents to contribute money for the building of ahostel. Gideon said some students stay far from the school, hencetheir poor performance. Some of the parents a pledged tocontribute P100.
South African murder suspect might bereturned (BOPA, 11/05) - Kagiso Sebi, 19, a suspect inthe murder of Lobatse businesswoman Gloria Mahowe, might bereturned to South Africa should the court so decide when he andBenson Keganne, 25, appear for the second mention next Monday.Deputy police commissioner Thebeyame Tsimako confirmed to BOPAthat "investigations have revealed that Kagiso is a SouthAfrican citizen". Tsimako said that the South African PoliceService (SAPS) had requested that Kagiso be returned to SouthAfrica until extradition procedures were followed. He howeversaid that the question of whether Kagiso should be sent back toSouth Africa "is a decision that can only be made by thecourt". He said that it had not been established that Kagisowas a South African at the time he was handed over to Botswanaauthorities a few weeks back. Tsimako further explained thatcontrary to reports in South African newspapers last week, Kagisowas "not extradited but deported as South African policethought he was an illegal immigrant". He expressed hope thatthe issue would be discussed when the duo appear in court againnext week. The two have been remanded until the court decideswhether they should be detained or not. Meanwhile, Botswanapolice have not yet applied for the extradition of other suspectsin the murder case, Amos Moloi and Mpho Nkaletsi, who are stillin police custody in South Africa. Tsimako said that hisdepartment would do so after the investigations were completed.
Don't commit crime in South Africa saysHigh Commissioner (BOPA, 10/05) - Batswana visitingSouth Africa have been warned that they will be charged withaiding and abetting crime if they pay a bribe to any SA trafficpolice officer for committing minor traffic offences. BotswanaHigh Commissioner to South Africa Mothusi Nkgowe said Batswanacaught up in such a situation should "refuse to pay suchmoney because it is not allowed and they can find themselves inmore serious trouble. "In SA there is what is calledunderground police, they tempt you to see whether you are one ofthose people who assist the SA police to condone bribery. Theytempt you into bribing them." Nkgowe advised Batswana todeal with the police politely and kindly SA provincial head ofcommunication services at Rusternburg Peter Du Plessis saidBatswana who experience such treatment should observe the date,time, place where stopped, name of the official as reflected onhis name plate and the registration number of the officer. Hesaid the particulars should then be reported to Captain J.Coleman, the head of investigations, at 082 809 5404, or to thenearest police station. Du Plessis has assured travellers thatthe allegations would be investigated with the aim of bringingthe culprits to book to end the despicable behaviour that"damages the image of SA Police Service". He said anyofficer involved would be charged with corruption if there weresufficient evidence to support the charge. "Your report isnot the first complaint in this regard and we have alreadyprosecuted successfully against 14 officials," he said.Meanwhile, South African High Commissioner Thandie Lujambe-Rankoesaid such cases would receive the necessary attention it deservesas the proper treatment of foreign nationals visiting SouthAfrica for business or pleasure "is one of South Africa'shighest priorities". She however encourages Batswana withconcrete information to report such cases to the relevantauthorities in Botswana or straight to the SA High Commissionerin Gaborone. All complaint would be dealt with in strictconfidence followed up with the relevant authorities inside SouthAfrica, she said.
Another border post necessary atBobirwa says MP (BOPA, 10/05) - The need to open aborder post at Mashambe in the Bobirwa Sub-district will reducecrime along the Botswana-Zimbabwe border. Bobirwa MP JamesMaruatona said during a kgotla meeting at Lepokole in hisconstituency that the necessity to reduce crime overrides theconsideration of expenditure on opening the border post.Maruatona said crime along the border includes cattle rustling,border-jumping and illegal importation of goods which denies thegovernment import-duty revenue. He said, however, that theBotswana-Zimbabwe Joint Commission was discussing the possibilityof opening the border post at Mashambe. On other issues,Maruatona told his constituents that Parliament passed a motiontabled by Lobatse MP Nehemiah Modubule, which asked government toconsider paying cooks for primary schools. Maruatona passed on aP700 cheque from Vice President Seretse Khama Ian Khama toVulture Football Club, a pledge the Vice President made when hevisited Lepokole last year. He told representatives of the clubto work hard for its future saying clubs were a business throughwhich people could earn a living. For their part, the residentscomplained building inspectors of the Central District Council donot inspect houses built through the drought relief programme.The residents said they do not have a nurse because the one theyhad has since resigned. They complained about the condition ofthe Lepokole-Bobonong road.
Workshop on empowering immigrationofficers to deal with illegal immigrants (BOPA, 07/05) - Participantsof a two-day criminal justice forum workshop in Serowe havecalled for the empowerment of immigration officers to enable themto take stern action against illegal immigrants. Theparticipants, comprising police, headmen, prison officers, socialworkers and bye-law enforcement officers complained that illegalimmigrants denied Batswana employment and depleted governmentfunds through repatriation. In addition, they appealed togovernment to intensify and mount regular patrols along theborders. Government was asked to present the issue to SADCrequesting the organisation to come up with regulations relatingto the issue of illegal immigrants. For his part, seniorimmigration officer in Serowe Jerry Keosedile said illegalimmigrants had a negative impact on the economy of the country.He said funds being spent on the construction of an illegalimmigrant holding centre in Francistown could have beenprofitably spent on a project, which could have benefited thecountry. The participants called for stiff penalties to beimposed on any Motswana caught harbouring illegal immigrants andthat goods acquired in Botswana by the perpetrators must beconfiscated. On the implementation of the Children's Act, the lawenforcement bodies appealed to the Ministry of Labour and HomeAffairs to establish juvenile courts in the country. The Ministryof Local Government, they said must ensure the employment ofwell-trained social welfare and community developmentspecialising in juvenile matters. They called for an increase inthe number of magistrates in the sub -districts to prevent theaccumulation of cases. The workshop covered issues related to theimmigration and children's act and remand procedures.
Salary adjustment meant to retainnurses - says Finance Minister (BOPA, 02/05) - Therecent salary adjustment were aimed at retaining nurses, financeand development planning minister Baledzi Gaolathe said lastweek. Answering questions from the immigration and customsofficers at Pont Drift, Platjan, Zanzibar and Martin's Driftborder posts, Gaolathe said as most of the nurses are in the Cgrade, the 15 per cent increase will help prevent their exodusfrom the public service. Gaolathe said Botswana must be seendoing something to retain nurses especially as the HIV/AIDS isthreatening to wipe out the population. He added that governmentis disappointed that some wards had to close down at PrincessMarina Hospital because of the resignations of the nurses. Hesaid employees at lower grades should improve their educationalattainments so that they could advance their careers. Gaolatheexplained that government still has to consider the Tsa BadiriConsultancy report and does not know whether it would lead to afurther salary adjustment or not. On other issues, the ministercommended the public services for doing well compared to otherAfrican countries, although there is still room for improvement.He advised industrial employees to covert to permanent andpensionable so that they could benefit from the new pensionfunded scheme. For their part, the immigration and customsofficers called on the government to build bridges across theLimpopo River into Botswana so that visitors, who are mostlytourists, could use the borders even during rainy seasons. Theofficers suggested that the government should extend closinghours at the Zanzibar, Pont Drift and Platjan border posts beyond4 p.m. and to upgrade the Zanzibar border post to reducecongestion at Martin's Drift. They called on the government toemploy groundsmen for them to keep the environment tidy becausethey are the first points of entry into Botswana. They complainedof poor housing facilities. In response, Minister Gaolathe saidBotswana will have to convince South Africa about buildingbridges across the Limpopo River. In Pont Drift, Gaolathe toureda P7 million air strip which is expected to be completed in Junethis year. The airstrip, funded by Mashatu Game Reserve is beingbuilt by Protech Construction from South Africa. Constructionwork started last November. Immigration and customs officerswould also operate at the airstrip.
Parrs Halt border post closed on adviceof experts (BOPA, 02/05) - Botswana and South Africahave agreed to close down Parrs Halt Border Post on the advice ofexperts, says the Member of Parliament for Tswapong South,Pelokgale Seloma. Addressing both Tswapong residents and TuliBlock farmers at Makwate and Parrs Halt, the MP said the borderpost would only be re-opened after the two countries hadconsulted over repairing the bridge. The bridge was damaged bylast year's floods. Seloma informed his audience about theconsultations the two countries have been having over the damagedbridge. People expressed mixed feelings over the issue with somesaying while farmers did not want the border post closed,traditional leaders felt it posed a danger to users. Tswapongleaders felt the government's decision to close the border postwas justified.
Congo and rebels say they want foreigntroops out of country (SAPA/AP, Lusaka, 23/05) -Congolese government officials and representatives of the rebelgroups fighting it have said they want the foreign forcesfighting on both sides of the war to leave the country. The 21/2-year-old war began when rebels backed by Rwanda and Ugandatook up arms to oust then-President Laurent Kabila. Angola,Namibia and Zimbabwe sent troops to support Kabila. Under amuch-violated 1999 peace accord signed in Lusaka, the foreignarmies were to leave Congo. "We don't think that the foreigntroops' (involvement) will ease our work and we don't expect anyact of good will from them," Didier Etumba, a governmentrepresentative said Tuesday. Etumba spoke the same day adelegation of U.N. Security Council ambassadors met in Zambiawith representatives of the warring parties. Governmentrepresentatives did not express their support for the withdrawalsin that meeting, according to a source close to the talks. TheU.N. delegation traveled to Burundi Wednesday to discuss theconflict in that country. Olivier Kamitatu, an official with therebel Movement for the Liberation of Congo, agreed that thetroops should leave. "We, sons of this country, can easilyagree because the issues we have to deal with are simple. Butforeigners have too many strategical or financial interests in(Congo)," he said. However, it was unlikely the foreignforces would easily withdraw. Angola was involved in Congo todeny its UNITA rebel group from using that country to wagecross-border raids into Angola. Zimbabwe and Namibia havebusiness ties in the country. Rwanda's Tutsi-led government sayits troops are in Congo to track down Hutu militias thatmassacred more than 500,000 people, mostly Tutsis, duringRwanda's 1994 genocide. According to the Lusaka agreement, themilitias, whose presence in Congo is considered a major reasonthe war started and has continued, are to be disarmed andrepatriated. Although talks are underway between key officials,including Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan PresidentPaul Kagame, there has been no substantial progress on thedisarmament issued, Congolese sources inside Tuesday's meetingtold The Associated Press. The Security Council delegationexpressed optimism over possible disarmament, but the rebelgroups were more pessimistic.
Malawi concerned by number ofdeportations (African Eye News Services, 28/05) - Thenumber of Malawians being deported from South Africa has becomeembarrassing, said spokesman for Malawi's immigration office,Hudson Makhwala. He said at least 87 Malawians were deported fromSouth Africa in the past two weeks. "This is veryembarrassing for the nation and Malawians need to be educatedbefore they visit other countries," Mankhwala said. He saidthe Immigration Department would advise Malawian travellers onspecific problems they are likely to face when visiting othercountries. He said Malawian travellers could also get advice fromtheir embassies in foreign countries. "The problem with mostMalawians is that they are not conversant with visa requirementsand do not know how to go about extending their visitingdays," he said. He confirmed, however, that many Malawianspretended to be on a brief visit to South Africa, but actuallywent looking for jobs.
18 arms caches destroyed in fiveMozambique provinces (Sapa, 16/05) - Eighteen armscaches were destroyed in Mozambique over the last 10 days duringa joint operation between South African and Mozambican police,the head of the South African task force said on Wednesday.Director Mike Fryer said the South African police and theirMozambican counterparts blew up arms caches in Inhambane, Gaza,Sofala, Maputo and Manhica. He said 914 AK47 assault rifles, fivekilograms of explosives, 120,000 rounds of ammunition, 77 handgrenades, 31 mines, 246 magazines and more than 300 rockets wereseized. At least 90 percent of the weapons were still in workingorder. The recovery of the arms formed part of "OperationRachel" - a three week initiative aimed at combating illegalarms trafficking. On Wednesday, the 26 man task team blew up tonsof weapons in the Gorongosa district. "This is nice...thisis why I love my job," a team member said. Since the end ofMozambique's 16-year civil war in 1992, thousands of firearmshave been smuggled by well organised crime syndicates intoneighbouring states - mainly South Africa. Fryer said the teamwould move to Tete in the next few days to seize arms cachesthere. Most of the weapons were located after information wasreceived from informers. Fryer said 66 possible arms caches hadoriginally been identified for this year's operation but thenumber was reduced after several informers failed to show up.Weapons had also been removed in five of the areas that werepointed out to police. He said there was still thousands ofhidden arms in the northern parts of the country."Logistically speaking this kind of operation is anightmare...we will have to go back to plan the next operationwhich might also take place this year." Fryer said theEuropean Union funded the current exercise which cost aboutR500000. Delta Motor Corporation also sponsored 14 4X4 vehicles.Fryer said the arms caches represented a real threat to SouthAfrica when authorities first undertook to establish"Operation Rachel" in 1995. "People were sellingAK47s for a R100 a piece when we started this operation. Now anAK47 costs between R3000 and R5000 and an ammunition round R35 -earlier it cost 35 cents," Fryer said.
