December 2002 - Click on the country title above theheadlines for the entire article.
Migrants celebrate entry into force of newinternational convention
Poaching stymies superpark
SADC regional co-operation makes strides
Fence cut down to allow easy movement for wildlife
Kruger fence starts to come down
Mega park launched
Big three unveil Africa's biggest game park
Human trafficking on rise in Africa
Leaders set to launch Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park
African super park established
Police nab 311 Zimbabwean migrants
Officials at border forced to work overtime
Anti-Zimbabwe sentiments mount in Botswana
Board processes 700 work permits per month
Find solution to retain nurses, says MP
Mogae on Zimbabwean illegal immigration
Botswana should reduce foreign dominance in tourism industry,says MP
Ramatlabama border sealed
Migration from Zimbabwe causes tensions
Clashes displace half a million in east DRCongo
Forced repatriation of Congolese refugees in Rwanda
Thousands flee fighting in DR Congo
Angola, Congo sign pact on Angolan refugees
Lesotho seeks extradition of an SA farmer
Memorial service for villagers killed by South African farmer
Death and acute food shortages haunt Lesotho
Army, police in joint operation against foreign traders
Malawi-Mozambique tobacco dispute over
Transfrontier park could see Mozambicans displaced
Violence at border with Zimbabwe
Trade union federation blames governmentfor exodus of nurses, teachers
Villagers want new border crossing
Possible hiring of foreigners to cover shortage of nurses
Angolan refugees in Namibia to go home
Namibia extradition request rejected
Activists call for release of Angolan detainees
Namibians using SA pelagic lifeline
Angolans set to spend third Christmas in jail
Prisons department helps repatriateillegal immigrants
Illegal Zimbabweans sent home
Swiss tourists hijacked in Mpumalanga
Shortage of social workers due to emigration
Nigerians to appear for 419 scam
Mozambicans to be deported
Businesses face unfamiliar role as enforcer of immigration law
Traffic backs up at Zimbabwe border post
Nigerian held for investment scam
Brain drain 'not so bad', says HSRC
Community service for all graduating professionals mooted
ANC not against foreign landowners
Kilgore leaves SA
ANC commission to look at Home Affairs DG stalemate
Situation back to normal at Lindela Deportation Centre
Officials deny mass escape riot at Lindela
Four guards injured in Lindela fracas
Heavy police presence at Lindela Deportation Centre
Immigrant riot sparked by discontent
Riot police guard Lindela Deportation Centre after death
Home Affairs department addresses media after Lindela riot
Illegal Zimbabwean immigration to South Africa
Mozambican nationals arrested for illegal IDs
Lebombo border post open 24 hours
Home Affairs publishes immigration regulations
Brain drain strangles growth
82-year-old man murdered: Illegal immigrant arrested
Man in court over British tourist's rape
Crime busters deployed to protect tourists
New immigration law makes foreign labour more expensive
Returning emigrants to South Africa
Young doctors plan to emigrate en masse
Tech exodus raises fears of brain drain
Kilgore: I will return to South Africa
US files Kilgore extradition request
Many farmers bar labour inspectors
Foreign conmen in court
Tourist attack: 3 seek legal aid
Kenya questions SA journalists
Mixed reaction to new minimum wages for farmworkers
Zimbabwean activists in South Africa
Six judges resign from Swazi posts
Uganda says no to Rwandan refugees fromTanzania
Repatriation of Rwandan refugees almost complete
Over 15,000 Rwanda refugees in Tanzania return home - UNHCR
Cross border smuggling threatens local industries
Immigration nabs 6 foreigners for usingforged passports
Zambia blocks Chiluba from traveling abroad
State withdraws refugees bill
Zambia sends 200,000 Angolan refugees home
Zimbabwe alienates another country
Zimbabwe journalist accused of spying for BBC
Immigration officer appears in court
Bogus UK visa agents mushroom in Bulawayo
Top Commonwealth official not welcome in Zimbabwe
Mega park great news for regional tourism
The census and out-migration: Commentary
Record 55,000 Zimbabweans deported from SA
Census omits millions
DRC medical specialists to work in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe, SA strengthen bilateral co-operation
Airzim hires South African engineers
Tough time for Zimbabwean asylum seekers in UK
Steps taken to protect women refugees against abuse
Closure of bureaux de change
Zimbabwe's brain drain
Migrants celebrate entry into force of newinternational convention (Washington, OWUS, 17/12)- For the more than 150 million migrants who havecrossed international borders in search of livelihoods andsecurity, this Wednesday, December 18, represents a landmark intheir quest to obtain full human rights in their host countries.The day not only marks the third anniversary of the UnitedNation's International Migrant Day, it will also be the lastInternational Migrant Day before entry into force of the 1990 UNConvention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workersand Members of their Families. Last week, the national parliamentof Timor-Leste (East Timor) ratified the Convention, thus pavingthe way for it to go into effect early next year. The SoutheastAsian nation was the twentieth state to ratify the Convention,the threshold needed for it to become a recognized part ofinternational law. The Convention's supporters say its entry intoforce could not be more timely, given the rapid increase in thenumber of people seeking work outside their homelands over thelast several years, as the economic boom of the 1990s suffered aseries of blows that have reduced growth and widened inequalitieswithin countries throughout the world. Most wealthy countries andsome middle-income countries, such as South Africa and Malaysia,have made it more difficult for migrants to enter their borderslegally due to their own economic problems and the rise ofxenophobia and other forms of anti-immigrant sentiment. In theUnited States, which has historically been relatively open toimmigration, domestic fears have risen about competition forjobs, the difficulty of assimilating migrants, and, since theSeptember 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, about thepossible infiltration of terrorists, according to recent surveys."With the convention coming into force soon, theinternational community will be challenged to look at migrationfrom a human rights perspective and not exclusively as aneconomic, political, and national security issue," accordingto a statement issued by the Steering Committee for the GlobalCampaign for Ratification of the Convention. Of the world's morethan 150 million migrants--about two percent of the total globalpopulation--more than 100 million are workers, almost half ofwhom are women. Those figures do not include the estimated 30 to40 million migrants who cross borders without official papers. InAfrica alone, there are approximately 50 million migrants. Onceacross an international border, migrants often encounterharassment and discrimination at virtually all levels, fromemployment and membership in labor unions, to access to socialsecurity and other social or economic benefits, even though theyare required to pay taxes like everyone else.
The 1990 Convention is designed to ensure that suchdiscrimination does not take place, and will require allcountries to provide the same social and economic rights andprotections to migrants as they accord their own citizens."Without such protections, migrants will continue to fallprey to trafficking and clandestine movements; be subjected tohuman rights violations; be arbitrarily arrested and detained; beforced into inhumane working and living conditions; be victimizedby racist and xenophobic treatment; and be systematicallydeprived of their rights and dignity as human beings,"according to Migrants Rights International, a Geneva-basedcoalition of migrant advocacy groups. The InternationalConfederation for Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which has played aleading role in the campaign for the Convention, said the fightfor migrants' rights should also be waged in their homecountries, where the lack of economic opportunity was pushingpeople to seek jobs in foreign countries. "Our common moralimperative indicates two avenues - development for sendingcountries in order to stop the drain, and equality and fairtreatment in receiving countries," said Anna Biondi, theICFTU's assistant director. So far, the vast majority ofcountries that have ratified the treaty are sending countries.They include Azerbaijan, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia, Cape Verde,Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Mexico, Morocco,Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uganda,and Uruguay, as well as East Timor. More than any other country,the Philippines, which has contributed millions of migrants tothe global flow over many years, has led the effort for theConvention. States that have signed the Convention but have notyet ratified it include Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chile, Comoros,El Salvador, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Paraguay, Sao Tome andPrincipe, Sierra Leone, Turkey, and Togo. Convention advocatesstressed that Wednesday should be an opportunity to celebrate thecontributions made by migrants in both their host and homecountries. "Migrants not only help enrich the fabric oftheir host countries," said Alessio Bruni of the Office ofthe UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. "Many of them arealso unsung heroes of their home countries and families. Inaddition to sending valuable remittances, they bring valuableskills, knowledge and experience when they return. Yet too often,their contribution has been ignored."
Poaching stymies superpark (Mail & Guardian,16/12) - Poaching and resettlement in GonarezhouNational Park in Zimbabwe could put paid to dreams of aboundary-free Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park for years, sayconservationists. Presidents Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, JoaquimChissano of Mozambique and Thabo Mbeki met in Xai Xai,Mozambique, this week to establish the park. They signed a treatyin which they undertake to develop a wildlife sanctuaryacross political boundaries, where animals may freely roam andflourish in keeping with natural ecological processes. Butthe political situation in Zimbabwe will slow down progress foryears, observers say. Poaching in Zimbabwe presents a particularproblem. Jonny Rodriguez of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force(ZCTF) says rampant poaching is decimating game in Gonarezhou.It is absolutely sickening, he says. Conservanciesaround Gonarezhou have been plagued by farm invasions and partsof the reserve itself have been settled. About 25% of the Saveconservancy near Gonarezhou is occupied by settlers. Save andneighbouring Chiredzi report extensive poaching. The ZCTF reportsthat more than 1 000 animals have been found dead in snares. RobStyle, vice-chairperson of the Chiredzi conservancy abutting thereserve, says habitat has been destroyed by settlers. Poachersand new farmers have burnt almost half the conservancys 110000ha. A year ago the Zimbabwe government put 11 000ha ofGonarezhou on its list of areas for resettlement. People beganmoving on to the land, built houses and started clearing awaybush to plant crops. Their cattle roam freely within the reserve.Trevor Sandwith, coordinator of Cape Action Plan for theEnvironment (Cape), reported about 400 cattle grazing in thereserve in July last year. Anthony Hall-Martin, a consultant forthe Peace Parks foundation, says the situation has not improvedsince. The Zimbabwean authorities donĀt see thesettlers in Gonarezhou as a threat because they only occupy asmall piece of the reserve. They view the occupied land ascommunal property anyway, he says. Zimbabwesauthorities are considering changing the boundaries of the parkto accommodate the settlers, says Hall-Martin. The ZimbabweIndependent reported last month that reassurances from thegovernment that the situation was under control were nothing buta political gimmick. The newspaper said more peoplewere being encouraged to settle in Gonarezhou. Anyone expectingto drive through the 35 000km2 superpark next year will begravely disappointed, says David Grossman, a project consultanton the Mozambique side of the park. He says it might take up toseven years for the park to be open to tourists. I find itincredibly sad that a potentially wonderful project is beingjeopardised by short-term political interests and pressure fromthe Peace Park Foundation, which has raised millions from donorswho now expect to see an instant park, says Grossman. Thetransfrontier park will help prevent elephant culling because theanimals can wander from Kruger to the bare Limpopo National Parkin Mozambique and Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe. But are SouthAfricas neighbours ready to receive them? asks Grossman.The Kruger and Limpopo national parks share a 150km-long borderwhere three gaps are being cut in the border fence. One gap willextend 35km, another 15km and the third 10km. Mozambique istransforming a former hunting concession into the LimpopoNational Park and game is being restocked. Though obstaclesstill exist in the park, a lot of hard work is being done on theMozambican side, says Arrie van Wyk, the Peace ParkFoundations project manager in Mozambique. Van Wykestimates it will take at least five years to link the LimpopoNational Park in any meaningful way with the Kruger NationalPark. On the Zimbabwean side it will take even longer. Little hasbeen said about the Gonarezhous role in Greater LimpopoNational Park and what is needed to develop the park. MikeKnight, a chief scientist at South African National Parks, saysthat little development has taken place in the park. It isone of Zimbabwes least-developed parks and not a lot hasbeen done to change that. Limpopo National Park abutsKruger, but a 50km corridor will have to be created through theSengwe communal area to connect Gonarezhou to the other two. Theanimals will have to travel through this corridor to roam freelybetween the Kruger and Gonarezhou once the fences are removed.Grossman says the treaty signing and removal of fences were apublicity stunt. This wonderful park cant be built onquicksand. The [Mozambican] government has to realise that thereare 25 000 people living there. About 6000 people, with theirlivestock, live within the heart of the [Limpopo National] park,in the vicinity of the Shingwedzi river. This area has beenidentified as prime wildlife habitat and accordingly zoned forfuture tourism development. Van Wyk concedes that thepoliticians had set the time to take down the fences. But IdonĀt feel the project has bulldozed ahead, he says.Weve made considerable gains. Weve actuallyslowed down to address critical issues, such as engaging theaffected communities in dialogue. He says no person who nowlives in Limpopo National Park will be forced to leave. Thepark actually creates new opportunities for the peopleinside. Van Wyk says villages will be fenced to protect thecommunities from wild animals.
SADC regional co-operation makes strides (SundayMirror, 15/12) - Last week, regional co-operation madelong strides with the commissioning of two projects, the GreatLimpopo Transfrontier Park and the new Chirundu Bridge. Zimbabweis part to both projects, emphasising the centrality of thecountry in the region both geographically and in terms ofpolitical economy. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is a 35000 square-kilometre park which links Zimbabwes GonarezhouNational Park with the Limpopo National Park of Mozambique, andthe Kruger National Park of South Africa. The three parks wereformally linked on Monday last week through a treaty signed bySouth African President Thabo Mbeki, President Joachim Chissanoof Mozambique, and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The mainattraction of the park is that tourists are now able to visit allthe three parks if they enter through any one of theparticipating states. This will boost ecotourism in all the threecountries and, some have said that the park is set to become oneof Africas top tourist destinations. The removal of borderfences to facilitate the free movement of people and animalswithin the three parks is symbolic of what the whole of SADCneeds to do. Like in the European Union, SADC countries should,in the long run, have one common passport, and visitors fromother regions should get only one visa from a SADC member stateand be able to visit all the 14 countries. But, is it not ironicthat we are allowing the free movement of animals across nationalboundaries, when we are failing to do the same for our people?The other regional cooperation project was the commissioning ofthe new Chirundu Bridge which was done by President LevyMwanawasa of Zambia and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Thenew bridge has a double-lane road which replaces the single-laneOtto Beit Bridge. Besides the obvious advantages of a two-lanecarriageway, the project has introduced a one stop concept forall commercial traffic which will greatly speed up the clearanceof transporters. Again, rather than being used only at Chirundu,the one-stop concept should be effected at all borders within theSADC region. It is hoped that the spirit behind these regionalcooperation projects continues, and that the models are extendedto other areas of cooperation, so that the SADC region canachieve the deep integration that is conducive to regionaleconomic development. Many of our citizens are now asking when itwill be possible to resuscitate the old federation which was acolonial project, but which could now become a post-colonial one,where Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe foster closer economic, socialand cultural linkages. We could then also rename the VictoriaFalls, Zambezi Falls given that seven countries are washed by thewaters of the great Zambezi River on its path from Central Africato the Indian Ocean.
Fence cut down to allow easy movement for wildlife(Pretoria, BuaNews, 11/12) - A memorable moment wasdefined in southern African history today when the electrifiedfence that linked the borders of Mozambique, South Africa andZimbabwe was cut down after 27 years of separation between thethree countries, people and animals. The apartheid governmenterected the fence in 1975, immediately after the independence ofMozambique, in an effort to fortify the apartheid regime. Theceremony held at the Kruger National Park marked a new era inensuring that the Great Limpopo Transfontier Park, unveiled onMonday, became a reality. It also affirmed the principle of theco-operation between the three countries. Speaking at the event,which was witnessed by senior government officials, local chiefsand the media, environmental affairs and tourism ministerMohammed Valli Moosa said the bringing down of the fence was amove the new SA government had earmarked to not only join theglobal community but to also start living in harmony with thepeople of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. He said today's event wouldallow the animals to move freely without borders. The project, towhich SA has already contributed R40-million, serves to advancethe agreement reached at the recent United Nations World Summiton Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, to reversetrends of reducing biodiversity by 2010. The money will also beused to build infrastructure in the world's most attractivewilderness in order to create opportunities and jobs for peopleof the three countries. Meanwhile, the historic signing ceremonyof the trilateral Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park Treaty betweenPresident Thabo Mbeki and his counterparts Robert Mugabe(Zimbabwe) and Joachim Chissano (Mozambique) took place at XaiXai in Mozambique on Monday. The signing ceremony sealed atwo-year process of intensive preparations for the establishmentof the 35 000 square kilometre park, following the merger ofSouth Africa's Kruger National Park, Mozambique's LimpopoNational Park and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe.
Kruger fence starts to come down (Kruger NationalPark, Sapa, 11/12) - A yellow-billed kite flew highabove the sandveld scrub of the north-east Kruger National Park(KNP) on Wednesday at the start of a symbolic fence-cuttingceremony to mark the establishment of the Great Limpopo NationalPark (GLNP). The migrant raptor, common in the KNP during thesummer months, soared and swooped above the apartheid-erasecurity barrier that still marks the border between South Africaand Mozambique. Below, ministers from the two countries, armedwith bolt cutters, prepared to cut down a small section of the353km fence that has separated the two neighbours for more than26 years. "This fence was erected by the apartheid regime in1975, after the liberation of Mozambique," EnvironmentMinister Valli Moosa said, shortly before he and his Mozambiquecounterpart, Fernando Sumbana, went to work with their cutters.Addressing SA National Parks officials and journalists who hadflown into the Nyandwini region of the KNP to witness theceremony, he said the fence had been erected to "fortify theapartheid laager". "We are bringing down the laager.You don't solve a problem with your neighbour by building afence." Moosa was speaking three days after the presidentsof South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe met in the Mozambicancoastal town of Xai-Xai to sign a treaty officially creating theGLNP, the biggest cross-border conservation area in the world.Covering a total of 35000 square kilometres, the newly-proclaimedpark links South Africa's Kruger, Mozambique's Limpopo andZimbabwe's Gonarezhou national parks. According to SANPofficials, the elephant proof fence, which runs for 353km alongthe length of the KNP's eastern border with Mozambique, will betaken down in three separate sections, allowing game to migrateacross the border. The KNP and Mozambique's Limpopo National Parkshare a 150km-long common border, and it is in this area that thethree gaps, about 35km, 15km and 10km wide, will be made.Zimbabwe's Environment Minister Francis Nema, who was set toattend Wednesday's fence-cutting ceremony, sent an official inhis stead. Moosa said the establishment of the GLNP would prove a"massive boost" to tourism in the region, to the extentthat "current facilities are not going to cope". Afterhe and Sumbana cut the last wire holding up a 20-metre section ofthe fence, it crashed down onto the Mozambican side of theborder. Members of the local Mhinga community scrambled throughthe gap, one shouting, "I don't need a passport now".They danced and sang a Tsonga song of thanks to the ministers.Moosa posed for photographers, smiling and holding aloft hisbolt-cutter. Also present at the ceremony was retired SANPofficial Frans Laubscher, who, over a quarter of a century ago,was the project engineer in charge of erecting the fence. He saidthe fence had been a "good thing" at the time, andmeant to protect the KNP's animals. It had cost R3,5-million atthe time. "It was never intended as a barrier tohumans," Laubscher said. Park officials could not confirmwhen the fence removal would be complete, but said the three gapshad been carefully chosen so as not to create a route for vehiclesmugglers. The spot chosen for Wednesday's ceremony supportedthis. Dense stands of Nyandu trees -- used to make royal walkingsticks by the local people -- surrounded the venue. Officialsalso said they did not expect a sudden exodus of wildlife fromthe KNP. "People have a fear there will be a mass migrationof animals, but this won't happen," one told Sapa. Moosadismissed comment that the treaty represented an unequalpartnership between South Africa and her two neighbours."That is not a reason not to do it. That type of imbalanceis a reason why we should get together."
Mega park launched (Xai-Xai, The Herald, 10/12) - Theworld's largest game park was born here yesterday after leadersof Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa signed a treatylaunching the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. PresidentsMugabe, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Thabo Mbeki of SouthAfrica gave their assent to the park, which spans over theborders of the three countries. The 95 000-square-kilometre parklinks Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, Limpopo National Parkin Mozambique and Kruger National Park in South Africa. Speakingat the signing ceremony in the Mozambican resort of Xai Xai, 200km north of Maputo, President Mugabe said the park demonstratedregional unity and should benefit people of the three countries."Today's event serves to demonstrate that that which unitesus is greater than that which seeks to divide us. It reminds usalso that we are one people, with a shared history and a shareddestiny. It is to our people, therefore, that this mega parkshould be dedicated," Cde Mugabe said. Conservation effortsthat failed to involve the local communities were bound to fail,he said, calling on those implementing the park to recognise thecrucial factor. "To this end, conservation must bringtangible rewards to the millions of our people who live and willlive next to this tri-national park. "Our moral duty is toensure that the promised economic advantages are not a mereillusion. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park must be a projectwhich brings real benefits to the people," said Cde Mugabe.The President said Zimbabwe was committed to the success of theproject, which should inspire more regional joint ventures in theeconomic field. He said as the world becomes economically,politically and socially interdependent as a result ofglobalisation, this posed a new challenge for sustainable use ofnatural resources to benefit local communities. PresidentChissano called for "an alliance between the states, theprivate sector and local communities for the success of thepark". "This area is rich in biodiversity which canprovide opportunities for poverty alleviation among the ruralcommunities through investment in environmentally and sociallysustainable tourism," he said. President Mbeki said the parkwould strengthen co-operation between the three countries andshowed the region could achieve the goals it sets for itself."The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park will do this thingthat we have to do all the time of strengthening the relationsamong our peoples in the region," he said. The park differsfrom traditional ones in that permanent human settlements andwildlife will co-exist within its boundaries. Tourists will beable to cross from one country to another with a single visa. TheKruger and Gonarezhou parks are already operating, so most of thedevelopment planning is focused on Limpopo park, whereinfrastructure and wildlife were almost wiped out duringMozambique's 16-year civil war that ended in 1992. Majorinvestment in the park is still required. Thousands of animals,including elephants, zebras and warthogs, have been given newhomes in Mozambique as part of the project. South Africa's KrugerNational Park is by far the most visited and developed of thethree parks, counting about one million visitors per year. TheGreat Limpopo Park is said to have the potential to become one ofAfrica's top eco-tourism destinations. It is expected to unlockgreat potential for tourism revival and investment in Zimbabweand the region. Apart from the Great Limpopo Park, Zimbabwe isalso linking up Chimani-mani National Park in Manicaland withMozambique. In Victoria Falls, another conservation area, theOkavango-Upper Zambezi Mega Park is set to benefit Zimbabwe,Angola, Namibia and Zambia. President Mugabe and his delegation,which comprised the Minister of Tourism and Environment, CdeFrancis Nhema, the ministry's Permanent Secretary, AmbassadorLucas Tavaya, and senior Government and Wildlife and NationalParks Authority officials, returned home yesterday evening.
Big three unveil Africa's biggest game park (Xai-Xai,The Star, 10/12) - President Thabo Mbeki says thetransfrontier park between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabweis a practical realisation of the aims of the African Union andthe New Partnership for Africa's Development. Mbeki read only twoparagraphs of his speech as he took strain from the swelteringheat on Monday. "The birth of the Great LimpopoTransfrontier Park today tells the citizens of our continent thatthe AU and Nepad are not merely a set of good and grand ideaswhose accomplishment will be in the distant future. Thistransfrontier park says that each passing day transforms thedream of an African Renaissance into reality," said Mbeki.The park would promote economic and social development and leadto the protection of the environment, he added. Zimbabwe'sPresident Robert Mugabe said the park was an achievement for"all our people". "This serves to demonstrate thatwhich unites us is greater than that which seeks to divide us. Itreminds us that we are a people with a shared history anddestiny," he said. Mozambican President Joaquim Chissanosaid the park would turn Southern Africa into one of the besttourist destinations in the world. "The success of thisinitiative will depend in part on the participation of localcommunities who should fully and genuinely participate... ,"he warned. Mozambique would also require financial resources tostrengthen institutional and human capacities. "Moreimportantly, Mozambique, for instance, needs infrastructuredevelopment that will create an enabling environment foraccessibility, private sector investment, and sustainablemanagement and use of the Limpopo National Park," he said.
Human trafficking on rise in Africa (Johannesburg,Dispatch Online, 10/12) - Trafficking in humans ormodern-day slave labour is a growing industry -- particularly inAfrica -- and has become the focus of the US government. Noaccurate figures are currently available due to the undergroundnature of the offence and low levels of reporting. But theInternational Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates trafficking ofbetween 200000 and 300 000 children is taking place in WestAfrica each year. In a report done in conjunction with Unicef,the ILO estimates that over a million children worldwide arepulled into trafficking and subjected to the worst forms oflabour. Kathleen FitzGibbon, a programme analyst in the US StateDepartment's Office of Trafficking in Persons (TIP), is currentlyin South Africa after having spent three weeks in West Africa.She visited seven states to discuss local legislation and brieflaw enforcement officials on TIP. FitzGibbon yesterday describedthe combating of human trafficking as a complex issue, needing alot of resources, public information campaigns and legislativereform. An example was that of children who had been used asfrontline soldiers. "You can rescue a child, but in somecountries like the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) thepeople slaughter them because of their involvement in humanrights atrocities." The US has developed the TraffickingVictims Protection Act of 2000 which provides for the victims ofsevere forms of trafficking and the prevention of traffickingboth internationally and in the US. South Africa had beenidentified as both a destination and transit country in thetrafficking chain, but was believed to have adequate means tocombat the problem.
Leaders set to launch Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park(Harare, The Herald, 09/12) - A major milestone inregional tourism will be reached today when three leaders fromZimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique launch the Great LimpopoTransfrontier Park in Mozambique. President Mugabe arrived inMaputo yesterday to join Presidents Joaquim Chissano ofMozambique and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to sign a treatyofficially launching of the park. Cde Mugabe who is accompaniedby the Minister of Tourism and Environment, Cde Francis Nhema,and senior Government and Wildlife and National Parks Authorityofficials, was welcomed at Maputo airport by the Zimbabwe HighCommissioner to Mozambique, Mr David Hamadziripi, and theMozambican Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Mr CastigoLanga. Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park links Gonarezhou NationalPark on the Zimbabwean side, Gaza National Park in Mozambique andKruger National Park in South Africa. The park is expected tounlock great potential for tourism revival and investment inZimbabwe and the region. Tourism ministers from the threecountries, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique, met in Harareabout two weeks ago to finalise preparations for the launch.Apart from the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Zimbabwe wasalso linking up Chimanimani National Park in Manicaland withMozambique. In Victoria Falls, another conservative area, theOkavango-Upper Zambezi Mega Park would benefit Zimbabwe, Angolaand Namibia. The countries have removed border fences to allowelephants and other game to follow traditional migration routesand tourists to travel across boundaries without facing bordercontrols.
African super park established (Xai-Xai, Sapa, 10/12)- Singing, ululations, drumbeats and dancing heraldedthe establishment of one of the world's biggest cross-borderconservation areas on Monday, signed into existence by thepresidents of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Thecolourful ceremony to formally create the Great LimpopoTransfrontier Park (GLTP) took place in the Mozambican coastaltown of Xai-Xai, about 250km north of the capital Maputo, at themouth of the Limpopo River. Speaking after signing the treaty,South African President Thabo Mbeki said the new park -- thebiggest in Africa -- would strengthen existing relationshipsbetween the three signatories. "This initiative will act asa new framework of interaction between our countries, based on anagenda set by the African people themselves, turned into realitythrough reliance on our own resources," he said. Through aseries of land corridors, the GLTP links Mozambiques LimpopoNational Park, South Africa's Kruger National Park (KNP) andZimbabwes Gonarezhou National Park. According to the treaty, theprocess of managing the park will be done through a jointmonitoring board and a ministerial committee. The document saysthe sovereign rights of each country shall be respected,"and no party shall impose decisions on another". Itfurther provides for security and border control. "Wherefences have been removed from previous international boundaries,each party undertakes to repect the sovereign rights of abordering party and not to allow its officials to cross... unlesspreviously agreed... ," it states. According to Peace ParksFoundation executive Willem van der Riet, the Mozambicanauthorities have received R65-million from the German DevelopmentBank KFW to help establish infrastructure in their area of thepark. Speaking to Sapa, he said a further R65-million was alsobeing made available by the same donor to help with theresettlement of local people in the corridor linking the LimpopoNational Park to the KNP. About R10-million of the amount wouldbe used to remove mines -- a legacy of Mozambiques civil war --from the area. The South African government has made availableR40-million for the building of infrastructure, including bridgesand roads, in the eastern part of the KNP. Mozambican PresidentJoaquim Chissano, speaking at the ceremony, said the success ofthe initiative would depend in part on the participation of localcommunities. "In today's world, conservation cannot beseparated from human development." If conservation did notconsider social and economic factors, it was doomed to failure."We have started opening borders for animals -- they're moredisciplined than men -- but in SADC we are looking at ways we canopen the borders for all," Chissano said to loud applause.Veteran Zimabawe President Robert Mugabe, who like his SouthAfrican counterpart cut short his speech because of the extremeheat at the venue, reaffirmed his country's committment to thepark. He made no mention of how his troubled country will fundthe establishment of infrastructure in the 50km-long landcorridor needed to connect the Gonarezhou National Park to theGLTP. Van der Riet said Zimbabwes current political problem weredenying the country access to foreign funding. EndangeredWildlife Trust past president Dr John Ledger, speaking to Sapa byphone ahead of Monday's event, warned that the partnershipbetween the three countries was an unequal one. "Atransfrontier park is essentially a parnership between countries.Where there is an enormous disparity in the capacity of thepark's management in adjacent countries, this can lead toproblems. "It is difficult to have a partnership with thistype of inequality," he said. But World Wildlife Fund-SAchief Tony Frost, in a similar interview, was more positive,saying the park was a "brilliant idea". "From apeace-on-the-continent point of view, transfrontier parks havegreat potential for creating areas of co-operation," hesaid. Monday's ceremony was held in Xai-Xai's Heroes' Square, onthe banks of the Limpopo River. Hundreds of local people, many intraditional dress, crammed into the area to witness the event.
