July 2002 - Click on the country title above theheadlines for the entire article.
SADC regional media 'under siege'
SADC unites on plan to sell ivory
Many hurdles before one African currency - Mboweni
Journalists awarded for bravery
Norwegians open their hearts, wallets to help famine victims
Refugees denied right to information
Southern African famine world's worst humanitarian disaster:WFP
SADC meets to find way forward to AU
AU born amid rumbles of division
SADC ministers strategise on food transportation
UN Health Agency foresees 300,000 deaths in Southern Africanfamine
SADC police in Southern Africa violating human rights: AmnestyInternational
US contributes 12.4 million dollars to feed African refugees
AU launched in Durban
Widespread infection from AIDS virus threatens to destabiliseAfrican nations
AIDS epidemic ravages survival chances of worst-hit countries
UN agency applauds new donations for Africa's starving
Southern Africa needs 2.5 million tonnes food aid: SADC
SADC urged to prioritise tourism
Coalition resolves to fight hunger amongst children
Southern Africans meet on food security in drought-strickenregion
SADC tourism ministers to meet in Botswana
UN appeals for aids to feed 12 million people in Southern Africa
More than 13,000 refugees in DRC want toreturn home
Large numbers of refugees returning home
Hungry UNITA soldiers surrending in Namibia
Angolan peace paves way for reopening of road to Namibia
Red Cross helps to reunite families
Landmine accidents forecast in Angola as civil war refugeesreturn
Refugees returning, but little aid available
Progess in the demobilisation process
Nearly 1.5 million Angolans need aid, says UN
Border villagers' complaints
Zimbabwean prisoners escape
Suspected illegal immigrant remanded in custody
Empower Batswana in tourism industry, says MP
Calls to amend employment of Non Citizens Act
Home Affairs Minister tours border post to energise staff
Namibian refugees may go home to Caprivi
Foreign citizens barred from owning hair salons
Citizenship Act amended
2,000 Congolese flee into Uganda
Tens of thousands desperate for food, blankets, medicines
Rwanda and Congo hold border talks
Rwanda, DR Congo discuss buffer zone
Lesotho to crack down on illegalimmigrants
Time running out for starving Malawians
Three million facing starvation in Malawi
Foreign surgeons to help in cardiacsurgery
Foreign surgeons to help in cardiacsurgery
Chissano calls on Swaziland to combat sugar smuggling
Mozambique and South Africa to discuss economic issues
Special zone to encourage Mauritian investment
Government denies land conflicts in Manica
Defence Minister denies recruiting building workers for Portugal
More people may need assistance
Deported American refugee official inWindhoek
Student xenophobia comes under fire at university
University to exclude foreign students from Student Council
Tourists robbed at gunpoint
Namibia, Angola tackle cross-border crime
Restaurant problem on way to resolution
We must lure back African emigrants, says Nujoma
Refugee case settled in court
A better tourist season expected
Tourism grows in the north
Caprivi exiles to ponder possibility of safe return
Local tourism students leaving for Germany
Sa farmers start patrolling Lesotho border
Soweto crime sweep produces 36 arrests of illegal immigrants
Lesotho diamond row hits SA courts
Transfrontier park for SA-Lesotho border
British AIDS test 'insults' SA nurses
Marriage scam uncovered
Rise in foreign tourists to South Africa
SA, Zambia sign defence co-operation agreement
Johannesburg seen as Africa's tourism Mecca
Namibia and Angola ex-combatants live in appalling conditions
Cabinet rules that SANDF must return to border patrols
Police raid in Durban nets illegal immigrants and drugs
Military will continue helping the police in border control
Home Affairs corruption crackdown
Nearly 75% of foreign tourists come from Africa, says Carolus
SAA pilot held in coke drama
No evidence of economic meltdown
Lindela probe could lead to exhumation
Police to probe Lindela deaths
Special Report: Indside Lindela
est African arrested for money laundering
Cop held for tourist robbery
SA, Lesotho discuss joint development
South Africa deports former Slovak secret police chief
SA Constitution is 'too liberal', says Buthelezi
Buthelezi impressed by Lindela repatriation centre
Authorities pass the buck in Lindela deaths
Anglogold and labour in historic AIDS pact
Lindela camp operators sue human rights NGO
Diplomatic row sparked by Lindela
Hundreds still die in police "care"
Mpumalanga province offers armed guards for foreign tourists
Democratic Alliance wants ex-Home Affairs DG disciplined
Congolese refugees protest in Durban
We need those expats
SA not safe haven for foreign criminals, say police
SA not ready to open Beitbridge border post on 24-hour basis
SAHRC begins hearings on human rights violations on farms
Zimbabwe famine will affect SA, claims Leon
Refugees march to home affairs
Upgrading of border post staffs
Exiled Swazi chiefs could be deported from South Africa
Swazis warned not to travel to SA by road
Alleged bribery of customs officer
Census boycott to be legally punishable
US earmarks more funds for refugees in Tanzania
Tanzanians can now get international computer driving license
Dwindling numbers of refugees opting for repatriation
Trade talks between Zimbabwe andZambia stall
Angola abducted 261 Zambians, says Home Affairs Minister
Angolan refugees begin the trek home
Lusaka temporarily bans imports from Zimbabwe
Two SA truck drivers in court
359 drug traffickers arrested
Doctors vow to stay away until theyget increase
Zimbabwe protests Zambia's embargo on local goods
Famine could stalk Zimbabwe by September
650 white farmers evicted ahead of August deadline
Zimbabwean government vows sanctions won't stop land grab
EU names 52 more Mugabe associates for travel restrictions
Second journalist to go on trial
Mugabe refuses to meet with white farmers
Zimbabwean publisher buys top SA newspaper
Currency trading on Bulawayo streets
Court suspends deportation of US journalist
Zimbabwean publisher buys Mail & Guardian
White farmers desperate for dialogue with Mugabe
US journalist ordered to leave Zimbabwe
France concerned that French-owned farms targetted
Shop manager arrested for selling sugar to Mozambican smugglers
Catholic refugee camp officials sacked for sex abuses
US slams eviction of white farmers
Zimbabwe food shortages worsen
Zimbabweans turn to Mozambique for land
Court orders Zimbabwe to issue passport to rights activist
Court finds ban on farming to be illegal
Army, police arrest informal traders at border
Government to import another 200,000 tonnes of maize
SADC regional media 'under siege' (Business Day,31/07) - Journalists of Southern African DevelopmentCommunity (SADC) nations have condemned media repression bygovernments in the region. Speaking at a Media Institute ofSouthern Africa seminar in Johannesburg yesterday, they expressedoutrage at an assault on media freedom by regional leadersdetermined to cling to power. Bornwell Chakaodza, editor of theStandard in Zimbabwe, said President Robert Mugabe's governmentcriminalised journalism and made it perilous. The SwazilandGuardian's online editor, Thulani Mthethwa, said there was amedia siege in Africa's last absolute monarchy. The instituteshould name and shame media predators. "Press freedom inSwaziland is a privilege, not a right. This has created asituation of fear of the unknown among journalists. There is noroom for dissenting voices." The Observer and Guardian werebanned last year for reports not favourable to Swaziland's kingand his court. The institute's information and research officerin Zambia, Sipo Kampumbu, said that authorities in his countrywere determined to curtail freedom of the press and suppressjournalism. Crispin Inambao of the Namibian newspaper said hisgovernment was profoundly hostile to the independent press.Malawian station manager Steve Malamba said there was strongevidence of official attempts to muffle the media. Mozambicanjournalist Marcello Mosse said the killing of journalist CarlosCadosso had a chilling effect on the media there.