Dead Angolan detainees named (TheNamibian, 31/05) - The Ministry of Home Affairs hasnamed two Dordabis detainees who died at the Windhoek CentralHospital earlier this year as Joachim Joseph Paputu and AntonioNdala. Home Affairs Spokesperson Mika Asino told The Namibianyesterday that the two died of hepatitis and kidney failure onFebruary 5 and 22 respectively. The deaths of these two men, aswell as two unnamed detainees who reportedly, "requested tobe handed over to the Angolan government" earlier this year,reduces the number of detainees held at the Dordabis camp to 78.Asino said the two detainees requested to be handed over to theAngolan government "of their own accord", adding that"The Home Affairs Ministry is ready to repatriate any of thedetainees to Angola, on condition that they will be handed overto the Angola government." "He refuted allegations bythe the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) that some of thedetainees are Namibian citizens and are being held illegally bythe Police." "They have all confessed that they areUnita elements, actively involved in subversive activitiesagainst Namibians," Asino said. "They are all beingheld under Section 49 of the Immigration Control Act which givesus legal authority to keep them because they were a securitythreat to the country." "He would not divulge theidentities of the two detainees who allegedly asked to bereturned to Angola, nor the names of the 78 detainees currentlybeing held at Dordabis. Asino said the health of the remaining 78detainees was fine. "They are under normal conditions ofdetention." " He said the detainees are expected toremain at Dordabis pending consultation with the United NationsHigh Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on where to repatriate them.According to Asino, there were no definitive plans with thedetainees, "but their fate all depends on the outcome of ourdiscussions with those two bodies". The NSHR maintained thatnone of them have so far been charged with a criminal offence orappeared before a magistrate as stipulated in the NamibianConstitution." "Regardless of who they are, they areentitled to the right to be heard and should not be dealt with inan unlawful manner, whatsoever. If some of them are indeed 'Unitaterrorists', suggesting that they might have been soldiers, thenthey should be treated as prisoners of war," the NSHR said.In September last year, the Government revealed that it washolding 82 "Unita collaborators" and"self-confessed terrorists" at Dordabis, some 100kilometres south-east of Windhoek.
Fur flies over shifting Namibia-Angolaborder (The Namibian, 29/05) - A Swapo MP has allegedthat the founder of the now defunct Swapo For Justice Party,Sakaria Nghiwete Ndjoba, was behind the call to have the northernNamibia-Angola border shifted behind Ondjiva." "What wehear is that Ndjoba is apparently the one behind that because heis a CoD member," Hishikushitja told the National Councilduring a recent debate on the Budget. The call to have the bordershifted behind Ondjiva so that Kwanyama-speaking people can bereunited with those in Namibia was made earlier this year by theMandume Traditional Community Discussion Committee (MTCDC). Thegroup said such a move would enable the reconstruction of theOkwanyama kingdom as well as the reunification of the Kwanyama-and Mbandja-speaking people. Hishikushitja also challengedCongress of Democrats (CoD) leader Ben Ulenga and the entire CoDleadership on whether they were supporting Ndjoba's alleged plan,as he claimed was now a CoD member. Responding to Hishikushitja'sclaim, Ndjoba said there was "no right-thinkingKwanyama-speaking person happy with the current Angolan/Namibianborder". "This is something all Kwanyamas are unhappyabout," Ndjoba told The Namibian. Although he admitted thathe supported the idea of shifting the border behind Ondjiva,Ndjoba denied that the idea was his. He said if the Governmentwanted to know if Kwanyamas were unhappy with the current borderset-up, they could go there and find out for themselves. Ndjoba,who also denied that he was a CoD member, said the current borderwas set up by the Portuguese and the South African colonialregime. He said there were many people in the Namibian DefenceForce, some even holding top positions, who came from Angola'sCunene province. "If these people are not Namibians, whenwill they go back to Angola?" he asked. This, he said, was aclear indication that those who put up the border have placed alarge part of the Kwanyama area in Angola and he sees no reasonwhy the border should not be changed.
UNHCR to screen exiles before return(The Namibian, 29/05) - A senior official of the UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday said theorganisation will first ascertain whether the Namibians exiled atDukwe in Botswana have voluntarily registered to be repatriatedbefore the exercise can be undertaken. Fidelis Swai said contraryto a report in The Botswana Gazette newspaper last week that 600Namibians had expressed their willingness to be repatriated, theofficial number was around 500." "The number ofNamibians who have expressed willingness to go home is about 500.When you have refugees who express the wish to return to theircountry of origin then UNHCR will definitely facilitate theirreturn to their home country," Swai, a senior UNHCRspokesman based in Pretoria said." "What happens firstis that UNHCR is in the process of verifying the names of thepeople who have come forward (to be repatriated) to ensure thatthey are not being forced or even coerced to return home,"he said. After the verification UNHCR will then formalise itstalks and enter into a tripartite agreement with the governmentsof Botswana and Namibia for the repatriation of the home-sickexiles who fled from the Caprivi in the aftermath ofsecessionists troubles in that part of the country in August1998. Asked when the repatriation exercise would kick off Swaisaid it might take a little longer because there were still anumber of issues to be ironed out. Over 2000 Namibian refugeesare living as refugees at Dukwe in Botswana where they have beenfleeing to since late 1998. They claim their flight to Botswanawas triggered by persecutions involving Namibian authorities. Butthe Government has persistently denied these charges.
Exiles to return home from Botswana(The Namibian, 28/05) - The way is being paved for therepatriation of several hundred Namibians in exile in Botswanafollowing recent negotiations between the Ministry of HomeAffairs and the United Nations. The Government and the UN havebeen meeting in recent weeks to discuss the issue of hundreds ofhomesick Namibians who have made appeals to be repatriated from arefugee camp in Botswana. Thousands of Namibians fled to Botswanain late 1998 following the uncovering of a secessionist movementin the region led by former opposition leader Mishake Muyongo anda subsequent security clampdown. According to a report in theBotswana Gazette last week "About 600 Namibian refugeesstationed at Dukwe Camp are said to have asked to be sent back totheir homeland." ""They want to go home to Namibiawhere they lead normal lives," the recent edition of thenewspaper quoted the Regional Director for Southern Africa,Ilunga Ngandu, as having said. Yesterday Home Affairs spokesmanMikka Asino said there have been some discussions between somesenior officials from the Home Affairs Ministry and those fromthe United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) overthis issue." "This (the discussions) has been going onfor some time ... once we receive notification that there aresome people who want to be repatriated there are already somemechanisms in place (for repatriation) ..... The way has alreadybeen paved," Asino told The Namibian." "If we areto receive information that there are some people who want tocome back to Namibia we will reactivate the mechanisms that arealready in place ... and we will welcome them as we have welcomedthe others before," he added. Fidelis Swai, a senior UNHCRspokesman who is based in Pretoria, South Africa yesterday saidofficials from the UN refugee agency are aware of Namibians whowant to return to their motherland but that the figure is lowerthan the 600 quoted by the Botswana Gazette. He said as theNamibian refugees have expressed their willingness to participatein the voluntary repatriation "modalities need to be put inplace to ensure that their return is dignified." "TheUNHCR official added that Dukwe, unlike refugee camps in Zambia,Zimbabwe and Mozambique, has not experienced any serious cuts infood rations and other basic commodities that are usually issuedto refugees. The total number of refugees at the remote camp atDukwe currently stands at 3 707. Of these 2 308 are Namibians,782 are Angolans and the rest hail from Somalia, the Great LakesRegion while a few are from West Africa. At the time of theirflight several hundred Namibians, among them women and children,claimed that they fled from the Caprivi because they were beingpersecuted by Namibian authorities. The repatriation process forNamibian refugees in Botswana was suspended after the separatistattacks in August 1999 on Katima Mulilo and nearby installations.Before the raid by the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) severalhundred refugees had been repatriated. There have been reports inthe past that some Namibian residents of Dukwe have beenintimidated and warned not to return to their motherland by ahardline group of CLA supporters at DukweThe Namibian Governmentis currently seeking through the courts in Botswana to havethirteen Namibians who allegedly took part in a plot to violentlysecede the Caprivi Region from Namibia extradited so that theycan stand trial on high treason and other charges. Some 126Namibians are already facing such charges and are in custody atGrootfontein.
Namibian criminals in South Africa onthe increase (The Namibian, 28/05) - The number ofNamibians involved in organised crime in South Africa has startedto rise, with some of them languishing in that country's prisonsfor decades for murder, rape, armed robbery and drug smuggling.South African prison officials told The Namibian that Namibianscommitting serious crimes in South Africa have become commonenough in South African prisons for the justice authorities toenlist the services of Namibian ethnic languages translators,mainly for Oshiwambo. Speaking from Pretoria, South AfricanMinistry of Prisons and Correctional Services spokesman RusselMamabulo said although the figure of 26 Namibians currentlyserving their sentences seemed small in proportion to the 3 000foreigners in South African jails, it was a sizable number inview of Namibia's small population. He said Namibians alsocontributed to organised crime syndicates from around the worldwhich have moved into South Africa in recent decades"spreading their tentacles across the country and even intoprisons". In Pretoria, Durban, Brandsvlei and Drakensteinprisons, three Namibians were serving their sentence for armedrobbery, murder, cheque fraud, kidnapping, rape and theft of amotor vehicle. Arnold Mostert, a 32-year-old Namibian, forinstance received a 20-year sentence in 1997 for robbery, andkidnapping, assaulting and raping a woman. He is confined to thePretoria Maximum Security Prison. Thomas Shigwedha is serving a17-year sentence in Brandsvlei Prison for murder, attemptedmurder, robbery, illegal diamond dealing and illegal possessionof ammunition. Mamabulo said some prisoners were still waiting inJohannesburg prisons to be sentenced for robbery with aggravatingcircumstances, cheque fraud and signature forgery. South Africa'sMinister of Safety and Security Steve Tshwete recently blamed theorganised crime syndicates in the country on foreigners, who wereinvolved in drug dealing and organised theft on a huge scale. Hesaid a strong co-ordination between the police, intelligence,prison and justice ministries had enabled 200 syndicate leadersand more than 2 300 members to be arrested last year. Thesyndicates covered all aspects of crime from drugs toprostitution, car theft and smuggling, and involve Chinesetriads, East European mafia, Nigerian gangs as well as groupsfrom Portugal, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, among others, accordingto Tshwete.
