Angolan governmentprepares to demobilize Unita rebels and repatriate foreignfighers
Agreement to Repatriate Refugees FromGabarone
Visas for Visitors Ruled Out
Refugees International Testifies Before USSenate
Assistance to Victims of Trafficking
Zimbabweans Flock to Lilongwe
Zim Farmers Cash in On Blantyre Tobacco
Pact Paves Way for Repatriation
ICRC Ready to Assist With Repatriation
Border busting a R100stroll
Illegal Immigrants will be Deported at any Cost
Voting on Immigration Bill set for Monday
ANC MP tackles refugees, residents and rot
Home Affairs explains costs of migrants
Maduna, Buthelezi to meet on Immigration Bill: Report
Home Affairs CommitteeChair "redeployed" by ANC
Migrants Suffer At Hands of Police
Non-citizens receiving social welfare grants: Auditor General
Police, Army Unable to Protect SA Borders
Immigration Bill is Discriminatory
Immigration Bill Under Attack Again
Border security to be intensified
Immigration Bill NotTransparent Enough - Human Rights Committee
Immigration Bill discriminates against Africans: AISA
South Africa cannot prevent migrants entering: ISS
Over 23 000 SADC migrants arrested and sent home: Buthelezi
Much-delayed Immigration Bill still faces rocky ride
Immigration Bill unconstitutional: de Lange
Maduna signs Harksen extradition
Confusion over Harksen extradition
Maduna okays Harksen extradition
Business welcome Immigration Bill, but oppose levies
Management at some border posts shocking: SARS
SAHRC condemns removal of muslims from plane
Cuban teacher trainers due in South Africa later this year
South Africa, Nigeria sign migration agreement
Job Loss, Eviction Leave Family Out in the Cold
Home Affairs Bust Two Government Officials for ID Fraud
Border policemen in court
Ten Border Policemen Nabbed in Raid
Border gangs along Lesotho border
Legal action threatened in Chinese consulate row
Another Person Dies in UnclearCircumstances
ICVA Warns Against Refugee Repatriation From Dar es Salaam
Tripartite Meeting Starts, As More Refugees Want to Return Home
3,000 Returnees to Be Relocated to Kamwenge
Ex-combatants fromAngola, DRC desert refugee camp in Zambia
Immigration Arrests 21 Somalis
Cross Border Traders, Minister Differ Over Imports From Zimbabwe
Three Months' of Half-Rations For Refugees in Lusaka
Soldiers Takeover As Teachers
UNITA Rebels Abduct Three Foreigners
White Farmers Flee
Top American Political Analyst Barred from Entering Zimbabwe
Top Former US Official Expelled, Editor Questioned
Visas for Visitors Ruled Out
Angolan government prepares todemobilize Unita rebels and repatriate foreign fighers (Luanda,Sapa-AP, 02/04) - Angola's army is preparing todemobilize UNITA rebels and repatriate the guerrilla group'sCongolese fighters, Gen. Armando Cruz Neto told Angola's congressTuesday. The government is scheduled to sign a formal cease-fireThursday in the country's nearly three-decade-old civil war. Apreliminary agreement for the pact was signed Saturday byrepresentatives of the Angolan army and UNITA. The cease-firepact is to be signed in the capital, Luanda, by UNITA's interimleader Paulo Lukamba Gato. Cruz Neto said centers will be set upacross the country to demobilize about 50,000 UNITA soldiers andtheir families. The troops include an unknown number ofguerrillas from neighboring Congo who joined UNITA in 1997 whenLaurent Kabila ousted the longtime dictator of Congo, formerlyZaire, Mobutu Sese Seko. Representatives from the United States,United Nations, Portugal and Russia will be present at thedemobilization centers to be set up in this oil- and diamond-richsouthwest African nation. The government says it will takebetween four and nine months to integrate the rebels intosociety. The government has also said there would be broadertalks with UNITA on an overall peace settlement but these haveyet to be scheduled. The recent deaths of rebel leader JonasSavimbi, killed six weeks ago by the Angolan army, and thegroup's vice president Antonio Dembo raised hopes that the civilwar would soon end. The fighting began after the country's 1975independence from Portugal and is believed to have killed atleast 500,000 people. Three previous peace deals have failed.Angola entered Congo's civil war when it sent troops to stopUNITA using neighboring Congo as a base and to back Kabila.Angolans fought alongside troops from Zimbabwe and Namibia, whileRwanda's and Uganda's armies supported the rebels seeking to oustKabila. African leaders involved in Congo's war, including anAngolan representative, are due to meet in Zambia on Wednesday todiscuss the withdrawal of foreign troops, including Angolans andthe final deployment of U.N. forces.
Agreement to Repatriate Refugees From Gabarone (Irin,16/04) - About 2,400 refugees in Botswana could soonreturn to their homes in Namibia's Caprivi region. An agreementbetween the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Namibia and Botswana on 11April paved the way for all the refugees to be voluntarilyrepatriated, UNHCR spokesperson David Nthengwe told IRIN. He saidmany of the refugees had been at the Dukwe refugee camp,northeast of Gaborone, since 1998, when they fled instabilitycaused by secessionist violence. While some refugees havereturned to Namibia in the past two years, Ntengwe said anearlier repatriation programme was suspended in August 1999,during an upsurge of violence in the area. He said last week'sagreement had created a commission to implement the repatriationprogramme.
Visas for Visitors Ruled Out (Harare,The Herald, 01/04) - The Botswana High Commission has ruledout the introduction of visas for Zimbabwean visitors to thatcountry. A spokesman from the Botswana High Commission saidBotswana was not contemplating such a move now or in theforeseeable future. There had been widespread rumours thatBotswana intended to introduce visa requirements for Zimbabweansin reaction to President Mugabe's March 9-11 presidentialelection victory. "We heard the story, too, last week. Itcame from the independent newspapers that Botswana was about tointroduce visas. I had to get in touch with the chief immigrationofficer in Botswana. "He assured me that nothing of the sortwas being planned. I can safely tell you that nothing of the sortis going to happen. We are all members of the Commonwealth and weshould not be seen to be introducing restrictive conditions."The movement between our countries is controlled and thereis nothing that we fear in terms of movement, so why should weintroduce visas. We also enjoy a good working relationship sothere is no need for visas," said the spokesman. Recentlythe independent media has been agitating for sanctions, rejectionof the presidential poll and even ostracism of the country aftertheir candidate, MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, lost toPresident Mugabe. The independent media has been trying to buildup a story that Botswana is following in the footsteps of theUnited States and other European Union members in imposing travelrestrictions on Government ministers and people with links toZanu-PF. The independent media has stepped up its misinformationcampaign and of late carried a story about what they called anACP-EU resolution calling for a presidential re-run. This wasmeant to create the impression that the presidential election wasflawed while brightening prospects for a re-run. The ACP,however, distanced itself from the EU parliamentaryrepresentatives.
Refugees International Testifies Before US Senate(Irin, 10/04) - Unless the prevailing insecurity ishalted, there can be no sustainable development in easternDemocratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Anne Edgerton, advocateat Refugees International (RI) said on Monday in a testimony tothe United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,Subcommittee on African Affairs. In her testimony on the currenthumanitarian crisis unfolding in the DRC, and comment on the kindof assistance the US could provide to contribute to a peaceful,stable DRC, Edgerton stressed that security was the single mostimportant area for the international community to address. Shesaid nowhere in the world was the gap between humanitarian needsand the response of the international community greater than inthe DRC. "The efforts of the international community appearfeeble and ineffective, dwarfed by the scale of the sufferingthey are intended to mitigate. Only if peace is achieved andhumanitarian assistance substantially increased can this gap bebridged," she said. After many interviews over the pastthree years, RI had found that Congolese civilians in easternparts of the country were increasingly at the mercy of armedgroups, including rebel forces backed by regional powers, theMayi-Mayi, and the Interahamwe, who murdered civilians, rapedwomen, captured children, and stole crops with impunity, shesaid. She said much of the violence still occurring in the easttoday was totally devoid of a political or strategic rationale;it was banditry to allow unpaid soldiers to survive. "Thismakes the violence endemic and resistant to amelioration throughpolitical action," she said. Edgerton said insecurity andlack of a functioning government had opened eastern DRC toforeign interests involved in exploitation and smuggling ofprimary products such as coltan, diamonds and timber. She notedthat the insecurity severely and directly hampered the deliveryof emergency assistance. Access to war-affected civilians waslimited by two great factors: the enormous territory of the DRC,which lacked a functioning transport network, and rampantinsecurity, which further complicated delivery in the east of thecountry and often prevented access to vulnerable populations formonths at a time. Child soldiers were prevalent in the Congo, shesaid. All parties to the conflict employed them. In the contextof the Lusaka Peace Accords signed in 1999, the internationalcommunity had had some success in stigmatising the recruitment ofchild soldiers, but the commitment of the parties to demobilisingthem had thus far been largely a public relations exercise."It is a collective responsibility of the internationalcommunity to make sure that the acceptance of children in theranks of soldiers de-legitimises a government or rebelforce," Edgerton stressed. She said the US remained one ofthe DRC's largest donors, having donated almost US $100 millionfor the 2001 fiscal year. In the same year, donor response cameto only 60 percent of the funds requested by the United NationsConsolidated Inter-Agency Appeal. This fiscal year did not lookmore promising, she said. "As such, the UN humanitarianoperation is made more difficult due to severeunder-funding." The organisation recommended, among otherthings, that the US as a member of the international communityshould ensure that the United Nations Mission in the DRC (knownby its French acronym, MONUC) fulfilled its current mandate andsupported the expansion of its troop presence in the DRC. Itrecommended that the US increase investment in the UNConsolidated Inter-Agency Appeal, with particular focus oninfrastructure improvements throughout the country, and supportfor humanitarian assistance in the east. It also recommended thatthe US reassess the modes of delivery of development assistanceto ensure that community-based organisations were the drivingforce in the design and implementation of development projects;and that the US appoint a senior UN humanitarian coordinator foreastern DRC - a high-profile official who would work under thedirection of Kinshasa, but would have the necessary weight andauthority to advocate for a greater humanitarian response in theeast, and for greater access from the belligerents.
Assistance to Victims of Trafficking (Geneva,International Organisation for Migration, 05/04) - TheIOM office in Addis Ababa is providing assistance to twoCongolese women (one minor) that were being trafficked toLebanon. The two women, aged 25 and 17,arrived in Addis Ababa on27 March. They had started their journey in Burundi where theyhad lived in refugee camps for two years after fleeing the war inthe Democratic Republic of Congo. While living in Bujumbura, theymet a man who offered to help them and said he could find them ajob. He managed to get passports, which he always kept with him,and paid for all the travel expenses. They told IOM that on theday of departure the man escorted them to the airport and toldthem not to be afraid. After they had boarded the plane, hehanded them the passports. This is when they realized thatneither the photos nor the names were theirs. Since it wasalready too late, they decided to wait until the first stop overin Ethiopia, where they would spend one night before continuingtheir journey. Unbeknownst to the women, four other women weretravelling on the same flight under similar circumstances. At thehotel in Addis Ababa, they met a lady from Benin, also in transitin Addis Ababa but on her way back home from Beirut. She toldthem migrant women are exploited, abused and forced intoprostitution in Beirut and advised them not to go. The two womendecided not to board the plane the following morning, the otherfour proceeded to Beirut. Two men who agreed to help them tookthem to the UNHCR office, who in turn referred the women to IOM.During their interview with IOM staff the women said they wereasked by the man to carry a bag with instruction to hand it overto his accomplice in Beirut. The bag contained 18 forms (whatlooked like job application forms) with the heading -Consolidated Gulf Company Services and Training - with a Beirutaddress. Stapled to each form were two photos, one passport sizeand one full size. . All applicants were female, aged between 18and 30 years - 14 Congolese, one Rwandan and three from Burundi.IOM has handed over the documents tot he authorities. IOM isproviding the women with secure accommodations until legal traveldocuments can be secured. The women told IOM they did not want toreturn Bujumbura for fear of reprisals from the trafficker, sothey asked to be returned to the DRC.
Zimbabweans Flock to Lilongwe (Blantyre, African EyeNews Service, 17/04) - Malawi - a slither of a countrywedged in the south east of Africa - has become an oasis tothousands of Zimbabweans scrambling for residency. The country islargely reliant on fishing and has little to offer the region interms of its economy but has become increasingly attractive toZimbabweans in the wake of recent political violence and famineat home. Malawi's home affairs department reported a dramaticincrease in passport applications since Zimbabwe's controversialpresidential elections in March. "We have been processingpassport applications from applicants claiming to be Zimbabweansof Malawi origin," said home affairs minister MonjezaMaluza. Maluza couldn't give an exact figure but said theapplications were "in their thousands". Many of theapplications were from white Zimbabweans who claimed to be ofMalawi parentage, Maluza said. Most had lost their Malawicitizenship because they had been out of the country for so long.The exodus to Malawi comes after the European Union and the USgovernment imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe. The country faceschronic food shortages and ongoing political violence. MostZimbabweans wanting to flee are having difficulty entering Europeand the US because of the sanctions and have resorted to Malawias an easier option. Many have already been granted temporaryresidency in Malawi but will be deported if they are unable tosubstantiate their claims of nationality. "We have issuedmost of the applicants with certificates of travel while weverify their backgrounds," Maluza said. Historically manyMalawians flocked to Zimbabwe for jobs on mines and farms.