Police nab 311 Zimbabwean migrants (BOPA,31/12) - Threehundred and eleven illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe who wererounded up in Francistown have been repatriated. Interviewed byBOPA on Monday, Supt Dinah Marathe of Central Police Station inFrancistown said foreigners, especially from Zimbabwe cause a lotof concern. Marathe said about 100-120 Zimbabweans are caughteveryday in Francistown because they do not have travellingdocuments and are always repatriated to their places of origin.Some of the Zimbabwean illegal immigrants are found in trains,netted at road blocks and in towns. In turn Zimbabweans said theywill continue coming back to Botswana because of the politicaland economic hardships in their country.
Officials at border forced to work overtime (BOPA,30/12) - Immigration and Custom officials at theRamokgwebana border gate have handled an increased traffic ofpeople crossing the border between Botswana and Zimbabwe. SeniorImmigration Officer, Mikwaledi Baliki told BOPA that at least 15000 people have crossed into Zimbabwe since December 21. Most ofthe travellers were Zimbabweans returning home and others wereBatswana and South Africans. Baliki said there was an increasednumber of illegal immigrants who conveniently turned themselvesup for arrest so that they could be transported back home atgovernment expense. Another problem was the large amount ofvehicles from Zimbabwe that were crossing into Botswana to buypetrol. Baliki said they were often forced to work beyond normalhours due to travellers who arrive late at the border. Insouthern Botswana 521 Batswana and 484 non-citizens passedthrough the Tlokweng border to South Africa on Christmas Day.This was higher than last yesar when 270 Batswana and 454non-citizens crossed into South Africa. On the same day, 275Batswana and 412 non-citizens crossed into Botswana compared tolast years 320 Batswana and 430 non-citizens.
Anti-Zimbabwe sentiments mount in Botswana (AfricanChurch Information Service, 23/12) - Reports ofharassment of Zimbabwean nationals visiting or living in Botswanaby law enforcement agents and ordinary people continue to mount,with fresh allegations that law enforcers often raid and beatlegal immigrants from that country. Most Zimbabweans in Botswanawork as housemaids, garden boys, farm workers and vendors.Lately, Batswana have started accusing Zimbabweans of allconceivable evil from stealing to allegedly spreading HIV/AIDS.Zimbabweans in Botswana, most of them economic refugees forced toflee that country's dire economic and food crisis, have in thepast expressed concern over "hostility" of the localpolice with some claiming to have been tortured by the lawenforcement agents. "Some police officers have told us inour face that they don't like Zimbabweans. These days having avalid passport does not make a difference to them as we are anundesirable elements," said Dumisani Mthombeni, a Zimbabweanworking for a local mining company who said he has beenill-treated by local police several times. "But we are onlytrying to make a decent living". In November this year, theChronicle, a Zimbabwean daily newspaper, almost sparked adiplomatic row between the two countries when it carried agruesome picture of a Zimbabwean who was allegedly tortured byBotswana police. The paper claimed the harassments were now theorder of the day as Botswana tried to control the influx ofZimbabweans. Media in the two countries have given much attentionto the alleged inhuman treatment of their respective citizens bythe other nationals. The issue is also said to have featuredprominently in the recently abandoned African, Caribbean andPacific (ACP)/ European Union (EU) assembly meeting in Brussels.The leader of the Botswana delegation, parliamentarian Ms ShirleySegokgo is said to have implored the ACP to address the problemsfacing Zimbabwe to stem the influx of its nationals into hercountry. This is said to have drawn an angry response from herZimbabwean counterpart, Minister Paul Mangwana who threatened toexpel all Batswana from his country in retaliation for the illtreatment of Zimbabwean nationals in Botswana. The exchanges weregiven widespread publicity by media in both countries. OnDecember 11, the Midweek Sun in Botswana reported freshallegations of harassment of Zimbabweans at the hands of theBotswana Police. It reported that 60 legal Zimbabwean visitors inFrancistown claimed that they were raided and assaulted by policefor no apparent reason. Police confirmed the arrest of Zimbabweannationals but refuted allegations that they were ill-treated."These innocent people were harassed for no apparent reasonthey had valid travel documents. Some of them were genuinevisitors but police did not care. To make matters worse, theywere laughing their lungs out as if what they were doing wasfunny," Mark Murwira, a Motswana who witnessed the raidstold the paper.
Rosinikai Tshamba, a Zimbabwean who was caught up in the raidsaid: "What have we really done to Botswana for us todeserve such a cruel treatment. We try by all means to carry ourvalid passports". Francistown police promised to investigatethe matter but it will have to be added into a long-list of suchcomplaints waiting for their attention. The Francistown incidentis only but one of the examples of escalating hostilities betweenthe national of the two countries. Government statistics releasedearly this year indicated that there were 13,000 Zimbabweanexpatriates working in Botswana but more than double that numberlive in this country illegally. The government of Botswana saysit spends thousands of Pula repatriating Zimbabwean illegalimmigrants who flock into the country in search of greenerpastures. Most Zimbabweans in Botswana work as housemaids, gardenboys, farm workers and vendors. Lately, Batswana have startedaccusing Zimbabweans of all conceivable evil from stealing toallegedly spreading HIV/AIDS. Batswana claim that desperateZimbabwean women are fuelling prostitution in the country. InNovember, a local paper reported that a Selebi Phikwe resident, atown 400 km north east of Gaborone, had put a large banner on hisgate which read "No Zimbabweans allowed in this yard".Such brazen hate statements have not been limited to the ordinarypeople alone; politicians have also found the subjectirresistible in their attempts to whip up emotions. The issue ofZimbabweans in Botswana has also featured prominently inBotswana's National Assembly, with a number of parliamentariansaccusing their northern neighbours of taking away jobs at theexpense of Batswana. "But Zimbabweans do not treat Batswanathe way they are treating us here. Its time we retaliated. Ourgovernment should make it equally difficult for Batswana totravel to Zimbabwe," Brian Choto, a member of the ZimbabweanCitizens in Botswana Association, a pressure group formed earlythis year to advance the interests of Zimbabweans living in thiscountry. Hundreds of Batswana students study in neighbouringZimbabwe, which despite its economic problems still boasts of anaffordable and efficient education system. Shoppers fromBotswana, who are taking advantage of the sliding Zimbabweandollar, are also flocking to that country in thousands. They buyZ$250 for one Pula in Zimbabwe's thriving black market. Recentpress reports also link the recent recalling of Zimbabweanambassador to Botswana, Mr Zenzo Nsimbi to the issue ofharassment of that country's nationals. Before he was recalled,Mr Nsimbi told Botswana media that his embassy was not going toinvestigate the alleged harassment of his fellow nationals bylocal police because some of them were not genuine. He wasimmediately recalled. The Botswana Minister for Foreign Affairs,Mr Mompathi Merafhe praised Nsimbi for handling the issue with"maturity", which he said, was going to help maintaingood relations between the two neighbours. Mr Chapson Butale, amember of parliament from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party(BDP), caused a storm in parliament recently when he accused thegovernment of failing to deal with Zimbabweans claiming that theywere harassing Batswana in that country. But Batswana studentrepresentative associations in Zimbabwe promptly dismissed hisclaims saying no Motswana has been harassed in that country.Botswana shares a common northern border with Zimbabwe. The twocountries still enjoy good diplomatic relations and its nationalstravel freely, without any visa requirements.
Board processes 700 work permits per month (BOPA,19/12) - The Immigrants Selection Board processes 700work permit applications every month, says labour and homeaffairs minister, Thebe Mogami. Presenting the chapter on Cultureand Social Services of the draft National Development Plan Nine(NDP9) to Parliament, Mogami said the board was serviced by nineofficials also responsible for resolution of employment contractdisputes, monitoring of minimum wages and processing ofworkers compensation claims. Mogami said the Department ofLabour and Social Security had been re-organised but it still didnot adequately service its customers because of shortage of humanand financial resources. He said shortage of staff in theministry had resulted in a backlog of applications for Omangcards. He said the divisions of National Registration and CivilRegistration will be merged during NDP9. Iintegrated officeblocks will be built at Serowe, Ghanzi, Maun, Jwaneng, Lobatse,Charleshill, Selebi-Phikwe, Palapye, Molepolole and Mochudi. Thefacilities will house Omang, Civil Registration, Immigration andCitizenship, Culture and Youth, Womens Affairs and Labourand Social Security. Mogami said his ministry had a target toregister 204 000 additional people in the area of civil andnational registration during NDP8 but, despite the challenges, itwas able to register 560 673 - more than twice the target. Hetold Parliament that although gender sensitisation was anon-going process, progress had been made, but evidence on theground suggests that men were low to appreciate it. He urgedleaders to mainstream gender in all programmes to build agender-sensitive nation. On the Department of Prisons andRehabilitation, Mogami said the holding capacity of all prisonsand the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants was 3 786,total prison population was 6 405 at the end of November 2002.Sixty-nine per cent overcrowding in prisons is undesirable giventhe HIV/AIDS epidemic and other contagious diseases. Mogami saidhis ministrys development efforts had been hampered by thecentralised project implementation at the Department ofArchitecture and Building Services (DABS). He added that most ofthe ministrys projects never went beyond tender stagesdespite the availability of money for construction. Amongprojects to be undertaken are a pre-release training scheme,computerising the research unit and building a womensprison in Moshupa. Funds have been approved for a consultancy onthe review of the minimum wage rates in the private sector. Thedomestic and agricultural sectors would also be examined todetermine whether statutory minimum wage could be set. Mogamiadded that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had beenundertaken at Toutswe-Mogala to pave way for the construction ofa cultural village. The ministry has finalised terms of referencefor a project manager, then design phase should commence. Onsports stadia, the minister said the ministry had tore-prioritise during the mid-term review of NDP8 to concentrateon five - being that of Molepolole, Maun, Masunga, Serowe andTshabong. Thereafter criteria based on needs assessment andequitable distribution for development of stadia would be set up.Multi-purpose youth centres will also be constructed in Gaborone,Francistown, Mahalapye and Letlhakane. The centres will provide,among others, enterprise skill development, guidance andcounselling, cultural and entertainment programmes.
Find solution to retain nurses, says MP (BOPA, 17/12)- Health minister Joy Phumaphi should find lastingsolutions to retain health personnel in her ministry,Lentsweletau MP Moeng Pheto said in Parliament on Friday.Debating the health chapter of the draft National DevelopmentPlan Nine (NDP 9) , Pheto said it is disheartening to see scarcehealth workers leaving Botswana, with four of them having leftthe Kweneng District last week. On cost-recovery, Pheto said feescharged to non-citizens at clinics and hospitals are too low tohelp government recover the costs of providing the healthservice. He complained that the health chapter of the draft NDP 9does not have anything for Lentsweletau. "My constituency isbig and qualifies for a primary hospital," he said. He addedthat the upgrading of the Scottish Livingstone hospital is longoverdue because its roof is leaking. The Institute of HealthSciences in Molepolole also needs renovation andlaboratories too. Ambrose Masalila, the MP for Nkange, saidBatswana do not understand the concept of cost-recovery, withsome remarking that they heard about medical fees. Masalila saidclear guidelines must be set to avoid confusion over thecost-cutting and cost-sharing measures. On anti-retroviraltherapy, Masalila said Batswana in other parts of the country arewaiting anxiously for the programme to reach them. TebeleloSeretse of Serowe South said people do not test themselves forHIV as expected. As a result, figures that could help determinethe magnitude of the disease are not available. Seretse, also theworks and transport minister, appealed to health workers to serveBatswana with a smile and show the compassion that they advocatefor. James Maruatona of Bobirwa commended the ministry forplanning to provide amenities for Batswana, adding that theBobonong residents are happy that 19 houses were built for theirnurses. Selebi Phikwe's Daisy Pholo said government has doneenough on HIV/AIDS. Therefore, more focus should be given toother illnesses like eye infections and those that affect women.Nehemiah Modubule, the MP for Lobatse, commended thedetermination with which the ministry seems to want to carry outprojects. Modubule said the Lobatse Mental hospital was supposedto have been built during NDP 8 and he doubts whether it willever be implemented. He asked Phumaphi to liaise with her localgovernment counterpart to ensure that a clinic in Lobatse whosematernity wing was built in 1997 and never put to use isutilised. In response, Phumaphi said new initiatives at theMinistry of Transport seem to have expedited the implementationof development projects. Six district hospitals are at tenderstage. Phumaphi said the death rate of a population group thatstarted the anti-retroviral therapy is around five per cent. BothPhumaphi and Seretse brushed aside Kgalagadi MP LesediMothibamele's view that Vice President Ian Khama is not seen tobe leading the fight against HIV/AIDS. The health minister saidthe vice president's responsibility being carried out with careand dedication, adding that initiatives of improving servicedelivery is a result of his hard work. She also said her ministryintends to introduce the voluntary counselling and testing incouncil clinics. The ministry plans to train 3 000 nurse aids tohelp nurses carry out the task. And, the training will includerapid testing, the test used to check if one has HIV. Phumaphitold Parliament that some investigation has shown that some malesin Botswana can not use the condom because of size. Therefore,the female condom would be promoted to provide an alternative.
Mogae on Zimbabwean illegal immigration (Business Day,17/12) - Botswana's PresidentFestus Mogae, the only president in the region to criticiseZimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, has done so forthrightly inthe latest issue of the London-based African Business magazine.In an interview with the magazine, Mogae said the Zimbabwe crisiswould be difficult to solve because it amounted to a drought ofgood governance. He also displayed frustration about what he saidwas an inability to bring pressure to bear on the country."We try to engage them. We are not the UK, we are not theUS, we are not the European Union. We are just their neighbour.There are 14-million of them, there are less than 2-million ofus," he told the magazine. Mogae said his country was payinga growing price because of the Zimbabwean crisis with mountingnumbers of illegal immigrants. His government had put up,"security fences, enclosures to hold the illegal immigrants.Journalists came, photographed them and said there areconcentration camps in Botswana," he said. He went on to saythat "these are just waiting places where, while we makearrangements with the authorities on the other side, we can lookafter them". "What can we do? This is a humanitariancrisis. We are trying to handle it humanely as possible. Butwithin the limits of our capacity, of our resources. We have nochoice," Mogae said.
Botswana should reduce foreign dominance in tourismindustry, says MP (BOPA, 13/12) - Botswana is the onlycountry whose tourism industry is dominated by foreigners. Thisreliance on foreigners to run the industry should be reduced,according Okavango MP Joseph Kavindama, and more Batswana beencouraged to venture into the enterprise. Debating the wildlife,national parks, tourism and environmental management chapters ofthe draft National Development Plan Nine (NDP9) in Parliament onWednesday, Kavindama suggested that cheques for compensation forcrops and livestock damaged by wildlife should be sent todikgotla for collection. This arrangement, he said, will safepeople the trouble of travelling long distances to collect theirdues, which in some cases are small amounts of money. JamesMaruatona, the MP for Bobirwa, urged government to open officesin Selibe-Phikwe and Francistown for tourists who want to visitTuli Block to book in advance. Maruatona said currently, peoplewho want to go to such places have difficulties because there isno booking-point. He said the concept of productivity should alsobe sold to lodge owners in Tuli Block because they never sendtheir employees for training despite the governments callfor the improvement of productivity. On the culling of elephants,Maruatona said the exercise should begin in his constituencybecause it is overstocked with wild animals. Bahiti Temane ofMaun/Chobe complained that the Oppenheimer Research Centre inMaun is dominated by foreign researchers. He described thesituation as the creation of expertise for foreign countries oncethese experts go back home. Botswana will have to look for otherforeign experts. About international conventions that Botswanahas ratified such as the one banning the dumping of hazardouswaste from on country to another, Temane said he wondered whatgovernment has done to ensure that such agreement benefits thecountry. What are we doing on the ground to ensure that weare not a dumping ground for other countries, he asked. Hesaid it is regrettable that rich countries might entice poor oneswith money to allow dumping despite the negative impact on theenvironment of the recipient. Temane also talked about pollutionof ground water, especially at the Okavango Delta by affluentwaste from nearby lodges. He said incinerators should be providedto char such waste without heating the atmosphere. He called forthe erection of an electric fence at the Chobe Enclave to preventan outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease by separating wildlife,especially buffaloes from livestock because buffalo fence in theareas has collapsed.
Ramatlabama border sealed (BOPA, 09/12) - TheRamatlabama border post between Botswana and South Africa hasbeen closed for entry and exit of livestock and fresh productsfollowing the outbreak of anthrax disease in the North WestProvince of South Africa. The Department of Animal Health andProduction has advised people not to eat any livestock meat thathas died from anthrax as it can cause localised skin lesions andsudden death. A news release from the department requests farmersto bring their cattle for vaccination next month, January.Travellers are advised to use the Pioneer Border Post nearLobatse until further notice. The outbreak of the disease isalong the border with Botswana in the Ramatlabama district. In abid to control the disease, the release states, the departmentwill conduct regular surveillance in animals along the border forsigns of suggestive anthrax. People are asked to report anyanimal suspected to be having the disease to the nearestveterinary office or police station. The department has alsoannounced that Newcastle, a common viral poultry and other birdsdisease, has been confirmed in Mochudi, Gaborone, Selebi-Philkweand Maun veterinary districts. Newcastle is characterised bydifficulty in breathing, profuse greenish-white diarrhoea and theinability of chicken to get on its feet.
Migration from Zimbabwe causes tensions (Johannesburg,Irin, 2/12) - Zimbabwe on Monday said a decision torecall its high commissioner to Botswana was part of a broadergovernment reshuffle and had nothing to do with President FestusMogae's recent criticism of the country's political and economicpolicies. "A number of ambassadors have been affected by thechanges and reports suggesting that the commissioner in Gaboronewas recalled because of some kind of worsening relationshipbetween Zimbabwe and Botswana is simply not true," politicalcounsellor at Zimbabwe's High Commission in Botswana, TamukaMuranga told IRIN. But one analyst said Mogae's comments wouldhave certainly angered Zimbabwean authorities and the removal ofHigh Commissioner, Zenso Nsimbi, from Gaborone was evidence ofthat. Last month Mogae told the London-based African Businessmagazine that Zimbabwe's deepening political crisis was due to a"drought of good governance". "Mogae is the onlyAfrican president who has publicly raised concern over thepolitical upheavals in Zimbabwe. By recalling the highcommissioner from Botswana, President Robert Mugabe certainlywants to send a clear message to Gaborone that Harare will nottolerate criticism," a senior researcher at the Institute ofSecurity Studies Chris Maroleng said. Meanwhile, the BotswanaGuardian reported that Nsimbi had been recalled following hisinaction regarding complaints that Zimbabweans fleeing economichardships in their country were being ill treated by Botswanaauthorities. Responding to the accusations, Mogae was quoted assaying: "This is a humanitarian crisis. We are trying tohandle it as humanely as possible. But within the limits of ourcapacity, of our resources. We have no choice." Marolengsaid Nsimbi's replacement would certainly be a "ZANU-PFhardliner, somebody who could be tougher when it comes todefending the government's human rights record abroad"."It is unlikely that there would be total breakdown indiplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana as there arediplomatic channels through which these tensions can bediscussed. But what Mogae's comments makes clear is that not allAfrican leaders support what is going on in Zimbabwe,"Maroleng said.
Clashes displace half a million in east DR Congo(Kigali, AFP, 20/12) - Some half a million inhabitantsof northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri provincehave been displaced by clashes over the past four months,humanitarian sources said Friday. "We estimate the number ofpeople from that region who've been displaced since August at488,000", a humanitarian source in Goma who asked to remainanonymous told AFP. "Since the beginning of the war (in1998) the figure is 824,000 " the same source added, whilesaying that fewer than half of those people were estimated to beregistered as displaced with any humanitarian organisation. Ofthe people displaced in the past four months, humanitariansources estimate that between 10,000 and 30,000 fled intoneighbouring Uganda, while tens of thousands of others haveeither reached or are heading towards Eringeti, a town to thesouth. Last week the British non-governmental organisationTearfund estimated that over the past four months between 35,000and 40,000 displaced people reached the area around Eringeti, atown on the North-Kivu side of the border between Ituri provinceand North-Kivu. It estimated that a further 16,000 displacedpeople who were still on the Ituri side of the border wereheading towards Eringeti. Tens of thousands of others arereportedly wandering in the forests of Ituri. Three rebelfactions are fighting in the region: two spin-offs of theCongolese Rally for Democracy, one of which, RCD-National, isclose to the Ugandan backed Congolese Liberation Movement, andthe Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). A variety of tribalmilitia also take part in the fighting. In Kampala, Major RashidZola, who has ties to the UPC, said the group did not feel boundby the DRC peace accord signed in Pretoria on December 17 by theDRC government and several rebel groups. "We did notparticipate in the making of that agreement. We were ignored andtherefore we are not bound by it and we shall just continue withthe armed struggle," he said, suggesting that peace in theIturi region was unlikely in the immediate future. Anotherhumanitarian organisation, the Norwegian Refugee Council, in areport received Friday by AFP, estimated the total number ofdisplaced persons in the whole of the DRC at 2.5 million.
Forced repatriation of Congolese refugees in Rwanda(Relief Web, 16/12) - Much of Africa's Great Lake'sregion is currently experiencing refugee outflows and influxes,and voluntary, forced, and spontaneous repatriations. Continued armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) and Burundi, tenuous peace accords in both countries, andunwelcoming government rhetoric and actions toward refugees inTanzania and Rwanda are the primary forces behind the majority ofthe population movements. U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR)conducted a site visit to Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda duringOctober and November 2002 to look closer at an assortment ofrefugee-related matters in the Great Lakes. This policypaper is the first of a series.
Problem: During September and early October 2002,thousands of Congolese refugees living in Rwanda were forciblyrepatriated under suspicious circumstances to eastern DRC, wheremany of the same armed militias that violently forced them fromtheir homes still operate. In mid October, the forcedrepatriation ended as suddenly as it began. Why didCongolese refugees suddenly leave Rwanda? Who forced theirdeparture? Where did they go? Why are many nowreturning to Rwanda? What does the immediate futurehold? During late November 2002, USCR visited Rwanda toexamine the forced repatriation and offer policyrecommendations. Following is a summary of the situationand USCR's analysis.
Context: Thousands of ethnic Tutsi Congolese fled war,violence, and persecution in eastern DRC during the mid-1990s andsought refuge in Rwanda. An estimated 30,000 Congoleserefugees remained in Rwanda as of August 2002, where they livedrelatively peaceful but difficult and monotonous lives in twocamps. Some 17,000 Congolese refugees lived in Gihembecamp, in Rwanda's north central province of Byumba. Approximately 15,000 Congolese lived in Kiziba refugee camp, inwestern Rwanda's Kibuye province. Most have long desired toreturn home, as daily life in Gihembe and Kiziba is far fromeasy, but dangerous conditions in eastern DRC prevented theirrepatriation. Nearly every refugee in Rwanda reliesexclusively on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) and private humanitarian agencies for basic needs,including food, water, health care, clothing, andeducation. Refugees in Gihembe and Kiziba have virtually noopportunities to earn even a small income to slightly improvetheir quality of life. Neither camp is conducive forfarming that would enable refugees to enhance their diets. Returning to war-scarred and still-dangerous eastern DRC toresume a semblance of normal life is an option that manyCongolese refugees view as neither practical nor durable at thistime. Most prefer to remain in Rwanda until stabilityemerges in DRC.
Critical Events: During early August 2002, Rwandangovernment authorities and representatives of a Congolese rebelgroup backed by Rwanda, the Rally for Congolese Democracy(RCD-Goma), visited Gihembe and Kiziba camps to meet with refugeeleaders. The message the officials delivered wasclear. They insisted that peace, land, and humanitarianassistance awaited refugees who would repatriate to easternDRC. Neither UNHCR nor its implementing partners werenotified of the meetings until after they occurred. Rwandangovernment authorities and RCD-Goma representatives heldadditional meetings on several occasions to pressure refugees totake full advantage of the repatriation transportation that theofficials would provide in late August to transport refugees toDRC. Refugees were also reportedly told that:
- The transportation offer was the refugee population's lastchance for an assisted return;
- Camp services would end in mid September;
- Authorities would resort to force if refugees refused torepatriate peacefully.
Initially, refugees in both camps declined the invitation torepatriate. Refugees were well- informed of current eventsand conditions in eastern DRC and were skeptical of reports thatpeace was prevalent. Refugees also questioned the lack ofinvolvement of UNHCR and its implementing partners in anorganized repatriation program. As pressure by Rwandangovernment authorities and RCD-Goma representatives increasedduring the latter days of August, however, many refugees relentedand departed Rwanda to return to DRC. Authoritiesparticularly targeted for involuntary departure refugees employedby international humanitarian agencies in Gihembe and Kiziba andrefugee students who openly protested the forcedrepatriations. The forced repatriations also coincided withthe withdrawal of Rwandan government troops from eastern DRC. InKiziba, terse ultimatums from Rwandan and RCD-Goma officialsconvinced many refugees that they risked physical harm if theyrefused to repatriate. A primary goal of authorities inKiziba was to initiate movement of refugees to the eastern DRCprovince of North Kivu. According to sources interviewed byUSCR in Rwanda, the forced repatriation from Kiziba was done, atleast in part, to provide cover for the return ofdemobilized-Rwandan soldiers to eastern DRC. On severaloccasions after the forced repatriations from Kiziba wereunderway, the same boats that ferried refugees from Kibuye toGoma across Lake Kivu during daylight were heard returning atnight and departing before sunrise the following morning. International observers in Rwanda widely believe that boatsmoving under the cover of darkness transported troops, cattle,and other military support material from Kibuye to DRC. InGihembe, authorities were more forceful. Congolese refugeesliving in Gihembe camp were systematically directed by thePr·fet of Byumba to dismantle their homes and, in severalincidents, physically forced onto buses. Uniformed andplain-clothed Rwandan police officers enforced the Pr·fet'sorders. Areas of the camp were partially dismantled orcompletely destroyed, including sanitation and transportationsystems, newly erected housing, a soil erosion system, and thecentral market. According to sources interviewed by USCR inRwanda, the primary goal of authorities in Gihembe was to emptythe camp of all refugees.
According to official numbers released by the Rwandan Ministryof Local Administration and Social Affairs, some 2,500 refugeesrepatriated from Kiziba and approximately 7,000 repatriated fromGihembe. While it is true that this many people probablydeparted Rwanda in organized convoys during the nearly six-weekforced repatriation, not all were refugees. Some personswho departed Kibuye in boats were reportedly Rwandan soldiers andex-combatants in civilian clothes. Others were Rwandan andCongolese civilians laden with goats, chickens, and other scarcemerchandise to sell in Goma and other areas of eastern DRC. Some persons who departed Gihembe were reportedly Rwandancitizens. Surveys conducted in November 2002 reported thatfewer than 10,000 refugees remained in Gihembe, whileapproximately 13,000 remained in Kiziba. Nearly all refugeeswere trucked to the remote eastern DRC village of Kichanga,approximately 60 miles (100 km) north of Goma, and were left tofend for themselves. Most of the forcibly returned refugeesstill reside in or around dilapidated buildings of a former teafactory near Kichanga. Conditions are reportedlydismal. A humanitarian assessment mission to Kichanga, ledby the United Nations Office for the Coordination of HumanitarianAffairs (OCHA) during September, found that recently arrivedreturnees were in better physical condition than the localpopulation, but the potential for the outbreak of diseasesexisted because reliable sources of clean drinking water andproper sanitation facilities were absent. In addition,contrary to the humanitarian assistance promised by Rwandanauthorities and RCD-Goma representatives, the assessment missionreported no health, housing, or education facilities. Bylate November, about 1,000 forcibly repatriated Congoleserefugees had managed to return to Rwanda's Gihembe camp. Most of the refugees returning to Gihembe reported that the lackof food, housing, and security made it impossible for them toremain in Kichanga.
