UN Refugee chief: Probe on sexual exploitation of refugee children will not be expanded
UN Refugee chief begins tour to lend support to African peace initiatives
Unita accuses 'foreigners' of killing Savimbi
Harare farmers offered land in Luanda
"Scorched Earth" policy condemned
More than 5,000 IDPs arrive in Luena
Angolan state governor offers land to Zimbabwe's white farmers
Government rejects criticism of Basarwa removals
Rights groups protest against relocation of Basarwa
Government criticised for Basarwa decision
Clergy joins demolitions fray
"Government plans to destroy Bushmen"
Malawian fuel smuggled
Refugees at Osire 'impassive' over slaying
President proposes 'borders' around city
Government denies refugee influx
No influx of Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa: Home Affairs
Airport official faces deportation
Zim to consider accreditation of South African journalists
Population register upgrade adds to home affairs spending
MISA condemns Zimbabwean ban on foreign journalists
Zimbabwean restrictions on South African press huge setback: NNP
South Africa gets new, quicker ID system
Opinion: It all boils down to racism
Home Affairs introduces HANIS
Nigerian held in passport scam
Police crack down on passport scam
Journalist flees Zimbabwe for South Africa
Speaker says Immigration Bill will be passed by June
Immigration Bill must be finalised - Ginwala
Pretoria plans tighter border control, movement of foreigners
Ginwala pushing on Immigration Bill
Smart Cards in 2002/3: Buthelezi
Business as usual at South African border, but Zimbabwean plans in place
Three Home Affairs officials arrested
Zimbabweans buy Cape Town property
Kikagati resettlement plans delayed
Ugandans ousted from Tanzania to settle in Kahungye
Mbarara rejects returnees
Tanzanian undocumented migrants arrested in police 'swoop'
Kikagati resettlement plans delayed
Ugandans ousted from Tanzania to settle in Kahungye
Don't harbour refugees, DA tells Kabompo chiefs
Denmark gives Zambia 156,000 dollars to repatriate undocumented migrants
Zimbabwe high court ruling gives reprieve to dual citizens
Matabeleland villagers flee to South Africa as terror mounts
Foreign journalist arrested from entering illegally
'Opposition party to ferry voters from South Africa'
France urges caution for expatriates in Zimbabwe after Europen Union sanctions
Swedish journalist expelled from Zimbabwe: Press group
Expulsion of European Union observer forces showdown on sanctions against Zimbabwe
Expelled European Union observer head accuses Harare of 'tightening screw'
Expelled European Union election chief Schori "crookish and dishonest:" Mugabe
Head of European Union says will stay in Zimbabwe despite visa row
Swedish foreign minister says chief election observer in Zimbabwe's visa revoked
EU observer team head faces expulsion from Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe deportation from United Kingdom costs reach £160,000
Thousands enter South Africa ahead of Zimbabwe election
"Guides" exploit undocumented immigrants entering South Africa
Australia accuses Zimbabwe government of violating democracy with new media law
UN Refugee chief: Probe on sexual exploitation of refugee children will not be expanded (Sapa-AP, Kigali, 28/02) - The U.N. refugee agency will not expand a probe on sexual exploitation of children in refugee camps to other parts of the world after a study revealed allegations that relief agency workers sexually abused children in camps in West Africa, the U.N. refugee chief said Thursday. Expressing shock over the degree of exploitation in West Africa, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers said underfunding of the agency and lax enforcement of codes of conduct by aid agencies made it easier for predators to exploit the youngsters battered by years of war. The victims told researchers that they conceded to exploitation "because they needed money and the (food) rations were too small ... that is an awful situation," Lubbers said on arrival in Kigali, Rwanda. "And that is the responsibility of the international community ... I have already warned that if you underfund the UNHCR, you are really adding to poverty and miserable situations," Lubbers said. The UNHCR has no plans to expand the probe into other parts of the world since the probe has raised awareness of the problem, highlighted the need for aid agencies to vigorously enforce codes of conduct and the need to ensure that refugees receive adequate assistance to diminish the risk, Lubbers said. "This example will alert the world and will alert humanitarian workers and organizations," Lubbers said. "I don't think a second survey will get the same attention." On Tuesday, the UNHCR and a major children's charity reported allegations of extensive sexual exploitation of refugee children in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone by local employees of more than 40 aid organizations and U.N. agencies including UNHCR. During a 40-day mission last October and November to examine sexual violence and the exploitation of refugee children in West Africa, a team from UNHCR and Save the Children UK heard allegations that local men employed by the international organizations traded humanitarian aid and services for sex with girls under 18. While the victims were overwhelmingly girls, some boys also suffered alleged sexual abuse by the actions of women, said Paul Nolan, child protection manager for Save The Children. Lubbers is on a brief four-nation African tour which has already taken him to Central African Republic, Republic of Congo and the war-divided Democratic Republic of Congo. He arrived in Rwanda late Thursday and is due to travel on to rebel-held regions of the D.R.C. The trip came as representatives from across Congolese society met in the South African resort of Sun City to try to chart the way forward after more than three years of war. A stalemate that threatened the talks less than 24 hours after they began Monday appeared to have ended on Thursday. Fighting in Congo began in 1998. Two rebel groups backed by Rwanda and Uganda now control the north and east of the country, while troops from Zimbabwe and Angola back the government in the rest of the country. "People in Congo have suffered terribly ... Sun City should succeed otherwise it would be a tragedy."
UN Refugee chief begins tour to lend support to African peace initiatives (Sapa-AP, Bangui, 24/02) - The U.N. refugee chief arrived Sunday in this central African country on the first leg of a four-nation tour highlighting some of the continent's most protracted refugee crises. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers said before his departure that he wanted to lend support to peace initiatives in Central Africa and the Great Lakes region. "I want to remind the international community that we need to continue supporting the fragile peace efforts in Africa," Lubbers said in a statement released ahead of his trip. "At a time when the world's attention is focused on Afghanistan, efforts to create safe conditions for the return of millions of refugees and displaced people in Africa should not be neglected." Upon his arrival in Central African Republic, Lubbers went into a series of meetings with U.N. officials and representatives of humanitarian organizations. He was also expected to visit a camp at Molangue, about 110 kilometers (70 miles) southwest of the capital, which accommodates about 2,500 refugees from a three-year civil war in neighboring Congo. On Monday, Lubbers meets with President Ange-Felix Patasse to discuss the plight of refugees from Central African Republic stranded in Congo since a coup attempt in May last year. An estimated 25,000 people - most of them Yacomas, the ethnic group of the opposition leader Patasse blamed in the attempt - fled the country fearing reprisals. Lubbers travels Monday to Republic of Congo, then on to Congo and Rwanda. The trip coincides with the resumption of talks on Congo's political future, which begin Monday in South Africa. An estimated 13.1 million people have been uprooted across Africa, according to UNHCR figures. Central African Republic hosts about 50,000 refugees who fled conflicts in Rwanda, Congo, Chad and Sudan.
Unita accuses 'foreigners' of killing Savimbi (Daily News, Lisbon, 26/02) - A spokesperson for the Angolan rebel movement Unita said on Monday that "foreign elements" headed the force that killed guerrilla leader Dr Jonas Savimbi. Joao Vahekeny, a Unita spokesperson in Geneva, said the foreign soldiers had led the Angolan troops who killed Savimbi on Friday were Portuguese, South African and Israeli. Vahekeny added: "We will give the names of those who took part in good time." The allegation could not be independently confirmed. There have been differing accounts about Savimbi's death. The Angolan government said its troops killed Unita's founder-leader. Brigadier Simao Wala said his troops had chased Savimbi for five days before ambushing his column on the Luio River, in eastern Angola. However, Zambian intelligence sources have said the 67-year-old Savimbi was killed on February 18 and his soldiers had held out until the following day. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has called for a ceasefire in Africa's longest running civil war following Savimbi's death. But Unita, now facing a potentially divisive search for a successor, demanded that Dos Santos match his words with deeds. In his first comment since Savimbi's death, Dos Santos said in Lisbon that he wanted to "take rapid steps for a normalisation of politics in Angola, starting with a search for the paths that will lead us to a ceasefire". Unita officials said more than words were needed. "The government must draw up, and do so very quickly, a programme of action for ending the war and a programme for dialogue between it and Unita," said former Savimbi confidant Jaka Jamba, one of 70 Unita members elected to parliament under peace accords Savimbi later repudiated. Dos Santos said he hoped there could be elections in 18 months to two years if he could disarm Unita. Angolans have known little but bloody upheaval since independence from Portugal in 1975. Diplomats say Savimbi's death may present the best opportunity for peace.
Harare farmers offered land in Luanda (Financial Gazette, 14/02) - "I know that a group of farmers has been offered that land (in Angola)," Commercial Farmers' Union president Colin Cloete told the Financial Gazette yesterday. "It's being done on a contingency plan basis." However, he said his organisation was still trying to establish the full details of the matter following reports by the Journal de Angola that Zimbabwean commercial farmers had been offered land in Angola's Huambo province. The relocation of farmers to the province will enable Huambo to resume maize exports, which have been hampered by Angola's long-running civil war. Cloete said several local commercial farmers had approached governments in southern Africa as they made contingency plans because of the uncertainty in Zimbabwe's agricultural sector. Zimbabwe's farming sector has been hard hit by the occupation of land by ruling ZANU PF supporters and the accompanying violence and the disruption of agricultural activity, as well as by the govern-ment's own chaotic land reforms which involve the seizure of white-owned land. Parts of the country are now facing serious food shortages chiefly because of the chaos in the farming sector, which has been worsened by last season's poor rains. Cloete said: "A group of people (farmers) has gone to Mozambique and spoken to the government there, but no concrete decisions have been made as far as I know. "There are opportunities in the region and more and more people are trying to look at contingency plans along the same sort of lines. This involves some of our best farmers in grain and wheat." An economist at a Harare commercial bank said: "It's good news for countries like Angola and Moza-mbique, but for us it can only worsen the food shortages and our other economic problems." Dozens of other Zimbabwean farmers are understood to be seeking farm land in Zambia.
"Scorched Earth" policy condemned (Irin, Johannesburg, 13/02) - The head of the Irish development agency GOAL on Wednesday condemned what he called a "scorched earth" policy by the Angolan military in the east of the country, aimed at driving people out of the bush and into the government-held city of Luena. John O'Shea told IRIN from Dublin that people were being forced from their homes in Angola's eastern province of Moxico, "and piled into a town that cannot cope with their numbers." He called on the Irish government to raise the issue as soon as possible with the UN Security Council. "I'm trying to bring attention to a running sore that nobody seems to want to know about," O'Shea said. "I want to put pressure on the Irish government to bring the people of Moxico to the attention of the Security Council." O'Shea's concerns were shared by other humanitarian workers in Angola contacted by IRIN. "The red flag we are raising is that the policy of the government seems to be the cleansing of Moxico province and a rapid resettlement of people in the Luena area without the provision of adequate services like water, sanitation and shelter," one aid worker said. "They are bringing people to Luena without ensuring that there are any safety nets when they arrive." According to a report on the crisis in Luena by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 5,600 internally displaced persons (IDPs) arrived in the city from conflict areas in Moxico and other provinces during January. Around 90 percent of the new arrivals were ferried in from the countryside on board government helicopters. The bulk of the new IDPs are sent to Muachimbo, some 12 km from Luena, beyond the government's security checkpoint. Although the camp has capacity for 7,000 people, more than 8,000 have been squeezed into the facility and more are arriving. "Approximately 80 percent of the population at Muachimbo does not have access to adequate shelter or essential non-food items, including clothing, kitchen kits and blankets," the OCHA report said. An aid worker whose organisation is active in Luena, told IRIN that villagers found in areas in Moxico the military want to clear are crowded onto helicopters with little opportunity to bring anything with them. "Overland they would have some chance, but people are arriving [at Luena airport] bewildered." OCHA pointed out that many of the IDPs landing in Luena are in a critical condition. "Large numbers of children are both severely and moderately malnourished" and there are indications that "the nutritional status of the new arrivals has reached emergency levels". The report said that the most common causes of illnesses and death among the IDPs include malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria, tuberculosis and acute respiratory infections. Angola's UNITA rebel leadership is believed to have taken refuge in Moxico - an early stronghold of the movement - a vast, under populated and remote region bordering Zambia. A long-running government offensive has sort to trap UNITA forces and their guerrilla chief, Jonas Savimbi, active in the rugged territory. Analysts suggest that as part of that operation, the government is attempting to remove the civilian population that could provide supplies and support to UNITA. Provincial authorities estimate that an additional 50,000 IDPs could arrive in Luena in the next five months. "Humanitarian partners are operating at full capacity and do not have sufficient resources to respond to additional influxes of IDPs," the OCHA report warned. An aid worker based in Luanda explained that additional problems were that the government had been slow to identify and de-mine new potential IDP sites within the security perimeter to ease the existing overcrowding at Muachimbo, and the poor condition of the landing strip at Luena airport due to the lack of maintenance. "We can't get in the number of flights needed. For 5,000 displaced you need pretty consistent resupply," she said. During the first week of February, local authorities, UN agencies and NGOs developed a plan of action to address the emergency needs in Luena. The steps include opening a new reception centre close to the airport and a local hospital where there is a therapeutic feeding centre. The humanitarian conditions at Muachimbo are also targeted for improvement, and the identification of a secure alternative IDP site. Repairs to Luena airstrip are also a priority.