Zim Farmers Cash in On Blantyre Tobacco (Blantyre,Daily Times, 09/04) - Zimbabwean commercial farmers,faced with low tobacco output in their country, are reported tobe buying Malawi burley tobacco at higher prices at the borders.Some growers at Limbe Auction Floors yesterday complained theZimbabwean buyers were offering higher prices-US$1.80/kg(K130/kg)-free from deductable levies and taxes. The revelationcomes hot on the heels of a National Smallholder Farmers'Association of Malawi (Nasfam) warning that government will losemillions in taxes, levies and fees if it does not check thecross-border trade in tobacco. "My friends have moved theirtobacco into Mozambique where white farmers from Zimbabwe arebuying it at very good prices," Kelly Mankhusu, a commercialfarmer at Mayaka in Zomba, said yesterday. He said selling theleaf across the border was lucrative because no levies and taxeswere deducted from the payments made, unlike at the auctionfloors where almost 35 percent of the total sales go to levies,taxes and fees. Another grower from Namwera in Mangochi, MarkoMaulana, said soon after government authorised direct exports oftobacco, merchants from Mozambique were buying tobacco right atthe farms and selling it to Zimbabwean farmers in Mozambique."Farmers started selling their tobacco long way back beforethe auction floors opened. That is the surest way to get theirretains," he said. He said it was not clear whether thetobacco comes back into the country later for processing or it isexported elsewhere by the Zimbabweans for processing. But GodfreyChapola, general manager of Tobacco Control Commission (TCC),said yesterday the commission has not received any reports ofZimbabwean commercial farmers buying Malawi tobacco across theborders. "All I know is that cross-border tobacco exportsare going on but I don't know if it is the Zimbabweans buyingbecause I have not been there," he said. Albert Kamulaga,president of Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama)-representativebody of tobacco growers in the country-dismissed the claims asuntrue. "Its not true. Zimbabwe grows flue-cured tobacco andthere is no way the farmers there could come and get burley fromMalawian farmers," he said. Kamulaga, who last week brandedas "illogical" government's decision to restrict salesof tobacco after liberalising production, said Zimbabweans havelittle interest in the burley leaf because their major exportleaf type is flue-cured. Nasfam warned in a statement last weekthat government is losing millions in tax revenue and levies ascross-border tobacco trade continued to grow. "There is noargument that buyers across the borders (just across) may beproviding attractive prices in Malawi kwacha. The real complaintshould be why the buyers on our auction floors are providing lessattractive pricess," Nasfam said. Official figures from TCCindicate that last year 6 million kilogrammes of tobacco werelost to Mozambique and Zambia in crossborder deals. Government'sdecision to liberalise tobacco exports is likely raise thefigures this year.
Pact Paves Way for Repatriation (Windhoek, TheNamibian, 12/04) - Namibia, Botswana and the UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday signed atripartite agreement that paves the way for the repatriation ofhundreds of Namibians exiled in Botswana. The historic pact wassigned in Windhoek after several months of behind-the-scenesnegotiations involving UNHCR, Namibian and Batswana authorities.Loide Kasingo, Deputy Home Affairs Minister, signed for theNamibian Government. Her counterpart Olifant Mfa, the AssistantMinister of Presidential Affairs, Administration inked theagreement for Botswana. Hesdy Rathling the UNHCR Branch OfficeRepresentative signed for the UN refugee agency. Yesterday'sagreement is an extension of previous accords and communiquesthat guarantee the "safe and dignified return" ofthousands of Namibians who fled to Botswana followingsecessionist troubles in the Caprivi in 1998 and subsequentseparatist attacks. Since 1999 more than 1200 Namibians havesince been repatriated voluntarily from the Dukwe Refugee Camp inBotswana where they are housed by the UNHCR after they allegedpersecution in their motherland. At yesterday's ceremony, Kasingosaid she hopes the exodus of Namibians to Botswana will end."Our conviction is for a durable solution to be found. Wesee voluntary repatriation of the refugees as a better solutionin comparison to other forms of solutions to end theimpasse," she stated. "This agreement is significant inthat it revisits and takes cognisance of the situation ofNamibian nationals in the Republic of Botswana who wish to returnback to their country." Noted Mfa: "As we gather heretoday, we have reason to look to the future with optimism as wepave the way for the implementation of the best durable solutionfor refugees." The UNHCR's Rathling said the UN agency"places its priority mandate to durable solutions of anyrefugee situation. That being the case, UNHCR's standpoint isthat the best solution is the voluntary return of refugees totheir countries of origin. The signing of this TripartiteAgreement demonstrates the reliance by all parties on suchsolutions."
ICRC Ready to Assist With Repatriation (Windhoek, TheNamibian, 11/04) - President Sam Nujoma has receivedassurances that the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) will provide transport and other logistics for therepatriation of thousands of Angolans. The Head of State met withDr Armin Kobel, the ICRC's Head of Regional Delegation, at StateHouse in Windhoek late on Tuesday. Kobel was accompanied byCarlos Batallas, an ICRC official. Earlier Nujoma called on theICRC to assist Angolan refugees. Kobel said during his talks withNujoma, they had looked at the peace process and its implicationsfor Namibia which is home to over 20 000 Angolans. Kobel, who isbased in Harare, Zimbabwe, is also responsible for Botswana,Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. In a related development,both UN officials and Angolan diplomats in Namibia said despitethe positive developments in Angola following the demise ofveteran rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, the country was not yet readyfor the mass repatriation of refugees. A UN source in Namibiasaid the thousands of refugees can only return home oncelandmines have been cleared. Food supplies, schools, water,housing and other infrastructure also need to be provided beforeexiles are repatriated. Recently, Hesdy Rathling, therepresentative of the United Nations High Commissioner forRefugees (UNHCR) in Namibia, told the donor community he did notforesee Government pushing for repatriation because the situationin Angola has not fully stabilised. The UN source said Rathlinghas "assured donors that (Namibian) authorities appear to beextremely conscious of the fact that repatriation should bevoluntary and be done in safety and dignity". OsvaldinoContreiras, First Secretary at the Angolan Embassy in Windhoek,said on Tuesday that the second phase of the Angolan peace planincludes the rehabilitation of all the main roads that connectthe various regions. "What we want is to create all thenecessary conditions for the free movement of goods andpeople," said Contreiras. He added that the Angolangovernment is working around the clock to create these conditionsfor all Angolans.
Border busting a R100 stroll (SundayWorld, 30/04) - Crossing the border illegally into SouthAfrica from Zimbabwe was like a Sunday afternoon stroll forShaolin Masache. A customs official at the Beit Bridge borderpost arranged for Masache to get a gate pass after accepting abribe of R100, which he shared with a police officer on duty atthe border post. Masache, 28, walked into South Africa without apassport. He had hitchhiked from Bulawayo with the intention offinding a job on a South Africa farm near the Zimbabwean border.He arrived in the farming town of Waterpoort in the NorthernProvince two days later, after a punishing 90km walk. He hadrested on lonely country roads during the day and had trespassedthrough farms at night. He was almost immediately employed as alabourer on a tomato farm overlooking the local police station,though he had no documents or a work permit. Masache is just oneof thousands of Zimbabweans who work illegally on farms in theNothern Provice. They are paid between R150 and R250 a month fora 50- to 60-hour work week. South African farmworkers havereacted angrily to the influx of the illegal immigrants. Theyclaim that the foreign wokres hamper thier efforts to form strongunions to eradicate exploitation on farms. Christopher Sekhwama,a farmworker, said the illegal immigrants were starting tooutnumber the South Africans on farms in the area. "We arelosing our jobs because these people accept anything the whitesoffer them," Sekhwama said. "We workers want R500 amonth, but the Zimbabweans are happy to work for R160. When we goon strike over poor conditions and wages, they continue working.This why the white farmers favour them so much," he said.Wilson Gumbu, a fellow worker, agreed. He said the Zimbabweanshad made it difficult for the locals to get jobs on the farms."Only the lucky ones are employed these days. And if youthink about it, the Zimbabweans earn more than us because whenthey return to their country the money buys more." TheZimbabweans, however, disagreed. "The money is not good, butthere is little we can do. We cannot go on strike because if wedo they kick us out and get replacements quickly," saidMasache, who earns R160 a month. He works five days a week andfive hours on Saturdays with no sick leave, yearly leave, pensionfund or holiday, except Christmas and New Year. Like many of hiscountrymen working on the farms, Masache believes life would be alot better if the Zimbabweans were issued legal work permits."At least we would have more rights and we could join tradeunion. We would also be able to live peacefully and not hide fromthe police all the time. The South Africans treat us likepigs," he said, "but there is nothing we can do becausewe are here illegally." A policeman at Waterpoort policestation said the many Zimbabweans working illegally on farms inthe area was cause for concern. "We used to arrest at least18 of them every day, but they simply come back. Now there are somany them we can't cope," he said.
Illegal Immigrants will be Deportedat any Cost, says Director-General (The Star, 30/04) - Homeaffairs has no option but to deport illegal immigrants even ifthat is to the great expense to the state, departmentaldirector-general Billy Masetlha says. Responding to a statementby the Democratic Alliance criticising home affairs for spendingabout R16-million in repatriating illegal immigrants, Masetlhasaid on Tuesday the lack of road or rail linkages with othercountries inevitably meant that costs would be incurred whensending illegal aliens back to their countries. That, coupledwith the fact that Botswana was the only country which had agreedto carry the cost of repatriating its citizens illegally in SouthAfrica, pushed up costs. He defended the department's use ofchartered aircraft, saying that, especially after September 11,commercial airlines, including national carrier SA Airways, werereluctant to take "anyone near the description of acriminal, and that includes illegal immigrants". "Theonly condition is if anyone is to be airlifted (in commercialflights) they must be escorted on a normal flight price,"said Masetlha, adding that all immigrants flew economy class. Thehome affairs boss said the agreement with the chartered planeincluded a clause which allowed the department to usealternatives when it was cheaper or there were more than twoillegal immigrants. He said it was inevitable that the escortwould need to be accommodated in hotels and paid travelallowances while waiting for a return plane. The DA based itsstatement on the answers given to its representative inparliament. Masetlha said, however, that the DA had chosen tointerpret the figures given to distort the difficulties insending illegal immigrants back to their countries. He also saidstricter border post controls were not necessarily the answerbecause that only affected immigrants from neighbouringcountries, who were normally transported in trains or trucks.
Voting on Immigration Bill set forMonday (Parliament, Sapa, 30/04) - The NationalAssembly's home affairs committee on Tuesday decided themuch-delayed and controversial draft Immigration Bill will bevoted on next Monday. There is some concern about the bill'sconstitutionality, including among senior ANC members, andJustice Minister Penuell Maduna is expected to meet Home AffairsMinister Mangosuthu Buthelezi this week to discuss the issue.Buthelezi's special adviser, Dr Mario Ambrosini, told thecommittee on Tuesday it was agreed last week that a meeting wouldtake place only if Maduna felt it was necessary to change theCabinet's position on the bill. Both had agreed to the bill at aCabinet meeting last year. Buthelezi was available to meet Madunaat any time, but as he (Buthelezi) had not been approached, heassumed Maduna had no problems with the bill, Ambrosini said. Themeasure, which aims to help attract skilled foreigners to SouthAfrica, proposes setting up separate courts to adjudicateimmigration issues. But the department of justice reportedlybelieves this contradicts the long-term goal of establishing asingle judiciary and amalgamating legislation governing courtmatters. Parliament's justice portfolio committee chairman Johnnyde Lange, addressing the home affairs committee last weekalongside justice officials, argued the move wasunconstitutional, and suggested the courts be integrated intoexisting structures. According to Parliament's rules committeethe bill must be processed by May 7, ahead of a June 2Constitutional Court deadline for a new immigration law or anamended Aliens Control Act. On Tuesday, outgoing home affairscommittee chairman Aubrey Mokoena told members "theexecutive had done its job" in passing the bill throughCabinet, and the committee now had to carry on with passing thebill itself. MPs had the authority to vote on the bill, includingthe questionable sections, which should now be dealt with likeany other clauses. "But, we must apply our mindsproperly," he said. It was agreed the state law advisorswould effect the amendments to the bill proposed in thecommittee, and clause by clause voting would take place onMonday, and on Tuesday, if necessary.
ANC MP tackles refugees, residentsand rot (Cape Town, Sapa, 30/04) - African NationalCongress MP Ben Turok has convened a public meeting of refugeesand permanent residents of Muizenberg in a bid to pre-emptxenophobia and racism as locals step up plans to rejuvenate thedecaying Cape Town suburb. Home Affairs Deputy Minister CharlesNqakula will on May 15 address the meeting on the "Rightsand Obligations of Refugees in South Africa", Turok said onTuesday. The ambassadors of the Democratic Republic on the Congo,Congo-Brazzaville, Angola and a representative of the UnitedNations High Commission have also been invited. Muizenbergresidents felt very strongly that refugees were not observingtheir obligations in terms of respect for the area and of thepeople living there, Turok said. "This is obviously due inpart to the insecurity of the refugees. It also has much to dowith the slum landlords who get good rentals from overcrowding inpremises which are not looked after properly. "The result isa kind of ghetto in a very small area where anti-social practicesare prevalent. The meeting will discuss these matters."Permanent residents were getting very heated about the issue, hetold Sapa. Muizenberg had been decaying as a suburb for the pasttwo decades. Holidaymakers were no longer visiting the seasidesuburb and landlords, many of them absentee, had started packinglow income groups into their buildings. After a lot of pressureon the local municipality to ensure landlords were adhering toby-laws, which had since resulted in several prosecutions, thingshad definitely begun to improve. Residents felt it was also timeto tackle the refugee issue. "Some of the refugees are notbehaving. There are shebeens, noise, late-night parties, acertain amount of prostitution and a large amount ofunemployment. It is typical of inner city decay." There wereno accurate statistics on the numbers of refugees, with estimatesvarying from a couple of hundred to a 1000, Turok said.Legislation governing refugees made it clear that they needed toobserve the country's laws, customs and traditions and thatshould the situation improve or stabilise in their respectivecountries, they would return home. Turok, whose constituency isMuizenberg, said he personally had the greatest sympathy withrefugees in Muizenberg. "Many have a history of persecutionin the conflicts in their countries which have been riddled withviolence for decades. "I was a refugee myself for 25 yearsand spent many years without travel documents and status inAfrica and the UK. It is a miserable condition for any humanbeing," he said.
