Internally-displacedincrease steadily as army 'clean-up' rolls on
Botswana government to cut services toKalahari Basarwa
Khoisan told to move from ancestral lands
Advocacy groups says"slow-motion holocaust" unfolding
Turmoil after Mobutu's exit and Kabila's killing
Kabila vows Rwanda troops will leave DRC, like it or not
Rwanda not ready to quit DRC: Kagame
DRC refugees return home from Uganda
Museveni welcomes Goma refugees
Kampala admits Goma refugees
Goma declared safe for refugees to return, but most are alreadythere
Kampala locks out volcano-hit refugees
Volcano refugees urged to enter camps so aid agencies can givethem supplies
Congolese flee from clashes towards Uganda
Commentary on Ugandan involvement in DRC
Lesotho minister laments abuse of migrantsin South Africa
Malawi deports Zimbabwean human rightsactivists
Zimbabwe activists arrested in Malawi
Proposal to deny land ownership by foreign citizens
Nafu calls for expulsion of Sun International
Tension escalates near Osire Refugee Camp
Money for refugees' food expected in days, says WFP
Stowaways from West Africa may be given political asylum
Angolan refugees try to legalise status
Refugees flee into Namibia from Angola
Stowaways dumped off Luderitz
AIDS in transportindustry claims hundreds every month
Foreign students a boon not a bane
Home Affairs to implement portable offices
Elephants kill migrant near Kruger Park
South African intelligence official immigration status questioned
Foreign land ownership should be debated, says ANC
South Africa prepares for influx of Zimbabwe refugees
Cost of potential Zimbabwe refugee influx
South African brain drain worse than we thought
Border post hawkers to get new market in Komatipoort
Over 65,000 South African citizens seek visas to visit Nigeria
Tshwete attempts reconciliation with Portuguese community
Weak rand makes South Africa a bargain for tourists
Fugitives to be extradited to Botswana
Xenophobia rife in Cape Peninsula
Home Affairs officer in court for fraud
NNP condemns xenophobic attacks in West Cape
Troops called in after xenophobic killings in Milnerton
AIDS devastatesSwaziland's workforce
24 Burundian refugeeskilled in Tanzania
Meeting held on voluntary repatriation of refugees
Tanzania bogged down by refugee crisis, says Mkapa
DRC musicians expelled
DRC musicians detained
Government deports104 prohibited immigrants
Refugees on half-ration as food stocks drop
Rise in refugee numbers brings cut in food rations
Refugee influx into Zambia expected to increase in 2002
Drug enforcement commission arrests 3,341 including 179foreigners
More refugees expected, say churches
Reporters barredfrom Zimbabwe
DA to lobby for protection of South African property in Zimbabwe
Embassies make contingency plans
Zimbabwe turns away Madagascar journalist on holiday
Zimbabwe on hunt for foreign journalists in the country
US says citizens should consider delaying travel to Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe citizens flock to South Africa
Britain temporarily freezes deportation of asylum seekers toZimbabwe
Britain reviews policy on deporting Zimbabwean asylum seekers
UK deportations to Zimbabwe to continue
Britain may halt deportations of Zimbabweans
Deported Zimbabwe asylum-seekers face death, say angry UK refugeegroups
Deportation of Zimbabwean from UK
British Airways halts Zimbabwe deportation
Britain urged to act on Zimbabwe asylum-seekers
UK report on Zimbabwean refugees slammed
British MPs want deportations to stop
Blair's policy on refugees branded racist
Internally-displaced increasesteadily as army 'clean-up' rolls on (Irin, 25/01) - Insecurityin the southeastern province of Moxico has sent thousands ofpeople fleeing into the capital, Luena, and aid workers expectmore people to flock to the town for humanitarian aid in comingweeks. "During the last weeks of December and the first weekof January, more than 5,000 people arrived in Luena. Expectationsfor the next few weeks is that there will be a continuing influxof people from the southern part of Moxico province," anOCHA source said on Friday. The source said there were concernsthat the IDP facilities in Luena were overcrowded, and thatincreasing numbers and infrastructural problems - like the poorcondition of the Luena airstrip - would "eventually limitthe capacity to assist" those seeking help. According to thelatest World Food Programme (WFP) situation report, 360 new IDPs(or 100 families) were registered in Luena from 14-21 January."So far in January a total of 2,510 IDPs (682 families) wereregistered in Luena," the report said. The number of IDPshas been increasing steadily across the country in recent months,according to reports from various humanitarian agencies. Much ofthis movement has been attributed to government"clean-up" operations aimed at flushing out JonasSavimbi's rebel UNITA troops and crippling the movement once andfor all. According to recent Angolan Armed Forces (FAA)communiqués, several senior UNITA leaders have already defectedto the government's side. However, the continued instability iscontinuing to have a devastating effect on the country's people.According to the WFP report, the province of Cuando Cubango, onthe border with Namibia, was unstable from 14-21 January."The security situation in the province during the reportingweek remained unstable due to the large movement of troopsreported northeast of the provincial capital Menongue," thereport said. It also said that a large number of Angolans wereseeking humanitarian assistance in Kuito, capital of the centralBie province. "The number of IDPs flooding into Camacupa(the base of relief operations about 80 km from Kuito) and Kuitohas continued to rise during the reporting week. An average of7,000 IDPs per month has reportedly arrived in Kuito and 5,000 inCamacupa." According to the report: "At the time ofwriting this report, there were 126,000 IDPs in Kuito, 50,000 inCamacupa and 5,000 in Cunhinga. It is reported that thenutritional situation is poor, with global malnutrition ratesreaching 13 percent in Camacupa." According to the report,103 new IDPs arrived in Menongue during the reporting period fromthe nearby Cuchi and Cuangar municipalities, while 1,517 new IDPswere registered in Waku Kungo in Cuanza Sul, in the northwest ofthe country. In Lunda Sul, on the northeastern border with Zambia792 IDPs registered for assistance in Saurimo last week."The IDPs come from Lunda Norte province, and some arereturnees who have been living in exile in the DemocraticRepublic of Congo (DRC)," WFP said.
Botswana government to cut services to KalahariBasarwa (Sapa, Gaborone, 29/01) - otswana's governmentconfirmed on Tuesday that it would implement a decision to cutoff services to Basarwa (Bushmen) remaining in the CentralKalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) at the end of January. Permanentsecretary in the ministry of Local Government Bergsman Sentleconfirmed that the decision, made in August last year, would beimplemented. The government was, however, considering a programmesuggested by the European Union (EU) which would involve theBasarwa in tourism-related community development in the CKGR andadjacent areas. "Our (the EU) head of delegation met withLocal Government Minister Margaret Nasha, under whose portfoliothe matter falls, last week," EU spokesman Ernest GunnarRing said. "She explained that the government is notintending to leave the Basarwa in the CKGR, but that it would letthem make use of the natural resources of the area withinwell-determined community use zones." This policy had notyet been fully endorsed by government. It had long been thegovernment's stated intention to persuade the Basarwa to move outof the CKGR as part of its policy to develop tourism in the area.It claimed that over the last few years, 2200 Basarwa had takenadvantage of government incentives and moved. In November thegovernment warned the estimated 500 who remained that it was tooexpensive to provide them with social and support services andthese would be discontinued from the end of January. "Morewill move out," Ring said. "Although the governmenthave not taken a final stand, I doubt that they will be allowedto stay without services." There has been no suggestion offorced removals. In November, Nasha's deputy Gladys Kokorwe saidonly that the Basarwa must relocate to places of their choicewhere it would be cost effective to provided them with services.They would be given free transport and compensated for loss ofpossessions. Kokorwe told them to seriously weigh the advantagesof staying in the reserve where there was no future for them ortheir children. The EU has proposed a 14 million euros (R135million) programme to develop community use zones in severalareas of Botswana which it has suggested to government could beextended to include areas of the CKGR. "If it is accepted bythe government, the wildlife conservation and management projectwill start in mid 2002. Within the project we have a communitydevelopment component which could be extended to include areaswithin and adjacent to the CKGR," Ring said.
Khoisan told to move from ancestral lands (Irin,25/01) - The government of Botswana has threatened tocut off water and other essential services to the Basarwa(Khoisan) still living in the central Kalahari Game Reserve(CKGR), the BBC reported this week. The government, since 1996,has been trying to persuade the Basarwa remaining in the reserveto move to relocation camps hundreds of kilometres away. Theauthorities' initial argument was that their removal would allowbetter wildlife conservation. That has since changed to stressthat better services can be provided to the estimated 600-700Basarwa in the CKGR if they move out of the reserve. "Thegovernment says that it is very expensive to provide services inthe reserve and accuses the Basarwa of wanting to remain in thestone age rather than developing," a human rights activistin Botswana told IRIN. "The government claims that thosethat remain are not enough to warrant the expense of takingservices there." She said that the resettlement camps towhich the Basarwa who chose to move out of the CKGR were sent are"not pleasant", and some Basarwa have returned to thegame reserve. "There's not much to do there, they are noteducated and are not farmers. They are hunter-gatherers and youtend to find they turn to alcohol because there is a lot ofdespair." "We are against them being relocated,"the activist said. "They should be allowed to keep theirancestral land and have a choice over where they live." TheBasarwa represent a tiny percentage of diamond-rich Botswana's1.5 million population.
Advocacy groups says"slow-motion holocaust" unfolding (Irin, 30/01) - RefugeesInternational, a Washington-based advocacy group, said on Mondaythat "a slow-motion holocaust" was unfolding in theeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The group said the emergingpicture of the security situation in the east was "atapestry of pain for the Congolese people, who are at the mercyof armed groups who steal crops, murder civilians, rape women,and capture children with impunity ". On a recent assessmentmission to the area, the group said its members discovered,directly and indirectly, isolated incidents of rape used as a wartactic by the Mayi-Mayi in Shabunda to prevent women fromaccessing their fields; children unable to receive vaccinationsbecause mothers in Katanga Province had no clothing to wear inpublic; men able to work only at night due to a lack of clothing;widespread child prostitution and sex slavery; and the pillagingof fields and stealing of crops by all of the armed groups in thearea. The group said it could not recommend a massive externalintervention in the Congo crisis, because the political willnecessary to end the war was lacking at the international andregional levels. It added that the east of the country, whereneeds were greatest, was neglected. The efforts of theinternational community appeared "feeble andineffective", the group said, and were dwarfed by the scaleof the suffering they were intended to mitigate. Much of theviolence in the east, which has increased in recent months,derived directly from the collapse of the state, the group said,was "totally devoid of a political or strategicrationale". The breakdown in the village economy was forcingyoung boys and men to enlist in the army, "where they arenot paid or fed, but at least they get a gun". RefugeeInternational described much of the violence as"banditry", which simply allows the soldiers tosurvive.
Turmoil after Mobutu's exit andKabila's killing (East African Standard, 28/01) - Despitethe cease-fire between the primary armed groups in DemocraticRepublic of Congo (DRC), fighting still goes on in the east ofthe country where most of the two million internally displacedpersons reside. The humanitarian situation remains desperate, anddue to insecurity and lack of funding, the international responseis far from sufficient to cover the needs of the displaced. It isestimated that over 2.5 million people have died in DRC since1998 in the context of the war, the majority due to disease andmalnutrition. The dramatic situation of internal displacement inDRC is a result of confrontations between various groups - bothexternal and internal - to accede to power, accompanied byinter-ethnic rivalry in the central and eastern regions. Thepresent conflict started in October 1996 when a rebel army,supported by Rwandan and Ugandan troops, launched an attackagainst the Mobutu regime. It resulted in the fall of Mobutu andin the coming to power of Laurent Kabila. By mid-1997, about150,000 people were displaced in the country. The cock thatleaves no hen unruffled was the translation of Mobutu Sese SekoKuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga, the full name assumed by PresidentMobutu in 1965. He was master of the cult of personality. TheSupreme Guide, Father, and bearer of a self-awarded Oscar forDevelopment had his portrait hung in every public place, printedon textiles, and before the re-instatement of the Church, at thealtar. But Mobutu, who seized power with a military coup in 1965,became popular because he replaced violent uprisings and strugglefor power following Independence in 1960 with unity, and peace.Yet, for Africa's third largest country, riddled by a network ofrivers, with a rain forest the size of Europe, and over 200ethnic groups, such apparent stability was a feat which somebelieve could only be achieved by tyrannical rule and centralisedgovernment. However, the alleged killings by police of 50university students demonstrating in February 1990 againstincreased public transport fares and inadequate study grantsillustrated Mobutu's method of peace. Elsewhere, Zaire'sentrenched corruption, deeply soured relations between Zaire andits former coloniser signalling the beginning of the end. In1998, a major rebellion against the new regime, supported byKabila's former allies, Rwanda and Uganda, started in the Eastand developed into a new civil war. Continued hostilities betweenKabila's forces, armed contingents from several African nations,and three rebel factions, as well as conflicts between rebelgroups, resulted in large-scale massacres and massivedisplacement. Competition for control of DRC's rich naturalresources, including diamonds, gold, precious metals, and coffeeplantations, helped to sustain the war. By September 2001, thenumber of internally displaced people reached over two million.Under the auspices of the Government of Zambia, PresidentKabila's government, with its allies Zimbabwe, Angola andNamibia, signed a cease-fire agreement on July 10, 1999 in Lusakawith Rwanda and Uganda. The major rebel groups also becameparties to the agreement. The Security Council then authorised inNovember 1999 the deployment of a UN Mission (MONUC) to supportthe Lusaka Accord. However, the cease-fire was not respected. InJanuary 2001, the assassination of Laurent Kabila and the rise topower of his son, Joseph Kabila, led to a new momentum in thepeace process. The cease-fire finally took hold, and thedisengagement of forces from the front lines is now largelycomplete. In June 2001, UN Security Council Resolution 1355extended the mandate of MONUC for another year and strengthenedit to include a civilian police force component (UN SC 30 August2001). Thus far, MONUC has deployed hundreds of unarmed militaryobservers, backed by around 2,000 troops, to monitor thecease-fire and withdrawal from front-line positions. Today, thecountry remains de facto divided into three main parts: first,the government of Kinshasa in the western part, supported byAngola, Zimbabwe and Namibia; second, the Front for theLiberation of Congo (FLC) in the north, which emerged as acoalition between MLC and fragmented RCD-ML groups with supportfrom Uganda; third, the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Goma(RCD-Goma) in the east and south-east, i.e. in North Kivu, SouthKivu, Maniema, Orientale, and Katanga provinces, supported byRwanda (HRW March 2001). Also, each party has to contend withopposition groups, such as the Mai Mai and the Rwandan andBurundian Hutu groups in the East. Rwandan and Burundian rebelshave recently captured the town of Fizi, in south Kivu, allegedlyassisted by the Congolese army, FAC. In the north, recentfighting has erupted among rebel groups backed by Uganda. Themajority of the over two million internally displaced are in theEast, particularly in North Kivu.
Kabila vows Rwanda troops will leaveDRC, like it or not (Sapa-AFP, Kinshasa, 26/01) - DemocraticRepublic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila vowed Saturdaythat Rwanda would eventually withdraw troops supporting rebels inthe east of the country since 1998. "Whether Rwanda likes itor not, its troops will leave the Democratic Republic ofCongo," Kabila said during a ceremony marking his first yearin office. He assumed the presidency 10 days after theassassination of his father, former DRC president Laurent Kabila."Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi say they are occupying the DRCto defend themselves against armed groups they call 'negativeforces,'" Kabila noted. "But their troops are notpositive forces in the eyes of the Congolese people," thepresident said to cheers from the crowds gathered at the People'sPalace to witness the anniversary ceremony. Kabila said he hadasked the United Nations Security Council to send aninternational delegation to investigate the presence of armedrebel groups in the DRC and report to UN Secretary General KofiAnnan within two months. The DRC slid into war in 1998 whenRwanda and Uganda invaded the country, backing rebels againstKinshasa. Burundi also sent in troops on the rebel side. Theconflict carved the mineral-rich nation into fiefdoms, withZimbabwe, Angola and Namibia deploying troops to support thegovernment. The fighting has enflamed ethnic tensions in theregion, and has claimed the lives of an estimated 2.5 millionpeople in the DRC through fighting, disease or malnutrition. Aceasefire is now holding, but only Namibia has recalled itstroops.
Rwanda not ready to quit DRC: Kagame(Sapa-AFP, Kigali, 25/01) - Diplomatic efforts toconvince Kigali to pull its troops from the Democratic Republicof Congo (DRC), where civil war has raged since 1998, will onlybear fruit when they take into account Rwanda's securityconcerns, President Paul Kagame told AFP late Thursday. In thelatest of many initiatives, foreign ministers Jack Straw ofBritain and Hubert Vedrine of France visited Kigali together thisweek to learn more about the DRC war. Their Belgian counterpart,Louis Michel, also met Kagame while he was in the region to visitGoma, on the DRC's border with Rwanda, a town badly damaged by avolcano eruption. Goma is the headquarters of the Congolese Rallyfor Democracy (RCD), a rebel group that works hand in hand withKigali. "There is a sort of intellectual laziness both forthe international community and the Congolese. Before asking usto withdraw our troops from Congo they should start from thebeginning to see what has led us to go there," Kagame toldAFP in a private interview. The president recalled thatsuccessive governments in Kinshasa had backed the Rwandan Hutuextremists known as Interahamwe ("those who fighttogether") who were responsible for the genocide of 1994.Over 100 days that year, up to a million people from Rwanda'sTutsi minority and moderate Hutus were killed in a carefullyplanned and executed campaign of extermination. When !Front tovictory in Kigali in July that year, the Interahamwe and defeatedsoldiers of the armed forces of Rwanda (ex-FAR) fled across theborder into the DRC, ready for retribution. "This issue hasnot been taken into account," said Kagame. "We askedthe international community to handle this problem and it hasnot. That is why we entered the (DR) Congo," he insisted."We stressed to Mr Michel and the ministers from GreatBritain and France, that for us it is central for this problem.And (...) for our pull-out of Congo, it would help how this issueof ex-FAR and Interahamwe is being addressed and how it is beinghandled," he said. "As long as people keep avoiding todo something concrete about it and keep going around it andtalking about other things, I think we shall continue to be along way from finding an agreable solution, that would see ourforces pulling out of Congo and progress in the inter-Congolesedialogue," he said. This was a reference to talks that formone of the cornerstones of the beleaguered peace process for theDRC, whose central instrument is an accord signed by warringparties in Lusaka, Zambia, in 1999. The dialogue, whose aim is todeliver a "new political dispensation" for the DRC,"provides the beginning of stabilisation in the Congo, and agovernment which will address the problem also of theneighbouring countries," said Kagame. In 1996, Rwanda senttroops to back the rebels who ousted President Mobutu Sese Seko,when the DRC was known as Zaire. When rebelleader-turned-president Laurent Kabila failed to meet Kagame'sexpectations vis-a-vis Rwanda's security concerns, he gave hisfull support to the rebel RCD. In Goma at least, where Rwandantroops are present, these interventions have left a sour taste inthe mouths of the DRC people. When Mount Nyiragongo erupted onJanuary 17, the town's population fled en masse across the borderto Rwanda. They quickly returned home, risking another eruptionand shunning camps set up to provide them with emergency relief."Congolese (people) might be having some resentment towardRwanda, because we have entered their country twice, but they arefailing to understand why we are there and the responsability oftheir own leaders in this issue," explained Kagame. "Ithink that when everything will be settled there will bereasonable leaders in Congo, if not we'll face the situation aswe have always done," he said.
DRC refugees return home from Uganda(New Vision, 24/01) - Over 1,000 Alur of Congoleseorigin who had crossed into Uganda following tribal clashesbetween them and the Lendu in Nyoka, north-eastern DR Congo, havereturned home. District and security officials in Nebbi andPaidha told The New Vision the refugees returned home afterCongolese authorities and the UPDF intervened and calmed thetense situation through negotiations with the traditional chiefs.Security sources said the negotiations were spear-headed by theformer Second Division Commander, Col. Peter Kerim. Kerim is nowon special assignment in that part of the DRC. The source saidthe meeting took place in Mahagi town and was attended by theDistrict Commissioner, security officers and the traditionalchiefs of Panduru, Jukot and Warr-Palara. The sources said someof the refugees were living at the bottom of Agu hill at Asinaand in Nyondo ward in Paidha town, while others were scattered inthe villages along the border. The Alur fled after several oftheir relatives were killed and over 400 houses burnt down by theLendu. Kerim said he had discouraged the two groups from fightingeach other. "Yes. I went to Mahagi to talk to theauthorities. I told them some people are trying to use these twotribes to cause confusion in the area so I met them onMonday," he said.