Refugee Testimony: USCR interviewed many refugees inKiziba and Gihembe. Each shared compelling testimonyregarding what they experienced during the forcedreturns. Following is a sample of what several said."I came to Rwanda just after I witnessed the death of mymother and her sister at the hands of Interhamwe in Congo,"32-year-old Abraham told USCR in Gihembe. "Although Ido not like it here, my family is safe. That quicklychanged when police and officials from Byumba told us thatrefugees were no longer welcome in Rwanda. I saw them beatwith a stick people that refused to leave. I was frightenedand right away got on a bus with my wife and four children. All the while refugee leaders that I once trusted told us that wewould receive all the help we needed in Congo. When wearrived, I only found cold people with nothing to eat. Isold some things to pay for taxi fare back to Rwanda. As wecrossed the border on our way back, soldiers took all that wehad. We eventually returned to find a pile of dirt whereour house once stood. What was the point of doing that tous?" "RCD-Goma officials came to the camp andused all sorts of tricks to try to convince us to pack our bagsand return to North Kivu," a 42-year-old refugee manexplained to USCR in Kiziba. "They knew that I did notbelieve their lies. Eventually, I was told that my name wason a list and that I faced trouble in the future if I did notreturn. This scared me, but I held my ground. Manythat did go back returned a few weeks later and told me that thetrouble we fled is still there and getting worse." "Life was not too bad in Gihembe," a 48-year-oldrefugee woman told USCR in Gihembe. "Even the sickchildren and elderly were assisted. Then police pounded onmy door one night and told me to tear down my house and get readyto leave. When I woke the next morning, my children helpedme remove the plastic sheeting that covered our house. Iknew that no matter where we where going we would need it. My neighbor told me we were going back to Congo. I guessedthis much and could not hide my emotions. My children knewI was very scared and would not stop crying. They are alittle better now that we have returned to Rwanda."
1. Rwandan government authorities and RCD-Gomarepresentatives misled, intimidated, and forcibly returnedseveral thousand Congolese refugees residing in Gihembe andKiziba camps in Rwanda to a dangerous area of eastern DRC withthe apparent intent to:
- Provide transportation and cover for the reinsertion of Rwandansoldiers and other combatants to eastern DRC;
- Develop an ethnic Tutsi constituency in eastern DRC from which,in part, to recruit young men into armed militias;
- Consolidate Rwanda's camps for Congolese refugees;
- Transform Gihembe refugee camp into a national university or acamp for demobilized soldiers.
2. The forced repatriation of Congolese refugees from Rwandasuddenly stopped in mid- October. Observers hope it is asign that no further involuntary repatriations will occur andthat strained relations between Rwandan government authoritiesand humanitarian assistance agencies will improve.
3. Rwandan government authorities and RCD-Gomarepresentatives, however, might again intimidate and use force toreturn refugees to eastern DRC or to transfer recently returnedrefugees from Gihembe to Kiziba. Refugees might violentlyresist additional relocation attempts. The Rwandangovernment's apparent goal of emptying Gihembe refugee camp wasnot achieved. It is widely believed that Rwandanauthorities intend to close Gihembe by transferring refugees toKiziba, starting with those who recently returned from easternDRC.
4. Congolese refugees who were forced to repatriate and havesince returned to Rwanda are experiencing difficulties resettlingin Gihembe because they have lost possessions and housing in theforced repatriation and subsequent journey back to Rwanda. Most refugees who returned to eastern DRC departed Gihembecarrying the plastic or tin sheeting covering their homes, a fewpersonal belongings, and little else. Almost immediatelyafter refugee families departed Gihembe, other refugeesdismantled and subsequently leveled vacated homes. In orderto earn income to afford transportation to return to Rwanda,refugees who repatriated involuntarily subsequently sold whatlittle they had. Nearly all who have returned to Rwandaneed immediate food, medical, housing, and clothing assistance.
5. The estimated 6,000 - 7,000 Congolese refugees who wereforcibly returned to Kichanga, DRC are living as internallydisplaced persons in difficult conditions far from their homeareas of Masisi and Rutshuru, in the eastern DRC province ofNorth Kivu. They badly need basic humanitarian assistance,including food, clean water, and health care.
1. The Rwandan government should refrain from future forciblerepatriations.
2. The Rwandan government should allow Congolese refugees whowere forcibly repatriated to Kichanga, DRC to return to Rwanda,and should respect the rights of Congolese and others to seekasylum in Rwanda in the future.
3. The Rwandan government should work closely with UNHCR andother humanitarian assistance agencies to ensure that localgovernment authorities are well informed of refugee's rights andresponsibilities, and that all refugee-related matters areaddressed in a transparent manner.
4. If Rwandan authorities decide to close Gihembe refugeecamp, they should do so in close coordination with UNHCR and in aplanned and humane manner that preserves refugees' rights to safeasylum in Rwanda and provides adequate shelter and assistance inKiziba or elsewhere in Rwanda.
5. The Rwandan government should protect refugees from futureharassment by RCD-Goma representatives.
6. The Rwandan government should not use refugee repatriationprograms as a cover to infiltrate combatants into DRC.
7. RCD-Goma representatives should allow unrestrictedhumanitarian access to the displaced Congolese refugees residingin and around Kichanga, DRC. RCD-Goma should work closelywith humanitarian agencies in eastern DRC to ensure that theforcibly returned population is properly assisted.
For more information, feel free to contact Joel Frushone at(202) 347-3507 or firstname.lastname@example.org, U.S. Committee for Refugees, Washington, DC
Thousands flee fighting in DR Congo (Relief Web,11/12) - Over 15,000 civilians in Burundi have fled afresh outbreak of fighting between government troops and Huturebels in the central Gitega province, an administrative officialsaid on Sunday. Troops set up outposts seven kilometers (fourmiles) out of Gitega, the central African country'ssecond-largest city, and were shelling rebel strongholds in thehills, local governor Tharcisse Ntibarirarana told AFP. "Thearmy is avoiding fighting and is in the process of shelling thehills", rebel spokesman Lieutenant Gelase Daniel Ndabirabe,from the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) told AFP bytelephone. "This has only affected the civilian populationwhich is fleeing these zones," he said. Local administrativeofficials said between 15,000 and 20,000 had fled their homessince Friday. News of the fighting followed government reportsthat Hutu rebels killed 10 Burundi soldiers in an ambush onSaturday in the eastern province of Ruyigi. Both bouts ofviolence pit fighters from the main Hutu rebel movement, the FDD,against the mainly Tutsi army. In Ruyigi on Saturday, the FDDattacked a vehicle carrying troops who had been wounded inearlier clashes at Nyabitsinda commune, a local government sourcesaid. FDD spokesman Gelase Daniel Ndabirabe confirmed the attackbut said 20 army soldiers had been killed. He put the blame ongovernment forces for breaking a ceasefire on Friday. But thatsame day an army spokesman said the FDD had taken up newpositions in Ruyigi province in violation of the terms of thetruce and that the military had taken action to drive them back.The local administration source said more than 20,000 people hadfled Nyabitsinda's neighbouring commune of Kinyinya since thelatest hostilities erupted on Friday. Meanwhile, fighting in thewest with rebels from the National Liberation Forces (FNL) lefttwo gendarme paramilitary officers dead on Friday, a localadministrative source who requested anonymity said. FDD leaderPierre Nkurunziza signed a peace pact with the head of Burundi'stransitional government Pierre Buyoya on December 3 in thenorthern Tanzanian town of Arusha. Both sides agreed to stophostilities starting December 6, with a definitive truce to takeeffect on December 30. But the start date was put off, with bothsides saying aspects of the peace accord were unresolved. TheFNL, Burundi's second largest Hutu rebel group, is not party tothe ceasefire arrangement, having steadfastly refused to enterinto negotiations with the government. Burundi has been tornapart since 1993 by a civil war pitting Hutu rebels against themainly Tutsi army in which nearly 300,000 people have died, mostof them civilians.
Angola, Congo sign pact on Angolan refugees (Kinshasa,AP, 09/12) - Angola and Congo signed an accord Monday tohelp coordinate the repatriation of nearly 200,000 Angolanrefugees who fled to neighboring Congo during a quarter-centuryof civil war in Angola. "This agreement is a securityguarantee for the voluntary return of 193,000 Angolan refugeesliving in exile in Congo, some of them for 25 years," saidNgoladje Kapra Mbaijol, an official of the U.N.'s refugee agency,which was also a signatory to the agreement and will help in theresettlement. Angola's war began after it won independence fromPortugal in 1975. Three peace deals collapsed before thegovernment and UNITA rebel group agreed in April to end thefighting. Under Monday's agreement, Angola is to assure thesafety of those returning home, and Congo pledges to continueoffering asylum to those wishing to stay. The repatriation willbegin taking place between May and June, Ngoladje said. Angolasigned similar repatriation treaties with Zambia and Namibia inlate November. One million Angolans who fled the civil war arebelieved to be living in neighboring countries, and more weredisplaced within the nation. Since the end of fighting earlierthis year, 70,000 Angolan refugees have returned to theircountry, Mbaijol said, including about 18,000 from Congo. Toprepare for the refugees' return, U.N. aid agencies are to helpthe government establish schools, hospitals, sanitation and otherservices in towns and villages.
Lesotho seeks extradition of an SA farmer (Maseru,Mopheme/The Survivor, 19/12) - The Government of Lesothois trying to make legal ends meet, in securing extradition of ablack South African farmer who has allegedly reigned terror inthe Morifi border area, shooting people at will. To date tenpeople have been killed while others have been brutallyassaulted. According to reports from Morifi, the South African,whose farm is located at the border along the Caledon river, hascrossed into Lesotho several times, shooting or beatingvillagers, accusing them of stealing his livestock. The reign ofterror started in 1995 and reached the highlight in November thisyear when the same farmer allegedly stopped a taxi killing threepeople and a 16 year old boy miraculously survived with a chestwound. One man has reportedly also been castrated by the saidblack farmer in South Africa. Legal technicalities on theextradition of the farmer, arises whereby Lesotho still carriesthe death penalty while it has been abolished in neighbouringSouth Africa. Investigations procedures have been completed onthe Lesotho side and the case is already on the desk of theDirector of Public Prosecution. If the extradition applicationsucceeds, it will be the first major of its kind related tocross-border crime. Currently the Lesotho government has deployedarmed forces along the Morifi and neighbouring villages to curbcross-borders crimes such as stock-theft and illegal traffickingof things like dagga. Many Basotho have been arrested in theSouth African side, found stealing at the border farms.
Memorial service for villagers killed by South Africanfarmer (Maseru, Mopheme/The Survivor, 19/12) - Aninterdenominational church service was held on Sunday December15, 2002 at Morifi in the southern district of Mohales Hoek inremembrance of the ten people who were allegedly murdered in coldblood by a South African farmer, one Mpumelelo Mbobo. The peopleof Morifi, a cluster of villages along the banks of the CaledonRiver which forms the boundary between Lesotho and South Africalived in fear since 1995 when Mbobo allegedly crossed the borderand shot and killed seven people accusing them of stealinglivestock on his farm situated on the banks of the Caledon on theSouth African side. Mbobos reign of terror haunted the people ofMorifi until November this year, when again, he shot and killed 4people travelling in a taxi at Khauteng, Morifi. A survivor,Khotso Lerotholi (16) told Mopheme -The Survivor that on thatfateful day of November 2002 he was travelling in a taxi withother passengers when a man coming from the direction of theCaledon River stopped the taxi and pretended as if he needed aride. When I opened the door for him to enter he pulled out a gunand shot me in the chest and fatally shot other passengersincluding the driver. I ran for my life and was miraculouslysaved. After the incident Mbobo proudly walked away and crossedthe Caledon River into his farm in South Africa. The dead wereinnocent people coming from a funeral in the area,filled withemotion, the young man said. According to villagers, the arrogantMbobo, a Xhosa from Sterkspruit and former cadre of AzanianPeoples Liberation Army (APLA), former military wing of the PanAfricanist Congress of South Africa (PAC) does not use the legalentry points when he comes into Lesotho. He just crosses theRiver at a spot near his farm and comes into our villages tothreaten or shoot people on the pretext that they have stolenlivestock on his farm. He is a very arrogant man and shoots atwill without any hesitation. We are even afraid of working on ourfields on the Lesotho side next to his farm because he shoots usfrom the other side of the River. He has even threatened to shoota whole class of school children,one elderly man added. The oldmans statement is confirmed by barren and uncultivated fieldsnext to Mbobos farm along the banks of the Caledon River.According to some of the villagers, Mbobo has some informantsfrom the Lesotho side who give him a list of human targets tokill or threaten and this has led to some animosity between thevillagers in the area. He pays his informants with maize meal,croceries and other stuff for the information they give him,theyadded. One man from one of the villages in Morifi is reported tohave been castrated by Mbobo on the accusation that he stolelivestock on his farm.
The man said to have been castrateddeclined to talk to Mopheme-The Survivor. The church service inhonour of the people killed by Mbobo was preceded by laying of aremembrance stone by the Minister of Home Affairs, MotsoahaeThabane at a spot where the four people were shot and killed inNovember, this year. The solemn church service was led by theAfrican Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) with interventions fromthe Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC), the Methodist Church andothers. Speaking after the church service, Minister Thabane saidit was unfortunate that the killing of people by Mbobo in 1995was not taken seriously by the law enforcement agencies ofLesotho and South Africa. He strongly implored the people ofMorifi to desist from crossing into South Africa and stealinglivestock from the farms. These killings are a direct result ofcross-border theft. Whilst we do not condone these killings, Iappeal to our people to stop crossing into South Africa to steallivestock from the farms. These cross-border theft and killingsdo not augur well for the good relations between Lesotho andSouth Africa. We bring disasters like these upon ourselvesbecause we do not obey the law and we engage in crime,he added.Thabane implored the people of Morifi and other villages alongthe Lesotho/ South African border to work hand in hand with thepolice to prevent any cross-border crime. He disclosed thatinvestigations into the killings were complete and were nowbefore the Director of Public Prosecutions who still had tofollow some legal procedures before Mbobo could be extradited toLesotho to face charges of murder. Lesotho has an extraditiontreaty with South Africa. The Assistant Commissioner of Police incharge of the southern districts, Motlepu Makhakhe toldMopheme-The Survivor that extradition of Mbobo to Lesotho was notan easy task as South Africa had abolished death penalty. TheSouth Africans will need an assurance that if Mbobo is foundguilty he will not be sentenced to death because South Africa hasabolished death penalty. At least they will accept life sentence.So this matter has a lot of technicalities involved. It is not aneasy thing,he said. Assistant Commissioner Makhakhe said thegovernment of Lesotho has deployed members of the Lesotho DefenceForce (LDF) along the border in the Morifi area to make sure thatthe villagers are well secured and Mbobos reign of terror comesto an end. We have also embarked on a series of rallies to teachpeople living on the border between Lesotho and South Africaabout the dangers and implications of the cross-border crime,heconcluded.
Death and acute food shortages haunt Lesotho (BusinessDay, 03/12) - Lesotho, one of six countries in southernAfrica threatened by famine, will need food aid until 2004 aftera dry spell in October and severe frost last month blighted nextyear's maize crop, the Lesotho director of the United Nations(UN) World Food Programme (WFP), Techeste Zergarber, saidyesterday. "Our regional contingency plan (of extending theemergency operation from July 2003 until 2004) is now a realityfor Lesotho," he said. "Here, in the highlands thecrops are finished, and even if it rains replanting will not helpmuch. The maize will be caught by winter before it has time tomature." Withered maize stalks in the mountain maize fieldsof ThaboTseka were visible from the air during a trip there onSunday, as well as by road in the low-lying areas of Mafeteng,90km south of Maseru. Agricultural extension officer, MohaleMoshoeshoe, confirmed the frost-damaged maize stood no chance ofrecovering. Replanting was possible, he said, but frozen groundand lack of seed made that task difficult. The devastation of thefastgrowing, hardy seed variety, which was adapted to thehighlands, would be a problem for future harvests, saidsociologist David Hall of Sechaba Consultants. The highlands,which were worst hit by the cold, make up three-quarters of thekingdom, where less than 10% of arable land is under cultivation.Last month in Lesotho, the WFP was targeting 380000 beneficiariesand reaching about 70% of them while feeding about 150000schoolchildren. Kimberly Gamble-Payne, director of UN children'sagency Unicef in Lesotho, said the food crisis, combined with theHIV/AIDS epidemic, had worsened the dropout rate in schools. Theschool feeding programme intends to feed 500000 children by 2007,with the number of WFP beneficiaries this month rising to 550000of Lesotho's 2,1-million people. The expanded target group willinclude those living with HIV/AIDS and those who are 55 andolder. Basotho mineworkers, who have returned home after beingretrenched from their jobs in SA for having HIV/AIDS, are amongthe most vulnerable beneficiaries of the WFP programme. At leasttwo child-headed households in Thabo-Tseka had lost fathers toAIDS following their return from the mines. These families nowdepend on severance packages for survival. The sharp drop inmining jobs has also reduced access to food and householdsecurity in rural areas as many families are dependent on theremittances from the mines. The number of Basotho miners in SAhas fallen from 122000 to 59000 in the decade ending 2001,according to the International Monetary Fund. Nor does thecreation of about 36000 jobs in textile factories, mostly ownedby Asians, provide much relief since the jobs go to those livingin urban and not rural areas. Anecdotal accounts from about adozen prostitutes, lingering on street corners in the capital onSunday night, appeared to support this. Hunger had driven them tothe towns to find work in the factories, they all said, but theyhad not been able find jobs. They estimated their earnings to beabout R1000 a month, above the factory wages of about R600 amonth. "In a week I can get up to R300," said Lerato,claiming to be 17 but looking much younger. She charges about R30a customer, unless he is white when her rates go up to R50. Formen refusing to wear condoms, she charges R150. But someprostitutes swore they would not have sex without condoms in acountry with an adult prevalence rate of 31%. The UN specialenvoy for HIV/AIDS, Stephen Lewis, in Lesotho for three days aspart of a three-week trip around southern Africa, said: "Theworst is yet to come. Communities are facing drought and death inequal measures and this is tearing the heart out of country aftercountry."
Army, police in joint operation against foreigntraders (The Nation, 19/12) - Business in NdirandeMarket in Blantyre and shops along M1, Malangalanga and otherroads in old town in Lilongwe came to a standstill for over fourhours on Wednesday when the Police and the Army held a jointsecurity operation in the city from around 9AM. Shoppers, townmongers and vendors were ordered to sit down as the armedofficers from both police and the army made a random check in theshops, market stalls and shops run by foreigners like Nigeriansand Burundians along the popular Devil Street. The officers, whoblocked several junctions on the roads from Lilongwe market sideand the bus depot joining M1 road with armoured vehicles, werealso searching in minibuses, vendors stalls and other smallshops inside the market. They were, among other things, demandingto see business licences and receipts used for buyingmerchandise, according to some shop owners. Among the vehiclesused in the operation, which ended around 1PM, was an army bus,which they used to ferry some suspects during the operation. Somepeople disliked being made to sit down for a long time when theyhad merely visited the shops for business. The operation isgood and its for our benefit but the order to sit downupset me. Worse still, I was wearing a white dress, saidSaturday Post journalist, Rabecca Chimjeka who was caught up inthe search as she was shopping. But others have applauded theoperation. In Blantyre, the army and police officers descended onNdirande Market where, they confiscated all goods belonging totraders who had no receipts. An eye witnesses who did not want tobe named said the security officers confiscated a truckload ofgoods and picked up a number of people, most of them women afterclosing all the openings to the market. They took thepeople away and we dont know where they are, said theeye witness. Army spokesman Clement Namangale said in aninterview the operation was a police operation andthat the police has just engaged the army to help them.They just engaged our support. They want to do away withcriminals and illegal immigrants, said Namangale. He saidthe operation is similar to Operation Chotsambavawhich was done some three years ago. But Police SpokespersonGeorge Chikowi declined to shade more light on the aim of theoperation saying that would be like warning thieves since theoperation is ongoing. I would love to comment when thesepeople have finished their operation. We cant tell a thiefthat we are coming, said Chikowi.
Malawi-Mozambique tobacco dispute over (Blantyre,Malawi Insider, 18/12) - Agriculture Minister AlekeBanda has said that there will be no repetition of the obstaclesimposed during the last two years on the processing of Mozambicantobacco in Malawi. Banda told The Malawi Insider in an interviewthat the agreement he has signed with his Mozambican counterpart,Helder Muteia, has solved the problem definitively. "We havegood relations of cooperation with Mozambique", he said."I was in Maputo and we signed an agreement to regulatecross-border trade, not only in tobacco, but also in othergoods." He added: "But it was certainly tobacco thatcreated most problems." Banda explained that it wasnecessary to bear in mind that both Malawi and Mozambique aretobacco producing countries who do business with internationaltobacco companies that act according to their own rules. Theintention of both countries, Banda stressed, was to eliminateproblems, and this would involve the establishment of nationalorganisations of tobacco producers. In 2001, the Malawiangovernment banned the entry of foreign tobacco. This made itimpossible for Mozambican producers to process their tobacco inMalawi, until President Bakili Muluzi was persuaded to interveneand reverse the ban. This year the Malawi government imposed asurcharge of 10 per cent on all foreign tobacco entering thecountry, a move which caused outrage on the Mozambican side ofthe border, and was cancelled after two weeks. Asked about thehunger situation in Malawi, Banda confirmed that at least 3.3million Malawians are in need of food aid. He said thatgovernment is doing all it could do to provide food aid to themost vulnerable people. Key to Malawi's relief operation is theMozambican port of Nacala, and the Nacala-Malawi railway. It ishoped that the line will move 237,000 metric tonnes of grain toMalawi over nine months.
Transfrontier park could see Mozambicans displaced(Punda Maria, Business Day, 12/12) - About 6000Mozambicans could be displaced from their homes to make way forthe newly established Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park thatstraddles SA, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The 3,5-million hectarepark, comprising the Kruger National Park, the Limpopo NationalPark in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe,was launched yesterday with the symbolic cutting down of part ofthe fence separating the Kruger and Limpopo national parks. AbelNhalidede, community liaison officer for the Limpopo park, saidthe Mozambican authorities had started negotiating with thecommunity living along the Shingwezi River to have them relocatedto another area within the park. There are about 25000 peopleliving in the Limpopo park, mainly along the Limpopo, Shingweziand Oliphants rivers. The Shingwezi area was identified as havingthe most tourism potential for the Limpopo park and the communityhas been approached to accept a package for resettlement.Nhalidede said the community could be putting their lives at riskfrom the wild animals crossing over from the Kruger park to theLimpopo park. Agricultural land cultivated and used forsubsistence farming could also be destroyed by animals thatmigrate across the borders, he said. The community was also giventhe option of remaining in the park, but being subjected to a setof regulations, such as limiting the amount of land undercultivation. "The community has reacted strongly againstbeing moved. They do not understand the consequences (ofremaining on the land)," said Nhalidede. By 2004, 120km offence separating SA from Mozambique will be removed to allowanimals to roam freely in one of the world's biggesttransnational wildlife parks. Environmental Affairs and TourismMinister Valli Moosa said yesterday in Punda Maria that thefence, built in 1975, was an apartheid structure, serving to keepMozambicans out of SA. "You cannot solve your problems withneighbours through building fences. In the long-term it can onlybe done through development and creating jobs," said Moosa.The border patrol post at Giryondo in the Kruger park is expectedto be completed in 2004, allowing tourists visiting the park tocross over to the Limpopo side, without requiring additionalvisas. The Limpopo park has fewer animals and has densevegetation, making it an ideal environment for migrating animals.
Violence at border with Zimbabwe (Manica, The DailyNews, 06/12) - The government has been urged to withdrawits soldiers from the Forbes border post in Manicaland or riskthe twinning arrangement between the City of Mutare and othercities in Mozambique. The Zimbabwean soldiers have been accusedof beating up Mozambican citizens at the border post. The callwas made by Mougene Cadiero, the Mayor of Manica town inMozambique, on Wednesday during the signing of a twinningarrangement between his town and Mutare. In a prayer, duringwhich Cadiero pleaded for divine intervention, he said solemnly:"God, please help to remove the soldiers from that border.They are assaulting our people every day. It's terrible."The soldiers are deployed in and around Mutare to interceptsmugglers who sneak commodities such as cigarettes, sugar, bread,cooking oil, flour, maize-meal and alcohol into Mozambique. Sofar, two Mozambicans, suspected to be illegal cross-bordertraders, have been shot dead by the Zimbabwean soldiers.Following the fatal shootings, diplomatic relations betweenZimbabwe and Mozambique became strained. Soares Nhaca, theGovernor of Manica Province, condemned the Zimbabwean securityforces over the killings and beatings. But Oppah Muchinguri, hiscounterpart in Zimbabwe's Manicaland Province, remained adamantthat relations between the countries were cordial."Zimbabwean soldiers are beating up our citizens either atthe border or in their country," Cadiero said in a separateinterview. He said the twinning agreements could be jeopardisedif the soldiers continued the beatings. Hundreds of traders,mainly Mozambicans, have allegedly been assaulted by soldiers andthe police manning all illegal entry points along the border.Those arrested are taken to the Grand Reef Infantry Battalioncantonment in Mutare, where they are allegedly subjected tofurther assaults before being ordered to pay a fine of up to $500for their freedom. The twinning agreement between the two citieswas signed by Lawrence Mudehwe, the Executive Mayor of Mutare,and Cadiero, his counterpart in Manica town. The agreement isdesigned to promote economic, cultural, social and employmentlinks and boost industrial development between the two nations.Mudehwe said: "After signing this agreement, Mozambique andZimbabwe are now one. I don't think it will be proper to continueputting in place restrictive measures such as visas to travel toMozambique. "If I am visiting my brother or counterpart inManica, I don't believe I need a visa and vice-versa. We havebeen friends for a long time and it should stay that way. So far,we have signed a twinning agreement with Chimoio."
Trade union federation blames government for exodus ofnurses, teachers (The Namibian, 13/12) - Namibia'sbiggest trade union federation has accused Government ofcontributing to the flight of qualified nurses and teachers tooverseas countries by offering poor salaries. The National Unionof Namibian Workers (NUNW) said yesterday that nurses andteachers were abandoning the professions due to appallingsalaries and deteriorating working conditions. NUNW, an affiliateof the ruling party Swapo, said at a press conference that it wasalarmed by reports of Namibian nurses heading especially for theUnited Kingdom, leaving health centres in Namibia bare. Unionistswere reacting to an article in The Namibian on Friday in whichthe Ministry of Health and Social Services said it wasnegotiating with countries in southern Africa to recruit nursesfor vacancies created by increasing HIV-AIDS deaths and theresignation of staff. The picture is no rosier in education. TheTeachers' Union of Namibia (TUN), which has no link with theNUNW, says at least 200 teachers left the profession this yearbecause they were not happy with salaries and worsening workingconditions. Peter Naholo, NUNW's acting Secretary General, saidthe federation had "concrete information" that teacherswere being enticed to go to Korea with promises of handsome payand perks. "Government must stop the attitude of alwayswaiting to treat the symptoms instead of dealing with the sourceof the problem," Naholo said. To solve the problem, theunion said, Government should "create a conducive workingenvironment" in order to attract nurses into the publichealth care system. "Government's hardened attitude in thecurrent wage negotiations with civil servants certainly does notcontribute to this process." Government has so far refusedto increase the salaries of civil servants, and several rounds oftalks with unions have reached a stalemate. The unionistscomplained that a lack of attractive working conditions wouldinstead "drive skilled staff like nurses and teachers out ofthe civil service and will thus endanger government's ability todeliver quality health and education service". "Twelveyears after Independence, we should be in a position to runhealth and education services ourselves instead of beingdependent on the goodwill of other countries," the NUNW saidin a statement. The Ministry said last week that in some hospitalsup to 30 per cent of the posts of one level of nurses are empty,but most of the vacancies were due to deaths from AIDS-relatedillnesses. In addition to recruiting from neighbouring countries,Government plans to swell the number of people training as nursesin order to cover the shortfall. Naholo said the NUNW's othermain "concern is that some of [the workers leaving Namibia]end up becoming sex workers" instead of getting the the jobsthey were promised.
Villagers want new border crossing (Kashamane, TheNamibian, 09/12) - Business people and community membersin the Omusati Region have called for a fully-fledged border postat Omweelo wa Kashamane. The community met with Namibian andAngolan Police and Immigration Officers on Wednesday at Kashamanenear Okalongo to discuss the issue. Vice Chairman of the OmusatiRegional Branch of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry(NCCI), Roby Amadhila, said people living in the Omusati Regionand Angola's Cunene Province have to travel a long way to theOshikango, Mahenene or Ruacana border posts. The proposedKashamane border post is between the Oshikango (80 km away) andMahenene (90 km away) posts. In a press statement, Amadhila addedthat Angolans living within 50 kilometres of Kashamane useNamibian currency and it was difficult for them to go and buytheir goods via Oshikango, Mahenene or Ruacana. He said a borderpost at Kashamane would boost economic activity in Omusati.