More than 5,000 IDPs arrive in Luena (Irin, 12/02) - Fleeing fighting in the Angolan countryside, more than 5,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) arrived in the eastern city of Luena in January, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest situation report. The vast majority of the IDPs were woman, children and the elderly. "The number of internally displaced populations arriving in Luena has continued to increase in recent months as a result of [military] operations in Moxico and other provinces," OCHA said. "The total number of confirmed IDPs in the provincial capital has reached more than 89,000." OCHA added that according to the Moxico provincial government, an estimated 60,000 new IDPs may arrive in Luena between February and June. Moxico has been the scene of a long-running government military offensive against UNITA rebels. The authorities have repeatedly said that UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi is trapped in the remote province that borders Zambia. According to OCHA the new arrivals were in a "critical condition", with large numbers of children being both "severely" and "moderately" malnourished. The UN office said that therapeutic and supplementary centres in the city had exceeded maximum capacity, with the nutritional status of the new IDPs reaching "emergency levels". The situation report said humanitarian partners were operating at full capacity and did not have "sufficient resources" to respond to the growing needs of the new IDPs. It added that the delivery of essential food and non-food items were hampered by the poor condition of the Luena airstrip and that "during the upcoming repair period, humanitarian flights will be reduced from five to three per day". The update noted that in recent months most new arrivals had settled at the Mauchimbo IDPs camp, about 12 km outside Luena, beyond the government's security checkpoint. It added that although the camp had capacity for 7,000 people there were more than 8,000 currently living at the site. "Approximately 80 percent of the population at Mauchimbo does not have access to adequate shelter or essential non-food items, including clothing, kitchen kits and blankets," said OCHA. OCHA added that "persistent" insecurity and "mine infestation" in areas surrounding Luena continued to limit opportunities for the construction of new IDP camps, resettlement sites and access to agricultural land. Meanwhile, the European Commission said in a statement on Monday that US $7 million would be channelled to Angola through its Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). It said that "key objectives" were to improve health conditions of vulnerable populations and to ensure access, coordination and the supply of goods to humanitarian operations. "The donor community and the European Commission requests warring parties to create conditions for the establishment of humanitarian corridors in areas they control ... Without real progress being made on this specific aspect, aid agencies and NGOs operating on the country will not be able to target their assistance more efficiently," said the statement. The statement added that "although there were some positive expectations for 2001, overall the humanitarian situation has deteriorated".
Angolan state governor offers land to Zimbabwe's white farmers (Sapa-AP, Luanda, 11/02) - An Angolan state governor offered on Monday to sell land to Zimbabwe's beleaguered white farmers. Gov. Paulo Kassoma said he wants the farmers to take over 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of abandoned estates to grow maize (corn) for export. They would help develop the state and create jobs, he said in Huambo, capital of the state of the same name, 500 kilometers (310 miles) southeast of Luanda. Settlers from Angola's former colonial power, Portugal, left many of the estates in 1975 when Angolan independence triggered a civil war. The conflict has raged almost nonstop for nearly three decades. Today, UNITA rebel ambushes and land mines make private planes the state's most reliable form of transport. UNITA is an acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. In addition to fighting UNITA, Angolan government troops have been Zimbabwe's allies in Congo's civil war. Zimbabwe's government has tolerated the violent confiscation of many white-owned farms by ruling party militants, which has drawn international condemnation. Recently the Mozambique government gave land to white Zimbabwe farmers who wanted to settle near the border of their neighboring country.
Government rejects criticism of Basarwa removals (Irin, 15/02) - The government of Botsawana has insisted that relocating a nomadic tribe from the large Central Kalahari Game Reserve is essential in order for them to have access to state services such as healthcare. The relocation of the Basarwa, a tribe of "Bushmen" nomads that had lived within the reserve for years, has come under fire from human rights NGOs, both locally and internationally. However, Clifford Maribe, information officer with the Botswana ministry of foreign affairs told IRIN that the relocation of the tribe did not amount to forced removal, even though essential services to the community in the reserve had been cut. Maribe said: "This programme has been on-going from as far back as 1985. Consultations started around that period for the voluntary movement of the Basarwa from the reserve. This is for purposes of sustainable service provision. Outside the reserve they can be provided with services, as well as empowerment and development. Inside the reserve they cannot be provided, this is not forced removals consultations have been going on. Some have agreed to relocate but others are still in the game reserve. While reports had said some 560 Basarwa were still in the reserve, Maribe said his information was that there were "less than 30" now remaining. "For those who are willing to relocate there is first of all a registration process and then their property is assessed. After that they are given compensation and when they get to the places they are moving to they are allocated a piece of land with certificate of land ownership," Maribe said. The tribes people are assisted in settling their new land and are provided with food and some temporary shelter. Maribe said: "NGO's are also assisting them in income generating activities and mentoring them, they are also given cattle and goats. "The park is a wildlife reserve and there are some services such as clinics and water that cannot be provided to them in the reserve. No permanent structures can be developed in the reserve and the tribe is scattered. Whereas outside, for example, a borehole has been drilled in new area they will be relocated to. They can now join the mainstream of society and enjoy the benefits of the services government is providing." However, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Ditshwanelo, has condemned the move. "The termination of services [in the reserve] by the government effectively forces people out of the reserve, as they will have no access to basic resources," the group said in a recent press release. "The relocation of the residents ... is unnecessary and it is in breach of the constitution and human rights of the residents." According to Ditshwanelo, the reserve was created in 1961 "specifically" for the Basarwa to practice their hunter-gatherer way of life. Recently the Botswana department of wildlife and national parks said that it would no longer issue hunting permits to the Basarwa for use within the reserve.
Rights groups protest against relocation of Basarwa (Irin, 04/02) - Human rights activists in Botswana are protesting against the termination of basic services to the remaining Basarwa (Khoisan) in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), to force them into a relocation camp hundreds of kilometres away. The Botswana government said last week that it would cut off water and other basic social services from 31 January, saying that it was too expensive to continue providing them for the remaining 600-700 Basarwa. "The termination of services by the government effectively forces people out of the reserve, as they will have no access to basic resources," the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Ditshwanelo, said in a press release. It added that the government's was "wrongful and unlawful" and that "it was a deliberate attempt by the government to force the residents out of the reserve". Ditshwanelo said the decision to stop the services would affect the provision of food rations, the transport of children to and from schools and the provision of health services. "It is further reported that the government has threatened to remove the pump and the engine from the borehole at Mothomelo, a settlement centrally located inside the CKGR, as well as dismantle the 10,000 litre water tanks located in each settlement," Ditshwanelo noted. "... the relocation of the residents ... is unnecessary and it is in breach of the constitution and human rights of the residents," the centre said. According to Ditshwanelo, the reserve was created in 1961 "specifically" for the Basarwa to practice their hunter-gatherer way of life. Recently the Botswana department of wildlife and national parks said that it would no longer issue hunting permits to the Basarwa for use within the reserve. Ditshwanelo is part of a team, which includes representatives of the residents in the reserve, currently negotiating with the government over the fate of the Basarwa.
Government criticised for Basarwa decision (Sapa, Johannesburg, 03/02) - Human rights activists appealed to the Botswana government to retract a decision to terminate supplies of water and other basic social services to the approximately 435 Basarwa (bushmen) remaining in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). The government announced earlier this week it would implement a decision announced to the Basarwa in August 2001 to cut off the services from January 31, saying that at a total of 55000 pula (R93000) a month it was too expensive to continue. "It is a deliberate attempt to force them out of the reserve," Ditshwanelo, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights said in a statement on behalf of itself and four other organisations on Saturday. "The relocation of the residents of the CKGR is unnecessary. It is in breach of the Constitution and their human rights." Earlier the government said the Basarwa could stay in the reserve if they so chose, but without government provided social services. The government claims that over the last few years, 2200 Basarwa have taken advantage of incentives such as free settlement, grazing land and compensation for loss of possessions it has offered and moved. Most of the Basarwa are classified as destitute and entitled to government food handouts, which until now have been delivered to points in the reserve. There are two sources of water for the Basarwa scattered in the area -- the pump and bowsers. Ditshwanelo said the government had plans to dismantle several 10000 litre water tanks fed by the bowsers. Ditshwanelo is supported by the Basarwa's own organisation the First People of the Kalahari, the Working Group for Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa, the Kuru Development Trust which provides mainly art and craft work for the Basarwa and the Botswana Council of Churches. The European Union has proposed, and the government is considering a programme under which Basarwa, who remain in the reserve, and even those who move to adjacent areas could earn and provide for themselves. I t would involve the Basarwa in tourism-related community development. The London-based Survival International claimed that the real reason the government wanted the Basarwa out of the reserve was to exploit what it called rich diamond deposits.
Clergy joins demolitions fray (Mmegi/The Reporter, Gaborone, 01/02) - The clergy has joined the fight against the demolition of squatter homes in Mogoditshane and surrounding areas. At a Tuesday panel discussion organised by Kgolagano College, a theological institution in Gaborone, church leaders took turns to aim broadsides at the Government's "inhuman" treatment of the squatters. Panellists, who included, Reverend Prince Dibeela and Botswana Christian Council's Letlhogile Lucas said the Government showed a lot of insensitivity by demolishing the houses wily-nily. But deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Environment, Victor Rantshabeng, who stood in for Minister Jacob Nkate, said the Government, was justified in its actions. "We are concerned with what is happening in Mogoditshane. We at BCC believe land belongs to all. Every Motswana should have access to land. Institutions should be able to facilitate smooth acquisition of land by Batswana," said Lucas. Reverend Dibeela said before anything else, "we have to admit that there is a land crisis in this country, that there has been an unfair distribution of land. That is why some people decided to use illegal means to acquire the plots. But Government's approach to this issue has been too legalistic. Government has simply said: 'these are illegal squatters and we shall get rid of them' What happens to the children, the terminally ill as well as the general welfare of those that are being evicted?" Dibeela argued that the Government was ignoring the fact that there have been waiting lists for both Self-Help Housing Agency (SHHA) applicants and the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC). "Now, we are being told that SHHA is having problems. BHC has also failed to provide housing to the country. This means Government has actually failed to provide houses for its citizens. Now it is punishing those people who acquired the plots out of desperation. This is not just demolition of structures. At the same time, this is destruction of people's aspirations and ideals," said Dibeela. However, in response, Rantshabeng said there have been instances where Government has said people should pay P5 000 so that their houses cannot be demolished. 'Government has actually bent over backward to accommodate the pleas of the squatters," said Rantshabeng. Regarding SHHA, it belonged to low income groups hence, he said, Government made a deliberate move to subsidise the plot owners. Regarding land in general, Rantshabeng explained that consideration was given to the fact that tribal land was for everybody, but there were laws which governed its acquisition and what it was to be used for.
"Government plans to destroy Bushmen" (Mmegi/The Reporter, Gaborone, 01/02) - The Botswana government is set to destroy the remaining Bushman communities in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, says Survival International. This is after the world-wide organisation supporting tribal peoples, learnt that the government is cutting off all water to the communities this week, in an attempt to drive the Gana and Gwi Bushman tribes off the land they have lived on for 20,000 years. Survival International (SI) since condemned the move as placing the very survival of these tribes in danger. The reserve was established in the 1960s on the Gana and Gwi's ancestral lands as a home for them. But over the last 16 years, the Botswana authorities have been conducting a vigorous campaign to drive them out. According to SI, "Bushmen have been tortured for hunting, their homes have been bulldozed, and many have been relocated to bleak 'resettlement camps', where they cannot hunt or gather and become dependent on government handouts. In the camps, boredom, alcoholism and despair set in - one Bushman described the camps as 'a place of death'. "Some of the Bushmen have clung on in the face of this aggression, remaining in their homes close to the 'graves of the ancestors'. Yet now the authorities have announced that their water supplies will be cut off on Thursday. The government claims it cannot afford the service. Yet it costs only £2 per person per week; Botswana is a rich country which is now the world's biggest diamond producer; and the European Union has anyway offered to fund it. The Botswana government has so far failed to respond to the EU offer", states SI. Many believe the reserve's rich diamond deposits are the real reason for the government's action. It also wants to open the reserve to tourism, and has "a deeply racist view of the Bushmen, whom high-ranking ministers have described as 'primitive' and 'stone age creatures". Survival's Director Stephen Corry said Wednesday. "The Botswana government has spent 16 years harassing the Gana and Gwi Bushmen. This latest move - cutting the water - risks destroying them once and for all. The international community must speak out now to halt this racist crime against humanity", he said.