Museveni welcomes Goma refugees (NewVision, 23/01) - President Yoweri Museveni hasdirected local authorities bordering areas affected by an influxof refugees fleeing a volcanic eruption in Goma in the eastern DRCongo to allow refugees to enter Uganda. Museveni was speakingduring a luncheon he hosted for members of the East AfricanLegislative Assembly at Nile Hotel in Kampala on Monday. He toldthe legislators that the Uganda government had directed localauthorities at the borders to allow the refugees to enter Uganda.Uganda's immigration public relations officer, Robert Kanuma,yesterday said Uganda did not close its borders to the refugees.He said only nine people were refused entry because of securityreasons but others were allowed in after proper identification.Museveni told the MPs that the way forward for East Africa wasthe integration of markets, utilisation of the African GrowthOpportunity Act and mass education.
Kampala admits Goma refugees (NewVision, 22/01) - Hundreds of Congolese fleeing thedevastating volcanic eruption in Goma, DR Congo, were yesterdayallowed into Uganda through the border towns of Katuna in Kabaleand Kyanika in Kisoro. About 100 refugees were allowed intoUganda through Katuna, 22 km from Kabale town on grounds thatthey continue to Butembo and Beni in the Congo. They are expectedto cross into Congo through Ishasha in Kanungu district. Katunalies between Uganda and Rwanda while Kyanika lies between Ugandaand Congo. The Kabale RPC, Lt. James Mwesigye, said they allowedthe Congolese into the country after consultations with Kampala.He said the disaster victims were made to temporarily settle atKamuganguzi Primary School awaiting assistance from the UN andother bodies. Uganda's immigrations Public Relations Officer,Robert Kanuma, yesterday said Uganda did not close its borders tothe Congolese who were fleeing the volcanic lava inferno in Goma.He said only nine people were refused entry because of securityreasons but others were allowed in after proper identification.Kisoro district boss John Semafala said the Congolese allowed inthrough Kyanika, at Nyakabanda camp would be resettled.
Goma declared safe for refugees toreturn, but most are already there (Sapa-AP, Goma, 21/01) - Whennearly all Goma's residents had returned home Monday after avolcano poured lava on their town, a volcano expert declared theplace reasonably safe and said continuing earthquakes posed theonly threat to the region. Jacques Durieux, a vulcanologist atthe French Group for the Study of Active Volcanoes, said therewere no indications of an imminent eruption and that all lavaflows had stopped. "The active phase of the volcaniceruption is finished," said Durieux, who was contracted bythe United Nations to assess the situation. He said continuingearthquakes caused by the settling of the area following the Jan.17 eruption of Mount Nyiragongo remained the only threat. He saidmost of the buildings in Congo were simple structures were thusresistant to earthquakes. But earlier Monday at least 30 peopledied when lava apparently ignited the fumes of gasoline anddiesel fuel they were trying to scoop into plastic containersfrom a burned-out gas station. One witness said 50 people hadbeen killed, but soldiers from the rebel organization thatcontrols Goma said 30 people, including women and children, haddied. Ross Mountain, the head of the U.N. Office for theCoordination of Humanitarian Assistance, said he would consultwith Congolese and Rwandan authorities on how to provide aid tothe 10,000 families whose homes were destroyed by the lava. Hesaid U.N. officials were reluctant to begin a major aid operationin Goma until the city was considred safe. Laura Melo,spokeswoman for the U.N. World Food Program, said no more than40,000 of the 300,000 people who fled to Rwanda last weekremained in the neighboring country. While about 7,000 Gomaresidents were in Rwandan refugee camps, none were seen on thestreets of Gisenyi, the town just across the border from Goma.Back in Goma, residents scoured the hardened lava slabs forscorched sheets of corrugated iron for roofs for makeshiftdwellings. Lava destroyed about 40 percent of the town at thehead of Lake Kivu, but on Monday the streets once again teemedwith people, and many shops were open. Occasional gunshots wereheard, fired by rebel soldiers to stop looters. PatrickMazimhaka, Rwanda's envoy to peace talks on the 3 1/2-year civilwar in Congo, said Rwanda had sent another army battalion intoGoma to help rebels secure the city, adding to the 7,000 Rwandantroops already in Congo. "We owe Congolese people support toget through this," he said. Joseph Conrad Kilamenge, a33-year old shopkeeper, said his house was surrounded by the lavaflows and he had initially fled west, deeper into Congo. But hesaid he never considered leaving his country for good and saidthe people of Goma were ready to rebuild. "We are strongenough, we just need a little help. We are afraid of diarrhea, ifwe could get some fresh water, that would help," Kilamengesaid. "We want a camp built in our country (for thehomeless) ... there is no place like home." FrancoisGoemans, a spokesman for the European Union relief agency ECHO,said electricity had come back on in the western part of the townas well as in some eastern districts. The Red Cross deliveredchlorine to one of Goma's water treatment plants, and Goemanssaid the water was free from harmful bateria but mineral testswere still being run. Working with the Rwandan-backed rebels, theInternational Rescue Committee began distributing food and freshwater to Goma residents Monday. Dieudonne Wafula, a Congolesevolcanologist who has been studying the Nyiragongo for 15 years,said the volcano 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Goma shouldnow stop erupting for a few years, but earth tremors mayintensify over the forthcoming days. "The volcano has gotrid of its lava, but the tectonic plates of the Rift Valley stillneed to regain their stability, this is why they are movingnow," Wafula said. Volcano expert Durieux praised Wafula,who had predicted the eruption in an e-mail two days before ithappened. But because of poor communications, word never reachedmost residents. There have been unconfirmed reports that as manyas 40 people were killed in the initial eruption, but Congoleseand U.N. officials admit that no one has any firm informationabout casualties. The 11,381-foot (3,414-meter) Nyiragongo and10,022-foot (3,007-meter) Nyamulagira volcanoes north of Goma arethe only two active ones in the eight-volcano Virunga chain.Nyiragongo last erupted seriously in January 1977.
Kampala locks out volcano-hitrefugees (New Vision, 21/01) - Thousands of Congolesefleeing the devastating volcanic eruption in Goma, DRC haveflooded the Ugandan border at Katuna seeking a safe haven.However, for fear of a massive refugee influx into the country,Ugandan immigration officials have slammed the door in the faceof those trying to enter Kabale through Katuna, as they wait fordirectives from Kampala. The tired and sickly refugees said theylost everything to the flowing lava. Areas in the city, whichwere not affected by the lava, were looted, they said. The NewVision team interviewed a family of 19 people quarantined in anopen space on the Ugandan side of the border. "For the pastthree days, these children have not eaten. We give them waterfrom the streams and wild fruits. We are not sure of when thiswill end. I'm worried my kids will die," PatrickBasosila-Kambale, an electrician from Goma, said as tears rolleddown his pale face. In Kambale's group were three children whosemother Nani Wala was burnt by the ravaging lava. "The sick,the elderly and the children died in the fire. By the time weleft on Thursday, at least 46 people had died," PaulineKikudi, formerly residing in Virunga, Goma, said. Kikudi, Kambaleand another Goma resident Koko Karim reported massive looting inthe areas of the city which were not affected by the flowinglava. They said, however, that the heavily guarded airport wasnot affected by the looting. On Friday, the Goma airport wasreported engulfed by lava. As some of us were fleeing, otherswere busy looting everything they came across," Kambale, whospoke in a mixture of Lingala, French and Swahili said. "Thesoldiers (rebels) tried to stop the looters by shooting themdead, but they persisted," he added. The refugees pleadedwith the Ugandan immigration officials to allow them crossthrough Kabale to Beni in the DRC. "Instead of going back toKigali where we do not have relatives, we'd rather go to Beni anddie from there. Those are fellow Congolese," Jean PierreLumbala said. The refugees appealed for food, clothes andshelter. "Here at the border, they ask for money to use thetoilets. Where do we get the money when everything waslost?" another refugee asked. As the refugees gave anaccount of their ordeal, a Congolese expatriate working in Ugandaarrived from the burning city with a family of five. He was luckyhe had travel documents and was granted entry. However someimmigration officials said some Congolese had sneaked into Ugandabefore Saturday morning posing as businessmen. Many more are onthe way from Kigali to Katuna. By 2.00pm, the refugees were stillherded at Katuna. Ugandan immigration officials said a team ofgovernment officials was on the way from Kampala to assess thesituation.
Volcano refugees urged to enter campsso aid agencies can give them supplies (Sapa-AP, Goma, 20/01) - TheUnited Nations and the Rwandan government urged refugees from thevolcano in eastern Congo to gather in approved camps Sunday,where aid agencies can deliver food, water and shelter. Anestimated 300,000 people have fled their homes in Goma and takenrefuge in neighboring Gisenyi, Rwanda, living on the streets andthe shore of Lake Kivu, creating a humanitarian crisis. Peopleare crowded on sidewalks, sleeping on the beach and drinkingwater from the heavily polluted lake without food or sanitationcausing U.N. officials to fear a possible cholera outbreak.Hundreds of the refugees have begun returning to Goma, where twolava flows from Mount Nyiragongo and a third flow from a recentlyformed volcanic crater have destroyed about 40 percent of thecity of 500,000 people. People living on the high ground havetried to resume normal life, but U.N. officials fear moreeruptions are possible. "It is a very tense situation forall concerned," Oluseyi Bajulaiye, the head of the U.N.refugee agency in Rwanda, said. Three U.N. vulcanologists havearrived to begin studying the volcano to determine whether it issafe to distribute aid in the city, he said. Bajulaiye said theU.N. and Rwandan officials were encouraging the refugees to go tothree camps set up outside of Gisenyi so that food, shelter andcooking materials could be distributed to them. Laura Mello,spokeswoman for the U.N. World Food Program, said the agencydistributed 8.5 tons of high energy biscuits to refugeesSaturday, and that the agency has 7,000 tons of cooking oil andmaize flour in the area. "But at the moment we can'tdistribute that because people do not have their cookingitems," she said. "We hope people will go into thecamps, there is no way we can distribute food in Goma. With thevolcano, it is simply too dangerous." Bright red lava shotinto the air Saturday from a new volcanic crater in easternCongo, sending fresh lava into the center of Goma. Sighted from aRwandan Air Force helicopter, a small black cone was forming inwhat was once a green banana plantation on the border withRwanda. The bright red lava poured southwest, covering one-thirdof the Goma airport's runway, destroying the city's maincathedral and thousands of homes. A second lava flow poured forthfrom a fissure at the base of Mount Nyiragongo, 10 kilometers(six miles) from the new cone, and about 20 kilometers (12 miles)northeast of Goma. There are eight volcanoes in eastern Congo andRwanda, but only two are active, with numerous craters appearingaround the two main mountains over the last 40 years. About180,000 people are stranded on the other side of the dividedcity, without drinkable water or electricity, said AdolpheOnusumba, the leader of the Congolese rebel group that controlsGoma. "People are beginning to return, but they arecomplaining of no food, no water. They are hungry," Onusumbasaid. He said 85 percent of the central business district hadbeen destroyed, including warehouses, creating economic havoc.Like two spokes extending from Mount Nyiragongo, lava flows 50meters (160 feet) wide and up to 3-meters (10 feet) deep inplaces, cutting through the city. Onusumba said 10,000 homes, or40 percent of the city, had been destroyed. One of the lava flowscreated a 100-meter (330-foot) wide delta as it poured into LakeKivu, producing a huge cloud of sulfuric steam. Onusumba touredthe city in the helicopter Saturday and then landed in thewestern half, where no outside aid has reached the people there."We are asking the international community to come here andbring aid." Onusumba told a crowd who gathered to meet him."We are doing everything we can to help you." Any aidbrought to western Goma will have to come by boat, since the lavais too hot to cross and there are no airfields. Bajulaiye saidthe airport in Gisenyi is too small for large cargo planes andthat supplies were being flown to Kigali and trucked to theborder. "The response is mobilizing," he said.Damascene Ntiruhungwa, the Rwandan interior minister, said U.N.and aid agencies recognized the potential for a cholera outbreakbecause of a shortage of drinkable water and were moving quicklyto provide assistance to the refugees. Both of Goma's watertreatment plants were destroyed by lava and there was limitedwater in Gisenyi. "This is a natural catastrophe and Rwandahas a moral obligation to help them because they are ourneighbors," Ntiruhungwa said. He said the government had setup two camps to receive them and that they must go to the campsso that aid can be efficiently delivered. Ntiruhungwa said thatfew of the refugees wanted to go into the camps and many hadchosen to return to their homes or board dangerously overcrowdedboats for the Congolese town of Bukavu, on the southern shore ofLake Kivu. The 11,381-foot Nyiragongo and 10,022-foot Nyamulagiravolcanoes north of Goma are the only active ones in the Virungachain. Nyiragongo last erupted seriously in January 1977.
Congolese flee from clashes towardsUganda (New Vision, 02/01) - Alurs of Congolese originare fleeing towards Uganda following the burning of over 400 oftheir houses and killing several of them by the Lendus in a freshtribal clash in the town of Nyoka, North-Eastern DemocraticRepublic of the Congo. According to a Congolese from Mahagi whotalked to The New Vision in Nebbi town, many civilians andgovernment officials have taken refuge in Mahagi town after fourdays of fighting which intensified on Monday. Mordecai Odongosaid most of the massacred people were women and children. Hesaid the Lendus first attacked the Alur community last Tuesdayand were repulsed after the traditional chief of the Panduru clanmobilised the Alur and killed several Lendu. He said the clashhas brought tension in Mahagi which has forced Congolesegovernment officials to travel to Nyoka to handle the crisis.Security sources on the Ugandan side of the border said the Lendualso ambushed a UPDF truck travelling from Mahagi to Bunia andinjured one soldier. The source said arrangements were in placeto transfer the soldier to Nebbi Hospital for treatment. Thesource also said over 20 civilian bodies were ferried from Nyokato Mahagi for identification by relatives. "One businessmanfrom Ddala near Njugu, was killed in the clash as he was comingfrom Bunia on a motorcycle. He was ambushed in Nyoka,"Odongo said. "If the clashes continue, there is no doubtthat some of us will run to Uganda for safety. The children andwomen have been taken towards the Uganda border and the men havegone to the frontline," he said. He said over 25 road blockshave been mounted between Nyoka and Ngotte.
Commentary on Ugandan involvement inDRC (New Vision, 02/01) - As 2001 closes, one issue onthe world scene in which excitement among Ugandans is at itslowest ebb is our involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC). With the goings and comings in the country to our eastseemingly only leaving behind a cocktail of anarchy,factionalism, spiced with ethnic bloodletting, the apathy isunderstandable. The bad news for Ugandans though is that ourcountry's fortunes, security or otherwise, are inextricably tiedwith eastern Congo's. The good news is, for the first time sinceUganda got involved in the Congo in 1998, the country has anopportunity to clearly define its interests there. For someUgandans, even the UPDF limited presence in eastern Congo, afterpulling out a large number of troops, as per the Lusaka Accord,is still bad enough. Needless to say, the area where the UPDF isstill stationed not only neighbours Uganda, but is also the partof Congo, which is furthest from control by Kinshasa, and hasalways been left to its own vices. Abandoned, with its easiestaccess route to the outside world being Uganda, this corner ofCongo is like a neglected bush behind one's compound. Once itcatches fire, it burns your house too. For this reason alone, ifnot any other, independent Uganda has always been sucked into theeastern Congo problems, as seen much earlier in the MiltonObote/Idi Amin adventures of the 60.Yet notwithstanding thediversity of opinion on the UPDF mission, there are undisputablefacts about our involvement.
- Under Mobutu: Eastern Congo, which really matters to us, hadbecome a haven for anti-Ugandan rebels backed by Sudan, withMobutu's complicity. - Under Kabila (The Father): Kabila, whoserebellion had been baby sat by Rwanda and Uganda, stabbed hisallies in the back soon after assuming power in Kinshasa.
- Kabila gave green light to the ADF to continue fighting againstthe Uganda government and okayed Sudan using eastern Congoairfields to aide the rebels.
- Under Kabila (The Son) Like father like Son; Kabila Junior isunable to control eastern Congo. It remains a haven for thugsopposed to Uganda, some with ethnic linkages in the region.
- A jilted Rwanda, despite efforts to smoothen things withKampala, has designs to help anti-Uganda rebels operating in theanarchic area.
- The impending oil drilling in the Semiliki Valley, and thesurge in the Kasese Cobalt market makes control of the region astrategic priority for Uganda.
The issue now is no longer why and how wegot to where we are in the Congo but rather, where do we go next?To many Ugandans, the answer is a simple four-letter word: Home.Exasperated by the delaying antics of other Congo players inimplementing the Lusaka Peace Accord, President Museveni too oncecontemplated withdrawing all Ugandan troops unilaterally but theUN prevailed on him to stay within Lusaka. But with or withoutLusaka, Uganda has to stay engaged in the Congo. The question ishow, so that we are able to cut our loses in financial, human andpublic opinion terms? Naturally, the best way forward is to stayfocused in the area of our national interest: the area under thecontrol of RCD-Kisangani /ML. We cannot run away from itsproblems because they have a potential, as demonstrated byhistory, to cause enormous inconvenience. For reasons ofgeography, political paralysis and infrastructure infertility ofthe Congo, neither Kabila nor any other Kinshasa-based leaderswill in the foreseeable future have an impact on theadministration of this area to the best security interests ofUganda. Left to its own vices, this corner of Congo, with itsmultiplicity of tribes and warring factions will remain a havenfor anarchists and criminals, whose activities, if not checked,will be detrimental to Uganda's interests. Since Kinshasa hasneither the capacity nor the will to check these anarchists, wewho feel the pinch most must do it by helping the RCD-MLleadership stabilise the area. Fortunately, helping the rebelsestablish a functioning administration in this area will be inline with the provision in the Lusaka Accord, which says:"The Congolese parties shall administer the areas theycontrol until an agreed interim arrangement is in place tore-establish a central authority."
Until recently, the hardest part for Ugandawas sorting out among the rebel leaders-Prof. Wamba dia Wamba,Mbusa Nyamwisi, Ateenyi Tibasiima, and others-as to who had theundisputed leadership of this area. Recently, however, theseCongolese rebels, with the mediation of the Ugandan leadership,have apparently put their act together. Meeting at Silver Springshotel in Kampala mid-December, they agreed to form a unitedRCD-ML authority, with Mbusa Nyamwisi as its Internal head andWamba as the external boss. Nyamwisi, a businessman-cum-politician, emerged as the natural leader of the RCD-MLfollowing the disintegration of the short-lived Front for theLiberation of Congo (FLC), an umbrella group of Ugandan-backedCongo rebels. The collapse of FLC, which included Jean PierreBemba's Movement Liberation of Congo (MLC), sent strong signalsto Ugandans that any scheme to secure their interests that treatsCongo as one huge landmass, 10 times the size of Uganda, isdoomed. The key lesson from the collapse of FLC was thatCongolese will mainly support those who do not threaten theirethnic existence. Thus, the main ethnic groups in RCD-ML areasreluctantly accepted Bemba as president of FLC only because theirown got juicy positions. Nyamwisi is from the Banande ethnicgroup, a business community that stradles most of the RCD-MLareas, were happy that their man was the prime minister of FLC.Tibasima's appointment as FLC minister of mining pleased his Hemacattle-keeping community, though it worried others because itseemed to indicate new power for the Hema. Trouble for FLCstarted when MLC replaced RDC-ML administrators with its own,took over revenue collection and siphoned the funds away toBemba's Equateur without re-investing, in a move reminiscent ofthe Mobutu era. Matters were not helped by the fact that easternCongolese knew Bemba's family to be closely linked with Mobutu,and they saw Bemba as the re-incarnation of Mobutu. Thepopulation and RDC-ML leadership protested, but Bemba's reactionwas high-handed: he ordered the arrest of RCD-ML top officials.The tension culminated in Bemba's MLC attacking Nyamwisi's housein Beni while he was away in South Africa, but Bemba wasoverwhelmed by Nyamwisi's support in the area. Nyamwisi returnedto Beni from South Africa and announced he was in charge in thearea and FLC was no more. Bemba has since tried to jump into bedwith Kigali and its RCD-Goma allies, for the sole reason ofgetting military might to neutralize Nyamwisi. The only optionleft to the Ugandan leadership is to deal with RCD-ML and MLCseparately in their spheres of influence, and jointly only whenit's the rebels versus the Kinshasa government. With the RCD-MLleaders agreed, establishing effective authority is the key toeverything else. The crisis in this area is that a hundred ratsare scrambling for leadership, yet what it needs is one humanelion! Apparently, this lion in the making is Mbusa Nyamwisi, aman with who a following-based on ethnic networks that stretchinto Uganda. He needs to watched and studied.