SADC unites on plan to sell ivory (Business Day,26/07) - The proposed sale of ivory stockpiles andincreased trade in live animals received strong backing at ameeting of top government officials and regional environmentalgroups in Kasane, northern Botswana yesterday. Environmentalofficials for the Southern African Development Community (SADC)have gathered to co-ordinate a regional proposal to take to theConvention on International Trade in Endangered Species of WildFauna and Flora (Cites), which is to meet in Santiago, Chile inNovember this year. "We all agree that our focus is onsustainable wildlife utilisation, and we believe that theproposals are valid and sound," said Felix Monggae, head ofBotswana's radical environmental watchdog Kalahari ConservationSociety. Nine of the 14 SADC member states are represented at thethree-day meeting. "We believe that this is a good course,and we have to vote as a bloc," Monggae said. "It is agood thing that even countries such as Zambia have now joinedus." In 1997, three SADC states, Botswana, Namibia andZimbabwe, persuaded Cites members to consent to the sale ofstockpiled ivory. They were later criticised by nongovernmentalorganisations, which accused the governments of holding onto theproceeds of the ivory sale. Botswana's director of Wildlife andNational Parks, Joseph Matlhare, said recently that thegovernments had agreed on the proposal to sell 87 tons of ivoryand the translocation of live animals to "acceptable"nations. He said SADC would have to lobby very hard to win votesfor the proposals. And Japan, which bought the 1999 stock, wouldbe targeted. Matlhare said ivory should be sold only to stateswhich have controls in place for legitimate trade in ivory.
Many hurdles before one African currency - Mboweni(Cape Town,Sapa, 25/07) - Many hurdles would have to beovercome before the newly-formed African Union (AU) could form asingle currency for the continent, South African Reserve BankGovernor Tito Mboweni said on Thursday. Addressing the Cape TownPress Club, he also said it was time top South Africanexecutives' remuneration packages were "put on thetable". The AU was formed in Durban earlier this month toreplace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Among its aimsis the formation of a Pan African Parliament and, ultimately, asingle currency on the lines of the "Euro", which isestablishing itself as the common currency of the European Union.Mboweni joked that the mooted new common African currency couldbe called the "Afro". Answering a question from Sapa,he said there was, however, a long way to go before a commoneconomic integration could come about in Africa. The continenthad been divided into five regions, which all had to report tothe AU. Issues to be addressed included: - A commitment fromAfrican governments to sound fiscal policies; - Governmentsworking together towards lowering inflation levels; - Politicalleadership should ensure that the public debt component of theGross Domestic Product came down to below 50 percent of thetotal. Mboweni said African governments should commit themselvesto including central banks. The formation of a single AfricanCentral Bank - which was a desired AU objective - could, however,take "maybe 20, 30, 40 years". Asked on wage/salaryincreases being demanded by workers and trade unions, Mbowenisaid workers could not be condemned for demanding rises to of, asan example, R2000 a month, when some managers in commerce andindustry were taking home packages of R300,000 a month."It's time we put chief executives' salaries on thetable," Mboweni, a former head of the umbrella Congress ofSouth African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and former Labour Minister,said. "There needs to be an industry-wide discussion aboutwage-gap issues," he added. AU leaders had committedthemselves to move towards unity on all levels, includingeconomic and political, but there were major infra-structuralchallenges which had to be dealt with. "So, we have a longway to go to a common economic integration in Africa."Mboweni would not be drawn by Sapa on the possibility of anyfurther interest rates hikes in South Africa this year above thetwo that have already taken place. "For now, I'm not sayinganything," he said.
Journalists awarded for bravery (Irin, 24/07) - ThreeSouthern African journalists on Tuesday received internationalrecognition for their courage in the face of alleged persecution.The two Zimbabweans and a Swazi were part of a group of 37writers from 19 countries awarded the Hellman/Hammett Grant. Eachyear, Human Rights Watch (HRW), the international human rightsNGO, presents the grants worth US $175,000 to writers infinancial need as a result of state harassment. Zimbabweanjournalists, Geoffrey Nyarota and Wilfred Mbanga, have repeatedlybeen "harassed" by the government. On several occasionsNyarota - editor of the country's largest independent newspaperthe Daily News - has been charged with defamation and filingfalse reports. Mbanga, one of the founders of the newspaper, wasarrested with Nyarota in November 2001 and held for 32 hours on afalse charge of fraud. A regional magistrate subsequentlydismissed the allegation. "This is an important recognitionof the kind of work journalists do. I have been fighting for thefreedom of the press all my life and am humbled by this grant. Ihope it provides some kind of inspiration for other journalistsworking in these trying times. I hope for the day when we canonce again write without fear of repression," Mbanga toldIRIN. On Tuesday, Zimbabwe's press laws, widely described asdraconian, were referred to the country's supreme court by amagistrate who questioned their constitutionality, the newsagency AFP reported. Harare magistrate Sandra Nhau refused to letthe latest trial of Nyarota - accused of "publishingfalsehoods" - proceed. Instead, she granted a motion fromdefence lawyers to have the case heard by the country's highestcourt. The charges against Nyarota arose from a story run by theDaily News in April, which subsequently proved false. It hadalleged that a woman had been beheaded in front of her childrenby ruling ZANU-PF party militia. The paper later retracted thestory and offered an apology to ZANU-PF when it was establishedthat the source of the story, a man claiming to be the deadwoman's husband, fabricated the incident. The charges carry amaximum penalty of two years in jail. Sarah Mkhonza, an outspokenadvocate of women rights in Swaziland, also received a grant forher weekly column which has been highly critical of the monarchyin the tiny kingdom. Mkhonza, a regular contributor to thecountry's only local independent newspaper had became a politicaltarget, alleged HRW. "In many countries, governments usemilitary and presidential decrees, criminal libel, and seditionlaws to silence critics, often on trumped up charges. Writers andjournalists are threatened, harassed, assaulted, indicted,jailed, or tortured merely for providing information fromnon-governmental sources. In addition to those who are directlytargeted, many others are forced to practiceself-censorship," said HRW.
Norwegians open their hearts, wallets to help faminevictims (The Star, 23/07) - Norway is mobilising one ofits biggest ever aid efforts to rush food to 13 million people indanger of starvation in southern Africa. Jan Egeland, secretarygeneral of the Norwegian Red Cross, said the International RedCross had appealed for Norway's help in transporting up to 200000 tons of food in southern Africa. "The Norwegian RedCross is taking the main responsibility for delivering foodthrough the International Red Cross," he said in announcingthe effort on Monday. Last week, the United Nations appealed for$611 million from the international community to prevent faminein southern Africa, where 13 million people, more than half ofthem children, were in danger of starvation. The food scarcity isdue to such factors as a drought, an economic downturn, and foodshortages in Zimbabwe, a former food exporter, the United Nationssaid. The response from this Scandinavian nation of 4.5 millionpeople came from a coalition of the Red Cross, the government,the military and a private ship owner. The Norwegian militarydonated more than 200 surplus, all terrain trucks, while thegovernment granted $2.58 million. Red Cross and other staff andvolunteers were racing to get the vehicles ready for shipmentfrom Oslo on August 1, Egeland said. "There are very many,many hundreds who have postponed their vacations and who are nowworking against the clock so they can make food available. Thishunger catastrophe may be the worst in modern times,"Egeland said. He said government funds would buy trailers, tanktrucks and crane vehicles. Egeland also said the Norwegian RedCross was giving two stationary and four mobile workshops to keepthe fleet of vehicles rolling. A Norwegian Red Cross statementsaid this was the most comprehensive effort it had undertakensince World War II. The Norwegian shipping concern Leif Hoegh& Co ASA is donating space aboard its automobile transportship Haul Europe to bring about 230 trucks to Durban by August22. The line's president, Thor Joergen Guttormsen, declined togive an exact cost of the effort, but said it was in the millionsof kroner (hundreds of thousands of dollars) because the trucksdisplace 500 to 1 000 automobiles slated for transport to Africa."A disastrous drought on this scale affects everybody, andit is a question of helping people in the utmost distress. Wewere able to make a contribution this time, which makes us bothproud and happy," Guttormsen said. In addition to Zimbabwe,the hardest hit countries are Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique,Swaziland, and Zambia, the Red Cross said.