Malawian fuel smuggled (Daily Times, Blantyre, 19/02) - Thousands of litres of subsidised Malawi fuel is being smuggled into neighbouring Zambia from Mchinji border every three days making government register potential losses in trying to subsidise the product, Daily Times investigations have revealed. Daily Times found out that smugglers are cashing in on the cheap Malawi fuel which is below US$1.00 (K73.00) cheaper than Zambia were the officail price is 3,995 Zambia Kwacha (US$1.10) for each litre of petrol. Investigations carried over the weekend revealed that a syndicate of fuel barons in Chipata, Zambia were using atleast 45 smugglers riding on bicyles each carrying four of 20 litre jerry cans to buy petrol, diesel and paraffin in Mchinji district. The new set up emerged after police managed to close routes that smugglers used pick ups and 200 litre drums to buy fuel in Mchinji. Nkanda area was a major route which was closed down by authorities after it was discovered that pick-ups loaded with fuel were passing through into Chipata. Nkanda lies on the eastern side of the Mchinji boma. "The cyclists would take the consignment into an area soon after Zambia's Mwami border where the owners (fuel barons) wait for them," Jonathan Khomba a Mchinji resident said adding that the people buy fuel from filling stations in Mchinji. Daily Times discovered that five kilometres across the Mwami border a five-ton truck with 200 litre drums waits for the cyclists to arrive. The consignment is ferried to Chipata town where it is sold to fleet owners most of them in transport business. Fuel attendants at Chipata's Caltex Service station told Daily Times that service station owners in the town had complained to the Zambian authorities about the effects on their business due to the illicit trade but little has been done. Both Malawi and Zambia police sources said the fuel smuggling business has been running for years even before high density filling stations were built in Mchinji. Zambian authorities on the border said to control the development, their Malawian counterparts should start by killing the supply of the fuel to the smugglers. But Ismael Chioko, Petroleum Control Commission (PCC) General manager said yesterday his office was not aware of the development. "Its news to us, we need to conduct spot checks on these areas. This is a serious matter and no one is supposed to export Malawi fuel," he said adding that the ministry of commerce and industry does not issue lincences for fuel exports. He said the police should act with prompt while the officials of PCC carry on their investigations. Police Sub Inspector, Kelvin Maingwa said from headquarters in Lilongwe, police have intensified patrols to curb the smuggling. "We haven't had any recent reports on the fuel smuggling but we urge people to report the incidents to police," he said.
Refugees at Osire 'impassive' over slaying (The Namibian, Windhoek, 26/02) - The thousands of Angolan refugees at Osire have shown little emotion in reaction to the demise of Unita leader Jonas Savimbi, say humanitarian sources and a senior Government official at the camp. Several attempts to contact the refugees proved futile because the refugees are strictly prohibited from speaking to the media by Government. But a senior humanitarian worker, who requested anonymity, said the refugees are aware of Savimbi's violent death. "The situation still remains calm," he said. The majority of the 20 000 inhabitants at Osire are Angolans. Camp Administrator Paulus Haikali said the refugees appeared impassive to the death announcement. But, he added: "One can never know the actual feelings of the people." Generally refugees at the camp have "kept quiet, waiting for the next outcome, maybe of peace or no peace. They cannot express their feelings," he said. Haikali said he had been told that refugees are split 50-50. Some reportedly feel Savimbi's death will hasten the peace process in Angola. Others believe that his demise might lead to more instability. Meanwhile, Theo-Ben Gurirab, the Foreign Affairs, Information and Broadcasting Minister, said in a statement that the Angolan government and its people "know only too well the horrendous horrors of Savimbi's military campaign and unceasing acts of terrorism that he carried out across the borders of Angola's neighbours". "Savimbi was not an enigma," said Gurirab. "He was the devil incarnate of Angola. Those foreigners who had continuously aligned themselves with and supported by hook or by crook Savimbi's reign of terror knew exactly his insatiable ego, blind ambition and ruthless behaviour." He said the road to peace would not be easy because armed Unita rebels are still at large. "They must be made to realise that, with the death of their leader, the game is up for them. Savimbi's war of terror must now cease ... Starting a new life and rejoining their families would be the best way out for them," he said.
President proposes 'borders' around city (The Namibian, Windhoek, 04/02) - President Sam Nujoma has called on the Windhoek Municipality to erect borders around the capital to prevent criminals from moving into the city from other areas. He also urged the city fathers to curb the mushrooming of informal settlements in and around Windhoek, and to arrest criminals who roam the streets. Addressing a public meeting at the Katutura Youth Sports Complex on Saturday, the President expressed concern that criminals were harboured in the temporary shelters that continue to mushroom in Windhoek. Nujoma said as a growing city, the capital attracted new residents from all parts of Namibia. "However, the shimmering lights of the city are not always a guarantee of employment. As a result, some of our people end up living in informal settlements," he noted. "I urge the Municipal authorities to ensure that these settlements are administered and managed in an orderly manner." Nujoma called on residents of informal settlements to co-operate with the authorities and to ensure that their dwellings did not become a refuge for criminals. He also spoke out on the negative impact of alcohol abuse on the society. He said Government had moved "decisively" to restrict the sale of illicit brews such as kaalgat "which has been blamed for the deaths of some of our citizens". The President expressed the hope that the new Liquor Act would put in place measures to reduce alcohol abuse. Nujoma said the year 2001 had been characterised by violent criminal activities. He said 459 cases of murder had been reported nationally last year, while the number of rapes and attempted rapes had increased over the same period. He did not give the increased figures. During the year 2000, Nujoma said, 743 rape cases and 536 attempted rape incidents had been reported, up from 543 rapes and 150 attempted rapes in 1999.
Government denies refugee influx (Dispatch Online, 28/02) - The department of Home Affairs said yesterday there was no influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, as has been he Department of Home Affairs said yesterday there was no reported by the media. Departmental spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said reports that Zimbabweans were "flooding" into South Africa prior to the forthcoming presidential elections in their country were more often based on speculation. Mashokwe said there had not been a marked increase in the number of Zimbabweans entering the country both legally, through border posts, and crossing the borders illegally. In 2000, 68106 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants were repatriated from Limpopo province while 42939 were sent home last year, Mashokwe said. Home Affairs expected the number of Zimbabweans to cross the border to increase in March, but this was due to migrant workers assisting farmers with tomato harvesting. Mashokwe said it was an annual occurrence.
No influx of Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa: Home Affairs (Sapa, Pretoria, 27/02) - The Department of Home Affairs said on Wednesday there was no influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, as has been reported by the media. Departmental spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said reports that Zimbabweans were "flooding" into South Africa prior to the forthcoming presidential elections in their country, were more often based on speculation. Mashokwe said there had not been a marked increase in the number of Zimbabweans entering the country both legally, through border posts, and crossing the borders illegally. In 2000, 68106 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants were repatriated from the Northern Province while 42939 were sent home last year - a marked decrease, Mashokwe said. Up to February 15 this year, 763 Zimbabweans entered South Africa illegally, were repatriated. Home Affairs expected the number of Zimbabweans to cross the border to increase in March, but this was due to migrant workers entering the country to assist farmers with tomato harvest. Mashokwe said it was an annual occurrence. "The Department wishes to reiterate that there is no need for concern about the influx of Zimbabwean citizens into South Africa." If a mass influx followed the elections in Zimbabwe, it would be handled by the National Disaster Management Centre.
Airport official faces deportation (The Star, 26/02) - A senior official of the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) has been arrested and is facing deportation. Sources said on Monday night that Mahle Ndlovu, a senior communications officer, would be kicked out after investigations found she was in the country illegally. Investigations had unearthed information that Ndlovu wasn't a South African, as she had claimed in her documents. It is believed she is originally from Zimbabwe and had claimed that her mother was a Zimbabwean and her father a South African when she got a job at Johannesburg International Airport. Home Affairs Department spokesperson Lesley Mashokwe confirmed Ndlovu's arrest, saying she had been detained. She is being held under Section 441 of the Aliens Act, which allows the department to hold her in custody for 30 days while preparing her deportation. Mashokwe said Ndlovu had allegedly dmitted that she had fraudulently obtained a South African identity document in 1995. The Star was told that Ndlovu's arrest was the tip of the iceberg. Acsa and Home Affairs were due to to hold a press conference on Tuesday to reveal more.
Zim to consider accreditation of South African journalists (Sapa, Johannesburg, 20/02) - South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad on Wednesday night welcomed a decision by the Zimbabwean government to consider accrediting South African journalists to cover the upcoming presidential elections in that country. It followed discussions between the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef), South African High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Jerry Ndou and a Zimbabwean government delegation. Pahad said the Zimbabwean Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Publicity George Charamba agreed to "consider favourably applications for accreditation by South African journalists". He said both parties agreed that it was important for the South African media to be given access to the electoral process "as it is vital for the success of building democracy and informing the public and the world at large without hindrance". Sanef said earlier it hoped there would be clarity on the accreditation of South African journalists by Thursday. "We hope this means they will revoke their earlier decision," said Henry Jeffreys, convenor of Sanef's media freedom committee. Sanef chairman Mathatha Tsedu, accompanied by Ndou, met a Zimbabwean government delegation in Harare on Wednesday morning. "Arising from the discussions, the Zimbabwean government has agreed to reconsider its earlier decision not to extend accreditation," Jeffreys said. "We regard this as progress." Journalists from Beeld, the Sunday Times and the Independent Newspapers group were informed on Monday that their applications to cover the Zimbabwean presidential elections had been turned down. Under new rules, foreign journalists must have permission from the Zimbabwean government to cover the presidential election and preceding campaign. The applications of some journalists from European countries and the United States were also rejected.
Population register upgrade adds to home affairs spending (Sapa, Parliament, 20/02) - The rewriting of the population register will contribute to the department of home affairs' increased spending over the next three years, according to the Budget Review. The 2002 Budget increases the home affairs vote by R228,8 million to R1,25-billion, and by a further R366,2-million in 2003/04. The increase is for support of critical systems development, including rewriting the population register, upgrading the movement control system and implementing a document management system, the Budget Review says. Additional amounts of R104-million for 2002 and R189,5-million in 2003/04 have been included as transfers to the Independent Electoral Commission for by-elections, to upgrade systems and for the 2004 national elections.
MISA condemns Zimbabwean ban on foreign journalists (Sapa, Johannesburg, 19/02) - The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) on Tuesday night called on the South African government to make urgent representations regarding its banning of South African journalists from covering Zimbabwe's presidential election in March. Misa said the election process should be open to all South African journalists. Journalists from Beeld, The Sunday Times and the Independent Newspapers group were informed that their applications to cover the elections had been turned down. Misa spokesman Raymond Louw condemned the Zimbabwe government's refusal to accredit South African journalists. He asked the South African government to draw Zimbabwean government's attention to the protocols governing freedom of the media, which both countries had signed as members of Southern African Development Community and United Nations protocols, which apply, to both countries. "This act of selective censorship is unacceptable in modern Southern Africa and offends against the letter and spirit of United Nations, African Union and Southern African Development Community media freedom protocols which the Zimbabwe government has signed," Louw said.
Zimbabwean restrictions on South African press huge setback: NNP (Sapa, Johannesburg, 19/02) - The Zimbabwe government's refusal to accredit journalists from South African newspapers to report on the Zimbabwe election was a huge setback for Africa, the New National Party said on Tuesday. "It is an intolerable situation that whilst three South African observer groups will be present in Zimbabwe during the elections, journalists from South Africa will not be allowed to report on the election," NNP MP and media spokesman Francois Beukman said in a press release. He called on the SADC to intervene in the matter, saying press freedom was a prerequisite to the promotion of multi-party democracy in Southern Africa.
South Africa gets new, quicker ID system (Sapa, Pretoria, 18/02) - The identification details of all South Africans are to be transferred from paper to a computer database within a year under a new system officially handed over to the government on Monday. The Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis), would form the foundation for many efforts the government is to undertake in years to come, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said at a ceremony in Pretoria. Buthelezi said the system would boost the delivery of public services and help eliminate identity document duplication and fraud. It was expected to cut by 80 percent the current waiting time of about six weeks for a new identity document or passport. The government has budgeted R800-million over five years for Hanis, which was developed by the MarPless consortium, a joint venture between Japan's Marubeni Corporation and Plessy of South Africa. Home Affairs director-general Billy Masetlha said about R438-million of the money budgeted had been spent so far, and the department did not expect to exceed the available amount, despite pressure on the rand. The next phase of the project was the introduction of so-called "smart cards" containing all an individual's identification details, including fingerprints.
Buthelezi said South Africans would be able to use these cards at all branches of government, or private entities which adopted a system to read them electronically. This would make "a great contribution to the development of public sector initiatives as, for instance, it can be used for identification purposes in building access control or by vending machines which intend to restrict their products, such as cigarettes, to adults only." It was also envisaged that pensioners would be able to use the card to get their monthly grants. Buthelezi said this stage of the project would be outlined in a few months, pending the recommendations of a commission advising on the tender process. The commission, headed by Prof Fink Haysom, is to ensure the process gave no opportunities for fraud, corruption or waste, and that government received the best value for money. "As you know, with a project like this which involves billions of rands, people smell a rat even if there is no rat," the minister said. At a media conference later, neither Buthelezi nor Masetlha were prepared to elaborate on the projected costs of the smart card phase. A figure quoted in the media of R2,5-billion was a "wild guesstimate", with the department's own figures indicating an amount "far below that", Masetlha said. He said South Africans might have to pay about R60 per card if the cost of the project was to be borne solely by citizens - but this figure could not be used to calculate the overall cost as there were many other expenses. The government was still deciding whether or not to subsidise the cards. They would also not speculate on a date for the introduction of the cards.