Home Affairs explains costs ofmigrants (Johannesburg, Sapa, 30/04) - The DemocraticAlliance (DA) should know better than to criticise Home Affairsabout the costs of repatriating illegal immigrants, thedepartment said on Tuesday. Spokesman Leslie Mashokwe wasreacting to a DA statement over the weekend that taxpayers hadspent more than R16-million the past two years to send aliensback to their home countries. According to DA spokesman MikeWaters, the money was spent between April 4, 2000 and March 25,2002. The most common destinations were Malawi followed byTanzania. Of the 142 flights chartered, 102 went to Malawi and 28to Tanzania. Mashokwe said the DA should try to understand thedepartment's position. "We are not allowed to put more thantwo illegal immigrants on a flight - the airlines do not wantmore because these people are associated with crime and are notwelcome on board. He said the department had to send escorts withthe illegal immigrants to make sure that they arrived in theircountry and that also increased costs. "The question is, howmuch is it going to cost the taxpayer to keep these people in thecountry? The DA has been fully briefed and should have anunderstanding for our situation," Mashokwe said.
Maduna, Buthelezi to meet onImmigration Bill: Report (Cape Town, Sapa, 28/04) - JusticeMinister Penuell Maduna is to meet with his Home Affairscounterpart Mangosuthu Buthelezi this week in a bid to resolvetension between their departments over the Immigration Bill. TheCity Press reported on Sunday the meeting would discussdifferences regarding the draft legislation's proposal toestablish separate immigration courts. The National Assembly'shome affairs committee and the National Council of Provinces'social services committee are scheduled to complete deliberationson the bill later in the week. The much-delayed bill has alsobeen the subject of tension between the ANC and Buthelezi, who ashome affairs minister, has piloted it through Parliament. Themeasure, which aims to help attract skilled foreigners to SouthAfrica, proposes setting up separate courts to adjudicateimmigration issues. The department of justice, however, believesthis contradicts the long term goal of establishing a singlejudiciary and amalgamating legislation governing court matters.Parliament's justice portfolio committee chairman Johnny deLange, addressing the home affairs committee last week alongsidejustice officials, argued the move was unconstitutional, andsuggested the courts be integrated into existing structures.According to Parliament's rules committee the bill must beprocessed by May 7, ahead of a June 2 Constitutional Courtdeadline for a new immigration law or an amended Aliens ControlAct.
Home Affairs Committee Chair"redeployed" by ANC (Mail & Guardian, 26/04) - AubreyMokoena criticised for stalling the new Immigration Bill aschairperson of Parliament's home affairs committee has beenredeployed to the backbenches. But his stint there from May 1 maybe short as African National Congress chief whip NosisiveMapisa-Nqakula on Thursday said "there are other plans inplace" for Mokoena. In March opposition political partiescalled for Mokoena's resignation. Progress on the much-delayedImmigration Bill appeared stalled despite looming ConstitutionalCourt deadlines in early June to remedy the unconstitutionalsections of the current immigration law. If the new law is notpassed by then, Parliament would be in contempt of court. In themaking for five years, the Bill has been at the centre of a warof words between the African National Congress and InkathaFreedom Party fuelled by the long-standing breakdown of relationsbetween Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his Director General BillyMasethla. And Mokoena has been blamed for many of the snags sincethe Bill was tabled in Parliament last June. Further disputearound the Bill was headed off by Speaker Frene Ginwala lastmonth when she called a special meeting of the rules committee toset up a timetable to process the proposed legislation. Publichearings were held this week and the committee is expected tovote on the Bill next week. Mokoena's move was announced as partof a process of ongoing internal redeployment within the party.In addition, the ANC will propose to Parliament it scrap all butthe joint standing committee on defence, which represents bothhouses, to avoid stretching resources.
Migrants Suffer At Hands of Police(Johannesburg, Mail & Guardian, 25/04) - Despite new lawsand measures to ensure the humane treatment of suspected illegalimmigrants and refugees, reports and allegations persist ofpolice brutality against foreigners, who in most cases havelittle or no recourse to justice. Izegwire has found the SouthAfri-can experience particularly bad. He described the brutaltreatment he suffered at the hands of policemen: "Justbecause I am a Nigerian, police-men have beaten me up. "Theyhave broken into and searched my house without a warrant. Theyhave taken my money and planted mandrax, cocaine and all kinds ofdrugs so that I wouldn't speak. But the worst experience was whenone white officer confiscated my passport and, not knowing whereto find him, I ran all over to police stations in Johannesburg.When I failed to find him, I had to make an application for a newpassport at the Nigerian embassy, something that cost meR2500." Izegwire said he was willing to be photographed bythe Mail & Guardian to show the wounds on his body frombeatings by police, if his lawyer advised him that it was okay.At the time of going to press he had not yet given the M&Ghis answer. Responding to questions on what the South AfricanPolice Service (SAPS) is doing about such incidents, Sally deBeer, the spokesperson for the deputy national policecommissioner, said the SAPS has implemented a programme atnational level that concentrates only on human rights, and worksin close cooperation with the United Nations. She said lectureson human rights have been included in the police curriculum atbasic training level. "Also, our training division givesregular courses to our members whose basic training took placeprior to the introduction of these measures." Despite thesemeasures, however, there are numerous allegations of policeabusing immigrants. Organisations such as Jesuit RefugeeServices, the South African Human Rights Commission and Lawyersfor Human Rights say these could be on the increase, though theyare yet to come up with figures indicating the trend. Someforeigners told the M&G that a recent photograph in The Starof a policeman punching Burundian refugee Justin Masilya, whoreportedly was resisting arrest, was just one example of theabuses they put up with. Siphiwe Sibeko, who took the photograph,said: "Actually Masilya appeared shocked that he should havethe misfortune to run into the police. Afterwards it transpiredthat he had valid papers, but for some reason he couldn't showthem." Masilya said he was scared the police would tear uphis papers, thus rendering him an illegal and susceptible toextortion. Crooked police officers are said to routinely extortbribes from foreigners without papers by threatening to deportthem, or to take them to the notorious Lindela Detention Centre.A naturalised South African - speaking on condition of anonymity- said two members of the Johannesburg dog unit demanded R2000from him after they stopped his car and discovered he couldn'tspeak any African South African language. He said they wanted tosee his papers, which prompted him to give them half the amountthey were demanding. Says Lawyers for Human Rights: "Asignificant number of people apprehended during raids asundocumented immigrants complain that their South Africanidentity documents and refugee permits are confiscated and insome cases destroyed by police officers." Reports of policeextortion of scared foreigners started in 1994 when South Africaopened its borders. Inability to pay the amounts demanded bypolice often lead to beatings, arbitrary jailing, deportation andharassment. Local human rights bodies and international ones suchas Human Rights Watch have deplored the abuses, prompting thegovernment to come up with guidelines relating to the arrest ofsuspected illegals. The Refugee Act - a piece of legislationenacted in 1998 and believed by lawyers to be one of the mostprogressive of its kind in the world - states in Article 2 ofChapter 2: "Notwithstanding any provision of this Act or anyother law to the contrary, no person may be refused entry intothe Republic, expelled, extradited or returned to any othercountry." This law applies to the documented 70 000foreigners, and the estimated one to two million who have notreported their presence to authorities in South Africa. What thismeans, say lawyers, is that only the Department of Home Affairscan determine who is or is not a refugee or who can stay in SouthAfrica legally and who must be deported. *Name has been changed
Non-citizens receiving social welfaregrants: Auditor General (Johannesburg, Mail & Guardian,25/04) - Foreigners have found ways of robbing the state ofmillions of rands in social welfare grants to which they are notentitled, including old age pensions meant for the poor. Thisemerges from Auditor General Shauket Fakie's general report ongovernment spending up to March 31 2001, presented to the publicaccounts committee. Altogether R28,6-million was"overpaid" - to use the parlance of the report - but astaggering R9,3-million of this was paid to 499 citizens offoreign countries living in South Africa. The report said thebeneficiaries "should be cancelled with immediate effect andoverpayments recovered where possible". Pensioners nowreceive R620 a month, but grants are also provided to poor peoplelooking after children and for those suffering from disability. Atough means test has to be passed to draw the grants. Altogether337 dead people were paid R660 000. A breakdown of how long thepeople had been dead was not given. But the report does say thatall beneficiaries still registered with an old reference bookstarting with 0000 - indicating they were born after 1900 -"should be identified and correctly registered or theirregistration cancelled with immediate effect". Some publicservants also had their fingers in the cookie jar. Altogether 621people were found to be receiving a salary according to Persal -the state salary system for public servants - and also to be on agrant "where the means test was not taken intoconsideration". Fakie has proposed that a comparison betweenthe data on Socpen - the social pensioners' salary system - andPersal should be done on a regular basis "and anyduplications followed up immediately". Altogether 849 peoplewere found to be receiving pensions from the state - indicatingthat they were former public servants - as well as social grants,costing the state R3,1-million. A sizeable number ofbeneficiaries - 592 - were found to be receiving the grantalthough they were younger than the qualifying age of 60. Theyhad been paid R11,3-million by the time they were discovered.Altogether 3 179 beneficiaries of the 6 233 examined were being"overpaid" by the time they were discovered. - Duringthe current parliamentary session a Social Grants AppropriationBill - which provides back pay totalling R2-billion in socialgrant payments to the poor - is expected to be passed. Thelegislation provides back pay to people who applied for grantsbetween April 1998 and December 2001 but who received their firstpayments much later.
Police, Army Unable to ProtectSA Borders (Nelspruit, African Eye News Service, 25/04) - Mpumalanga'stop safety and anti-crime officials want to beef up security atthe provinces' borders with Mozambique and Swaziland. Illegalborder crossings, car smuggling and livestock theft between thecountries are on the increase because police and South AfricanNational Defence Force (SANDF) presence on the borders islimited, said safety and security MEC Thabang Makwetla. Makwetlawent on a reconnaissance trip of over 1 000 kilometres to inspectthe border line from Pafuri in the Kruger National Park (KNP) tothe Oshoek border post this week. According to police and SANDFstatistics, at least 21 000 stolen vehicles are recovered on theLebombo border post to Mozambique every year. They also arrestabout 1 500 illegal immigrants trying to cross into South Africaper week. Makwetla said that the deployment of security forceswas "far below par". "There are no police deployedafter the border closes and that makes it difficult to controlcrime," he said. Illegal cross-border movement betweenborder communities was also going unchecked he added. Makwetlaadvised police to put in a request to Commissioner Jacky Selebito deploy more personnel. There is currently a shortage of 60police and 300 soldiers on the borders. Group 33 who controlsecurity at the border said their figures didn't reflect theactual number of illegal crossings from Mozambique and Swaziland.Group 33 commanding officer Hein Visser said: "The figureswe have are only of the illegals we've been able toapprehend". Corruption amongst border police and homeaffairs officials is adding to the problem. Eleven policeofficers and one home affairs official working in Mananga, Oshoekand Lebombo border posts are currently involved in court trials.The officials were arrested on suspicion of helping to exportstolen vehicles from South Africa to Mozambique and Swaziland.The arrests followed a year-long undercover investigation intocorruption at the three border posts.
Immigration Bill is Discriminatory (Cape Town,Business Report, 24/04) - The draft Immigration Billdiscriminated against Africans, Sehlare Makgetlaneng, a seniorresearch specialist at the Africa Institute, told parliamentyesterday. Addressing the two home affairs committees,Makgetlaneng said the bill gave "more priority andpreference to those who have capital to come to South Africa withno hindrance". "It discriminates against those withoutcapital, specifically Africans," he said. There was thuspotential for corruption in the department. "The financialor capital contribution must be clearly spelled out," hesaid. "There should be additional regulations within theministry [of home affairs] to ensure that there is nocorruption." Makgetlaneng said another section in the bill,dealing with permits for retired persons, also discriminatedagainst Africans: "It favours people from the developedcountries. The majority of Africans would not have retirementfunds converted or transferred to South Africa." He alsobelieved limits should be set on land ownership because mostSouth Africans were still largely "marginalised from thisimportant national resource".