Refugees denied right to information (Ndola, The Timesof Zambia, 16/07) - Government has bemoaned thecontinuous denial on the right of information and communicationto refugees in Southern Africa by society unknowingly.Information and Broadcasting Deputy Minister Webby Chipili saidthe refugees have been denied information and communication forthem to make informed decisions. Mr Chipili said though most ofthe problems faced by the refugees such as provision of basicswere being tackled, information on how to deal with poverty,HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, violence and gender imbalance hadbeen denied. The deputy minister said this during the officiallaunch of the information and communication rights for refugeesin Southern Africa at the Commonwealth Youth Centre yesterday.The workshop was organised by Africa Literature Centre (ALC) andfunded by the World Association of Christian Communicators in theAfrican Region (WACC-AR). He said refugees did not even haveaccess to the major sources of information such newspapers,radios and television. "Refugees cannot express themselvesto the rest of the world not because they do not want, butbecause they have no access to communication channels," hesaid. He challenged the workshop participants drawn across theregion to seriously address the apparent information imbalancebetween refugees and the rest of the society. He called on allthe co-operating partners to come up with the means to helprefugees get attention from the people in society. And theminister said Zambia currently has 250,000 refugees from Angola,Congo and other war-torn countries. And ALC director JacksonMbewe said the workshop was aimed creating awareness amongsociety on the refugees' right to information. "Refugeesshould be afforded the opportunity to express their views onissues that affect them." The three-day workshop hasattracted participants from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi,Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Cameroun, Rwanda and Zambiato work out a lasting solution on the right to information.
Southern African famine world's worst humanitariandisaster:WFP (Johannesburg, Sapa, 11/07) - Thethreatening famine in six Southern African countries whichaffects more than 12-million people was the worst humanitariandisaster in the world at the moment, the United Nations WorldFood Programme (WFP) said on Thursday. The head of the WFP, JamesMorris, said at a media briefing in Johannesburg that thesituation was desperate and getting worse by the day."Throughout the region people are walking a thin tightropebetween life and death," Morris said. "The combinationof widespread hunger, chronic poverty and the HIV-Aids pandemicis devastating and may soon lead to a catastrophe. "Policyfailures and mismanagement have only exacerbated an alreadyserious situation." Long droughts and other adverse weatherhad also played a role in ruining crops. The six countriesaffected by famine are Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique,Lesotho and Swaziland. Morris said the WFP needed to raise atleast US507-million to feed 10,2-million of those worst affectedby the lack of food. In Zimbabwe alone at least six millionpeople are faced with starvation. He said in the last ten daysthe WFP had managed to raise US135-million. The United States haddonated US98-million, the United Kingdom US28.4-million, whileother European countries had also donated small amounts. Morrissaid if the death of millions of people had to be staved off,countries would have to maximise crops, the private sector inthose countries would have to get involved in supplying food andthe world donor community would have to respond. "We are ina crisis and we cannot overemphasise the seriousness of it."He said most of the food would have to distributed before therainy season began in October. Morris said the worst hit were thechildren, women and the elderly. "This can escalate into anunthinkable human catastrophe." Morris said he had heldtalks with Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe about food aidbeing used for political gain. "I made it very clear to himthat the WFP will not tolerate the politicising of fooddistribution. "We will have a zero tolerance towardspolitical interference." He said if he thought the WFP wasnot free to do its job, they would withdraw "in asecond". "But I would work very hard to resolve theproblems, if any should arise." Morris said the WFP had beencalling the world's attention to the deteriorating situation inSouthern Africa for two to three years. The WFP would do acontinuous assessment of the situation in the countries were foodshortages occur.
SADC meets to find way forward to AU (Durban, BOPA,10/07) - The heads of state and government of theSouthern African Development Community (SADC) met to form acollective opinion on several issues, including the NewPartnership for Africas Development (NEPAD), that they wereto discuss with other Organisation African Unity (OAU) and theAfrican Union (AU). Foreign Affairs minister Mompati Merafhe saidin Durban, South Africa that he would not go into details of whatthe SADC leaders discussed. He said among the first issues fordiscussions by the African presidents were the rules of procedurefor the main organs of the AU, among them the executive counciland the permanent commission. The executive council takes theplace of the council of ministers while the permanent commissionreplaces the secretariat of the OAU. Merafhe said some people,including some top officials within the OAU/AU circle do notunderstand the concept of NEPAD. He described it as Africashome grown concept whereby Africans want to set values forthemselves. A new generation of African leaders, among them thosewho replaced the former dictators, have decided that they shouldset the standards of governance for themselves. He said the AU isnot an OAU in a different form. He added, however that it is notworth it, dealing with sceptics and pessimists who do not believein the new African philosophy. He singled out as a landmarkdecision of the OAU, the decision to respect colonial boundaries,otherwise most African countries would have claimed territoryfrom one another ? and the result would have been more wars andconflicts. One of the new phenomena, after the rebirth of Africathrough the AU and NEPAD, is the peer renew mechanism. Thisinvolves African countries reviewing governance, human rightscomplaints and rule of law in others. Countries would be expectedto voluntarily join the system of peer review. Merafhe said hedoes not think any country would want to be excluded from thepeer review because of the incentives and benefits of being inthe system. He added that donors are justified in demanding toknow the recipient countries. He also told the journalists thatsome of the countries that had subscription debt to the OAU havesince paid and are not to suffer the sanctions. Some of thesanctions against defaulters include denial of the right tospeak, withholding of OAU or AU documents, refusal to employnationals of defaulting countries in the AU secretariat or otheragencies a. Merafhe has been in Durban attending ministerialmeetings of the OAU and its successor, the AU.