Possible hiring of foreigners to cover shortage ofnurses (The Namibian, 06/12) - Namibia is negotiatingwith other governments in southern Africa about recruitingforeign nurses to fill vacancies created by increasing HIV-AIDSdeaths and the resignation of staff, a senior administrator inthe Ministry said this week. Many nurses have resigned this yearto take up better paying posts, mainly in the United Kingdom(UK), putting pressure on a health system already under strain.Dr Norbert Forster, Under Secretary in the Ministry of Health andSocial Services, told The Namibian that in some hospitals up to30 per cent of posts in the category of enrolled nurses werevacant. Forster said resignations were no higher than in previousyears, but he confirmed that some nurses have been seekinggreener pastures in countries such as the UK. He pointed to"indications that there are a number of deaths [that are]possibly related to HIV-AIDS" as one reason for theshortage, which some nurses say is reaching crisis proportions.At the Katutura hospital, one nurse said this week that two wardshave been combined as a result of the staff shortage. Thecombined wards have five registered nurses, two enrolled nursesand two assistants nurses dealing with 56 patients. Normally,each ward would have four registered nurses, one enrolled nurseand three assistants and in the region of 30 patients. Forstersaid hospitals in Caprivi, Oshana and Ohangwena appeared to bethe worst affected by deaths among staff, although when AIDS isthe cause of death it is often "not clearly indicated".Countrywide the shortage is most severe among "enrollednurses" and to a lesser extent "assistant nurses",while the availability of registered nurses "generallyappears to be adequate with a few exceptions in more rural andperipheral hospitals", Forster said. Asked to comment onreports that Government was to bring in nurses from Cuba to fillthe vacancies, Forster said it was not the case. However, hesaid, authorities were "looking within the sub-region".He declined to elaborate. The Namibian has learnt that theMinistry of Health has begun "sensitive talks" withneighbouring countries to get nurses to work in Namibia "onan interim basis only". But the authorities are wary of"poaching staff" as this might strain relations withneighbours who also might be losing their nurses to Westerncountries and Saudi Arabia. "We are talking ongovernment-to-government basis," said a senior official inthe Ministry. Forster said the Ministry was dealing with theshortages in various ways. They "recently submitted arevised staff establishment to the Public Service Commission,which provides for an increase in the number of nursing posts inorder to cater for the heavily for the heavily increased patientworkload", he said. The training programme of enrollednurses in the Ministry has also been increased through"re-organisation". Authorities have requested theUniversity of Namibia to increase the intake of students wantingto become registered nurses. In the meantime, nurses in varioushospitals are having to work overtime to plug the gaps. But anurse at the Katutura hospital said the shortage is so seriousthat "ons wat remain word ge-move from ward to ward. Ons krynie meer tyd om aandag vir onse pasiente to gee nie [We no longerhave the time to devote to our patients]". A head of adivision in the Windhoek Central Hospital said the morale of herstaff has dipped significantly this year. She said even nurseswho previously asked to work overtime "to make endsmeet" were now reluctant because the amount of extra workhas become unbearable. "I think it's now past the money.It's not easy anymore. People are gone to England and some havedied."
Angolan refugees in Namibia to go home (The Economist,06/12) - The United Nations High Commissioner forRefugees (UNHCR) and the Namibian government announced this weekthat the second phase of the repatriation of Angolan refugeesliving in Namibia will start in June next year. More than 20000refugees living in Namibia are expected return to Angolavoluntarily during the exercise. The first phase started in Julythis year and runs until May 2003. According to the repatriationplans announced in the Namibian capital, the UNHCR willfacilitate and promote the exercise by transporting the returningrefugees to the areas of final destination. The UNHCR is alsocommitting itself to the rehabilitation of social infrastructure,such as health, education and sanitation facilities. Last week,Namibia, Angola and the UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement forthe Repatriation of Angolans living in Namibia. The UNHCR isworking on similar programmes with the governments of Zambia, theDemocratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Congo Brazzaville. Theregional co-ordinator for the Angolan Refugees RepatriationOperation, Kallu Kalumiya, who is based in Geneva, Switzerland,said despite the progress made so far, there was still insecurityin Angola and also millions of landmines which were laid duringAngola's long civil war, from 1975 until early this year. Ithink that this time it will work, he said of the currentrepatriation plans. The UNHCR tried a similar plan in 1994 afterUnita and the MPLA signed a ceasefire, but the exercise wasdisrupted by the resumption of war. The return of Angolanrefugees from Zambia, the DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Namibia andSouth Africa will be the biggest exercise that the UNCHR hasconducted in recent years. More than 400 000 Angolan refugeesliving in neighbouring countries are expected to return home.Under the UNHCR's Regional Repatriation Plan, an estimated 170000 Angolan refugees living in neighbouring countries areexpected to return home in 2003 and another 70 000 in 2004. About80 000 Angolan refugees are expected to return home before theend of this year under the first phase.Kalumiya said the UNHCRwill spend about US$48 million on the repatriation of the Angolanrefugees. We don't want to see a situation where therefugees return to a destitute situation, he said. He saidthe Angolan government would also put some money into therepatriation exercise. The Angolan government is not yourordinary poor African government, they have theresources,said Kalumiya.
Namibia extradition request rejected (The Namibian,05/12) - Botswana's High Court on Tuesday rejectedNamibia's request to have 13 alleged Caprivi secessionistsextradited to face charges of murder and high treason. Sourcessaid the High Court found that the alleged crimes for which the13 are being sought are of a "political nature". Theaccused's defence lawyer argued that his clients would notreceive a "fair trial" in Namibia. Sources saidNamibia's legal representative could not convince the High Courtabout Government's case against the men. The 13 Caprivi accusedare: Danbar Tumisa Muswena, Thaddeus Muzamai, Richard MusupaliSithali, Ivan Masole Kakena, Claasen Johan Kawana, Mutoiwa GeorgeKabuko, Samulandela Kennedy Ntelamo, David Nalisa Mumbone, PutehoObiccious Matengu, Chris Samuele Mushanana, Jones Brownson Kache,Alfred Kakena Likunga and Francis Kavetu Karufu. Both Minister ofJustice, Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, and his deputy, Albert Kawana,were not available for comment yesterday. Mocks Shivute,Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information andBroadcasting, said he could not comment as the issue was beinghandled by Ministry of Justice officials. He said Cabinet woulddecide on the next course of action. Since last year the NationalSociety for Human Rights (NSHR) and Ditshwanelo, the BotswanaCentre for Human Rights, have strongly argued against thethirteen's extradition on the grounds they would not receive afair trial in Namibia. The rights groups also argued that theaccused could be subjected to a "prolonged detention withouttrial, torture or enforced disappearance at the hands of Namibiansecurity forces" if they were handed over. Namibia hasaccused the men of involvement in the August 2 1999 attacks onGovernment buildings and installations around Katima Mulilo.Fourteen people, including some of the secessionist rebels, werekilled. Over 120 alleged secessionists are in custody in Namibiaawaiting trial on charges of high treason. In the aftermath ofthe secessionist uprising, which was swiftly crushed byGovernment forces, thousands of Namibians, including the 13, fledto Botswana where hundreds remain exiled. More than 1 000 peoplehave so far been repatriated to Namibia by the two governmentsand the United Nations.
Activists call for release of Angolan detainees(Johannesburg, Irin, 04/12) - Namibian human rightsactivists on Wednesday called for the immediate release of 78Angolans at Dordabis prison, saying their ongoing detentionconstituted a gross human rights violation. The Dordabis 78,originally arrested in June and July 2000 following allegationsthat they were members of Angola's former rebel group UNITA, havenever been charged or brought before a court of law. The 78 wereinitially accused by the Namibian government of involvement in aspate of attacks on civilians in northeastern Namibia. Rightsgroups told IRIN that despite a blanket amnesty granted to UNITArebels under a Memorandum of Understanding signed between theAngolan government and the rebel group in April, the plight ofthe Dordabis detainees had not been addressed. Last week atripartite agreement between the government's of Angola andNamibia and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) paved the way for the return of some 20,000 Angolanrefugees living in Namibia. But the agreement made no provisionfor the release and repatriation of the Dordabis 78. "Thisis a gross violation of human rights and the country'sconstitution. Article 11 of constitution makes it clear that anyperson accused of a criminal offence should be brought before acourt within 48 hours. The government is just postponing theinevitable. There have been suggestions that the government isafraid that the detainees, should they be released, would bring acivil suit against the government for the suffering they areenduring in prison," the executive director of the NamibianSociety for Human Rights, Phil ya Nangoloh, told IRIN. Theindependent daily The Namibian on Monday quoted Nisa de Fatima,an Angolan government official responsible for repatriationaffairs, as saying that the Dordabis detainees would be dealtwith at the political level of the joint Namibian-AngolanCommission on Defence and Security. Meanwhile, the Windhoek-basedLegal Assistance Centre's Toni Hancox, who is representing one ofthe Dordabis detainees, Orelio Samakupa, said the government hadyet to respond to a letter requesting whether it intended tobring charges against Samakupa. Hancox told IRIN: "Therequest has been forwarded to the attorney-general. We wereexpecting a response today [Wednesday] but we will give it a fewdays. It would be easy to say that these men have been lost inthe bureaucracy but it cannot be put down to just that. In thepast there hasn't been the political will to address the plightof the detainees. Hopefully, with the recent repatriationagreement the Dordabis 78 will receive the adequate attentionthey deserve." Hancox added that of the 78, Samakupa was theonly detainee who had approached the legal centre for assistance."We were approached by Samakupa's wife and that is why weare addressing his case. It is difficult to assess what theconditions of the other prisoners are as the Dordabis prison isfairly far out from the capital Windhoek," she said. Thedetainees originally numbered 80 but two have died due to illhealth.
Namibians using SA pelagic lifeline (The Namibian,03/12) - The "life-line" South Africa gave thepelagic industry earlier this year of granting access to Namibianvessels to fish in its waters is being utilised by somecompanies. Hugo Viljoen, chairperson of the Pelagic Associationof Namibia, told The Namibian that some local vessels are fishingoff South Africa's west coast. The agreement provided forNamibian companies to buy a quota percentage from South Africanrights holders. The aim was to help keep the Namibian industryafloat after a zero total allowable catch was announced for thisyear's season. "We will be sending a report to the ministersoon on how this arrangement has developed," he said.Viljoen said it was not straightforward for vessels to go andfish there, but the industry appreciated the effort andprivilege. First of all many Namibian vessels were not allowed tofish in South African waters because of restrictions on size -Namibian vessels are too big. The other problem was that most ofthe pilchard moved from the west to the east coast of SouthAfrica where there is no harbour to offload catches. According toViljoen, this forced the South Africans to truck their catchesback to factories on the west coast. "They took every lastpiece of ice available, which meant we could not even find ice.Taking ice from Namibia would be impossible. " Viljoen saidnot all hope was lost, and if the agreement was extended beyondthe end of the year they would definitely continue to make use ofthe opportunity. South Africa has granted permission for Namibianvessels to fish in its waters until the end of 2002.
Angolans set to spend third Christmas in jail (TheNamibian, 03/12) - The 78 Angolans detained on suspicionof being alleged Unita collaborators are to spend their thirdChristmas in a Namibian jail despite a UN-sponsored agreement onthe repatriation of all Angolan refugees. A top United NationsHigh Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) official, Kallu Kalumiya,who has been appointed to co-ordinate the repatriation of Angolanrefugees in Namibia, yesterday said the Dordabis detainees do notcurrently feature in UNHCR's repatriation plans. Both the Angolanand Namibian governments and UNHCR signed an agreement in Luanda,Angola, last week to ensure the return of over 20 000 Angolanrefugees in Namibia. Kalumiya said of the Dordabis 78: "Theyare not our concern. But we are prepared to consider both(Angolan and Namibian) governments' requests in repatriatingthem. " He said he had held discussions with the Namibianauthorities on the Angolan detainees and the "(Namibian)Government was prepared to let them go". But Kalumiya couldnot say when the detainees would be released. "These peopleare being treated on a different level," he added. Kalumiyawas addressing journalists along with Commissioner for Refugeesin the Home Affairs Ministry, Elizabeth Negumbo, and UNHCRresident Representative in Namibia, Hesdy Rathling, at a pressconference yesterday. Negumbo said there were no new developmentson the possible release of the 78. "There are no specificdates when they will be released," she replied when askedwhether they would spend their third Christmas in a Namibianprison. Negumbo said the repatriation of about 20 000 Angolanswould ease the financial burden placed on Namibia's immigrationauthorities. About 95 per cent of refugees in Namibia areAngolan. The repatriation of Angolan refugees is expected tostart early next year under a tripartite commission comprised ofthe UNHCR and the Namibian and Angolan authorities. The Dordabis78 have been detained since mid-2000. They have never beenbrought before a court or charged with a crime, despite theNamibian Constitution's stipulation that all suspects must comebefore a court of law within 48 hours of arrest. They are beingheld at Police cells at Dordabis, 100 km south-east of Windhoek.
Prisons department helps repatriate illegal immigrants(Johannesburg, Sapa, 31/12) - Nine prisonertransportation trucks have been lent by the Department ofCorrectional Services to the Department of Home Affairs for therepatriation of 315 Zimbabweans illegally in South Africa,Correctional Services spokesman Russel Mamabolo said on Tuesday."Home Affairs was having problems with transport," hesaid. The illegal aliens were transported to Beit Bridge onMonday, and returned to Zimbabwe. Some had served prisonsentences. "We are very thankful to Correctional Servicesfor their help," said Home Affairs spokesman LeslieMashokwe.
Illegal Zimbabweans sent home (Pretoria, Sapa, 30/12)- A total of 830 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants werereturned home from South Africa on Monday morning, the homeaffairs department said on Monday. Last week, 411 Mozambicanswere repatriated, the department said in a statement. "Thedepartment will continue to deal with the problem of illegalimmigration in the best possible way, simultaneously advisingpeople to use legal channels to enter the country." In aseparate statement, the correctional services department said ithelped transport about 315 illegal immigrants in nine prisonertrucks to the Beit Bridge border post between South Africa andZimbabwe on Monday. Several of these were criminals who hadcompleted their sentences, the department said.
Swiss tourists hijacked in Mpumalanga (SABC, 30/12) - TwoSwiss tourists who were driving near Bushbuckridge in Mpumalangahave been robbed of their vehicle, money and some goods,Mpumalanga police said today. Captain James Ngoepe said theincident occurred yesterday and that the tourists were initiallyforced off the road by two men armed with rifles and a panga. Themen ordered the tourists to hand over their car keys and leaveall their possessions in the car, Ngoepe said. Police later foundthe tourists' car abandoned between Ronaldsey and Malamulelevillages, not far from where the incident occurred. Money andgoods were missing.
Shortage of social workers due to emigration(Kimberley, Sapa, 30/12) - South African governmentdepartments, including Correctional Services, experienced ageneral shortage of professionals like social workers andpersonnel practitioners because too many left the country to workin places such as Britain and Saudi Arabia, national commissionerof correctional services Linda Mti said on Monday. Mti wascommenting after a visit to the Kimberley prison where twowarders allegedly committed suicide over the past two weeks. Mtitold Sapa the general shortage of social and religious workersand personnel practitioners in his department was one of theproblems contributing to work-related stress among officials. Healso said it became clear during his conversations with thefamilies of the two deceased warders that personal problemsappeared to be the main reason for their alleged suicides, andnot so much work-related problems. However, two suicides in twoweeks at one prison were "two too many". "Anywork-stress could easily worsen personal problems, contributingto suicidal acts," Mti said. He called suicide a"selfish" act of "cowardice". Warder LunguMatutu, 27, allegedly hanged himself in his flat in Kimberley onSaturday. He was to get married that afternoon. Mti said itappeared as if the marriage arrangements were the main cause ofhis alleged suicide. Last week another of Matutu's colleagues,Slote Selote, shot and killed his girlfriend before shootinghimself in the head. He later died in hospital. Mti visited theKimberley prison on Monday to address the staff and sympathisewith the bereaved families. He earlier called on prison managersto pay specific attention to the individual complaints andconcerns of correctional officers. "Early detection ofsuicidal cases will assist in curbing the number of officerscommitting suicide." He said he acknowledged thatcorrectional officers worked in difficult circumstances becauseof over-crowding, resulting in stress and other ailments. Wardersshould make full use of the services of social workers andemployment assistance practitioners as well as the religious carethat were available in prisons countrywide, Mti said.
Nigerians to appear for 419 scam (SABC, 23/12) - ANigerian man who together with his wife allegedly used theinfamous "419" scam to con a Middle Eastern businessmanout of thousands of US dollars will appear in the RandburgMagistrate's Court tomorrow. Lungelo Dlamini, policespokesperson, said Walter Onubugu (42) and his wife Linda (27)appeared in court today, but their case was postponed so thewoman could appear in an identification parade. Dlamini saidpolice wanted the wealthy businessman who was lured to thecountry by the two to confirm that the incarcerated woman,arrested a few hours after Onubugu, was indeed his wife andaccomplice. Onugubu, who allegedly posed as a bank manager, wasarrested at a house in Church Street in Randburg on Friday afterhe allegedly offered his victim a fake cheque as part-payment fora non-existent investment deal. During the arrest police seizedR12 000 in cash, false bank business cards, a false South Africanpassport, a fax machine, a computer and documents related to thealleged scam. Police were still investigating the syndicate andmore arrests are expected soon, Dlamini said. "Police arealso appealing to all foreign business people to verify withtheir embassies any mailed business proposals from South Africaas some of these business proposals are the work of the syndicatemembers involved in 419 scams," Dlamini said. The 419 scamsare named after the section of the Nigerian criminal code dealingwith fraud. In such scams, fraudsters generally circulate faxesor e-mails, offering investors high returns on non-existentschemes. Often the fraudsters pose as bank officials and asktheir victims to provide bank details so that money can betransferred out of the country.
Mozambicans to be deported (Pretoria, News24, 23/12) -Nearly 800 illegal Mozambican immigrants would be senthome from the Lindela repatriation centre in Krugersdorp onMonday night, Lindela spokesman Papa Leshabane said. He said thecentre currently housed a total of 776 Mozambicans. Therepatriation would start around 22:00. While illegal immigrantswere normally repatriated from South Africa by train, Mondaynight's group would be transported by road with trucks and buses.Home affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said this was because notrains were currently available due to the demand over thefestive season. The Lindela centre has a capacity of 4 000,and currently housed 3 600 illegal immigrants, Leshabanesaid. "We have people here from everywhere, from Europe andIndia to Africa." Illegals were repatriated country bycountry, depending on directives received from the home affairsdepartment. Earlier this month, minor damage was caused to thecentre when illegal immigrants rioted following the death of aMozambican.
Businesses face unfamiliar role as enforcer ofimmigration law (Business Day, 23/12) - When theregulations under the new Immigration Act go into effect nextMarch, businesses will find themselves in a new role: enforcingimmigration law. Banking institutions, estate agents, insurancebrokers, private hospitals, employment agencies and others willbe tasked with identifying "illegal immigrants". Theact was delayed for several years because of disagreement betweenHome Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who is also InkathaFreedom Party leader, and the African National Congress. Theregulations were also subject to delays. Bianca Herdin, animmigration consultant at professional services firm Deloitte& Touche, says the home affairs department has adopted ano-nonsense approach in the new regulations. Employers, she says,will be duty bound to refuse services to illegal foreigners,including the provision or facilitation of loans, moneytransfers, accounts, property purchasing or rental, insurancepolicies and even patient admission. She says they will also havethe duty to report illegal immigrants to the home affairsdepartment. To achieve stricter controls and minimise corruption,immigration practitioners will now be required to form anassociation, says Herdin. The members will be audited by thedepartment through measures such as regular testing and tightcontrol on registration and liability insurance. Work permitholders will also have to take more responsibility when it comesto keeping their permits valid. "The days of rushing to thedepartment to submit applications for renewal at the last minuteare over," says Herdin. From March next year, extensionapplications will have to be lodged 30 days before the currentpermit expires. An individual failing to do so will have statusreduced to that of a visitor while awaiting the outcome of workor study permit applications. The regulations also provide that2% of a foreigner's taxable pay will have to be paid quarterly bycompanies to the home affairs department, to be used fordeveloping skills in SA. Under existing law, foreigners mustapply for a work permit to be admitted to SA on a temporarybasis. Permanent residence is only granted to a limited number ofimmigrants. Certain criteria are taken are taken into account forexample whether the person is semiskilled or skilled. Deloitte& Touche assistant manager Lino de Ponte says the regulationsare silent on whether the levy will be paid by the firm, orwhether it can deduct the fee from the employee before forwardingit to home affairs.
De Ponte says work permits were issued to 19000 foreignerslast year. "Assuming most skilled workers earn R150000 ayear, this can generate R57m." Acting home affairsdirectorgeneral Ivan Lambinon says the 2% levy is not a blanketprovision. The department can waive it if an individual is highlyqualified, with desperately-needed skills. The regulations setguidelines for foreigners who intend establishing businesses inSA. They require potential investors to prove that they have metat least two of several criteria before being awarded a businesspermit. Criteria include investing at least R2,5m, a goodbusiness track record, geographical spread of economic activity,employing five South Africans, export potential and transfer oftechnology. De Ponte says employers will have to ensureforeigners hold work permits. A new class of work permit has beencreated for "exceptionally skilled foreigners".Immigration officers may also enter work places without warrants,to inspect records. They can also copy employment contracts andother relevant records. The regulations also require financialinstitutions, estate agents and insurance brokers to ascertainthe citizenship of people with whom they enter into commercialagreements. Penalties will be levied against the businesses ifthey fail to follow these rules. Bill Lacey, a consultant to theSA Chamber of Business, says the regulations have the potentialto ease SA's skills crisis by allowing the recruitment of skilledforeign professionals. Lambinon says the new laws will"create job opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs. SA isshort of skilled people". In terms of the act, thedepartment intends to establish liaison offices in countries fromwhich large numbers of illegal foreigners come to the country,and to conduct programmes to deter such immigration. Last year760 "illegal immigrants" defined as people who came toSA to take up permanent residence were deported. More than 156000"aliens" people who resided in a foreign country andhad made their way unlawfully to SA were deported.
Traffic backs up at Zimbabwe border post (Pretoria,News24, 22/12) - The severe fuel shortage in Zimbabwe isbeginning to tell at the Beit Bridge border post with SouthAfrica, where traffic on Sunday backed up for several kilometerson both sides. Although border posts are always busy over thefestive season, this year is "especially chaotic" dueto the fuel shortages in Zimbabwe, according to the transportmanager at the border post, Louis Venter. According to Venterthere is no petrol available in Zimbabwe for 300km after BeitBridge. In his opinion, the fuel shortage has resulted in theborder post having to deal with three times the normal traffic oflight vehicles. "Vehicles backed up for 8km on both sides ofthe border on Sunday," Venter said. He added that manyholiday-makers were not aware of the serious fuel shortage."As soon as they go into Zimbabwe, they return back to SouthAfrica to get petrol before going back into Zimbabwe.""That means many vehicles pass through the border twice. Thevehicles are literally moving in circles," Venter said.According to Leslie Mashokwe, the communications chief of thedepartment of home affairs, the traffic jams are being made worseby delays on the Zimbabwean side of the border. "SouthAfrica works with computers while Zimbabwe does everythingmanually. That causes a backlog." A member of the Musinapolice station said that the famine in Zimbabwe contributed tothe problems at the border post. "Lots of South Africans aretaking provisions through for their Zimbabwean families inneed." Fortunately plans are afoot to improve the BeitBridge traffic situation. Mashokwe said that the department ofhome affairs made eight extra staff members available to the BeitBridge office to relieve the pressure there. The additional staffmembers would have started their duties on Sunday evening. BeitBridge will be open for tourists on a 24-hour basis and from06:00 to 18:00 for exports and imports.
Nigerian held for investment scam (SABC, 21/12) - Membersof the police's organised crime unit arrested a Nigerian manyesterday in connection with a R1 million "419" scam inwhich a Middle Eastern businessman was lured to South Africa andallegedly conned out of thousands of US dollars, police said. The42-year-old Nigerian, who had allegedly posed as a bank manager,was arrested at a house in Church Street in Randburg, LungeloDlamini, a police spokesperson said in a statement. The man wasinvestigated when he offered his wealthy victim a fake cheque aspart-payment for a non-existent investment deal. During thearrest, police seized R12 000 in cash, false bank business cards,a false South African passport, a fax machine, a computer anddocuments related to the scam. Dlamini said the victim wascurrently in South Africa and would remain in the country inorder to testify against the Nigerian. The alleged conman is dueto appear in the Randburg Magistrate's Court on Monday. Dlaminisaid police were still investigating the syndicate to which theman was connected and other arrests were expected soon."Police are also appealing to all foreign business people toverify with their embassies any mailed business proposals fromSouth Africa as some of these business proposals are the work ofthe syndicate members involved in 419 scams," Dlamini said.The "419" scams are named after the section of theNigerian criminal code dealing with fraud. In such scams,fraudsters generally circulate faxes or email, offering investorshigh returns on non-existent schemes. Often, the fraudsters poseas bank officials and ask their victims to provide bank detailsso that money can be transferred out of the country.
Brain drain 'not so bad', says HSRC (Cape Town,News24, 20/12) - Approximately a fifth, or (16%), ofSouth African graduates want to leave the country eitherpermanently or only for a few years, a recently published HumanSciences Research Council (HSRC) study found. Only one third ofthe people, who are planning to go overseas, are contemplatingemigrating. Senior HSRC researcher, Yvonne Shapiro said TheGraduate 2000 study, which canvassed more than 7 000 respondentsaged between 20 and 65, showed there was a light at the end ofthe emigration tunnel. "The exodus of experts (people whohold at least a degree) is not as high as we initially thought.Most graduates leaving the country plan to return. Theirexpertise is therefore not lost forever," she said. Eightytwo percent of the respondents said they were not intent onseeking even temporary employment outside South Africa and nearlya third stated categorically they would settle permanently inSouth Africa. The questionnaire, however, contained no specificquestion on this topic. The well-timed research, which comesshortly after the publication of a book on South Africanemigration patterns by Dr Johann van Rooyen, is seen as one ofthe first reliable indications of the extent of the exodus ofSouth African expertise. In his book, The New Great Trek: TheStory of South Africa's White Exodus, Van Rooyen claims that manymore South Africans are emigrating than official figures actuallyreflect. The HSRC study revealed that just over half (52.6%) ofrespondents who wanted to go overseas, indicated they simplywanted to spread their wings for a while. In total, 40.3% intendseeking temporary work, and another 12.3% wish to study. On theother hand, 34.4% of the respondents who said they are goingoverseas, intend staying there permanently. Of those proposing tolook for work overseas, only 12% of them believe that they willwork in a field different to that in which they are trained.Approximately 40% of respondents who indicated they intendedsettling overseas were not sure how long they would stay. A thirdbelieved they would return to South Africa within five years. VanRooyen describes the increasing emigration of white SouthAfricans as a "very alarming aspect" of the country'stransition to democracy. He regards the wholesale emigration as anew Great Trek which is threatening to turn into a flood.According to Van Rooyen? book, the number of emigrants is atleast twice as high as the official figures of 8 200 for 1998 andthe approximately 9 000 of 1999. He claims official figures areunreliable because many people don? tell the authorities they areemigrating, preferring to say they are only going overseastemporarily. The 55 000 "official" emigrants who leftSouth Africa since 1994, could, according to his book, be as manyas 165 000 (and 1.1 million, even 1.6 million since 1945 insteadof 545 642). Research has shown that emigration has already costthe country R8.4 billion in lost income tax, and another R285billion in potential contributions to the gross national product.
Community service for all graduating professionalsmooted (Cape Times, 20/12) - The African NationalCongress wants the compulsory community service programme, whichaffects medical doctors, pharmacists and dentists, to be appliedto all higher education. This proposal, which has far-reachingimplications, is contained in a voluminous report delivered byANC secretary-general, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the ANC conference,which is being held in Stellenbosch. The report announces thatfrom next year health professionals like physiotherapists, speechtherapists, occupational therapists, radiographers and clinicalpsychologists will be compelled to do community service, some infar-flung areas. "Discussions on how this could be extendedto other sectors in higher education are also under way." Aprovincial leader of the ANC said that Motlanthe's proposal,which was expected to be endorsed on Thursday night forannouncement on Friday, would be one of the most revolutionarydecisions taken at the conference. "What it means is thatour poor constituencies in rural areas must not be disadvantagedon the basis of geographical location. "It means they will,if the decision is accepted, never run short of professionals incrucial services on the grounds that they live in economicallydepressed areas. This is a victory for the poor." TheDemocratic Alliance's spokesperson on health, Sandy Kalyan, saidher party was unhappy about the way in which the government hasstructured community service. It was tantamount to unwarrantedtorture for some students. "If community service means anopportunity to serve the less disadvantaged members of oursociety in rural areas, then it is a good idea, as long as it isincentive-based," said Kalyan. "You must understandthat working conditions in rural areas are terrible and thesalaries that these young professionals are paid are less thansatisfactory. "What the country needs is not to compelpeople to work in terrible conditions without a strategy to keepthem there and make them feel they are being punished."Kalyan said the unintended consequences of making people work inrural areas without incentives was that once they had servedtheir term, they left the country for better pay elsewhere in theworld. South Africa and other developing countries are worstaffected by the migration of professional health workers, who areunable to resist the allure of big money in Europe and the UnitedStates. "This is sad because the country never reallymeaningfully benefits from the training professionals havereceived and whose tuition has been subsidised by ourtaxes," Kalyan said. "The government needs to offerincentives for people to be encouraged to work and stay in ruralareas. "One way of doing this is through paying those whowork in deep rural areas more than those who work in thecities." Saira Khan, chief executive of the South AfricanSociety of Physiotherapists, said compulsory community servicehelped to ensure the equitable provision of services.