Villagers flee from Angola into Namibia(The Namibian, 23/05) - Hundreds of people living in theeast of Angola's Cunene province have crossed into Namibia in thelast few weeks to escape armed attacks on their villages. Manyhave crossed with their animals to stay with Namibian relativesand friends in villages in the east of Ohangwena Region. Thosefleeing say they have been forced to desert their homes becauseof incessant raids and abductions carried out by bandits,believed to be members of Unita. Many have had their property andlivestock stolen. When The Namibian visited the area this weekthe displaced villagers said they were facing a crisis as theirproperty had been stolen while they had not been able to ploughtheir fields because of the armed raids and will have no mahangu(millet) harvest this year." "Our cattle and otheranimals as well as our other belongings have been taken away byarmed bandits during the night and sometimes during the daytoo," one villager at Ohauwanga said on Monday. He called onthe Angolan and Namibian governments to come to their assistance.Sackeus Simon, who was born in Namibia, said that he had a cattlepost in Angola, but had lost many of his animals to bandits. Onthe night of May 10 this year, a group of about 32 armed men cameto his house looking for him and his livestock. "Luckyenough I was not there. Also my animals were not there because Itook them to my brother in Namibia. They then instead took all mypeople and all my belongings and went away with them," hesaid. The same bandits also went to five other houses to stealbelongings and abduct people, Simon told The Namibian. Many ofthese displaced people now living along the border have builttheir temporary settlements near the camps of the securityforces. However, they remain in a poor condition, without food,clothes, water and medicine. The Namibian found many of themcrossing the border to Namibian hospitals and clinics even thoughthey said they did not have money to pay for medical help."We really need help, it seems that there is nobody whoknows about us. Please go and tell the Namibian and Angolanauthorities as well as other governments in the world to come andget us out from this big problem," Evelina Nagodji said.Matheus Tobias, who has already lost about 180 cattle to thearmed bandits this year, said that many villages in the east ofCunene Province are deserted. He said his family was having tosurvive on the charity of Namibian relatives and friends.
Sweden comes to rescue at Osire (TheNamibian, 17/05) - Sweden has come to the rescue ofabout 20 000 refugees at Osire who were on the brink ofstarvation.The World Food Programme said yesterday that theSwedish government donated US$1 million (about N$8 million)following an urgent appeal. The WFP had said in its appeal thatthe refugees at Osire faced starvation unless money was madeavailable before the middle of next month." "The foodpipeline and rations in Osire will be secured for the remainderof 2001 with this funding and we will be able to continue ourimportant work in Namibia," said Ronald Sibanda, the WFPCountry Director in Angola. Osire is about 300km north of theNamibian capital Windhoek. Food rations had been cut to 80 percent of the recommended basic monthly diet of 2 100 (17kg)kilocalories. Refugees were, as a result of the food shortages,getting between eight and 10kg of maize, the staple food. Asupplementary diet programme for malnourished people had beenthreatened and corn-soya blend had been taken away completely.WFP said in a statement that food rations could return to therecommended level and the special feeding scheme for malnourishedpeople would continue. The United Nations agency supplies maizemeal, pulses, corn-soya blend, vegetable oil, sugar and salt. WFPannounced that a Namibian salt producer, Walvis Bay SaltRefiners, responded to the appeal with a donation of six metrictonnes of salt.
Migrants detained (The Namibian, 16/05)- Immigration Officers with the help of the Police andthe army have detained 120 apparently illegal foreigners in anround-up operation held in Oshakati early this week. According toRuben Nikanor, an Immigration Officer in Oshakati, most of thosewho were rounded up in and around the northern town on Mondaywere Angolans. They will appear before a Tribunal Court to beheld at Ohangwena on June 1 2001." "It might be thatthe number of 120 will be reduced because it seems that some ofthe group rounded up could be Namibians who, by the time of theround up, were not in possession of their identitydocuments," Nikanor said yesterday. Some people in Oshakaticomplained to The Namibian that the Police and the ImmigrationOfficers also detained some Namibians, even though they knew theywere not foreigners. This, they said, happens every time suchround-up operations looking for illegal immigrants are conductedin the north.
Osire refugees face starvation (TheNamibian, 02/05) - About 20 000 refugees at Osire, nowinto the fourth straight month of food cuts, face starvationunless money to buy food is found by next month. The World FoodProgramme (WFP) this week made an urgent public appeal forfunding from international donors. The funds available are onlyenough to buy 30 per cent of the food needed for refugees hostedin the middle of Namibia, about 300 km north of Windhoek. Foodrations have already been reduced to 80 per cent of therecommended basic monthly diet of 2 100 (17kg) kilocalories. Dueto the cut in rations, refugees now get only eight to 10kg ofmaize, their staple food, instead of the usual 12,5kg."Because of the funding problem we have cut the corn-soyablend completely," said Penelope Howarth, the United Nationsagency representative in Windhoek." "It [the situation]is serious," she said. The WFP would now concentrate onmaize, beans and salt as other commodities - corn-soya blend,vegetable oil, pulses and sugar - were too expensive, saidHowarth. The food available at the moment can be stretched toAugust, but funding has to be found by early June to enable theagency to put in orders for the purchase of food. Ronald Sibanda,WFP Country Director who oversees the agency's emergencyoperation for mainly Angolan refugees in Namibia, said in a pressrelease "We are quickly running out of food and out of time.If we don't receive more help from the donor community soon, wewill see a dangerous rupture in the pipeline and rations willhave to be cut even further." "The statement said WFPwas "racing against time" to get money for the refugeeswho keep streaming in from Angola and the Democratic Republic ofCongo." "Refugees who flee to Namibia typically arriveweak and exhausted. A combination of gastric disorders andmalaria, combined with low food intake, leaves many refugees,especially children aged less than five, suffering from severemalnutrition," the press release stated. Lack of funding isthreatening to cause the suspension of a supplementary feedingprogramme set up to deal with malnutrition in Osire. Meanwhile,WFP and the Namibian Government seem to have found a solution tothe country's blanket ban of maize meal. Howarth said WFP was"fully complying with Government regulations" againstimporting maize meal, and the agency was buying the staple foodin the country or importing maize grain and finding millers atcompetitive prices. Government's long-standing import ban haddeprived WFP of the advantage of importing cheaper maize mealfrom South Africa and Zimbabwe. The ban was intended to protectsmaller mills in Namibia.
World Food Programme says forced to cutfood aid to Angolan refugees in Namibia (Sapa/AFP, Geneva, 01/05)- The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday thatlack of resources had forced it to cut food aid to 20,000Angolans living in a Namibian refugee camp by 20 percent for thefourth month running. WFP spokeswoman Christaine Berthiaume saidnew refugees fleeing Angola's bloody civil war were continuing toflood into the Osire camp in northern Namibia. The UN Office forthe Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has appealed tointernational donors for more than 200 million dollars forhumanitarian programmes in Angola this year, where overone-quarter of the population of 13 million is dependent oninternational aid for survival. So far, the OCHA has receivedonly about 15 percent of that amount. Berthiaume said the UnitedStates had donated 330,000 dollars and Sweden 96,000 dollars,which would cover the Osire camp's needs until August."After that reserves will run out unless we receive newcontributions soon," she said. An estimated 3.8 millionAngolans have fled their villages to escape fighting in the25-year civil war. An estimated 2.7 million live in internalrefugee camps. Some 400,000 Angolans are currently living inrefugee camps in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo andNamibia. Dennis McNamara, special UN coordinator on internaldisplacement, said in March a United Nations appeal for donationstowards humanitarian relief in Angola had received only half themoney needed in 2000 and would probably see even fewer donationsthis year. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) says landmines,disease and malnutrition make the southwest African country oneof the most dangerous in the world for children. One in threechildren in Angola die before the age of five.
Embassy bomber's case now in US handssays Justice Ministry (Sapa, Pretoria, 30/05) - SouthAfrica had already complied with the Constitutional Courtjudgment regarding embassy bomber Khalfan Khamis Mohamed and didnot intend pressing the United States any further to save himfrom a potential death penalty, the Justice Ministry said onWednesday. "The United States is a sovereign state. As SouthAfrica we respect the sovereignty of the US," spokesman PaulSetsetse told Sapa. Mohamed, 27, of Tanzania, and three others -Daoud Al-'Owhali, 24, of Saudi Arabia; Wadith El-Hage, 40, anaturalised US citizen born in Lebanon; and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh,36, of Jordan - were on Tuesday convicted by a US court ofconspiring to murder US citizens and officers and employees of USembassies and military facilities. Their conviction relates tothe simultaneous bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania andKenya on August 7, 1998, in which 224 people were killed. Thejury found Khalfan Mohamed and Al-'Owhali guilty of charges forwhich they could get the death penalty. South Africa'sConstitutional Court, which had outlawed capital punishment, onMonday ruled that the country's government should have soughtprotection from the death penalty for Mohamed before sending himto the US. Mohamed, who was living in South Africa under a falsename, was arrested on October 5, 1999, when he tried renew histemporary residence permit. Constitutional Court President JudgeArthur Chaskalson on Monday said the South African authoritieshad not followed proper procedure in Mohamed's handover to theFederal Bureau of Investigation and that his rights had beeninfringed. Even if Mohamed had consented to being sent to the US,as the government had argued, the government had a duty to securean undertaking from the US authorities that he would not face thedeath sentence, the court ruled. The government argued it haddeported Mohamed, but the court found that the proceduresfollowed amounted to an extradition as he was specifically handedover for trial. The Constitutional Court ordered that itsjudgment be sent to the administrative head of the Federal Courtfor the Southern District of New York, where Mohamed and hisco-accused were being tried. Setsetse on Wednesday said thejudgment had been faxed to the prosecuting attorney on Monday,but as that day was a public holiday in the US, it was again sentelectronically on Tuesday via the Department of Foreign Affairsto South Africa's consul-general in New York to bring to theattention of the Federal Court. "The matter is in the handsof the US now. We can't dictate terms to the US." Setsetsesaid the government's actions had been taken for all the rightintentions. "There was no intention to deliberately ignorethe procedures laid down in our laws..." There was nothingmalevolent in sending Mahomed to the US, said Setsetse. "Hechose to be sent there." The government agreed with, andacceded to, the judgment that certain procedures had not beenfollowed with Mahomed's deportation, he said. South Africa wouldcontinue deporting people who entered the country illegally underthe Aliens Control Act. "We believe our law is correct andconsistent with international procedures." The country wouldalso cooperate on mutual crime matters with the rest of theworld, Setsetse said. In terms of the Extradition Act, a countryrequesting that a crime suspect be handed over, should give anundertaking that the death penalty would not be carried out. Ifthe requesting country could not provide that guarantee, thePresident might decide not to grant the extradition.
SA will not petition US over convictedbomber (Sapa-AFP, Pretoria, 30/05) - South Africa doesnot intend to petition the United States to save a Tanzanianconvicted over US embassy bombings from possible execution, thejustice ministry said Wednesday. "The matter is in the handsof the United States now. We can't dictate terms to the US,"said ministry spokesman Paul Setsetse. South Africa'sConstitutional Court ruled Monday that the government actedunconstitutionally by handing over Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, tothe United States without seeking protection for him from thedeath penalty. Mohamed and three other suspects were found guiltyby a US federal court in New York Tuesday of bombing two USembassies in East Africa in 1998, killing 224 people in part of aglobal plot hatched by the Islamic militant leader Osama binLaden to murder Americans. Saudi national Mohamed Rashid Daoudal-Owhali, 23, and Mohamed face the death sentence for their rolein the bombings in the penalty phase of the trial startingWednesday, while the two others found guilty of conspiracy willface life imprisonment. Mohamed was extradited in 1999 from CapeTown to the United States. Setsetse said the government had sentthe Constitutional Court judgment - as ordered by the court - tothe US prosecuting attorney on Monday. But, as Monday was apublic holiday in the United States, the judgment was sent againelectronically on Tuesday via the foreign ministry to SouthAfrica's consul-general in New York to bring to the attention ofthe Federal Court. Setsetse said South Africa had now compliedwith the Constitutional Court judgment and did not intendpressing the United States any further to save Mohamed. "TheUnited States is a sovereign state. As South Africa we respectthe sovereignty of the US," he said. There was nothingmalevolent in sending Mahomed to the United States, Setsetsesaid. "He chose to be sent there." Government lawyerssaid earlier that Mohamed had begged authorities not to deporthim to Tanzania because he believed his countrymen would kill himin revenge for the Dar-es-Salaam bombing. His own lawyers saidthough that he had not been properly informed of his right to alawyer, his right not to incriminate himself and his right to askfor protection from the death penalty.