Immigration Bill Under AttackAgain (Johannesburg, Business Day, 24/04) - HRC sayssections unconstitutional Provisions in the Immigration Bill thatwill make employers who hire "illegal foreigners"guilty of a crime unless they prove otherwise areunconstitutional and should be removed, the Human RightsCommission (HRC) says. This is the latest setback for theurgently needed bill, which has seen substantial objections fromorganised labour. The bill was described as unconstitutional thisweek by the justice department as a result of its provision forthe creation of special immigration courts. Parliamentarycommittees are racing against a constitutional court deadline,and have been instructed to complete work on the bill by earlynext month. The HRC, in a submission to Parliament's two homeaffairs committees yesterday, said the bill was unconstitutionalin a wide range of areas. It said the reverse onus, which willrequire employers to prove that they have not knowingly employedillegal foreigners or be presumed guilty of having knowingly doneso, was putting state policing functions in the domain of theemployer. It said the constitutional court had in the past foundthat shifting the onus of proof onto the accused in criminalmatters was not acceptable. The bill's provisions were thuslikely to fail a constitutional challenge, the HRC said. Similarprovisions that would require hotels and institutions, which sellovernight accommodation, to check on the legal status of theirguests were also unacceptable, the HRC said. "It is clearthat the provisions will be more easily used to target poor andmarginalised people who flee to SA. "It would be unlikelythat posh hotel staff would begin carrying out immigration dutiesand checking of passports and visas of their overseasclients." The HRC argued that these provisions would beapplied in a discriminatory manner, and should be removed fromthe bill. A further provision applying the same principle toplaces of learning was also rejected as being unconstitutional."Sections 41 to 43 of the bill create an onus on the accusedto prove that he or she did not knowingly provide employment, aplace of learning or accommodation to an illegal foreigner."The provisions thus place an onerous duty on the public toascertain whether a person is an illegal foreigner or not. Theprovisions may well be subject to constitutional challenge basedon the right to be presumed innocent, to remain silent, and notto testify in the proceeding. "The HRC is of the view thatthese presumptions would not survive constitutionalscrutiny." The HRC charged that it had made its views knownon many matters contained in the bill, and these had been largelyignored by the home affairs department. "The HRC isconcerned that the current time framework for the passing of thislegislation is too limited. Should Parliament proceed with thecurrent process we will be left with a piece of legislation thatwill be riddled with legal uncertainty and subject to constantlegal challenge. This would prove costly for the state. "TheHRC calls on the committee to seriously consider postponing thecurrent process."
Border Security to beIntensified (SABC News, 23/04) - Security presence alongthe border posts between Swaziland, Mozambique and Mpumalangawill be increased. This comes after a visit to the three borderposts by Thabang Makwetla, the Mpumalanga MEC for Safety andSecurity and representatives from the South African NationalDefence Force (SANDF), the South African Police Service (SAPS)and the Home Affairs Department. Makwetla says the aim of thevisit was to assess the seriousness of the problem of peoplecrossing the border fences illegally. The increased number ofstolen vehicles and cattle being smuggled through the borderposts also seem to have prompted the visit. Makwetla also saidthat measures to prevent police officers from participating inactivities of corruption are in the pipeline. Two weeks ago 10police officers and a Home Affairs official were arrested at theMananga, Oshoek and Lebombo border posts.
Immigration Bill Not TransparentEnough - Human Rights Committee (The Star, 23/04) - TheSouth African Human Rights Commission has urged the department ofhome affairs to postpone the current process aimed at drivingthrough a controversial immigration bill before July.Commissioner Zonke Majodina made the appeal after a number ofsubmissions to parliament's two-day hearings on the immigrationbill identified a host of unresolved problems. The bill is, amongother things, aimed at attracting skilled foreigners, butsubmissions left the perception that insufficient co-ordinationtook place between home affairs and other departments involvedwith immigration. It was previously held up due to a disputebetween the treasury and home affairs as to whether it was amoney bill. On Monday, justice committee head Johnny de Langesaid the newly drafted bill was unconstitutional. De Lange wasreferring to a provision in the bill for the setting up ofseparate court systems with exclusive legal jurisdiction. He saidjustice officials had not been consulted on the legality of suchcourts. Also on Monday, the national development and labourcouncil pointed out that the bill was never formally consideredby business and labour, and that no agreement had been reached ona process to consider it. On Tuesday, the South African PoliceService also indicated that despite specific requests to beconsulted during the drafting period, no such discussions tookplace with the department of home affairs. The SA Human RightsCommission noted that, due to the amount of criticism voicedagainst the bill, "the current time framework for thepassing of this legislation is too limited". Majodina said:"Should parliament proceed with the current process, we willbe left with a piece of legislation that will be ridden withlegal uncertainty and subject to constant legal challenge. Thiswould prove costly for the state." She added it was clearthat "further interaction needs to take place between thevarious government departments, such as Justice, that will becharged with carrying out the duties contained in the bill".Asked to respond to the criticism, Mario Ambrosini, specialadviser to Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said theministry had planned to present a respected constitutionallawyer, advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, to the committee to explainwhy the bill had been certified and adopted by the cabinet. Ahome affairs official, who did not want to be named, indicatedthat the department would also try to throw more light onquestions raised at the hearings.
Postpone Immigration Bill process:SAHRC (Parliament, Sapa, 23/04) - The South AfricanHuman Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Tuesday called on Parliament'stwo home affairs committees to postpone their processing of thecontroversial draft Immigration Bill. In a submission made to thecommittees during public hearings on Tuesday, the commission saidthat after two years of the bill being open to comment andfurther redrafting, the latest version suggested that "veryfew substantive amendments" had been made to the original."The SAHRC is concerned that due to the number of criticismsthat have been voiced against the bill, that the current timeframework for the passing of this legislation is too limited."Should Parliament proceed with the current process, we willbe left with a piece of legislation that will be riddled withlegal uncertainty and subject to constant legal challenge."This would prove costly for the state. The commission appealed tothe committees to "seriously consider postponing thiscurrent process". It proposed that legislation complyingwith the Constitutional Court deadlines be fast tracked throughParliament this session, and that the committees provide a cleartime framework for further redrafting of the bill. "It isclear that further interaction needs to also take place betweenthe various government departments, such as justice, that will becharged with carrying out the duties contained in the bill,"the commission said. Before Parliament adjourned for the Easterrecess, the rules committee decided the bill should be processedby May 7. Parliament faces a June 2 Constitutional Court deadlinefor a new immigration law, or an amended Aliens Control Act.Several institutions and individuals, including senior ANC MPs,have questioned the bill's constitutionality. During the hearingsearlier on Tuesday morning, Institute for Security Studies (ISS)executive director Dr Jakkie Cilliers told the committees SouthAfrica could not afford an immigration policy which largelyexcluded non-South Africans from the country, and would also notstem the tide of foreigners. Much of Southern Africa was caughtin a spiral that would see annual reductions in all measurableindicators of the quality of life. "In relative terms, SouthAfrica will continue to be seen as a destination that offersgreater hope for a sustainable livelihood than countries such asLesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Zambia, Angola,etc." There was little prospect that the pressure on SouthAfrica from foreign nationals to enter, trade, and seek work,food and survival would decrease - possibly the reverse, Cillierssaid. "As was the case with the pass laws and the attemptsto exclude rural (black) outsiders from sharing the benefits ofurban (black) insiders within South Africa during apartheid, apolicy that largely seeks to exclude non-South Africans fromSouth Africa will be prohibitively expensive, given thesefactors, resource constraints and our porous borders. "Atbest we may be in a position to manage and channel the influx offoreigners outh Africa, but not stem the tide in any meaningfulmanner," he said. "This implies that we will have toaccept a situation where we legalise and manage - knowing who isentering, etc, instead of trying to restrict access to the extentthat we consistently criminalise migrants, and the associatedburdens this will place on the criminal justice system." TheHome Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) would go along way in this regard if sufficient care was taken to ensurethe system's integrity, Cilliers said. Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng ofthe Africa Institute of South Africa, told MPs the billdiscriminated against Africans. It gave "more priority andpreference to those who have capital to come to South Africa withno hindrance". "It discriminates against those withoutcapital, specifically Africans." Makgetlaneng said anothersection in the bill dealing with permits for retired persons, wasalso discriminatory against Africans. "It favours peoplefrom the developed countries. The majority of Africans would nothave retirement funds converted or transferred to South Africa."The only people who are likely to benefit are those who arenot Africans, particularly from the developed countries," hesaid.
Immigration Bill discriminatesagainst Africans: AISA (Parliament, Sapa, 23/04) - Thedraft Immigration Bill discriminates against Africans in a numberof ways, according to Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng of the AfricaInstitute of South Africa. In a presentation to Parliament's twohome affairs committees during public hearings on the bill onTuesday, the senior research specialist said the bill gave"more priority and preference to those who have capital tocome to South Africa with no hindrance". "Itdiscriminates against those without capital, specificallyAfricans." Thus there was potential for corruption."The financial or capital contribution must be clearlyspelled out. There should be additional regulations within theministry (of home affairs) to ensure that there is nocorruption." Makgetlaneng said another section in the billdealing with permits for retired persons, was also discriminatoryagainst Africans. "It favours people from the developedcountries. The majority of Africans would not have retirementfunds converted or transferred to South Africa. "The onlypeople who are likely to benefit are those who are not Africans,particularly from the developed countries." He also believedthat limits should be set on the extent of foreign landownership. The vast majority of South Africans were still largely"marginalised from this important national resource"."The sad truth of the matter regarding unrestricted foreignownership of the land, is that we may find that due to landhunger among the majority of South Africans, the government maybe forced to buy back the very land that it is currently makingavailable to foreign owners at exceedingly inflated prices,"Makgetlaneng said.
South Africa cannot prevent migrantsentering: ISS (Parliament, Sapa, 23/04) - South Africacannot afford an immigration policy which largely excludesnon-South Africans from the country, and will also not stem thetide of foreigners, says Institute for Security Studies (ISS)executive director Dr Jakkie Cilliers. Briefing Parliament's twohome affairs committees on Tuesday, during public hearings on thedraft Immigration Bill, he said much of Southern Africa wascaught in a spiral that would see annual reductions in allmeasurable indicators of the quality of life. "In relativeterms, South Africa will continue to be seen as a destinationthat offers greater hope for a sustainable livelihood thancountries such as Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland,Zambia, Angola, etc." Even peace in countries such as theDemocratic Republic of Congo and Angola carried their own burden,as the large pools of illegal firearms circulating in thoseregions - where demand was high because of armed conflict -became available to "feed South Africa's penchant forviolent crime". This situation implied there was littleprospect that the pressure on South Africa from foreign nationalsto enter, trade, and seek work, food and survival would decrease- possibly the reverse, Cilliers said. Nor would the commercialopportunities for criminal networks to penetrate South Africa asa lucrative domain in itself, or as a portal into larger marketselsewhere, decline. "As was the case with the pass laws andthe attempts to exclude rural (black) outsiders from sharing thebenefits of urban (black) insiders within South Africa duringapartheid, a policy that largely seeks to exclude non-SouthAfricans from South Africa will be prohibitively expensive, giventhese factors, resource constraints and our porous borders."At best we may be in a position to manage and channel theinflux of foreigners to South Africa, but not stem the tide inany meaningful manner," he said. "This implies that wewill have to accept a situation where we legalise and manage -knowing who is entering, etc, instead of trying to restrictaccess to the extent that we consistently criminalise migrants,and the associated burdens this will place on the criminaljustice system." The Home Affairs National IdentificationSystem (HANIS) would go a long way in this regard if sufficientcare was taken to ensure the system's integrity. Cilliers saidany useful South African system of permits should include asystem that registered foreigners in a single database forcorrelation and comparative purposes, and should include a meansof identification, such as a photograph and/or fingerprints. Alsonecessary was a decentralised system at entry points along SouthAfrica's borders that provided multiple entry permits for thevast majority of informal day and short-term visitors crossinginto the country to shop, trade or visit family, he said.
Over 23 000 SADC migrants arrestedand sent home: Buthelezi (Parliament, Sapa, 22/04) - Altogether23319 illegal immigrants from Southern African DevelopmentCommunity (SADC) states were arrested between January 1 andFebruary 28 this year, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezisaid on Monday. In written reply to a question in the NationalAssembly, he said most of these were from Mozambique (13039) andZimbabwe (8513). Others were from Lesotho (926), Malawi (358),Swaziland (327), Tanzania (111), Zambia (21), Angola (20),Botswana (3), and Mauritius (1). All those arrested wererepatriated within 30 days of their arrest, Buthelezi said.
Much-delayed Immigration Bill stillfaces rocky ride (Parliament, Sapa, 22/04) - With thedeadline looming for the country's lawmakers to adopt themuch-delayed Immigration Bill, the job of the parliamentarycommittees processing the measure was further complicated onMonday as senior ANC MPs questioned its constitutionality.Members of the National Assembly's home affairs committee andthose of the National Council of Provinces social servicescommittee are trying to reconcile divergent views on the draftbill, which has also been the subject of tension between the ANCand IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Buthelezi, who is homeaffairs minister, has piloted the bill through Parliament, whichaccording to Parliament's rules committee needs to be processedby May 7. Parliament faces a June 2 Constitutional Court deadlinefor a new immigration law or an amended Aliens Control Act. But,on Monday MPs heard more questions about the bill'sconstitutionality and learnt that talks between the home affairsdepartment and others department, including justice and foreignaffairs, were still continuing. In his submission, NationalEconomic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) executivedirector Phillip Dexter said the bill - which among other things,aims to attract skilled foreigners to South Africa - had neverbeen formally "considered" by its constituents:business, labour and government. No agreement had been reached ona process to consider the bill, because government contended ithad already been discussed during the White Paper onInternational Migration. This was a view rejected by both labourand business. Dexter said labour had argued that the entireNedlac process was flawed and that government had no intention ofseeking consensus. ANC MP Johnny de Lange, who chairs theNational Assembly's justice committee, said the bill in itspresent form, was unconstitutional. He described its tabling asastounding. Referring to special immigration courts, he said theConstitution did not allow for separate court systems withexclusive legal jurisdiction, nor the establishment of anindependent investigating authority, as proposed in the bill.Neither his committee nor the Department of Justice would supportthe creation of separate immigration courts. De Lange said hecould not believe that the bill had been submitted to Parliament,when disagreements remained between the departments of HomeAffairs and Justice. "I don't know who is at fault here, butI find it astounding that a bill is introduced that expressesonly one opinion. "What did they (Home Affairs) expect tohappen here? That it would just sail through with one departmentopposing it?," he asked. He suggested the bill be rewrittenas far as possible before the June deadline, and that furtheramendments be made later, if necessary. Another option, althoughnot preferable, was that Parliament request an extension from theConstitutional Court. Justice deputy director-general forlegislation Deon Rudman said there had been an agreement that theparties would continue to discuss differences even after thefinal version was approved by Cabinet. However, Buthelezi'sspecial adviser Dr Mario Ambrosini told Sapa all the concernsabout the bill's constitutionality were "misplaced".The home affairs department would deal with the concerns raisedwhen it briefed the committee. Foreign affairs committee deputychairman Job Sithole said that department was still in talks withhome affairs about some provisions of the bill, includingaccreditation of foreign diplomats. The bill transferred this tothe department of home affairs. "Once you start subjectingthe application of diplomatic accreditation through normalmigration laws you will run into problems," Sithole warned.