Buthelezi described the Hanis system as an example of technological investment needed to boost the country's economic growth. "E-governance may now become a reality, and I suspect that in ten years more applications will be based on the foundation of the Hanis programme and the use of smart cards than we can even envisage at this juncture." The system would make it easier and faster for people to obtain services they were entitled to, and fraud extremely difficult. He added the system could make it possible to delegate the delivery of certain services directly to municipalities. People could one day get identity documents, birth, marriage and death certificates from local councils. The Hanis system would also help with updating the voters roll, and could one day be used to control the movements of foreigners in the country. Buthelezi warned that any greater measure of power opened the door to abuse. For this reason, he had asked the Haysom Commission to make recommendations on preventing abuse. It was expected to propose on how to protect every citizen's right to privacy. "Their recommendation will identify whether administrative measures to deal with these issues, including the establishment of an ombudsman or dedicated grievance office, will be sufficient or whether there will be a need for additional legislation," the minister said.
Opinion: It all boils down to racism (Business Day, 18/02) - Until recently I, like many South Africans, used to receive a barrage of e-mails from friends and acquaintances in the western world, asking me read SA (or more precisely government) what we were doing to end the crisis in Zimbabwe. As the crisis deepened, catapulting Zimbabwe onto the front pages of western newspapers, the e-mails tapered off. Put differently, the western world is now better informed about both what is happening in Zimbabwe and what, if anything, the SA authorities are thinking and doing. Better still, they can now even find out what their rulers are doing. After all, the violent run-up to next month's presidential election has ensured Zimbabwe dominates the foreign policy agendas of the European Union (EU), the Commonwealth and countries like the US. Concern at growing misrule and the attendant imperilling of democracy in Zimbabwe prompted the Commonwealth, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community to set up at least four task teams to "help" Harare end the crisis. Zimbabwe is now subject of two Commonwealth ministerial task teams Cmag, the group's democracy watchdog and a Nigerian-led seven-nation ministerial team. The country has featured on most of the recent EU general affairs ministerial meetings. Down south, President Thabo Mbeki has been under enormous pressure to do more to whip Robert Mugabe, his Zimbabwean counterpart, into line. His "quiet diplomacy" approach has been criticised for being ineffectual. For a country of some 12-million people (minus the effects of AIDS in the population), this inordinate attention is impressive. That does not mean the happenings in Zimbabwe unprecedented levels of political violence, massive assaults on constitutionalism and erosion of civil liberties are insignificant. But none of these developments adequately explains why Zimbabwe gets us hot under the collar. Though unacceptable, the decline in Zimbabwe has occurred against the background of the deaths of some 80 mainly opposition supporters in a Mozambican prison and the continued suffering of millions of civilians affected by the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last December, Nigerian authorities introduced a law that sought to delay the registration of new parties beyond the 2003 elections. The controversial law, which flies in the face of democracy, is a transparent ploy to thwart efforts by Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, the wealthiest Nigerian and a former military ruler who is disenchanted with Olusegun Obasanjo's government, to return to politics. Worse, Zambians suffered a double blow last month: Anglo American, the country's largest investor, announced that it was pulling out of Zambia's copper mines, endangering nearly 10000 jobs; and, days earlier, Levy Mwanawasa was installed as president in spite of claims that he had rigged the polls. Though the EU, which bothered to observe the elections, cast strong doubts on the legitimacy of the outcome, it has yet to impose "smart sanctions" against Mwanawasa. Indeed, none of these events has generated as much interest as Zimbabwe. Why? In a recent article, Jonathan Steele of the London-based paper, Guardian, offers a refreshing explanation from a western writer, echoing sentiments of many black Africans and South Africans: racism! "White settlers? Is there still a large number of white landowners in Zimbabwe, unlike Zambia which never had many and the few who were there left long ago? Bingo. You've got it. The issue is racism. "Zimbabwe's best land is still in white hands, and this provokes inordinate interest in Britain. Mugabe's approach to land reform has been inconsistent and volatile. His methods have often been violent and unlawful. But for largely racist reasons he had very little support from successive British governments," he writes. The race theory helps explain the hand wringing by the international community to suffering in Nigeria, Congo and Zambia. It is also an explanation for the enormous anger black South Africans feel when Mbeki is called on to cut fuel and energy supplies and, yes, invade Zimbabwe. In a strange way, the discourse on the chaos in Zimbabwe is very much about the distrust and fears that underscore the reconciliation project in SA. At best, calls on Mbeki to do more in separating SA from Zimbabwe are seen, plausibly, by many blacks as a plea for reassurance by the mainly white propertied class that their farms, cars and houses won't be taken like in Zimbabwe. At worst, they are seen as implying that all black-led former liberation movements are more prone to flouting the rule of law. All these calls overlook the African National Congress' track record in enforcing the rule of law. Before the eviction of the Bredell black squatters and the introduction of an invasion law, the ANC had risked losing votes by evicting illegal black squatters and those in arrears in winter. Could it be that the reason for ignoring SA's track record of rule of law is that it had hitherto applied to issues affecting blacks and, therefore, whites are unsure that when faced with a case of blacks violating whites' rights, the black-led ANC will uphold rule of law in favour of whites.
Home Affairs introduces HANIS (BuaNews, Pretoria, 18/02) - Days of waiting and frustration at the Department of Home Affairs will soon come to an end. The department today officially received the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) in Pretoria. HANIS is an electronic identification system that comprises all citizens and residents, listing not only the relevant identification and civic affairs information, but also biometric features, such as fingerprints. Speaking during the launch, home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said HANIS was an example of how South Africa could leapfrog ahead and set the basis to redress grave shortcomings by implementing solutions, which were ahead of the times. 'This achievement will provide an even greater contribution in improving on the delivery of public services by government as it sets the foundation for what is known as 'e-governance,' the minister said. Approved by Cabinet in 1995, the system consists of two pillars and allows the cross reference of fingerprints and identification information. 'With this system we will be able to eliminate any duplication of identity documents and ensure that a great number of identity related fraud and crimes are prevented if not made impossible,' said Dr Buthelezi. Marpless Consortium developed the system, which is the first of the two-pronged project. The next step, said the minister, would be in the form of smart cards, which would provide the primary function of identification with a much greater flexibility of options and uses. Dr Buthelezi instituted a commission of inquiry, led by Professor Fink Haysom, to look at how to structure the procurement of the smart card. The card would also contain biometric information such as fingerprints that could be used by any branch of government and any private entity that adopts the system required to read it electronically. 'This will enable machines to read the card and, if the machine can take the biometric information and read the fingerprint, it will be able to identify the bearer without the need for a person to compare the picture on the card with the bearer's appearance,' said Dr Buthelezi. He added the next stage would be developed in the next few months as soon as the recommendations of the Haysom Commission were finalised. The system will make it possible to delegate the function of delivering civic affairs services to municipalities. This would make it possible for people to get their identity documents, birth, marriage and death certificates directly from their municipalities, the minister said. Furthermore, the system would be used to record the entry and departure of foreigners. 'The system will make it easier, faster and more secure for people to obtain services they are entitled to and will make it extremely difficult if not impossible for people who are not entitled to those services to receive them by means of identity fraud,' said Dr Buthelezi.
Nigerian held in passport scam (Daily Dispatch, Johannesburg, 18/02) - A 35-year-old Nigerian citizen was arrested yesterday morning and several false passports, as well as computers used to falsify documents and police radios, were recovered, police said. Superintendent Chris Wilken said the Nigerian was arrested at the Johannesburg International Airport shortly before he was due to board a plane to Lagos. When police searched his hand luggage, they found 134 empty passports hidden in soap powder boxes. Eleven of the passports were for Swaziland, and the rest were South African. Wilken said it was believed the man was a recruiting agent, who regularly travelled to the country of his origin where he recruited people and falsified passport information for them. "When they come to South Africa, their passports look in order; it has a photograph, all the necessary information, even a Home Affairs stamp," he said. Further investigation led the Johannesburg Organised Crime Unit to an Internet cafe in Hillbrow, where 17 computers were confiscated. A search of the computer hard drives revealed that they were used to print false marriage certificates, birth certificates, salary slips, letters of reference and other documents.
Police crack down on passport scam (Sapa, Johannesburg, 17/02) - A 35-year-old Nigerian citizen was arrested on Sunday morning and several false passports, as well as computers used to falsify documents and police radios were recovered, Johannesburg police said. Superintendent Chris Wilken said the Nigerian was arrested shortly before he boarded a plane to Lagos at the Johannesburg International Airport. When the police searched his hand baggage, they found 134 empty passports hidden in soap powder boxes. Eleven of the passports were for Swaziland, and the rest were South African. Wilken said it was believed that the man was a recruiting agent, who regularly travelled to the country of his origin where he then recruited people and falsified passport information for them. "When they come to South Africa, their passports look in order, it has a picture, all the necessary information, even a Home Affairs stamp," he said. Further investigation led the Johannesburg Organised Crime Unit to an internet cafe in Pretoria Street in Hillbrow, where 17 computers were confiscated. A quick search of the computer hard drives revealed that they were used to print false marriage certificates, birth certificates, salary slips, letters of reference and other documents. Police also recovered four police radios. "In other words, they could tap into our frequencies and knew exactly when we were launching operations in Hillbrow and other areas. "They could then warn their comrades and hide from the police." Wilken said it was obvious that Nigerians came to South Africa with the false passports, where they then became involved in various kinds of crime, like dealing in drugs. He said the police were convinced that a whole network of people were involved in the scam and the investigation would continue. "This is definitely a syndicate and we expect more arrests soon." The arrested man would appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.
Journalist flees Zimbabwe for South Africa (Daily Dispatch, Johannesburg, 16/02) - A journalist arrested last week for leading a protest against restrictive press laws has fled Harare for prominent Zimbabwean South Africa, fearing for his safety after attacks on him in the state-controlled media. Thirty-year-old Basildon Peta, the Harare correspondent of Britain's Independent daily newspaper and an award-winning journalist for Zimbabwe's independent Financial Gazette, fled on Thursday to Johannesburg, he told SABC public radio yesterday. "I no longer felt safe at home," Peta told the SABC, after joining his wife and two young children in Johannesburg. Peta, who is also the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, was placed under arrest for 15 hours last week after helping to organise a demonstration against repressive media laws passed two weeks ago by Zimbabwe's parliament. He was the first journalist to be detained under the Public Order and Security Act. President Robert Mugabe's government has been roundly criticised for clamping down on press freedoms in Zimbabwe ahead of crucial presidential elections on March 9-10. In the SABC interview, Peta accused Zimbabwe's state media of launching a hate campaign and making increasing threats against him. The campaign intensified after The Independent published Peta's article "My Ordeal as Mugabe's Prisoner," in which the journalist said he had been detained overnight in a "wretched" police cell. Another British newspaper, The Times, said on Tuesday that Peta had admitted his report in the Independent had been exaggerated. Peta and his British employer staunchly denied The Times report. "I was arrested under the Public Security Order Act. I was charged by the police and I was detained until late into the night," Peta told SABC.
Speaker says Immigration Bill will be passed by June (Business Day, 14/02) - The immigration bill will be passed before June, said National Assembly speaker Frene Ginwala yesterday, despite the insistence of Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee chairman, Aubrey Mokoena, that he would not be rushed. The bill, at the centre of a tugof-war between the African National Congress (ANC) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), has been more than five years in the making, with the private sector frustrated at the difficulty of recruiting skilled foreign labour under the old Aliens Control Act. Ginwala said yesterday that her office would rearrange this year's parliamentary programme to enable the speedy passing of the bill. The Constitutional Court gave Parliament two years to amend the Aliens Control Act or pass new immigration legislation, the deadline for which is June 8. But Mokoena circulated a schedule this week to MPs in the committee, indicating the lengthy process the bill has yet to follow before being passed, including another round of consultation with Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and other interested parties such as the SA Revenue Services to get President Thabo Mbeki's final approval and signature. This was despite protests from opposition MPs, who insisted that the economy was already weakened by a serious lack of skills and that many South Africans with foreign spouses had to endure the nightmare of living separately from them, as they had to wait lengthy periods for permit approvals. Buthelezi said this week the ball was now in the committee's court, and effective immigration control was needed urgently to deal with the growing number of illegal foreigners in the country. Last year Buthelezi told the National Assembly that the bill's processing had been characterised by "treachery, ambush and subterfuge", and that he did not understand why he was being "treated with suspicion" as he was a "loyal and dedicated member of this government". While sources attribute the resistance to the bill to the fact that Buthelezi's special adviser, Mario Ambrosini, was behind its drafting, there are rumours that ANC allies, Cosatu in particular, are not comfortable with "importing labour" while SA has such as high unemployment rate.
Immigration Bill must be finalised - Ginwala (Daily Dispatch, Cape Town, 14/02) - National Assembly Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala says she wants the controversial Immigration Bill finalised within weeks. The bill took at least four years to even come before Parliament, and has pitted Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi against African National Congress officials, including his director-general Billy Masetlha. Ginwala told a media briefing yesterday that the constitutional and legal position of the bill had been clarified and that she wanted it finalised "before March this year". She said it was possible that the Home Affairs portfolio committee might not be able to deal with it by then, but it would at least have to come up with a definite programme for doing so. The bill aims, among other things, to attract skilled foreigners. It was tabled by Buthelezi, but because it included a levy, it was classified by Parliament's presiding officers as a money bill, which in terms of the Constitution can only be introduced by the Finance Minister. Buthelezi threatened to take Ginwala to the Constitutional Court to ensure it stayed with his department. The ministry then tabled a compromise technical amendment.