Constitutional Court may lightenforeign spouses' load (Business Day, 23/05) - The livesof foreign nationals may be made easier if the ConstitutionalCourt confirms the invalidity of sections of the Aliens Act thatimpede applications for work and residence permits. The sectionsthe court considered yesterday compel foreign spouses to applyfor work permits while outside the country, and require them notto take up an occupation for which a sufficient number of peopleare available in the country. The Cape High Court declared thesections to be at odds with the constitution, but in order tohave effect the Constitutional Court has to confirm such adeclaration. The high court said in its decision last year theprovisions were inconsistent with the guaranteed constitutionalright to dignity, and that it failed to give proper recognitionto the importance of family life. The court emphasisedparticularly the reciprocal rights and duties of spouses ofcohabitation and to financial support, as well as children'srights conferred on them by the constitution. The applicants arefour married couples, consisting of SA citizens married toforeign nationals not in possession of immigration permits.Foreign nationals may not enter or remain in SA in terms of theact unless they are in possession of a temporary work permit.Although foreign nationals may apply for the right to permanentresidence, they are not entitled to residence or citizenshipmerely because of marriage to an SA citizen. Advocate Anton Katzfor the applicants in the case said the rights of all fourapplicants were infringed or threatened by the inability of theirforeign spouses to work, or by restrictions placed on their rightto apply for a work permit. In terms of existing legislation, thehome affairs director-general has to have "due regardto" the occupational skills of an applicant for a workpermit, even if married to a South African. Katz emphasised thehigh court's thinking on the issue during argument yesterday."This court has emphasised the importance of human dignityin the context of the protection of marriage and family life tothe SA constitutional enterprise," he said. He said the caseinvolved the rights of people who are SA citizens and may bereliant on the work product of their foreign spouse. Thesections, Katz said, were "blunt instruments employed toprotect SA citizens and permanent residents in their employmentopportunities". He said, however, they failed to "takeinto account in any way whatsoever the rights of South Africansmarried to foreign persons". Katz said the act did not makea distinction between foreign nationals in general, and foreignnationals married to SA citizens. A person married to a SouthAfrican was entitled to all the rights that a South African wasentitled to, he said. Permanent residence "has as itscorollary the right to work". The court dealt mainly withpotential problems flowing from a requirement that a permit beissued 30 days after application. Legal representatives for thehome affairs department said the department accepted the highcourt order.
Sars not responsible for borderproblems says Gordhan (Sapa, Parliament, 23/05) - TheSouth African Revenue Services (Sars) could not be heldaccountable for the management of all facilities at the country'sborder posts, its commissioner, Pravin Gordhan, said onWednesday. Addressing Parliament's public accounts committee(Scopa), he said it was not Sars' responsibility to build andupgrade border post facilities. Gordhan was responding to anauditor-general report released earlier this week, which foundthat operations at border posts with Mozambique and Zimbabwe werehamstrung by inadequate security arrangements and poorly-trainedstaff. The report, tabled in Parliament on Monday, found thatwhile some progress had been made upgrading facilities, thecontrol of goods seized by customs officials remained lacking.The AG visited the Lebombo and Beit Bridge border posts - on theborders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe respectively - duringOctober 1999, and May and December 2000. Gordhan said Sars was inthe process of improving management skills and the training ofstaff was a high priority. However, the department of homeaffairs and the South African Police Service had significantresponsibilities when it came to the management of border posts.Government's security cluster of ministers was co-ordinating themanagement and control of the border posts. It was a pity theauditor-general's report had concentrated on Sars, rather thanlooking at border control in its entirety, he said. Gordhanacknowledged, however, that much had to be done to improveconditions at South Africa's border posts, particularly in remoteareas. He recommended that government consider setting up"one-stop shops" to link the facilities with those ofneighbouring countries. The AG report found, that while progresshad been made over the period of examination, particularly oninfrastructure, the improvements were constrained by competitionfor funds, disagreement regarding the administrative proceduresto be followed, and inadequate training. It said staff numberswere inadequate, and those employed were poorly trained to detector seize prohibited goods; goods were not properly recorded andsecured, and state warehouse records were badly maintained.
Constitutional Court hears case forchanges to Aliens Act (Sapa, Johannesburg, 22/05) - TheConstitutional Court on Tuesday considered declarations ofinvalidity of two sections of the Aliens Control Act 96 of 1991regarding applications for work permits by foreign spouses ofSouth African citizens. The case is being brought by AnnetteBooysen and others against the Minister and director general ofHome Affairs. The first section concerns the obligation ofspouses who want to work in South Africa to apply for a workpermit while outside the country, and then not to enter thecountry until the permit has been issued. The second relates tothe provision that work permits would only be issued to spousesof South African citizens if they do not pursue an occupation forwhich enough South Africans are available and qualified. The CapeHigh Court in February this year declared these sections 26(2)and 26(3)(b) of the Aliens Control Act 96 of 1991 to beinconsistent with the Constitution and therefore invalid. Thedeclarations of invalidity were then suspended for 12 monthsuntil June 2002 to enable parliament to correct theinconsistencies. It was submitted that the applicants' rightswere infringed by the restrictions on the rights of foreignspouses to apply for work permits. The argument includes that theexisting provisions did not give proper recognition to theimportance of family life, particularly the reciprocal rights andduties of spouses to cohabitation and to financial support. Itwas submitted that such partnerships are not only of personalimportance to the parties involved but also of fundamentalimportance to society at large. The family unit is the"fundamental unit of society" and therefore"entitled to protection by the society and the state"."The freedom of every person to choose a life partner,establish a family and live together as a family unit enjoysprotection under a variety of international instruments. SouthAfrica has ratified and is bound by some of thoseinstruments," papers before the Constitutional Court held.The rights of children not to be separated from their parents arealso infringed by the restrictions in the existing Act. TheMinister of Home Affairs has not opposed the application. TheConstitutional Court has not yet handed down a ruling.
Buthelezi warns on Home Affairsunderfunding (Sapa, Johannesburg, 22/05) - Home AffairsMinister Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Tuesday warned that "severeand untenable" underfunding of his department would impairits activities and slow down service delivery. Introducing debateon his Budget vote in the National Assembly, he said he hadraised this matter during last year's debate on the home affairsdepartment's budget. Yet the budget allocation this year -excluding personnel expenditure and transfer payments - had infact decreased by 5,9 percent, he said. His concern was shared byopposition parties, with a number saying they would not supportthe Budget vote because of the underfunding. Buthelezi said thatdue to financial constraints, the department had, since 1998,placed a moratorium on filling vacancies. "To renderworld-class services while operating with 84 percent of a staffestablishment, determined on the basis of the needs six years'ago, is just impossible to do," Buthelezi said. "If theupward adjustment of the baseline allocation of my department isnot addressed urgently, it will become almost impossible torender the kind of service members of the public expect anddeserve." Speaking to journalists at a pre-debate briefing,Buthelezi said the issue had been raised in Cabinet, afterdirector-general Billy Masetlha's recent "impassionedplea" to Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee. Hesaid he could not divulge Cabinet discussions, "but it (theCabinet) was very positive indeed". Speaking during thedebate, chairman of Parliament's home affairs portfoliocommittee, Aubrey Mokoena (ANC), said he had written to FinanceMinister Trevor Manuel about the committee's concern at theunderfunding. Manuel had replied that he understood the concern,and the committee must make submissions for more funds in the2002 Budget. Chief Democratic Alliance spokesman on home affairs,Mannetjies Grobler, said the DA could not support the Budgetvote. He slated the "shocking" lack of control by theIndependent Electoral Commission of money allocated to it. PrinceNhlahla Zulu (IFP) said his party would support the vote, despiteits serious concern on the underfunding. Buthelezi told theAssembly that as a result of the moratorium on filling vacancies,as well as vacancies created by a number of personnel takingvoluntary severance packages, the department had operated withoutalmost a fifth of its staff for the whole of last year. "Theeffect of this can be seen in a statistical decrease in almostall the services being rendered by the department of homeaffairs. "The morale among existing personnel has becomelow, due to the tremendous workload and continuous working ofovertime, and with backlogs increasing steadily," he said.
Border controls inadequate between SAand Mozambique and Zimbabwe (Sapa, Parliament, 21/05) -Operations at South Africa's border posts with Mozambique andZimbabwe have been hamstrung by inadequate security arrangementsand poorly-trained staff, according to an auditor-general'sreport. The report, tabled in Parliament on Monday, found theSouth African Revenue Service (Sars) had made considerableprogress upgrading facilities, but that the control of goodsseized by customs officials remained lacking. The AG visited theLebombo and Beit Bridge border posts - on the borders withMozambique and Zimbabwe respectively - during October 1999, andMay and December 2000. These countries were not members of theSouthern African Customs Union, and therefore the border postshad to handle full export and import requirements. The reportfound that, while progress had been made over the period ofexamination, particularly on infrastructure, the improvementswere constrained by competition for funds; disagreement regardingthe administrative procedures to be followed; inadequate trainingand local management's non-compliance with rules. Regarding thedetention and seizure of goods, the report said staff numberswere inadequate and those employed were poorly trained to detector seize prohibited goods; goods were not properly recorded andsecured; and state warehouse records were badly maintained.
Constitutional Court to review AliensControl Act (Independent Online, 21/05) - TheConstitutional Court will on Tuesday at 10am considerdeclarations of invalidity of two sections of the Aliens ControlAct 96 of 1991, regarding applications for work permits byforeign spouses of South African citizens or permanent residents.The case is being brought by Annette Booysen and others againstthe minister and director-general of home affairs. The firstsection concerns the obligation of spouses who want to work inSouth Africa to apply for a work permit while outside thecountry, and then not to enter the country until the permit hasbeen issued. The second relates to the provision that workpermits would only be issued to spouses of South African citizensif they do not pursue an occupation for which enough SouthAfricans are available. The Cape High Court has declared theseprovisions to be inconsistent with section 10 of the constitutionwhich guarantees the right to dignity. Judge J van Heerden, inthe Cape High Court, held that the provisions did not give properrecognition to the importance of family life, particularly thereciprocal rights and duties of spouses to cohabitation and tofinancial support. She suspended the declaration of invalidityfor a year in order to give parliament a chance to remedy thedefect. The applicants who seek confirmation of the declarationof invalidity are four couples consisting of South Africansmarried to non-South Africans. The minister of home affairs doesnot oppose the application.
Mdladlana frustrated by labour lawdelays (Sapa, Parliament, 18/05) - Labour MinisterMembathisi Mdladlana on Friday said he was frustrated by the slowpace of negotiations to amend South Africa's labour laws.Speaking during debate on the labour budget vote in the NationalAssembly, he said the department expected a report from theNational Economic Development and Labour Council no later thanJune. It was hoped the changes to the Labour Relations Act andBasic Conditions of Employment Act would be passed by Parliamentbefore the end of the year. Mdladlana congratulated both businessand labour for the broad agreement their constituencies weredrafting. "It is indeed unprecedented in this country fororganised business and labour to rise above their respectiveimmediate interests, as they have now demonstrated, to promotethe interest of the broader citizenry." However, thedepartment had allowed sufficient time and space for this tohappen. "It is equally important for me to register mygrowing impatience and concern at the slow pace that this processhas assumed. "While I understand that quality time isnecessary for quality deals, we cannot allow captains of industryand workers' representatives to talk forever." Briefingjournalists ahead of the debate, Mdladlana said two"sticky" issues holding up agreement were demands forthe right to strike on retrenchments, and disagreement overcompensation for work on Sundays. The Congress of SA Trade Unions(Cosatu) has threatened a national strike should business rejectits proposed labour law amendments. The trade federation'scentral executive committee has reportedly endorsed thisposition, after discussions of the proposed changes thrashed outin the Millennium Labour Council. Cosatu insists the right tostrike over retrenchments be included in legislation. It has alsothreatened to strike before the end of August in response togovernment's privatisation plans. The SA Chamber of Business(Sacob) has indicated it is likely to endorse a deal onamendments giving unions the right to strike over retrenchments.The chamber supported the package in principle, but must stillobtain a mandate from its constituents, Sacob labour consultantBrian Wasmuth told Sapa. Speaking during Friday's debate,Democratic Alliance labour spokesman Nick Clelland called forgovernment to waive certain "onerous requirements" inlegislation to make it easy for entrepreneurs to start their ownbusinesses and employ others. One way of doing this would be toallow customised contracts. These could be negotiated in thepresence of an official of the labour department, which would"waive the onerous requirements of existing labourlegislation such as the Labour Relations Acts". When apotential employee and a potential employer were willing to signa voluntary employment contract between themselves, it wasimmoral for a third party - such as the government, supported bythe "trade union aristocracy" - to stop them doing so,he said. His DA colleague, Richard Pillay, used his speech toattack Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. He said the violentpractices of that country's government had resulted in 500,000illegal immigrants flocking into South Africa, adding to alreadyhigh unemployment levels. The Freedom Front's Pieter Groenewaldsaid the House should remember that Mdladlana had promised inAugust last year that the labour law amendments would be beforeParliament before the end of 2000. Mdladlana, sporting a labourdepartment inspector's overalls and hard hat, said the departmentwould crack down on officials found guilty of fraud andcorruption, as evident by the arrest of two senior employeesearlier on Friday. Detectives of the elite Scorpions Unitarrested the chief executive of the parastatal Forest IndustriesEducation and Training Authority (Fita), Haroon Aziz, and head offinance, Daniel Malinda, early on Friday morning. The twoallegedly stole between R2,5-million and R3-million from thestate, said Gerry Nel, head of the Scorpions in Gauteng. Cars andfurniture allegedly bought with stolen money were also seized ina pre-dawn swoop in Sandton and Alberton. "I congratulatethe Scorpions for their timed reaction, and trust that the lawwill take its course," Mdladlana said.