Immigration Bill unconstitutional: deLange (Parliament, Sapa, 22/04) - The Immigration Billin its present form was unconstitutional and its submission toParliament "astounding", National Assembly justicecommittee chairman Johnny de Lange said on Monday. BriefingParliament's home affairs committees, he said the Constitutiondid not allow for the setting up of separate court systems withexclusive legal jurisdiction. The proposed immigration courtsshould be integrated into existing court structures. "It wasnever envisaged in the Constitution for another court to be setup as an 'apex' court... it is wrong to create a legal system andthen for immigration to be outside that system." In thisregard, De Lange also questioned the constitutionality of thecountry's labour courts. "I must say categorically that I amof the same view on the labour courts. The labour courts as theyare structured now are not working," he said. The two homeaffairs committees are conducting public hearings on the bill,which amongst other things, aims to help attract skilledforeigners to South Africa. It proposes the Minister of HomeAffairs be empowered to establish specialised courts, andinvestigators, to deal with immigration issues. De Lange saidneither his committee nor the Department of Justice would supportthe creation of separate immigration courts. The Department ofHome Affairs could approach Justice to allocate priority toimmigration matters, just as was done with traffic courts overbusy periods. He criticised that fact that the bill gavejurisdiction to magistrates that was currently the preserve ofthe country's high courts. "This is a fundamental shift inthe legal system, it is fundamentally changing how we deal withreview matters. "There is no way that we can accommodate themoves that this bill envisages." It also contradictedjustice's long term goal of establishing a single judiciary andamalgamating legislation governing court matters. De Lange saidhe could not believe that the bill had been submitted toParliament when disagreements remained between the departments ofHome Affairs and Justice. "I don't know who is at faulthere, but I find it astounding that a bill is introduced thatexpresses only one opinion. "What did they (Home Affairs)expect to happen here? That it would just sail through with onedepartment opposing it?," he asked. De Lange suggested thatthe bill be rewritten as far as possible before a June 2Constitutional Court deadline, and that further amendments bemade later. Another option, although not preferable, was thatParliament request an extension to the deadline. Cabinet approvedthe current version of the bill in March, but, according tojustice deputy director-general for legislation Deon Rudman,there was agreement that the parties would continue to discussdifferences. The National Assembly's rules committee has giventhe home affairs portfolio committee until May 6 to process thebill for approval by the Assembly. In his response, Home Affairsspecial adviser Dr Mario Ambrosini said all the concerns on theconstitutionality of the bill were "misplaced". Thedepartment would brief the committees on all the concerns thathad been raised. On the issue of immigration courts, he said thedepartment had been working on the proposal since 1996, and thatthe former Justice Minister Dullah Omar had agreed to theirestablishment.
Maduna signs Harksen extradition(Cape Town, Sapa, 19/04) - Controversial Germanbusinessman Jurgen Harksen is set to face the music in hishomeland, after Justice Minister Penuell Maduna signed anextradition order on Friday. However, the extradition could beheld up if the trustees of Harksen's estate decided on alast-minute bid to keep him in the country. "We are going tobe meeting advocates this evening to consider our position,"one of the trustees, Eileen Fey, said late Friday afternoon."It's quite a complicated legal issue and we need to getproper advice on it." The trustees earlier indicated theywould be unhappy if Harksen left before his insolvency inquiry,under way in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court, was completed. TheJustice Ministry said in a statement shortly after noon thatMaduna had decided it was in the best interest of justice thatHarksen be surrendered to the German authorities. "Theministry therefore wishes to announce that the minister signedthe order for the extradition of Harksen. "The order will behanded over to the relevant law enforcement agencies forexecution," it said. The Cape Town Magistrate's Court lastweek ordered Harksen's extradition to Germany, where he is wantedon a string of tax evasion and fraud charges. This came afterHarksen, who has fought an eight-year battle to avoid beingdelivered up, agreed to be handed over, apparently as a moreattractive option than facing new fraud charges in South Africa.However, the order needed Maduna's signature before it could becarried out. Maduna's spokesman Paul Setsetse said the orderwould be handed to Interpol in South Africa as soon aspractically possible, which was likely to be some time early nextweek. Maduna took the decision after meeting National Director ofPublic Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka. Ngcuka's spokesman SiphoNgwema said Ngcuka was in full agreement, and had in factrecommended that Harksen be sent to Germany. It was unlikely thatHarksen would face further questioning before he left about thelocal fraud allegations. "Otherwise we can always reach himin Germany," Ngwema said. Harksen appeared in the Cape TownMagistrate's Court on Friday at another inquiry, this one intohis alleged violation of bail conditions. The hearing waspostponed to May 3. Prosecutor Jasper Tredoux said if Harksen wasstill in the country, the inquiry would be completed. "Ifhe's not here, we'll just abandon it," he said. Harksen iscurrently being held in jail. Tredoux, who earlier said he hadreceived conflicting accounts from the Justice Ministry onwhether the order had actually been signed, said late Fridayafternoon that he had received confirmation that it had beendone. Early on Friday morning Harksen's wife, Jeannette, bowed toan ultimatum and turned up at the insolvency inquiry in Wynberg.She was meant to testify earlier this week, but sent a notesaying she had been booked into a clinic with depression. Thetrustees of her husband's estate, armed with an arrest warrantissued by the magistrate conducting the inquiry, told her on thatif she did not turn up on Friday, she would be fetched. Shearrived at the Wynberg Magistrate's Court shortly before 9amaccompanied by her lawyer Reid Corin. Corin told Sapa his clientwas being "hounded by the press" and this was"organised and contrived by the trustees". A tense MrsHarksen said she would not answer questions from the media. Shedid subsequently testify at the hearings, which are being held incamera.
Confusion over Harksen extradition(Cape Town, Sapa, 19/04) - News on Friday that JusticeMinister Penuell had approved Jurgen Harksen's extradition toGermany - and had already signed the documentation - plunged intoconfusion the inquiry concerning the fugitive's allegedviolations of his bail conditions. Friday's resumed hearing inthe Cape Town Magistrate's Court, before Rashaad Matthews waspostponed to May 3, when the inquiry is, or was,expected to end.Soon after the postponement, however, the news was broadcast onradio that Maduna had in fact signed the extradition documents.This, however, was denied by Maduna's office when the prosecutor,Jasper Tredoux, telephoned for clarity. Tredoux said: "Ineed to speak to Maduna himself. I need to find out if there hasbeen a misunderstanding and, if so, what the misunderstandingis." He said the State would have to abandon the inquiry ifHarksen's extradition were imminent. The inquiry revolves aroundHarksen's alleged failure on a number of occasions to report tothe Wynberg police, as demanded by bail conditions set during hislengthy fight against extradition. The State initially allegedeight failures, but is now focusing on only four. Wynberg policeinspector Imil Rabie was on Friday questioned at length byHarksen's senior counsel, Rob McDougall. The inspector saidHarksen had reported regularly to the Wynberg police for eight tonine years, without any problems. He added: "If an accusedperson fails to report, it is the investigating officer'sproblem, and has nothing to do with the charge officestaff." He said the duty of the charge office staff wasmerely to hand the bail register to an accused person forsignature, but not to check if the register had in fact beensigned. Asked how it would be noticed if an accused had failed tosign, he said: "The investigating officer will find out whenhe arrives to check the register." To a defence suggestionthat the bail register was a "sorry state of affairs"at the Wynberg Charge Office, he said: "There is room forimprovement."
Maduna okays Harksen extradition(Cape Town, Sapa, 19/04) - Fugitive German businessmanJurgen Harksen is to be returned to his homeland, following thesigning of an extradition order by Justice Minister PenuellMaduna on Friday. It was "in the best interest of justicethat Harksen be surrendered to the German authority", thejustice ministry said in a statement. "The ministrytherefore wishes to announce that the minister (Maduna) signedthe order for the extradition of Harksen. "The order will behanded over to the relevant law enforcement agencies forexecution," it said. The statement did not say when theextradition would take place. The Cape Town Magistrate's Courtlast week ordered Harksen's extradition to Germany, where he iswanted on a string of tax evasion and fraud charges. The orderneeded Maduna's signature before it could be carried out.
Business welcome Immigration Bill,but oppose levies (Parliament, Sapa, 17/04) - Threebusiness organisations on Wednesday welcomed draft legislation torevamp South Africa's immigration policy, but all objected to theimposition of levies on companies importing foreign workers.Business South Africa (BSA) said in a submission to Parliament'stwo home affairs committees employing skilled foreigners helpedlift economic growth and ultimately created more jobs. "Theypromote economic growth and give vigour and diversity to ourcountry. We don't need to discourage legal foreigners," VicEsselaar, the chairman of BSA's migration task group, said. SouthAfrica desperately needed a new migration policy to replace thecurrent Act, which had resulted in a culture that wasunconstitutional and inefficient. "It (the current law) isbased on the old laager mentality; draw the wagons into a circleand don't let any foreigners in." However, the fee envisagedin the bill for hiring foreigners would impact on domestic andforeign investment, and make this country's effective tax rateseven less competitive, he said. The bill, which, among otherthings, aims to attract skilled foreign workers, suggests a feebe paid based on the annual remuneration of the employee.Esselaar said additional charges placed on business would reduceeconomic growth, investment and employment, and companies alreadyfaced major disabilities, such as the cost of capital, lack ofinvestment incentives and crime. He said the fee could turnmarginal mines into loss-making entities, with the mines havingto pay for their migrant workers, many of whom were Lesotho orMozambique citizens. BSA suggested that, at the least, miningcontract labour - already controlled in terms of an"inter-state agreement" - be excluded from the fee.Both the British Chamber of Commerce in Southern Africa and theAmerican Chamber of Commerce criticised the imposition of apercentage fee and called for a complete review of the levysystem. The bill as it stood not only created confusion in theminds of investors, but also amounted to a double tax, asemployers were already paying a skills levy on the salaries ofall workers. As a ratio of the foreigner's salary it was clearlya punitive tax aimed unnecessarily at what was perceived aswealthy people or companies, the British Chamber representativePatrick McLaughlin said. A "reasonable fee" could beintroduced that was transparent, less onerous and more acceptableto foreign companies hoping to invest in this country, or localcompanies looking to expand. The chambers also appealed for thereference to job quotas to be scrapped from the legislation, andthat provision be made to ensure than local and foreign businessrepresentatives be appointed to the proposed Immigration Board.McLaughlin said, however, that as a whole, his chamber viewed thebill as "a bold and courageous" attempt to reform SouthAfrica's immigration policy. In its submission, BSA said theImmigration Board was likely to be overburdened with officialsand bureaucrats and suggested the inclusion of business andlabour representatives and legal experts be written into the law.Esselaar also recommended police powers on the arrest andimprisonment of illegal foreigners be limited to guard againstgross abuse of human rights. Police should have "reasonablegrounds" to believe the person was an illegal immigrantbefore an arrest was made, he said. The public hearings areexpected to continue on Thursday and into next week. The NationalAssembly's rules committee has given the home affairs committeeuntil May 6 to process the bill for approval by the Assembly.
Management at some border postsshocking: SARS (Cape Town, Sapa, 16/04) - The poormanagement and lack of coordination at some of South Africa'sborder posts was "quite shocking", Parliament's homeaffairs portfolio committee was told on Tuesday. South AfricanRevenue Service (Sars) general manager for customs, VusoShabalala, said the organisation was pushing for a moreintegrated approach to managing border posts. "Let's justsay the coordination between the departments at ports of entryneeds improvement ... some of the things that we have found atports of entry are actually quite shocking." The variousdepartments - including Sars, home affairs, the SA PoliceService, defence and public works - did not work together, whichresulted in inefficient border posts and ultimately poorconditions. Shabalala was presenting Sars' submission to thecommittee during public hearings on the Immigration Bill, whichaims to amend customs and migration policy. He appealed forcloser interaction between the departments concerned, but saidSars was opposed to home affairs taking charge of the managementof the country's border posts. That department should only beresponsible for the administration of ports of entry insofar asit related to the movement of people. Shabalala recommendeddiscussions take place to develop a national border postmanagement policy to ensure streamlined border control and clearreporting lines. He said the tabling of the bill was a welcomeand timely development as it indicated movement regardingmigration policy. "Following South Africa's first democraticelections in 1994, the premise, context and rationale formigration control have necessitated an in-depth review of SouthAfrica's migration policy." Traditionally, the countryfollowed an approach that over-emphasised control. Any discussionon customs and immigration policies should take cognisance of theneed to promote economic development, facilitate trade andmaintain appropriate control over the entry of goods and peopleto protect the economy. "In other words, although it iscritical to focus on the control and security aspects of ports ofentry, it is just as important, if not more important, to alsofocus on the role of ports of entry in promoting economicdevelopment. "Border control functions must be undertaken ina manner that strikes a balance between facilitation andcontrol," he said. The committee is meeting during duringParliament's Easter recess in an effort to complete itsdeliberations on the bill to meet a June 2 constitutionaldeadline for a new immigration law or for the current AliensControl Act to be amended. The National Assembly's rulescommittee has given the home affairs committee until May 6 toprocess the bill for approval by the Assembly. The hearings arescheduled to continue on Wednesday.