AU born amid rumbles of division (The Namibian, 10/07)- The African Union was born in Durban yesterday amidfirm pledges from most African leaders to fight poverty,corruption and war by setting the continent on the path of peace,prosperity, development and good governance. Waves of applausegreeted leaders and dignitaries as they arrived in Durban's Absastadium, reaching a deafening crescendo when President ThaboMbeki and former President Nelson Mandela entered. The colourfulcrowd of around 25 000 reserved its biggest cheer for Mandela,erupting into chants of "Nelson Mandela, NelsonMandela" as Africa's elder statesman took his seat next toKenneth Kaunda on a podium in front of the main stand."Imperialism and colonialism had sought to own and controlAfrica permanently, from Cape to Cairo. Africa's pride andcourage ensured that Africans own and control Africa permanently,from Cape to Cairo," President Mbeki declared in his openingspeech. As late as Monday, however, there were serious divisionsbehind the scenes, as regional blocs vied for position andinfluence. Libya's Muammar Gaddafi insisted that the union'sfounding charter be changed to create a single African countrywith a single army. His request was eventually turned down.Guests at an evening state banquet were kept waiting for overthree hours, as delegates struggled to hammer out a decision.Sources said deep divisions emerged between members of SADC at ameeting about Nepad, the New Partnership for Africa'sDevelopment, on Sunday evening. The plan, which gives concreteshape to the vision of the AU in the form of development projectsacross Africa, is regarded with suspicion by, among others,Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Namibia, sources at the summitsaid. Some leaders fear it is a way for the West to impose itsconditions on the continent and to divide it into camps - thosewho obtain aid because they behave and those who don't. Attemptsto obtain comment from the Namibian delegation at the summit werenot successful at the time of going to press. Senior officials inthe South African presidency told The Namibian that both the AUand Nepad had their origin and roots in Africa, and not in theWest. Any talk of a sell-out of Africa was thus nonsense, theofficial commented. "These initiatives come from Africa, andwe Africans committed ourselves to our own ideas and ideals inthe form of the AU," the official said under condition ofanonymity. "We don't need the West anymore to do that, weare Africans." Any talk of outside interference was anattempt to "distract from the problems the leaders of thesecountries were experiencing," the official said. For thisreason it was easy to understand why leaders like Zimbabwe'sRobert Mugabe found issues of good governance and democracyproblematic, he added. "Dictators can smell a whiff ofdemocracy from a thousand miles away," said Dr. TajudeenAbdul-Raheem, Secretary General of the Pan African Movement inKampala, Uganda. "Mugabe is one of them," he said.Nepad also provides for a so-called Peer Review Mechanism (PRM),with the aim of exposing bad governance and undemocratic practiceby African leaders. While it is not compulsory and the details ofthe mechanism have not been decided, it is already a source ofcontroversy. "It is potentially democratising, which is whydictators don't want it," said Abdul-Raheem. In his speech,Mbeki constantly reminded African leaders of their commitment toa better Africa. "The Constitutive Act of the African Unionis the supreme law of the continent which has been approved byall our parliaments, the parliaments of the people of Africa tomeet the challenges facing Africa today," Mbeki said duringhis speech. The first task, Mbeki said, would be to achieveunity, solidarity, cohesion and co-operation among the people andstates of Africa. "We must build all the institutionsnecessary to deepen political, economic and social integration ofthe African continent. "We must deepen the culture ofcollective action in Africa and in our relations with the rest ofthe world," he said. The second task, according to the SouthAfrican president, was to mobilise all segments of civil society,including women, youth, labour and the private sector to acttogether "to maximise our impact and change our continentfor the better". The AU aims to replicate the European Unionin fostering prosperity and democracy through social, economicand regional integration. Unlike the OAU, the AU will have theright to intervene in member states in cases of war crimes andgenocide.
SADC ministers strategise on food transportation (TheNation, 10/07) - Southern African Development Community(Sadc) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Sectorministers meeting in Mozambique noted a regional cereal deficitof 5.19 million tonnes and agreed to consult and collaborate onall logistical issues relating to food imports within the regionto cushion the situation. Malawis Minister of Agricultureand Irrigation Aleke Banda said this at Lilongwe InternationalAirport over the weekend upon arrival from Maputo, Mozambiquewhere he attended the meeting. Banda said some of the logisticalissues the ministers agreed to address include third partytransportation, Customs procedures and toll fees. He said theselogistical issues frustrate free transportation of goods and thisprompted the ministers to discuss various ways of making surethat imported food moves easily in the region. Banda said, onmaize alone, the region has a deficit of 3.2 million tonnes andsaid the meeting resolved that the region should promote fooddiversification. On food security, the ministers noted thatthe Sadc region is threatened by starvation due to serious foodshortages. These have been caused by a combination of drought,excessive rainfall, input supply constraints and many otherfactors, said Banda. He also said the FANR ministers agreedto implement short-term measures such as providing humanitarianassistance in conjunction with the World Food Programme and otherUnited Nations agencies. Other short-term measures includecommercial imports. Ministers also agreed to implement medium tolong-term measures such as contract farming, public worksprogrammes and irrigation development, said Banda. He saidthe ministers also noted that in due course the Sectorministers meeting will be replaced by an IntegratedCommitttee of Ministers which will be formed soon in arestructuring process that aims to centralise Sadc operations atits secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana
UN Health Agency foresees 300,000 deaths in SouthernAfrican famine (Geneva, Sapa-AP, 10/07) - Up to 300,000people in Southern Africa could die over the next six months as aresult of severe food shortages following two years of drought,the U.N. health agency said Wednesday. "There is now asevere humanitarian crisis," said Dr. David Nabarro, asenior official of the World Health Organization. The UnitedNations earlier this month appealed for dlrs 507 million to buyfood for the region, but Nabarro said food on its own is notenough to ensure survival. "We have to also address theurgent health-care needs of the population," he said.Drinking water, medicine and vaccines are also needed. WHOofficials expect to issue an appeal for around dlrs 19 million toimprove health care in the region. Nabarro said up to 60 millionpeople are in the hardest-hit area, which includes Malawi,Zambia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique. Of thoseabout 12 million are severely affected by the food shortages, hesaid. "And we expect that number to increase over the nextfew months." "Our calculations suggest that the crisisin this region could result in up to 300,000 'excess deaths'during the next six months," he said. "This is aconservative estimate." The increased death toll wouldlikely result mainly from diseases that infect people whoseresistance drops because they are malnourished, he said."We're seeing a continuing rise in tuberculosis and acutechest infections," Nabarro said. Health workers have foundincreased mortality rates in all population groups, he said.Women have begun showing an increased risk of dying as a resultof problems during pregnancy. Nils Kastberg of UNICEF said manyof those at risk are children under the age of 5. Nabarro saidhealth problems have worsened in part because of a reduction inthe number of medical workers. Some of them left the regionbecause of difficult working conditions. The number also hasdeclined because they have been infected by the AIDS virus thatis prevalent in the region, he said.
SADC police in Southern Africa violating human rights:Amnesty International (Gaborone, Sapa-AFP, 09/07) - Policeforces in most of the 14 Southern African Development Community(SADC) countries torture and ill treat suspects and politicalactivists, international human rights watchdog AmnestyInternational said Tuesday. Amnesty lashed out at SADC policeforces for violating the rights of the people they are supposedto protect in a detailed report, "Policing to protect humanrights". "The states which tolerate such acts are nothelping to reduce crime or find fair solutions to politicalproblems," the London-based human rights group said."Instead, they gravely undermine the professionalism of thepolice and fail in their duty to protect victims of crime andprevent human rights violations." Most SADC members stillneed to repeal or amend laws which encourage human rights abuses- particularly those which permit excessive use of force orincommunicado detention - and set up independent mechanisms toinvestigate police abuses, the report recommended. Biasedpolicing towards minority and vulnerable communities is a problemin countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland andTanzania, it found. "In Zimbabwe... police have beendirectly involved in torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary arrestof members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change(MDC)." "They have been complicit in nationallywidespread acts of violence, arson and rape committed bystate-sponsored militia against supporters of the MDC," thereport said. Amnesty urged SADC institutions to redress thissituation. In countries such as Botswana, Malawi and SouthAfrica, non-governmental and community-based organisations havedeveloped partnerships with police to improve the services tovictims of crime and implement crime reduction plans, the reportsaid. The SADC member states are Angola, Botswana, DemocraticRepublic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique,Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambiaand Zimbabwe.