Framework for Immigration Bill approved(Business Day, 17/05) - The cabinet approved a"framework" for the Immigration Bill yesterday,instructing the home affairs department to further amend thelegislation and render the recruitment of skilled foreigners toSA easier. Government chief spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe saidunder the new changes, the immigration service board would fallunder the home affairs department, rather than become anindependent statutory body as minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi hadinitially planned. Observers construed the cabinet's latestdecision as a "breakthrough" after last week'srejection of the bill. "The underlying wish is for the billto create easy access to SA and make the recruitment of skilledforeigners easy," Netshitenzhe said. He noted, however, thatamendments to the bill were not radically different from theoriginal one. Mario Ambrosini, special advisor to Buthelezi, saidit would be difficult to comment on the amended bill asdepartment officials had not seen it yet. The cabinet recentlyrejected a bill Buthelezi amended as it created, among others,the immigration service board as an independent body consistingof representatives from the private sector, organised labour andcivil society. It would have had executive powers to deal withthe issue of illegal immigrants. Buthelezi later toldParliament's portfolio committee on home affairs that the cabinethad felt that the board would be "too independent".Earlier this year, President Thabo Mbeki expressed the urgentneed to recruit skilled foreigners to SA. The bill, which hasbeen at the centre of a political storm between the AfricanNational Congress and the IFP, has been in the making for morethan four years. This week the department's director-general,Billy Masetlha, told the committee that the bill had to beurgently passed by Parliament to allow for an effective controlof foreigners into SA. He warned that under the current law, thecountry's system was collapsing and that an interdepartmentalcommittee would make proposals to the cabinet this month onstrategies to counter this. SA Chamber of Commerce (Sacob) CEOKevin Wakeford welcomed the cabinet's move, saying that thechamber would want to see the latest amendments to make sure itsrecommendations were included. "It is difficult to recruitskilled foreign labour into SA and businesses have to employhighly skilled immigration lawyers to realise this." He saidMbeki's personal involvement in the legislation showed howserious government took the recruitment of foreign skills intoSA. This would reverse the continuing brain drain. He said some"bureaucrats" within the home affairs department had tobe removed as they often perceived the recruitment of foreignersas a threat to local jobs. SA needed to create a skills base inorder to compete in the international world. The current lawsunder the old Aliens Control Act have inhibited growth andexpansion because companies have had to prove that they hadactually "interrogated" local skills before opting forforeigners.
Immigration Bill inches towardsfinality (Sapa, Cape Town, 16/05) - The immigration bill- which has been fours years in the making and is at the centreof a controversy between Home Affairs Minister MangosuthuButhelezi and the African National Congress in Parliament - isinching towards finality. The Cabinet on Wednesday approved aframework for the bill, "which outlines the broad parameterswithin which details of the bill need to be drafted",government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said. He told reporters itwas not a case of the department "going back to the drawingboard". The department had "gone some distance" indrafting the bill, and he believed there would only be a fewamendments needed within the framework adopted. The frameworkallowed - South Africa easy access to skilled personnel andcapital; - the establishment of a South African ImmigrationService (SAIS), as part of the department of home affairs; and -the granting of the relevant powers to the minister of homeaffairs, some of which could be delegated to the director-generalof the department and the head of the SAIS. The department ofhome affairs would process the current draft bill, in line withthe framework, for finalisation and submission to Parliament.Buthelezi originally wanted the immigration service to falloutside the department, and the board governing its activities tohave executive powers. Earlier this year, in hisstate-of-the-nation address, President Thabo Mbeki urgedParliament to speed up the legislation as the country desperatelyneeded foreign, skilled labour.
Cabinet approves Immigration BillFramework / SA prepares for UN World Conference Against Racism,Xenophobia and Intolerance (GCIS, 16/05) - Cabinet wastoday briefed on progress in the preparations for the UN WorldConference against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.While welcoming the steps that have been taken to put in placerequisite logistical arrangements, the meeting called for thewidest possible involvement of the South Africa population indiscussions around the issues which will be tabled at Conference.Cabinet approved a Framework for the Immigration Bill, whichoutlines the broad parameters within which details of the Billneed to be drafted. These include, the principle of facilitatingSouth Africa's access to skilled personnel and capital; thesetting up of the South African Immigration Service as part ofthe establishment of the Department of Home Affairs; and relevantpowers to the Minister of Home Affairs, some of which could bedelegated to the Director-General of the Department and the Headof SAIS. The Department of Home Affairs will process the currentdraft Bill in line with the Framework, for finalisation andsubmission to Parliament. The meeting was briefed on the latestdevelopments with regard to the constitutional developmentprocess in the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros. It wasagreed that South Africa should continue as co-ordinator ofcountries of the region, to facilitate commitment to, andimplementation of, the All-Party Framework Agreement. Cabinetreviewed the UN Millennium Declaration adopted last year, andcommitted our country to its implementation in an integratedmanner. It was agreed that SA would synchronise its multilateralpolicies and positions in order to respond to obligations interms of the Declaration. The meeting approved the followingstatutes for submission to Parliament * Revised Protocol onShared Watercourses in SADC; and * Medical Schemes AmendmentBill, which deals with issues of discrimination, rights todependants and governance of medical schemes. Cabinet approved aplan for the physical security of judges, magistrates,prosecutors and detectives involved in the investigation andprosecution of cases of urban terrorism in the Western Cape.Relevant departments are required to prioritise their budgetallocations for this purpose and, if additional resources wererequired, applications would be lodged with the TreasuryCommittee. The meeting received a report on the recent outbreakof cholera at the Durban Prison, and it welcomed the effectivemanner in which the matter is being handled. The followingappointments were approved * Board of the South African Libraryfor the Blind chaired by Dr C Marivate; * Members of the Councilof National Zoological Gardens of SA; and * Additional members ofthe Denel Board of Directors, including the new Chairperson, MrSandile DM Zungu. Cabinet received a report on the state ofcommunity libraries and the complex system for their managementand supervision. The meeting emphasised the critical role of bothprovincial and local government spheres in the funding andadministration of community libraries. It also urged that, asdiscussions continue on distribution of powers and functions inthis regard, Provinces should be urged to ensure that communitylibraries do not close. Issued by Government Communications(GCIS) For further inquiries contact Joel Netshitenzhe082-900-0083
New standoff over immigration policy(The Sunday Independent, 13/05) - President Thabo Mbekiis personally overseeing revisions by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, theminister of home affairs, to a draft immigration bill before thecabinet meets in two weeks time to decide whether it willfinally endorse the new version. Mbekis move is unusual andhighlights tensions between the Inkatba Freedom Party leader andhome affairs minister and his mainly ANC cabinet colleagues.Government sources say Mbeki is taking this unusual step becausethe revised version does not reflect what the cabinet wanted. Itmerely "tinkered" with technical aspects. The bill wasredrafted after a cabinet workshop on April 24. In essence, thecabinet wants decisions about immigration to be legally in thehands of the minister of home affairs, who will then delegatethat power to the departments director-general. Originallythe bill proposed that a legally independent board be responsiblefor regulating immigration. However, the minister of home affairswould retain wide powers. The powers the minister of home affairswould retain include chairing the board, appointing most of theboards members, disbanding the board at any time orterminating the appointment of non-governmental representativesfor good cause. "At the workshop three weeks ago, thecabinet said it,wasnt desirable for the minister totransfer responsibility to the immigration board. The ministerhad to exercise those powers of decision-making. "In anylaw, powers of this nature lie with the minister but these arenormally delegated to the director-general because the ministerdoesnt administer policy," said a government source."The minister was asked to brief the state law adviser aboutthat discussion. But what happened is that there was a tinkeringtechnical aspects and the bill was brought back to the cabinet.So the president said, okay Ill brief the state law advisermyself;" the source said. This is not how Butheleziunderstands the cabinet workshop discussion. According to atwo-page explanation from his office of what happened, "thecabinet questioned the necessity of structuring immigrationcontrol in a regulatory agency and having regulations achopted bya board instead of a minister. The department offered severalexplanations for this option and also clarified that although theboard was legally distinct from the department, it wasnevertheless bound to the government. But the cabinet'sprevailing view was that migration control should remainstructured as an ordinary function of home affairs and not belocated in a separate statutory body." According to theexplanation from Buthelezi's office, the cabinet wanted theminister - not the board - to adopt regulations and wanted theboard to serve as an advisory body. The redrafted bill whichButhelezi has submitted to the cabinet makes these changes, theexplanatory memorandum says. But the redrafted bill alsocontinues to make Buthelezi - as minister of home affairs -completely in control of immigration. The department'sdirector-general is given the function of "managingdirector" of the board - "serving at the pleasure ofthe minister". At a briefing to parliament's home affairscommitee this week - ahead of his budget vote in the nationalassembly on May 25 - Buthelezi did little to dispel suspicionsthat political manoeuvering could be the reason for delays ingetting the bill passed into law. Buthelezi told the committee"There was a feeling in the cabinet that the board should beunder the minister. My office and I have tried to change it - tomake it closer to me - but I don't know exactly what toexpect."
Controversial quota on foreign tradersmooted in plan to revive city flea markets (Saturday Argus,12/05) - Cape Town's city centre authorities haveproposed a controversial by-law to revive the CBDs decayingflea markets by slapping a 30% quota on foreign a traders. Theyalso plan to bring back the glory days of the once-popular citycentre flea markets such as Greenmarket Square which used to selllocal arts and crafts, by ensuring that at least 70% of goodssold there are locally made. Most flea market traders in the cityare foreigners, many legal refugees from African countries andsome sell goods from those countries which have replaced localproducts. The decline in the flea markets, which once had aunique Cape Town flavour, has been attributed partly to massproduced foreign goods which can be found anywhere in Africabeing sold by foreign traders. The Cape Town Partnership betweenthe municipality, business and tourism bodies, which has beenmandated to run the city centre improvement campaign, has handedthe proposal to the unicity council. It is asking that theinvolvement of foreigners doing business on Greenmarket Square,the Grand Parade and other markets be limited to 30%. Cape TownPartnership chief executive Michael Farr said "If one goesto London you expect to buy British goods, not koala bears fromAustralia. People who come here want to buy unique products fromCape Town, or at the very least South African-made products."We need to get back the uniqueness of the city and what ithas to offer. When one goes to the markets in Egypt youdont see wooden giraffes manufactured in SouthAfrica." Farr said unemployment in Cape Town was between 18and 24% and said citizens should have the opportunity to make aliving. He said the partnership had also asked that the unicityconsider passing a municipal regulation which would specify that70% of all products sold at flea markets or arts and craftsmarkets in the city be made in the Cape or at least in SouthAfrica. "And in order to police this and prevent stolengoods or so-called pirate goods being sold, we would like to seemunicipal inspection officers doing spot checks. People tradingwould have to show where the goods originated and proof ofpurchase. They obviously also have to be in possession of permitsto be able to trade. "This is nothing different from marketssuch as those in Hong Kong, Sydney or elsewhere in the world. Thecitys legal experts are looking at the constitutionalaspects of that part of the proposal which makes it niandatorythat at least 70% of products sold at these markets be locallymanufactured." But Zoe Nkonzono, a refugee from theDemocratic Republic of Congo and a member of the Cape TownRefugee Forum, said steps to prevent foreigners who are in thecountry legally from trading in city markets were unacceptable."This is unfair. If people are here legally, whether theyare refugees or not, they should be able to trade freely."Refugees now get special South African ID books and thenhave the same rights as other citizens. In any event, many of theproducts from mid-African states are imported by South Africansand sold here," said Nkonzono. Farr said the partnershipwould embark on upgrading the Companys Garden before movingthe spotlight to Greenmarket Square. The square had 25% too manytraders and had become a filthy drug dealing area where lawenforcement officers regularly apprehended dealers, he said.After Greenmarket Square was revamped, the partnership would lookat ways to improve the Grand Parade, which would ultimatelybecome a seven-day-a-week trading area. "The idea is thateach area has its own unique trading character. So, for instance,Greenmarket could have clothing and related products while theparade could concentrate on curios and other artifacts."Information brochures should be produced setting out whatsort of products are for sale at the different markets. Thesebrochures could be available at hotels, the airport and othertourist information venues. "Ultimately each market shouldhave its own character, just like Cape Town has its owncharacter. This is important if we want to keep attractingtourists to our city," said Farr.