ANC not against foreign landowners (Stellenbosch,News24, 19/12) - The African National Congress was notopposed to foreign ownership of land, Gauteng ANC chairpersonMbhazima Shilowa said on Thursday. The party's conference,currently being held in Stellenbosch, pronounced itself in favourof a proper audit on land to determine where land was availableand whether it could be used for housing, he told reporters. Theaudit was not specifically aimed at foreign land, but all typesof land. "The primary aim is not to say that foreignerscannot own land in South Africa." It was intended todetermine who was acquiring land, for what purposes and whetherit was used optimally. In Gauteng, for instance, there was stateland available, Shilowa said. "Yet we look at expensive,privately owned land to build houses." Land for housingshould be near places of work, but such land was expensive, hesaid.
Kilgore leaves SA (Johannesburg, Sapa, 18/12) - FormerSymbionese Liberation Army (SLA) member James Kilgore flew out ofJohannesburg International Airport under police guard for NewYork at 8pm on Wednesday. Kilgore was flown up to Johannesburgfrom Cape Town earlier on Wednesday evening, escorted bySuperintendent Mike Barkhuizen of the serious and violent crimesunit who handed him over to four US Marshals led by FederalBureau of Investigation special agent Jenny Burnett who willaccompany Kilgore on the flight to New York. Barkhuizen alsohanded over documents requested by Interpol including a falsepassport used by Kilgore. "He was no trouble on theflight", Barkhuizen said, "We chatted normally and heseemed quite at ease." Police spokeswoman SeniorSuperintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said Kilgore'sextradition order from the justice ministry was signed lastFriday and handed to Interpol on Tuesday. He was arrested in CapeTown on November 8 where he was living and working as a respectedacademic at the University of Cape Town under the alias CharlesPape. He is wanted by a US federal court on charges related tothe possession of a pipe bomb and for a passport offence. He isalso wanted by a California court in connection with afirst-degree murder charge and for the use of an unlicensedweapon in that murder. Twenty-seven years ago he was a member ofthe radical SLA rebel group, an organisation best remembered forits kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. The murdercharge related to the killing of Myrna Opsahl, 42, in an SLA bankrobbery in Carmichael, north of Sacramento, in 1975. Four otherSLA members recently pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in aCalifornia court, and will be sentenced in February under a pleaagreement involving sentences of between six to eight years'jail. Kilgore has also agreed to a plea bargain with USauthorities on the murder charge. Also on the extradition flightto America was Phyllis McCarthy, a South African-born woman whowas arrested in 1991 and who was wanted by authorities in Oregonon a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
ANC commission to look at Home Affairs DG stalemate(Sapa, 18/12) - The stalemate over the appointment of anew director-general for the Department of Home Affairs is amongthe issues expected to be discussed by the African NationalCongress' peace and stability commission. A draft ANC resolutionto be discussed by conference delegates in Stellenbosch calls forthe ANC to fully develop a coherent immigration policy and ensurethe transformation of the department to deliver a more efficientservice. The department has been without a permanentdirector-general since June when Billy Masetlha moved to thepresidency after months of tension with home affairs minister andInkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The fallout paralysed the embattled department, widely regarded as amongthe inefficient in government, and further fuelled thedeteriorating relationship between the ANC and IFP. Buthelezi hasrecommended to Cabinet that his close aide, deputydirector-general Ivan Lambinon, should replace Masetlha. Lambinonhas been acting DG since June and is regarded by his detractorsas "old-guard" and out to undermine the government's"general agenda". "That man is the wrong one forthe job. Whatever way you put it," a source said oncondition of anonymity. Lambinon's recommendation, goes againstthe will of the ANC majority of the interviewing panel whichButhelezi chaired. It consisted of transport minister DullahOmar, Water affairs minister Ronnie Kasrils and deputy homeaffairs minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, sources told Sapa. TheANC ministers on the committee favoured the appointment of NIAdeputy-general Barry Gilder. Among the problems was that theshort-list of candidates was compiled by department officials,who were in effect, expected to manage a process involving theirboss. Among those who failed to make the short-list was the headof legal affairs in the department, Advocate Rufus Malatji. Asource told Sapa it was believed that Gilder was short-listed toadd "some weight", although it was hoped the ANCministers on the interviewing panel would be sensitive toButhelezi's complaints that he was surrounded by people with anintelligence background. They would therefore have no choice butto choose Lambinon. Masetlha was the former director-general ofthe South African Secret Service, while Mapisa-Nqakula is theformer chair of Parliament's watchdog committee on intelligence.It is understood that the stand-off will benefit Lambinon, whowill continue acting as director-general and will steer thedepartment through a critical phase, including implementing theImmigration Act. Buthelezi has made his recommendation to theCabinet cluster on governance and administration chaired bypublic service minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and it will goto Cabinet next year. It is not clear how the stand-off will beresolved. Buthelezi has delegated powers to appoint thedirector-general, but would be seen to be going against the willof his ANC colleagues in Cabinet, should he do so.
Situation back to normal at Lindela Deportation Centre(SABC, 17/12) - The situation at the LindelaRepatriation Centre in Krugersdorp on Gauteng's West Rand, isback to normal. This follows rioting by illegal immigrants aftera 35-year-old Mozambican was found dead yesterday. The immigrantsdemanded to see the dead man's body. After they were told thatthe body had already been removed to a mortuary, they went on therampage, damaging property. Four guards were injured in theensuing riot. Yolanda Bouwer, a police spokesperson, saidsecurity guards and the police managed to bring the situation tonormal. Bouwer said a post-mortem is to be done on theMozambican's body.
Officials deny mass escape riot at Lindela (DailyNews, 17/12) - The department of home affairs and themanagement of the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp onthe West Rand on Tuesday denied that 3 000 illegal immigrantsattempted a mass escape after the death of a Mozambican.Addressing the media after a riot by about 1 000 illegalimmigrants was quelled, Lindela spokesperson Papa Leshabane saidthe violence started after security guards found MozambicanArmando Nkomo dead in his room. Pictures of Nkomo show himface-down and bare-chested on his bed, foaming at the mouth.Leshabane said the pathologist who examined the body found nobruises or abrasions and concluded he "had died of naturalcauses". He said damage of about R20 000 was caused duringthe rampage and only three people tried to escape.
Four guards injured in Lindela fracas (SABC, 16/12) - Fourguards have been slightly injured at the Lindela RepatriationCentre in Krugersdorp, on the West Rand, after illegal immigrantswent on the rampage. According to Melica Bezuidenhout, policespokesperson, the trouble started after the death of a35-year-old Mozambican this morning. Bezuidenhout says medicalpersonnel have confirmed that the Mozambican died of naturalcauses and no foul play is suspected. However, during breakfastthe illegal immigrants demanded to see the dead man's body.Bezuidenhout says when they were told that the body had alreadybeen removed to the mortuary, the immigrants became violent anddisorderly. They rampaged through the complex, damaging buildingsin an apparent attempt to escape. However, police and securityguards quelled the riot.Bezuidenhout says the immigrants causedabout R20 000 damage, while four Lindela security guardssustained only minor injuries. Nobody managed to escape. She saysthe situation is under control and police will monitor thepremises, while the investigating officer liaises with theMozambican authorities in an attempt to identify the dead man. InApril, six Lindela guards were arrested following the death of aNigerian illegal immigrant. The Nigerian had attempted to escapebut was recaptured and allegedly beaten to death by the guards.The Department of Home Affairs is to address the media at thecentre later in the day.
Heavy police presence at Lindela Deportation Centre(Johannesburg, 16/12) - Four guards were slightlyinjured when illegal immigrants went on the rampage at theLindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp on the West Rand onMonday morning, police said. Superintendent Melica Bezuidenhoutsaid the trouble started after the death of a 35-year-oldMozambican on Monday morning. According to Bezuidenhout, medicalpersonnel confirmed that the Mozambican died of natural causesand no foul play was suspected. However, during breakfast onTuesday the illegal immigrants demanded to see the dead man'sbody. Bezuidenhout said when they were told that the body hadalready been removed to the mortuary, the immigrants becameviolent and disorderly. They rampaged through the complex,damaging buildings in an apparent attempt to escape. However,police and security guards quelled the riot. Bezuidenhout saidthe immigrants caused about R20000 damage, while four Lindelasecurity guards sustained only minor injuries. Nobody managed toescape. She said the situation was under control and police wouldmonitor the premises, while the investigating officer liaiseswith the Mozambican authorities in an attempt to identify thedead man. In April, six Lindela guards were arrested followingthe death of a Nigerian illegal immigrant. The Nigerian hadattempted to escape but was recaptured and allegedly beaten todeath by the guards. The Department of Home Affairs is to addressthe media at the centre later on Monday.
Immigrant riot sparked by discontent (IOL, 16/12) - TheDepartment of Home Affairs and the management of LindelaRepatriation Centre in Krugersdorp on the West Rand denied onMonday that 3 000 illegal immigrants attempted a mass escapefollowing the death of a Mozambican. Addressing the media after ariot by approximately a thousand illegal immigrants was quelled,Lindela spokesman Papa Leshabane said the violence started aftersecurity guards found Mozambican Armando Nkomo dead in his room.Pictures of Nkomo show him prostrate and bare-chested on his bed,foaming at the mouth. Leshabane said the pathologist who examinedthe body found no bruises and abrasions and concluded he"had died of natural causes". He said damage ofapproximately R20 000 was caused during the rampage. "They(illegal immigrants) broke 169 window panes, smashed a slabdividing the male and female sections and had to be subdued withteargas. Four guards sustained minor injuries and SAPS riotcontrol was also called in." Asked about the reason for theriot, home affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said: "They(authorities) were keeping people against their will and thesesorts of things happen especially during December. No trainsrepatriating people are running in December." The Departmentof Home Affairs had met with the SA Human Rights Commission todiscuss the possibility of using trucks to ferry people home.Home affairs officials were also in discussions with the labourdepartment to look at alternative transport to get 2496 peoplepresently at Lindela home". Leshabane said that sinceJanuary this year there were 14 natural deaths and one unnaturaldeath at the centre. Asked if this was not excessive, he saidLindela had handled 66 572 people this year and many "of thepeople were on their death beds".
Riot police guard Lindela Deportation Centre afterdeath (IOL, 16/12) - Four guards were slightly injuredwhen illegal immigrants went on the rampage at the LindelaRepatriation Centre in Krugersdorp on the West Rand on Mondaymorning, police said. Superintendent Melica Bezuidenhout said thetrouble started after the death of a 35-year-old Mozambican onMonday morning. According to Bezuidenhout, medical personnelconfirmed that the Mozambican died of natural causes and no foulplay was suspected. However, during breakfast later on Mondaymorning the illegal immigrants demanded to see the dead man'sbody. Bezuidenhout said when they were told that the body hadalready been removed to the mortuary, the immigrants becameviolent and disorderly. A group of about three thousand rampagedthrough the complex, damaging buildings in an apparent attempt toescape. However, police and security guards quelled the riot.Bezuidenhout said the immigrants caused about R20 000 damage,while four Lindela security guards sustained only minor injuries.Nobody managed to escape. She said the situation was undercontrol and police would monitor the premises, while theinvestigating officer liaises with the Mozambican authorities inan attempt to identify the dead man. In April, six Lindela guardswere arrested following the death of a Nigerian illegalimmigrant. The Nigerian had attempted to escape but wasrecaptured and allegedly beaten to death by the guards. TheDepartment of Home Affairs is to address the media at the centrelater on Monday.
Home Affairs department addresses media after Lindelariot (Krugersdorp, Sapa, 16/12) - The Department of HomeAffairs and the management of Lindela Repatriation Centre inKrugersdorp on the West Rand denied on Monday that 3000 illegalimmigrants attempted a mass escape following the death of aMozambican. Addressing the media after a riot by approximately1000 illegal immigrants was quelled, Lindela spokesman PapaLeshabane said the violence started after security guards foundMozambican Armando Nkomo dead in his room. Pictures of Nkomo showhim prostate and bare-chested on his bed, foaming at the mouth.Leshabane said the pathologist who examined the body found nobruises and abrasions and concluded he "had died of naturalcauses". He said damage of approximately R20,000 was causedduring the rampage while only three people tried to escape."They (illegal immigrants) broke 169 window panes, smashed aslab dividing the male and female sections and had to be subduedwith teargas. Four guards sustained minor injuries and SAPS riotcontrol was also called in." Asked about the reason for theriot, home affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said: "They(authorities) were keeping people against their will and thesesorts of things happen especially during December. "Notrains repatriating people were running in December." TheDepartment of Home Affairs had met with the SA Human RightsCommission to discuss the possibility of using trucks to ferrypeople home. Home affairs officials were also in discussions withthe labour department to look at alternative transport to get"2496 people presently at Lindela home". Leshabane saidthat since January this year there were 14 natural deaths and oneunnatural death at the centre. Asked if this was not excessive,he said Lindela had handled 66572 people this year and many"of the people were on their death beds".
Illegal Zimbabwean immigration to South Africa (SundayIndependent, 14/12) - An increase in the flow ofrefugees from Zimbabwe is having a destabilising effect onLimpopo province: policing services are under such pressure thatfarmers are starting to train their own security guards. Violenttypes of crime are on the rise in towns that had neverexperienced them before. Government sources, speaking oncondition of anonymity, said that increasing numbers of bothlegal and illegal Zimbabweans were entering South Africa. Taxidrivers in Musina and shopkeepers in Thohoyandou agreed, but theofficial sources were loath to blame increasing crime figures onZimbabwean refugees. Ronel Otto, the police spokesperson, saidthere were no real statistics available to suggest Zimbabweanswere responsible for crimes. She said crime was actually on thedecline in Limpopo, but was unable to supply figures. In LouisTrichardt, the first large town on the road from Zimbabwe,sources said hijackings occurred this year for the first time:seven in the past three months. In the past month 21 vehicles hadbeen stolen. The sources said the increasing refugee flows weresapping police resources to such an extent that South Africancrime syndicates had greater "freedom of movement" inLimpopo towns. Whereas theft was limited in the past to as manyitems as an individual could carry away on foot, the new trendwas for houses to be "cleaned out" by syndicates. Whilethe sources said they had no evidence local syndicates wereemploying Zimbabweans to do the dirty work, shopkeepers inThohoyandou claimed they were being used in this way because theycould not easily be traced in the city. The sources said 84percent of people caught without legal documents at roadblocks inNovember were Zimbabweans. In one week up to 1 000 illegal alienscould be caught at such roadblocks in Limpopo. When asked whatpercentage of Zimbabweans in South Africa were illegal, Otto saidshe could not comment. The Zimbabweans use connections with localclansmen and the infrequently travelled back-roads of the Vendaregion to find their way to the cities of the Witwatersrand. Nearthe larger towns such as Polokwane they sleep in bushes from 10pmto 4am, or hide on unoccupied farms. The sources said the trendwas for increasing numbers of Zimbabwean youths, even children,to enter South Africa illegally. Most were "bornfrees", with birthdates from after independence in 1980.They had little respect for authority because of misrule in theirhome country, and were "just the right generation" forcrime. Whereas in the past farmers could cope with the odd theftof products from fields and barns, the volume has got out of handin the past year. A new, severely damaging trend is to steal anyaluminium equipment - including expensive irrigation pipes andwheels - to sell to smelters where they are turned into pots andkitchen utensils. In the villages around Thohoyandou thetraditional cast-iron three-legged pot has been replaced by ashiny, lightweight aluminium version. Aluminium kitchenware isfound everywhere. So threatened do farmers feel that agriculturalassociations have begun their own programmes to train securityguards. The programmes have a "home and hearth" focusbecause patrols covering fields as well would be too expensive.The farmers, say the sources, have given up on the idea ofminimising theft of produce in order to protect their profitmargins, and are now concerned mainly with personal security.Asked about the use of the army, the sources said the commandosystem, in which local volunteers of all races and sexes areused, was the last bulwark against a total collapse of policingservices. But new regulations exposing individual members tolegal action had severely curtailed the system's effectiveness,and defence force budgets for "regional protection" haddeclined sharply. Otto said the defence force "does notreally have the manpower anymore to assist the police". Butthe air force was still being used in police operations. Thesources said farmers were confused over the government's stand onZimbabwe, and saw it as supporting the violent transfer of landto black people. In this context they were not willing to stay onas farm managers for new black owners acquiring their land inaccordance with the land reform programme. The refugee flows arealso affecting the game industry. Because so many farm animalsare smuggled in from Zimbabwe, certificates for infectiousdiseases are required before game farmers are allowed to sellanimals. Because of this, conservation experts say, animals aredying of thirst and hunger because they are not being bought bybuyers, who go elsewhere where there is less red tape.
Mozambican nationals arrested for illegal IDs (SABC,14/12) - Eight Mozambican nationals have been arrestedat a roadblock outside Nelspruit, in Mpumalanga, for thesuspected possession of illegal ID documents. The arrests came astraffic officers, immigration officers and the police convergedon the N4 at the start of the holiday season. Mohammed Bhabha,the MEC for Traffic Safety, joined the law enforcement officersin warning drivers about road safety. The drivers were issuedwith warnings on hijack hot spots and also road maps of the bestdestinations in the province. The traffic volume on the N4 isexpected to be high on major routes leading to touristdestinations in the province.
Lebombo border post open 24 hours (Komatipoort,African Eye News Service, 12/12) - The Lebombo borderpost between Mpumalanga in South Africa and Mozambique beganoperating for 24-hours a day this week to cope with the increasedflow of traffic over the festive season. Border post gatesusually close at 7:30pm but the hours were increased fromWednesday to prevent traffic jams at the border and ensure smoothtraffic flow between the countries. "We want to give peoplethe opportunity to reach their destinations in good time,"said South African border customs official Captain Vusi Nyambi.He said the extended times would apply until January 10 whentraffic was expected to ease off because most people would beback at work. Nyambi said security was stepped up to preventunlicensed or stolen vehicles from passing through the border aswell as weapons or drugs. "We are aware that criminals tryto take advantage of the fact that we are busy over this periodand think they can get away with crime as a result," hesaid. "They are dreaming because we have increased thenumber of soldiers, police officials and traffic police."The department of agriculture warned tourists to Mozambique notto buy leather goods, baskets or other grass products while onholiday because they wouldn't be allowed to bring them back toSouth Africa. "We are currently burning these materials aswell as meat transported from Mozambique because of an outbreakof foot and mouth disease in that country," said border postagricultural supervisor Cyril Shozi. Shozi added that they usedtyres to burn the meat every evening to ensure that only asheswere left. Meanwhile, the Beit Bridge border post between SouthAfrica and Zimbabwe has also extended its hours in anticipationof an increased traffic flow. The South African regional directorof home affairs Victor Mabunda said: "The number of vehiclescrossing the border is already increasing but we are open24-hours a day and don't expect any uncontrollable trafficcongestion". No information was available from the Oshoekborder post to Swaziland because no one answered repeated phonecalls.
Home Affairs publishes immigration regulations(Johannesburg, Business Day, 12/12) - Long-awaitedregulations governing the employment of foreigners in SA havebeen published. This finally fulfils a promise made by PresidentThabo Mbeki almost two years ago that urgent attention would begiven to the issue to "enable us to attract skills into ourcountry". The regulations, published in the GovernmentGazette and due to take effect in March, are seen as criticallyimportant in alleviating SA's skills crisis by allowing therecruitment of skilled foreign professionals. A political logjam, characterised by altercations between Home Affairs MinisterMangosuthu Buthelezi, who is also president of the InkathaFreedom Party, and the African National Congress (ANC), delayedthe passing of new immigration legislation for several years. TheSA Chamber of Business (Sacob) welcomed the gazetting of theregulations yesterday, saying they had the potential to"reverse the brain drain". Despite this, certainaspects of the regulations were vague and likely to be seen bybusinesses as onerous. In terms of the rules, 2% of a foreigner'staxable remuneration will have to be paid quarterly by companiesto the home affairs department to be used for developing skillsin SA. Deloitte & Touche assistant manager Lino de Ponte saidthe regulations were silent on whether the levy would be a costto the company or the worker. He said work permits were issued to19000 foreigners last year. "Assuming most skilled workersearn R150000 a year, this could generate R57m," he said.Acting home affairs directorgeneral Ivan Lambinon said the 2%levy was "not a blanket provision" and the departmentcould waive it "if an individual is highly qualified andtheir skills are desperately needed". The regulations alsoset guidelines for foreigners who intend establishing businessesin SA. They require potential investors to prove that they havemet at least two of several criteria before being awarded abusiness permit. These include an investment of at least R2,5m, agood business track record, a wide geographical spread ofeconomic activity, the employment of five South Africans andexport potential. The regulations also force financialinstitutions, estate agents and insurance brokers to ascertainthe citizenship of people with whom they enter into commercialagreements and face penalties if they fail to do so.
Brain drain strangles growth (Cape Town, News24,11/12) - South Africa's economic health was beinghamstrung by its inability to convince young people that theyhave a future in the country, Pick 'n Pay chief Raymond Ackermanhas said. Addressing a graduation ceremony at the University ofCape Town where he received an honorary degree in economicsciences, he said this applied especially to the country'sgraduates, professionals and skilled managers. "Our growingreliance on social, rather than natural resource capital, meansthat our economy cannot sustain the current skills shortage whichis greatly aggravated by the emigration of many of our talented,educated and experienced young people," Ackerman said."Our intellectual capital, in which we as a society haveinvested so much and which institutions such as UCT do so much toensure, is under threat." He said that official figuresindicated that almost 10 000 South Africans were emigratingannually. Almost half of them fell into the professional ormanagerial occupations. The extent of the brain drain could onlystrangle growth which would lead to delayed economic development."We need to put in place strategies which aim both to retaincritically needed skills in the country, and to attract newtalent from abroad," Ackerman said.
82-year-old man murdered: Illegal immigrant arrested(Krugersdorp, Sapa, 10/12) - A 22-year-old illegalimmigrant from Mozambique was arrested in connection with themurder of an 82-year-old man in Krugersdorp on December 3, WestRand police said on Tuesday. Captain Paula Nothnagel said the manappeared in the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court on an initialcharge of illegal possession of a firearm and was remanded incustody for further investigation of a charge of murder andseveral other cases of housebreaking. The murder charge arisesfrom the death of 82-year-old Jacobus le Grange of LongfordStreet, Krugersdorp, who was strangled to death by one of twohousebreakers during a robbery. Le Grange's 69-year-old wife wastied hand and foot with electrical cord and forced to watch herhusband being strangled. The robbers escaped with householdappliances, a firearm, cash and jewellery. Nothnagel said theWest Rand murder and robbery unit allegedly found the firearm andsome of the stolen items in the arrested man's possession and hisfingerprints had been positively linked to the murder scene.
Man in court over British tourist's rape (Barberton,Sapa, 10/12) - One of four men accused of gang-raping aBritish tourist and murdering a Mozambican man last month,appeared in the Barberton Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. The casewas postponed to January 17, when the four are to appear in theNelspruit Regional Court, Mpumalanga police spokesmanSuperintendent Izak van Zyl said. Sipho Mbokane, Michael Dube --a Zimbabwean -- and Willie Mgweneya appeared in court last monthwhile Eric Msibi, who appeared before a magistrate on Tuesday,was in hospital recovering from gunshot wounds. He was shot bypolice during his arrest. Mgweneya was also shot, but recoveredin time for the previous court appearance, Van Zyl said. The fourmen face charges of murder, rape, abduction and armed robbery. OnNovember 17, Briton Julie Stevens, 29, and her South Africanfriend Tinus Opperman had stopped at a picnic spot onMpumalanga's scenic Long Tom Pass when they were abducted by fourhijackers and terrorised for about 14 hours. Stevens wasrepeatedly raped and Opperman was stabbed. Their ordeal came toan end when the men overturned the car Stevens and Opperman hadbeen driving early the next morning. Mozambican Domingo Chambal,34, and a friend spotted the overturned car on theBadplaas-Barberton road and decided to help, but they came underfire from the hijackers. Chambal was killed and his friend waswounded. Stevens and Opperman managed to escape.
Crime busters deployed to protect tourists (Pretoria,BuaNews, 09/12) - Mpumalanga has dispatched 100volunteers to beef up security at risky tourist sites thisfestive season following a spate of attacks on foreigners. Thevolunteers, clad in light green, were presented to the public bysafety and security MEC Thabang Makwetla and finance and economicaffairs MEC Jacob Mabena at the launch of the province's touristsafety plan for the season in Pilgrim's Rest on Friday. Theyoungsters will be deployed to tourist crime hotspots in WatervalBoven, Nelspruit, Malelane and Pilgrim's Rest until at least theend of January next year. Safety and security spokesperson NtimeSkhosana said the monitors had received intelligence and securitytraining. 'They're already deployed at their various stations,and their stay would be assessed at the end of January,' he said.The province's image has been muddied by gruesome incidents ofmurder, rape and robbery against both foreign and local tourists.The incidents have also threatened the country's tourism income.Mr Skhosana said foreign tourists' air travel alone contributed4.8 percent or R4.6-billion annually to the country's GrossDomestic Product (GDP). According to South African Tourism(Satour) research, each foreign tourist in the country spendsbetween R470 to R2 555 a day on accommodation, food,entertainment, transport and shopping. And tourism generatedR34.3-billion (about US$3,43 billion) for South Africa last year,according to the World Trade Organisation. Meanwhile, fourMpumalanga gangsters accused of abducting and raping Britishtourist, Julie Stevens (29), on 17 November will undergocompulsory DNA testing. One of the suspects may face anadditional attempted murder charge if Stevens is found to havecontracted HIV/AIDS as a result of being raped. In a separatecase, golf caddy Prince Mogane (19) will be sentenced onWednesday for assaulting a British couple at the Royal Hotel inPilgrim's Rest on 22 October. Mogane killed Diane Conway (60) ofWarminister in southern England and shot her husband, John (55).He pleaded guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, robberywith aggravating circumstances, and unlawful possession of anunlicensed firearm in Middelburg regional court on 4 December.Police also arrested Royal Hotel waiter Richard Mashego (42) asan accomplice and are looking for a third suspect.
New immigration law makes foreign labour moreexpensive (Sunday Times, 08/12) - A new immigration law,which comes into effect on March 12, will increase the cost ofusing foreign labour. This week the Department of Home Affairsgazetted proposed regulations for the Immigration Act that willaffect the financial future of foreigners working in SouthAfrica. Lino de Ponte, assistant manager at Deloitte & ToucheTaxation Services' immigration department, says one of the mostcontroversial regulations is that 2% of a foreigner's taxableremuneration will have to be paid quarterly and in advance to theDepartment of Home Affairs. The money will be paid into atraining fund that has yet to be constituted. "Theregulations are not [yet] clear whether this amount will be acost to the company or a cost for the individual's account,"De Ponte says. "The law now requires that a foreigner willhave to prove that he or she meets at least two of seven criteriato obtain a business permit for a new business venture." Thecriteria are: an investment of at least R2.5-million; a businesstrack record; a geographical spread of economic activity;employment of at least five South Africans; export potential;transfer of technology; and proof the business is in an approvedindustry. De Ponte says work permits for individuals will requireactive participation by the employer. It is the employer'sresponsibility and duty to ensure that all personnel hold thecorrect work permit. A new class of work permit has been createdfor exceptionally skilled foreigners.