Pretoria plans tighter border control, movement of foreigners (African Eye News Service, Durban, 13/02) - South Africa is considering issuing smart cards to tourists and other foreign visitors to track their movement through the country. The controversial scheme forms part of proposed tighter border security in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks on the United States. Home Affairs Minister Mangosutho Buthelezi told parliament this week that South Africa's current movement control systems were computerised but did not comply with modern national security requirements. "The launch of a new real time online Movement Control System will be fast-tracked during 2002 to link all our ports of entry with immigration head office, our district offices and various inter-departmental security programmes," said Buthelezi. The smart cards would, he said, be swiped at hotels, car rental companies, airports, and other tourism facilities to assist the government build a profile of foreign travellers in the country. The system would be designed primarily for security and immigration control, but data might also prove useful to tourism planners and marketers. Buthelezi added that government was also in the process of replacing South Africa's current manual archiving systems, such as the National Population Register and Identity Document card system, with an online and computerised database service.
Ginwala pushing on Immigration Bill (Sapa, Cape Town, 13/02) - National Assembly Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala says she wants the controversial Immigration Bill finalised within weeks. The bill took at least four years to even come before Parliament, and has pitted Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi against African National Congress officials, including his director-general Billy Masetlha. Ginwala told a media briefing at Parliament on Wednesday that the constitutional and legal position of the bill had been clarified, and that she wanted it finalised "before March this year". She said it was possible that the Home Affairs portfolio committee might not be able to deal with it by then, but it would at least have to come up with a definite programme for doing so. The bill aims, among other things, to attract skilled foreigners. It was tabled by Buthelezi, but because it included a levy, it was classified by Parliament's presiding officers as a money bill which in terms of the Constitution can only be introduced by the finance minister. Buthelezi threatened to take Ginwala to the Constitutional Court to ensure it stayed with his department. The row was defused late last year when the ministry tabled a compromise technical amendment.
Smart Cards in 2002/3: Buthelezi (Sapa, Parliament, 11/02) - Government hopes to make multi-purpose smart cards available during the next financial year, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Monday. Briefing journalists in Cape Town, he said the issuing of the electronic cards would be accompanied by an extensive education campaign. "We intend to make the smart card available for the financial year 2002/03." Buthelezi said the contractor was to hand over the Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) to the department this month. "Hanis, a national undertaking, has become a reality and we aspire to expose it now to the necessary applause. "... in February 2002, the Hanis contractor, the Marpless Consortium, is scheduled to make a formal and official hand over of the system to the department in what is called... the basic system commissioning," he said. The new system is designed to replace the current identification books with cards containing personal data linked to a national database storing the fingerprints of all South Africans. It may be linked to all government structures, making tasks such as the issuing of driving licences and welfare payments much simpler. Buthelezi said Hanis was destined to change the face of governance as well as of public service delivery. "The envisaged uses of the smart ID card will offer state of the art technology and utility to the citizenry and also enable South Africa to leapfrog most of the world's technology competitors." It was envisaged that the card would eventually be used by a number of private organisations such as banks, insurance companies and medical aids to help combat fraud. The reduced fraud should help to substantially increase profits and therefore result in increased tax revenue to the state, he said.
Business as usual at South African border, but Zimbabwean plans in place (AFP, Beitbridge, 11/02) - In the simmering heat of the Limpopo Valley, South Africas only border crossing to Zimbabwe is a hub of activity, where people, cars and trucks pass in their hundreds every day. Named after German-born mine magnate Alfred Beit, the 500-meter-long bridge-- built in 1924 --retained its colonial name after democratic elections in South Africa in 1994. Set astride a small hill overlooking the Limpopo River, the post is a group of single-storey red-roofed buildings, mixing colonial and modern architecture. An air-conditioned duty-free shop selling liquor, perfume and cartons of cigarettes at bargain prices greets travellers as they drive through the gates before having their travel documents checked. But for most, even reduced prices are out of reach as they wait outside the old customs house across a paved road from the shop to have their passports stamped. Along the Ni, which runs south towards the old copper mining town of Messina, rows of trucks on the way to destinations in Zimbabwe and further afield in Africa line the pavement. Closer to the gates, hawkers ply their trade, selling cigarettes, sweets and food, including buckets of marulas, a vitamin-rich indigenous plum-like fruit with a thick yellow skin. A month ahead of presidential elections in Zimbabwe, where political violence, deaths and threats of massive food shortages have driven thousands from their homes, the hustle and bustle of authorised traffic at the bridge contrasts sharply with hundreds of illegal crossings elsewhere through a wire fence. Some 2,500 border jumpers are being arrested each month as they try to avoid the security forces on the frontier between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Customs officials did not want to give details of the amount of trade to and from Zimbabwe, but a source who asked not be named told AFP that there has been no marked increase in the flow of legitimate travellers in recent months. Nothing has changed here and were not seeing any increase in people coming from Zimbabwe, the source said. However, contingency plans have been put in place should the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorate. Colonel ToI Snyman, military commander of the northern Soutpansberg Military Area said a deserted military base some 15 kilometres (10 miles) east of Beitbridge will be made available as a holding facility. The camp consists of a number of brick and pre-fabricated buildings, which are currently in a state of disrepair. We have about 12 different scenarios planned for the upcoming elections, Snyman told AFP this week. But the most likely scenario is that we feel that things wont change much, he added. Meanwhile, back at Beitbridge, its business as usual as a steady flow of people continues in both directions of the border. The monotonous passage of cars, minibuses and heavy goods vehicles is broken by the arrival of a police truck, filled with illegal immigrants who were caught after crossing the border up and downstream from Beit Bridge post. Zimbabweans and Mozambicans form the bulk of an estimated two to four million legal and illegal immigrants into South Africa. They are often the target of xenophobic attacks such as one in October last year, when South Africans razed hundreds of shacks belonging to Zimbabweans at a squatter camp outside Johannesburg.
Three Home Affairs officials arrested (BuaNews, Pretoria, 08/02) - In a campaign to root out corruption within the home affairs department, three officials have been arrested following the wrongful release of illegal aliens at the Lindela detention centre in Krugersdorp. The three, Evelyn Molathlegi and Dineo Maseko, both senior immigration officers and Edwin Ngqobe, an immigration officer, have been charged with corruption and with aiding abetting illegal aliens. They appeared in the Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court on Monday and the case was remanded until 8 March. Both Ms Molatlhegi and Ms Maseko were warned to appear, while Mr Ngqobe was released on bail of R2 000. Departmental spokesperson Leslie Mashokwe told BuaNews that the arrests formed part of a joint operation between home affairs and the South African Police Services (SAPS), known as Project Molopo. He added that the department had been monitoring behavioural patterns of the officials for quite sometime. 'We became very suspicious after observing the three officials' behaviour,' said Mr Mashokwe. The department has also started disciplinary procedures against the three. Mr Mashokwe said necessary steps would be taken against the three if found guilty at the disciplinary hearings.
Zimbabweans buy Cape Town property (Financial Gazette, 07/02) - A Former Harare real estate agent, Matt Mercer, has opened a real estate firm in South Africa's Western Cape, catering mainly for Zimbabweans who have fled the country's economic and political crisis, it was learnt this week. The agency, Matt Mercer Real Estate, is located in Hout Bay, a suburb close to Cape Town city centre that is also known as "Zim-by-the-sea" because of the large number of Zimbabweans who have settled there. "Hout Bay was a logical starting point, twenty minutes to Cape Town city centre, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, a harbour, mountain walks, famous restaurants and shopping centres," said Mercer, formerly of Harare's Mercers, the Property Brokers. "So many Zimbabweans have already settled here that locals jokingly refer to Hout Bay as Zim-by-the-sea. "The Cape Town market is very different to the Harare market. Cape Town will always be beautiful and not even reckless politics will be able to stunt the beauty of the beaches and mountains. Currently, Cape Town is recognised as the number one tourist destination worldwide in terms of value for money." Mercer, who left for South Africa in 2000 because of the government's "complete disregard for sanity and the future of all Zimbabwean people", said not all his Zimbabwean clients had moved to the Western Cape, but some had purchased holiday flats in the area. The holiday flats are let out by Mercer's real estate firm to pay mortgage bonds, which are easily available to foreigners in South Africa. Mercer said foreigners could get up to 50 percent of the property they were purchasing financed by a bond and could even secure 100 percent financing if they could offer enough collateral. "It (the purchase of holiday homes) gives people peace of mind that if they need to leave Zimbabwe quickly, at least they have a base to start from," he said. He said record returns had been achieved in the Cape property market in December and January, largely due to the influx of tourists during this time. He added: "We are closely watching the Zimbabwean crisis to see how this will affect property values here. Even so, we expect March to be a busy month, particularly as we are expecting several Zimbabwean buyers to visit us during the run-up to the (presidential) elections." Zimbabweans go to the polls in March to elect a new president in the toughest ballot for President Robert Mugabe since he came to power at independence in 1980. The run-up to the polls has been marred by mounting violence, most of it blamed on Mugabe's supporters. This - together with Zimbabwe's worsening economic crisis marked by foreign currency shortages, runaway unemployment and poverty and company closures - has forced many Zimbabweans to leave the country and invest in properties abroad.
Over 1,700 undocumented migrants to be deported (African Eye News Service, Nelspruit, 06/02) - Over 1 700 Mozambicans illegally crossed the border into South Africa in January and will be deported soon. The South African National Defence Force's (SANDF) Group 33 launched operations in Mpumalanga and Northern Province to curb the increased flow of illegal immigrants into the country. "January is the peak time for illegals to cross into the country, which is why we launched the operations," said Group 33 spokeswoman Lize Pienaar on Wednesday. A total of 1 731 illegal immigrants were arrested, 22 of whom were found inside the Kruger National Park. Operations focused on Nkomazi area and Nkomazi toll gate on the N4 highway, as well as the Kruger National Park, and Phalaborwa area of Northern Province. Meanwhile the army confiscated 11 illegal firearms, 166 rounds of ammunition, 21kg of dagga, 267 dagga plants and unlicensed alcohol worth R204 500 during a clean-up operation in the Nkomazi area. Seven stolen vehicles were also found and 67 suspects were arrested, said Pienaar. Commandos from Barberton, Belfast, Loskop, Nelspruit and White River together with police also carried out a total of 243 farm and 40 town patrols in January. A total of 54 stolen livestock and other stolen goods were recovered during the patrols. In a separate operation 47 suspects have been arrested in the Northern Province for crimes ranging from theft to intimidation. The provincial police, army and traffic department joined forces in Operation Tsipa and have already held 83 roadblocks. Twelve vehicles, four firearms and rounds of ammunition were confiscated, while a dagga field worth an estimated R1,2 million was destroyed. Two unlicensed drivers were arrested and 1 255 summonses were issued for traffic offences. Police spokesman Commissioner Calvin Sengani said the operation was a success and that several similar operations would be held throughout the province over the next few months.
Farmers accuse ANC of wanting them off land (Daily Dispatch, Durban, 05/02) - A Donnybrook farmer, accused by the African National Congress on Friday of killing a black man in a "racist" attack, was threatened, the Creighton Farmers' Association's Dave Moberly said yesterday. The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday accused the farmer of killing Clover NCD employee Bheki Mbanjwa "in cold blood and execution style" last Monday. Farmers in the area were up in arms yesterday over the statement, rejecting it as "utterly incorrect". They vowed to get to the bottom of the allegation, and have appointed Pietermaritzburg attorney Petrus Coetzee to act on their and the farmer's behalf. They also requested an urgent meeting with provincial police commissioner Moses Khanyile about the ANC's alleged interference in the case. ANC provincial spokesperson Mtholephi Mthimkhulu on Friday issued a statement claiming that Mbanjwa was killed in cold blood after the farmer "allegedly opened fire, fatally shooting him execution style". In the statement Mthimkhulu claimed Mbanjwa was driving his father's bakkie on the farm when he was stopped by the farmer, ordered out of the car and shot. Later the same day Khanyile announced the appointment of the area head of detectives, Senior Superintendent I K Naicker, to investigate the matter. He said a preliminary investigation into the death had indicated further investigation was necessary to establish the facts relating to the alleged murder. Khanyile has denied he acted under pressure from the ANC. However, sources close to the investigation told Sapa that preliminary investigations indicated that Mbanjwa and two other men had driven through the farm to drop off one of the men at his home. While they were there, they apparently consumed alcohol. It is alleged that Mbanjwa and his friend later tried to break into the dairy. He also allegedly pointed his firearm twice at different security guards. Mbanjwa, who collected milk from the farm every second day, was allegedly shot dead after he twice pointed his firearm at the farmer and failed to respond to a warning shot. Director Bala Naidoo has confirmed that a holstered gun was found on Mbanjwa, as well as two bottles of beer, one empty, and a small quantity of dagga. Moberly told Sapa that farmers were outraged at what seemed to be attempts by the ANC to discredit farmers and drive them off their land. "Do they (the ANC) want farmers off their land? ... Do they want to discredit farmers? If (President) Thabo Mbeki had been approached by two armed men, he would have done exactly the same," Moberly said. Naidoo could not confirm reports that the farmer's arrest was imminent.