Pledge to probe 'train murder' ofillegal migrants (Saturday Argus, 12/05) - The SouthAfrican High Commission in Maputo pledged yesterday toinvestigate reports that South African officials murdered 14illegal Mozambican migrants by throwing them off a moving train.Some of the 1600 deportees told a Radio Mozambique reporter atRessano Garcia border post that 14 of them were thrown off thetrain while it was moving, and are therefore feared dead. Thesewere Mozambicans who tried to bribe South African officials tolet them stay in the country. According to the radio report, theofficials took money, but then threw them off the train anyway.South African High Commissioner Jessie Duarte declared "Ifsuch a thing happened, it is unacceptable." She said thepeople accompanying the illegal migrants were customs officers."We must find out who they were," she said. The HighCommission is now asking for anyone with information to comeforward.
Home Affairs slated for R19m of illicitspending (Cape Argus, 11/05) - Auditor-General ShauketFakie has issued a blistering report on the Department of HomeAffairs after finding more than R19 million of illicit spendingand mismanagement of the migration process. In his report for thefinancial year ending last March, Fakie said the unauthorisedspending had included R1.1m for a television advertisementwithout Tender Board approval, R13.8m overspending on staff, andR4.2m on chartering flights for illegal immigrants without TenderBoard approval. The departments office in Market Street,Johannesburg, was singled out for criticism. There was lack ofproper access control to offices, the report said. "Accesspoints were manned by cleaning staff and members of the publichad unrestricted access to working areas."Attendanceregisters were not always kept, control over stationery wasinadequate, and there was a lack of supervision over the use ofdepartmental transport and cash receipts. At the Market Streetoffice, inadequate control of delivery of identity documents andpassports had led to losses and thefts. Fakie also tabled aperformance audit of the Chief Directorate of Migration, which isresponsible for movements of foreigners. This includes processingapplications for permits for temporary work, study andimmigration, and tracing and removal of illegal aliens. The auditfound that the department had failed to get payment of R4.lm fromairlines which had conveyed "prohibited persons". Theimmigration code required payment of penalties within three days,but in some cases these had remained unpaid for more than threeyears. To this, the department responded it was stepping upefforts to recover these fines, and an airline had agreed to payR2.6m of the R3m owed for penalties. But the department wasreviewing the policy of penalising private conveyors, becausethis did not seem to be in line with international practice, itsaid. The audit found ineffective control of repatriation ofillegal aliens from the Lindela detention camp to the Lebombo andBeit Bridge border posts. During one five-month period in 1999,about a quarter of those sent from Lindela for repatriation didnot reach the Lebombo post. The department had not budgetedsufficiently for repatriation costs. The department saidbudgeting was difficult "It relies to a very large extent onestimates as the number and origin of prohibited persons is neverknown in advance." The department hit out at the Treasury.The Department of Finance does not seem to take notice ofamounts requested ... as the funds allocated by it are alwaysinadequate."The audit also found that equipment forprocessing arrivals and departures at Johannesburg airport didnot always work properly, and in some cases could not beaccounted for. "Of 67 work stations, only 15 were fittedwith passport readers, of which only three were in workingorder."The department said security at the airport wasdeficient after hours. "Furniture and equipment areconstantly being vandalised or stolen."
Report on Home Affairs reveals grossdisorganisation (Cape Town, The Star, 11/05) - Auditor-GeneralShauket Fakie has issued a blistering report on the Department ofHome Affairs after finding more than R19-million of unauthorisedspending and mismanagement of the migration process. In hisreport for the financial year ending March 2000, Fakie saidunauthorised spending included R13,8-million overspending onstaff, and R4,2-million on chartering flights for illegalimmigrants without Tender Board approval. The departmentsoffice in Market Street, Johannesburg, where inadequate controlof delivery of identity documents and passports had led to lossand theft, was singled out for criticism. Fakie also tabled aperformance audit of the Chief Directorate of Migration, which isresponsible for foreigners admission to, residence in anddeparture from the country. The audit also found ineffectivecontrol of repatriation of illegal aliens from the Lindeladetention camp to the Lebombo and Beit Bridge border posts.During one five-month period in 1999, about a quarter of thosesent from Lindela for repatriation did not reach the Lebombopost. The law was broken when some illegal aliens spent up to 157days in Lindela, although the 1991 Aliens Control Act requiresrepatriations to take no more than 30 days. Between August 1996and September 1999, 21 719 people held at the centre werereleased after being identified as South Africans. The reportsaid that if the South African citizens bad been held for onlyone day, the department would have incurred accommodation costsof R541 889. Some were detained for up to five days before beingidentified as citizens.
Immigration Bill creates ANC/IFPtensions (Cape Argus, 10/05) - Cabinet rejection of HomeAffairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Immigration Bill isthreatening relations between the Inkatha Freedom Party andAfrican National Congress, the IFP says. The IFP urged PresidentThabo Mbeki to end the controversy, saying Buthelezi was beingperceived as "an IFP intruder into the cabinet". Thebill has been at the centre of a tug of war for months because ofdrastically different visions of migration policy and where thepower over deciding immigration applications should be. Buthelezihas pushed the concept of an American-style immigration agencyoutside the public service, a proposal vehemently opposed by theANC and which has been among reasons for repeated cabinetrejections of the Bill. But pressure is mounting for the bill tobe finalised, with Mbeki having promised in his state of thenation speech in February that immigration laws and procedureswould be "reviewed urgently" to allow South Africa toattract skills to the country.
Finance Minister set for grilling onHome Affairs budget (Cape Argus, 10/05) - Aparliamentary committee will invite Finance Minister TrevorManuel to explain alleged under-funding of the Home AffairsDepartment which has caused serious logjams. Addressing theNational Assemblys committee On home affairs, thedepartments minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, painted apicture of financial strain, saying Home Affairs had been themost poorly funded state department since he had taken over theportfolio during Nelson Mandelas presidency. Theunderfunding badly affected such priorities as upgrading thepopulation register and movement control system, and the takingover of 14 border posts from the SA Police Service. "Duringthe latter part of 2000, a stage was reached where thedepartment, with its existing personnel, could no longer render aprofessional, efficient service to its clients," Buthelezisaid. "The morale among existing personnel had become low,due to the tremendous workload and continuous working ofovertime, and with backlogs increasing steadily. It had becomeimperative to appoint additional staff to avoid seriousembarrassment." Through "extreme belt-tightening"the department had filled 231 critical posts, but this still left16.1% of posts vacant on March 31 this year. "To render thekind of services expected from the department, while operatingwith 84% of a staff establishment determined on the basis ofneeds six years ago, is impossible." Members of thecommittee recounted how they felt "ashamed" byconditions they found on visits to Home Affairs offices acrossthe country. African National Congress MP Mdumiseni Sikakane saidmembers would be failing in their duty if they did not take upthe matter on behalf of the minister."I propose that we callthe finance minister with a list of priorities," Sikakanesaid. United Democratic Movement MP Annelize van Wyk saidParliament should also be alerted.
Department of Home Affairs backs downon asylum policy (Business Day, 10/05) - The homeaffairs department capitulated in a Pretoria High Court challengeto its controversial asylum policy yesterday, handing a victoryto Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). Department director-generalBilly Masetlha had warned earlier that the LHR would make a"fool" of itself in court. However, when it came tosettlement talks, his legal representatives backed down andagreed to scrap the policy with immediate effect. The LHR tookMasetlha, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and thedepartment's standing committee for refugees to court over acircular issued by Masetlha which ordered border authorities toturn back or detain asylum seekers who travel to SA via safeneighbouring countries. In the settlement agreement, which hasbeen made an order of the court, the department undertook toinform border authorities within 24 hours that the circular hadbeen "withdrawn". The LHR claimed the circularcontravened the Refugee Act, which compels border authorities toallow people into SA to make a formal asylum application. In whatwas seen as a sign of the tension between the minister and hisdirector-general, Buthelezi had earlier indicated that he wasopposed to the circular, and that Masetlha had issued it withouthis knowledge. Department spokesman Hennie Meyer could not bereached for comment yesterday. Welcoming the court order, LHRrefugee projects co-ordinator Jacob van Garderen said SA had aduty to share the refugee burden with other states. SA hadreceived about 61000 asylum applications since 1994 and thecircular could have put the lives of people fleeing war-torncountries at risk.
Buthelezi's immigration bill at centreof new row (Business Day, 09/05) - The cabinet hasrejected a radically new version of the Immigration Bill draftedby Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi in an attempt tomeet the objections of his African National Congress (ANC)colleagues. There is speculation that the latest delay in thebill which has been four years in the making could be political.ANC ministers are seen as reluctant to give control oversensitive legislation to the lnkatha Freedom Party leader. Chiefgovernment spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe dismissed this yesterdayas "nonsensical". The cabinet followed a"collegial process", and this was appreciated acrossgovernment, he said. The two parties publicly clashed earlierthis year over suggestions that President Thabo Mbekisoffice planned to wrest control of immigration policy fromButhelezi. In his state-of-the-nation address in February, Mbekipledged the law would be urgently processed to ease therecruitment of skilled foreigners. Sources said Buthelezi orderedthat the bill be redrafted to address the two major concerns ofANC cabinet members that an immigration service would falloutside the department and that a board governing its activitieswould have executive powers. The cabinets rationale is thateverything should be in the public service," a source said.The bill was revised to make the immigration service an integralpart of the home affairs department under director general BillyMasetlha. The sources said the cabinet had refused to considerthe revised bill, insisting that discussions should continue onthe original legislation. "Buthelezi is now confused aboutwhat the cabinet wants. This game has been going on for toolong," one source said. Buthelezi has overseen a longdrafting process, involving consultation with a wide range ofinterest groups and government departments. Numerous bids tosecure cabinet approval have failed."Buthelezi must now beinstructed in clear terms what is wanted. If the feeling is thathe cant deliver, Mbeki should reshuffle the cabinet,the source said. Netshitenzhe said the "question of(Buthelezi) being replaced does not arise at all". Migrationpolicy was a complex issue and the cabinet was reflecting"on the principle and detail of the bill", Netshitenzhesaid. Buthelezi said at a meeting of the home affairsparliamentary portfolio committee yesterday that the bill wouldbe placed before the cabinet again in two weeks. However, he saidhe would not "hazard a suggestion" on whether it wouldbe approved. Mbeki had indicated that the bill would be processedby Parliament this year, and the parliamentary schedule"reflected this hope", Buthelezi said. The source saidMbeki had decided to personally ask the chief state law adviserfor an opinion on the first draft of the bill, rather thanleaving the cabinet secretariat to do so. It is understood thatthe cabinet originally objected to the board which would includerepresentatives of the private sector, organised labour and civilsociety having executive powers. In the new bill, Buthelezidecided to turn the board into an advisory body, which meant thatdecision-making powers would be vested in the minister. "Byredrafting it, Buthelezi called the cabinets bluff,"said one source. Said another "It could be that the cabinethas realised that Buthelezi will have too much power, and theydont want that. He could open the country to the wholeworld, or close it down."