Returning emigrants to South Africa (Sunday Times,08/12) - The first thing Joe Trotter did when he arrivedin South Africa last week after more than a decade in Britain wasto crack open a bottle of South African white wine to accompanyhis meal. Then he went house hunting. One of a growing number ofSouth Africans who are returning home, the recently retiredTrotter found the house he wanted in Cape Town, and is thrilledthat he is back in the country he loves. "The streets arenot paved with gold overseas," says Trotter, who leftJohannesburg for the UK 15 years ago. "There's more crimethere than people think and, even though you have to pay for it,our health system is better." Trotter is not unique, sayestate agents who report seeing an increasing number of SouthAfricans - from those retiring to the young and skilled - usinghard currency to buy property in their homeland. It's a ray ofhope in the traditional gloom that surrounds talk of the"brain drain" supposedly sapping South Africa's talentand skills. Corporate headhunters say they have also seen anoticeable increase in the number of returning executives in thepast year and a half. One such returnee is advertising executiveMike Bosman, who recently moved back to Cape Town from the US."I really missed the South African culture and sense ofhumour," he says. "I also missed the passion with whichpeople work here, especially in the advertising industry."Bosman went from being chairman of Johannesburg-based advertisingagency Lindsay Smithers-FCB to a top job on the board of themassive FCB in the US. But after two years in New York, he's backwith the local agency and commutes to Johannesburg from theWestern Cape. He says his sojourn overseas was an excellentexperience, but one day he realised there was more to work thandelivering chiefly for Wall Street's expectations - and he wantedhis children to grow up in South Africa. " We want ourchildren to grow up understanding that not everyone's mom and dadhave a home on Long Island and three cars in the drive."Bosman is one of a new breed of South Africans who arechallenging the notion of the "chicken-run". Ratherthan a simple "brain drain", working overseas hasbecome more of a "brain holiday" for some - and theyreturn to South Africa with greater skills and experience."These are people who have choices in life and who choose tocome back," says Gary Lazarus of estate agent Pam GoldingProperties in Franschhoek, in the Western Cape. " They'remostly highly skilled entrepreneurs, and are not just white SouthAfricans." Lazarus recently encountered a black SouthAfrican couple living in London who had a four-year plan to payoff a South African house with sterling before moving back. PeterMacIldowie, director of headhunting firm Woodburn Mann, says manytop executives are coming back home for the South Africanlifestyle.
The job market in Europe and the US is tough and competitive ,and migrating executives sometimes find it difficult to beaccepted in foreign societies, says MacIldowie. Anotherheadhunter, Gert Kruger, wonders if the increase in returningexecutives is the start of a trend akin to that of Ireland in the1990s. In the 1970s, Ireland experienced a massive brain drainbut this was reversed as its economy took off in the past decade."In a way, these people are expressing a belief in SouthAfrica's future that many people here don't," says Ian Slot,managing director of Seeff estate agents in the Cape Town citycentre and Atlantic seaboard areas . He says ex-South Africansaccount for a significant percentage of what are perceived asforeign property buyers - and they do not all buy the dream beachhouse. Young couples will buy in Welkom, in the Free State, ifthat is where they come from. Retired people often choose thesuburbs where they can be part of a community. Steve Dawson ofPam Golding's Camps Bay office says he has come across people whohave moved back to South Africa from Australia. "AlthoughAustralia is a very nice country, people don't realise whatthey're giving up. The fact is that we have a very high standardof living here," says Dawson. Tracking migrant workers is atricky business. Figures of returning South Africans cover thosereturning from holidays and business trips, so there is no way ofknowing if someone has been out of the country for three years orthree days. The most recent figures from government data agencyStatistics SA show that in the first nine months of this year,close to 9 000 South Africans emigrated. But experts say theofficial emigrant figures are understated because many people donot declare themselves emigrants when leaving the country.Surveys by the Canadian-funded Southern African Migration Projectsuggest that most South African emigrants intend returning homeafter three to five years, says project manager Vincent Williams.The surveys show that almost equal percentages of black and whiteskilled workers - 68% and 69% respectively, in a 1998 survey of725 people - have given emigration some thought. The US,Australia, the UK, New Zealand and Canada are the destinationsmentioned most often. "There's a lot of paranoia about thebrain drain. It's bad in the sense that it is not reversing, butit's not an increasing trend either," says Williams. StatsSA's figures from 1994 to the present show the number ofemigrants fluctuates from year to year.
The project's research also suggests most people leave forpersonal reasons rather than because they believe South Africa isbadly governed. "It's perfectly natural for people to lookfor other opportunities. Many Canadians - and Canada is supposedto be one of the most wonderful countries on earth - move to theUS because there are better opportunities there," Williamssays. Experts say migration of labour is a normal part of aglobalised world. The International Organisation for Migration, aUnited Nations agency, estimates that 175 million people areinvolved in some form of migratory movement. In 1965, this figurewas estimated at 75 million. However, there is still legitimateconcern that South Africa is losing workers in vital areas suchas teaching, nursing, engineering, accountancy and informationtechnology. The World Bank estimates that 70 000 highly qualifiedAfricans leave their home countries every year, and that thecontinent spends $4-billion a year (about R40-billion) onimporting skilled foreign workers. Accurate migration data, saysWilliams, is key to economic growth as the government needs toknow exactly where it lacks skilled people. The brain drain canbecome a politically loaded and emotional issue. EducationMinister Kader Asmal has accused British recruiters of"raiding" South African teachers, while Health MinisterManto Tshabalala-Msimang is talking to the Treasury to come upwith incentives to keep health professionals in the country. Butthere is no underestimating the emotional tie that binds SouthAfricans to their homeland, says Lulama Makhubela of the SouthAfrican Network of Skills Abroad. Funded by the National ResearchFoundation, the organisation aims to connect foreign-based SAprofessionals with those at home. Says Makhubela: "Those whocome back do so because, irrespective of colour, they know theybelong here."
Young doctors plan to emigrate en masse (Sunday Times,08/12) - Nearly half of the country's newly qualifieddoctors say they will leave the country after completing theircommunity service next year. A survey of 1 100 doctors at thecountry's eight medical schools who qualified last year has shownthat at least 43% of them plan to leave the country once theycomplete their two-year internship and community service. Thesurvey, which was conducted by Professor Steve Reid of the Centrefor Rural Health at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine inDurban, also showed that: Only 38% of respondents were committedto working in public hospitals and clinics; Seven percent wantedto go into private practice; and At least 12% were undecidedabout their future. The findings of the survey will be publishedin the forthcoming South African Health Review. According toReid, the percentage of doctors graduating in 2002 who will leaveSouth Africa is likely to be higher than last year's 43%. "Ithink the trend will continue," said Reid, who added thatsimilar patterns have emerged among new dentists and pharmacists.The 2001 statistics also showed that whites topped the list ofthose wanting to leave the country, with more than half wantingto go. Black graduates were more willing to remain at home."The data proves that there is an increase in the number ofyoung people leaving," said Reid. Citing possible reasonsfor the exodus, he said: "There are significant push factorsin SA and significant pull factors overseas. Over here, thefactors relate to economics, safety and security. Overseas, theyare similar, just on a more positive scale." At least 473respondents said they would return to the country if they left.David McCoy, a research director at the Health Systems Trust, anon-governmental organisation, said the results were "notthat surprising". "The Department of Health needs tolook at a more sophisticated recruitment strategy forstudents," McCoy said. He also doubted whether those whoindicated they would return would actually do so. "Once theyhave exposure and experience working in a relatively functionalpublic health system, I doubt they will be prepared to work in arural hospital where things just don't work as efficiently,"he said. A newly qualified Wits doctor, 24-year-old PrashnaKooverjee, who graduated this week, said she hoped to work inAustralia or Canada immediately after her community service."I am determined to go overseas because there is no futurefor doctors in SA," she said. She said the survey was anaccurate indication of the feeling among medical students, whichshe blamed on poor working conditions in public hospitals, longworking hours, enforced community service, poor salaries and theadded danger of HIV in the workplace. Kim de Vasconcellos, arecent summa cum laude graduate at the Nelson R Mandela School ofMedicine in Durban, said he wanted to make a career in the publicservice. "I would like to stay in the public sector, but ifI had to reach a point where I had a family and I had to surviveon a tiny salary and poor working conditions, private practicemight beckon," he said. De Vasconcellos pointed out that thesurvey did not distinguish between those leaving for a year tohelp pay back student loans, those wanting to specialise for fouryears before returning, and those wanting to emigrate for good.De Vasconcellos said he was considering specialising overseas, aswere many of his colleagues. The dean of the faculty of healthsciences at Wits, Professor Max Price, said the results of thesurvey were consistent with past and present migration trends atthe university. But he said many of those who left the countrydid return. "We find there is a tendency among people to gooverseas to enable them to pay off their loans or to specialise."And I think it is a good thing for them to getinternational experience as it improves the quality of medicinein SA," he said.
Tech exodus raises fears of brain drain (IOL, 06/12) -Several senior managers and academics are leaving thetroubled Durban Institute of Technology, fuelling fears that thebrain drain could weaken the new institution. This comes afterreports that more than 250 highly qualified staff, most of themfemale and black, had opted for voluntary severance packageswhich will apparently cost the merged institution R70-million.Vice-chancellor Dan Ncayiyana admitted that the institution hadinherited "substantial debts and liabilities" and hadto take out a short-term R300-million loan. "The voluntaryexit packages pave the way for a quick financial recovery, withthe savings in salaries, as well as other savings through cuttingout duplication," said Ncayiyana. Sources at the institutionsaid the exodus of staff was the result of "generous"packages offered to management, disillusionment amongst staff andthe poor financial state of the institution. The retrenchmentpackages are part of a restructuring programme implemented in abid to trim the institution's bloated staff brought about by themerger of the Natal and ML Sultan technikons this year. Seniormanagers who have opted for voluntary severance packages includeformer ML Sultan vice-chancellor Anchu Padayachee, Martin Mendu,Anand Cheddie, and Reagan Jacobus. The African Forum, a body ofacademics, has been angered by the exodus of black professionalsand has accused the management of disrupting the institution'sequity plan. "Some of our best minds have left DurbanInstitute of Technology and nothing has been done to stopthem," said forum spokesperson Douglas Mbatha. "We willremain impoverished in terms of skills and expertise," hesaid. The institution defended its decision on Thursday. It saidthat the voluntary severance packages had been designed to trimthe overall salary bill, which accounted for over 80 percent ofthe budget. The forum also claimed that "generous"packages offered to senior managers had amounted to"looting". Sources at the institution said some membersof management who had opted for packages were entitled to asalary for five years, medical aid cover for five years and a R60000 golden handshake. "We know that the management personnelwere offered very lucrative contracts designed to buy them out."To us, this amounts to looting," said Mbatha. Theamount of money spent on severance packages has fuelled fearsthat the institution could run into massive debt and will have tobe bailed out by the department of education. On its equityprofile, Ncayiyana said work was being done around the clock toensure that the institution's profile reflected the demographicsof the region and the nation. "I was on the thin end of thewedge, in that holding back black people would have meant denyingthem very handsome pay-outs, while letting them go is a greatloss," he said.
Kilgore: I will return to South Africa (SABC, 06/12) -James Kilgore, the former Symbionese Liberation Army(SLA) member, today formally consented to his extradition to facecriminal charges in the US. However, he also said through hislawyer that he intends to return to South Africa to continue"building a democratic society" when he has served hissentence. Wynberg magistrate Maria van Eeden issued an orderunder the Extradition Act that he be held in custody pending adecision by Penuell Maduna, Justice Minister, on his surrender toUS authorities. Kilgore waived his right to appeal against thecommittal order. At the same time, the State announced it wasdropping South African immigration charges against him chargeswhich Anton Katz, Kilgore's advocate, said had been "merelya ruse to keep my client in custody". Katz asked Van Eedento include in the report she must now make to Maduna that therewere no charges against Kilgore in South Africa. He also handedin a draft of a surrender order that he said Maduna "mayappropriately make". Katz said Kilgore wanted this ordermade as soon as possible "early next week if possible, butif not as soon as possible thereafter". Given an opportunityafter the hearing to speak to the score or so of supporters whohad filled the public benches, a relaxed-looking Kilgore thankedthem for coming. "I'll be in touch," he joked."I'm easy to contact. My diary is empty." MichaelEvans, Kilgore's attorney, said the extradition now all hinged onMaduna. Kilgore was arrested on November 8 at his home in CapeTown, where he worked as an academic under the alias James Pape.He is wanted on three matters in the US. These include a federalpassport-related charge; a federal charge of possession of anunlawful explosive device; and California state charges of murderand use of an unlicensed weapon in the commission of that murder.Kilgore has a wife and children in Cape Town, and was a respectedresearcher at the University of Cape Town's International LabourResource and Information Group.
US files Kilgore extradition request (SABC, 05/12) - TheUS has formally requested the extradition of James Kilgore, theformer Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) member, his lawyer saidtoday. The news comes ahead of Kilgore's third appearance in CapeTown's Wynberg Magistrates Court tomorrow. He was arrested onNovember 8, at his home in the city, where he worked as anacademic under the alias Charles Pape. A week later, when therehad still been no documentation from the US, a magistrate orderedhis release. However, he was immediately rearrested on SouthAfrican immigration charges, then arrested a third time while indetention on the basis of a warrant obtained by Interpol after aprovisional extradition request from the US. The lawyer, MichaelEvans, said he received a copy of the formal request on Tuesday,after it was forwarded from the US embassy in Pretoria toprosecuting authorities in Cape Town. He said a federalpassport-related charge had been added to charges the US hadpreviously listed: a federal charge of possession of an unlawfulexplosive device, and California state charges of murder and useof an unlicensed weapon in the commission of that murder. Itseems likely that Kilgore, whose legal team has repeatedly saidhe is fully prepared to stand trial in the US, will formallyconsent to the extradition tomorrow. His departure from the USwill then depend on how long it takes Penuell Maduna, the JusticeMinister, to sign a document surrendering him to US authorities,but is likely to happen within weeks rather than months. Kilgore,who has a wife and children in Cape Town, was a respectedresearcher at the University of Cape Town's International LabourResource and Information Group. He is wanted in the US foroffences committed 27 years ago when he was a member of theradical SLA, an organisation best remembered for its kidnappingof newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. Four other SLA membersrecently pleaded guilty in a California court, and are to besentenced in February. They were charged in the shotgun killingof Myrna Opsahl, a 42-year-old woman gunned down in the hold-upof a Crocker National Bank branch in Carmichael, just north ofSacramento, in 1975. Kilgore is being held in Goodwood Prison.
Many farmers bar labour inspectors (Dispatch Online,05/12) - Labour inspections on farms were oftendifficult to carry out as many farmers denied governmentofficials access to their properties, an inquiry into humanrights violations in farming communities heard yesterday. TheCongress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) told the SA Human RightsCommission's (SAHRC) public hearings at the University ofPretoria that labour department inspectors were locked out onmost farms as farmers claimed they were trespassing. Cosatu legalco-ordinator Prakashnee Govender said while the Labour RelationsAct allowed inspectors to conduct raids at any workplace, thiswas offset by the Property Rights Act. Many farmers used thelatter's interpretation which covers private property, to refusefree inspections. "This contradiction is being used at theexpense of the employees, and the Department of Labour seems tobe unable to do anything about it. "This is the biggestproblem in terms of trying to help farmworkers and ensure theirrights in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act,"Govender said. The three-day hearings chaired by SAHRCcommissioner Jody Kollapen started yesterday. Govender said somefarmworkers worked overtime without any remuneration. This wasagainst the law. Despite Cosatu's numerous reports to the labourdepartment concerning these violations, nothing had been done sofar, she claimed. "They (labour officials) tell us theycan't go to these farms. Sometimes they give a notice to a workerto be passed on to the employer, but this has also not broughtany results." Govender said union representatives at onestage met Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana regarding thesematters but he referred them to provincial heads of thedepartment. According to Govender, farmworkers were often made towork during public holidays and on Sundays without compensation,while annual or maternity leave was a rarity. The farmers unionAgri SA was not helpful either. "The farmers' union hasacknowledged most of our complaints but maintains it cannotdictate to its members on what to do," she said. Govendersaid most farmworkers did not enjoy the right of freedom ofassociation. "Farmworkers who want to join unions are toldby their employers they will be evicted or dismissed fromwork." She slated working conditions in most farms as"appalling and strenuous". "Workers most of thetime work in the fields without protective gear, sanitationfacilities and clean drinking water." Agri SA legal servicesdirector Annelize Crosby told the hearings many of theallegations against farmers were a generalisation. "We arenot denying that there may be cases where farmers mistreat theirworkers, evict people illegally or ignore labour laws," shesaid. But the impression is created that this is the rule ratherthan the exception." Crosby said the organisation hadmaintained a clear and strong stance against child labour,employment of aliens and compliance with labour laws. Whereproblems did occur it was due to the failure of law enforcementofficials. On illegal evictions, she said Agri SA supported thegovernment's land reform programme and many of its affiliateswere actively involved in this regard. "However, we believea balance should be struck particularly between the rights oflandowners and those who live on farms." Agri SA alsodisputed allegations that large-scale illegal evictions offarmworkers were occurring. "Our affiliates and provincialunions know it is a criminal offence to evict anyone without acourt order." The hearings continue today.
Foreign conmen in court (East London, Dispatch Online,04/12) - The trial of three alleged conmen who operateda "black dollar" money scam has been set for February2.The three appeared in the magistrate's court here yesterdaycharged with fraud. Flahn Emmanuel Zweh, 27, from Liberia,Starford Mwanza, 40, from Malawi, and Idris Serry, 27, fromSierra Leone, were arrested on September17. It is alleged theyoperated out of the Quigney area and conned their victims bytelling them they were able to turn paper into USdollars. Thevictims paid a R5000 deposit for "black paper" whichthey were allegedly told would be changed into the equivalent ofR2million in USdollars. The accused were remanded in custody.
Tourist attack: 3 seek legal aid (Nelspruit, DispatchOnline, 03/12) - The bail application of three of thefour men charged with the rape of a British woman and the murderof a Mozambican man in Mpumalanga last month was postponed in theNelspruit Regional Court yesterday until today. The three --Sipho Mbokane, Michael Dube and Willie Ngwenya -- applied forlegal aid. A fourth man, Eric Msibi, is still in hospital afterhe was shot by police during his arrest. The four faceprovisional charges of murder, rape, abduction and armed robbery.They allegedly abducted Briton Julie Stevens and her SouthAfrican friend Tinus Opperman from a picnic spot in the Long TomPass on November 17. During a 14-hour ordeal Stevens was rapedand Opperman stabbed. Their hijacked car subsequently overturnedon the Barberton-Badplaas road. Mozambican Domingo Chambal and afriend spotted the car and went to the assistance of theoccupants, but came under fire from the hijackers. Chambal waskilled and his friend wounded. Stevens and Opperman managed toescape.
Kenya questions SA journalists (Johannesburg, DispatchOnline, 03/12) - Two South African media representativeswere detained and interrogated over the weekend by Kenyan policelooking for suspects after the recent terror attacks there.Beauregard Tromp, an Independent Foreign Service reporter, andMujahid Safodien, photographer for the Star newspaper, weredetained on Saturday evening. According to The Star, the two menwere not allowed to make calls to South Africa or to the SAembassy in Nairobi. Tromp believed they were detained becausethey "appeared to be of Middle East origin". The reportalso said that, after two hours of questioning, the policeaccompanied the men to their hotel, where they searched theirrooms and confiscated their passports. The men were then takenback to the police station, where Safodien tried to takephotographs. The police wrestled his camera off him, manhandlinghim in the process. The two men were released after three hoursand told to collect their passports the next morning. Tromp saidthat at the conclusion of one of the interrogation sessionspolice told them that they had been detained "on the basisof an informant's information", but would not elaborate.
Mixed reaction to new minimum wages for farmworkers(Cape Town, Sapa, 02/12) - New minimum wages in theagricultural sector, announced by Labour Minister MembathisiMdladlana on Monday, appeared to please no one entirely but wereset to forever change the lot of thousands of farmworkers. Labourrepresentatives felt the determined amounts of R650 per monthbefore deductions in lower-income areas and R800 in higher-incomeareas were too low. Organised agriculture, meanwhile, said it wasfar too high and warned that it may lead to widespreaddismissals. Especially the provisions for "payment inkind" - 10 percent of the total wages for food and 10percent for housing, provided it met certain standards - werecriticised for being inadequate. General secretary Sipho Khumaloof the South African Agricultural, Plantation and Allied Workers'Union (Saapawu), said the union saw the minister's announcementas a first step in the right direction. Although the announcedminimum wages were far below Saapawu's proposed uniform R1200 permonth, it was still higher than the original recommendations bythe Employment Conditions Commission, which was encouraging,Khumalo said. Agri SA president Japie Grobler called theminister's announcement "unwelcome news". He said itappeared as if the announced minimum wages were more than merelya safety net and that very few of Agri SA's proposals wereincorporated into the final recommendation to Mdladlana."Labour is the agricultural sector's largest cost item."While the retention and expansion of job opportunities areat this stage a priority, and even more so in rural areas whereunemployment has assumed alarming proportions, this determinationwill unfortunately have a counter-productive effect,"Grobler said. He predicted practical problems with the announcedtwo-tier wage system. He also criticised the new system forlacking with regard to apprenticeships and payment-in-kind. TheDemocratic Alliance's agriculture spokesman Andries Botha saidthe amounts should be acceptable to all in the industry. Theprovisions for payment in kind, however, were totally inadequateand would have enormous implications the minister did notrealise. Botha said the 10 percent provision for food meant thatfarmers who provided their workers with rations, including a bagof maize meal which currently costs R240, would be penalised. Onthe other hand, workers who were not provided with rations aspart of their compensation, would not be cushioned any moreagainst food price inflation. Botha also felt that grazing rightsshould have been included as payment in kind. The New NationalParty's spokesman on agriculture Bertie van der Merwe saidminimum wages for farm workers were "not the answer" toprovide them with reasonable compensation and better working andliving conditions. He said there was "no way" in whichthe current wage account of R9 billion in the agriculturalindustry could now be increased drastically. "The NNP isthus worried that the practical consequence of a minimum wage maybe the dismissal of thousands of farm workers." Mdladlanasaid the stark picture of farm worker poverty, coupled with theclear correlation between their income and access to housing,literacy and household services, "clearly revealed the needfor a minimum wage". However, it was recognised that toohigh a minimum wage would have an adverse impact on farm workers.Details of the new minimum wage legislation were published in theGovernment Gazette on Monday. The publication defines so-calledhigh-income areas, which include those in and around SouthAfrica's major cities, as well as large areas of the WesternCape. The first annual wage increase will be set for 2004.Mdladlana said among the findings of an investigation into thevulnerability of South Africa's farm workers, were: - they havethe lowest literacy rates in the country; - the average wage in2001 was R544 a month; - women farm workers, despite their highlevels of education, are paid less and enjoy benefits than men;and, - more than half the country's farm workers work longerhours than the legal limit without receiving compensation.
Zimbabwean activists in South Africa (Sunday Times,01/12) - When they joined the Movement for DemocraticChange's youth league upon its formation in 1999, the five youngmen had one common goal: to end Zimbabwean President RobertMugabe's long uninterrupted rule. In February 2000 theysuccessfully campaigned against a crooked government-sponsoreddraft constitution aimed at prolonging Mugabe's two-decade ruleand played a crucial role in securing for the opposition slightlymore than a third of Zimbabwe's 150 parliamentary seats in thewatershed polls of June 2000. The MDC mopped up all seats in thesecond city, Bulawayo, and rural Matabeleland North province,where they were based, and that outcome motivated them tocampaign vigorously for the ouster of Mugabe in the presidentialpolls 21 months down the line. The MDC had provided the firstreal challenge to the one-party state under Mugabe and Zanu-PF.For the five MDC youth activists, a change in government wouldrevive Zimbabwe's previously prosperous economy battered byMugabe's two-decade grip on power. But today the activists,Matshobane Ngwenya, 24, Nkathazo Ndebele, 25, Bekithemba Mpofu,21, Nkanyiso Moyo, 25, and his younger brother Lungile, 20, aresquatting in a small single room with just one bed and threeblankets, in one of Johannesburg's notorious habitations. Thechange they had passionately and vigorously advocated for in thesouthwestern part of Zimbabwe is stillborn. Mugabe hasconsolidated his grip on power by installing a "warCabinet" after his disputed re-election earlier this year.Change has instead been brought to the lives of the youthfulactivists. They have been forcibly separated from their familiesand are afflicted by tough living conditions as refugees in aforeign land. Their flight from the country of their birthfollowed the rise in aggressive nationalism pursued by the rulingZanu-PF government. It triggered an onslaught of torture andviolence by Mugabe's self-styled veterans of the liberation war,militant supporters and youth militia, intent on breaking theback of the democratic movement. The once-confident youngactivists are now pale shadows of their former selves and havenothing to do, spending most of their time in their little room.They doze, smoke, stare into space and brood on the trauma thatforced them to flee to this grim and forbidding place. They tellfrightening tales of life-threatening experiences that led themto seek asylum in South Africa, but they are mostly bitter abouttheir treatment by the South African-based leadership of the MDC."When I first arrived here in November last year andpresented my case to them, they (Johannesburg MDC leaders)accused me of being a spy for Zimbabwe's intelligence agency andignored my pleas for them to verify my status with the leadershipback home," says Ngwenya, the most vocal of the five.
Ngwenya says he fled after being implicated as the leader ofMDC youths accused by the state of allegedly abducting andmurdering Bulawayo war veterans boss, Cain Nkala. Ngwenya deniesthe charges. The mysterious death of Nkala, who was declared anational hero, became a pretext for the government's renewedcrackdown on the opposition. Ngwenya's MDC youth colleagues werepicked up by security agents at a soccer match 200km outside ofBulawayo and forced to confess to the murder on nationaltelevision. Security agents raided Ngwenya's parents' Bulawayohome, then proceeded to his rural home in Lupane, about 200kmnorth of Bulawayo, after failing to locate him. Ngwenya was inhiding by then but the agents took his father and tortured himfor several days, threatening him with death unless he revealedthe whereabouts of his son, which he did not know. Ngwenya becamethe most wanted person in Bulawayo and his picture was flightedseveral times on television, with police offering a reward forinformation leading to his capture. He slipped out of the countryand, on arriving in South Africa, looked forward to working withhis exiled countrymen in advocating a return to democracy andadherence to the rule of law, which are essential for theeconomic recovery and stability of Zimbabwe. But his troubles hadonly just begun. "Party officials in Bulawayo had advised meto seek assistance from the Joburg offices and I thought theywould help me to settle down easily, but I was mistaken. "Ihad to squat at a friend's place before moving in with my unclewhile the MDC leaders here dragged their feet in ascertaining mystatus. My uncle threw me out after hearing about thecircumstances surrounding my departure from Zimbabwe and I had toreturn to squat with my friend." After several months, theMDC found him accommodation - the single room, which he shareswith Ndebele, Mpofu and the two Moyo brothers. The Moyo brothersand Ndebele were arrested following accusations of planning tobomb the Zanu-PF offices in Lupane. They were assaulted andreleased as a pretext to lure other youths seen associating withthem, but they fled to Bulawayo and sought refuge at the MDCoffice there before proceeding to South Africa. Mpofu bears themost visible scars from the alleged government-sponsored mobbeatings he received in Lupane. He says he was struck on the headwith a bayonet by a soldier, who accused him and MDC youths inthe area of plotting against his life in October last year.Because state institutions have been rapidly transformed fromautonomous bodies to tools of the ruling party through thepromotion of war veterans, particularly in rural areas, Mpofucould not get medical attention at the nearby clinic. He had tobe rushed to Bulawayo and eventually skipped the country afterdiscovering that police were on his trail. Mpofu's head wound,still fresh, was photographed by MDC officials in Johannesburg.The pictures were apparently taken to potential donors, but Mpofudid not receive any assistance.
"I am sure they got lots of money which they converted totheir own use. They just kept telling me that money for mytreatment was coming until the wound healed on its own,"said Mpofu. While the injury has healed externally, Mpofu says hestill experiences pain internally and sometimes passes out, butparty officials say there is no need for treatment now becausethe wound has healed. While the five appreciate having a roofover their heads, they accuse the local MDC leadership of extremearrogance and failure to provide them with dignified conditions.They receive very little assistance from their party, except for10kg of maize meal fortnightly. They say they are forced to fastwhen it runs out. "We feel betrayed by the people headingthe party here because they have neglected us. "They don'tknow how it feels to be political refugees because they werenever displaced like us and that's why they are reluctant to findan early and constructive solution to our plight," saysNgwenya. He attacks them as opportunists who left Zimbabwe longbefore the formation of the MDC to seek employment and using theplight of political refugees to raise funds for their personaluse. He says going to the MDC's Braamfontein offices has become anightmare because of the officials' arrogance and the humiliationof being branded a security risk. "We want the party leadersin Harare to know that we are living in hell and officials hereare exploiting our plight to enrich themselves," saysNgwenya. "We have no hope here and no future and feel thatlife in hiding back in Zimbabwe was better than what we are beingsubjected to by people who claim to be fighting for the samecause."