SAHRC condemns removal of muslimsfrom plane (Johannesburg, Sapa, 16/04) - The SA HumanRights Commission (SAHRC) is to take issue with SA Airways aftertwo Muslim passengers were removed from a London-bound flightlast Thursday because a passenger believed they were"suspicious". The removal of the two by the captain offlight SA 260 at the insistence of a first class passenger causeda few hours delay at Johannesburg International Airport. The twopassengers have since threatened to sue the airline. Human rightscommissioner Jody Kollapen said the captain's conduct was"totally unacceptable" and that the SAHRC would engageSAA with regard to its standing policies in dealing with issuesof that nature, to ensure it never occurs again. "It issimply unacceptable that a private individual can have suchpowers over other passengers without any substantiating evidence."While everyone can objectively alert authorities onpossible dangers, security matters cannot be used as asmokescreen to violate other people's rights based on theircolour or religion," he said. While the SAHRC had notreceived any complaints regarding the incident, it was entitledto take up the matter as part of its mandate, Kollapen said. Theincident has drawn angry reactions from mainly Muslim communitieswhich charge that it is part of a growing global trend againstthem since the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.Meanwhile, SAA on Tuesday expressed regret at the incident andpromised to take action against those responsible. It said itsofficials would meet the two Muslim passengers on their returnand apologise once again. SAA spokesman Victor Nosi said airlineofficials would meet the two passengers on their return fromLondon and extend a formal apology for any embarrassment orinconvenience caused by perceptions that SAA had been biasedagainst them. "SAA is wholly owned by the South Africangovernment and subscribes to this country's Constitution whichoutlaws discrimination of any form. "SAA does not condonethe discrimination of passengers based on race, colour, creed orreligion. Such behaviour will never be tolerated," he said.Nosi said the airline was bound by and operating under stringentsecurity procedures implemented by the Airports Company of SouthAfrica. "These security procedures are endorsed by the USFederal Aviation Administration (FAA), South Africa's CivilAviation Authority and other bodies. "Since September 11, wehave been required by the FAA to introduce extra securitymeasures particularly on international flights. Should SAA notsubscribe to the security requirements, its license will berevoked."
Cuban teacher trainers due in SouthAfrica later this year (Pretoria, Sapa, 15/04) - Cubanteacher trainers will arrive in the country later this year,Education Minister Kader Asmal said on Monday. In terms of amodified proposal for their utilisation, there would be 24 suchtutors in the country for a period of three years, he toldreporters in Pretoria. After the initial three-year period thesituation would be reviewed. Concentrating specifically onmathematics and science, the tutors would help upgrade the skillsof 20,000 teachers, the minister said. They would be deployed ineight of the nine provinces. It was agreed that none would besent to the Western Cape, said education MEC Andre Gaum. This wasdue to the language issue. The tutors came to South Africa withthe view of helping with maths and science training in ruralareas. In such areas in his province, Afrikaans was mostly used,Gaum said. "It was not a political decision, but a practicalone."
South Africa, Nigeria sign migrationagreement (Pretoria, Sapa, 10/04) - South Africa andNigeria have concluded an agreement on migration matters aimed atharmonising and streamlining the issuing of visas, the HomeAffairs Department announced on Wednesday. The agreement wassigned by the department and Nigeria's Ministry of InternalAffairs during a bi-national commission meeting last month. Thedepartment said the agreement provided for any possible visaexemptions at a later stage to be reciprocal. It also paves theway for repatriations and deportations to take place in theshortest possible time. "The parties have agreed to informthe other within five days of the arrest of their respectivenationals who are subject to repatriation or deportation,"the department said in a statement. "The respectivediplomatic missions of the two countries will co-operate inidentifying their respective nationals and issuing thedocumentation required for deportation or repatriation withinfour working days." The department said each country woulddeploy an immigration representative to the other. The agreementcould be expanded later to include an exchange of training andtechnical assistance in immigration matters. s
Job Loss, Eviction Leave Family Outin the Cold (Cape Town, 09/04) - A Congolese refugee and hisfamily are living in a minivan outside the Green Point offices ofa Catholic-sponsored organisation to protest against the loss ofhis job and their eviction from a Woodstock home. KayembeMbwebwe, 43, was employed as the house father at Birkdale AvenueHome for Refugees in Woodstock, which is run by Catholic Welfareand Development. But in November he was informed by the group'smanagement that his job would become obsolete on March 31 thisyear. In September 2000 the Saturday Argus published a story thatpunted the home as being a success story. "The lovelyatmosphere is immediately noticeable, as is the friendliness ofthe residents," it read. Mbwebwe was then quoted as sayingthat their neighbours had become close friends and "we arenow part of the community". But now he, his wife Janet, 31,and their four young children are homeless after being evictedfrom the Woodstock home last Wednesday. They live in theirminivan, which is packed full of the family's belongings. Mbwebwesaid because the Catholic priest at the cathedral next door tothe Catholic Welfare Development's offices said he and his familycould not drink water or use the toilets there, the familyrelieved themselves in a large coffee tin which they placed onthe floor of their vehicle. "I have been a refugee in SouthAfrica for seven years and have experienced many problems, but inthis case I have really been treated unfairly. "Since lastweek Wednesday, when we were evicted and came here, we have hadproblems with the Catholic organisation and the police," hesaid. Mbwebwe said a policeman had threatened to lock him and hisfamily up if they did not move from the premises. "So I saidit would be better for us if we were in prison." Mbwebweadded that because he had received his last salary cheque of R2348 at the end of March he could only afford to buy one loaf ofbread for his children each day, and he had to fetch water fromthe BP garage just across the road. His wife fretted about thelack of bathing facilities especially now that school startstomorrow. Three of the children, Cecilia, six, Jeremiah, eight,and Naomi, 11, sat drawing and writing in the cramped minivan.Cecilia, drew a picture of a large house with a heart in themiddle, inside of which was a sad face. Asked about the plight ofthe Mbwebwe family, Catholic Welfare and Development's AnthonyFlorence said an evaluation into the viability of the Woodstockhome had shown that it was not a sustainable project."That's why we closed it. But Kayembe doesn't see our sideof the story. We have been assisting refugees for years. We haveoffered his wife and children accommodation at a Philippi homefor refugees, which is a place for women and children only, buthe refused."
Border policemen in court (SABC News,10/04) - Five of the 12 senior police and Home Affairsofficials, who were arrested at border posts in Mpumalangayesterday, have been granted bail of R3 000 each. Pola Thuketana,the prosecutor, says the officials will again appear in court onApril 18. The suspects were arrested during operation Undertakerafter assisting car syndicates at the border posts who weretransporting stolen vehicles to Mozambique. The other sevensuspects were arrested at the Mananga and Lebombo border posts.They appeared in the Middelburg Magistrate's Court this morning.Their case has been postponed to Friday to allow the accused toarrange for legal representation.
Ten Border Policemen Nabbed in Raid(SABC News, 09/04) - The South African police, led by thePolice Intelligence Services, have arrested 10 policemen and aHome Affairs official at three border posts in Mpumalanga. Thesuspects were arrested during operation Undertaker afterassisting car syndicates at the border posts who weretransporting stolen vehicles to Mozambique. The Lebombo borderpost, which looks like a disused motor scrap yard, is where thepolice and border customs search cars leaving and entering thecountry. Four of the eleven government officials were arrested inLebombo in connection with corruption. "We have beenmonitoring the situation in the area and number of cars stolen inthe country and have been used by syndicates through border postsat neighbouring country," said Eric Nkabinde, the ProvincialPolice Commissioner. Police say the battle against crime willonly be won if the security is tightened up at the 52 borderposts in the country. The suspects will appear in court soon.
Home Affairs Bust Two GovernmentOfficials for ID Fraud (Pretoria, Sapa, 04/04) - TheDepartment of Home Affairs on Thursday said it had arrested twogovernment officials for allegedly possessing fraudulent SouthAfrican identity documents. Lilian Mnisi, an employee of theNational Intelligence Agency in Mpumalanga, was a Swazi citizenand the other, Sibusisiwe Khumalo, a senior official of thatprovince's economics department, was a Zimbabwean. "LilianMnisi from Swaziland, who is employed by the NIA, was arrestedyesterday after it was discovered that she had fraudulentlyacquired her documents on March 15, 1993 by applying for latebirth registration," the department said in a statement. Thestatement said Mnisi first entered South Africa on a holidaypermit in February 1992, using a Swazi passport. She has beenusing a South African passport since 1999. The NIA could not bereached immediately for comment. Khumalo, was an acting deputydirector in Mpumalanga's Department of Economic Affairs'empowerment co-operation office. She was arrested on Thursdayafter it was found she had illegally acquired a "SouthAfrican document". "According to the information on herZimbabwean passport, she was in the country on a work permitwhich is to expire on July 30, 2003." Rex Dube, the actinghead of the Department of Economic Affairs said he was shocked tohear of her arrest. He said he expected Home Affairs to contacthim and provide details on the allegations levelled againstKhumalo. Depending on the outcome of the matter he would alsoorder an internal investigation into how she came to be employedat the department. The arrests came shortly after a journalistfrom the Sowetan newspaper was arrested for allegedly also beingin possession of fraudulent South African documents. KhethiweMabena, 26, acquired her apparently fraudulent identity documentand passport in 1996 and 1997. Mabena claimed to have a SouthAfrican father and Swazi mother. Meanwhile, Bongo Maffin's AdrianAnesu "Appleseed" Muphemhi left South Africa for hisnative Zimbabwe on Wednesday night after being convicted forcontravening the Aliens Control Act by working with the groupwhile in the country on holiday permits.
Border gangs along Lesotho border (Daily News, 03/04)- Criminals smuggling dagga across the KwaZulu-Natalborder to Lesotho are arming themselves against armed gangsroaming the area who rob them of their cargo or the moneyreceived for it. The vigilantes not only attack other criminals,but also shoot at police and soldiers and terrorise smallbusiness operators and taxi drivers travelling over Sani Pass toand from Pietermaritzburg. Livestock theft is also rife and manyfarmers have been forced to change from livestock to other typesof farming. Livestock farming has been almost halved in the pastthree years. There are 57 mountain passes in the area known forthe smuggling of dagga and livestock. Ettienne Hennop, of theInstitute for Security Studies, said stock theft in theDrakensberg was taking place in a highly organised way with thestolen livestock being driven over the mountains through a numberof little-known passes between South Africa and Lesotho. Althoughthere was no indication that the livestock thieves were armed,stock theft often resulted in revenge attacks, especially betweenlocal small-scale farmers and their counterparts in Lesotho. Hesaid it was suspected that in some instances livestock stolen inSouth Africa was moved to the Lesotho border to give theimpression that it was being moved across the border, but wasthen diverted back into South Africa where the animals wereslaughtered and the meat sold. In the first seven months of lastyear, 989 head of livestock were stolen in the whole Drakensbergarea. Hennop said it was evident that firearms played a role inthe different crimes taking place along the KwaZulu-Natal andLesotho border with many illegal firearms being seized by themilitary. An average of 76 firearms are seized by the army'sGroup Nine command in the Midlands and Drakensberg every monthand, according to Hennop, it was possible that guns were tradedfor livestock and dagga. Despite the numbers seized, there werestill large numbers of illegal firearms passing through theborder posts. Hennop said the South African National DefenceForce and the police were aware of at least two vigilante groupsoperating in the area, attacking the dagga couriers and"robbing" them of their illegal cargo and/or money. Inan article by Hennop published in the ISS Crime Index he said itwas evident that there was an increased demand for dagga as themilitary and the police were seizing growing quantities. Daggacouriers used the same routes as those used to move livestockacross the border. Dagga smugglers mostly travel at night tostorage facilities, or pick-up points along the national roadsfrom where the dagga is transported inland. Although the policeand army had their doubts about firearms being directly exchangedfor livestock and/or dagga, they agreed that the criminalsinvolved were arming themselves for protection against thevigilante groups and law enforcement agencies.
Legal action threatened in Chineseconsulate row (Johannesburg, Business Day, 02/04) - Sandhurstresidents are threatening to take their fight against theproposed Chinese consulate in their neighbourhood to theConstitutional Court if necessary. The residents say this is partof efforts to halt commercial encroachment into their upmarketJohannesburg suburb. The government of the People's Republic ofChina and residents have been involved in a battle over theconstruction of the building since 1996. On Friday a townshipboard hearing into the appeal by the Sandhurst ResidentsAssociation against the planned office block will resume.Residents have also objected to the foreign affairs departmentabout the rights granted for a multiblock residence for Chinesediplomats. If approval is granted, both buildings would belocated at the corner of Killarney and Cleveland roads inSandhurst. Last week a lawyer representing the Chinese governmentwrote to the Johannesburg metro council to request the removal ofposters against the presence of the consulate as they wereinflammatory. Some posters said the consulate building wouldcontain "detention centres". Residents said they heardthis from one of the building contractors involved in theproject. The lawyer representing the Chinese, Shaun Mitchell,said there were plans for storage space, but he would not commenton other allegations of residents as he did not want to conduct atrial through the media. Michael Rosholt, a member of theSandhurst Residents Association, said: "We have spentmillions of rands defending the suburb against commercialencroachment." The association's fight began in 1996 when itopposed an office building proposed for the site the Chinese nowwish to occupy. About 300 residents have signed a petitionagainst the presence of the Chinese consulate. They saidaccusations of racism as a motivation for their opposition wereuntrue as residents covered the racial spectrum and a number ofnationalities. The row in Sandhurst is one of a number caused bythe spread of commercial development into the suburbs with themass exodus from central Johannesburg. In many capitalsdiplomatic missions are concentrated in one area, avoiding thealarm that has arisen in Sandton. Houghton Estate residents haveprotested against what they say is the filth left by people inqueues outside the US consulate in Killarney. Objections bySandhurst residents led to the honorary Austrian consul movingfrom the area in 1996. The honorary Spanish consul has aresidence in the area, but this is not used as an office. Thepresident of the SA Property Owners Association, AnthonyDiepenbroek, has said commercial encroachment due to loose zoningpolicies was increasingly undermining residential propertyvalues. Recently established unicities bodies which haveincorporated wider areas, like the Greater JohannesburgMetropolitan Council, are considering stricter zoning policies tohalt the encroachment of commercial development into residentialareas. Rights for an office block for the Chinese consulate inSandhurst were first granted in 1998. Residents then challengedthe decision in the high court on the grounds that they were notgiven notice of the hearing. The court ruled in favour of theresidents, and referred the matter back to the now abolishedEastern Metropolitan Local Council. Meanwhile, residents obtaineda court order halting construction on the site. But a subsequenthearing by a tribunal then granted office rights in November2000. The residents appealed to the township board, which met onFebruary and is due to meet again on Friday.