Lesotho minister laments abuse of migrants in SouthAfrica (Misanet.com, Mohome, 09/01) - A group of Basothowere allegedly thrown behind bars and whipped by police inStilfontein, South Africa, at the beginning of the month beforethey were deported to Lesotho last Thursday, the Sesothonewspaper Mopheme was told by one of the victims. Lesotho'sMinister of Foreign Affairs, Tom Thabane, slams the shabbytreatment. Evelyn Makatsa, 53, mother of six children who hasbeen in SA since 1987 while her husband was a miner, was handed anotice of prohibition by the South African's Department of HomeAffairs before she could be repartriated on the same day. Thoughshe claimed to have been in possession of the South AfricanIdentification Document (ID), Makatsa said she was not given achance to go home and collect the ID, but rather was taken tocustody. The declaration of prohibition she was given did nothave specific dates on which she was instructed to leave thepost-apartheid Republic. "I did not know when I was going tobe released. I was afraid we could be beaten up like they did toour fellow male deportees," she said. Makatsa was arrestedwhen she went to the Home Affairs department to apply for atravel permit to come to Lesotho to visit her retrenched, sickhusband who is looked after by relatives in Qacha's Nek. "Wewere released today (Thursday) and taken to Butha-Buthe border. Iam leaving behind, six children, none of them is working and I donot know what they will be eating," she said. Makatsa alsoclaimed one of the deportees did not even know if his relativeswere still alive in Lesotho. She said the man told them he hadbeen in South Africa since 1961 and has never visited back homesince. Mopheme was not able to meet with the man as he wasreported to have already been taken for the buses which will takehim back to his village in Qacha's Nek, where he could not evenremember well. In an interview with Minister of Foreign Affairs,Tom Thabane, said while negotiations are continuing between thetwo countries, "it is wrong that such people are punished ifit is true. Very wrong because they are not criminals," saidthe Minister. "They should have let us know through ourembassy in their country," he said. Thabane insisted that SAshould use human methods to repatriate people. He said SA onlypronounced that Basotho who qualify to have residences' permitshould apply for residences while the negotiation are ongoing.People who qualify for residence are those who have stayed forover five years. "We are investigating a case in which threeBasotho were given treatment of such nature and that was raisedby an MP in parliament. I am not aware of this latest one becausethey never reported to us," he said. Thabane, however,insisted and advised that people should make proper arrangementsbefore they go to South Africa. It is common for Basotho to visitrelatives in South Africa, which is Lesotho's only neighbour andend up being caught up by the vast greener opportunities likejobs, lifestyle or educational programs. A lot of them have comeback home with documentation from the republic, which has made iteven more difficult for the two countries to reach an easysettlement. In the past, during the apartheid South Africa, itwas South Africans who came the Lesotho seeking for opportunitiesand even acquiring things like travelling documents which gavethem full rights as citizens.
Malawi deports Zimbabwean human rights activists(Sapa, Blantyre, 14/01) - Malawian authorities on Mondaydeported four senior members of a Zimbabwean human rightsorganisation just as a regional summit, hosted by Malawi, gotunderway. The four officials of the Zimbabwe Crisis Group, acoalition of about 200 church, labour, student and human rightsbodies, said on arrival at Harare airport they had been arrestedon Sunday night and declared "prohibited immigrants"for being "a threat to the state of Malawi" beforebeing flown back to Harare. Recent events in Zimbabwe wereexpected to be high on the summit agenda. Brian Raftopoulos,chairman of Zimbabwe Crisis, and colleagues Munyaradzi Bidi,Theresa Mugadza and Kumbirai Hodzi flew to Malawi on Sunday in abid to lobby censure of Mugabe's regime at the Southern AfricanDevelopment Community (SADC) summit. The SADC is a 14-nationregional economic bloc. The meeting was seen as a chance to bringpressure to bear on Mugabe to end the campaign of allegedpolitical violence by his ruling Zanu(PF) party against theopposition Movement for Democratic Change before the presidentialelections in March. Mugabe arrived in Blantyre on Saturday toprepare for the SADC summit. Raftopoulos said his group arrivedon Sunday night at their hotel in the southern city of Blantyreto be told their reservations had been cancelled by the Malawiforeign ministry. "We were arrested and interrogated forthree or four hours by immigration officials and then bypolice," he said. "They said they were provided withinformation by diplomatic sources that we were a threat to thestate of Malawi. "It doesn't take much to guess who thesources were." The four spent the night in a cell with 30other prisoners in the Blantyre central police station. "Itwas a rough night, we were packed like sardines. But police andthe other prisoners treated us well." On Monday morning theywere given deportation orders and flown out immediately. Beforethey left for Blantyre, Zimbabwe Crisis told the Malawi highcommissioner in Zimbabwe that they planned to be at the summit.They also met him with a group of other SADC high commissionersand explained the group's position. The summit was preceded by asudden surge in incidents of violence against the oppositionMovement for Democratic Change and the passing last week ofrepressive legislation. Western nations have been hoping that theSADC presidents would censure Mugabe, but diplomats said thearrests send a clear message, from Malawi at least, that itsupported Zimbabwe's 77-year-old president. Malawian presidentBakili Muluzi is the current chairman of SADC. MDC presidentMorgan Tsvangirai, whose candidacy in the elections poses thebiggest threat to Mugabe's 21 years of rule, said on Monday thathe expected little from the SADC summit because the organisationwas "full of double standards and hypocrisy."Interviewed on the BBC, Tsvangirai said: "There is nocohesion in their approach to Zimbabwe." SADC leaders wereafraid of being accused "of betraying their Africanbrothers." "But this is not about being in solidarityabout African brothers, its about the wishes of the people ofZimbabwe." The MDC expressed "deep concern" overthe arrests. "We wait to hear the full version of thesituation from the Malawian government," a statement said.
Zimbabwe activists arrested in Malawi (Sapa-AFP,Harare, 14/01) - Four Zimbabwean activists are to bedeported from Malawi and barred from a crucial regional summit inBlantyre, Malawi, where they intended to raise awareness aboutthe country's political crisis, a statement said Monday. Thefour, all members of the Zimbabwe Crisis Group, appeared to havebeen arrested "at the request of the Zimbabweangovernment", their lawyer, Brian Kagoro, said in a statementreceived in Harare from the opposition Movement for DemocraticChange (MDC). The statement said the four had last week informedthe Malawian ambassador in Harare of their visit to Blantyre forthe summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),as well as High Commissioners from other SADC countriesrepresented in Harare. The statement said activists BrianRaftopoulos, Munyaradzi Bidi, Theresa Mugadza and Kumbirai Hodziwere detained by the Malawi police commissioner shortly aftertheir arrival in Blantyre on Sunday evening. The statement saidthey had been booked on a morning flight out of Malawi and weredue to arrive back in Harare at 1:00 pm (1100 GMT). Zimbabweposes a problem for the SADC leaders, as the once prosperous andstable nation sinks deeper into turmoil ahead of a presidentialelection due on March 9 and 10.
Proposal to deny land ownership by foreign citizens(Daily Times, Blantyre, 02/01) - Government has defendedits proposal to prohibit foreign ownership of land in its landreform proposals saying that foreigners would be able to own landin the country if they engaged local shareholders. Minister ofLands Thengo Maloya told a United Nations news agency recentlythat the government would place no limits on expatriateshareholders if foreign companies had local shareholders to ownland in the country. "If foreign companies had localshareholders they would be able to own land in the country and wewould not like to undervalue a company because it will depend onthe company and the Malawian," said Maloya. The policy,passed by a cabinet committee and is yet to go through parliamentlater this year, covers a wide range of issues from ownership toinheritance laws, and from land use to the development ofcustomary land. The policy says non-citizens currently inpossession of freehold estates in Malawi will, in seven yearsfollowing the coming into effect of this policy, obtain Malawiancitizenship in order to retain their free ownership. The majorityof Malawi's tea, coffee, sugar and tobacco estates are foreign-owned and there are fears that if ownership is changed fromfreehold to leasehold, banks could withdraw loans. SinceSeptember, when government released the draft policy for debate,a cross section of civil society, including the donors havefocused on the prohibition of foreign ownwership with some sayingthat it is an infringement of a constitutional right. Rafiq Hajatdirector of Policy Interaction, an NGO formed soon after thedraft land policy was released, said that under section 28 of theConstitution that every person will be able to acquire propertyalone or in association with others. "Section 2 of the samesection says no person shall be arbitraly deprived ofproperty," he said. Also commenting on the draft policy, theBritish government's Department for International Development(DFID) summed up the common view when it told a United Nationsnews agency that "the devil will be in the detail.""There have been concerns but as long as the discussion isgoing on in an open way, and it has been encouraging howdiscussions have taken place so far, then it should befine," said Harry Potter, a DFID senior official. Some yearsago, squateers encrouched some estates in Thyolo. Malawi has oneof the highest densities in Africa at 170 inhabitants per squarekilometer.
Nafu calls for expulsion of SunInternational (The Namibian, 30/01) - The Namibia Foodand Allied Workers Union (Nafau) yesterday called for theexpulsion from Namibia of Sun International, which owns theKalahari Sands Hotel. The call follows the proposed retrenchmentof 91 workers at the Kalahari Sands Hotel & Casino inWindhoek. Addressing a press conference in the capital, NafauPresident David Namalenga said the union would never accept thejob loss plan. "Why is it only the black work force which isaffected by this so-called re-structuring exercise?" hecharged. He said Government should scrutinise companies to checkif they were true investors. He also called on the Ministry ofHome Affairs to suspend the issuing and renewal of work permitsfor expatriates working at the Kalahari Sands. Namalenga urgedthe National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) to assist Nafau infighting the retrenchments. The unionist said Nafau was preparedto take over the running of the hotel if Sun International wasnot prepared to meet its social responsibilities. Speaking lateryesterday, the General Manager of Kalahari Sands, Marc Vlieghe,accused union officials of not acting in good faith. "Thereare regulations set by the recognition agreement between thehotel and the union and so far the hotel management has tried todo our business strictly within the framework set by thatagreement. "We have informed the union about ourrestructuring plans and it is expected from us to listen towhatever suggestions they might come up with to save thesepeople's jobs. Negotiations are still continuing," he said.Vlieghe said the retrenchment and outsourcing of some of thedepartments was necessary because the hotel was not makingsufficient profits. "There is a decline in revenue and, as aresult, the profitability of the company is being affected. Theonly way to revive business is to cut the number of the workforceand to outsource some of the departments," Vlieghe said. *Nafau will demonstrate in front of the Kalahari Sands Hotel todayand hand over a petition to the hotel management.
Tension escalates near Osire RefugeeCamp (The Namibian, 30/01) - Commercial farmersinvolved in game and livestock farming close to the Osire RefugeeCamp have accused the refugees of poaching and stock theft.Tension between the farmers and the refugees, numbering over 20000, has occasionally resulted in some refugees being shot at fortrespassing. The farmers say the refugees mostly poach kudu,oryx, hartebeest and warthog and had of late also resorted tostealing the farmers' cattle, goats and sheep. Substantial damageto flora and fauna in the area has resulted in further financiallosses to farmers. Cash-strapped refugees have reportedlydepleted the 'Devil's Claw' plant on most of the farms throughuncontrolled, unregulated digging. 'Devil's Claw' is a muchsought after plant renowned for its healing properties. Last year600 metric tonnes of the pharmaceutical plant was exported toSouth Africa, German, Spain, Switzerland and UK, raking in exportearnings of N$10 million. Refugees use unsustainable methods whenthey dig for 'Devil's Claw'. They usually leave uncovered holesof up to one metre deep which are potentially dangerous to game,livestock and even the farmers when they are on horseback. GerdWolbling, one of the affected farmers, told The Namibian therefugee camp borders four farms but that up to 150 farms within aradius of 90 km from the settlement were affected. He said thelevel of trespassing on the affected farms could easily exceed100 cases per day. He said trespassing had become so common thatit was no longer being reported by the farmers. Wolbling said therefugees usually collected firewood to augment their meagreparaffin ration and also engaged in poaching activities. A CEO ata State entity with farming interests near the refugee camp said:"It is actually a very serious problem ... it is a veryunpleasant situation. Those people roam around and even buildhuts deep on the farms," he said. "If they see a goator sheep they [refugees] will take it. It appears that from lastyear it started getting worse," he said, citing an incidentin which 14 game animals were poached on a number of farms on asingle day. No comment could be obtained from the refugees as theMinistry of Home Affairs last year banned them from speaking tothe media unless it gave them permission to do so. A seniorofficial at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) yesterday acknowledged the problem. "This problemhas been ongoing," he remarked. The UN official attributedthe illicit activities to "congestion" at the camp,which is 230 km north-east of Windhoek. The Camp Administrator atOsire, Paulus Haikali, said the problem had not been brought tohis attention by the aggrieved parties.
Money for refugees' food expected indays, says WFP (Irin, 28/01) - The UN World FoodProgramme (WFP) said on Monday that it expected to secure fundingsoon to keep its food pipeline to refugees in Namibia flowingbeyond March. The food agency said two weeks ago that it wouldrun out of corn soya blend and sugar by the end of February andout of all food commodities by the end of March. WFP feeds atleast 19,500 refugees in Namibia, most of them from Angola, thecountry's war-torn northern neighbour. On Monday WFP spokespersonin Luanda, Cristina Muller, told IRIN. "We have fullconfidence that within the next few days we will have asignificant contribution to feed Namibian refugees, which shouldhelp the food pipeline for at least another two months." Thenumber of Angolans registered in camps in Rundu and Osire hasincreased steadily - in fits and starts - over the past fewyears. Meanwhile, in another development affecting refugees, theNamibian reported on Monday that the US government had spentabout US $20,000 on the construction of a kindergarten forchildren at the Osire refugee camp. According to the newspaper,US ambassador to Namibia, Kevin McGuire, handed over twoclassroom blocks to the Osire authorities on Thursday. Thestructure could accommodate up to 300 of the approximately 2,000children at the camp, the newspaper said.
Stowaways from West Africa may begiven political asylum (The Namibian, 11/01) - TheUnited Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is torecommend that four stowaways dumped off the Namibian coast beconsidered eligible for political asylum. They were among 13stowaways from Congo-Brazzaville, and Liberia and Sierra Leonediscovered by Luederitz immigration officials in December andNovember last year. The Liberian and Sierra Leonean stowawayswere dumped in the ocean by a Chinese cargo vessel, while theirCongo counterparts had been aboard a Congolese fishing vessel.Acting UNHCR representative Magda Medina and Senior ImmigrationOfficer Hosea Hangula held two-day interviews with the 13 menthis week. Only 19-year-old Liberian Taylor Oumar, his countrymanMohamed Kabaha (20), Sierra Leone's Sam John (22) and Congo'sJohn Ndinga (24), were found eligible for political asylum. Theywere in possession of their national identificationdocuments.Medina must still present a report to the Ministry ofHome Affairs on their findings before the stowaways' asylumstatus can be determined by the Immigration Tribunal Board. Thefate of the other nine men, whose ages range from 16 to 21, couldnot be determined as they had lost their documents when theystruggled ashore after being dumped at sea. Hangula told TheNamibian that four stowaways had hidden in the Congolese vessel,before the captain of the vessel, which was en route to France,found them and told them to climb onto a raft which was thenlowered overboard. The four youths, aged 14, 16,17 and 21, werediscovered after a Comav-operated aeroplane flying from WalvisBay to Luederitz spotted them on the coast, 200 km north of thecoastal town, and informed immigration officials. He said the thebodies of two others, who had refused to get onto the raft, werestill missing after the captain dumped them into the sea."They hid in the vessel and wanted to sail through to Franceto seek political asylum because of the political situation intheir country," Hangula said. The four survivors managed toreach Spencer Bay and had reportedly walked 100 km already when aNamibian Minerals Corporation (Namco) helicopter was dispatchedto collect them. The other group of nine stowaways from SierraLeone and Liberia was abandoned off the Namibian coast by aChinese fishing vessel in November. There were originally 11, buttwo drowned when they were dumped into the sea . Hangula said the11 were bound for Australia after they reportedly paid thecaptain US$160 each. But the captain reneged on the deal."We don't know why all these vessels decide to dumpstowaways in Namibian waters but this is a serious concern tous," he added. He said Namibia was seeking to charge thecaptains of the vessels for acting against an international lawwhich prohibits dumping people at sea. Hangula said theimmigration authority, with the help of maritime officials, hadlaunched a search for the two vessels. "They should havejust handed them over to us without inflicting cruelty on humanbeings," he added. The stowaways are all in Police custodyin Luederitz, awaiting their fate.
Angolan refugees try to legalisestatus (Irin, 10/01) - A Namibian 'clean-up' operationalong the Angolan border has prompted a number of refugees whohave been in the country illegally to report to the UN refugeeagency UNHCR to avoid arrest, deportation, or even conscriptioninto the army back home. Francis Olayiwola, UNHCR field officerin Rundu, a border town in Namibia's northeastern Kavango region,told IRIN that the agency had received about 50 refugees sincethe beginning of the month, most of whom had arrived in Namibia along time ago. "We received 17 people in Rundu on Monday,but they have not come as a result of the [latest] attack [in theCaprivi region on Saturday]. They were living in the Kavangoregion illegally. They did not want to be arrested and deported,so they came to us," he told IRIN. The Namibian authoritiesimposed a curfew along the long Kavango river border with Angolalast October. They said UNITA rebels crossed the borderregularly, attacked villagers, stole their belongings, plantedlandmines and then fled back home. At the same time the Namibianarmy launched an operation to root out possible UNITA operativesfrom its border territories and to prevent further cross-borderraids. Analysts have agreed that one motive for the Namibianclampdown is Windhoek's close relationship with the Luandagovernment. It is this relationship that has refugees in aquandary. As one humanitarian source told IRIN, the majority ofrefugees who enter Namibia come from areas which have beencontrolled by UNITA. Their journey south into Namibia "isperilous, with the threat of meeting UNITA, FAA [Angolan ArmedForces] or Namibian soldiers en route". This would beespecially true for UNITA supporters and soldiers wanting to fleeto safety. Jimmy Mbendela, UNHCR field officer in Osire, thecountry's main refugee camp, told IRIN that some refugees,knowing they would be subject to strict screening in Namibia, didnot even report to the authorities. They went to Zambia or toBotswana instead, he said. Nevertheless, he added: "The(Angolan refugee) population is steadily increasing - but not atan alarming rate." Olayiwola told IRIN that some refugeeschoosing to report to the UNHCR offices now had been in thecountry illegally for up to two years. Others only asked forrefugee status after being arrested by Namibian authorities."The refugees coming into our offices recently - themajority of them are not just crossing the border now. They havecrossed the border in 1999 and 2000, and have been livingillegally in Namibia. When they (Angolan refugees) cross theborder they go to family relations and so on, but now because ofthe Namibian clean-up operation, especially in Kavango, peopleare coming to us," he said. Olayiwola also confirmed reportsof fighting in the Caprivi region at the weekend, saying itseemed as though the motive of the attackers' - suspected to beUNITA rebels - was to steal food and non-food items. The Namibianreported that two Angolan soldiers, two women and a 12-year-oldgirl were injured in the fighting. Mbendela said the border areahas been unstable. "Prior to Christmas we had instances oflandmines in the Kavango region which claimed two lives andinjured three or four people. The situation has been critical.This has continued recently."