Mozambique tightens controls on Zimbabwe border (Sapa-AFP, Maputo, 08/28) - Mozambique has deployed more law enforcement officers, including army troops, along its border with Zimbabwe, the government announced Thursday. "We have decided to reinforce control along the border to put an end to smuggling of various products, particularly sugar," Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi told journalists at his weekly briefing to the press. State radio here linked the move to fears of worsening violence in Zimbabwe ahead of hotly contested presidential elections set for March 9-10. Radio Mozambique reported that the deployment of troops along the border was aimed at preventing possible Zimbabwean refugees from slipping into Mozambique through the poorly patrolled border. Mocumbi denied this saying: "Our concern at the moment is to protect the national sugar industry." The premier described Zimbabwe's electoral process as normal, and said he did not believe the situation would deteriorate to such an extent as to cause any exodus. Zimbabwe has suffered worsening political violence ahead of the polls, with at least 26 people killed so far this year. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is struggling to extend his 22-year rule against a tough challenge from former labor leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mbarara rejects returnees (New Vision, 08/02) - The planned resettlement of a group of Ugandan returnees from Tanzania, currently camped in Kikagati, Mbarara district, has been delayed following resistance from local residents in the proposed resettlement area. The Government had planned to resettle the returnees in Kibaale, but was forced to alter the plans following objections from the local community, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in its 'Humanitarian Update' last month. Kibaale has more migrants than other areas and the local population was apprehensive of additional outsiders being resettled in the same area, OCHA reported. "There are ongoing negotiations led by the prime minister's office to resolve the impasse," OCHA said. According to OCHA, government representatives said at a meeting last month to discuss the problem that some 15 square miles of government land in Kagadi, Kibale district, had been allocated to the returnees. The returnees are part of a group of 3,027 Ugandans, mainly ethnic Bakiga cattle herders, expelled from Tanzania, allegedly for voting against Tanzania's ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party according to media reports. The expulsions happened after the CCM lost the elections in the northern Tanzanian area of Karagwe (Kagera district), where the long-time Ugandan settlers were living, reports added. According to OCHA, an assessment of conditions in the Kikagati camp carried out by Oxfam-GB said the returnees were in 'critical need' of water, shelter and household utensils. Plans were also being drawn up for the phased return of some 200,000 IDPs from 'protected villages' in the northern districts of Kitgum, Gulu and Pader, during a period of six to eight months, OCHA said. President Yoweri Museveni said in January that camps housing up to 400,000 IDPs in the north could be closed as early as April as a result of improved security in the area. OCHA described the current security situation in Uganda as 'stable'. In addition, Karamoja, where the government has been carrying out a programme to remove some 40,000 illegal guns from circulation, had experienced calm, the report said.
Tanzanian undocumented migrants arrested in police 'swoop' (The Nation (Kenya), 08/02) - More than 1,000 illegal immigrants have been seized as part of a countrywide crackdown on crime. Police said some of the foreigners were involved in violent crime, drug trafficking and money laundering. They could be deported or taken to court to be charged with criminal offences, a senior police source said. Most of them have been working in Kenya without permits. They were arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Police headquarters in Nairobi ordered the eight provincial police commanders to flush out all immigrants without valid documents. Hundreds of officers, drawn from the regular police, the General Service Unit, the Criminal Investigations Department, reservists and Administration police, were involved in the operation. Police stepped up the crackdown on illegal immigrants in Kenya after terrorists crashed three hijacked passenger jets into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the United Sates on September 11 last year. The first swoop was in October after President Moi ordered police to tighten security and flush out illegal immigrants. Hundreds of foreigners were arrested and jailed for several months. The director of the operation at police headquarters, Vigilance House, Mr Edwin Nyaseda, yesterday said most of the 1,086 people in custody were Somalis, Ethiopians, Tanzanians, Arabs, Indians, Eritreans, Ugandans, Congolese and Sudanese. Police arrested 347 immigrants in Nairobi, 329 in Rift Valley, 141 in Coast, 139 in Nyanza, 45 in North Eastern, 42 in Western, 35 in Central and 18 in Eastern. They are being held in various police stations around the country. "All of them were living in Kenya illegally since they did not have documents allowing them to be here," Mr Nyaseda said. He said they were being screened to sort out those who might have been involved in crime. "We will determine what action will be taken against them after investigations are complete," the officer said. Mr Nyaseda said all illegal immigrants would be flushed out because they posed a danger to the security of the country. In Nairobi, police and General Service Unit officers armed with AK-47 and G3 rifles searched homes and mounted roadblocks in the hunt. Estates raided included Korogocho, Huruma, Mathare, Kibera, Kawangware, Mukuru slums, the city centre, Githurai, Kayole, Eastleigh and Dandora. Those seized included 137 Somalis, 36 Ethiopians, 14 Indians, two Japanese, six Sudanese, four Tanzanians and two Burundians. Others were Congolese, Lebanese and Ugandans. Furious residents complained that the eight-hour operation was marked by extortion, theft and terror. Some residents said they were harassed, robbed and beaten by the officers. They said the security men demanded that they should produce illegally held guns. Coast provincial police chief Samuel Kilemi said the swoop would continue until all foreigners living there illegally were kicked out of the country. He said: "We have rounded up people we believe are illegal aliens but this is just a normal exercise aimed at ridding the region of foreigners who have no papers allowing them to stay here." Those in custody included 129 Somalis, 12 Tanzanians and one Ugandan. In Mombasa, the crackdown was concentrated around Kibokoni (Old Town), Kisauni, Mtwapa and Changamwe. Other towns targeted were Malindi, Watamu, Lamu, Garsen, Hola and Msambweni.
Kikagati resettlement plans delayed (Irin, 05/02) - The planned resettlement of a group of Ugandan returnees from Tanzania, currently camped in Kikagati, Mbarara District, in the southwest, has been delayed following resistance from local residents in the proposed resettlement area. The Ugandan government had planned to resettle the returnees in the nearby district of Kibale, but was forced to alter the plans following objections from the local community, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in its 'Humanitarian Update' for Uganda on 31 January. Kibale District had more migrants than most other areas of the country, and the local population was apprehensive of additional outsiders being resettled in the same area, OCHA reported. "There are ongoing negotiations led by the prime minister's office to resolve the impasse," OCHA said. According to OCHA, government representatives said at a meeting on 17 January to discuss the problem that some 15 square miles of government-owned land in Kagadi, Kabale District, in the far southwest, had been allocated to the returnees. The returnees are part of a group of 3,027 Ugandans, mainly ethnic Bakiga cattle herders, expelled from Tanzania, allegedly for voting against Tanzania's ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party in elections in October 2000, according to media reports. The expulsions happened after the CCM lost the elections in the northern Tanzanian area of Karagwe (Kagera District), where the long-time Ugandan settlers were living, reports added. However, the returnees said they were precluded from political participation, and had never voted in Tanzanian elections, the independent Monitor newspaper reported in Uganda on 27 December 2001. According to OCHA, an assessment of conditions in the Kikagati camp carried out by Oxfam-GB said the returnees were in "critical need" of water, shelter and household utensils. "What is interesting is that they fall between different mandates: they are not refugees and they are not IDPs [internally displaced persons], because they have crossed the Tanzanian border into Uganda, so no one has responsibility over them," Mads Oyen, an official at the United Nations Children's Fund in Kampala, told IRIN in January. Plans were also being drawn up for the phased return of some 200,000 IDPs from "protected villages" in the northern districts of Kitgum, Gulu and Pader, during a period of six to eight months, OCHA said. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in January that camps housing up to 400,000 IDPs in northern Uganda could be closed as early as April as a result of improved security in the area. OCHA described the current security situation in Uganda as "stable". In addition, the Karamoja subregion in the northeast, where the government has been carrying out a programme to remove some 40,000 illegal guns from circulation, had experienced calm, the report said.
Ugandans ousted from Tanzania to settle in Kahungye (New Vision, 04/02) - Ugandans who were expelled from Tanzania last year will be given plots of land where they will re-settle and start a new life. State minister for disaster preparedness and refugees, Christine Aporu Amongin said on Tuesday that the government has already earmarked land and plans are underway to transport the 2,809 returnees. She said the government will also avail a package of household and agricultural materials to each family to give them a good start. A source in the Prime Minister's office said they will settle at Kahungye in Kamwenge district. Kahungye resettlement site formerly hosted over 3000 Rwandese Tutsi and about 500 Congolese. "The land is very fertile and productive," one of the district leaders said. Addressing the returnees at Kikagati, Aporu urged them to be good citizens having returned to their homeland. The returnees, most of them Bakiga from Rubaya sub-county in Kabale, said they were expelled from over nine Tanzanian villages.
Don't harbour refugees, DA tells Kabompo chiefs (Times of Zambia, 07/02) - Kabompo district administrator Mathews Makayi has appealed to chiefs in the area to ensure their subjects do not harbour refugees from neighbouring Angola. Mr Makayi said this in his office yesterday when he confirmed the arrival of 22 Angolan refugees at Kabompo boma over the weekend. He appealed to Chiefs Kalunga and Chiyengele to make sure that refugees are not harboured by their subjects. Mr Makayi said the refugees would soon be repatriated to Maheba refugee settlement in the province. The 22 refugees include three couples with children including a three-week-old baby who entered Zambia through Nyakulenga and Dikolong'a. Two couples with their children trekked from Nyakulenga to Kalwilo. The others also trekked from Dikolong'a to Kayombo from where Zambian authorities ferried them to Kabompo boma. Mr Makayi commended the Immigration department for supplying the refugees with foodstuffs including mealie meal, cooking oil, relish and salt.
Denmark gives Zambia 156,000 dollars to repatriate undocumented migrants (Sapa-AFP, Lusaka, 02/03) - The Danish government has given Zambia 156,000 dollars to finance the repatriation of more than 200 illegal immigrants currently languishing in prisons, a local newspaper said Sunday. The money has been channeled through the Permanent Human Rights Commission of Zambia, which will establish a prohibited immigrants repatriation fund, the state-run Sunday Mail said. "With this fund in place, it is hoped repatriation can be effected as soon as possible," commission spokesman Lavu Mulimba is quoted as telling the newspaper. Most aliens have stayed for more than four years in Zambian prisons because the government has no money to repatriate them to their countries. Most of those imprisoned are poor people from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Somalia who do not have enough money to return home themselves. They were imprisoned either for entering Zambia illegally or for overstaying their visas. At the moment, more than 200 illegal immigrants in Zambia are waiting to be taken back to their countries.
Zimbabwe high court ruling gives reprieve to dual citizens (Sapa-AFP, Harare, 28/02) - A High Court in Zimbabwe has cleared the wle of foreign descent - mainly minority whites - to vote in upcoming crunch presidential elections, the opposition said Thursday. "The (voting) registrar has been saying ... that people must renounce their right to a foreign citizenship," said Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Many are entitled to foreign citizenship, but have never claimed it. "The court ruled that that is nonsense, that there is nothing in the law that requires people to denounce an entitlement," he said. Government critics had feared that authorities could use the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act, which took effect last year, to bar people with foreign-sounding surnames as well as the small white minority from voting because they had not renounced their entitlement to foreign citizenship. The legislation has been viewed as part of a wide-ranging strategy to ensure the re-election of longtime ruler Robert Mugabe, who faces an unprecedented challenged from MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March 9-10 election. Other new legislation includes a draconian new security law and a still-pending bill that would put new curbs on press freedoms. The citizenship law affects the estimated 30,000 white Zimbabweans, as well as tens of thousands of immigrants and migrant workers from neighboring countries who earlier had enjoyed voting rights. The legislation was seen as a ploy for disenfranchising white Zimbabweans ahead of the vote, since they would be stripped of their Zimbabwean nationality if they did not renounce their right to a second passport. The court's ruling on Wednesday also gave people who do hold two passports more time to renounce the foreign nationality, by extending the deadline to August, Ncube said. The original deadline was in early January. The court said the original "deadline was done with an eye to elections," Ncube said. "People now have more time to renounce, which basically would mean the registar would have no power or no right to remove people from the voters' roll on the basis that they have not renounced their citizenship," he said. The government has repeatedly accused the MDC of being a puppet of British and white Zimbabwean interests. In 2000, ahead of parliamentary elections, the Supreme Court nixed a government bid to strip people with dual British-Zimbabwean citizenship of their Zimbabwean nationality unless they gave up their British passports.