Another Person Dies in UnclearCircumstances (Nairobi, The East African Standard, 15/04) - AnotherKenyan male was stabbed 11 times in Tanzania's border town ofSirare and his body dumped in a trench by unknown assailants. Thedeath, last Friday, of 30-year-old Chacha Nsongo brings to fourthe number of Kenyans who have died this year in the townmysteriously. All the deceased were allegedly found stabbed orstrangled near busaa clubs which are legalised in Tanzania andwhere the victims were frequent revellers. Tanzania police arereportedly holding a local woman who operates one of the clubsand a Kenyan male patron. During Nsongo's burial on Saturday athis Nyamaharaga home, Bukira West Chief, John Getangita,cautioned Kenyan residents against patronising the foreign clubsat night. Getangita noted that all the victims were residents ofhis location. Some mourners attributed the influx of cheap busaaand changaa revellers from Kenya to Tanzania to the banning ofthe brews in the country. Separately, All Saints CathedralProvost, Rev Peter Njoka, has asked the Government to provideadequate security for Kenyans both in rural and urban areas,reports Judith Akolo. Njoka said the death of the mother of newlyappointed University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor, Prof CrispusKiamba, Mama Maria Kiamba at the hands of ruthless thugs depictshow bad the security situation in the country is. Rev Njokadedicated a prayer to the Kiamba family.
ICVA Warns Against RefugeeRepatriation From Dar es Salaam (Irin, 04/04) - TheInternational Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), an advocacyassociation representing over 70 nongovernmental agencies, hasadded its voice to those warning against the mass repatriation ofBurundi refugees from Tanzania. With the Tanzanian president,Benjamin Mkapa, referring to refugees as "an unbearableburden" in recent statements, and Burundi officialsencouraging the refugees to return home, "there is a riskthat refugees are being put in a position where return to Burundimay not be entirely voluntary", the ICVA says in an articlein its latest newsletter entitled "When going home is not anoption". "The reality on the ground in Burundi shouldpoint strongly in the direction of not promoting refugee returnat this time," the ICVA states. The agency cites to a numberof factors which determine this: the hundreds of thousands ofBurundis who are displaced within the country, the mono-ethniccomposition of the upper echelons of the army (Tutsi), which hasbeen responsible for many of the killings in the country's civilwar, impunity for past killings, unresolved land rights issuesand continued fighting and insecurity in many parts of thecountry. The issue of land was a major one that needed to beresolved before any mass repatriation takes place, said ICVA,emphasising that efforts would have to be made to ensure thatboth internally displaced persons and returning refugees hadaccess to land. As the majority of the Burundi population earnedits living from farming, without access to land or alternativesources of livelihood, return would be unsustainable, it said.Any forcible return of the 345,000 Burundi refugees into thecurrent situation in Burundi would be "potentiallydisastrous". Recent statements and visits to the camps byboth the Tanzanian and Burundi governments were putting a"tremendous amount of pressure" on the refugees toreturn home. "As a result of this pressure it is not clearif those that are registering to return are doing so because theyfeel the conditions in Burundi are right or if they feel that adecision on return will soon be made for them by thegovernments," ICVA said. Referring to the recent visits tothe camps, ICVA stated: "If the information that is beingprovided is to encourage people to return home... then there is aquestion about the impartiality and even accuracy of thatinformation." Refugees must not be put in a position wherethey felt they must choose to return, even if it was premature,to ensure their protection, it said. The association advocatedgiving support to both Burundi and Tanzania, which hosts hundredsof thousands of refugees. "Governments have heard, onnumerous occasions, Tanzania's calls for more support. Donorfatigue is often heard of, but the consequences of host communityfatigue can be much more serious."
Tripartite Meeting Starts, As MoreRefugees Want to Return Home (Dar es Salaam, TOMRIC, 03/04) -The tripartite Commission on voluntary repatriation of Burundianrefugees living in Tanzania starts today as some 48,000 refugeeshave signed up with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to return home.Formed by members from UNHCR, Tanzania and Burundi, thetripartite meeting will discuss the modalities of voluntaryrepatriation of Burundian refugees in the country. The UNHCR saidin a statement here that the delegation in the meeting includesTanzanian Minister for Home Affairs, Mohamed Seif Khatib,Burundian Minister of Reinsertion, Repatriation and Resettlementof Refugees and Displaced Persons, F. Ngendahayo. The UNHCRRepresentative in Tanzania, Crystantus Ache, leads the UNHCRdelegation comprising officials from UNHCR offices in Burundi andTanzania. The Tripartite Commission was established in May 2001as the main body responsible for planning and monitoring of theimplementation of the Tripartite Agreement on VoluntaryRepatriation to Burundi. The agreement, in line with the ArushaPeace Accord, guarantees that the return of refugees will beguided by the key principles of refugees' right to return totheir homes and the voluntary character of the repatriation. Italso provides for UNHCR's free access to the returnee and to theareas of their return. The last meeting of the Commission and itsTechnical Working Group was held in January this year in Burundicapital Bujumbura. Today's meeting is expected to deliberate onthe feasibility of the return movements and to review the firstrepatriation, which took place on March 28, the UNHCR says.According to the agency, the first convey brought 430 Burundiansto a transit camp in Songore in the province of Ngozi, from wherethe returnees will soon depart for their homes, predominantly intheir northern provinces of the country (Burundi). The agencysays further that out of 350,000 Burundian refugees living inwestern Tanzania, some 48,000 have signed up with UNHCR to returnhome under their program, voluntary repatriation scheme.
3,000 Returnees to Be Relocated toKamwenge (Kampala, New Vision, 01/04) - About 3,000 Ugandanswho were expelled from Tanzania are to be relocated from Kikagateborder resettlement camp to Kamwenge district. A source from thePrime ministers office said on Thursday that the government hadsecured land in Kamwenge. "The conditions at the border forthese Ugandans had worsened because of the congestion and relyingonly on relief aid. Government felt it necessary and urgent toallocate them land of their own," the source said. Mbararaassistant Resident District Commissioner Mrs. Sarah Bananukasaid, "The minister of state for disaster preparedness andrefugees, Christine Aporu, visited us early this month andpromised that the returnees would be shifted from Kikagate in theshortest possible time." Some returnees have spent over sixmonths at Kikagate and an earlier attempt to relocate them toKyenjojo district hit a snag when local officials there objectedto having them in their area.
Ex-combatants from Angola, DRC desertrefugee camp in Zambia (Lusaka, Sapa-AP, 22/04) - Mostof the 200 ex-combatants from Angola and the Democratic Republicof Congo (DRC) who fled into Zambia several years ago havedeserted their designated camp, a Zambian official said onMonday. The former fighters, from the DRC and Angola's rebelNational Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), wereaccommodated in a special camp in eastern Zambia but left it togo and live in Zambian villages, a home affairs official said."Most of them have deserted the camp and joined the Zambiancommunities in villages," he said, speaking on condition ofanonymity. Home affairs deputy minister Kennedy Sakeni last weekvisited the area and appealed to the former fighters to return tothe camp because it was an offence under the law to leave it.Ukwimi camp, formerly for Mozambican refugees, was reopened ayear ago to accommodate former fighters from Angola and DRC whofled their countries to seek refugee in Zambia. Zambia sheltersmore refugees than any other country in southern Africa, anestimated 250,000 people.
Immigration Arrests 21 Somalis (Lusaka, The Post,10/04) - Twenty-one Somalian nationals have beenarrested by the Immigration Department after they attempted tosneak into Zimbabwe using a bush path. Department spokesmanGreenwell Lyempe confirmed the arrest of the 21 who were beingaided to sneak into Zimbabwe by a Zambian national George Phiriwho was also nabbed. "They are all in detention and willsoon be appearing in court for failing to appear before anImmigration Officer," Lyempe said. "While a Zambianwill be charged for aiding foreigners to sneak intoZimbabwe." They were arrested at the Victoria Falls bordercontrol. The Immigration Department in Lusaka has also pickedfive prohited immigrants, three Malians and two Congolese inEmmasdale township. The three Malians were cornered at a fillingstation as they tried to flee in a hired car which however ranout of fuel as Immigration officers were pursuing them. Lyempeexpressed concern that the Immigration Department's efforts toflush out prohibited immigrants were being hampered as they werebeing harboured by Zambians who were also helping them to fleefrom authorities. "This bad trend has been noticed in shantycompounds and Livingstone border areas where a number of foreignnationals without proper documents are being helped to sneak inand out of Zambia at a fee," Lyempe stated. He warned thepublic that aiding prohibited immigrants was a serious criminaloffence and anyone found will face the wrath of law. "If heuses a vehicle to aid a prohibited immigrant to sneak in or outof the country, the vehicle will be impounded and forfeited tothe the state," Lyempe warned.
Cross Border Traders, Minister Differ Over ImportsFrom Zimbabwe (Lusaka, The Post, 10/04) - The CrossBorders Association of Zambia has differed with commerce, tradeand industry minister Bates Namuyamba over the proposed ban oncheap imported goods from Zimbabwe. Association chairman MisheckMusonda in an interview yesterday said the country should just beefficient to match goods coming in from outside. Namuyambaannounced on Sunday that government will effect a ban on cheaplypriced goods imported from Zimbabwe that have created unfaircompetition for locally manufactured ones. Musonda said Zambiaand Zimbabwe were members of the Common Market for East andSouthern Africa (COMESA) hence they share a common market."It is us Africans who have done more harm to ourselves thanthe western world," he said. "Unless the minister wassaying Zambia was withdrawing from the free trade area we cannotunderstand this development. If we can't unite in COMESA, how dowe expect to unite Africa?" Musonda said his association wasgoing to support the proposed ban if the goods to be affectedwere of inferior quality. He said what was required was for theZambian economy to be efficient and manufacturers to be producinggoods at lesser costs. Musonda warned effecting the ban wouldonly enhance smuggling. Among the goods targeted in the ban thatis supposed to come into effect in a week's time are cement,sugar, and blankets. The minister argued the goods were beingsold below Zambian production costs. Patrick Chavula, a cementtrader said the government should not disadvantage people whowanted to build houses just to protect Chilanga Cement Plc. Hesaid the government should first find another solution other thaneffect the ban. Chavula said the government would only addpoverty to the already suffering Zambians by effecting the ban asmany depend on the import business for survival. "We don'tsmuggle in this cement, we pay tax and duty. ZRA (Zambia RevenueAuthority) benefits," he said. "Let Chilanga Cement Plccompete. The government should just come up with anothersolution."
Three Months' of Half-Rations ForRefugees in Lusaka (Irin, 10/04) - About 130,000 refugees inZambian camps have been on half-rations for more than threemonths because of logistical problems and a lack of money."Refugees are on half-rations since January because incomingcontributions have been delayed for all sorts of reasons ... soit's taking a lot of time to get the food into the camps,"Jorge Fanlo, WFP Deputy Country Director, told IRIN on Tuesday.He said the agency had only managed to secure 9,689 mt of the52,122 mt of food needed to feed the refugees properly, resultingin a "truck-to-mouth" operation over the past threemonths. WFP was trying to supplement the diets of child refugeesunder five years old by providing high energy protein supplementsand working through NGOs, he added. However, Fanlo said the worstwas probably over as the lean season had ended. There would soonbe a joint WFP/United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) assessmentto determine refugees' needs. Fanlo said reports through the leanseason indicated that "refugees are coping somehow withtheir little gardens and living by eating wildfoods, trading anddoing work" for food. UNHCR spokesman Kelvin Shimo told IRINthe refugees had been informed of the aid shortfall and were veryunderstanding, especially since local communities were alsofeeling the effects of the regional maize shortage. "Evenlocal communities are [hungry]. For them [refugees] to get halfrations, they are very fortunate," he said. Zambia has about280,000 refugees, mainly from Angola and the Democratic Republicof Congo, but also from other African states at war. Of these,Fanlo said, WFP feeds about 130,000 of the 165,000 refugees incamps every day. An average family of five usually received 90kgof food each month, in a hamper including maize, vegetable oil,beans and salt, he said. At the moment families are onlyreceiving half of this. Fanlo said the agency had expectedin-kind deliveries to ease the shortage this month, but furtherdelays meant that the refugees would only start receiving fullrations around July. Carryover stocks from previous operations -which WFP has been using - were low as well, he added. TheEuropean Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) announced onMonday that it would donate about US $2,6 million to help withthe growing number of refugees in Zambia. Only part of thismoney, however, is aimed at food relief. ECHO said in a statementthat the general objective was to cope with the consequences ofnew refugee movements from neighbouring states and to provideemergency services to new arrivals. "The assistance providedby the Humanitarian Aid Office will support a range of activitiesfor new arrivals and vulnerable groups in the refugee camps,including health screening, vaccinations, food aid andwater/sanitation projects. Specific support will also go tochildren under five," it said.