Refugees flee into Namibia fromAngola (The Namibian, 09/01) - Renewed fighting in southern Angola between Unita andthe Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) caused refugees to flee intoNamibia over the weekend. Sources said thenumber of refugees in Namibia could swell further as villagerswere preparing to abandon their homesteads as a result of theattack last Saturday. Two Angolan soldiers, two women and a12-year-girl escaped the fighting in Kaira near the Namibianborder after sustaining several shot wounds. The women and thegirl were admitted to Nankudhu hospital about 120 kilometres westof Rundu due to the skirmishes, while the FAA soldiers were beingtreated at the Rundu State Hospital. Hospital sources at Rundusaid one of the women, Teresia Sabina Vasco (estimated to be age18), sustained serious gun shot wounds in the abdomen and chestand has been transferred from Nankudhu hospital to the Runduhospital. Ndjoakima Ntumba (38), who suffered a shot wound on herknee, is currently at the Nankudhu hospital with Ndara Johannes(12) who was shot in the arm. The Rundu State Hospital saidyesterday an FAA soldier, Kasekele Kanyede, who was admittedthere on Monday, is gradually recovering from a shot wound to hisleg. "He couldn't speak yesterday but he is fine today(yesterday)," said a hospital official. His colleague in theFAA Carlos Erkki was discharged yesterday after sustaining lightwounds. Human rights sources told The Namibian yesterday thatdozens of refugees who fled the war surrendered themselves toimmigration authorities and the United Nations High Commissionerfor Refugees (UNHCR) office in Rundu. For fear of beingidentified as Unita soldiers, these men and women claimed thatthey were in Rundu before this latest Unita-FAA fighting brokeout. The UNHCR representative in Rundu confirmed that his officehas admitted 20 refugees by yesterday already. The representativeFrancis Olayiwola yesterday told The Namibian that the UNHCRreceived 17 refugees by Monday while one women and her twochildren came to seek refugee protection yesterday. He said sincethe beginning of this month, the UNHCR in Rundu had already takenin 50 refugees from Angola. The UNHCR is already caring for some290 refugees at Kasava refugee camp who fled Angola at thebeginning of January 2000 when large-scale war broke out betweenUnita and FAA soldiers. He said most of the refugees claim tohave been living in Rundu without proper documentation and wantedto hand themselves over to the UNHCR before the law enforcementagencies caught up with them. Some Namibian villagers residingalong the border with Angola described the exchange of firebetween the adversaries as heavy. They said it started in themorning on Saturday and only ended in the afternoon. NamibianDefence Force Commander for the Kavango region Lieutenant-ColonelAbed Mukumangeni confirmed the attack on Monday morning to Nampa.He said the attack took place in southern Angola and did notaffect villagers residing on the Namibian side of Katwitwi, whichis some 175 kilometres west of Rundu. Mukumangeni said no reportsof injuries or casualties on the Namibian side of the border hadbeen received.
Stowaways dumped off Luderitz (TheNamibian, 07/01) - Immigrationofficials at Luderitz have discovered four stowaways from CongoBrazzaville who were dumped off the Namibian coast about 200kilometres from Luderitz just over a week ago.
AIDS in transport industry claimshundreds every month (Sapa, Pretoria, 29/01) - Hundredsof drivers in the transport industry die of Aids every month,Cross-Border Road Agency chairman George Negota said on Tuesday.Expressing concern about this trend in a statement in Pretoria,he said no single sector in the industry was exempted from theimpact of HIV/Aids. "The general transport industry isheavily affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic, with hundreds ofdrivers taking a dive every month," Negota said of thefatalities. Negota expressed concern about conditions at borderposts which he said were "fertile ground for the breedingand hatching of the disease". "The picking up anddropping off of commercial sex workers have become an acceptablesight alongside our main roads." The road agency wouldcontinue working with the transport authorities to increaseawareness about the dangers of HIV/Aids. "Whether we havecapacity to face this challenge will come out as we start takingstock of the number of drivers that have actually demised andcontinue to die," Negota said. A particular effort would bemade to arrest the further spread of the disease at border townssuch as Komatipoort, Messina, and Ramatlabama. Other challengesfacing his agency, Negota said, related to the slowtransformation of some sectors of the transport industry."The bus industry has failed to transform itself and hastherefore left empowerment to its own vices. The road freightindustry has also remained unchanged." Negota said hisagency would hold a regional transport conference later in theyear to discuss such issues.
Foreign students a boon not a bane(Cape Argus, Cape Town, 28/01) - Foreign students inthe Western Cape are doing more than adding to the cultural mixin universities and technikons - they are softening the impact ofthe drop in the number of South African matric exemptions ontertiary institutions. Jim Leatt, executive director of the CapeHigher Education Consortium, said the suggestion that foreignstudents were "stealing" higher education places fromSouth African students was "ridiculous". "In orderfor a foreign student to get a study visa, the institution wherethey are applying has to prove they are not taking a localstudent's place. "The growing number of foreign students arebalancing the negative impact of falling South African studentnumbers. Both tertiary institutions and the government areactively encouraging them to come to the Western Cape, wherethere are five quality institutions." SamanthaWalbrugh-Parsadh, student co-ordinator for the internationaloffice at the University of Stellenbosch, said the number offoreign students had increased by "200 to 250" for thepast "three to four years", with a 50/50 ratio betweenthe numbers of African and European students. Despite theeconomic difficulties faced by Zimbabwean students, their numberswere "definitely" on the rise, she said. "Whilethe number of Zimbabwean students at Stellenbosch used to bequite low, we are now seeing growth. We are trying to help themas much as possible, as many are facing difficulties. I haveheard of parents approaching Unesco offices in Harare for couponsto pay their children's fees." Walbrugh-Parsadh said 1 200foreign students from 62 countries had registered, but added thatregistration for post-graduate courses, which attracted a largenumber of the international students, would only end inmid-March. "We don't actively recruit foreign students, theycome to us by word of mouth or find us on the internet."There are a number of Germans who have applied for themasters degree in law and theology. Forestry and the economic andmanagement courses are very popular among the African students,with forestry particularly popular among Eritrean students."University of Cape Town spokeswoman Shireen Sedres said thecampus experienced an average growth of 8% in internationalstudent numbers. Growing numbers of African students had promptedthe university to build a new residence, All Africa House, to"provide a 'home from home' for African academics, andacademics interested in Africa", Sedres said. She said theprofile of the international student body had shifted, with thepercentage of foreign post-graduate students growing by 10%. Lastyear saw 2 531 international students from 75 different countriesregistering at UCT, of whom 1 798 were African. The SouthernAfrican Development Community (SADC) students made up 91% of theAfrican student population in 2001. Last year 71% of the totalinternational student intake came from SADC countries, comparedwith 65% in 1997. Of the remaining foreign students, 302 camefrom Europe, 80 from North America and 63 from the Middle Eastand Asia, with enrolments from South America, Australia and NewZealand under 20. Professor Jan Persens, director ofinternational relations at the University of the Western Cape,said many African tertiary institutions in countries like Kenya,Ghana and Eritrea were struggling to find space for prospectivestudents. "I have been hesitant to place advertisements forUWC in publications outside South Africa, because I felt it waswrong to act as competition to the local universities, but theirstaff have themselves informed me that they aren't able toaccommodate their applicants and are happy for ads to bepublished." Alvin van Gensen, registrar at the CapeTechnikon, said the number of foreign students had increased from216 in 1999 to 542 in 2001 and was expected to grow this year.
Home Affairs to implement portableoffices (Sapa, Pretoria, 28/02) - The Department ofHome Affairs has come up with a strategy to provide offices wherenormal facilities are unavailable as part of their mission of"rendering world-class service". Home Affairs spokesmanLeslie Mashokwe said the department was investigating buyingshipping containers and converting them into offices that couldbe placed in the remotest of rural areas. The 6m x 2,4mcontainers were durable as they were designed for sea travel andbecause of their standard size structure, and lent themselvesreadily to pre-made modular fitting. Mashokwe said a prototypehad been developed and was currently being investigated. Thecontainers, which were easily transportable and secure whenlocked, would consist of an office and interviewing room. Theywould also be equipped with a solar panel and satellite dishconnecting them to the department's mainframe computer. Mashokwesaid Home Affairs wanted to purchase approximately ten of thecontainers per year. Companies wanting to assist Home Affairscould consider making second hand containers available.Interested parties could contact John Fick on 012-314-8013.
Elephants kill migrant near KrugerPark (Sapa, Giyani, 24/01) - A 28-year-old illegalimmigrant from Mozambique was killed in an encounter with fiveelephants near Giyani outside the Kruger National Park onWednesday, police said. Inspector Moatshe Ngoepe said threeillegal immigrants from Mozambique had entered South Africathough the Kruger National Park. After making it though the park,they decided to sleep near Giyani. On awaking they wereconfronted by five elephants. The men fled in differentdirections. According to Ngoepe, the elephants pursued one of themen, Fernado Shishongi, and trampled him to death. The other twomen alerted local residents who contacted the police. Ngoepe saidrangers from the Department of Environmental affairs went on asearch and found the mutilated body of Shishongi. Ngoepe said therangers were searching for the five elephants. Kruger NationalPark spokesman William Mabasa could not confirm whether theelephants were from the park itself. Ngoepe said the two illegalimmigrants were in police custody and were being questioned.Police would liaise with the Department of Home Affairs ondeporting them.
South African intelligence officialimmigration status questioned (Sunday Times, 23/01) - Afinance manager employed by South Africa's National IntelligenceAgency for the past five years is under investigation todetermine whether she is an illegal immigrant. Immigrationofficials are probing how Lillian Ntombikanina Mnisi managed toget South African citizenship and land a job at the agency whichis responsible for national security. The 41-year-old manager,based in Mpumalanga, did not want to discuss the matter whencontacted by the Sunday Times this week. "Why did you phoneme in the office and during working hours? This has nothing to dowith my job," she said. The Sunday Times is in possession ofdocuments given to the Department of Home Affairs in 1993 and1998 which paint vastly different pictures of Mnisi's history.Some of the documents were used to obtain a birth certificate anda South African identity book. Read together, they suggest thatMnisi: Has two fathers. One of them would have been 11 or 12years old when she was born; Has two mothers, both of whom claimto have given birth to her; Was born in two towns - Barberton andNelspruit; and Was born on June 31 and October 31 1960. (Thereare 30 days in June.) The Department of Home Affairs'Anti-corruption Unit and the SA Police Service are investigatingMnisi, who allegedly first entered South Africa with a Swazipassport and was issued a holiday visa on February 7 1992. Sheobtained a South African identity book a year later, and apassport in 1994. Police confirmed they were investigating fraudcharges in connection with Mnisi's citizenship. They have sent adocket to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision onwhether to prosecute. When Mnisi applied for her South Africanidentity document on March 15 1993, she claimed her father,Fanyane Samson Mnisi, was born on September 18 1948. He wouldhave been 11 or 12 years old when she was born. The Sunday Timeshas affidavits from two South African women claiming to beMnisi's mother. Intelligence agency head Vusi Mavimbela wasunaware of the matter when called by the Sunday Times on Friday.The agency's job is to gather, evaluate and analyse domesticintelligence to identify possible threats to the security ofSouth Africa and its people. After being briefed by staff ,Mavimbela said Mnisi had made a confession about her citizenship."As far as we are concerned, based on her confession, Mnisiwas born in Swaziland," he said, adding that it was up tothe courts to decide Mnisi's fate.
Foreign land ownership should bedebated, says ANC (Sapa, Johannesburg, 21/01) - Theownership of land in South Africa by foreigners should come undera countrywide debate, the African National Congress said onMonday. ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama told reporters inJohannesburg that South African inhabitants were in "direneed of land", and this could be addressed by halting theforeign ownership of land. "Must we say no to foreigners orif we make land available to them, will there be certainconditions... This must all be debated," he said. Smuts wasaddressing reporters on the outcome of the ANC National ExecutiveCommittee (NEC) lekgotla (meeting) which took place from Thursdayto Sunday. ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe said land wasa natural resource and if the rand continued to depreciate SouthAfrica did not want to be in a position where the "jewels ofland" were owned by foreigners. "We must guard againstthis... even if we promote tourism we could find that foreignersare the main beneficiaries," he said. Discussing decisionstaken at the lekgotla on South Africa's economy, Ngonyama saidthe ideas of all stakeholders had to be taken into considerationto establish programmes that would aid economic growth. He saidANC branches would also be asked to monitor food prices thatcould soar due to the currency's drop. "Noting the potentialimpact of the depreciation of the rand on food prices, (we) callon all actors in the food sector to act with responsibility andrestraint," Ngonyama said. A partnership was needed betweenproducers and consumers to make sure the needs of all were met.On the international front, Motlanthe said the ANC was inconstant, dynamic talks with Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party andopposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).Zimbabwe, which is in a state of political and economic turmoil,plans to hold presidential elections in March. He said theZanu-PF leadership had committed itself in discussions with theANC to general elections that "would not lend themselves toquestion". Motlanthe called on the MDC and Zanu-PFleadership to hold discussions, saying this would help easetensions. He said another reason the two should communicate wasthat there was a strong possibility that the elections would beclosely contested. Leaders of the MDC and Zanu-PF were at themoment engaging through a third party and this was not helpingmatters, Motlanthe said. The ANC would not contemplate any formof action, such as sanctions, against Zimbabwe, besidesdiscussions with Zanu-PF to bring back stability. "Ourdiscussions (with them) are open. We (have) made them aware thatif they don't approach the elections well, they may actuallycreate space for the undermining of sovereignty and the littlestability that remains there," the secretary general said."We hope at some point the penny will drop... (where) thetime arrives where one asks am I the only one who has the wisdom,can all the others be wrong," Motlanthe said referring toZimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's reign. The NEC called on theZimbabwe Defence Force to remain impartial during the electionsand to respect the outcome of the vote. Earlier, Zimbabweansecurity forces said it would not back a president that was notfrom the country's liberation struggle. Ngonyama said the ANCwould continue efforts to create peace and stability on thecontinent. The NEC also expressed solidarity and support for thepeople of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo followingvolcanic eruptions in the area. On "tensions" in thetripartite alliance comprising the ANC, Congress of SA TradeUnions and the SA Communist Party, Ngonyama said ongoingbilaterals would help strengthen the foundation of the group,restore trust and address areas of policy difference. The ANCwill hold regional general meetings countrywide on February 16and 17 and February 23 and 24 where the party's programme ofaction for the year will be explained. The party's 51st nationalconference will be held in the Western Cape from December 11 to16.
South Africa prepares for influx ofZimbabwe refugees (Iafrica.com, 18/01) - South Africais well prepared to receive thousands of refugees fleeing fromviolence-wracked Zimbabwe, according to the Department of HomeAffairs. The Star reports that Zimbabwean immigration officialsestimate that more than 2 500 Zimbabweans have been legallycrossing the border into South Africa on a daily basis, never toreturn and that South Africans can expect a lot more than thatthrough illegal entry. Officials also said that about 300 wereattempting to enter London on a daily basis as well. South Africahas designated a disused military base near the northern borderas a potential reception centre for refugees fleeing Zimbabwe inthe event of what some are calling a "meltdown" there.Said a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs, LeslieMashokwe: "They have identified Artonvilla, an old SouthAfrican National Defence Force complex near Messina, to provideaccommodation for refugees should the situation in Zimbabwe reachmeltdown." Provincial home affairs officials from theNorthern Province and Mpumalanga had been meeting monthly withsecurity personnel in Nelspruit, the main point of reception forrefugees, to fine-tune contingency plans and monitor developmentsin Zimbabwe. The Cape Times reports that other plans includeincreasing troop levels along the country's northern border andplacing a variety of services including police, military,welfare and immigration on a heightened state of alert.The department has also invited the UN High Commission forRefugees to send a representative to the next meeting to overseethe plans and provide further input. Health workers, immigrationofficials, police and soldiers could be called up at any momentto help handle a sudden influx of refugees, Mashokwe added.Fidellis Swai, regional spokesperson for the United Nationsrefugee agency UNHCR, said the organisation is in touch with thegovernments of all Zimbabwe's neighbours and will assist wherenecessary.
Cost of potential Zimbabwe refugeeinflux (Sapa, Pretoria, 18/01) - The New NationalParty expressed concern on Friday at the financial implicationsif South Africa had to accommodate an influx of refugees from itspolitically unstable neighbour, Zimbabwe. Such an eventualitycould cost the taxpayer millions of rands, the party said in astatement. "The current budget of the Department of HomeAffairs is not sufficient to deal with such a sudden flood ofrefugees. Additional funding will have to be made available todeal with any contingencies." The department had requestedmore than R11-million to put in place refugee reception officesas required by law, but had only received R1,3-million, the NNPsaid. Apart from having to provide shelter and a safeenvironment, the South African government would also beresponsible for ensuring that refugees had access to socialservices such as education and health care. "Prevention isbetter than cure," the party said. "The possible influxof thousands of political refugees... could be prevented if therule of law and free political activity returns to Zimbabwe."The role of the international community and the SouthernAfrican Development Community is therefore vital to ensure thatrespect for fundamental rights and multi-party democracy returnsto Zimbabwe." The Department of Home Affairs on Fridayconfirmed that several disused military camps in the NorthernProvince could house refugees if necessary. However, no specificplan had been made in view of the situation in Zimbabwe. Thecamps were available for any eventuality, including naturaldisasters. Spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said the national crisisco-ordinating committee, which consists of various national andprovincial government departments, is to meet again on Monday. Itwould discuss repairing the disused military camps, but notspecifically with a view to Zimbabwe. "If Zimbabwe crops up,it will be discussed." Mashokwe said there were no signs yetof a refugee influx. The department was repatriating the normalnumber of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe -about 5000 a month.There had been no increase in applications for refugee status.Asked about plans for financing a possible flood of refugees fromZimbabwe, Mashokwe said: "We are not at that stageyet". He also denied reports that a specialinter-departmental committee had been set up to monitordevelopments in Zimbabwe. Defence Department spokesman SamMkhwanazi said the defence force was still in a planning phase."In an operation like that, the SA National Defence Forcewill be informed by the requirements of the governmentdepartments we are servicing," he said. Violence hascontinued in Zimbabwe in the run-up to presidential elections inMarch.
South African brain drain worse thanwe thought (The Mercury, 17/01) - The South African"brain drain" of skilled professional people tocountries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada,New Zealand and Australia is much more significant than theofficial figures suggest. This point is made in an article titledCounting Brains, published by the Southern African MigrationProject. The article has been written by Mercy Brown, DavidKaplan and Jean-Baptiste Meyer of the Development Policy ResearchUnit of the University of Cape Town. The authors say that,according to their statistics, there were 41 496 professionalemigrants from South Africa between 1989 and 1997. This is almostfour times larger than the official figure of 11 255. The authorssay that South Africa needs to review its methods of datacollection on emigration and, if possible, build in a systematiccomparison with data that can easily be obtained from recipientcountries. They say that most emigrants are highly skilled andwell trained, and many of them are working in occupations whichare in demand domestically. A significant number, the researcherssay, leave South Africa as well-trained professionals. However,there is a tendency for the professional emigrants to acquirefurther post-graduate training abroad. They say that the SouthAfrican "diaspora" represents a well-trained, capable,uniquely highly skilled pool of individuals. The authors pointout, however, that, contrary to popular opinion, emigration doesnot necessarily mean that all of these skills and expertise arelost to South Africa. Opportunities exist through organisationsto make use of the skills of these expatriates even while theylive abroad.