Immigration Bill goes to Cabinet (Sapa,Parliament, 08/05) - South Africa's long-awaited newImmigration Bill is again be discussed by the Cabinet in twoweeks' time, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said onTuesday. Briefing Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee,Buthelezi said he could not, however, "hazard asuggestion" that it would be approved by Cabinet on thatday. The Bill's formulation had been a long process. Buthelezireminded MPs that the main thrust of the new legislation would beto simplify the processing of temporary and permanent residencepermit applications to attract required skills to South Africa,and to move administrative capacity towards law enforcement, theprevention, detection and investigation of illegal aliens andtheir removal from the country. President Thabo Mbeki, in hisopening-of-Parliament address in February, had mentioned theurgent review of immigration laws and procedures as one of thepriority actions to stimulate the economy. After four years ofintense policy formulation, a new vision for immigration controlin the 21st century had been developed, which had been embodiedin the bill. Mbeki had indicated his wish that Parliament shouldprocess the bill this year and the parliamentary schedule"reflected this hope", Buthelezi said.
Pastures not so green for Somaliantaximen in city (Cape Argus, 08/05) - Somali-born AhmedYunis arrived in South Africa seven years ago in search ofgreener pastures and became involved in the lucrative taxibusiness - but now he and some of his colleagues say they arebeing harassed regularly. With the help of relatives in theUnited States, Yunis, 29, is now a successful businessman whoowns a fleet of taxis in Cape Town. "I came here from Kenya,where the taxi industry is less violent than what you have here.I used to be a taxi driver in those days. Here I have set up goodrelations with many people because I want peace in mybusiness." Despite this, life is not all roses for him andthe few Somali taxi drivers in the industry. A number of Somaliantaxi drivers operating the Cape Town-Wynberg route have accusedMowbray's community police officers, who issue traffic tickets onthe route, of racism, harassment and corruption. Yunis claimedthat some of the community police members were corrupt, lackeddiscipline and harassed the Somalian taxi drivers. "Everyday we lose something like R400 on tickets. Last week one officertold us to give him money or be issued with tickets - we choseoption two," he said. On one occasion, he said, an employeewas beaten up and arrested after he accused an officer of beingbiased and racist. One of Yunis's drivers, who asked not to benamed, said "I asked one officer why he did not arrest thecoloured driver for parking in the wrong place but instead choseto stop us. A heated argument erupted and I found myself on theground being hit all over my body." Abdul Razik, anotherSomalian driver, said "Every day I get something close tofour traffic tickets for parking in the wrong place and otherirrelevant things. When the other drivers commit the same offencethey are given a warning and told to drive carefully. Why can'tthey do the same thing for us?" Dirk Crawford, a captain atthe Mowbray police station, said he was not aware of any problemsbetween the community police and the Somali taxi drivers."This is the first time I've heard about corruption andharassment, these are very serious allegations. Most of thesedrivers don't even have public drivers' permits, they only havedriver's licences and we can't put people's lives indanger." He said the unicity traffic department did not haveenough traffic officers in the southern suburbs and wouldoccasionally depend on the community police to issue tickets. Aspokesman from the Wynberg Taxi Association said he had not heardof complaints from the Somalian taxi drivers. Efforts to getcomment from the traffic department failed.
State set to fight asylum policy actionin high court (Business Day, 08/05) - Home AffairsMinister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and department directorgeneralBilly Masetlha have indicated that they will oppose a high courtapplication by Lawyers for Human Rights that challenges theasylum policy of the department. This is despite the fact thatButhelezi accused Masetlha a fortnight ago of implementing itwithout his knowledge, and promised to reverse any "illegalaction". Masetlha had issued a circular that ordered thatasylum seekers travelling through neighbour states be turned backat border posts or be detained. Lawyers for Human Rights filedpapers last week requesting that the policy be declared aviolation of the Refugee Act. The state attorney's office, actingon behalf of the ministry and department, filed a notice ofintention of opposition. Lawyers for Human Rights attorney ChrisWatters said he was "intrigued" by this, as Buthelezihad given a different impression in public. A state official saidthe notice was a "procedural matter" aimed at"keeping options open". Buthelezi had not yet made a"policy decision" on how to respond to the courtapplication, and was waiting for Masetlha to provide moredetails, he said. Masetlha has vowed to defend the application.The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees also criticisedthe policy and amendments drafted to the act. Buthelezi has sinceordered that Masetlha redraft the amendments. President ThaboMbeki appointed Masetlha as the department's director-general in1999 against the wishes of Buthelezi. The two have since had apoor relationship.
SA won't be flooded by Cuban teacherssays Asmal (Sapa, Pretoria, 07/05) - About 40 to 50Cubans would come to South Africa to train science andmathematics teachers from next year, Education Minister KaderAsmal said on Monday. He denied that South Africa would be"flooded" with Cubans. "We are not flooding SouthAfrica with Cuban teachers with funny moustaches," he saidat a news conference in Pretoria, following a meeting with theprovincial education MECs. The Cubans would be able to speakEnglish and would be deployed to rural areas and townships wherethey would train teachers, Asmal said. He said this was only oneelement of the government's overall strategy to improve scienceand maths education. The Cubans would be highly experienced.While the details of the agreement with Cuba still had to beworked out, the Cubans would probably come to South Africa inDecember to familiarise themselves with the country, and wouldstart their work in January, Asmal said.
Plan to import skills broadly welcomed(The Sunday Independent, 06/05) - Cosatu and thebusiness world have broadly welcomed the announcement by RamsRamashia, the department of labours director-general, thatgovernment would "aggressively" recruit foreign skillsto tackle the worsening skills crisis. But analysts fear thatgovernments insistence that only "scarce" skilledjobs will be open to foreigners may prove a hindrance to gettingthe plan off the ground. How "scarce" skills are to beidentified, and which skills will be excluded from the category,remains unclear. According to the Centre for DevelopmentEnterprise, a Johannesburg-based policy think-tank, the countryloses an average of 4000 highly skilled people annually Thenumber of matrics with university level passes was 68 000 lastyear against the 157 000 initially envisaged, and research byING-Barings estimates that 12 percent of highly skilled workcerswill be HIV-positive by 2005. Hiring foreigners is part of abroader plan in the human- resources development strategy Anation at work for a better life for all, unveiled last month.The 48-page document pinpoints seven priority areas for 2001,including identifying "high quality" and"scarce" skills. Kader Asmal, the minister ofeducation, said at the launch that South Africa had a shortage ofinformation technology, mathematics, science, technology,engineering and accountancy skills. But a comprehensive andofficial skills audit had to be done. Ann Bernstein, executivedirector of the Centre for Development Enterprise, said thatnominating high-level scarce skills for each sector of theeconomy would be a lengthy and cumbersome process. Instead, shesaid, South Africas doors should be opened to any"skilled, entrepreneurial and honest person who would liketo work here". Cosatu warned against seeing the importationof foreigners as the answer. Neva Makgetla, Cosatusfinancial and public sector policy co-ordlnator, said "Itwould be dangerous if this was used to avoid affirmative action.Government must train people to do the job locally"Membathisi Mdladlana, the minister of labour, said impediments inimmigration laws to importing skills must be removed by August atthe latest.
Home Affairs department committed torule of law says Minister (Business Day, 04/05) - I haveoften written to complain about articles by Farouk Chothia, buton this occasion I feel compelled to congratulate him. Thearticle titled Lawyers to Fight Asylum Policy brought to myknowledge a treatment of refugees by my department of which I wasnot informed, and which is not within the parameters of my policydirectives. I will look into the matter further. I am committedto ensuring that SA excels in its compliance with itsinternational law obligations as they relate to refugeeprotection. A few weeks ago, my department submitted to meproposed amendments to the Refugee Act. I returned these forconsideration as I obtained a copy of a submission which theUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees made to mydepartment exposing how such amendments could violateinternational law protecting refugees. I have instructed mydepartment to reverse any action which may violate internationallaw and our legislation. There are real problems confronting ourdepartment in the administration of our refugee laws caused byour dramatic lack of capacity due to under-funding. Despite this,I am committed to ensuring that my department operates under therule of law only. Mangosuthu Buthelezi Home Affairs Minister
South Africa seeks to exclude refugees(Los Angeles Times, Johannesburg, 04/05) - Human rightslawyers are considering legal action against a proposedgovernment policy to turn back refugees at South Africasborders. The lawyers accuse the government of violating thenations Refugee Act and international conventionsprotecting the rights of displaced people. They also maintainthat such an order would endanger the lives of people fleeingwars in other parts of Africa and would further expose SouthAfrica to criticisms of xenophobia. "If the [order] goesthrough, we will have a situation where we will effectively raisewalls around our borders and not share the burden of refugeeprotection on our continent," said Jacob van Garderen,refugee projects coordinator for the Pretoria-based Lawyers forHuman Rights. But government officials said the proposed policy,outlined in a recent memo from the Home Affairs Ministrysdirector-general, is aimed at curbing the migration of people whoalready have refugee status in neighboring states considered"safe." These asylum-seekers want to come to SouthAfrica because conditions are more favorable and they wontbe forced to live in refugee camps, the officials said. "Anasylum-seeker should seek refuge in the first safe country hecomes to," said Hennie Meyer, a spokesman for the HomeAffairs Ministry. "We have people from various Africancountries presenting themselves at the border, and they haveobviously come across land through other [safe] countries."The director-generals directive stated that the legitimacyof asylum-seekers "should be verified at ports of entry andthey should be referred back [to] where they come from. If theyinsist on entering the republic, they should be detained."Meyer said the ministry believes that it is acting within thelaw.
Officials at the Office of the U.N. HighCommissioner for Refugees cautioned that, if the order to turnaway refugees at the border is enacted, many legitimateasylum-seekers will be denied entry and their lives could be putat risk. "The most important issue is effectiveprotection," said Bemma Donkoh, the U.N. refugee agencyrepresentative for South Africa. "We presume that a personshould be given entry for the purpose of determining if thatperson has a legitimate case. Paul Stromberg, the agencysspokesman based in Nairobi, Kenya, added "There are veryvalid reasons why a refugee might want to flee to a secondcountry. Many of the border countries are embroiled in conflict,so certain individuals may find themselves in unsafe conditions.Even if the first country is accepted to be safe for a majorityof people, a refugee may still be at risk because of his or hernationality or religion." Van Garderen, the human rightslawyer, said neighboring countries cannot be depended on to offeradequate protection to all refugees. Angola is immersed in along-standing civil war. Namibia has been known to deport Angolanrefugees suspected of supporting their countrys UNITA rebelgroup. Zimbabwe and Namibia are allied with the government ofCongo in its war and may not be inclined to host refugees thoughtto sympathize with Congolese rebels. "What kind ofcommitment can we expect from them to provide protection topeople they regard as their enemy?" Van Garderen said.Border officials are currently supposed to issue temporaryresidence permits to refugees, who then have 14 days to apply forasylum. The new directive calls on border guards to use their owndiscretion in determining whether a refugee is arriving from a"safe" country. "We would be concerned about theimplications of that, and the notion of safecountry," the U.N. refugee agencys Donkoh said.
South Africa has received more than 62,700applications for asylum since it began accepting asylum-seekersin 1995. Donkoh said that nearly 15,000 of the requests have beenapproved. The figure is small compared with other Africannations. Tanzania, for example, hosts more than 500,000 refugees.Kenya and Zambia each have more than 200,000 refugees. Criticssaid South Africa's attempts to clamp down on asylum-seekers willfurther highlight its reputation as being intolerant offoreigners. In recent years, refugees have been targets ofseveral unprovoked attacks.