Matabeleland villagers flee to South Africa as terror mounts (Daily News, 28/02) - An unspecified number of Zimbabweans are reportedly fleeing to South Africa through illegal exit points as violence mounts in Matabeleland's rural areas ahead of the presidential election. Over 100 people have been killed in political violence since the 2000 parliamentary election. At Beitbridge border post, up to 50 border jumpers are arrested daily by South African immigration officers and the numbers are expected to increase as the election draws nearer, an official said. South African soldiers have set up a 24-hour checkpoint, two kilometres from the Beitbridge border post in Limpopo province as part of the special security arrangements. A border post official who declined to be named said most border jumpers were from the politically troubled rural areas of Matabeleland. Most cross the crocodile-infested Limpopo River into South Africa looking for jobs on farms while others make a living by selling hand-carved artifacts in the northern frontier town of Messina. A Zimbabwean immigration officer said: "They obviously will not have the right papers and opt to leave the country illegally. "But hundreds of others are applying for political asylum and if their papers are in order they go through," he said. He said the immigration officers are overwhelmed by the flood of people travelling to South Africa for one reason or another. Botswana deported over 1 000 Zimbabweans last month. Most people fleeing to Botswana and South Africa are from Bulawayo where Zanu PF youths have launched a reign of terror in the high-density areas. Malawian immigration officials said the flow of Zimbabweans into the country has not changed significantly. Hudson Mankhwala, the public relations officer for the Department of Immigration, said most of the visitors take advantage of Malawi's liberal immigration laws. "In the wake of sanctions and threats of sanctions against Zimbabwe, we have had cases of Zimbabweans coming here to try to fraudulently acquire Malawian passports to travel to Europe," he said. Over 200 Zimbabweans are reportedly camped at cheap lodges and inns in Blantyre and Lilongwe. Hundreds of Zimbabweans are leaving daily for the United Kingdom. Air Zimbabwe has recorded fully booked flights since the middle of last year despite the deportation of many would-be asylum seekers.
Foreign journalist arrested from entering illegally (Daily News, Mutare, 24/02) - Moses Oguti, the editor-in-chief of a Botswana magazine, Trans-Kalahari, is still languishing in Mutare prison a week after his arrest for allegedly sneaking into the country through the Forbes border post. Stanley Shamido, the head of Immigration in Manicaland, said yesterday: "We are still holding him because we have not yet ascertained where he resides. Oguti was very vague when we asked where he stays. We are going to lay charges of entry by evasion against him. He will appear in court as soon as we have finished our investigation. "We don't know what type of person he is. This is a straightforward case. We'll just prosecute and later deport him." Oguti, 51, is said to have tried to enter Zimbabwe through Forbes border post from Mozambique, but immigration officials denied him entry. An official at the border who spoke on condition of anonymity said: "He just looked suspicious. We asked him why he was coming to Zimbabwe and he was very evasive. We then told him to go back. Besides, his papers were not in order." The official said on the following day, a Mozambican driving the same car that Oguti had used entered the border. "Suspecting something was wrong, we alerted the police to be on the look-out for that car, although we had let in the Mozambican because his documents were in order," said the official. Francis Mubvuta, the Manicaland police spokesman, confirmed the incident and said while his car was being driven into the country, Oguti entered Zimbabwe through an illegal entry point in the mountains, used mainly by unauthorised cross-border traders. He said the two then met and Oguti allegedly paid off the Mozambican who in turn handed over the car. Unfortunately for Oguti, the police were trailing the car. Mubvuta said: "We traced the car and arrested him at a food outlet in the city centre. We are yet to establish his reason for being in the country. Meanwhile, he is being held at Mutare prison."
'Opposition party to ferry voters from South Africa' (The Herald, 20/02) - The MDC, whose embattled leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai is facing serious allegations of plotting to assassinate President Mugabe, is reportedly arranging transport for Zimbabwean nationals illegally staying in South Africa so that they can vote in next month's presidential election. Sources in Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday said the opposition party was holding a series of meetings with its supporters, who registered to vote in the 9 and 10 March presidential election. "Senior MDC officials are holding meetings every weekend with their supporters in an effort to bolster support for their presidential candidate," said the source. He said MDC officials raised funds from the white community and other Zimbabwean businesspeople in South Africa to transport their supporters into the country. They have been promised business contracts in the event that the opposition party wins the presidential election. The source said several thousands of Zimbabweans working in South Africa registered to vote last December after MDC threatened them with violence if they failed to do so. Some white farmers and industrialists allegedly threatened their Zimbabwean workers with dismissal if they failed to register as voters in Zimbabwe. The opposition party is also understood to be paying hordes of youths to terrorise Zanu-PF supporters in South Africa. "Most whites here who are employing hundreds of Zimba-bweans have threatened to dismiss them if they vote for the ruling party, Zanu-PF. They have promised to give the workers off days to return home and vote," he said. The source said MDC supporters who registered to vote were promised free transport and some allowances during their brief stay in Zimbabwe to cast their votes. "Some of the supporters are very dangerous and they may even attempt to smuggle guns into Zimbabwe. I think the police should keep an eye on these elements that may try to disrupt the elections," he said. The chairman of MDC in South Africa, who doubles up as the party's ambassador, Mr Jabulani Mkhwananzi, denied his party planned to bring supporters to vote in the election. "We are not planning anything of that nature. This is one of those smear campaigns by some people who want to discredit us. We are not even forcing anybody to be a member of our party or to vote for Mr Tsvangirai," he said.
France urges caution for expatriates in Zimbabwe after Europen Union sanctions (Sapa-AFP, Harare, 19/02) - The French embassy in Harare sent a letter to its nationals in Zimbabwe on Tuesday, urging them to exercise caution one day after the European Union decided to slap sanctions on top government officials. "Stay away from all public demonstrations, all crowds, all election meetings, and avoid making public statements about your opinion on the current political situation," ambassador Didier Ferrand said in the letter, a copy of which was sent to AFP. The ambassador also urged French nationals to report to the embassy any "incidents" they may witness, including insults and acts of intimidation. The embassy said the letter was just a precaution, although some in Harare fear supporters of President Robert Mugabe, seeking to extend his 22-year grip on power in elections on March 9-10, could seek retribution for the European sanctions. EU foreign ministers decided Monday in Brussels to impose targetted sanctions on Mugabe and 19 of his top aides, over rights abuses ahead of next month's presidential vote. Zimbabwe's government has cracked down on the international press and passed repressive laws aimed at muzzling the opposition and media ahead of the vote. It also expelled the head of an EU election observer mission, Sweden's Pierre Schori, on Saturday. That led to the EU withdrawing all of its observers from Zimbabwe. The Human Rights NGO Forum said in a report issued in Harare Tuesday that 25 people have been killed in political violence so far this year, as unrest surges in the run-up to the polls.
Swedish journalist expelled from Zimbabwe: Press group (Sapa-AFP, Harare, 18/02) - A Swedish journalist has been denied accreditation in Zimbabwe and was told to leave the country at the weekend, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) said Monday. Gorrel Espelund, the South Africa-based correspondent for Sydsvenska Dagbladet newspaper, received a faxed letter on Sunday from the Department of Information, saying her request for accreditation had beenrejected, MISA said in a statement. Zimbabwe's government has cracked down on the international press ahead of a hotly contested presidential election set for March 9-10. Sweden's ambassador to the United Nations, Pierre Schori, was supposed to head a team of EU election observers in Zimbabwe but was ordered to leave the country on Saturday. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has refused to allow observers from Britain, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, countries Harare accuses of backing the opposition. EU foreign ministers were meeting Monday to decide whether to go ahead with sanctions against Mugabe and his regime following Schori's expulsion.
Expulsion of European Union observer forces showdown on sanctions against Zimbabwe (Sapa-AP, Brussels, 18/02) - Risking a rift between Europe and Africa, European Union foreign ministers considered imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe Monday after President Robert Mugabe expelled a Swedish diplomat sent to observe his country's upcoming elections. On Saturday, Zimbabwe forced out Pierre Schori, who was to head a 150-member EU team, setting up a showdown with the 15-nation bloc that threatens to further isolate the southern African country. Schori was to brief the EU foreign ministers but said a decision to impose a slew of sanctions on Mugabe and his ministers would be "very difficult." "It looks grim but I would not prejudge anything," he told BBC television. "The thing is to have observers there so people can vote securely." EU sanctions under discussion included cutting off development aid, banning Mugabe and his Cabinet ministers from entering the EU and freezing their assets here. The EU also was considering pulling out the 30 observers already in Zimbabwe. Schori was expected to tell the ministers that sanctions and the withdrawal of observers would have a negative effect and could help Mugabe. "Twice as many voted in previous elections and everybody said our presence helped ... there is a lot at stake for Mugabe now," Schori told the BBC. Schori was expelled after Mugabe's government refused to recognize his credentials as head of the EU mission to observe the March 9-10 presidential elections. Zimbabwe has said it won't accept observers from EU members Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Britain or the Netherlands. It accuses these nations of favoring his opposition. Mugabe, 77, is fighting for his political survival, and has imposed various restrictions on journalists and opposition parties to ensure victory. EU foreign ministers, aware sanctions may sour relations with other African nations, are keen to send Mugabe a message his behavior is unacceptable. Other African nations, notably South Africa, have been reluctant to impose sanctions. The EU put its sanctions threat on hold this month after Mugabe agreed to allow in the observer team. With Schori's expulsion, however, the EU is revisiting the sanctions debate. Zimbabwe has been wracked by political violence for the past two years that opposition supporters, human rights activists and many international officials blame on the ruling party.
Expelled European Union observer head accuses Harare of 'tightening screw' (Sapa-AFP, London, 17/02) - The head of the European Union observer mission for Zimbabwe's presidential elections in March accused the Harare regime Sunday of "tightening the screw" after he was abruptly expelled from the country. Pierre Schori also strongly rejected as "fabrications" allegations that he was biased against the government of President Robert Mugage. Arriving in London after flying from Harare overnight, he said the EU team had angered the regime by not caving in to its demands. "I don't know what they want to hide but evidently they don't like some of us to be there," he told reporters at London's Gatwick airport. "What they did not like is that w do not abide totally, cave in, to their demands and conditions, which have never been set out in a similar way before for an international observation team." The envoy, who is also Sweden's ambassador to the United Nations, recalled having been part of a "very successful" observer team for the 2000 legislative elections in Zimbabwe. "Now things have gotten much tougher, they are tightening the screw." Schori's expulsion brings the prospect of long-threatened sanctions against Harare much closer if the March 9-10 polls are not free and fair. EU foreign ministers will meet Monday in Brussels to discuss the issue. The sanctions would include a European travel ban on Mugabe and some 20 of his close associates, and a freeze on any assets they might have in Europe. "I think the ministers will have to think hard about what they do," Schori told Sky television in a later interview. He denied that he or his team had been in any way partisan or insulting, as the Harare government has alleged. "I think I had a fairly low profile. We are very keen on being non-partisan and professional, we have a code of conduct. "These are just fabrications in order to argue for a very bad case." He said Zimbabwean authorities had initially given him a visa which did not specify that he could not talk to the press, for instance. "They realised they had given me the wrong visa from their point of view," he added. But when it was withdrawn and he was asked to sign for another one, he refused. He was then reissued with a one-day visa that expired at midnight Saturday. Schori said he was "surprised" at being forced out. Before boarding the plane in Harare, Schori had said the decision to expel him was "unfortunate." "Leaving Harare, my feelings are more of sorrow than of anger," he said. "I know most Zimbabweans earnestly desire that relations with the EU should continue to deepen and flourish."
Expelled European Union election chief Schori "crookish and dishonest:" Mugabe (Sapa-AFP, Beira, 17/02) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Sunday denounced the expelled head of the European Union's observer mission for Zimbabwe's presidential elections as "dishonest and crookish". Mugabe told a news conference in this Mozambican port city that Pierre Schori, Sweden's ambassador to the United Nations, displayed "cheek" when he said he would stay in the country even after his visa had expired. Schori was expelled from Harare on Saturday. "Mr Schori went to our embassy in Washington and got a tourist visa which was unlawful, irregular, dishonest and crookish, and used the tourist visa to come to the country," Mugabe said in footage broadcast on Zimbabwe state television. "We welcomed him as a tourist but when he came he was the head of the EU. We refused to accept that because we have not invited the EU per se, we invited the individuals from the EU," Mugabe said. "He came for 14 days. So when his 14 days expired we told him it was time to go ... (and) he said he would remain in our country with or without a visa. What cheek!" Mugabe said after talks with Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano and Malawi's Bakili Muluzi. Mugabe blacklisted six EU countries from observing the hotly contested March 9 and 10 presidential election on grounds that they support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Chissano, who described Schori as a "personal friend", said: "Accepting Mr Schori who only went to Zimbabwe as a tourist would be an imposition which would be harmful to Zimbabwe's own image." Chissano also said Mugabe had told them that he was doing all in his power to stop the ongoing violence related to the forthcoming presidential elections.