US contributes 12.4 million dollars to feed Africanrefugees (Washington, Sapa-DPA, 09/07) - The UnitedStates will contribute 12.4 million dollars to the World FoodProgramme (WFO) for feeding refugees in several Africancountries, the State Department announced Tuesday. The aid bringsthe total U.S. contribution to the WFO this year to 512 milliondollars, primarily in food contributions, department spokesmanRichard Boucher said. The new aid will help refugees in Algeria,the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea,Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.The contribution will provide a month's food for approximately1.8 million refugees and others displaced by conflicts throughoutAfrica, Boucher said.
AU launched in Durban (Durban, BOPA, 08/07) - PresidentFestus Mogae and other African heads of state and governmentstarted their summit here today to launch the African Union (AU)which will replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Some20 heads of state and government had arrived in South Africa byearly afternoon yesterday for the summit. Libyan leader MuammarGaddafi, who arrived in Durban Saturday, met other leaders forprivate talks on a new pro-investment plan for the worlds"poorest" continent. Nigerian President OlusegunObasanjo briefed the leaders on the New Partnership forAfricas Development (NEPAD)s recovery programme whichstresses good governance to attract foreign capital and aid fromdeveloped countries. Gaddafi, has criticised NEPAD as toocapitalist and pro-Western. He has has been quoted as sayingNEPAD would make Africa even more dependent on the West than italready is. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived hereyesterday and was holding talks with senior officials from UNagencies. African ministers meeting has agreed on a draft agendathat excludes Zimbabwe where a deepening economic andpolitical crisis is being cited as a test for Africascommitment to improve governance and promote human rights. SouthAfrican President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerias Obasanjo asked by the Commonwealth to mediate in the Zimbabwespolitical crisis were due to hold private talks withPresident Robert Mugabe on his countrys problems. Africanministers also agreed to let heads of state review the OAUsdecision not to recognise Madagascars President MarcRavalomanana "because of a change in the situation on theground", a senior African diplomat told Reuters. The changethe diplomat spoke of was the flight from Madagascar of formerpresident Didier Ratsiraka. The ministers will recommend thecreation of a permanent election monitoring commission to bebased at the secretariat of the African Union, to replace ad-hocmonitors it has used in previous African elections.
Widespread infection from AIDS virus threatens todestabilise African nations (The Independent (London), 08/07) - TheAids virus threatens to destabilise entire nations in Africa, aninternational conference on the disease was warnedyesterday.Ministers from Botswana told the 14th InternationalAids Conference that their country was facing"extinction" because nearly 40 per cent of adults wereinfected.Their warnings came as activists marched on theconference in Barcelona to demand that two million infectedpeople in the developing world were guaranteed access toanti-Aids drugs. The prices of such drugs have fallen by about 90per cent in Africa as pharmaceutical firms have bowed to pressurebut they still remain too expensive for most people in developingcountries.Dr Peter Piot, executive director of the United NationsAids programme, said yesterday that, from a historicalperspective, the world was still in the early days of an Aidsepidemic. "Aids is starting to destabilise entire nations inAfrica. A destabilised part of the world, however far away it maybe from where you are, is having an impact on your owncountry," he said.Last year, one million children in Africalost their teacher because of Aids, he said, and countries suchBotswana risked "undeveloping" because of the disease,despite doing well economically. In Botswana, 39 per cent ofadults are infected with HIV and that rises to 50 per cent in thenorth-east and among expectant mothers in urban areas.Scientistshad thought that HIV/Aids might reach a natural limit insub-Saharan Africa, where 28.5 million people are infected, butBotswana's experience has dashed that hope. Life expectancy forthe 1.6 million people in Botswana has fallen below 40 for thefirst time since 1950, and is expected to dip below 30 if thespread of the virus is not reversed.Botswana, which has the mostvaluable diamond mines in the world, is not eligible forinternational development funding because its economy is toosuccessful. However Botswana's Health Minister Joy Phumaphi, tolda fringe meeting: "We are all engaged in a fight to thedeath."The conference was also told that a campaign tochange young people's sexual behaviour in South Africa wasstarting to show results.The loveLife campaign aims to useadvertising and marketing to spread safe sex messages and. Inrecent surveys, 75 per cent of young South Africans said they hadbecome more aware of the risks. Spain has deniedaccusations, made by Senegal's health minister, Awa Marie CollSeck, and non-governmental organisations, that it refused visasto many people from developing countries who had planned toattend the conference.
AIDS epidemic ravages survival chances of worst-hitcountries (Barcelona, Sapa-AFP, 07/07) - The world'sbiggest AIDS conference was getting under way here Sunday amidevidence that some African states are being so ravaged by thedisease that they face an uphill battle to survive. Around 15,000doctors, researchers and activists from around the world gatheredin this northeastern Spanish city, holding council on a war thatis now entering its third decade and has seen many defeats andfew victories. New research by the US Census Bureau, releasedjust before the opening ceremonies, showed that seven countriesin sub-Saharan countries now have life expectancies of less than40 years of age. In Botswana, where 38.8 percent of the adultpopulation has the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), lifeexpectancy is only 39 years, compared with 72 years if it werenot for AIDS. "The AIDS pandemic is dramatically changingthe demographic makeup of African countries," said KarenStanecki, who authored the report. "Unfortunately, manyAfrican countries are only beginning to see the impact of thesehigh levels of HIV prevalence." The study found that fivecountries - Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and SouthAfrica - will experience negative population growth by 2010,meaning that more people will die than babies are born.Population growth in Zimbabwe and Namibia will be close to zero,it warned. The head of the UN's specialised AIDS agency told AFPthat AIDS-ravaged countries faced the risk of turmoil, given thestress to their economy and social fabric. "If one-third ofyour adult population, including the professionals, die within adecade or so, that means an implosion of society. When you havemillions of orphans growing up in an environment withoutfamilies, you have what I would call desocialised youth,"UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said. "You aredefinitely going into very unstable states, where people aredesperate." UNAIDS last week estimated that in just over 20years, 20 million people have died of AIDS and the disease couldreap three times that harvest in the next two decades unless amajor rescue effort is launhed in poor countries. Forty millionpeople have HIV, 70 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa, butthe former Soviet Union and parts of Asia, particularly China,are also big risk areas, it said. The Barcelona conference isexpected to throw up fresh data about the quest for an AIDSvaccine and new treatments that will control the virus, but noteliminate it from the body. But no-one is expecting any miracleannouncement, and the theme of the conference - "Knowledgeand Commitment for Action" - highlights the grim mood thatthe plague is here for the long haul. The sense of war-wearinessis reflected in developed countries, where infection rates haveremained roughly stable but, experts said, parts of thepopulation are becoming deaf to safe-sex campaigns and trustingin the efficacy of anti-retroviral drugs. "Some are becomingbored with HIV... and hearing the same messages," saidRonald Valdiserri, director of the National Center for HIV at theUS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A snapshotof HIV diagnoses in 25 US states showed that the infection ratehad "stabilised" at roughly 16,600 annually between1998 and 2000, he said, adding the caveat that the study did notinclude the big-population states of California, New York andFlorida. "Some have moved from complacency toskepticism" about prevention, Valdiserri said. "Wesimply can't sit back and wait for a vaccine... we must revivethe passion with which the United States once faced theepidemic." Piot told reporters that there had been anenormous change in the political response to the epidemic overthe past two years, which had driven up funding to helpdeveloping countries sixfold, to nearly three billion dollarsannually. But this was less than a third of what was needed, hesaid. "Ten billion dollars are necessary to have the kind ofresults that Uganda has had," he said. He referred to theEast African country that has braked the spread of HIV throughintensive safe-sex programmes, nationwide diagnostics and alsotreatment with anti-retroviral drugs to prevent babies from beinginfected while in the womb. The conference, which is held onceevery two years, winds up on Friday. Former presidents BillClinton of the United States and Nelson Mandela of South Africaare due to attend the closing ceremonies.