Border post hawkers to get new marketin Komatipoort (African Eye News Service, Komatipoort, 17/01) - Hawkersplying their trade at the Lebombo border post between Mpumalangaand Mozambique will be relocated to a specially builtmarketplace, said Nkomazi mayor Selby Khumalo yesterday. Thehawkers were told they had to leave their stalls by January 31 sothe border post and road could be upgraded. 'Rocks will beblasted and it would be dangerous for the traders to remain wherethey are,' explained home affairs provincial director RobertZitha. To accommodate the hawkers the Departments of Home Affairsand Public Works together with the Nkomazi municipality joinedforces to build official stalls for the hawkers at theKomatipoort airport. The hawkers' trade would not be jeopardisedbecause their new stalls will be located at the airportpre-clearance centre. Trucks and all other heavy vehicles have topass through the centre before crossing the border. Mr Khumalosaid the upgrade was supposed to have begun in September lastyear but an alternative market had to be found for the hawkersfirst. 'Some of the traders have no other job and are the solebreadwinners for large families, so we couldn't just leave themwith no alternative,' he said.
Over 65,000 South African citizensseek visas to visit Nigeria (African Eye News Service, Lagos,16/01) - South African travellers finally acceptedNigeria as a safe tourist and business destination in 2001, withover 65 000 South Africans applying for short term visas to thecountry, Nigerian House of Representatives deputy speakerChibudom Nwuche said. Speaking at a Commonwealth Conference inBotswana on Tuesday, Nwuche said South Africans used to viewNigeria as a pariah state plagued by rampant violent crime andcorruption. "But it now appears [South African] travellersare finally realising that Nigeria is no longer a pariah nation,and it is gradually repositioning itself as a democratic countrythat respects the rule of law," said Nwuche. He said SouthAfrican Airways' (SAA) use of Lagos as its West African hubairport had also contributed significantly to the increase intravellers, as had growing international interest in thecountry's government privatisation programme. Consulate Generalof Nigeria Embassy in Johannesburg, Charles Onmagbu, confirmedthat the largest increase in South African travellers to Nigeriawere businessmen keen to scout for new business in thecontinent's most populous country.
Tshwete attempts reconciliation withPortuguese community (Sapa, Johannesburg, 13/01) - Fightingcrime was not only the governments work, but should be acombined effort involving the community, Safety and SecurityMinister Steve Tshwete told the Portuguese community in Benoni onthe East Rand on Sunday. The meeting, which was attended by alarge group of the Gauteng Portuguese community, was conducted ona reconciliatory note, differing vastly from an angryconfrontation between the minister and the community in November2000. "When I received the invitation to come and addressyou I was deeply touched by what I considered a gesture ofgoodwill on your part given the bitter note with which some ofyou and I ended the past year," Tshwete said on Sunday. ThePortuguese community marched to the Union Buildings in 2000,demanding action against crime. Tshwete at the time reacted in astrongly worded letter to a memorandum handed over during themarch, accusing the Portuguese community of racism and opposingthe African National Congress-led government. He also accusedthem of demanding solutions from the government without gettinginvolved in the fight against crime. On Sunday, however, he saidit was exciting to hear to what extent the Portuguese communitywas involved in combating crime. "It makes it easy for me todo my job." The Catholic priest who led the 2000 march,Father Carlos Gabriel, also told the minister on Sunday that itwas "opposition to crime in South Africa that brings thesepeople together." Gabriel said the Portuguese communitywanted to make South Africa work for all its citizensirrespective of race, colour or creed, "as President ThaboMbeki had asked at the ANCs 90th anniversary celebrationson January, 19." A presentation by the Portuguese Forumoutlined the communitys involvement in Community PolicingForums to combat crime. Tshwete said he wanted to allay thecommunitys fear that they were being singled out bycriminals. "Your own experiences in your businesses in townwhere you are attacked and robbed do not come about because youhappen to be of a specific ethnic background. "You areattacked and robbed because it is easier to ambush you by reasonof the location and size of your business." He said thefight against crime was not the exclusive responsibility of thegovernment. "The government must be at the spearhead of thatcrusade against crime. "That is a constitutionalresponsibility ... But we must go further, and in a deliberateway say all of us ... have a role to play." The governmenthas started with a campaign to decrease the local market forstolen goods and drugs, the minister said. "When they breakinto your house, the stolen goods are not taken to the moon orMars, it is sold here in Johannesburg, Benoni, and that must beended. "The media must spread the message: No marketfor stolen goods." Tshwete acknowledged that illegalimmigrants were contributing to crime in the country."People from neighbouring countries have become a bignuisance in South Africa, were not trying to hidethat." He called on businessmen and farmers not to useillegal immigrants as cheap labour, thereby encouraging them tostream into the country. "We do everything we can to controlthem, we raid the places they hide, we flush them out, but wedont need other people to compound the problem by usingthem for cheap labour because they dont want to pay our ownpeople decent salaries." Tshwete said the police would alsoincrease its manpower over the next four years. By March thenumber of police personnel would have been increased to 127000and over the next three years, Tshwete said, at least 16000 morepolice officials would be recruited and trained. "We aregoing to ask Cabinet for the funds to make this possible."The SA National Defence Force was also being used with success tobolster the polices crime fighting operations and theCriminal Justice System was trying to address the huge backlog incourt cases. All these measures, he said, would contribute toaddress the crime situation in the country. "Criminals mustfeel the pinch and pain of the police," Tshwete said."The government will never adopt a soft stance oncrime." He added that crime was not an issue to scorepolitical points on. "There is a monster assailing us, it isnot the time to politicise it, we must all fight againstit." The government and its Portuguese counterpart werediscussing an agreement to mutually assist each other in thefight against crime. Tshwete said he hoped that this agreementwould be in place soon. He said he would also revisit the PoliceAct around the issue pertaining Community Policing Forums, toenable these forums to form full partnerships with the police andadvise the police regarding policing matters. At the moment thepolicing forums have no right to tell the police what to do.Tshwete said if all these strategies were employed, the countrywould be able to rid itself of crime. "We are many, thethugs are few, we must defeat them."
Weak rand makes South Africa abargain for tourists (Sapa-AP, Cape Town, 11/01) - Thegame parks are a thrill, the luxury hotels a treat, but what isluring even more foreign visitors to South Africa is how littleit all costs. For travelers with dollars, pounds and euros tospend, the country with one of the most undervalued currencies inthe world has become a holiday bargain. "Tourists feel theyare getting great value for money," said Alan Schapiro,owner of the trendy Newport Market & Deli eatery in CapeTown. "For a pound they can have a really good meal."The South African rand has been hammered by currency speculators,who find the small open economy an easy target. The currency hasalso been at the receiving end of emerging market jitters sincethe Sept. 11 attacks on Washington and New York. Before theattacks a dollar bought 8.59 rand; now a dollar buys nearly 12rand. Yet despite this, inflation hovers at just over 6 percent.Locals are bracing for price increases in upcoming months, butthe effects have yet to filter through. "Meals of a similarstandard would cost at least four times as much in London andaccommodation would cost double," said tourist Loraine Dunk,who manages a publishing company in London. Finance MinisterTrevor Manuel recently described South Africa as the cheapestcountry in the world, while travel magazine Conde Nast voted itthe world's best value for money destination. It's easy to seewhy. A bed at the five-star Table Bay Hotel at the Cape TownWaterfront costs the equivalent of dlrs 85, a beer sells forabout a dollar and a gourmet three-course meal can be enjoyed forjust dlrs 12. "It's very inexpensive here - it would costtwo or three times as much at home," said Swedish touristSven Holder. "With the prices coming down (in foreigncurrency terms), you can upgrade from a two or three-star hotelto a five-star (hotel)." The ailing rand has been welcomedby the country's tourism industry. No numbers have beenofficially calculated, but tourism officials say there has been amarked increase of foreign visitors to the country in recentmonths. South Africans, too, are increasingly vacationing at homebecause their currency buys them so little abroad. Droves oftourists have descended on the coastal city of Cape Town, whichhas first world facilities, mountains that edge on sandy whitebeaches and rolling wine lands. "It's not easy to get a seaton a plane to Cape Town right now," said Cheryl Orzinsky,who heads the city's tourism office. Orzinsky said Cape Town'sremoteness from the world's trouble spots also seems to havecontributed to its popularity as a holiday destination. Andthough crime rates in South Africa remain among the highest inthe world, but Orzinsky said authorities have done a good job ofmaking tourist spots safer. Holder, the Swedish tourist, said hewas aware of the high crime rate but had never felt threatened."It's a really great place to visit," he said.
Fugitives to be extradited toBotswana (Sapa, Johannesburg, 10/01) - The Departmentof Home Affairs will on Thursday afternoon hand over two Batswanafugitives being held in South Africa following an assurance fromthe neighbouring government that they will not be hanged if theyare extradited. The men, Liberty Mhlanga and Jimmy Gaboitaolelwe,handed themselves over to the police and requested politicalasylum last year after escaping from Botswana's Lobatse MentalHospital and entering South Africa illegally. Home Affairsspokesman Leslie Mashokwe told Sapa on Thursday that the menwould be handed over at the Lobatse border post amid tightsecurity. "We received a letter of assurance from theBotswana government that the two men will not be executed, interms of our constitutional stipulations. Interpol, police fromboth governments and officials from various departments will bepresent to hand over the two men." The two were being heldat the Lehurutse police station near Zeerust. Mhlanga was foundguilty by the High Court of Botswana on September 24 on 15charges, including murder, attempted murder, burglary, robbery,unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, and theft.Gaboitaolelwe was on trial on two counts of unlawful wounding andtwo counts of rape. Meanwhile, two other South Africans wereunlawfully deported to Botswana last year and now also face thegallows. Although South Africa has asked for the men to bereturned to face a proper extradition hearing, Botswana'sAttorney General has refused to do so. A South African woman,Mariette Bosch was hanged in Botswana early last year while aSouth African man was currently on death row in Gaborone. The SAHuman Rights Commission said last year it would be monitoring thetreatment of four Zimbabwean men who were arrested in theNorthern Province in connection with a murder in Botswana. If thefour Zimbabweans are extradited, South Africa has to insist - asa prerequisite - that they not be hanged, as it belatedly did inthe case of Tanzanian Khalfan Khamis Mohamed. Mohamed wasrecently sentenced to life imprisonment by a United Statesfederal court for his part in the 1998 bombing of the US embassyin Dar-es-Salaam in which 11 people died. The ConstitutionalCourt ruled in May that the government had acted illegallybecause it had failed to secure a promise from the US thatMohamed would not be executed. It was international practice thatcountries that did not have the death penalty could refuse toextradite accused persons to those that had it if no assurancewas obtained that it would not execute them. Placing itself inline with this norm, the Constitutional Court ordered the SouthAfrican government to send a copy of the judgment to the UScourt. Mohamed was eventually jailed for life without paroleafter the jury could not agree on the death sentence. SouthAfrica abolished the death penalty after the final adoption ofthe new Constitution on May 10, 1996.
Xenophobia rife in Cape Peninsula(Cape Argus, 09/01) - The ANC is hold a meeting with policethe Western Cape after accusations that the force was partly toblame for xenophobic tensions in the Peninsula. An estimated 10African immigrants have been killed in attacks in the past year.When Jack Simoo scored an equalising goal during a reconciliationsoccer match near Milnerton last year, he thought recentxenophobic clashes between locals and foreigners would be"forgiven and forgotten" for ever. But now the23-year-old dreadlocked Angolan finds himself again seekingrefuge in a country in which he has been given refugee status.And it's a country where locals are still all too ready to attackforeigners - last year, according to the Cape Refugee Forum, 10African emigrants were killed in xenophobia-related incidents inthe Cape Peninsula alone. Simoo is one of about 70 Angolansforced to live in tents at the Theo Marais sportsfield inMilnerton after they were chased away by angry locals during afight in the nearly Joe Slovo settlement on New Year's Eve. Fourpeople - an Angolan, a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)national and two South Africans - were killed, and several homeswere burnt. No one has yet been arrested, but police werequestioning four people yesterday. Now Simoo swears he will neveragain live with black South Africans. "From here I will lookfor a place either in Sea Point or in a coloured area," hesaid. At the time of the soccer match, on October 27, AfricaUnite of New Crossroads and Mtshazafe Social Football Club of DuNoon drew 1-1 in an event where locals and African emigrantshugged and laughed together. That match was played soon after axenophobic clash at Du Noon. But last week's incident has maderefugees think again about improving relations. In many instanceswhere xenophobia has been blamed for attacks, as happened in DuNoon last year and apparently again in Joe Slovo recently, theincidents appear to have been sparked by unrelated criminalactivities. "It (the Joe Slovo incident) started as a fightbetween two people for whatever reason, coincidentally foreignerswere involved, but it ended up with the entire community fightingall foreigners," Simoo said. Christina Henda, refugee forumcoordinator, believes anti-xenophobia programmes need to beinitiated to curb the hatred. The police have also been accusedof contributing to the problem, with Angolans claiming they werebeing ill-treated by police but locals saying that police havesided with the foreigners. ANC provincial secretary McebisiSkwatsha said a meeting with the police was planned to discusstheir role. A mass meeting was also planned to cover this andother issues and Safety Minister Steve Tshwete and his provincialcounterpart, Leonard Ramatlakane, might attend.
Home Affairs officer in court forfraud (African Eye News Service, Nelspruit, 09/01) - A35-year-old Home Affairs immigration officer appeared briefly inthe Nelspruit district court on Wednesday for allegedly helpingforeigners get permanent South African residency status in returnfor bribes. Ms Nadi Mashego of KaNyamazane was not asked to pleadto fraud and she was released on a warning until February 7. Shewas arrested on October 22 last year after members of the specialinvestigative unit known as the Scorpions allegedly found her inpossession of more than 30 completed B1-9 and BI-24/15 forms, anofficial Home Affairs stamp, a pocket camera and fingerprint pad.The BI-9 forms are application forms for identity documents andBI-24/15 forms are for registering births. Ms Mashego allegedlyhelped Mozambicans, Zimbabweans, Zambians and Malawians whoentered South Africa illegally and lived in the Nelspruit area.It is alleged that she charged between R500 and R1 000 per form,depending on the applicants' circumstances. Ms Mashego owns sixtaxis, a 325i BMW, Mercedes Benz and two Isuzu bakkies and ahouse valued at R150 000.
NNP condemns xenophobic attacks inWest Cape (Sapa, Cape Town, 06/01) - A new approachwas needed to end xenophobic attacks and ensure that SouthAfricans' behaviour towards foreigners was in line with theconstitution and international convention, the New National Partysaid on Sunday. Spokesman Francois Beukman was responding in astatement to an attack in Milnerton, near Cape Town, on Tuesdayand Wednesday in which four people were killed. The attackappeared to be related to faction fighting and was apparentlysparked off after a local foreign national was killed, WesternCape community safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane said after visitingthe scene. Beukman said the Milnerton incident was part of whatseemed to be a tendency on the part of South Africans to be infierce competition with foreigners for employment and housing.The incidents illustrated that a new legislative framework formigration should be a priority for Parliament in the new year.Beukman said. Because of the continuing conflict in theDemocratic Republic of Congo and Angola and the worseningeconomic situation in Zimbabwe South Africa was a last economicopportunity for Africans, especially young people. Beukmansuggested that a citizenship integration programme be establishedfor immigrants, especially growing number of French-speakingAfricans moving into the Western Cape.
Troops called in after xenophobickillings in Milnerton (Cape Argus, Cape Town, 04/01) - Policebacked by soldiers descended on the Joe Slovo residential area inMilnerton early today after violent clashes between locals andAngolan refugees which have left three Angolans and a SouthAfrican dead and a house gutted by fire. The police were huntingsuspects in alleged xenophobic killings in the area, whereXhosa-speaking residents complained that foreigners were stealingtheir "women and their jobs". An Angolan refugee whotook part in a march to Milnerton police station on Wednesdaytold the Cape Argus they did not want trouble and were not theaggressors. "We are here legally and we have rights asrefugees to work to support ourselves and our families," hesaid. Tension between the groups came to a head when ReginaldFarraeiar, 23, was shot dead on Tuesday in John's Tavern,Ngonyana Street, and Eddie Mpanzi, 38, and Elias Dibela, 30, werestabbed to death on Wednesday in Qumbu Street. Their bodies weredragged into a house which was then set alight. Also onWednesday, Sipho Sibeko, 51, was dragged out of his Spingo Streethouse and shot dead. Sibeko was accused by the Angolans ofkilling Farraeiar. Police and troops had been maintaining"high visibility" in the area, said police spokesmanWicus Holtzhausen. Detectives were investigating the killings butwere also trying to address the root of the problem to put thelid on violence in Joe Slovo. Last year similar tension betweenlocals and refugees in Du Noon, near Table View, drove theforeigners out of the suburb and forced authorities toaccommodate them in a temporary tent camp in Milnerton. Some ofthese people, who later moved to Joe Slovo, are now beingtargeted again. Holtzhausen said detectives expected to makearrests soon but their progress was being hampered by witnessesfailing to make statements.
AIDS devastates Swaziland's workforce(Misanet.com, 03/01) - A long denial of its AIDSdilemma will transform Africa's smallest country into adestination for foreign migrant workers, to the dismay of anational leadership that seeks to keep the character of thetraditional kingdom of Swaziland intact in the 21st century.
- The workers who will keep the Swaziland economy going will notbe Swazis, predicts an executive with the Swaziland Agriculturaland Plantations Workers Union, the kingdom's largest labour body.
- Swaziland will turn into the next Egoli, which means the 'placeof gold', says Robert Mkhombe, a garage owner in the capitalMbabane whose small business employs several migrant workers.
Egoli was the name given to Johannesburg by migrant workers fromSwaziland and other Southern African nations in the 19th century,when British colonial taxation forced young people to seekemployment in the gold mines of the region's largest metropolis.Now, following a perverse law of unintended consequences,migrants from all over Southern Africa will descent on a land ofsmaller opportunities, but soon to be available jobs, unlesspublic health policy changes drastically and immediately. The reason is that while the Swazi government of Prime MinisterSibusiso Dlamini is ambitiously seeking foreign direct investmentto boost the kingdom's industrial sector, the workforce continuesto be ravaged by AIDS. In order to man new factories,healthy workers will have to be imported from neighbouringMozambique, countries further away, and even South Africa,creating an ironic and historic reverse migration of labour.Enterprise and Employment Minister Lutfo Dlamini broke the newslast month that a major investment disappointment that occurredrecently was due to AIDS fears, rather than trade problems as themedia has assumed. Dlamini said that Nein Tsing garments, acompany from Taiwan that had announced with much fanfare that itwould open a factory in Swaziland, investing over 93 million USdollars and employing 5,000 workers, had chosen instead to locatein Lesotho because it wished to import workers.
- The company was reluctant to train Swazi workers who would fallill in a year or two, said a source at the ministry. Governmentturned down the company's request, which became a deal breaker.Since Prime Minister Dlamini took office in 1996, after a stintas a World Bank executive, his administration has made foreigninvestment a priority to lower Swaziland's unemployment rate,which stands at 45 percent, according to the ministry offinance.
- Poverty alleviation is our aim, and for every Swazi who has ajob, nine other people, family members and dependants of theworker, benefit, Dlamini said in an interview. It would not do,therefore, to allow foreign workers to take jobs intended forSwazis. But future refusals may become increasingly difficult, asHIV, which already infects a third of the population, accordingto one UN agency study, continues its relentless expansion.
- AIDS is the disease that dares not speak its name in Swaziland,noted a Times of Swaziland editorial. It is taboo for anHIV-positive person to admit his or her status, leading to manypeople refusing to be tested for the virus.
- Ignorance and fear are HIV's best friends, notes HannieDlamini, an AIDS activist who was the first Swazi to admit beingHIV positive. "HIV has spread throughout theworkforce." With no reliable statistics available on thenumber of Swazis infected by HIV, it is impossible to say to whatextent the total workforce has been compromised. When anexpatriate manager of the largest industrial company at thecentral Matsapha Industrial Estate told a newspaper two years agothat half his workers were HIV positive, he was attacked in themedia, and the workers walked off the job in protest.
- The manager was naive, believing that information would combatAIDS, when people do not wish to hear, said Thandi Kunene, anurse. Since that incident, the only evidence of AIDS' effect onworkers has been an increase in absenteeism and deaths, admits acompany executive who speaks off the record.