Six judges resign from Swazi posts (Mbabane, DispatchOnline, 02/12) - Six top South African judges onSaturday resigned their posts in Swaziland after the kingdom'sprime minister questioned their authority over the country'smonarch, a news report said here. Judge President Leon Steyn andfive other judges who head the country's Appeals Court said theywere "left with no alternative but to resign" followinga statement by Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini on Friday. Stateradio quoted Dlamini as saying that the judges were being used by"forces opposed to" Swaziland's monarchy. The primeminister said a recent ruling by the judges, in which theyoverturned a forced removal ordered by the king, underminedAfrica's last absolute monarch and the decrees he has beenpromulgating. Dlamini said the conduct of the judges wasfrustrating the king as it had resulted in some of his powersbeing taken away by the ruling. But Steyn said: "By hisactions and issuing the statement the prime minister has made itimpossible for the judges of the Appeal Court to continue servingin the kingdom of Swaziland." "We are left with noalternative but to resign office, and the prime minister has beenduly advised by our position," he told the Swazi News. Steynsaid Dlamini's statement was "not only outrageous but theywere insulting the intelligence of the judges of his court"."The statement that the government believes the judges wereinfluenced by outside forces and have not acted independently isfar from the truth," he said. The judiciary, based as it ison western law principles, and the traditional government, havebeen at loggerheads over a recent ruling affecting a smallcommunity in the east of the country. Some 200 citizens last weekwon an appeal to return to land from which they were evicted in2000 after they refused to accept King Mswati III's elderbrother, Prince Maguga, as the chief in the area. Mswati thenordered their removal by decree.
Uganda says no to Rwandan refugees from Tanzania(Nairobi, Irin, 21/12) - A Ugandan minister has said hercountry will not accept Rwandan refugees who have left Tanzaniaseeking asylum, according to the privately owned Kampalanewspaper, the Monitor. "Under our guidelines, we should notaccept these people, because they have asylum protection fromTanzania," it quoted Christine Amongin Aporu Akol, theminister of state for disaster preparedness and refugees, assaying. She told reporters at a Kampala news conference on Mondaythat at least 3,000 Rwandan refugees, already granted asylum inTanzania, had crossed into Uganda. A Ugandan humanitarianofficial, who asked not to be named, told IRIN on Thursday thatthese Rwandans were seeking refuge because they knew that Ugandagave refugees land to farm, and because they wanted to avoidproperty disputes on returning to their own country. He also saidthe refugees were trying to avoid the possibility of forciblerepatriation from Tanzania, given that Dar es Salaam wanted therefugees out of the country by 31 December. The refugees are in atemporary camp at Nakivale, southwestern Uganda, some 20 km fromthe border with Tanzania. A public information officer at theOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Kampala,Bushra Malik, told IRIN that as at the end of October there were18,821 Rwandan refugees in Uganda, and that only some of thesehad come from Tanzania.
Repatriation of Rwandan refugees almost complete(Nairobi, Irin, 17/12) - The repatriation of Rwandanrefugees from camps in western Tanzania should be"substantively completed" by the end of the year,according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR). A statement issued following a tripartite meeting of thegovernments of the two countries and the UNHCR on 13 Decemberdescribed the remaining difficulties or obstacles to therepatriation as "minor". To date, 18,000 refugees of atotal of 21,000 residing in the Kitali hills and Lukole campsaround Ngara had signed up for assisted repatriation, UNHCRreported. Of these, 14,800 had already gone home - 5,600 of themsince the beginning of December. A convoy this week and probablyanother two next week would transport refugees to Rwanda, a UNHCRspokeswoman, Ivana Unluova, told IRIN. By the end of the year,only a couple of thousand were expected to have remained inTanzania. UNHCR and the respective governments have been activelypromoting the repatriation of the refugees, the vast majority ofthem Hutus who fled Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide."Go-and-see visits" had been organised to allow formerrefugees to visit the camps to report on the situation at home,said Unluova. Many of the refugees had been told by relativesthat their disputes at home, most of which were land related, hadbeen settled, she added, which had led to their decision toreturn.
Over 15,000 Rwanda refugees in Tanzania return home -UNHCR (Dar es Salaam, AFP, 16/12) - A total of 15,000Rwandan refugees in Tanzanian camps have returned homevoluntarily in the last two months under a special repatriationprogramme, the UN refugee agency said here Monday. "There issatifactory progress in the repatriation operation, where 18,000Rwandan refugees have been registered to return home and 15,000repatriated out of a total of 21,000 refugees," said astatement by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) chiefin Tanzania, Chrysantus Ache. Ache said UNHCR, Rwandan andTanzanian governments have been holding regular meetings on therepatriation of the refugees from the northwestern Tanzaniancamps. He said the last tripartite review meeting was held in Dares Salaam on Friday during which it was decided to increase thenumber of weekly convoys from two to three. "It was alsoagreed that unaccompanied children should be repatriated withtheir foster families," Ache added, and expressed optimismthat the exercise would be completed by December 31, before afinal meeting on the issue is held in Rwanda in January. UNHCRspokeswoman Ivana Unluova told AFP that those returning home weremostly Hutus, who fled Rwanda in April 1994, after presidentJuvenal Habyarimana died in a plane crash, triggering theslaughter of up to a million minority Tutsis and moderate Hutusin the country's 100-day genocide. Unluova said "those whofail to register by December 31, will be screened to establishtheir cases individually." Tanzania hosts more than 500,000other refugees, mostly those who fled war in neighbouring Burundiand the Democractic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Cross border smuggling threatens local industries (TheArusha Times, 7-13/12) - Smuggling undertaken byinfluential and powerful individuals in Arusha and Kilimanjaroregions is reported to be threatening the survival of localindustries. The concern was expressed by about 30 business peopleof the two regions during their joint meeting with regionalauthorities recently. The local entrepreneurs told the RegionalCommissioner for Arusha, Daniel Ole Njoolay, that the smugglersare well known but people fear to report them because of possibleand likely retribution from their "Mafia." According tothe entrepreneurs, Arusha region has proved to be a lucrativemarket for products from overseas and Kenya. The majority ofwhich have not only been of inferior quality but counterfeit aswell. The Regional Revenue Officer, Mrs Patience Minga admittedthat indeed the smuggling ring is so tight and have earseverywhere such that it has been very difficult to net thesmugglers. Speaking of cross border smuggling, the TRA regionalboss said her office spends over Th.87 million worth of fuelevery month for vehicle patrol but the exercise is usuallyrendered difficult due to leaking information. Mrs Minga alsopointed out that, even when her office succeeds in sealing offits Arusha precinct, other smuggled goods will always come inthrough the Kilimanjaro borderline mainly Rombo and Taveta borderpoints. "The Rombo border hurts Arusha directly!" saidthe TRA regional officer, adding that smugglers also come up withnew tricks day after day. "We once closed in a fuel tankerat Namanga only to discover that it was full of bales of Maasaiclothing being smuggled from Nairobi to Arusha. Earlier on, somelocal businessmen complained of tedious clearing process at theTanzania border pointing out that while it takes only 15 minutesto clear goods on the Kenyan side, in Tanzania the minimum timeis usually over two hours. According to the business people, thiswas the main reason why smuggling was on the rise, but accorddingthe regional TRA boss, the long and tedious process helped tocurb the rate of clandestinely imported goods. "If you wantthe border officers to hurry the process, then let me assure youthey will be very happy to do so, for it saves them a lot ofpain!" said Mrs Minga. As for the underground smugglersring, both the TRA officer and Regional Commissioner suggestedthat, if indeed the local entrepreneurs knew the person involved,then they should reveal their names through secret ballots andlet the relevant authorities do the rest. "Just list themdown, drop off the information at our offices without identifyingyourselves!" the entrepreneurs were told.
Immigration nabs 6 foreigners for using forgedpassports (Lusaka, The Post, 27/12) - Six foreignnationals have been arrested for using forged passports and workpermits. Immigration department public relations officerGreenwell Lyempe yesterday warned foreign nationals from engagingthemselves in illegal activities. "The ImmigrationDepartment has noticed with displeasure that a number of foreignnationals are working with local conmen to make false permits andstealing passports which they in turn photo substitute and alterthe names," he said. Lyempe said those arrested include JohnWilliam Stanbury a British national who had a forged immigrationwork permit. According to Lyempe others are Ally Muhamed whoforged an American passport, Angola Mukendi a Congolese national,George Kaboro from Kenya and Protais Bijababa and CanishiusMfatavya both from Burundi. Lyempe advised foreign visitors totravel with documents whenever they were moving since thedepartment would intensify their road blocks and patrols duringthe festive season. He said the move was aimed at ensuring thatonly foreigners with genuine permits were allowed to stay inZambia.
Zambia blocks Chiluba from traveling abroad (Lusaka,IOL, 23/12) - Zambia's government has blocked formerPresident Frederick Chiluba from travelling to Britain to see hisdoctors because he is being investigated for corruption, anewspaper reported on Monday. Government officials have declinedto confirm any travel ban on Chiluba, but a senior governmentsource said the government was not sure he would return if heleft the country. The daily Post newspaper said Chiluba was dueto leave Zambia on December 19 with his new wife, Regina, and twomembers of staff, but the government refused to allow him totravel. Chiluba has been under virtual house arrest since Julywhen Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said he should beprosecuted for corruption during his 10 years in office. Chilubahas been under virtual house arrest . Chiluba has only made brieftrips around Lusaka in recent months. The Post quoted Chiluba assaying he was due to see his specialist doctors in Britain for aroutine medical check-up, but the government blocked the trip."The government didn't want me to travel because they saidinvestigations (into corruption charges) are so advanced,"Chiluba was quoted as saying. In July, Mwanawasa, first seen as aChiluba puppet, asked parliament to lift his precedessor'simmunity from prosecution, saying he had evidence to show Chilubaauthorised and directed questionable deals which cost the countrymillions of dollars.Parliament complied with Mwanawasa's requestbut Chiluba appealed and the case is now before the SupremeCourt. Chiluba stepped down as president in December 2001 afterfailing to extend his term beyond the 10 years allowed by law.
State withdraws refugees bill (The Times of Zambia,19/12) - Government last night withdrew the refugeesbill after a heated debate on the proposed legislature toneutralise or assimilate refugees into Zambians. The oppositionespecially members of Parliament from Western Province saidZambia had been hospitable for too long and now was the time forrefugees to "pack and go". Leading the onslaught,Mangango MP Crispin Shumina (FDD) said it was ironical for Zambiato adopt an open door policy when the rest of the world wastightening up its immigration laws. UPND members of Parliamentfor Sikongo Colonel Best Makumba and Luena Crispin Sibetta saidcivil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo was as a result ofallowing combatants to settle among the local community."Why give citizenship to people who will later use yourcountry as base to destabilise your country and the countriesthey come from. They must go back as quickly as possible we donot need them," Mr Sibetta said. Mr Sibetta who cited formerUgandan president Milton Obote and the Banyamulenge and thosestill wanted for the genocide in Rwanda as refugees who should besent away survived two points of order for causing alarm. SeshekeMP Princess Nakatindi Wina described the bill as nationalsuicide. She said currently 1,300 refugees were crossing theZambian borders every week and 270 families had been displaced inLukulu by rampaging asylum seekers. Vubwi MP Phillip Phiri (UNIP)hoped that the initiative was not a political ploy to gain morevoters. Earlier acting Home Affairs Minister Dr Ludwig Sondashisaid the bill would accord refugees rights to education,employment and freedom of movement as provided under the UnitedNations convention. He also announced that a $4 million pilotproject would be launched in Western Province to help communitiesthat were hosting refugees but the members of Parliament rejectedthis saying the money should be channelled to police for patrols.In withdrawing the bill Dr Sondashi said there was amisunderstanding and therefore would require more consultation onArticle 34. The Freedom of Information Bill was deferred to alater date. And Speaker of the national Assembly AmusaaMwanamwambwa announced that Zambia Republican Party president BenMwila had apologised to him for alleged remarks belittling theHouse attributed to him. The House adjourned sine die afterpassing among other bills the Zambia national broadcasting bill.
Zambia sends 200,000 Angolan refugees home (Lusaka,IOL, 02/12) - Zambia and Angola have signed an agreementto begin planning the return home of more than 200 000 Angolanrefugees living in Zambia, an official announced on Monday.Zambia's permanent secretary for home affairs Peter Mumba toldjournalists that an agreement was signed last week in Angolawhere a permanent commission was formed to spearhead therepatriation effort. "The actual repatriation will beginbetween April and May next year (2003)," Mumba said. TheUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is alsorepresented on the new commission, which is expected to meet inJanuary in Lusaka to begin drafting plans, Mumba said. 'We expectto repatriate an initial 40 000 Angolan refugees' About$36-million is needed to repatriate more than 450 000 Angolansscattered in southern Africa, with Zambia hosting the highestnumber. "We expect to repatriate an initial 40 000 Angolanrefugees and thereafter work out other logistics for morerefugees," Mumba said. About 10 000 Angolan refugees inZambia have already trekked home on their own, after an Aprilceasefire between the Angolan government and the former rebels ofthe National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).Mumba said the repatriation was initially due to begin next month(January) but said Angola had not yet made enough preparationsfor their return.
Zimbabwe alienates another country (Mail&Guardian,30/12) - Botswana-Zimbabwe relations have hit a new lowafter President Festus Mogae joined the barrage of cross-borderaccusations and Zimbabwe pulled its high commissioner out ofGaborone. It is not clear whether Zenso Nsimbi, Harares topman in the Botswana capital, was withdrawn in protest againstMogaes remarks to African Business magazine. Mogae has madeit clear that he is not part of the school of thought withinAfrica favouring quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe. Interviewedfor the latest edition of the London-based magazine he saidMugabe, and not the lack of rain, was the real problem facingSouthern Africa. It is a drought of good governance that ismuch more difficult because you have neighbours likeZimbabwe, said Mogae. We try to engage them. We arenot the United Kingdom, we are not the United States, we are notthe European Union, said the president, citing thoseproponents of smart sanctions against President RobertMugabes regime. We are just their neighbour. Thereare 14-million of them, there are less than two million of us. Wesay if we were you, this is the way we would have done it and itwould be preferable if there was less controversy about landreform, which we support, said Mogae. You have totake this seriously, said Richard Cornwell of the Institutefor Security Studies. Mogae is the first African leader tobreak ranks and publicly express concern about the politicalturmoil in Zimbabwe. There was no diplomatic noteexplaining Nsimbis withdrawal, but Mugabe was making itclear he would not brook criticism from a neighbour. It issuggested in Zimbabwe political circles that Nsimbi may have paidthe price for not being tough enough about what his governmentregards as maltreatment of its citizens in Botswana. Zimbabwewill doubtless send a hardliner able to make a more spiriteddefence of Mugabes governance and a stronger protestabout treatment of the thousands of Zimbabwean economic migrantsin Botswana. Mogae addressed this too in the interview. Wehave a lot of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. There are alsothose who are authorised to come here officially. Some of themare teachers, builders and nurses, he said. Weconstructed some security fences, enclosures to hold the illegalimmigrants. Journalists came, photographed them and said thereare concentration camps. We tried to explain that thesewere not. They were just waiting places where, while we makearrangements with the authorities on the other side, we can lookafter them, said Mogae. What can we do? This is ahumanitarian crisis. We are trying to handle it as humanely aspossible. But within the limits of our capacity, or ourresources, we have no choice. Western diplomatic sourcessaid Mogaes frankness put pressure on South Africa andother countries adopting a softly softly approach to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe journalist accused of spying for BBC (Harare,Sapa-AFP, 22/12) - The Zimbabwe government has accused alocal journalist of spying for the British BroadcastingCorporation (BBC), the state-controlled Sunday Mail reported. Thepaper, which reflects government views, said Lewis Machipisa, aZimbabwean correspondent for BBC radio, was being hired byBritain's Foreign Office to also film and write stories for BBCtelevision. The BBC has been officially banned from the country,but Machipisa, a Zimbabwean national, has been able to continueworking here for the broadcaster. A senior BBC official quoted inthe Sunday Mail denied the allegations against Machipisa and alsosaid the BBC was not behind an exiled radio station broadcastinginto Zimbabwe from London, as the government had suggested. Thepermanent secretary in Zimbabwe's Information Ministry, GeorgeCharamba told the BBC in a letter quoted in the Sunday Mail thatthe BBC's denials of these charges were not accepted or believed.The charges against Machipisa come ahead of the December 31deadline set by the government for all journalists working hereto be registered, turned down or de-registered under tough newpress laws.
Immigration officer appears in court (Harare, TheHerald, 21/12) - An immigration officer who allegedlydemanded a US$100 (Z$5 600) bribe from a Democratic Republic ofCongo national appeared before a Harare magistrates' court thisweek. Phillemon Chamunorwa Gumbo (35) appeared before magistrateMr Shelton Jura on Monday facing charges of contravening thePrevention of Corruption Act. Mr Jura remanded him out of custodyon $10 000 bail to January 10 next year. Gumbo was employed atthe immigration headquarters at Liquenda House in Harare. Chargesagainst him arose on December 12 this year after he allegedlydemanded a US$100 bribe from an illegal immigrant FranciscoPanzo. Gumbo, it is alleged, demanded US$100 from Panzo for himnot to be deported. Panzo then paid the US$100. It is alsoalleged that Gumbo further demanded another US$200 from Panzo.According to the State, Panzo then reported the matter to policeand a trap was set. Gumbo was subsequently arrested afterreceiving the US$200.
Bogus UK visa agents mushroom in Bulawayo (Harare, TheHerald, 21/12) - Bogus agents who claim that they canprocess the much sought after United Kingdom visa have sproutedin Bulawayo amid reports that a number of people intending totravel abroad have lost millions of dollars. Investigations haveshown that the agents are charging $150 000 as a processing feeand $83 000 for the visa. The agents, who are now all over, haveput up advertisements in the press calling on people intending totravel to the UK to come forward and be assisted in gettingvisas. "If you want a visa to the UK just bring $150 000which is our processing fee and $83 000 which we will pay to theBritish Embassy for the visa itself," said an agentofficial. The visa to the UK costs $72 000 and is non-refundable.Efforts to contact the British Embassy were fruitless, as it hasshut down for the festive season. It also emerged that some ofthe agents were involved in the shipping of locals to overseascountries especially the UK and they pay all the travel expensesand then demand a refund later. The agents demand that thetraveller either surrender title deeds of his or her house or acar as collateral. In the event that he or she does not have anyof those, then a guarantor would have to be found who has to alsosurrender either the title deeds of a house or a car. A returnair ticket from Zimbabwe to the United Kingdom costs $1,2million. "I approached those agents and they told me that Ishould surrender either a house or a car as collateral and that Ishould be able to repay the travel expenses within two months ofmy stay in UK, failure to which they will confiscate thehouse," said Benjamin Dube, a local teacher. UK imposedvisas on Zimbabweans on 7 November in what the British HomeSecretary, David Blunket, said stemmed from what he called"abuse of immigration controls."
Top Commonwealth official not welcome in Zimbabwe(Harare, Sapa-AP, 20/12) - Zimbabwe banned the head ofthe Commonwealth from the country Friday -the latest diplomaticrow between the troubled southern African country and theorganization representing Britain's former colonies. CommonwealthSecretary-General Don McKinnon had requested a meeting withZimbabwean authorities to discuss the Commonwealth decision tosuspend Zimbabwe from its decision-making councils, the state-runHerald newspaper reported Friday. The decision was made shortlyafter election observers accused the increasingly unpopularPresident Robert Mugabe of rigging March presidential electionsto extend his 22-year rule. McKinnon's request to visit Zimbabwewas turned down because his "intentions were notlegitimate," Willard Chiwewe, a senior foreign ministryofficial told the newspaper. Chiwewe also dismissed a committeemade up of Australia, Nigeria and South Africa formed by theCommonwealth of Britain and 53 former colonies to coordinateactions against Zimbabwe as flawed. "(It) cannot be alegitimate guide for Zimbabwe's relations and status in theCommonwealth," Chiwewe said. As Zimbabwe teeters oncollapse, it's diplomatic relations have also suffered. TheEuropean Union, the United States and Switzerland have imposedlimited travel and investment sanctions against Mugabe's topgovernment officials. At least 6.7 million Zimbabweans, more thanhalf the population, face hunger in the coming months because ofa sharp drop in agricultural production blamed on a drought andthe government's controversial seizure of thousands ofwhite-owned commercial farms. Zimbabwe has been wracked by nearlythree years of political and economic turmoil widely blamed onthe ruling party. Last week, Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge saidthe Commonwealth had sent election observers to the Marchpresidential vote who were supporters of what he called a Britishcampaign to tarnish the country's image. In November, Zimbabwebarred British Prime Minister Tony Blair and about 90 Britishgovernment ministers and European Parliament members from thecountry.
Mega park great news for regional tourism (Harare, TheHerald, 16/12) - Zimbabwe's tourism can do with a littlebit of great news, what with the critical fuel shortage which iscausing headaches to hotels and tour operators ahead of thefestive season. Most hotels and resorts in Zimbabwe are almostfully booked for the festive season. The majority of the bookingshave been made by Zimbabweans who want to unwind with theirfamilies after a trying year. But the fuel crisis, the worst tohave hit the country, could put paid to their travel plans. Withair fares out of the reach of many people, road travel is but theonly option for those going to holiday. Without fuel, peoplecannot travel and hotels and tour operators lose out. At presentthere are no signs that the fuel shortage is going away anytimesooner. Noczim officials are trying hard to line their pockets byattempting to dump Tamoil of Libya in favour of otherinternational oil suppliers who demand cash upfront. With cashdeals, Noczim officials can have opportunities to line theirpockets. In the meantime fuel shortages worsen. While the fuelshortages are depressing, the recent launch in Mozambique of theGreat Limpopo Transfrontier Park is great news for the localtourism industry. The 95 000-square-kilometre park linksGonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, Limpopo National Park inMozambique and Kruger National Park in South Africa. PresidentsMugabe, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Joaquim Chissano ofMozambique recently signed the Mega Park treaty in Xai Xai, atown situated along the Limpopo River in Mozambique. There arehigh expectations that the Mega Park will unlock great tourismrevival and investment in Zimbabwe and the region. Thus, the parkwill cement the economic relations between Zimbabwe, South Africaand Mozambique, as tourists would be able to cross from onecountry to another with a single visa. The three countries havesolid economic and political ties dating back to their respectiveliberation struggles. Speaking during the official launching ofthe park, President Mugabe said the signing of the treatydemonstrated regional unity and should benefit people of thethree countries. "Today's event serves to demonstrate thatwhich unites us is greater than that which seeks to divideus," he said. "It reminds us that we are one people,with a shared history and destiny." The Mega Park, PresidentMugabe said, was dedicated to the people of the three countries.He said Zimbabwe was committed to the success of the project thatshould inspire more regional joint ventures in the economicfield. President Chissano called for an alliance between thestates, the private sector and local communities for the successof the park. President Mbeki said the park would strengthenco-operation between the three nations and showed that the regioncould achieve goals it sets for itself.
The launching of the park is likely to havesent shock waves to Zimbabwe's detractors who have been trying toput a wedge between the nation and other Sadc countries. MostWestern countries are against the land reform programme, aimed ataddressing colonial land imbalances, and have gone on a campaignto demonise the Government. The bad publicity, created by somelocal and international media, had affected the tourism industryalthough there were signs that the sector was improving due tothe aggressive marketing strategies by stakeholders. Thus, thelaunching of the park was a welcome development to Zimbabwe sinceit came at a time when the tourism industry was poised forrecovery. The tourism sector started showing signs of recoveryearly this year following aggressive marketing strategies of thecountry in non-traditional tourists markets such as Japan, Franceand the Asian region. This was coupled by the lifting of travelwarnings to Zimbabwe by major tourist markets like the UnitedKingdom, Germany and Australia. The improvement of the tourismsector was evidenced by thousands of tourists who flocked intoZimbabwe to view the recent solar eclipse. Environment andTourism Ministry Secretary, Ambassador Lucas Tavaya, said theMega Park would create vast tourism opportunities for Zimbabwe.He said since the Kruger National Park was more developed thanthe other two regional parks, Zimbabwe and Mozambique were set tobenefit from the integration of the parks. "At least onemillion tourists visit the Kruger National Park every year and ifabout 30 percent of these tourists were to visit GonarezhouNational Park, this will be an achievement for us,"Ambassador Tavaya said. He urged investors to put their resourcesinto the Gonarezhou and Limpopo National Parks in order for theproject to be a success. "Investors must grab this rareopportunity and invest in Gonarezhou which is an undevelopedarea," he said. The Mega Park was said to have the potentialto become one of Africa's top eco-tourism destinations. Itdiffered from traditional parks in that permanent humansettlements and wildlife would co-exist within its boundaries.Local communities, Ambassador Tavaya said, were also set tobenefit from the park through a project similar to the Campfireprogrammes. In the Campfire programmes some of the proceedsrealised from the trade in wildlife would be ploughed back to thecommunities. "We are hopeful that this project will commencesoon," he said. However, Ambassador Tavaya said there weresome challenges which would be faced during the implementation ofthe project and these included coming up with measures to curbthe spread of diseases among the wild life. "At the momentwe are not aware what type of diseases affect the wildlife in thethree countries and such information is important before theintegration of the parks," he said. Apart from the GreatLimpopo Trasnfrontier Park, Zimbabwe was also linking up theChinanimani National Park in Manicaland with Mozambique. InVictoria Falls, another conservative area, the OkavangoUpper-Zambezi Mega Park would benefit Zimbabwe, Angola andNamibia. The three countries have removed border fences to allowelephants and other game to follow traditional migration routesand tourists to travel across boundaries without facing bordercontrols. It's now up to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority andZimbabwe Council of Tourism to intensify the aggressive marketingof the country's tourism products in order to turn around thefortunes of the sector. If tourists could still visit Zimbabwedespite the negative publicity, then there is definitely light atthe end of the tunnel.
The census and out-migration: Commentary (The DailyNews, 16/12) - The census says there were 11,6 millionpeople in Zimbabwe at the end of August. That agrees very wellwith the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)'s estimate inFebruary that there were then 11,9 million. Their estimate wasbased on two assumptions: - that as many people are dying everyyear as are born, because of Aids. Many experts agree with thisestimate, including those in the Ministry of Health who werequoted by Dr Timothy Stamps late last year; and, - that a lot ofpeople are leaving the country. We all know that. Because so manypeople are leaving the country, the ZESN estimate and the censusfigures agree very closely. It is quite likely that 300 000people left the country between February and August and,therefore, the population dropped by 300 000 in that time. It ispossible another 300 000 have left since August, so that theremay now be only 11, 3 million people in Zimbabwe. We all know whythey are leaving. There are no jobs, there is no food and no onewants their daughters to be called up into the youth brigades.Those who have left made the best choice they could see. We mightargue that they would have been able to do more to make thechanges we need by staying at home and working for them, butneither decision is easy. Maybe we should all be planning tofollow them while we still have the strength to walk to theborder. It's no good waiting until you are too weak with hungerto make the journey. We have it on the highest authority thatPresident Mugabe doesn't want anyone here who disagrees with him.Foreigners must keep their countries and he will keep "hisZimbabwe". One of his senior sidekicks has said: "Wewould be better off if we had only six million people, as long asthey were totally loyal to the revolution" - meaning ourleadership and their party's interpretation of "therevolution". He's being optimistic if he thinks he's stillgot six million totally loyal followers, but it is obvious to usall by now that they don't mind how the less loyal ones get outof their way: they can emigrate, they can stay and starve or diein any of the quicker ways that people with degrees in violenceknow all about. But the message is clear: they must get out ofthe way. So why don't we leave him his Zimbabwe? When it comes toa choice between starving here or going to queue for food wherepeople would at least try to find us some, there's a lot to besaid for joining the queues there. We'd better make the decisionbefore we find there is no food or fuel here and we are toohungry to walk to the border. That situation is near now, so we'dbetter not leave it too late. If we did make that choice, wewould be creating problems for our new hosts. Our neighboursalready have a lot of hungry people to feed and eight million ormore extra will make their problem worse. But they try to shareout what food they have fairly. We'd be more likely to getsomething from them.
It might be good to show them just how badthings are here. If we all let Mugabe have "hisZimbabwe", there is a slight chance that the neighboursmight decide that Zimbabwe is a bit too big to be one man'sprivate farm. They might decide that another land reform isneeded, one that gives enough of us a share so that we don't allgo begging to them. They might, or they might not, but at leastwe would have a better chance of getting a bit of food to eat. Wehave heard that ours is an African problem and we should not belooking for help from the man named after a toilet (you know whoI mean: the women's league all talk about him so much he must betheir boyfriend) or the one who spends all his time looking forterrorists to fight, because they won't help us. They have otherproblems they think are more urgent. Our problem is an Africanproblem. Let's show some other Africans that it does affect them.It won't be an easy choice for them. They probably remember thatwhen that peaceable man Julius Nyerere decided the only way tosolve his problem with a difficult neighbour was to send his armyto remove Idi Amin, those rich people who talk so much abouthuman rights didn't give him a cent to compensate his pitiablypoor people for the expense they suffered in order to remove athreat to everyone's peace and security. The West won't lift afinger, perhaps because we don't have oil, like Iraq. If ourlandlord was removed, they would probably heave a great sigh ofrelief that he wouldn't be going to international conferences toinsult them. But then if we all died quietly and he ran out offuel to go to those conferences, they would heave the same sighof relief. But if we showed that we prefer to starve to death inpeace on their territories rather than being harassed all the wayto the grave, then the landlords of our neighbourhood might dosomething to prevent us crossing into their countries. They mightnot do the right thing, but it would be better than letting themget away with doing nothing.