UN agency applauds new donations for Africa's starving(Johannesburg, Sapa-DPA, 05/07) - The U.N. World FoodProgramme (WFP) on Friday applauded three new donations towardslast Monday's half a billion dollar appeal for millions of peoplefacing starvation in six southern African countries. Britain hasdonated 28.1 million dollars, Canada has given nearly one milliondollars and the Netherlands has contributed 500,000 dollars, theWFP said in a statement. "The British, Canadian and Dutchcontributions will be used to immediately purchase some 50,000tons of food for distribution throughout the region. Cashdonations are particularly valuable because they enable the WFPto purchase food in the region, and begin distributing it asearly as in one month's time," the humanitarian agency said.Britain, Canada and the Netherlands were the first countries toformalize their donations to the WFP's 507 million dollar-appealfor close to one million tons of food aid for Zimbabwe, Malawi,Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho. The WFP's regionalemergency operation was designed to help feed 10.2 million peopleuntil the next main harvest in March 2003. Major contributionsfrom other donor countries were being finalized, the agency said.Britain's contribution to the WFP's regional appeal inJohannesburg was signed on Friday by Sam Sharpe, head of theU.K.'s Department for International Development in SouthernAfrica (DFID) and WFP regional director for East and SouthernAfrica, Judith Lewis. "People in Britain are very concernedabout the worsening food situation in Southern Africa. BritishMinisters wanted to respond as quickly as possible to the WFPregional appeal announced last Monday. July," Sharpe said,adding that Britain was immediately allocating 18.75 millionpounds towards the cost of emergency operations. "Thiscontribution is in addition to British support for non-government organisations. DFID's total contribution to theregion's short term needs amounts to 45 million pounds," hesaid. "These donations are timely and crucial. However, weneed similar contributions immediately if we are to preventanother catastrophe in southern Africa," said Judith Lewis,the WFP' regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa."Seven million people in the region are very hungry now andthat number will only grow over the coming months."According to the WFP statement, at least 12.8 million peoplewould require food aid in the region over the next nine months.
Southern Africa needs 2.5 million tonnes food aid:SADC (Maputo, Sapa-AFP, 05/07) - Drought-strickensouthern Africa needs 2.5 million tonnes of food aid to feedmillions of people facing starvation in the region, Mozambique'sagricultural minister said Friday. Helder Muteia told AFP theoverall food deficit in the region was 2.5 million tonnes ofgrain, of which about 1.9 million is needed immediately. Muteiawas speaking as Southern African Development Community (SADC)agriculture ministers met in the Mozambique capital Maputo todiscuss regional food security, He said the meeting wasconsidering launching an appeal for food aid. The SADC ministersare looking at ways to mitigate future droughts throughirrigation schemes, early warning systems, research and the useof drought-resistant crops, Muteia said. The sustainable use ofnatural resources is also on the agenda of the one-day meeting,which is expected to end with the signing of a number ofprotocols. Seven African nations - Angola, Lesotho, Malawi,Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe - face serious hungerproblems this year because of combinations of bad weather, poorpolicy and conflict in region.
SADC urged to prioritise tourism (BOPA, 04/07) - SADCRegional Ministers meeting opened in Kasane on Sunday, witha call for SADC countries to treat tourism industry with theimportance it deserves.Trade, industry, wildlife and tourismminister Pelonomi Venson said at the official opening that theworld tourism organisation statistics reveals that the tourismsector is the fastest growing industry in the world. An estimated5.5 million new jobs are to be created in the industry each yearup to 2010.Venson said at the regional level, Africa and SADC, inparticular, continue to register impressive growth. "It isfor this reason that our government continue to make concertedefforts to facilitate the development of the tourismindustry", she said. She said in Botswana the transformationof rural villages like Maun and Kasane which are the gateways ofthe Okavango Delta and Chobe National Parks, respectively, intocommercial service centres are largely attributable to thetourism industry. Venson however said the tourism industry facesa number of challenges such as global terrorism. The September11, 2001 terrorist attack on the US and its aftermath severelyaffected the tourism business. Venson further said the challengesrequire SADC member countries to intensify marketing and publicrelations efforts in order to reposition the images of respectivecountries, as well as the region. This is a challenge thatour media should not shy away from because the turn around of thetourism economy is also in their commercial interest as theystand to benefit from the economic growth and development we arefacilitating she said. She said such partnerships should bedesigned in a way that substantially increases the resourceownership and management capabilities of people. Venson appealedto SADC member countries to support Botswana, Namibia, SouthAfrica and Zimbabwe in their negotiations with CITES on the issueof the elephants at its meeting in Santiago, Chile, in November2002. The five Southern African countries will be presentingproposals to be allowed to trade in their ivory stocks, theproceeds of which will be used to benefit elephant conservationand communities living adjacent or within the elephant range.Venson said Botswana is grappling with the management of over 120000 elephants the largest population on the continent.
Coalition resolves to fight hunger amongst children(Maseru, Mopheme/The Survivor, 03/07) - As famine whichhas also hit five other Southern African countries continues toravage Lesotho, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) andthe World Food Programme (WFP) estimate that 444, 800 people faceor are experiencing starvation. The two United Nations (UN)agencies also estimate that 62, 272 children under the age offive and who form 14 percent of the total number of peopleaffected by famine are also in danger of starvation. The UnitedNations Children's Fund (UNICEF) further put the number ofchildren in need of food at the staggering 85,000 while it says30,00 children under five years of age are in need of therapeuticfeeding. After the Lesotho government's declaration of the stateof famine in April, this year and its injection of M23.0 millionas an intervention in the food crisis, the UN agencies inLesotho, notably UNICEF and the WFP felt that something had to bedone to save the most vulnerable group -children under the age offive- from the scourge of starvation. The UN agencies'intervention led to a series of consultations which culminated ina meeting between the UN agencies and local and internationalNon-Governmental organizations (NGOs) and charity organizationsheld in Maseru on Friday, June 28,2002. The meeting was aimed atsoliciting inputs from the NGOs and charity organizations on whatcould be done to reduce the plight of starving children and toform a common front to fight hunger in the country. The frontdubbed "The Under-5 Coalition" resolved to embark on asupplementary blanket feeding of all children under five years ofage throughout Lesotho. They also looked at the ways and means ofcarrying out the feeding process which would include dry and wetfeeding. It was agreed that the supplementary feeding processwould be carried out at different health centres, churches andchiefs' places in all parts of the country on a date to beannounced after extensive preparations were made. The Under 5Coalition also considered inclusion of children out of school andthose infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in thefeeding scheme. UNICEF's Representative to Lesotho, KimberlyGamble-Payne strongly urged members of The Under 5 Coalition andthe public in general to work hard to make the supplementaryfeeding scheme a reality in order to save the lives of children.She appealed to the media to play an important role ofsensitizing the general public about the food crisis that has hitthe country and its people, especially children. The wife of thePrime Minister and First Lady, 'Mathato Mosisili indicated thatsensitization of members of Parliament about the supplementaryfeeding of children faced with starvation was important if it wasto achieve its intended results. "Sensitization of Membersof Parliament will be most effective if it is carried out bytheir spouses because they normally remain at home in theconstituencies while their partners are attending Parliamentarysessions in Maseru. And they are the ones who actually know whatis happening in their respective constituencies and can pass thatinformation to their spouses in Parliament,' the First ladyadded. The Under 5 Coalition also resolved that breast feedingshould be promoted at all levels as it formed a very importantcomponent of nutrition status of children under the age of five.Meanwhile, the World Food Programme has, recently warned that ashunger spreads, more people, especially children will be hit byopportunistic diseases. The meeting was attended byrepresentatives from Ministries of Health and education, UnitedStates Peace Corps, Save The Children (UK), Caritas, CatholicRelief Services, Lesotho Red Cross and the Office of the FirstLady. Other Southern African countries worst hit by famine areMalawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland.