- The Nein Tsing company knew they could get all the workers theywanted in 2002, but they were concerned about 2006, noted theTimes. AIDS activist like Hannie Dlamini, who heads a counsellingagency for HIV positive Swazis, decry the health ministry's lackof a comprehensive AIDS policy, which they say makes inevitable acrisis in the workforce that will prompt an influx of migrantworkers into the country.
- King Mswati has declared AIDS a national emergency, but theMbabane ministries are still inactive, says Kenneth Matsebula,another HIV-positive counsellor at Dlamini's agency. Swazilandwill be profoundly impacted by such a migration. Africa's onlysingle-ethnic nation has been a bastion of traditionalism andrelative peacefulness. Swazis are content to be ruled bysub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch in part as a way tosecure cultural coherency. Migrant workers will bring an elementof cosmopolitanism, and certainly foreign cultural influencesunknown since colonialism introduced European modernity.
- But by the time that happens there will be fewer Swazis,because of AIDS," says businessperson Mkhombe. "If thecountry is empty, other people will come and fill it."Health officials say the first warning of a workers' shortagebrought by the loss of the Taiwanese garment factory to Lesothoshould encourage government policy makers to take AIDS seriouslyas an economic as well as a medical dilemma.
- Otherwise, they will be making policy for a Swaziland withoutSwazis, says nurse Kunene. "I am worried about our beautifulcountry. We have held onto our traditions when other Africancountries were not able to. But our culture lives only as long aswe live."
24 Burundian refugees killed inTanzania (Irin, Nairobi, 31/01) - Over the past threeweeks, unknown assailants have killed 24 Burundian refugees inTanzania's Kibondo District in what one official described asattacks aimed at discouraging voluntary repatriations to Burundi.The governor of the Ruyigi Province in eastern Burundi, IsaacBujaba, confirmed to IRIN on Thursday that the victims werekilled in two series of attacks. He said seven people died in thefirst attacks - between 14 and 19 January. Buyaba said a survivormanaged to escape to Ruyigi, which borders on Tanzania. Seventeenmore were killed on 24 January, including five children and fivewomen, two of whom were pregnant, according to Buyaba. "Theonly survivor of this carnage is a young man who is residing nowin this province," he said. He said investigations wereunder way to establish the cause of the incidents. However,another Burundian state official told IRIN that "theseattacks are meant to discourage the voluntary repatriationprocess under way" in Tanzania. An official of the office ofthe UN High Commissioner for Refugees told IRIN: "We havedone some investigation, and we cannot confirm theincident."
Meeting held on voluntaryrepatriation of refugees (Irin, 15/01) - Representativesof the office of the United Nations High Commissioner forRefugees (UNHCR) and the Tanzanian government are meeting thoseof the Burundi and Rwanda governments this week to discuss thevoluntary repatriation of refugees from Tanzania. The firstthree-day meeting began on Sunday in the Burundi capital,Bujumbura. The second, a two-day conference, is due to begin onThursday in Kigali, the Rwandan capital. The purpose is todiscuss the prospects for voluntary repatriation of refugees fromTanzania, the UN agency reported on Friday. Both meetings bringtogether the Tripartite Commission on Voluntary Repatriations ofeach country and their Technical Working Groups. The Bujumburameeting is reviewing domestic developments in Burundi since theinstallation of the transitional government on 1 November 2001and their influence on spontaneous repatriation, UNHCR reported.The second will examine the recent increase in cross-bordervisits, information campaigns and other issues related toencouraging the repatriation of Rwandan refugees. Meanwhile,Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa told diplomats in Dar esSalaam that the strain of the refugee presence on Tanzania wasbecoming "unbearable", one of the city's newspapers,The Guardian, reported. Burundians constitute by far the largestgroup of refugees in Tanzania. UNHCR is aiding almost 350,000Burundians in western Tanzania and 24,400 Rwandans. Another groupof about 470,000 Burundians reside in Tanzanian settlements andvillages but are not receiving help. Some 200,000 of these havebeen in Tanzania since the 1970s. "Rebel violence, includingabductions of school children and teachers, clashes with Burundimilitary forces, and increasingly common vehicle ambushes thatoften result in the death of innocent civilians, have dampenedprospects for immediate refugee repatriation," the USCommittee for Refugees reported on Tuesday. "Refugees willnot come home until there is true peace in Burundi, and Burundiwill not know true peace until all refugees are home," theCommittee reported, quoting an official of the Burundi Ministryof Reintegration and Resettlement of Displaced People andRepatriates.
Tanzania bogged down by refugeecrisis, says Mkapa (The Monitor, 12/01) - Thursdayurged the international community to assist in the creation ofsafe zones in countries which generate refugees in the Great Lakeregion so as to ease Tanzania's unbearable burden of hostingmillions of refugees. Speaking at a sherry party he hosted forheads of diplomatic missions and international organizations atthe State House in Dar es Salaam, Mkapa said it has becomeunbearable for poor countries like Tanzania to go on playing aninternational role with lesser support. Mkapa stressed that thetime has come to explore possibilities for creation of safe zonesfor the refugees in their motherlands under internationalsupervision. "We cannot continue serving as a sluice throughwhich other countries can rid themselves of unwanted people inthe hope that ultimately they will be permanently resettled inthe country of refuge," he added. Mkapa said the UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mid-year reportissued last September showed the agency's budget for Tanzaniastood at $32.1m, only to be revised later to $31.6m. But, hesaid, the report showed that the total funds available were only$20.2m, equal to 64 per cent of the revised budget, or 63 percent of the initial budget. "How can the goodwill of thelocal population be maintained in the face of such budgetaryshortfalls?" wondered the president. Mkapa quoted the GlobalAppeal 2002 as saying in addition to the 495,100 assistedrefugees in Tanzania, government figures indicate that there aresome 170,000 Burundians in settlements and a further 300,000living in villages in northwestern Tanzania, none of whom areassisted by UNHCR. "I doubt very much if even the richestcountries would offer to take even 10 per cent of the close to amillion refugees in poor Tanzania," he said. Mkapa saidrefugees have eroded the country's development gains in someareas and increased insecurity, adding that in the case ofBurundian refugees, their presence has often unnecessarilystrained relations with the Burundian government.
DRC musicians expelled (TOMRIC, Dares Salaam, 10/01) - Tanzania has ordered musiciansfrom the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who were detainedfor staying in the country illegally, to leave the countryimmediately. Over 20 Congolese musicians with General Defao'sband were arrested here by the Immigration Department allegedlyfor illegal stay in the country without valid visas. Themusicians have been ordered to leave the country after failing topay over US$4200 for overstaying in the country. Along with theiremployer, General Defao, the musicians arrived here in Augustlast year for a series of concerts, but were abandoned by theirpromoter and the Tanzania Dance Music Association, CHAMDATA. TheImmigration Department has said here that the musicians have beenexpelled from the country after realizing that the offenders hadlittle or no change of raising the money. The department hadearlier detained them and wanted them to pay the money beforeleaving. They were arrested at the Tanzania-Kenya border in theirattempt to escape from the plight. Sometimes last week, theAmbassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Tanzania,Theodore Mugalu was quoted as saying that his embassy would putto task the promoter for abandoning the musicians.
DRC musicians detained (TOMRIC, Dares Salaam, 02/01) - Over 20 Congolese musicians withGeneral Defao's band are being held here by the ImmigrationDepartment allegedly for illegal stay in the country. All themusicians with exception of the bandleader, General Defao,should, each of them, pay US$200 for their overstaying in thecountry and failure to extend their residence permit. Defao, whowas admitted at the city-based TMJ hospital suffering fromstroke, had extended his permit to January 2002. The immigrationdepartment is demanding US$4200 for all of them ( 21) afterarrested for overstaying. An assistant public relations officerwith the department, Rebecca Kwandu has told the press here thatthe musicians were arrested on Sunday at the Namanga border townin northern Tanzania as they were trying to go to Kenya."They were found with documents which showed that they hadbeen living in the country illegally since November 19, lastyear," she said. Defao and his group arrived in the countrylast August for a performance which took them to several regions,however they went through tough times during their stay aftertheir hosts reportedly failed to pay for the expenses. Otherinformation reveal that Defao abandoned by his local promoters.Sometimes this week, the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic ofCongo (DRC) to Tanzania, Theodore Mugalu was quoted as sayingthat his embassy would put to task the promoter for abandoningthe musicians. The promoter has not reacted so far and theimmigration officer did not say if the musicians would be takento court or not.
Government deports 104 prohibitedimmigrants (The Post, 30/01) - The immigrationdepartment yesterday deported 104 prohibited immigrants (PIs).The immigrants were ferried in Euro Africa buses from LusakaCentral and Kamwala prisons to neighbouring countries. Otherswere picked up in Kabwe and Kitwe. Immigration departmentspokesman Greenwell Lyempe said of the 104 deported, 87 wereCongolese, 11 were Tanzanians, 5 were from Kenya and 1 fromUganda. Lyempe said those from the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) would be ferried to Kasumbalesa while those from EastAfrica would be taken to Nakonde. He said yesterday's exercisewas the first and there would be some more deportations. "Wehad the wish of removing them but funding was a problem," hesaid. Lyempe said the Human Rights Commission (HRC) had assistedin finding the money to ferry the deportees. He said theimmigration department would soon carry out another exerciseinvolving PIs that hail from overseas. Lyempe also disclosed thatthe department yesterday arrested six illegal immigrants. He saidtwo of those arrested were Chinese while the other four were fromPakistan.
Refugees on half-ration as foodstocks drop (Irin, 18/01) - Food shortages and anincrease in the number of people fleeing to Zambia has forcedhumanitarian agencies to put all refugees on half ration. UNrefugee agency UNHCR said in a statement on Thursday that therefugees came mainly from the neighbouring countries of Angolaand the Democratic Republic of Congo. "Due to the increasein the number of refugees and insufficient resources, right nowwe have been obliged to put all the refugees on half ration,including new arrivals. This has resulted in an increase in casesof malnutrition, especially among newly arrived refugees,"the statement said. "The new arrivals are already in badshape and there is malnutrition, especially among thechildren," UNHCR spokesman Kelvin Shimo told IRIN. He saidrefugees had been on half-ration for about two weeks, but it washoped that the situation would return to normal soon. "ByFebruary the situation will be rectified as we are expecting morefood stocks to arrive in the country," he said. The UNHCRstatement said 40,000 new refugees were registered in Zambia fromJanuary to November 2001. As a result, the Nangweshi camp inWestern Province, receiving refugees from Angola, had reached itsmaximum capacity of 15,000. "The new arrivals at Nangweshi(8,000) are now being accommodated at a temporary site besidesNangweshi," it said. In addition, the Kala camp in Kawambwawas also reaching its maximum capacity of 25,000, making a newsite necessary for arriving refugees. The statement said theagency planned to build a new camp site to accommodate the newAngolan refugees currently at Nangweshi, and to extend the Kalacamp for Congolese refugees. It also wanted to registercamp-based refugees this year and would like to see refugees whohad been in Zambia for a long time becoming naturalised citizens.However, said UNHCR: "Perhaps the biggest challenge of allthis year will be tackling the root causes of the refugee crisisand finding durable solutions for them. This, needless to say,may be difficult ... It will require difficult politicalinitiatives and commitment of both the relevant countries and theinternational community."
Rise in refugee numbers brings cut infood rations (Sapa-AFP, Lusaka, 18/01) - Zambia lastyear took in so many refugees from wars in neighbouring countriesthat aid officials had to slash their food allowances, leading toincreased malnutrition, a UN official said Friday, warning of aneven bigger influx to come. Martine Bucumi, deputy residentrepresentative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)in the southern African country, said Zambia took in some 40,000people, notably from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC). As a result of the influx and insufficient resources, theUNHCR and its partners had to halve food rations to the refugees,she said. "This has resulted in an increase in cases ofmalnutrition, especially among newly-arrived refugees,"Bucumi added. "The number of new refugee arrivals intoZambia is expected to swell in 2002 if the situation in Angolaand DRC does not improve," he added. Millions of people havebeen forced from their homes as a result of the civil war inneighbouring Angola, which has raged continuously since thecountry became independent from Portugal in 1975. The latest of aseries of wars in in Zambia's northern neighbour, the DRC,erupted in 1998 when Rwanda and Uganda invaded the east of thecounry to back rebels against the government. That conflict haskilled an estimated 2.5 million people and sent yet more refugeesfleeing from the country. Zambia shelters more than 250,000refugees, a record in southern Africa. Bucumi Friday appealed tothe Zambian government to grant citizenship to refugees who havelived in the country for more than 30 years.
Refugee influx into Zambia expectedto increase in 2002 (The Post, 18/01) - The number ofrefugees fleeing into Zambia is expected to swell in 2002, UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) actingrepresentative to Zambia Martin Bucumii has disclosed. And Kalacamp in Kawambwa is also reaching its maximum holding capacity of25,000 people. Bucumii yesterday said the number would swell ifthe situation in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) does not improve. "As a consequence of the increasednumbers of refugees, Nangweshi refugee camp in Western Provincehas reached its maximum holding capacity of 15,000. The newarrivals at Nangweshi (8,000) are now being accommodated at atemporary site besides Nangweshi," Bucumii said. "Kalacamp in Kawambwa is also reaching its maximum holding capacity of25,000. The camp currently has 24, 559. A new site is alsorequired here to accommodate new arrivals." Bucumii said dueto the increase in the number of refugees and insufficientresources, all refugees have been put on half ration includingnew arrivals. "This has resulted in an increase in cases ofmalnutrition especially among newly arrived refugees," hesaid. Bucumii said logistics especially to reach Nangweshi in therainy season continued to challenge UNHCR in 2001 but the problemwas alleviated through the procurement of a 30 tonne boat."Similar logistics problem apply to Mayukwayukwa," hesaid. Bucumii said UNHCR would want to play a catalytic role in2002 in bridging the gap between relief and development."This is an initiative by UNHCR, through the government ofZambia, in which donors are being lobbied to render assistance torefugee hosting communities in areas such as agriculture, health,sanitation and roads," he said. Bucumii said UNHCR's wish isto see some refugees who have lived in Zambia for a long timebeing considered for naturalisation by the Zambian government. Hesaid the biggest challenge in 2002 would be tackling the rootcause of refugee crisis and find durable solutions for themthought it would be difficult. Bucumii said Zambia received 40,000 refugees from Angola and the DRC last year.
Drug enforcement commission arrests3,341 including 179 foreigners (The Post, Lusaka, 16/01) - TheDrug Enforcement Commission last year arrested 3, 341 peopletrafficking in illegal drugs with a total value of K12.7billion,commission spokesperson Nason Banda has disclosed. Banda saidalthough the majority of those arrested were Zambians, 179 wereforeign nationals. "Of all these arrests, 2,970 persons wereprosecuted and 2, 060 were convicted while 71 were acquitted bythe end of the year. This represents a conviction rate of 69 percent," he said. Banda said other cases were still goingthrough the court process. He said there was an increase of 61per cent in terms of arrests compared to the year 2000 and that153 persons who were addicted to various illegal drugs wereattended to under a rehabilitation programme. Banda said cannabishad dominated the amounts of seizures, representing 86 per cent,followed by Miraa/khat at 13 per cent with the rest of the drugsbeing heroin, hashish, hashish oil, diazepam, methaqualone,cocaine, ecstasy and some prescription drugs. He said of theforeign nationals arrested, 29 were from the Democratic Republicof Congo, 27 from Tanzania, 23 Angolans, 19 Somalians, 18Zimbabweans, 14 South Africans, 10 Indians, five British, fiveMalawians and three from Botswana. Banda also said DEC arrestedtwo from each of the following countries; Canada, Ireland, Ghana,America and Korea. The rest were a Swedish, a Ugandan, a German,a Dutch, a Greek, a Senegalese, a Belgian, a Kenyan, a Lebaneseand a Burundian.
More refugees expected, say churches(Irin, 16/01) - Zambia is expected to experience acontinued influx of refugees from Angola as fighting along theborder goes unchecked, the ACT network of churches andhumanitarian groups said this week in a project appeal document.The Lutheran World Federation/Zambia Christian Refugee Service(LWF/ZCRS) are the implementing agencies in a US $1.9 millionproposal to provide assistance to refugees crossing theAngolan-Zambian border and for their resettlement in Maheba(North West Province), Mayukwayukwa (Western Province), andUkwimi (Eastern Province). LWF/ZCRS would act as the UN refugeeagency UNHCR's lead agency in the three camps. "The totalnumber of new Angolan refugees in Zambia was estimated at 8,000in November 2001. More refugees are reported to be moving intoZambia for safety and numbers are likely to swell during thefirst half of 2002. Destitution among displaced populations ispredicted to increase. The refugees have little access to arableland and families survive on basic subsistence. They arrive inZambia with no food and in poor health. In addition infantmortality is high and malnutrition prevalent," the appealdocument said. According to ACT, the areas most affected byfighting in Angola during the last quarter of 2001 were inCazombo, Luvuei, Lumai and Lumbula Ngu'imbo. With Zambia'sNangweshi refugee camp having reached its 15,000 capacity, peoplefleeing into southern Zambia through the Shang'ombo border postare now being relocated to Mayukwayukwa. The majority of therefugees coming into Zambia are women and children. Theinsecurity spilled over into Zambia in November when 133 Zambianvillagers were abducted by Angolan soldiers, and seven weresubsequently killed. The Zambian Defence Force, deployed toborder positions and crossing points, subsequently killed 10Angolan government troops in a clash. "The movement of therefugees is adversely affecting immunisation and other healthprogrammes of GRZambia in areas bordering Angola. The Angolansoldiers have also been looting Zambian villages and killingcattle belonging to Zambian villagers. Four hundred Zambianvillagers in areas along the border were displaced during themonth of November 2001," ACT said.
Reporters barred from Zimbabwe(Financial Gazetter, 31/01) - The Zimbabweangovernment, which has until Sunday to allow the internationalmedia free access to cover March's presidential election or facetargeted European sanctions, this week refused representatives ofFrench-based Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres-RSF) visas to enter the country. RSF secretary-general RobertMenard said two representatives of the organisation who wished toenter Zimbabwe at the end of February to cover the March 9 and 10election were on Tuesday refused visas by officials at thecountry's Paris embassy because of their critical coverage ofZimbabwe. The officials claimed to have instructions from Harareto "ban" foreign journalists. "That refusal provesthat Zimbabwean authorities still have things to hide and theywould do everything to prevent that we know more about what ishappening in the country," Menard noted. "Thegovernment promised it would authorise foreign observers andjournalists to come. These are obviously lies designed toreassure the European Union (EU)." Zimbabwe journalists'unions yesterday said the government, which has been given untilFebruary 3 by the 15-nation EU to meet several conditions,including free access to the media and allowing in internationalelection observers, had in the last few weeks refused severalforeign reporters entry into Zimbabwe. Basildon Peta,secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, said:"I know of several journalists from Sweden, the BBC (BritishBroadcasting Corporation), the New York Times, the WashingtonPost, from Norway and Germany who have been refused entry.Zimbabwe has been a big story and they want to come here andcover the election." Although the government has in the pastsaid Zimbabwean law required foreign journalists to seekaccreditation before entering Zimbabwe, Andrew Meldrum, anexecutive committee member of the Foreign Correspondents'Association of Zimbabwe, said: "I don't think it's a law,it's their procedure now. "In the past, even last year,journalists could routinely come to Harare Airport and they wouldbe let in and would have 24 hours to register with immigration.They would go and get accreditation from the Ministry ofInformation and then go back to immigration." There was noimmediate comment from Information Minister Jonathan Moyo or hisSecretary George Charamba. Officials at their Harare offices saidboth men were yesterday attending a series of meetings. The EUsays it will ban President Robert Mugabe and his top officialsfrom travelling to EU states if his government prevents reportersfrom covering the election, does not allow poll observers to dotheir work effectively, or if the government fails to curtailstate-sponsored violence against opponents, or if the election isjudged not to be free and fair. The EU will also freeze overseasassets of Mugabe and his officials and slap a ban on arms exportsto Zimbabwe, virtually re-enacting the same embargo alreadyhanging over Mugabe's head from the United States government.Mugabe denies he has any assets abroad.