Soldiers Takeover As Teachers (Lusaka, The Post,09/04) - Soldiers have taken over as school teachers inWestern Province due to insecurity. In a statement yesterday,Catholic Diocese of Mongu director of development NathanielMubukwanu stated that the people of Western Province haveconsistently bemoaned the lack of security and raised concernswith incursions by Angolan Soldiers in Lukulu, Sikongo andShangombo districts. "Because of the lack of security inthese border areas, some schools never re-opened for the firstterm," Mubukwanu's statement read in part. "Sadly, theMinister of Education directed the provincial education officerfor Western Province to make sure that the affected schools werere-opened because some soldiers had been sent to teach in theseschools." Mubukwanu observed that the issue in the area wasnot about inadequate teachers but was about security because someof them in the affected schools "not long ago saw how thevillagers in their neighbourhoods were raped and their propertystolen by the foreign troops". Mubukwanu stated that themost recent incursions by foreign soldiers were two weeks ago inSikongo. "Minister of Education Andrew Mulenga must bereminded that we do not just need the presence of soldiers butwell equipped soldiers. There is a big difference in the twocategories of soldiers," the statement further read. Andcommenting on Mulenga's recent directives that all schools shouldre-open, Mubukwanu proposed that he makes an effort to undertakea tour of the affected areas before issuing directives in futureto fully appreciate the problem. Mubukwanu stated that there wasan upswing in the number of unlicenced firearms which have foundthemselves in wrong hands. He cited an incident last week inwhich a group of armed people attacked a depot leaving threepeople seriously wounded after which one of them died. Mubukwanunoted that the security situation would cause the Mongu Dioceseto reconsider their position on the services offered to the ruralcommunities because they could not continue to lose lives."I wish to call upon the government to look into the issueof having a clean up exercise in the Western Province to clearunlicenced firearms. In the same vein, I urge all people in theprovince to co-operate with the government should a clean upexercise be embarked upon," read Mubukwanu's statement.
UNITA Rebels Abduct Three Foreigners(Lusaka, The Post, 02/04) - Suspected UNITA rebels haveabducted three Zambians from Sikongo in Kalabo, chiefNabuluyushuwa has disclosed. But police spokesman Lemmy Kajobayesterday said police were not aware of the abductions. ChiefNabuluyushuwa said 15 suspected UNITA rebels attacked fourvillagers in Sikongo area and raped one of the women beforeabducting the other three. The chief said the three were beingheld at a military camp in Angola. He said the raped woman wasadmitted to Lewanika General Hospital in Mongu. ChiefNabuluyushuwa said the rebel incursions had caused havoc andmisery in Western Province with over 70 families being displaced.Chief Nabuluyushuwa called on government to deploy more securityofficers in the area as his subjects were being harassed byAngolans. "They have failed to farm because they are runningaway," he said. Chief Nabuluyushwa said the villagers werebeing attacked while their food and property was being looted.When contacted, Kajoba said he had not yet received a report onthe matter. And a security guard in Lusaka was yesterday murderedby unknown people in Kabulonga residential area. Kajoba saidSufuniso Mashete, 33, an employee of one of the local securitycompanies was murdered yesterday at a house he was guarding inSunningdale in Kabulonga. He said the deceased sustained a deepcut on the head and was later dumped in the swimming pool at thehouse. Kajoba said the victim had been guarding the house in thenight. He said the house was being renovated and the owner wasnot staying there. Kajoba said the body was discovered by anotherperson in the morning. He said 17 pockets of cement were stolenincluding the swimming pool water pump.
White Farmers Flee (Mail &Guardian, 18/04) - Home for Johan and Kirsty Fourie is aleaking tent, two hours' drive down a potholed dirt track inwar-ravaged Mozambique. They have no electricity, their toilet isa hole in the ground and their water supply is a walk away in afield pitted by landmines. Even this, they say, is preferable toliving on a farm in President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. TheFouries are among a new generation of pioneer white farmers whoare fleeing the devastation of Mugabe's land-grab policy to makea fresh start across the border in Mozambique. "We arestarting from scratch and things are far from easy, but at leastwe can work and make some progress," says Johan Fourie (28),who left his family's farm in Masvingo last August after the"war veterans" moved in and began burning the land."At home, people are not doing much except waiting to seewhat happens next. Anything has to be better than that. At leastthere is some sort of future here and you know that you're stillgoing to be farming next year." The couple, who married ayear ago, are among 20 white farming families who have settled inthe central Mozambican province of Manica, right on theZimbabwean border. Up to a dozen more have made their homes inthe northern Tete province, and since last month's disputedZimbabwean presidential elections the Mozambique government hasreceived around 100 more applications from farmers eager to startagain. Delighted by the response, the authorities are preparingpackages of leased land and tax-free incentives to persuade manymore to cross the border. For Mozambique the farmers offer achance to help galvanise the country's almost non-existentagricultural industry. Less than 5% of its arable plots arecultivated and years of fighting - first for independence,followed by a 16-year civil war - have left the land strewn withlandmines and farm buildings devastated by bullets and bombs.Large swathes of the population have never had a job. "Wewelcome the farmers," JosÚ da Graša, the provincialDirector of Agriculture and Rural Development, said. "We arekeen for foreign investment and there is no reason todiscriminate against the Zimbabwean farmers. They will open upthe land and the local community sees benefits from that, interms of employment, roads and bridges. As long as they abide byour laws and respect our culture, we have no problem withthem." Tungai Sagwate is among those who have found workwith one of the new settlers. He fled Mozambique's civil war forZimbabwe 15 years ago, but is one of many thousands who decidedlife is better at home. "I never dreamt that I would thinklife in my own country was better than in Zimbabwe. We are sohappy these people are coming here to grow food and providejobs," he said. His employer Brendon Evans brought hisfamily, a small herd of cows and a large satellite dish over theborder six months ago. Their dairy and maize farm, just outsideHarare, was one of the first to be invaded bygovernment-supporting thugs. The squatters have since gone, andfor a while the Evans's had some hope of returning until Mugabe"stole the election". "Like a lot of people inZimbabwe we had our lives on hold, but once the election was overthere was no going back," Jenny Evans (28) says. They livein a stark, unpainted, concrete house at the end of a five-miledirt road. They are taking lessons in Portuguese and have begun aweekly study group for fellow Zimbabweans new to the area. Theymeet over beer and a braai to air problems and share informationabout the labyrinth of rules surrounding the licensing of newcompanies. They complain of corruption among officials who handlethe applications and the lack of financial aid available to helpthem get started. Although Mozambique has begun to embrace marketreforms, land still cannot be bought or sold. New farmers canapply for 50-year leases but are limited to 2 470 acres each forwhich they pay about R8 080 a year. Kirsty Fourie says:"Zimbabwean farmers are used to owning their land, notleasing it, so we have to change our way of thinking. To me it isa bit of a relief, because at least if it is taken away from us,our life savings don't go with it, which is what has happened toour parents' generation at home." However, not everyone haswelcomed the arrival of these pioneers. For some blacks, the newwhite communities trigger memories of hardship under Portugueserule and the part the white governments of South Africa andRhodesia, as it then was, played during their long and bittercivil war. Da Graša says: "There are many who are worriedthat violence will start again. People here have had enough ofwar, they want to live in peace."
Top American Political Analyst Barredfrom Entering Zimbabwe (Harare, Sapa-AP, 17/04) - Atop American official of an international political researchgroup was barred from entering Zimbabwe on Wednesday in whatappeared to be retaliation for U.S. visa bans on Zimbabweanofficials. John Prendergast, co-director for Africa of theBelgium-based International Crisis Group, canceled meetings withassociates in Harare in a brief call from the Harare airport.Prendergast, a former member of U.S. President Bill Clinton'sNational Security Council with responsibilities for Africa, saidhe was being deported after arriving from neighboring SouthAfrica, associates said. He was given no reasons by immigrationofficials for being refused entry. U.S. embassy officials saidthey were unable to release any information other than to confirmthat a U.S. citizen was detained by airport authorities anddeported Wednesday. Last year, the U.S. Congress passedlegislation to ban entry visas for President Robert Mugabe, hisCabinet, senior ruling party officials and supporters to protestabuses of human and democratic rights in Zimbabwe. Several topMugabe aides have been denied visas and some of their childrenface cancelation of their study permits at U.S. schools andcolleges. The International Crisis Group has sharply criticizedelections held March 9-11 in which Mugabe was declared thewinner. The U.S. government and the European Union condemned thevote, and the Commonwealth of Britain and its former coloniessuspended Zimbabwe for a year, citing political violence,repressive laws and unfair voting conditions that swayed the pollin Mugabe's favor. The EU has also imposed travel restrictions onZimbabwean officials. The opposition Movement for DemocraticChange has rejected the poll result on grounds of violence andvote rigging and called for an internationally supervised rerun.For the second time in three days, journalists in Harare, thecapital, have been questioned by police and charged under strictnew media laws. Iden Wetherell, editor of the weekly ZimbabweIndependent, said he and reporter Dumisani Muleya were accused ofpublishing false information that also allegedly criminallydefamed Mugabe's wife in their paper's latest issue April 12.Wetherell said police were "perfectly courteous" whenquestioning him for 90 minutes on Wednesday. Muleya was arrestedand released Monday, alongside Geoff Nyarota, editor ofZimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper. Nyarota was chargedMonday under the Access to Information Act with publishing falseinformation on vote rigging in the March poll. The charge carriesa penalty of up to two years in jail. All three journalists areto be summoned to appear in court at an unspecified date.
Top Former US Official Expelled,Editor Questioned (Harare, Sapa, 17/04) - Zimbabweanauthorities on Wednesday deported John Prendergast, a former topUS official and took in a local editor, Iden Wetherell, forquestioning. Prendergast, a co-director of the InternationalCrisis Group (ICG), the Brussels-based political think tank, wasrefused admission to the country when he arrived at HarareInternational Airport on a return journey, said a friend whoasked not to be named. "They just turned him round and nowhe's waiting for the next plane out," said a friend who wastelephoned by Prendergast from the airport. Prendergast was alsothe director of African affairs on former United States presidentBill Clinton's National Security Council. The ICG is composedmostly of former senior officials of Western governments,including Australia's former foreign minister, Gareth Evans.Prendergast has assisted in composing reports criticisingMugabe's government and also lobbied for the imposition ofsanctions targeted specifically against Mugabe and members of hisruling party. The sanctions, initiated by the United States andthe European Union, include a ban on travel to countries imposingthe measures. Wetherell's colleagues said he was ordered to go toHarare central police station for questioning over allegedcontraventions under new legislation gagging the media lastmonth. Police on Monday and Tuesday charged Independent reporterDumisani Muleya with "criminal defamation" and"publishing falsehoods" in a report last week whichsaid that the brother of Mugabe's young wife, Grace, had beentrying to use her position to help him seize control of awhite-owned company he worked for. Observers said a pattern ofgrowing repression had emerged since Zimbabwe's presidentialelection last month. This had isolated Zimbabwe internationally.The government had been accused of conducting a campaign ofviolent intimidation, mass disenfranchisement of pro-oppositionvoters and the use of strict laws to ensure the Movement forDemocratic Change (MDC) was unable to campaign. While pro-Mugabemilitias had carried out a wave of violent retribution againstpeople suspected of having supported the MDC in the elections,the government now appeared to be targeting the independentpress, they said. On Monday Geoff Nyarota, editor of the DailyNews, the country's only independent newspaper, became the firstperson to be charged under the new Access to Information andProtection of Privacy Act, for a report which said that Mugabeaides had rigged his election. Two weeks ago, Peta Thornycroft, acorrespondent for the Britain's Daily Telegraph, was arrested andheld for four days, on charges she described as"incoherent."
Visas for Visitors Ruled Out(Harare, The Herald, 01/04) - The Botswana HighCommission has ruled out the introduction of visas for Zimbabweanvisitors to that country. A spokesman from the Botswana HighCommission said Botswana was not contemplating such a move now orin the foreseeable future. There had been widespread rumours thatBotswana intended to introduce visa requirements for Zimbabweansin reaction to President Mugabe's March 9-11 presidentialelection victory. "We heard the story, too, last week. Itcame from the independent newspapers that Botswana was about tointroduce visas. I had to get in touch with the chief immigrationofficer in Botswana. "He assured me that nothing of the sortwas being planned. I can safely tell you that nothing of the sortis going to happen. We are all members of the Commonwealth and weshould not be seen to be introducing restrictive conditions."The movement between our countries is controlled and thereis nothing that we fear in terms of movement, so why should weintroduce visas. We also enjoy a good working relationship sothere is no need for visas," said the spokesman. Recentlythe independent media has been agitating for sanctions, rejectionof the presidential poll and even ostracism of the country aftertheir candidate, MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, lost toPresident Mugabe. The independent media has been trying to buildup a story that Botswana is following in the footsteps of theUnited States and other European Union members in imposing travelrestrictions on Government ministers and people with links toZanu-PF. The independent media has stepped up its misinformationcampaign and of late carried a story about what they called anACP-EU resolution calling for a presidential re-run. This wasmeant to create the impression that the presidential election wasflawed while brightening prospects for a re-run. The ACP,however, distanced itself from the EU parliamentaryrepresentatives.
This page last updated 09 July 2004.