Southern Africans meet on food security indrought-stricken region (Maputo, Sapa-AFP, 02/07) - SouthernAfrican agriculture ministers are due to meet in Mozambique'scapital Maputo on Friday to dicuss food security in thedrought-stricken region, officials announced Tuesday. "Weare to seek common strategies to tackle the current food deficitin our region", Mozambican Minister of Agriculture and RuralDevelopment Helder Muteia told AFP. Muteia said the agricultureministers of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community(SADC) will also discuss the sustainable use of regionalresources including land, flora and wildlife. A number ofprotocols are due to be signed during the meeting, he said. Theministers are also expected to propose a date for theinauguration of the Great Limpopo International Park linkingSouth Africa's Kruger National Park, Mozambique's LimpopoNational Park and Zimbabwe's Gonrezou. Muteia said theKruger-Limpopo-Gonrezou park will be one of the world's biggest,housing all types of animals, from elephants, rhinos and buffalosto beautiful African birds. "We are combining threedifferent environments to providing tourists with a uniqueopportunity to cross easily from one country to another to enjoythe wildlife and the landscape of the region", he said.
SADC tourism ministers to meet in Botswana (Harare,The Herald, 01/07) - Tourism ministers from all SouthernAfrican Development Community countries will meet in Botswananext week to work out the modalities of setting up a regionaltourism development zone. The ministers, who will meet in Kasane,Botswana, will, among other issues, discuss the link betweentourism development in the region and the New Partnership forAfrican Development (Nepad). A senior official in the Ministry ofEnvironment and Tourism said the region would also discuss waysof increasing regional tourism traffic and investment. Secretaryfor Environment and Tourism Ambassador Lucas Tavaya, ZimbabweTourism Authority and other senior officials are expected toattend the meeting. Botswana Minister of Trade, Industry,Wildlife and Tourism Mr Pelonomi Venson said the meeting wouldalso focus on the importance of sustainable tourism developmentin the Sadc region. Also to be touched on is the Regional TourismOrganisation of Southern Africa's strategic business plan. Themeeting comes at a time when Zimbabwe has embarked on aggressivemarketing strategies involving multibillion-dollar facelifts ofmajor airports to stimulate investment, visitors and the supplyof foreign currency into the country. The Botswana meeting isexpected to develop a unique and attractive package for theregional states that would stimulate international tourists'arrivals. The Cabinet Action Committee on Tourism approved mostof the incentives under the Millennium Tourism recovery Plan in abid to lure back international tourists and improve the country'sforeign currency inflows.
UN appeals for aids to feed 12 million people inSouthern Africa (United Nations, Sapa-AP, 01/07) - Morethan 12 million people in southern Africa could face starvationwithin nine months, the United Nations warned Monday, appealingfor dlrs 507 million to avert what could be the worst famine inthe region in more than a decade. James T. Morris, executivedirector of the World Food Program, said the agency would use themoney to buy almost a million metric tons of food to helpZimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland untilthe next harvest in nine months. "Southern Africa is alreadyfacing an extremely severe crisis, which will only worsen in thecoming months," he said. "However, it is still possiblefor the international community to avert a catastrophe byresponding rapidly to this appeal." Currently, WFP feeds 4to 5 million people in the region, but that figure is likely toincrease to 12.8 million over the next nine months, Morris told anews conference at U.N. headquarters. Drought is the majorfactor, as it was a decade ago. Today, however, HIV/AIDS,economic decline, and governmental mismanagement are exacerbatingthe food shortages, Morris said. "The magnitude of thecrisis demands that everyone rallies together to save people'slives," he said. "We can't wait. ... We need to get ourpipelines put in place, and we need to get commitment from ourdonors. We need to have our traditional donors be verygenerous." The United States and the European Union are thelargest contributors, but Morris wants other nations to be moregenerous, especially China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
More than 13,000 refugees in DRC want to return home(Uige, ANGOP, 31/07) - At least 13,407 Angolan refugeesin the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)expressed to authorities their wish to return home. Theinformation was transmitted to Angop at Kimbele, northern Uigeprovince, by the evangelical Church officer, João Castro whosecongregation is involved in humanitarian assistance in theregion. He said the humanitarian situation facing the Angolanrefugees is worrying and needs urgent assistance. 26,133 peoplehave been registered.
Large numbers of refugees returning home (Irin, 31/07)- Thousands of Angolans continue to spontaneously returnto their homeland following the end of that country'sdecades-long civil war, said the office of the UN HighCommissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The organisation said in astatement released on Tuesday that nearly 8,000 Angolans hadreturned from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since thebeginning of the year and at least another 4,500 had returnedfrom Zambia. The figures of returnees were based on the number ofAngolans who had reported to UNHCR that they were leaving."Many do not report to UNHCR, however, so the actual numberof spontaneous returns could be much higher," the agencysaid. UNHCR was deploying staff and resources "as much aspossible and with the limited funds we have available. We havemanaged to increase our monitoring capacity along the borders andin the areas of return". Several field missions have beensent to the four identified main provinces of return - Moxico,Uige, Zaire and Cuando Cubango - and they have started assemblingreturnee monitoring reports, UNHCR said. The agency said mostAngolan refugees in the DRC had indicated they would prefer towait for an organised UNHCR repatriation programme, due to startin 2003. In Zambia, some 4,500 Angolan spontaneous returns havebeen recorded from Meheba and Mayukwayukwa refugee settlementssince April 2002. "According to local authorities, at leastanother 6,000 Angolans are believed to have left this year fromvillages in the same areas," UNHCR said. Moxico province isreported to have received the largest number of returnees so far.Authorities in Luena, Moxico's provincial capital, have reportedsome 14,800 returnees have crossed at Luau, on the border withthe DRC. Another 6,500 spontaneous returnees, mainly from Zambia,are believed to have arrived in and around Cazombo, also inMoxico. UNHCR warned: "The absorption capacity in Angola forthe return of an estimated 4 million internally displaced personsand some 470,000 refugees is extremely weak. Angola faces severefood insecurity and malnutrition. There is also a lack of potablewater and poor sanitation, shelter, health and educationfacilities. Many parts of the country [such as Cazombo] areinaccessible because of landmines and destroyed roads andbridges."