DA to lobby for protection of SouthAfrican property in Zimbabwe (Sapa, Johannesburg,31/01) - TheDemocratic Alliance would petition government to intervene toprotect property owned by South African citizens in Zimbabwe, DAFree State leader Andries Botha said on Thursday. "To set upa register of South African property in Zimbabwe we call on allSouth African citizens whose property, both urban and rural, hasbeen seized or is under threat of seizure, to forward theinformation to the DA." Botha said that various foreignnationals have had their property seized by the ZANU-PFgovernment and that some of these seizures were illegal, evenunder current Zimbabwe legislation. Germany had challengedZimbabwe's authorities on behalf of their citizens and had theseizure of German property reversed. "The DA will use thisregister to petition the South African government to do the samefor its citizens," Botha said.
Embassies make contingency plans(Financial Gazette, 24/01) - "The Australiangovernment will do all it can to provide assistance toAustralians in Zimbabwe should the situation deteriorate and thegovernment has got in place a range of contingency plans for whatmight occur," Australian High Commissioner to ZimbabweJonathan Brown said. "But we are not evacuating Australians.We had plans in place during the legislative elections in June2000, but we didn't evacuate Australians," he told theFinancial Gazette. The American embassy and the British HighCommission said they had contingency plans for their diplomaticmissions worldwide, but had no immediate plans to evacuate theirnationals from Harare. A British High Commission spokeswoman saidweekend reports that her country was planning to evacuate 25 000British passport holders resident in Zimbabwe were "whollyinaccurate". Meanwhile German embassy counsellor WernerKoehler said the Germans were still assessing the situation."We are trying to assess the situation and see what risksare there," he said. "There are contingency plansworldwide, but we are trying to see what needs to be done."An estimated 1 500 Germans, 1 250 Americans and 900 Australiansare resident in Zimbabwe, which has seen hundreds of locals andforeigners leaving the country in the last few months inanticipation of escalating violence in the run-up to the poll.Opposition parliamentarians in Austria this week protestedagainst a deal in which an Austrian firm sold 66 vehicles to theZimbabwe National Army (ZNA). Reports from Austria said theopposition legislators were worried that the vehicles were beingused to transport youth militias and war veterans spearheadingPresident Robert Mugabe's campaign for re-election on March 9 and10. The Green Party, an Austrian opposition party, has sincedemanded that the Austrian government tightens a law thatregulates Austrian trade in military products. The law forbidsAustrian firms from selling military equipment to countriesinvolved in war or to places where the likelihood of war breakingout is high. But the reports from Austria said the Steyrvehicles, which were delivered to the ZNA over a month ago, werenot covered by this law because they were not fitted with gunsand other special devices. They were largely considered to bemere transport vehicles. This was why Steyr Special Vehicles(Pvt) Limited, the firm that sold the vehicles, did not needspecial permission from Austria's Foreign and Internal AffairsMinistry before entering the deal with the Zimbabwe government.But the Green Party this week said the Austrian government shouldwiden the law to include the vehicles sold to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe turns away Madagascarjournalist on holiday (Sapa-AFP, Harare, 24/01) - Ajournalist from Madagascar who had planned to spend her vacationwith friends in Zimbabwe was turned away when she arrived at theairport in Harare, she told AFP Thursday from Johannesburg. NivoSahondra Randriamasimanana, a journalist for a French magazine,Capricorne, was allowed to stay at the airport only a few minutesbefore being put on the first plane leaving for Johannesburg.Passports from Madagascar state the holder's profession, and whenimmigration authorities saw the word "journalist" theydid not even ask whether she had come to Zimbabwe for work or fortourism, she said. "They really treated me like acriminal," Randriamasimanana said. Tourists to Zimbabwe cannormally pay for a visa at the airport in Harare, but journalistscoming to report on the country must apply one month in advancefrom their home country for a special visa. Harare's state-runHerald newspaper reported Thursday that several British and SouthAfrican journalists have entered the country on tourist visaswhen they actually planned to write articles on Zimbabwe.European and South African passports do not indicate aprofession. "Our net is closing in on them, and we should beable to account for all of them before the close of the day"Thursday, presidential spokesman George Charamba said. Zimbabwe'sgovernment has stepped up pressure on independent and foreignmedia in the run-up to the March 9-10 presidential election.Parliament is considering a new press bill that would banforeigners from working permanently as journalists in Zimbabweand would impose limits on how journalists can visit the countryto work.
Zimbabwe on hunt for foreignjournalists in the country (Sapa-AP, Harare, 24/01) - TheZimbabwean government hunted Thursday for foreign journalistsbelieved to have entered the country on tourist visas, agovernment-controlled newspaper reported. Meanwhile, thecountry's parliament was scheduled to debate a harsh media billthat free press groups said would destroy Zimbabwe's independentmedia. Under current media regulations, all foreign journalistsneed to be accredited by the government before entering theviolence-wracked country. When those regulations were adoptedlast year, local officials said the accreditation process wouldsimply be a formality. But Zimbabwe has refused nearly allapplications from foreign journalists in recent months. TheHerald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, reported Thursday thatseveral foreign reporters had entered the country on touristvisas in recent days, violating Zimbabwean law. The journalists,from British and South African publications, were staying inlocal hotels or in "safe houses" run by the oppositionMovement for Democratic Change, the newspaper reported. Thegovernment planned to round up those journalists, said GeorgeCharamba, a government spokesman, according to the newspaper."Our net is closing in on them, and we should be able toaccount for all of them before the close of the day(Thursday)," he said. Charamba did not say what thegovernment intended to do with the journalists it caught.Officials from the government and the ruling ZANU-PF party haveaccused foreign journalists and local independent reporters ofaiding opposition officials, whom the government calls"terrorists." The hunt was only the latest crackdown onindependent reporting in Zimbabwe, which has descended intoviolence, chaos and economic collapse as part of a ruling partycampaign to suppress the opposition in advance of presidentialelections scheduled for March. More than a dozen independentreporters have been arrested in recent months and others havebeen assaulted by ruling party militants. Printing presses of TheDaily News, the only independent daily newspaper, were destroyedin a bomb attack last year soon after officials described thepaper as an opposition mouthpiece and a threat to nationalsecurity. On Wednesday, Parliament had been scheduled to debate arevised version of a harsh media bill that free speech advocatessaid was an effort to muzzle the press in advance of theelections. However, debate was postponed for a second day amidreports that even ruling party members found the bill too harsh.Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, the chief architect of thebill, was quoted in The Herald Thursday as denying there was anydissension within the party. Despite the amendments, the billwould still make it illegal for anyone to work as a journalist inZimbabwe without state approval, and would allow foreigncorrespondents into the country only with advance accreditationto cover specific news events. The bill also outlined a range ofrestrictions on reporting. Violations would be punishable by upto two years in jail. About 100 opposition activists and ninewhite farmers have died since political violence began in March2000.
US says citizens should considerdelaying travel to Zimbabwe (Sapa-AFP, Washington, 23/01) - TheUnited States on Wednesday said US citizens should considerdelaying planned trips to Zimbabwe until at least the end of nextmonth after March 9 and 10 elections. The State Department saidin a statement that the security situation in the country aheadof the polls was deteriorating as President Robert Mugabe movesto fight off the biggest challenge yet to his 22-year term inoffice from opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. "UScitizens residing in or traveling to Zimbabwe should be aware ofcontinuing conditions that could adversely affect their personalsecurity in the period preceding, during and possibly immediatelyafter, the presidential election," it said. It urgedAmericans now in Zimbabwe to exercise caution when travelingwithin the country, avoid demonstrations and "refrain fromtaking pictures or videos of political rallies.""American citizens should consider postponement ofnon-essential travel until at least March 31, 2002," itadded. The statement noted that Mugabe, whom the State Departmenthas harshly criticized in recent months, had pushed through atough new security law that makes it illegal to undermine thepresident's authority or engender hostility towards him,including speaking negatively about him in public. The law alsomakes it a crime to speak negatively of the police. EarlierWednesday, Zimbabwe's parliament delayed debate on a bill thatwould impose heavy curbs on local press and ban foreignjournalists from working permanently in the country.
Zimbabwe citizens flock to SouthAfrica (Financial Gazette, 17/01) - EmbattledPresident Robert Mugabe and his administration faced growinginternational pressure this week, with the United Statesgovernment, the influential International Crisis Group (ICG) andAmnesty International all calling for tougher and punitivemeasures if the government does not abandon its increasinglyautocratic policies. The pressure mounted amid reports thatZimbabwean refugees had already started trekking intoneighbouring South Africa at the rate of at least 500 a day.Britain and other leading Commonwealth nations such as Australia,New Zealand and Canada were this week already calling forZimbabwe's suspension from the club of Britain and its formercolonies if Harare's repression continues. Washington demandedthat the Zimbabwe government repudiates a statement by thecountry's armed forces last week that they would not recogniseany president who had no credentials of the country's 1970sindependence war. "We call upon the government to disavowthe statements made by the chief of the defence forces," USState Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington.The chairman of the US Congress' Africa Committee Ed Royceyesterday called for sanctions on Mugabe and his top lieutenantsduring a visit to South Africa. Royce said the US government wasaware of significant deposits that were being made in Americanbanks by Mugabe's allies and army generals. He urged the Americangovernment to quickly locate the accounts ahead of a possibledecision to freeze them. The ICG, regarded as the politicalthink-tank of the 15-nation Eropean Union (EU), also this weekurged Southern Africa Development (SADC) governments to take thelead in imposing sanctions against Mugabe and his administration."SADC leaders should insist that President Mugabe upholdsprinciples to which all southern African governments have alreadyagreed, in particular standards of free and fair elections,"the ICG said in its latest media briefing on Zimbabwe. TheBrussels-based ICG is chaired by former Finnish president MarttiAhtisaari and its president is former Australian foreign ministerGareth Evans. It said because of growing government-sponsoredlawlessness, at least 500 Zimbabweans were entering South Africaeach day and warned the flood of refugees would get worse unlessSADC leaders took rapid action. Echoing the ICG's position,global human rights watchdog Amnesty International told SADCleaders not to become accomplices in what it branded as Mugabe'srepressive policies through their "quiet diplomacy". Iturged them to apply more pressure on the Zimbabwean leader.Amnesty said the EU, which last week was promised by Mugabe itwould be allowed to send international observers for thepresidential election in March, must begin deploying theobservers by the end of next week to ensure the ballot is fullymonitored. United Nations boss Kofi Annan weighed in with astatement which criticised the government for abusing itsparliamentary majority to promulgate despotic laws which he said"severely restrict the ability of political parties tocampaign freely and limit the freedom of the Press". Mugabepledged to end political violence, uphold human rights and toconduct a free and fair poll on March 9 and 10 during thejust-ended SADC summit held in Malawi, although he has failed tokeep these promises before. The government, which last weekpassed two tough laws which curtail most basic freedoms by givingsweeping powers to the security forces, is next week expected toapprove a new draconian law seen silencing Zimbabwe's small butvibrant independent media.
Britain temporarily freezesdeportation of asylum seekers to Zimbabwe (Sapa-AP, London,15/01) - Britain temporarily halted deportations ofasylum-seekers to Zimbabwe Tuesday after Home Secretary DavidBlunkett called for a review of the situation in the southernAfrican country. A Home Office spokesman said nobody had beendeported Monday and the ban would remain for 24 hours while anassessment was carried out. Zimbabwe has seen growing unrest inthe run-up to a presidential election in March. Government-backedmilitants beat and critically injured several oppositionactivists over the weekend and burned down an opposition partyoffice. President Robert Mugabe also is backing a bill that wouldban foreign journalists from working in the country and requirelocal journalists to register with the government or face up totwo years in jail. In Britain, opposition politicians andrefugees groups have asked the government to stop deportingZimbabwean asylum seekers. Some are opposition activists who saythey face the possibility of being killed or tortured by Mugabe'ssecret police. "There is a real possibility that this willsave lives," said Nick Hardwick, chief executive of theRefugee Council. "In the short term we hope the Home Officewill listen to experts when updating their country assessment. Inthe longer term we urge the Home Office to establish anindependent body to produce country assessments so that thissituation does not arise again." Conservative Partyforeign-affairs spokesman Oliver Letwin said the suspension ofdeportations was "a victory for common sense." PrimeMinister Tony Blair's official spokesman said an updated countryassessment of the situation in Zimbabwe would be issued toimmigration officials shortly. "We do have concerns inrelation to the position there and that is obviously beingmonitored very closely," the spokesman said on customarycondition of anonymity.
Britain reviews policy on deportingZimbabwean asylum seekers (Sapa-DPA, London, 14/01) - Britainis to review its policies on deporting illegal Zimbabweanimmigrants to their country of origin, following expressions offear for their safety under the Mugabe regime, Prime MinisterTony Blair's office said in London on Monday. An "updatedcountry assessment" of the situation in Zimbabwe would beissued to immigration officials shortly, an official spokesmansaid without specifying exactly when this would occur. "Wedo have concerns in relation to the position there and that isobviously being monitored very closely," he added. Airlinesare reported to have refused to fly deportees from Britain toZimbabwe after being approached by human rights organizationsregarding their treatment on arrival. Blair said on Sunday thatanyone with a legitimate claim for asylum would stay, but thatthose without such a claim would be sent back. Also on SundayBlair spoke to South African President Thabo Mbeki about thedeepening crisis in Zimbabwe in advance of a meeting of southernAfrican leaders - the Southern African Development Community(SADC) - in Malawi that began on Monday. Blair's office said thatduring their telephone call, Blair and Mbeki agreed the situationin Zimbabwe was very serious. "It is clearly deterioratingin a way that is giving everyone cause for concern," aspokesman said. New legislation muzzling the press and banningcriticism of President Robert Mugabe ahead of elections in Marchhas raised concerns in Britain, the former colonial power.
UK deportations to Zimbabwe tocontinue (Times of London, 14/01) - Britainsaid yesterday that it will continue to detain and deportZimbabwean asylum-seekers arriving in the country, despite agrowing outcry from refugee groups, human rights organisationsand opposition parties demanding that the policy be suspended.Amid increasing fears of a crackdown by President Mugabe's regimeon political opponents ahead of the presidential elections inMarch, the Home Office came under pressure at the weekend tosuspend its asylum rules, described by one Zimbabwean in Londonas "living in denial". Despite the criticism, the HomeOffice insisted yesterday that it was not prepared to soften itspolicy. "At the present time there is no change in thepolicy with regard to removals," a spokesman said. "Wewill only grant asylum to those who have a well founded fear ofpersecution." The tough Home Office stand seemed at oddswith the Foreign Office, which is supposed to advise othergovernment departments on foreign policy issues. Tony Blair spokeby telephone to President Mbeki of South Africa yesterday aboutthe worsening situation in Zimbabwe. The Prime Minister'sofficial spokesman said "The situation is clearlydeteriorating in a way that is giving everyone cause for concern."We are obviously having to keep a close eye in terms of thesituation there and what other measures can be put inplace." He said that asylum-seekers from Zimbabwe wouldcontinue to be judged on the individual merits of their case. Buthe added "Clearly, the fact that the situation hasdeteriorated means it will be having an effect in relation topeople's asylum claims." Earlier, Baroness Amos, the ForeignOffice Minister responsible for Africa, predicted that, becauseof repressive legislation passed in Harare, Zimbabweans would beunlikely to have free and fair elections on March 9. Britain ispressing for the Commonwealth to suspend Zimbabwe's membershipbecause of the human rights abuses, and is pushing for theEuropean Union to impose sanctions against Mr Mugabe and hisruling elite. The only person willing to defend Zimbabwe's humanrights record is Mr Mugabe, who accused Mr Blair of being a liarfor criticising his methods and said that he condemned violenceand wanted only to live in peace. But his own countrymen have notbeen convinced. Yesterday Dingilizwe Ntuli, a Zimbabweanjournalist working for a South African paper, fled the countryafter he was denounced as a "terrorist" on televisionby Jonathan Moyo, the Information Minister. Hundreds ofZimbabweans facing similar threats have sought refuge in Britainsince politically inspired violence erupted nearly two years ago,aimed at members of the main opposition Movement for DemocraticChange, white farmers, journalists or anyone seen as a threat toMr Mugabe. Less than 10 per cent have been permitted to stay, butabout 10 to 15 new refugees are arriving each week and there arefears of "an avalanche" as the violence worsens. AlanWilkinson, a director of the Zimbabwe Association, which offerssupport to 180 Zimbabwean asylum-seekers in Britain, describedthe Home Office system of detention and deportation as"brutal". He said that those deported were at risk oftheir lives. "We have had cases of people dragged off theplane at Harare and beaten by the Zimbabwean secret police,"he said. "We have had seven cases of Zimbabweans deportedfrom London who promised to get in touch with us on their returnbut have disappeared without a trace." Those concerns havebeen taken up by a broad group of sympathisers, including theConservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Refugee Council, theUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and AmnestyInternational. Oliver Letwin, the Shadow Home Secretary, accusedthe Government of a "massive bureaucratic muddle" inits handling of Zimbabwean asylum-seekers and called on DavidBlunkett, the Home Secretary, to halt all deportations. "Thewhole purpose of our asylum system is to protect people in thisposition," he said. Nick Hardwick, chief executive of theRefugee Council, said "There is a real possibility thatpeople's lives are at risk now . The Home Office needs to takeimmediate and urgent action." The UNHCR said Britain shouldhalt all deportations to Zimbabwe for six months. "Those whohave sought asylum in the UK should be offered safe haven,"a spokeswoman said. "Their return to Zimbabwe...couldseriously jeopardise their physical safety, their liberty andtheir lives."
Britain may halt deportations ofZimbabweans (Irish Times, 14/01) - TheBritish government is closely monitoring developments in Zimbabwein the run-up to the presidential election in March, whichPresident Robert Mugabe is almost certain to win. The atmospherein the country is becoming increasingly volatile and last week MrMugabe guided legislation through the Zimbabwean parliamentbanning foreign journalists and imposing further restrictions onfreedom of speech. But following an investigation into the plightof Zimbabwean asylum-seekers refused refugee status in Britain,yesterday's Observer newspaper revealed that many who had linksto the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had beenarrested, attacked or had disappeared on their return. In somecases, the Observer report claimed, President Mugabe's secretpolice were searching for the returned asylum-seekers and had"infiltrated" detention centres in Britain whereZimbabweans were being held. A Home Office official acknowledgedthat "we can't categorically say that someone has not beenill-treated on return" to Zimbabwe, but insisted it was"sometimes a very hard decision" to deport anasylum-seeker. "The UK is aware the situation in Zimbabwehas deteriorated and if the situation deteriorated enough ceasingdeportations is something we would consider," he said. Lastweek a Zimbabwean political dissident was being deported fromBritain despite his claim of facing "anything betweentorture and death" upon his return. The BBC claimed at least20 other people have been sent back to Zimbabwe since December22nd.
Declan Walsh adds:
President Mugabe accused Britain of being at "war" withZimbabwe as he arrived in Malawi to seek support from his worriedsouthern African neighbours at a meeting today. "Britain hasa war with us, Blair wants his own version of colonialism inZimbabwe and we will resist that," he said before a specialconference of the 14-country Southern African DevelopmentCommunity (SADC). Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe the Commercial FarmersUnion reported that another 23 white families had been violentlyforced from their homes in the last week. The SADC meeting wascalled to discuss the Congo war but analysts said it was likelyto be dominated by backroom talks on Zimbabwe. Many of the SADCleaders fought liberation wars against white oppressors and havebeen reticent to criticise President Mugabe. However, repressivenew laws combined with an army statement threatening theopposition saw several countries join with internationalexpressions of concern about the deteriorating situation. Aspokesman for South Africa said "the situation is notacceptable to us". That position appeared to have softenedyesterday when the Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Aziz Pahad, toldreporters that "quiet diplomacy" was the way to resolvethe crisis. The European Union has threatened to imposesanctions, possibly from the end of this month. EU officialssecured an undertaking on Friday that international observerswill be allowed to witness -- but not monitor -- the elections onMarch 9th-10th. The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, andthe South Africa President, Mr Thabo Mbeki, discussed the crisisby telephone before yesterday's SADC conference, officials said."I don't think we are going to get the kind of strongstatement suggesting that Mugabe is now totally isolated in theregion, which he is," a Zimbabwean political analyst, MrBrian Raftopoulos, said.