Head of European Union says will stay in Zimbabwe despite visa row (Sapa-AFP, Harare, 16/02) - The head of the European Union (EU) election observer team to Zimbabwe said Saturday he would stay in the country despite an ongoing row over his visa and the accreditation of EU monitors for the March 9-10 presidential elections. "I am staying here," Sweden's UN ambassador, Pierre Schori, said in response to a reporter's question. The head of the EU observer team, who arrived in Zimbabwe last weekend on a tourism visa, has been denied accreditation because he is from one of six EU countries Harare has barred from observing next month's elections. President Robert Mugabe's government has accused Britain, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is set to pose the sternest challenge yet to Mugabe's 22-year grip on power in the March polls. Authorities here have warned Schori against speaking on or about the forthcoming presidential polls, because doing so will put him in breach of his tourism visa. The state-run Herald newspaper said Saturday Home Affairs minister John Nkomo "would not hesitate to take stern action against" Schori if he flouted the conditions of his visa. "He must desist from making political statements or anything remotely connected to the presidential election," said Nkomo. "We take serious exception to Mr Schori's continued utterances while in the country. He is obviously trying to cheat his way into being recognised as an accredited observer," the minister said. Schori declined to comment on Nkomo's warning. A letter published on the front page of the Herald accuses Schori of bias and prejudice. "Do you really believe, Pierre, that you are a genuine 'friend' of Zimbabwe and all Zimbabweans, whom this country would invite?" said the letter, signed Robin C. Hood, a pseudonym. A person does not invite into their house someone who isa "notorious neighbourhood bully", the letter said. "So Pierre, you have pre-judged the Zimbabwean presidential election. If Morgan Tsavngirai does not win, they will not be free and fair," it added. The letter accused the EU and donor country representatives of declaring the polls not free and fair "before a single voter has marked the ballot paper." On Friday, Dan Svanell, a spokesman for Sweden's foreign ministry, said Harare had threatened to revoke Schori's visa, and that would probably lead to him being expelled from Zimbabwe. Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said Schori's expulsion would probably result in the entire EU team pulling out of Zimbabwe. But Nkomo said the Swedish diplomat's current tourism visa, a six-month, double-entry visa which expires on February 23, can easily be extended. If Schori wanted to change his visa, the home affairs minister added, he would have to leave Zimbabwe and submit a fresh application from outside the country. The head of the EU observer team said he has sent a report "on the state of our mission in Zimbabwe" to the European Commission - which handles the logistics of putting poll-watchers on the ground. This will be discussed by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels Monday. "They will then decide upon the EU election observation mission in Zimbabwe," he said. "It's a balanced professional report on the situation here," he said, adding he had no immediate plans to travel to Brussels to submit the report. At a meeting in Caceres, Spain last week, the European Commission recommended that sanctions be implemented if Harare insisted on allowing observers from some EU countries, but not others. On Thursday, Zimbabwean authorities began to accredit observers from what Harare considers "friendly" EU countries - Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Ireland and Luxemburg. Schori said Saturday there were "30 highly trained, very professional, motivated, dedicated observers from nine countries, ready for deployment." South Africa has defended the Harare government's right to choose which countries could send observers, while the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) chief, Amara Essy, said the EU should let African countries monitor their own elections.
Swedish foreign minister says chief election observer in Zimbabwe's visa revoked (Sapa-AP, Oslo, 15/02) - Zimbabwe has revoked the visa of a top election observer in a standoff with the government over the composition of the mission, Sweden's foreign minister said Friday, warning the African nation of possible sanctions. "If he is expelled, it would probably result in sanctions," Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said at a news conference in the Norwegian capital. She said remaining election observers would probably also be withdrawn. She said European Union sanctions against Zimbabwe could include freezing the assets of President Robert Mugabe and his 20 closest supporters. Zimbabwe has refused to recognize Pierre Schori, Sweden's ambassador to the United Nations, as head of the international mission to monitor next month's presidential elections. The government has officially accredited 26 European observers but refuses to recognize Schori and has said it would not accredit other Swedish observers or representatives from Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. The government has accused those countries of bias in favor of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. In an interview with Swedish radio, Schori said he has 30 observers who also would have to leave, but that he had put a decision on hold. Lindh said an expulsion of Schori would create an extremely serious problems and would "prove that Zimbabwe does not want a free and fair election." "We still have a few hours (for them to change the decision), but it seems that the other observers will also leave," Lindh said at the end of a Nordic foreign ministers meeting in the Norwegian capital. Schori said the situation was very confused. "On the one hand, the immigration authorities say that my tourist visa doesn't give me the right to make political statements and my statements have only been about the mission," he told Swedish radio. "On the other hand the foreign ministry says I'm welcome to stay here as a tourist and watch the elephants. The situation is, of course, a bit unclear."
EU observer team head faces expulsion from Zimbabwe (Sapa-AFP, Oslo, 15/02) - The head of the EU election observer team to Zimbabwe, Pierre Schori, faced expulsion Friday from the southern African nation after Harare threatened to withdraw his visa, in an ongoing row over EU accreditation for March polls, officials here said. "They told him that they're going to take his visa back because it is a tourist visa and he had made some political statements" Swedish foreign ministry spokesman Dan Svanell told AFP. "They are still negotiating down there so that they don't fulfill their threat," the spokesman said, adding that no date had been given for Schori's possible expulsion. Schori, Sweden's UN ambassador, is in Zimbabwe on a two-week tourist visa that expires Sunday because authorities there have denied accreditation to EU observers from Sweden, Britain, Denmark, Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands. President Robert Mugabe's government has accused the six countries of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to pose the stiffest challenge ever to the president's 22-year rule in the March 9-10 polls. Earlier Friday, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh told a press conference here that Schori's expulsion would probably result in the entire EU team pulling out of Zimbabwe. A spokesman for the EU team in Zimbabwe said Schori did not know whether he would be expelled. "We don't know what is going to happen," spokesman Stefan Amer said, adding that Schori would hold a press conference when he had more information. At a meeting in Caceres, Spain last week, the European Commission -which handles the logistics of putting poll-watchers on the ground -recommended that sanctions be implemented if Harare insisted on allowing observers from some EU countries, but not others. On Thursday, Zimbabwean authorities began to accredit observers from what Harare considers "friendly" EU countries - Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Ireland and Luxemburg. EU foreign ministers are due to hold talks Monday on the observer issue. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have passed repressive laws aimed at muzzling the opposition ahead of the vote, and have been accused of inflicting serious human rights abuses on political opponents. The run-up to the election has turned increasingly violent, with at least 19 people killed in politically motivated attacks since December 24, according to an AFP tally.
Zimbabwe deportation from United Kingdom costs reach £160,000 (Press Association, 08/02) - The Home Office spent more than £160,000 deporting people to Zimbabwe last year, it emerged today. Junior Home Office Minister Angela Eagle said in a written parliamentary reply that £162, 868 was spent last year on "removals" to Harare." Three weeks ago Home Secretary David Blunkett called a halt to the deportation of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe until after the country's general election in March. His decision followed increasing reports of violence and intimidation of President Robert Mugabe's political opponents as well as a clamp down on the media. According to figures released by Ms Eagle, the Home Office spent £32,906 on deportations in December - the highest monthly figure during 2001. Ms Eagle stressed that the records do not differentiate between asylum and non-asylum removals and that where possible deportation costs are met by the airline responsible for bringing the person to the UK.
Thousands enter South Africa ahead of Zimbabwe election (Agence France Presse, Beitbridge, 08/02) - Thousands of Zimbabweans are crossing the Limpopo River into South Africa ahead of the countrys presidential elections, set down for March 9 and 10. South African troops catch about 2,500 people a month after they have slipped across the wide, semi-dry river bed to look for jobs and food and, some say, to escape political violence in Zimbabwe. About a week ago under the cover of darkness, Tsepo Nyathi, a 20-year-old musician from Gwanda in southern Matabeleland, decided to take his chances with the guma-guma, as locals call extortionist guides who convey illegals across the river. They came up to me and asked if I wanted to cross the river. It would cost me 100 (South African) rands (nine dollars). They helped me across a dry part of the river and when they finished, they took all my other money as well, Nyathi told AFP. Asked why he was trying to get into South Africa, he said: To try and find a job. And to get away from the political situation in the country. A few hours later, under a blistering sun, South African soldiers spotted him hitch-hiking along the Ni highway. They questioned him next to the single-lane tar strip that snakes south to the industrial heartland. When Nyathi could show them no papers, he was arrested. Soldiers took him to the Messina police station, where he was detained with about 60 other illegal aliens who had been rounded up overnight. But Nyathi was undeterred. He vowed to make another attempt as soon as he could. Definitely, Ill do that, Nyathi told AFP before he was loaded into the back of a police truck to be deported back to Zimbabwe. Sibongile Moyo, 22, another illegal caught by the army, says she was also looking for a job. There is not enough food to eat and we dont have money to buy any, she told AFP. Food shortages, unemployment and political violence in Zimbabwe, where some 16 people were killed in January, according to the independent Human Rights Forum, are given as the main reasons why many people believe they can find a better life in South Africa. Its a game of cat and mouse along this fence, said Colonel ToI Snyman, commander of the South African armys Soutpansberg Military Area. Patrolling a border stretching some 250 kilometres (150 miles), troops catch around 2,500 undocumented migrants each month, he added. We have no idea how many get through, Snyman said. Some estimates put the figure as high as 500 a day. The army has about 250 soldiers deployed to patrol the banks of the Limpopo River, a stretch of thick scrubland fenced off with three rows of razor wire. Since last October, Snyman said, there has been an increase in the number of border jumpers to South Africa, mainly because of food shortages. They are also getting younger, from between 18 and 24 in July last year to between 16 and 18 in January. Many are being caught over and over again, each time paying 100 rand to the guides. We take them to the nearest crossing (at Beit Bridge) and two days later we arrest the same guys, Snyman said. They tell our soldiers: There is nothing you can do, we have to live. South Africa is in the process of putting together contingency plans should the stream of illegals became a deluge of refugees in case of a meltdown in Zimbabwe. The Pretoria government is already converting Arltonvilla, a disused military base some 10 kilometres (six miles) northeast of Messina, into a camp that can hold up to 1,000 people if necessary. For the moment, however, soldiers patrol the river fence, which ends 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Beit Bridge. I catch between five to six of these guys every day, said Private Godfrey Mathabatha, who patrols sector 135, west of the border post. He said most people tell the soldiers they are tired and thirsty, with some not having eaten for a week. Border jumpers wrap themselves in a blanket before squirming through the razor-sharp wire fence. Every day we go on patrol and we just find a lot of blankets, Mathabatha said.
"Guides" exploit undocumented migrants entering South Africa (Irin, 05/02) - A criminal racket on both sides of the border is helping illegal Zimbabwean immigrants cross into South Africa, a senior army officer told IRIN. The criminals, known as "Guma-Guma", act as guides to those slipping across the border and into South Africa's Northern Province. They charge around R50 (US $4) per person, and failure to pay can lead to a beating. They can also provide illegal papers for a price. According to the South African officer, involved in border patrol operations, the Guma-Guma use cellphones to organise transport with mini-bus drivers on the South African side of the Limpopo river. In a series of short hops, the immigrants are transported to the border town of Messina, and from there they travel south to South Africa's major cities looking for work. "Only the very poor walk," the officer said. South African army patrols net an average of 100 to 200 illegal immigrants a day. In January, 2,600 people were arrested and handed over to the police - a figure lower than last year - the officer said. He noted that increased activity by the Zimbabwean police was likely to have had an impact on the numbers crossing. The border jumpers are eventually deported back to Zimbabwe. The South African military, through an agreement with Zimbabwe, has the authority to intercept would-be illegal immigrants in what is technically Zimbabwean territory, the officer said. He pointed out that a man found wading in the Limpopo would probably be arrested before he crossed to the South African bank of the river. Once inside South Africa, the concern of the authorities in the frontier regions is the damage that illegal immigrants can cause to farms and properties. Farmers complain that snares are set and crops damaged as the border jumpers cross their fields. If political violence in the run-up to Zimbabwe's March presidential election leads to a large influx of asylum seekers, "our first priority will be to look after our own people, the farmers," the officer said. "The Zimbabweans are likely to have been hungry for days, and if they strip the property there is going to be conflict with the farmers."
Australia accuses Zimbabwe government of violating democracy with new media law (Sapa-AP, Canberra, 02/02) - Australia on Saturday accused Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government of violating democratic principles by passing a new law that sharply curbs press freedom in the troubled African nation. The legislation, which was passed by the Zimbabwe parliament on Thursday, is aimed at gagging independent journalists ahead of the nation's March 9-10 presidential election. The law makes it illegal for journalists to operate without government accreditation and allows foreign correspondents into the country only to cover specific events. Reports critical of the government could be punished with fines and imprisonment under the legislation and a security law that was recently approved. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Saturday the stringent new media law demonstrates Mugabe's contempt for democracy. "Australia condemns the passage of this law, which unfairly limits free speech, prohibits foreign media access and places an even deeper doubt over the chance of a free and fair presidential election on 9-10 March," Downer said in a statement. "This election is already taking place under threat of a military coup should the opposition win," he added. Earlier this week, Australia and Britain called on senior leaders of a 54-nation association of former British colonies to agree to suspend Zimbabwe from Commonwealth meetings. Commonwealth ministers have frequently urged Mugabe to end the intimidation of opposition supporters, halt the occupation of white-owned farms and ensure a free and fair election campaign. However, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) opted instead to urge Zimbabwe to allow free and open elections monitored by international observers. Downer said the passing of the media law makes international observer missions even more critical during Zimbabwe's elections. "It is absolutely vital that every effort is made to ensure an environment in which the people of Zimbabwe can exercise their democratic right to decide the future president without fear of intimidation or violence," he said.
This page last updated 09 July 2004.