Record 55,000 Zimbabweans deported from SA (Bulawayo,The Sunday Mail, 15/12) - A record 55 000 Zimbabweanswere deported from South Africa and Botswana during the past 11months alone, police confirmed. In an interview at the weekend,Matabeleland South provincial spokesman Inspector Alfred Zvenyikasaid the figures were higher than usual. "The figures arequite high. A total of 55 736 Zimbabweans were deported fromSouth Africa and Botswana," he said. Although he could notgive comparative figures offhand, he said the figure was doublethat of last year. Beitbridge Border Post had 29 194, whilePlumtree saw 26 542 deportees passing through. He said the figurewas expected to increase in the run-up to the Christmas holiday.The border jumpers were fined $500 each, bringing in revenueamounting to $27,8 million to the Government. Insp Zvenyika saidabout 6 000 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants were being deportedfrom South Africa every month, mostly from Johannes-burg. The1999 figure of 35 000 illegal immigrants from South Africaremains the highest number of deportations from that country inmore than 10 years.
Census omits millions (The Independent, 13/12) - Thepopulation census carried out in August left millions of peopleuncounted, especially displaced commercial farm workers and thenewly-resettled farmers, it emerged this week. Over three millionpeople are suspected to have slipped through the 2002 census netcast between August 17/27, resulting in a serious underestimationof the Zimbabwe population put at 11,6 million. Demographers saidmillions of people could have been left out of the enumerationbecause of the maps used, unqualified personnel and aninflation-eroded budget allocated to the exercise. "The mapsused in the exercise did not take cognisance of the displacementstaking place on the commercial farms," one demographer said."Over 150 000 farm workers were displaced as farms weredesignated and that figure is multiplied by six to include theworker and at least six of his dependants," he said."This effectively means plus or minus 900 000 people werenot counted from the commercial farming area alone. Remember thefigure does not include the farmers themselves who were stayingat friends' places in town and the newly-resettled farmers inunserviced bush," he said. Census manager Washington Mapetaconceded there were discrepancies in the final figure but deniedthey would make a big difference. "The maps we used at wardlevel date back to 1979," Mapeta said. "We startedupgrading the maps in 1999 to prepare for the exercise. The mapsoriginated from the surveyor-general as well as provincial anddistrict offices throughout the country," he said.Demographers said the two-and-a-half years of map-updating tookplace before the peak of farm invasions, making the whole processirrelevant since there was massive movement of people. Mapetasaid the enumerators in all census exercises should ideally bepeople who knew the life patterns of the people and the areasthey were enumerating to avoid omitting some. "One wassupposed to be employed in that area to qualify to be one of theenumerators, which explains why the bulk of our enumerators wereteachers, nurses and Arex officers," he said. However,population experts said in the case of displaced people orresettled farmers, no-one knew the area because the whole processwas unsettled. "We can safely say the census was a non-eventbecause it was carried out when the country was going throughuncontrolled movements of people," one expert said. "Ifthe figure of 11,6 million Zimbabweans leaked to the Herald isanything to go by, then the census would have been a waste ofresources and time because that is far from the truth, evenexcluding those living out of the country." Mapeta said hewas not in a position to comment on the figures published by theHerald since his superiors were handling it. "I can'tcomment on the Herald story, but we will be releasing ourpreliminary findings by the end of this month," he said.Mapeta said the whole process would be completed in 2005 withanalysis of the data being the last stage.
DRC medical specialists to work in Zimbabwe (Harare,The Herald, 12/12) - The Ministry of Health and ChildWelfare will next month recruit medical specialists from theDemo-cratic Republic of Congo to replace those leaving thecountry. This followed an agreement reached between the healthministries of Zimbabwe and DRC at the two countries' third jointcommission meeting which ended yesterday. The Secretary forHealth and Child Welfare, Dr Elizabeth Xaba, said a team ofZimbabwean medical experts would visit the DRC next month tointerview doctors wishing to work in Zimbabwe. "Unlike othercountries which want their people to be paid in United Statesdollars, the DRC government has agreed that we pay theirpersonnel in our local currency," said Dr Xaba. Her ministrywould put in place mechanisms to ensure that all the specialiststhat are to be recruited are highly qualified. "We don'tthink we will have many problems in the recruitment because someof the specialists we have in Zimbabwe are from the DRC," DrXaba said. The specialists are expected to start work in Zimbabwein the first quarter of next year. The Minister of Health andChild Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, who co-chaired the jointministerial plenary session, said nurses were not covered in therecruitment because of the language barrier. Nurses administerprimary health care and should be conversant with locallanguages, not just English. Zimbabwe is facing a criticalshortage of medical professionals who are leaving the country.The agreement to hire DRC specialist was reached at theDRC/Zimbabwe joint commission in Nyanga in August where the twocountries agreed to co-operate in health . The Zimbabweandelegation yesterday visited clinics and hospitals in Lubumbashi,the DRC's second biggest city, to get first hand experience ofthe country's health delivery system.
Zimbabwe, SA strengthen bilateral co-operation (TheSunday Mirror, 08/12) - Bilateral co-operation is vitalfor economic rebound in Zimbabwe and the region as a whole,economic experts have said. Expert opinion says that countries inthe region need to strengthen and consolidate relations to avertthe economic downturn, which the region has been undergoing overthe past three years. Zimbabwe and South Africa are steps aheadof other regional counterparts in cementing relations both in theeconomic and political front. At a recent Joint Commissionmeeting for economic, technical, scientific and culturalco-operation, held in Pretoria, Zimbabwe and SA agreed toco-operate on a number of issues and expressed hope in thestrengthening and consolidation of relations. Zimbabweangovernment officials who attended the meeting said both partiesagreed to deepen co-operation, especially on the economic front.The two countries agreed to form working groups in the economicand social sectors. Economic experts said for countries likeZimbabwe to have its economic weight felt at the global market,the first step was to consolidate its local and regionalposition. For the two countries, economic relations arehistorical but analysts note that those relations need to berevived and cemented. At the Joint Commission meeting last month,the two regional economic powerhouses agreed to amend theavoidance of double taxation agreement, which should be concludedwithin six months. The two countries also agreed on theestablishment of a Bilateral Investment and Protection Agreement(BIPPA) which is going to be concluded in six months. Zimbabwehas requested SAs assistance in obtaining spare parts forlocomotives and rolling stock. A further request of twolocomotives on a lease basis as a way of assisting the NationalRailways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to operate effectively is still beingconsidered by Transnet of SA. Both sides also agreed that impetusshould be given to the implementation of the Spatial DevelopmentInitiative, which was identified at the 1999 Bilateral EconomicSummit. Some of the projects include the TransFrontierPark, coal bed methane gas exploration and assorted manufacturingprojects.
The two sides agreed that impetus must be given toimplement these project and to this end, the SA side agreed tosend a technical team to Zimbabwe during the first quarter of2003 to investigate and assist in the implementation of theseprojects, said an official who attended the conference.Zimbabwe has been experiencing problems in the movement ofimported food products from South African ports and in thisregard SA is now exploring measures that could reduce lead timeand fast track delivery.One possible solution to the Zimbabweanproblem would be the transportation of food through SA ports.SAalso undertook to mill genetically modified maize destined forZimbabwe in its milling factories, assist Zimbabwe in procurementof agricultural inputs which include seed and fertilisers whichare currently in short supply. In Energy and Mining, the JointCommission noted that Electricity Trade Arrangements betweenZimbabwe power utility, ZESA and ESKOM are in place and aregoverned by trade protocols of the Southern African Power Pool.ZESA would be assessing its supply requirements for 2004 onwardsand would consider a new power purchase agreement with ESKOM.Inroads have already been made into bilateral co-operation in themining sector as subsequent meetings have already been held inHarare soon after the Pretoria conference. The two parties aregoing to co-operate in the development of small-scale mining,research and development, stemming smuggling of precious metalsand stones and jewellery fabrication among other areas in themining sector. SA has initiated an Economic Recovery Forum thatis aimed at promoting investment in that country and Zimbabwe andthe two countries have scheduled a conference on the recoveryplan early next year. Mining is the mainstay of bothcountries economies as it contributes immensely to nationalincome and employment. In Zimbabwe, the mining sector employsclose to 55 000 workers and more in downstream activities.SA has been Zimbabwes largest trading partner, theinterdependence is historical and such meetings as these serve tostrongly tie the two countries economic front together. ForZimbabwe, which has been facing an economic downturn, this isgood news, said Trade and Economic Consultant, SamuelUndenge. Apart from being Zimbabwes largest trading partnerin material products, SA has also appeared to be one of thelargest markets for the Zimbabwean tourism industry.
Balancing imports and exports, SA accounts for a large chunkof Zimbabwes exported products and still maintains a holdon imports into the country regionally. The two countries alsohave the region inexorably tied under their arms as they haveinvested wisely and largely into the region, though SA is wellahead of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe also acts as a transit for haulagetrucks and rail transport from down south going northwards.Contrary to speculation, relations between the twocountries have been good; there is constant contact, new areas ofco-operation are being added and that is surely a good sign,especially on the economic front. Progress could however beslower but that is the trend the world over. Things do not workover night, economic relations take time to cement, Undengesaid. Another local economic commentator noted that the recentJoint Commission meeting was unique since it had short andlong-term benefits to the economies of bothcountries.Bilateral co-operation has become the trend theworld over, the scope is good as it fosters more co-operation asa first step towards venturing into the global market and that isthe approach which is now being pursued globally. The region hasbeen facing an economic downturn with inflation instability,falling gross domestic product (GDP), rising unemployment, severebrain drain and famine having become a common feature in SouthernAfrican economies. The global economy is expected to record amodest growth of about two percent by year end and the trend hasbeen underpinned by a slowdown in the major economies of theworld, notably USA, Japan and Germany. Primary exports from theregion have been exposed to the mercy of international marketinstabilities and unfavourable prices.
Airzim hires South African engineers (The Daily News,06/12) - Air Zimbabwe has hired 15 engineers from SouthAfrica and is reportedly paying them US$55 (Z$3 025) an hour. Thecharge was made by Gabriel Ziki, the chairman of the ZimbabweAircraft Maintenance Engineers Association (ZAMEA), most of whosemembers were fired by the airline after a pay strike. RambaiChingwena, the managing director of Air Zimbabwe yesterday saidthe engineers had no business talking about how the airline wasbeing run because he was the man in charge. "These are veryserious issues. The people giving you this information areignorant of how we function as an airline," he said."We have hired the South African engineers and we are payingcompetitive commercial rates." Chingwena said they werestill building up their engineering capabilities and wouldcontinue sending their planes to South Africa for A, B and Cchecks. Chingwena said the two planes parked in their hangarswere stripped and abandoned by the striking engineers who wantedto hold them to ransom. He said they dismissed 89 of the 139striking engineers and an additional 50 have their case pendingat the Ministry of Labour for determination. Captain GeorgeMwase, Air Zimbabwe's general manager (operations) took thisreporter on a guided tour of the hangars where the South Africanengineers were carrying out a C-Check on the BAe 146, to becompleted in two weeks' time. The South Africans are led byWillie Wilson, the coordinator, and Gustav Smith, responsible forproduction and material control, both of South African Technical.Ziki said apart from servicing the two grounded aircraft, theSouth Africans will assist Air Zimbabwe's newly-recruitedengineers, who were engaged after the dismissal of the strikingengineers. Ziki alleged the national airline had not paid thestriking engineers their monthly salaries for the past threemonths and had refused to resolve the impasse that threatens thesmooth running of the airline. Ziki said in spite of this thenational airline was prepared to pay large amounts in foreigncurrency to the South African engineers.Ziki said that the 15South African engineers would be paid US$55 ($3 025) for everyhour worked at Air Zimbabwe.The engineers are booked at HolidayInn Hotel in Harare. The striking engineers were served withsuspension letters on 13 September, two days after the strikebegan.Ziki said the local engineers salaries ranged from $61 000to $97 000 a month for those who have reached their ceiling, assupervisors. "They are prepared to send our aircraft toSouth Africa to pay US$40 per man-hour as opposed to paying thatequivalent to the striking engineers for the whole month,"he said. "They should be strengthening our performance,rather than spending millions on expanding our competitor'scapacity."
Air Zimbabwe has three Boeing 737s, twoBoeing 767s and one British Aerospace (BAe) 146 aircraft. At AirZimbabwe's hangar, there are two planes, one with theregistration Z-WPA and a BAe 146 parked. The BAe 146 last flew in1999. "These routes are no longer being serviced. They usedto bring in a lot of foreign currency," Ziki said. He saidAir Zimbabwe had cancelled other international revenue routessuch as the Harare-Kinshasa-Brussels route which was serviced bythe Boeing 737 and earned much foreign currency .That route isnow being serviced by South African Airways.Ziki said the airlinecancelled that route following the disappearance without trace ofabout US$4 million which had been collected by Lac Airways in theDRC, on behalf of Air Zimbabwe from the sale of tickets. Theengineers' are demanding a monthly salary of between $200 000 and$400 000 which Ziki said was negotiable.He said their dismissalhad compromised Air Zimbabwe's flight maintenance and services."The airline has been sending planes to South Africa for A,B and C Checks when they should be resolving the impasse with thestriking engineers." Three weeks ago, Air Zimbabwe's Boeing767 was grounded in the UK with a mechanical fault. David Mwenga,the public relations manager for Air Zimbabwe said then that theyhad 80 engineers servicing Air Zimbabwe planes after thedismissal of the 139 striking engineers. "The fact is weneed more than 80 engineers. What happened with the strikingengineers was regrettable. Engineers are necessary for AirZimbabwe," Mwenga said three weeks ago. Ziki said: "AirZimbabwe is not committed to resolving this issue. It costs theairline US$40 ($2 200) per man-hour to have checks done in SouthAfrica. They have been using the divide and rule tactic tointimidate our members."
Tough time for Zimbabwean asylum seekers in UK (TheIndependent, 06/12) - Thousands of Zimbabweans fleeingPresident Mugabe's misrule and harsh economic conditions at homeare set to find their way to the United Kingdom blocked after theBritish government last week moved to reduce the chances ofasylum seekers making successful claims in that country. TheBritish Home Secretary, David Blunkett, last Friday scrapped the"exceptional leave to remain" (ELR) arrangement thatallowed unsuccessful asylum applicants to stay in Britain untiltheir cases were heard. The decision means that thousands ofmigrants, among them Zimbabweans, Iraqis and Somalis, who weregiven the right to live temporarily in Britain because ofcompelling grounds, could now be sent back home. The Britishgovernment announced that it would replace ELR with a new statuscalled "humanitarian protection" which the governmentsaid would be much tighter and only apply to claimants who provedthey could not safely return home. The Movement for DemocraticChange (MDC) Foreign Affairs spokesman, Moses Mzila Ndlovu, saidthe MDC was concerned by the latest developments. "The MDCis gravely concerned with developments in Britain over thecancellation of ELR for asylum seekers and we will see victimisedpeople having nowhere to seek refuge," Ndlovu said. "Wehope the British will reverse this decision and allow victims ofpolitical violence to stay, especially Zimbabweans." TheBritish Home Office said the move to annul ELR was prompted bysharp increases in the number of people applying for asylum inthe last three months. The number of asylum applications made inthe period from July to September this year was 29 100. In thefirst nine months of the year 62 480 asylum claims were madecompared to 53 660 for last year and the statistics suggest thetotal for 2002 will be the highest on record. The BritishImmigration minister, Beverly Hughes, said ELR was being abused."I believe that our use of ELR has encouraged abuse andacted as a pull factor, encouraging economic migrants to applyfor asylum in the UK in the belief that they will be given ELRwhen their asylum claim is rejected," said Hughes. Thousandsof Zimbabweans who have left the country on political grounds areamong those on the list of people on ELR. The British Home Officesaid there has been a surge in asylum applications from Zimbabwe,Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Habib Rahman of the Joint Councilfor the Welfare of Immigrants said the decision by the Britishgovernment was "shocking". Others agreed. Leigh Daynesof Refugee Action said: "The abolition of ELR is deeplydisturbing. As global political events and human rights abusescontinue to uproot innocent people, the government must extendprotection to those who need it."
Steps taken to protect women refugees against abuse(Johannesburg, Irin, 02/12) - Steps have been taken atZimbabwe's Tongogara refugee camp to stamp out allegations ofsexual abuse following two incidents at the camp earlier thisyear, David Mlambo, UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)administrator at the camp told IRIN on Monday. The camp, inChipinge, near the border with Mozambique, provides assistance toaround 800 refugees, about half of whom are women. In Juneallegations of sexual abuse by humanitarian workers saw twoemployees of the International Catholic Migration Commission(ICMC) dismissed. They had allegedly requested sexual favours inreturn for items like sanitary towels and blankets sent to thecamp for distribution. "We have brought in a female socialworker and are trying to employ female officers instead ofmen," said Mlambo. "We want the women to be dealt withby women." He added: "We have also asked for extrapolice involvement and they are on site. Everything is undercontrol now," he said. Liberian refugee Mary Browne toldIRIN: "These days things are much better. The social workerdeals with women's problems and they are opening up more to herthan to a man." The Zimbabwe incidents came after similarincidents in West Africa after which the UNHCR introduced a widerange of measures and operational guidelines to protect refugeesagainst sexual abuse and inform them of their rights.
Closure of bureaux de change (The Sunday Mirror,01/12) - Zimbabweans working and living outside thecountry, especially in the United Kingdom and America, stand tobe affected by governments directive to prohibit theoperations of bureaux de change with effect from yesterday as itbecomes complicated to send supportive foreign currency torelatives back home, The Sunday Mirror has learnt. The closure ofbureaux de change could be compounded by the refusal byinternational money transfer companies to handle foreign currencymoney destined for Zimbabwe, preferring not to handle any hardcash but bank to bank transfers, according to reports received.Western Union, a money transfer company in London is nolonger accepting any hard currency to be passed to Zimbabwe.Its arguing that the closure of bureaux de change meansgovernment does not want anyone to pass the foreign currencywithout its control, said a Harare man with relatives inLondon. Efforts to get comment from the company, both in Zimbabweand in the UK proved fruitless. Local foreign money handlinghouses visited confirmed the reported gloom of most beneficiariesand dealers due to the prohibition. Bureaux de change werereportedly set to loose billions of dollars, when they offloadedtheir stored foreign currency, some of it presumably bought onfluctuating parallel market rates. We are winding-up butsome clients are still coming to make enquiries on what could bethe alternative (to the closures). However, some clients arecelebrating saying the move is going to pull down the exchangerates of the Zimbabwe dollar against major currencies such as theBritish pound, the greenback (American dollar) and the SouthAfrican rand, said a worker at a Harare bureau de changewho preferred anonymity. Finance and Economic DevelopmentMinister Dr Herbert Murerwa announced during the presentation ofthe 2003 national budget to parliament on November 14 that allbureaux de change must close shop by yesterday.
Government accused bureaux de change of fuelling foreigncurrency black-market rates and resolved to close the businesses.The move was cited this week as the reason for the nose-diving offoreign exchange rates on the parallel market. Exchange rates formajor currencies have been pegged by government at $55 for anAmerican dollar, $86 for a British pound, $6 for a South Africanrand and $9 for a Botswana pula for the past two years. Beforethe announcement, the British pound was trading at as high as $2500, the American dollar had reached a peak of around $1 800 andthe South African rand was trading at almost $160. However, thepound traded at $1 600, according to dealers interviewed lastweek. After receiving bonuses and in preparation for Christmas,Zimbabweans travelled to neighbouring countries on shoppingtrips, said a commentator. Cross-border traders also reportedlymade business by importing Christmas goodies during this period,while government officials and other businesspersons flew tointernational destinations on shopping trips. Bureaux de ChangeAssociation of Zimbabwe chairman, Nesbert Tinarwo could not bereached for comment by the time of going to press. Theassociation was reportedly making frantic efforts last week toconvince government to revoke the decision beforeyesterdays deadline. The closure of bureaux de change meansall foreign currency transactions would have to go throughcommercial banks, where the bank would retain 50 percent of theforeign money being exchanged. Bureaux de change reportedlyhandled 80 percent of the countrys foreign currency beforethe banning of such businesses.
Zimbabweans with relatives working abroad used to receive hardcash, without paying any commission to the money transfercompany, and would offload the currency to bureaux de change whopaid rates way above the official rate. The prohibitionwill not work because people will revert to the system whereby aZimbabwean with an account in Britain, but is based in thecountry and needs foreign currency, may ask anyone in the worldto deposit into that account while he pays an agreed equivalentto someone in Zimbabwe using local currency, and government doesnot benefit anything, a Harare businessman told The SundayMirror. A Zimbabwean working in London said: Closingbureaux de change will not affect most of us here. We transferour money through Zimbabweans with accounts around the world, butare resident in Zimbabwe. She said her relatives thencontacted the accountholder, after receiving confirmation thatshe would have deposited the foreign currency, and then receivesubstantial Zimbabwe dollars because afavourable rate would have been used. The closure ofbureaux de change would lead Zimbabweans to clandestinely deal inforeign currency. The prohibition would also complicate thecentral banks calculations, based on the estimated foreigncurrency circulating in the country, because eventually a fewindividuals might control it, said an analyst. Government hasremained adamant that the Zimbabwe dollars value againstmajor currencies was not artificial and it was not in a hurry todevalue the currency. The finance minister last week toldParliament that straight devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar wouldbe chasing a mirage.
Zimbabwe's brain drain (The Sunday Mirror, 01/12) - Soserious has the brain drain become in Zimbabwe that the NationalEconomic Consultative Forum (NECF) had to commission recently astudy on the problem. The study does transcend the manyspeculative and politically-motivated accounts on the brain drainthat has seen the Zimbabwe Diaspora grow by leaps and bounds overthe last decade. Sadly, however, the study like many of thosesubjective conclusions that one finds in sections of our media,establishes no causal relationship between Zimbabwessuccessful human resource development strategy of the firstdecade of independence on the one hand, and the lack of suchcomprehensive policy frameworks in the neighbouring countries ofSouthern Africa, on the other. Also, missing in these analyses ofthe current brain drain problem in Zimbabwe is an account of thedisparity between a progressive social development policy thatwas a central feature of the post-independence government, on theone hand, and an enclave economy that remained narrow-based formost of these two decades, increasingly incapable of absorbingthe growing number of school leavers and tertiary educationgraduates. It was the National Manpower Survey (NMS) of 1981/2which established the human resources development policy forpost-independent Zimbabwe. The NMS was essentially an economicand technical exercise; but it was also a large politicalstatement, about both the colonial legacy in general and Thespecific steps to be undertaken if the country was to indigenisethe economy, expand it and thereby ensure sustainable developmentin the years and decades ahead. Even before the NationalLiberation Movement returned home in 1980, the two or three yearsleading to independence had been devoted to a seriousconsideration of the political and technical capacity that wouldbe required for the new state. A major influence in all thisplanning was the fear that there would be a major exodus ofwhites on Independence Day and that, given the monopoly whichwhite settler colonialism had enjoyed in all aspects of theeconomy, everything had to be done to pre-empt collapse and theattendant chaos and crises that would no doubt ensue in suchcircumstances. The Zanu leadership in particular had witnessedthe Mozambican transition following that countrysindependence in 1975. By early 1976, all the white skills who were the only skills available had left the MozambiqueRailways; in other words, some 26 000 white workers had simplypacked their bags, including the coffins that previously lay inthe elaborate mausoleums in the Maputo cemetery, and left forPortugal. This brought the Mozambique Railways to a virtualstandstill in a matter of days, a situation which, even up tothis day, has hardly improved. But this became a patternthroughout an economy in which the colonial authorities had fordecades ensured that even the most menial of skilled work had tobe confined to Portuguese settlers. Indeed, by the eve ofZimbabwean independence in 1980, there was no economy to talkabout in Mozambique and, as is now well-known, it would beanother decade of strife and conflict before the country achievedthe foundations of peace and development at the turn of the1990s.
In short, the fear of a white exodus became one of the centralconcerns of the government in waiting of Zimbabwe.And, in as far as that eventuality was viewed as largelyinevitable, so, too, did the leadership of the liberationmovement both Zanu and Zapu begin preparing for theNational Manpower Survey (NMS) some 2 or 3 years before theformal launch of the latter in 1981 under the Ministry ofManpower, Planning and Development. By 1979, we had a fairlyreliable indication of the number of skilled Zimbabweans who wereoutside the country, including those under training in thevarious parts of the world. We had even identified the personswho would occupy the key posts in the various sections of thestate apparatus; and, from the very outset, the guerilla armybecame the Zimbabwe National Army. By the end of 1980, some 20000 skilled and professional Zimbabweans had returned home, lessby invitation than in response to the spirit of patriotism thatwas so contagious in those exciting and hopeful days. Also, usingthe concept of the towering heights of the economy,we had by 1979 identified the most sensitive skillrequirements areas and obtained the grids for the water,electricity and sewage systems for the entire country, especiallyfor the urban centres of Salisbury, Bulawayo, Gwelo and Umtali.All this soon paid off in the early months of post-independencewhen, for example, the all-white artisan group at Air Zimbabwedowned tools in early October, 1980. I was called to the PrimeMinisters office and asked to explain how we could dealwith this crisis in one of the most sensitivesectors. Confidently, I explained that we had some 120 traineeaircraft personnel in Ethiopia, most of whom were about tocomplete their 3 year courses in that country. I was instructedto fly to Addis Ababa and returned with 110 aircraft engineersand pilots. The Air Zimbabwe strike ended thereby. We had learntour lesson by this and other happenings. In fact, artisantraining in most trades was virtually 90 per cent white; in suchfields as aircraft engineering, electrical and mechanicalengineering, virtually a white monopoly. By 1981, the practicehad already been established whereby white youths would leave forSouth Africa, UK, Australia or New Zealand, as soon as they hadqualified as artisans. Likewise, in such sensitiveareas as medicine where the Universitys MedicalSchool was more than 80 per cent white in enrolment. So, byintroducing the bonding of apprentices and othertrainees in scarce skills areas, the Ministry of Manpower,Planning and Development had by 1982 turned the trainingstatistics upside down, yielding the ratio of 98 per cent blacksin most sectors of vocational training. By 1983, and on thestrength of the NMS and its twin schemes of bondingand upgrading the thousands of blacks who, although skilled andproficient in the various fields of industry, had been condemnedto the permanent status of semi-skilled by thecolonial regime, Zimbabwe had become self-sufficient inindustrial skills. Likewise, the entire public service sector hadvirtually become indigenous within three years of the attainmentof independence in 1980. And on the basis of the recommendationsand conclusions of the NMS in 1983, the Zimbabwe HumanResourceDevelopment Plan was established firmly, citingagriculture, medicine, engineering and financial management asthe priority areas for scholarships and training. Through thetwin instruments of the Scholarship Committee and the Committeeon Foreign Recruitment, the Ministry of Manpower, Planning andDevelopment ensured a viable human resource development policythat would in its effects and positive results render Zimbabwesecond to none, and accounts today for the comparative advantagethat the country now enjoys, not only vis-ą-vis the SouthernAfrican region but the world over.
As I have already intimated, this success story is also thecause of our current tribulations, in the form of the brain drainand the imminent threat, unless something is done urgently, toour human resource development base in particular and the economyin general. There is hope that the current land reform andresettlement programme, and indeed the enormous spin-offs as theeconomy expands and requirements for skills and personnel growscorrespondingly, will help to absorb the unemployed and attracthome many of those in the Zimbabwean Diaspora. For the ZimbabweanDiaspora is very unique in that most of those 479,348 skilled andprofessional citizens out there have an organic link to home. Forexample, the NECF commissioned study found that more thanhalf (or almost 70 per cent) of the respondents expressed adesire to return home. This does conform to the related patternwhereby most of those in the Diaspora, particularly those in theprofessional and skilled category, have been sending money home,for the purchase or building of houses and/or investment.However, the Zimbabwean brain drain will continue unabated untilthe government in particular addresses the problems in theeducation and health sectors. This is the foundation of the humanresources development strategy and yet these are the sectors mosthit by the brain drain. But, as the NECF commissionedstudy itself acknowledges, there is need for Zimbabwe,together with the Diaspora countries to reach a mutualagreement on how to reduce the pull and push factorstriggering the desire by our people to leave for Europe, NorthAmerica and the region. In my view, such consultations atthe sub-regional level should include an analysis of the humanresources development policies of Zimbabwes neighbours.For, prima facie evidence would suggest that the lack ofcomprehensive human resources development policies in suchcountries as South Africa and Botswana has created the kind ofshortfalls into which the Zimbabwean brain drain is beingattracted. Botswana and Namibia might be victims of thedemographic trap in that their small populations 1.5m and 2m respectively, with 65 per cent or more beingunder 15 years of age determines that they could not forthe foreseeable future be self-sufficient in skills. But SouthAfrica, on the other hand, might need to institute the kind ofpolicy regime that Zimbabwe introduced at independence, if it isto overcome the problems of an enclave economy and thereby helpto stem the Zimbabwean brain drain.
This pagelast updated 30 January 2003.