Deported Zimbabwe asylum-seekers facedeath, say angry UK refugee groups (Observer, 13/01) -
Deportation of Zimbabwean from UK(Observer, 13/01) - They were waitingfor him at the airport, just as he feared. Gerald Muketiwa wasstill recovering from the eight-hour flight to Harare whenBritish immigration officers handed him over to their Zimbabweancounterparts. But the airport officials were not what theyseemed. They were members of Zimbabwe's feared CentralIntelligence Organisation. Muketiwa was a youth organiser for theopposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and had tried toclaim asylum in Britain. Instead of offering sanctuary, Britaindeported him. The Zimbabwean secret police had been monitoringhis progress and now was their chance. As he was whisked off forinterrogation, one of the CIO men leaned over and told Muketiwawith a smile 'We've been looking for you, Mr Muketiwa. You havesold out our country and you are going to prison for a long time.What have you been saying in the UK?' Muketiwa's tale, recountinglast week from a secret location in South Africa, soundsextraordinary, but an Observer investigation has discovered thatscores of members of opposition parties in Zimbabwe face beingsent back to President Mugabe's regime with little regard fortheir safety. Some already have been. Most of them justifiablysay they face imprisonment, torture or death upon their return.The CIO monitors every flight to Harare from London, looking fordeportees. Passenger lists are passed to agents in the airportbefore landing. They are then met as they come off the planes.Such facts have been ignored by the British Government. Attemptsare made almost daily to send card-carrying MDC members back toHarare from Gatwick and Heathrow. In many cases the deportees'claims have been rejected outright as 'manifestly unfounded',despite their MDC credentials and the clear evidence of killingsand beatings meted out to MDC supporters in Zimbabwe. This hasbrought calls from many campaigners for deportations to besuspended.
In other cases deportees are put on flightsbefore they have had time to call their lawyers or arediscouraged from speaking publicly about their plight. Somedeportees say they have been lied to in order to persuade themonto flights. Despite Foreign Office warnings of thedeteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, the Home Office is using itsown assessment, which has not been updated since October. Evensome Labour politicians warn that the Home Office is nowout-of-date and ignoring the growing dangers. 'The Home Officetends to be slow to change. It is self-evident that there is amajor difference between the Foreign Office and Home Office viewon what is going on in Zimbabwe,' said Neil Gerrard, Labour headof parliament's refugee group. The result is a processing systemthat human rights groups claim is designed to send backZimbabweans as quickly as possible with little regard for theirlives. 'It is hard to imagine that a Home Office official couldfeel happy in their own mind about sending them to Zimbabwe. Itis a nearly catastrophic situation,' said a spokesman for AmnestyInternational. People who try to work against the system are evenmore forthright. Lawyer Zoe Stevens has eight MDC Zimbabweanclients. All their claims were immediately rejected. She isfighting their appeals. She believes she might be fighting fortheir lives. 'We might as well cut out the middlemen and torturethem ourselves. I feel ashamed about it all,' she said. ForGodfrey Dube the experience of British justice was brutal. An MDCmember bearing scars from government mob beatings he received inZimbabwe, Dube was refused asylum and led onto a British Airwaysflight on Christmas Eve. Terrified of being sent home hestruggled and was beaten. Eventually, handcuffed and bleeding hewas put on the plane where he begged passengers to help him. Inthe end a concerned BA hostess insisted he could not fly. 'Whenshe saw I was bleeding, she made a fuss and took me off. Then Irang home to my mother that night and she said they (the CIO) hadbeen waiting for me,' Dube said.
But such stories do not stop the attempteddeportations. They happen almost every night. Last Wednesday PaulChidziva, an opposition activist for the small Bulawayo-basedLiberty Party, was just minutes from being bundled onto a SouthAfrican Airways plane when the airline refused to take him. Hebelieves his chances would have been small had he been sent back.Mugabe's men would have pounced. 'Only 1 per cent of people getout of their hands,' he said. Chidziva was then told he had fivedays to speak to his lawyers. Yet a second attempt was made todeport him less than 24 hours later. This time Virgin Atlanticrefused to take him and contacted Amnesty International tocomplain. Despite on Friday being given the right to a judicialreview, immigration officials again sought to deport him thatnight. Only after a last-minute phone call from The Observer washe taken off a flight for the third time in a week. Not all areso lucky. Last Monday night three Zimbabweans were deported. Theywere sent to Harare. It is not known what happened to them. Thereare around 180 Zimbabweans stranded in British detention centres.Their stories are similar. Most are low-ranking MDC members,usually teachers or journalists, who have fled the relentlesspressure of Mugabe's thugs. They end up in places like Yarl'sWood Immigration Detention Centre. Sited at the end of a long andwinding country lane near Bedford, the former army base is a grimand forbidding place. Even the system is against them. Last weekcampaigner Lord Avebury officially complained about vital faxesfrom lawyers being delayed by up to 36 hours before they arehanded to detainees. As some claimants are only given 24 hoursnotice before being put on planes, such a delay could be a matterof life and death.
Contact with the outside world is discouraged.All phone calls have to be paid for. Avebury recently phoned andasked one detainee to compile a list of Zimbabweans inside Yarl'sWood. That night the detainee was woken at 1.45am to be quizzedon the call and then had his right of movement restricted.Avebury has launched a complaint about this treatment, too. Evensocial visitors to Yarl's Wood are not allowed to take anypossessions with them to meet the detainees. When The Observervisited Ngulube last week, not even a notebook was allowed in. Noreason was given. Such conditions, coupled with the boredom, aregimented lifestyle and poor food, can have a devastating effecton the inmates, most of whom are young professionals who havefled for their lives. 'I know people in here who are now addictedto sleeping pills. We are all used to having our own lives,working. It's terrible being in here and just doing nothing,'Ngulube said. But the greatest fear is still the dreaded CIO. Andthey have a long reach. Speaking from inside CampsfieldImmigration Detention Centre near Oxford, one Zimbabwean detaineedetailed allegations that a fellow inmate was a CIO spy, posingas an asylum-seeker to gain information on MDC members detainedin Britain. Kenneth, who would only agree to his first name beingused, said his suspicions were raised when a fellow Zimbabweandetainee took him aside. 'He started saying that the immigrationauthorities were asking questions about me and when I checkedthis out I discovered it was not true,' he said. Kenneth said hethen told Campsfield officials about the incident and theyadmitted that they knew infiltration was a problem. The suspectedagent later disappeared from the centre. It is not known if hewas removed by the authorities to another centre or deported.Immigration officials said they could not comment on individualcases.
Detainees who spoke to The Observer said CIOagents came to Britain to claim asylum knowing full well thatthey will be detained and enter the detention system. They saidthe spies have been known to pass information to the Zimbabweanembassy and threaten dissidents with reprisals should they returnhome. It is an allegation being taken seriously. The RefugeeCouncil believes that several foreign intelligence agencies haveinfiltrated Britain's asylum system hunting for dissidents whohave escaped their grasp at home. They believe it is only to beexpected that the CIO would be one of them. 'It clearly happens.There will be people in the system who are working for theirgovernments,' said Nick Hardwick, chief executive of the RefugeeCouncil. Since mid-December Amnesty International has documentedat least 10 killings of opposition supporters by pro-governmentmilitia. They include Laban Chiweta, burned to death in the townof Trojan Mine, and Milton Chambati, whose head was hacked off byso-called war veterans. Things are getting worse. Mugabe has tocall a presidential election before the end of March. A brutalcrackdown is in place, stamping on the remaining civil libertiesin the economically devastated country. 'It is almost a civil warsituation,' an Amnesty spokesman said. Not that the Home Officeagrees. There are no plans to consider a suspension ofdeportations until the situation becomes safer, despite a floodof appeals to do so from politicians of all parties and from someof the largest human rights groups in the world, including theUnited Nations High Commission for Refugees.'There is a very realand immediate threat to the lives and safety of some of those whoreturn. It is more serious than any other country's situation atthe moment,' Hardwick said. Returning could be a death sentence.Gerald Muketiwa almost discovered that. In the airport policestation where he was being held he asked to use a toilet. To hisamazement they agreed. Then, folding up already tattered and tornclothes, he squeezed through a tiny window and ran for his life.'I had to get out of there. I just knew I had to take my chance.These were CIO and these people are no joke,' he said. Muketiwaescaped with his life. Others may not, say critics, and Britainwill be to blame.
British Airways halts Zimbabwedeportation (Guardian, 14/01) - BritishAirways has refused outright to accept a Home Office directive tofly a deportee from Gatwick to Zimbabwe, it was disclosedyesterday, as ministers gave their first hint that they arepreparing to halt the expulsion of that country's failed asylumseekers. The hint comes amid rising fears that deportees facearrest by President Robert Mugabe's secret police. It alsoemerged yesterday that Home Office officials have suspended theexpulsion from Heathrow of another Zimbabwean asylum seeker.Although the department said there was not going to be "asuspension of removals at this point", the officialstatement stressed that ministers acknowledge that the situationin Zimbabwe has deteriorated and are monitoring the situationvery closely. The shift represents a softening in tone comparedwith the line taken last week when the two planned deportationswere being finalised. Ministers have the power to halt thedeportation of rejected asylum seekers - some with links to theopposition Movement for Democratic Change - if they officiallydeclare Zimbabwe to be a "country in upheaval". Thepower was used twice by former home secretary Jack Straw. Many ofthose sent back to the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, from Britainhave had their asylum applications rejected on the basis of anoutdated country assessment. There have been claims that somehave been arrested or attacked on their return to Zimbabwe, whileothers have gone into hiding. Yesterday the Home Office said"We do recognise that genuine Movement for Democratic Changeactivists may well merit asylum." Downing Street later saidthat Tony Blair had discussed the situation in Zimbabwe withSouth African president Thabo Mbeki on Saturday. BA's refusal wasin defiance of a directive to put a deportee on the 9.15pm Harareflight on Friday. The airline invoked its power to refuse if itsees "reasonable grounds" under the 1971 ImmigrationAct. Yesterday a BA spokesman said "We felt there werereasonable grounds and so the man did not board." It wasclaimed that the planned Heathrow deportation, on the same day,was suspended because the Home Office received new evidence fromthe asylum seeker's lawyers. Over the weekend the UN refugeeagency lent its support to those urging the British government tosuspend deportations to Zimbabwe. "The United Nations HighCommissioner for Refugees is gravely concerned about the serioushuman rights violations in Zimbabwe," said AnneDawson-Shepherd, the agency's UK representative. "Those whohave sought asylum in the UK should be offered a safe haven andall deportations stopped. Their return to Zimbabwe under currentcircumstances could seriously jeopardise their physical safety,their liberty and their life." The UNHCR said the Mugabegovernment had sanctioned extra-judicial executions, hostagetaking and torture, and targeted violence in the run-up to thepresidential elections in March. Its plea has been endorsed byAmnesty International, which complained that immigration officershad ignored the recent intensification of attacks on oppositionsupporters, and the daily deterioration in the situation, whenrejecting applications from Zimbabwean refugees. The RefugeeCouncil has also called for the home secretary, David Blunkett,to take immediate and urgent action and the shadow homesecretary, Oliver Letwin, is pressing him for an all-partymeeting this week to discuss the issue. In a further statement, aHome Office spokesman said "We are aware of the concernsexpressed internationally about events in that country. We willgrant asylum to those who have well-founded fear ofpersecution."
Britain urged to act on Zimbabweasylum-seekers (Sapa-AFP, London, 12/01) - UK deportations toZimbabwe to continue (Times of London, 14/01) - Britain'sHome Secretary David Blunkett was urged to take urgent actionover claims that Zimbabwean asylum seekers deported by Britainface torture or death at the hands of President Robert Mugabe'ssecret police, a British Sunday paper said. Asylum seekers withlinks to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have beenarrested or attacked on their return to Zimbabwe, The Observerreported. Others have disappeared or gone into hiding whileMugabe's police search for them. Nick Hardwick, chief executiveof the Refugee Council, said: "The Home Office instinctivelywants to keep people out. "There is a real possibility thatpeople's lives are at risk now. The Home Office needs to takeimmediate and urgent action." Shadow home secretary OliverLetwin called for an all-party crisis meeting to discuss theissue and for an immediate suspension of deportations until thesituation in Zimbabwe was clear. He said: "The situation hasgone from the ridiculous to the sublimely ridiculous. "Thewhole purpose of our asylum system is to protect people in thisposition. It is a massive bureaucratic muddle." Thenewspaper said it had also uncovered evidence that manyZimbabwean asylum seekers are being automatically refused asylumand denied access to proper legal representation. They were alsobeing intimidated from speaking out by detention centre staff andassaulted as they are forced onto aircraft, it said. "Thereis not going to be a suspension of removals at this point, but weare continuing to monitor the situation very closely," aHome Office spokesman told the paper. "We will grant asylumto those who have well-founded fears of persecution," headded. There is also evidence that officers working for Mugabe'sCentral Intelligence Organisation have infiltrated detentioncentres in Britain where Zimbabwean asylum seekers are held, thenewspaper said.
UK report on Zimbabwean refugeesslammed (Guardian, 10/01) - The HomeOffice's assessment report on Zimbabwe - used by immigrationadjudicators to decide whether to grant asylum to refugees - hasbeen severely criticised by a leading immigration specialist forbeing out of date and misleading. The analysis by Terence Ranger,president of the British Zimbabwe Society, is endorsed byvoluntary organisations in an investigation conducted by theGuardian. Concern about the continuing fast-track removal ofZimbabwean asylum seekers from Britain has increased as PresidentRobert Mugabe's supporters have intensified their campaign ofterror against members of the opposition Movement for DemocraticChange. Ten MDC members have been killed in the last two weeks.Observers believe the situation will get worse as the springpresidential election approaches. Most Zimbabwean asylum seekers- averaging 160 a month - are detained in Oakington detentioncentre, near Cambridge, where they face the fast-track procedurebased on the assumption that their claims have no merit.Professor Ranger was asked to prepare a critique of theassessment reports which were published last April and updated inOctober. He described the April assessment as "essentiallycompilations of press cuttings and little analysis" and theOctober update as "shamefully half-hearted... a waste ofeveryone's time". While recognising that the reports sayZimbabwe is a dangerous place for many people, Prof Ranger arguesthat the Home Office analysis places too much emphasis on theplight of white farmers and omits references to urban violence byMr Mugabe's Zanu-PF supporters and the targeting of blackprofessionals in the countryside. The Home Office, which claimsto keep refugee-generating countries under constant review, saysthe groups which receive the assessment reports believe their"quality and accuracy are quite good". This was notreflected in comments gathered by the Guardian in London and byreports from Harare. Amnesty International said: "Reports oftorture, killings and intimidation have steadily escalated overthe past few months and these have been documented by Zimbabweanobservers on a weekly basis. None of this is reflected in theHome Office report." The Immigration Advisory Service tookissue with refusal letters which claimed low-level MDC memberswere not at risk. "MDC members are consistently targeted -low-level people as well as high-level people," it said. TheImmigration Law Practioners Association said the report"doesn't reflect the reality on the ground", while theRefugee Council pointed to a "clear contradiction betweenwhat the Foreign Office and the Home Office are saying about thesituation in Zimbabwe". The Medical Foundation for the Careof Victims of Torture said the Home Office appeared predisposedto disbelieve asylum seekers' evidence of torture. "In themain, applicants tend to be mid-ranking MDC members whose nameswere known to the authorities. Women victims of the Mugabe regimeare treated horrendously, with multiple rapes common," thefoundation said.
British MPs want deportations to stop(Zimbabwe Standard, 06/01) - Britain is underincreasing pressure to review its rampant deportation policytowards Zimbabweans in the face of an outcry by human rightsgroups and members of parliament who believe such a policyendangers the lives of genuine Zimbabwean asylum seekers. LiberalDemocrats in the British House of Lords last week called uponhome secretary David Blunkett to stop the deportations ofZimbabweans until the political upheaval in Britain's formercolony had subsided. The Liberal Democrats also expressed concernat the intensification of President Mugabe's terror campaignahead of the March presidential election. The plea by the LiberalDemocrats was issued jointly by the party's home affairsspokesperson Simon Hughes, Baroness Williams, the party's leaderin the Lords, and Lord Avebury, the Liberal Democrats foreignaffairs spokesman in the Lords. Said Hughes: "As thepresidential elections loom, President Mugabe is taking moresteps to curb the rights of opposition parties and the people. Itis clearly now not safe for people with any record of politicalparty activity to go back to Zimbabwe. "The government mustsuspend deportations until the Commonwealth Heads of Governmentagree that normality has returned and people can live in Zimbabwein safety and freedom." The campaign to allow Zimbabweanseasy passage into Britain has been joined by a number of humanrights groups opposed to the ill-treatment of would be Zimbabweanrefugees at the hands of the British authorities. Theorganisations have been running a series of campaigns against thedeportation of Zimbabweans. The British High Commission in Harareis, however, adamant that no special treatment will be meted outto Zimbabweans. In a statement to The Standard on Friday, TinaWicke, the third secretary ( political/public affairs)at the HighCommission, said Zimbabweans seeking asylum would be treated asindividual cases but would not be accorded special treatment."The United Kingdom considers all applicants for asylum frompeople from any country in accordance with the criteria set outin the 1951 United nations Convention relating to the status ofrefugees. Any asylum applicant who can establish that they arebeing persecuted in their home country on the basis of theirrace, religion, nationality, membership of a social group orpolitical opinion would be granted asylum in the UnitedKingdom," she said. Violence against the opposition hasintensified with government-trained militias unleashing acountry-wide reign of terror. The youths, trained in a programmedisguised as a national service exercise, have allegedly killedfive people since December.
Blair's policy on refugees brandedracist (Sunday Times, London, 06/01) - Britishopposition parties and human rights activists have branded PrimeMinister Tony Blair's government hypocritical and racist after itvowed to continue sending Zimbabwean asylum-seekers home, despitethe fact that they face arrest and torture. The furore comesafter the British government - the most strident critic ofPresident Robert Mugabe - deported a Zimbabwean activist who, onarrival at Harare Airport last month , was arrested and allegedlytortured by members of Mugabe's feared Central IntelligenceOrganisation. Political violence continued to increase inZimbabwe this week as presidential elections, set for March,crept closer. At least 170 Zimbabweans are languishing in Britishdetention centres awaiting the results of their applications forasylum. Human rights activists fear they will be turned down andsent home where they face arrest, torture and possibly murder. Onaverage, three applications for asylum from Zimbabweans - mostlymembers of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change - arerefused by the British government every day, say activists of theBritish -based Zimbabwe Association. Seven MDC dissidents, somebearing scars allegedly inflicted by supporters of Mugabe'sZanu-PF party, are set to be deported to Zimbabwe this weekend,while 10 others have been allowed to appeal to stay after firstbeing rejected. Britain's parliamentary opposition parties, theConservatives and Liberal Democrats, have branded the governmenthypocritical for refusing to deport terror suspects to countrieswhere they might be tortured or killed , but continuing to deportZimbabweans fleeing human rights abuses. They have called onBlair's government to stop the deportations. Lord Rooker, theMinister of State for Citizenship and Immigration, has refused todo so. Simon Hughes, a leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:"It is clearly now not safe for people with any record ofpolitical party activity to go back to Zimbabwe. "Thegovernment must suspend deportations until the Commonwealth headsof government agree that normality has returned." Hughes andseveral other members of the House of Lords have asked Rooker tostop the imminent deportation of the seven Zimbabweans, but hehas refused to intervene. Rooker said he did "not acceptthat the situation was so serious that it requires suspension of[ deportations]". The Zimbabwe Association said no whiteZimbabweans had been detained or deported.
This page last updated 09 July 2004.