Many nurses seeking better paid jobsabroad (Dispatch Online, East London, 02/05) - The stateof the health care system in the Eastern Cape has led to hundredsof nurses from the province leaving South Africa for better paidjobs abroad. The Nursing Council last month had more than 400applications from qualified nurses asking for transcripts oftheir qualifications, which is usually a sure sign they arecontemplating jobs abroad. "Many of these applications werefrom nurses currently employed in the Eastern Cape," PennyBellad-Ellis, the former head of the Frere nursing college, saidhere yesterday. Her comments follow a scathing attack on theEastern Cape health system by former MEC and MPL Trudy Thomasearlier this week. Bellad-Ellis took up a teaching post at aprivate hospital in Gauteng late last year after being connectedto Frere for 40 years, 23 of which were spent at the nursingcollege. She said there were two categories of nurses leaving theprovince. The first were newly qualified staff who had beentrained at a cost of around R400 000 each and who had no jobs togo to and "the disgruntled 40-somethings who have seen hugedeterioration in standards and are no longer prepared to acceptit". "In the last four to five years Frere has not beenable to employ a single person trained by the college which makesoverseas jobs the major drawcard. "The experienced nurseshave homes and families but feel they cannot stay in the systemfor another 20 or so years. "Reasons for this are thatsalary has not kept pace with inflation. Many of the salarynegotiations have looked at the lower category of workers tobring them up to par, with the result that the middle and upperranks have not kept pace". She said professional commitmentsand standards could not be maintained in a poorly resourced andpoorly managed system marked by a "lack of leadership, lackof equipment and infrastructure as well as increased workpressure". Many professionals had to seek counselling, shesaid. Excellent work performance was not rewarded and poorperformance not sanctioned. "Charges of misconduct are putin and not followed up. "There are discrepancies in thesalaries of professional nurses in the Eastern Cape". Nursesemployed in the former Ciskei appeared to be earning more thantheir Cape Provincial Administration colleagues, she added."There is the option for people to go onto second or thirdsalary scales but motivations for this are submitted and neveracted upon". She said the authorities categorised people byrace, not merit, which led to tension and poor performance in theworkplace "Professionals perceived as 'previouslyadvantaged' have been neglected and at times targeted bypoliticians". She also complained about the lack of supportfrom the government and Health Department. The province waslosing the academic leadership that came with governmentsubsidies as the fees to tertiary institutions were not beingpaid. "It is no surprise that a situation like this leads topeople taking jobs abroad where the salaries, equipment andworking conditions are heaps better than on offer here."
First batch of refugee ID cards to beissued (Sapa, Pretoria, 01/05) - The Department of HomeAffairs will issue the first batch of identity cards torecognised refugees on Tuesday, SABC radio news reported. In linewith the Refugees Act of 1998 refugees will, from Wednesday, beissued with Refugee Identity Documents that will ensure that theyenjoy all the rights afforded refugees under the Act. The rightsinclude full legal protection and the right to remain in SouthAfrica and apply for an immigration permit in terms of the AliensControl Act after five years' continuous residence in thecountry. The refugees will also be entitled to apply for andreceive a United Nations' Convention Travel Document and theright to seek employment.
Full rights for refugees with newidentity document (SABC, 01/05) - The Department of HomeAffairs has issued the first batch of identity cards torecognised refugees. Speaking at the handing over ceremony today,Herman Steyn, the departments regional director, says thenew approach will ensure refugees enjoy all the rights affordedto refugees in accordance with United Nations requirements.The department estimates about three million illegal immigrantsarrived in South Africa since 1994. Most of them do not possessthe appropriate documentation to stay in the country as onlyabout 68 000 immigrants are genuine asylum seekers. South Africadoes not have designated areas for refugees, as is common inother countries. The Refugees Act of 1998 says asylum seekers areallowed to stay in the country for a maximum of two years beforeapplying for permanent residence. Among the recipients are thosefrom the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. OrmarShabani, chairman of the Refugees Forum, says the change of heartis a relief for many refugees who have not been treated well inthis country. Five centres have been opened to assist refugees.The identity cards are expected to aid them in utilising bankingand credit facilities, which they were denied access previously.
Pemba refugees return home (TheExpress, 24/05) - The over 2,000 Tanzanians who tookrefuge in Shimoni, Kenya, early this year have finally begunstreaming back to their motherland Pemba. Close to 600 are backhome amid a warm welcome of cheers, ululation by kinsmen andauthorities. The latest batch of arrivals comprised some refugeeswho returned to Pemba Island from last Saturday. The first groupcame back Thursday, while a second - of some 220 people - arrivedFriday. To welcome the refugees were friends, relatives,politicians and government officials. The first Tanzanians fledto Shimoni in Mombasa, Kenya, after the January post-electionbloodbath which followed a confrontation between the police andsupporters of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) on January27 in Zanzibar. A disputed figure of 23 people were reportedlyleft dead by the riots while hundreds others ended up inhospitals with severe injuries. The refugees return hasbeen facilitated by the UNHCR following a guarantee of theirsafety by the government of Tanzania. The UNHCR hired speed boatsto transport the refugees from Mombasa to Pemba. Some 700 otherTanzanian refugees are said to be camped at Daadab in NorthernKenya, but it is unclear if these would be brought home too.
South African farmers petition forZimbabwean workers (Zimbabwe Standard, 27/05) - SouthAfrican farmers from Soutpansberg in the Northern Province arereportedly seeking a permanent court order to bar the departmentof Home Affairs from deporting their immigrant Zimbabwean farmworkers. The farmers had earlier won a temporary court interdictstopping the department from expelling the foreigners. Theinterdict expires on 1 June 2001, The Standard has gathered. TheSouth African farmers won the interdict before the Easterholidays when that countrys department of Home Affairs wasin the process of deporting about 12 000 illegal immigrants fromthe countrys Northern province. However, immigrationsources say a week before the interdict expires, the farmers arepooling their resources to seek a permanent solution to theproblem. "Now that the interdict is about to elapse, thefarmers are consulting on the next course of action to takeagainst Home Affairs. And from the look of things, a bruisingencounter is on the cards before the farmers can settle thisissue once and for all," said the source . Immigrationauthorities in both South Africa and Zimbabwe allege that thefarmers sought the court order after the South Africanauthorities accused Zimbabwean immigrant workers of being in thatcountry illegally and announced plans to deport them. In theircourt applications, the white farmers took a swipe at the SouthAfrican governments policy of reserving jobs for localsahead of foreigners. The farmers argued that since South Africannationals were reluctant to work on the farms, the deportation ofthe Zimbabweans would adversely affect farming activities in theregion. None of the 12 000 farm workers have been deported sincethe interdict was given in March. The principal immigrationofficer at Beitbridge border post, Dennis Chitsa-ka, told TheStandard that despite the deportation threats emanating fromSouth Africa, most Zimbabweans were in that country legally asthey had been issued with border passes by that countrysauthorities. "The workers had border passes which the SouthAfricans cancelled without consulting us and now that they do notneed the Zimbabweans anymore they decide to just throw themout," said Chitsaka. "Besides, most of the Zimbabweanshave been working on those farms for between 10 to 15years." An official of the South African High Commissionrefuted claims that the department of Home Affairs had beenissued with the court interdict. "As far as the embassy isconcerned, we are not aware of the interdict. What we are awareof is that unskilled immigrant labourers were given up to 15April this year to leave South Africa, while skilled personnelhave until 15 October this year to do so," said the officialwithout elaborating further. When last contacted on thedeportation issue during the Zimbabwe Interna- tional Trade Fairin Bulawa-yo, South African high commissioner to Zimbabwe,Jeremiah Ndou, told The Standard that the deportation of theimmigrant farm workers was the result of ongoing investigationsinto the working conditions of workers in the farming industry inthat country. He said when harassment of foreigners wasunearthed, the foreigners were deported to save them from furtherabuse by their employers. "There are ongoing investigationsat the moment and farm workers who are found to be abused aresent back to their countries of origin. The South Africangovernment cannot just watch when workers rights areviolated," Ndou said. According to immigration authorities,a total of 8 000 Zimbabweans were deported from South Africabetween January and February of this year. "Deporting theZimbabweans would not solve matters because the farmers arealready urging and advising their workers to return to SouthAfrica once they are deported to their countries of origin,"said the immigration source.
The maze in acquiring Zimbabweancitizenship (Daily News, 07/05) - The law relating tocitizenship in Zimbabwe has recently stirred up controversy bothinside and outside the courts of the land. The controversy tookan added dimension, occurring as it did at a time when there ispublicised conflict between the Executive and Judiciary inZimbabwe. In the case, Movement for Democratic Change v Mudedeand Others the judgment of the High Court was to the effect thatthe law on the renunciation of citizenship of Zimbabwe is absurdand nonsensical. However in the case, Robyn Anne Carr v TheRegistrar-General, the full bench of the Supreme Court determinedthat the law on citizenship in Zimbabwe was settled and admittedof no controversy. In that case, Chief Justice Gubbay and JusticeMcNally recused themselves and in their respective places wereacting Supreme Court judges, Korsah and Adam. Apart from thisaspect of the law relating to renunciation of citizenship, theother aspect of the law relating to the acquisition ofcitizenship by a child in Zimbabwe remains in a state of flux.This aspect of the law is surrounded by uncertainty and grossignorance especially on commercial farms where a considerablenumber of children are born to permanent residents or theso-called immigrants from neighbouring countries such asMozambique, Malawi or Zambia. The plight of such children is madeworse by the attitude of officers in the Registrar-Generalsoffice. The failure by those officers to appreciate and executeproperly the law relating to the acquisition of citizenship needsto be ventilated in the national media for the public good. Interms of the Constitution any child who is born in Zimbabwe andwhose father is a citizen of Zimbabwe is automatically a citizenof Zimbabwe by birth. Furthermore, a child who is born inZimbabwe outside wedlock and whose mother is a citizen ofZimbabwe is also a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth. A child who isborn outside Zimbabwe, to parents who are citizens of Zimbabweand are serving or working for the Government of Zimbabwe asdiplomats, is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth. A child who is bornoutside Zimbabwe and whose parents are citizens of Zimbabwe is acitizen of Zimbabwe by descent. And finally a child who is borninside Zimbabwe and whose parents are not citizens of Zimbabweand are working in Zimbabwe as diplomats for their government isnot a citizen of Zimbabwe. The provisions of the Constitutionthat I have outlined above cover the generality of children inZimbabwe and can hardly be said to have imposed insurmountablehurdles to the acquisition of citizenship by children inZimbabwe. However, children who are born in Zimbabwe (and mainlyon commercial farms) to parents whose citizenship of Zimbabwe issuspect usually find themselves lying between the horns of adilemma. In terms of the Constitution, any child who is born inZimbabwe and whose father is not a citizen of Zimbabwe, is not acitizen of Zimbabwe by birth. This is necessarily so even if thechilds mother is a citizen of Zimbabwe. A child, who isborn in Zimbabwe and at the time of that childs birth, thefather or, if born outside wedlock, the mother was living inZimbabwe in contravention of the provision of any law, is not acitizen of Zimbabwe by birth. However, if subsequent to the birthof the child, the father or the mother, as the case may be,becomes a permanent resident, then the child becomes a citizen ofZimbabwe by birth. And finally a child who is born in Zimbabweand whose parents are not citizens of Zimbabwe but are permanentresidents, is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth. When everything hasbeen said and done, the gist of it all boils down to theprinciple that a child takes the citizenship of its father uponbirth or that of its mother if born outside wedlock. Be that asit may, such a child, upon attaining the age of majority, has aright to decide and apply for a citizenship of his or her ownchoice. That child may decide upon attaining the age of majority,to retain the citizenship of his or her parents or take upcitizenship of the place or country of birth. However, such childwould become a citizen of Zimbabwe by registration but not bybirth. The rights that accrue to a person by virtue ofcitizenship are basically the same but the two categories ofcitizenship are different. Citizenship by birth can never beterminated by anyone but citizenship by registration can beterminated by Government upon occurrence of certain actions oromissions, especially the commission of specified offences. Thesituation that obtains on the ground on most commercial farms isthat the majority of adult workers are either immigrants fromneighbouring countries or are descendants of such immigrants.Invariably, almost all their children were born in Zimbabwe. Inthe absence of evidence to the contrary, the so-called immigrantsor descendants of such immigrants have become permanent residentsby virtue of the length of their stay in Zimbabwe and may begranted such status upon application in terms of the ImmigrationAct. The practical problem is that quite a number of them do nothave in their possession valid identity documents having beendenied them when they were still minor children. And this hasbecome a vicious circle. Their children are, therefore citizensof Zimbabwe by birth. Even in cases where the parents are stillnon-citizens their children are entitled, upon application, to becitizens of Zimbabwe by registration when they attain the age ofmajority. Finally, even abandoned children or the so-calledfoundlings are citizens of Zimbabwe by birth in terms of our lawand international convention. The attitude of officers in theRegistrar-Generals department warrants re-examination inlight of the provisions of the relevant laws although theconstitutional provisions are heavily weighed in favour of malesas opposed to gender equality.
This page last updated 09 July 2004.