Hungry UNITA soldiers surrending in Namibia (Irin,25/07) - Hungry UNITA soldiers and their families whohave crossed into Namibia are being transported back across theborder to quartering areas in southern Angola by the NamibianDefence Force (NDF), which has only a limited amount of food tospare the former rebels. A senior NDF officer at the border toldIRIN that many of the soldiers and their dependants were sick andmalnourished. "We assist them by giving them whatever wehave from our rations, we don't have anything special forthem," he said. "Hunger and malnutrition is very muchthe main problem [among the new arrivals]." The officer saidthat at a rough estimate, 400 UNITA soldiers and their familieshad presented themselves to the NDF over the past month and weretrucked to the nearest quartering centre 150 km inside Angola,south of the town of Menongue, in Cuando Cubango Province."They don't hide, they come [across the border] openly withtheir families," he said. On Tuesday, the NDF transported 39people into Angola to be handed over to the authorities wherethey should be able to receive relief aid. The officer said thatas a security precaution, the former UNITA fighters' weapons aretrucked separately. An official in the ministry of defence toldIRIN that Namibia, as a neighbour and close ally of Angola, wasbound to help with its quartering and demobilisation processfollowing the 4 April ceasefire that ended Angola's long civilwar. "We don't turn them [UNITA] away, we don't handle thembadly. It's humanitarian assistance," he said. JacksonMwalundange of the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR)commented that while he welcomed the government's current help toformer UNITA rebels, he was concerned about people "beingrepatriated that nobody knows about". A statement by NSHR onWednesday said that five farm workers who were arrested andallegedly tortured by the paramilitary Special Field Force inOctober 2001 were "secretly" deported back to Angola inJune this year. The NDF had said the men were prisoners of warwho were captured in clashes in the northern region of Kavango."Subsequent NSHR investigations into the NDF claims revealedthat the detainees were farm labourers and were never soldiers,let alone 'UNITA terrorists'. The deportees, who claim to beNamibian citizens, were held in custody without trial since theirdetention," the statement said. Mwalundange said thegovernment also needed to give a transparent account of the fateof 78 men held in the Dordabis detention centre without chargesince August 2000. The government had alleged that the men(initially 80 but two died in detention) were all Angolannationals who were either UNITA collaborators or"bandits". Namibia suffered mounting cross-border raidsby UNITA when it offered logistical assistance to the Angolanarmy in 1999 in the war against the rebels. Although thegovernment announced earlier this year that the 78 would berepatriated with the assistance of international agencies,"who knows if they have been?" said Mwalundange."We want their release, and transparency in their release.We want to make sure they will be repatriated in a voluntarybasis." The spill over of the Angolan conflict into Namibia- including land mine attacks and ambushes - created serioussecurity concerns for Windhoek. It also led to accusations byrights groups that the security forces and elements of theAngolan army were involved in rights abuses. "We are alsourging the Namibian government to account for all other allegedUNITA terrorists who might have disappeared at the hands of theNamibian authorities," NSHR said.
Angolan peace paves way for reopening of road toNamibia (Luanda, Sapa-AFP, 24/07) - Peace in Angola haspaved the way for the reopening of a strategic road linking thecountry to its southern neighbour Namibia for the first time innearly 30 years, transport officials said Wednesday. Along-disused stretch between the southern Angolan town of Ondjivaand the Namibian border has been repaired and is ready for usenearly four months after the Angolan government signed a peacewith rebels of the National Union for the Total Independence ofAngola (UNITA). The road had been closed for some three decades,initially because of fighting in Namibia's 1966-90 independencewar, and then because of the civil war in Angola, which broke outin 1975. Angola, keen on re-establishing trade with itsneighbours, is also repairing the roads leading to the DemocraticRepublic of Congo and Zambia.
Red Cross helps to reunite families (Irin, 17/07) - Peacein Angola has also brought with it a deep need for people to findfamily members, perhaps a father or child, who went missingduring the long war. To help these families, the InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also established a numberof tracing centres throughout the country to help reunite lovedones. Since the 4 April ceasefire, which security analysts say isbeing propelled by a genuine will to make it succeed, betweenthree and four million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) havebeen identified in the vast country. These are people whohurriedly left their homes to escape the fierce clashes betweenthe rebel UNITA forces and the Angolan army. At least 85,000soldiers - 35,000 more than expected - and 250,000 of theirfamily members have entered quartering and family areas to waitfor instructions on their demobilisation. Since the ceasefire thenumber of people trying to trace lost relatives had risen by over100 percent, Caspar Landolt, communications delegate for the ICRCin Angola told IRIN. In the first half of 2002, over 480 familieshad opened tracing requests and about 280 unaccompanied minorswere registered by the ICRC. The children were currently eitherin orphanages or in the family resettlement areas. Over 8,300 RedCross messages were distributed in the different provinces inAngola, including in formerly inaccessible areas. In the lastfour months 19 children had been reunited with their families,Landolt said. The only condition for registering with the tracingcentre was that the missing person should have disappeared duringthe conflict. The centres are manned by ICRC employees or AngolanRed Cross volunteers. The search is conducted through word ofmouth, with traditional leaders, local authorities and localadministrators and is backed up with software and digitalcameras. Recently, permission was obtained to conduct tracingactivities in the quartering and family areas. The organisationdoes not charge for the service. Landolt said the reunions wereemotional affairs, a reunion last week of a child with his familyhad reduced four hardened international television reporters totears. The contact number for families needing to reach thetracing centre in Angola is: +244-2-264454. Besides tracing work,the ICRC has also made regular food distributions to 38,000beneficiaries in the Cruzeiro and Caala camps for IDPs in Huambo.A statement said the same number of people were also given seedsto help them attain self-sufficiency. In Chilembo theorganisation distributed emergency food rations to 8,300 peopleand provided 20,000 IDP families, mainly in Bie and Huamboprovinces, with non-food items, through the Angolan Red Cross.Other work included giving Medecins Sans Frontieres-France foodfor the therapeutic feeding centre in Caala, tarpaulins toenlarge the centre, and a large number of buckets, jerrycans andemergency food rations for distribution in Bunjei. Theorganisation had also continued well and spring protectionprojects for 12,000 people in Kuito, set up emergency sanitationprogrammes for 28,000 people and distributed soap to 280,000 IDPsin Kuito and Huambo, through the Angolan Red Cross. The aidagency had also helped support the surgical and paediatric wardsof the Huambo Hospital and supported the maintenance of the waterand sewerage system. Helping war-wounded amputees andmanufacturing prostheses is included in the ICRC's programmes,for which it launched an appeal of US $18.8 million. It has sofar received US $7.2 million.
Landmine accidents forecast in Angola as civil warrefugees return (Geneva, Sapa-AFP, 12/07) - Thehumanitarian organisation Handicap International said on Fridayit feared a rash of landmine accidents in Angola as hundreds ofthousands of people begin returning home after nearly 30 years ofcivil war. Angola which on July 5 ratified the Ottawa Conventionprohibiting the use of anti-personnel landmines, is one of themost heavily mined countries in the world, according to UN andnon-governmental organisations (NGOs). Because fighting betweengovernment forces and UNITA rebels in the last years of the warprevented humantarian access to many parts of the country andbrought de-mining activities to a virtual standstill, there isconfusion both over the number of minefields and their locationin the southwest African nation. The government's own de-miningbody has cited 3,145 minefields in the country's 18 provinces."However, no-one today has precise and exhaustiveinformation," Handicap said in a statement. Reports in theAngolan press, qouting official information, have estimatedbetween four and five million mines are buried around thecountry. The NGO said an estimated 80,000 people had beenmutilated in landime explosions. UN humanitarian officials havealso expressed concern at the number of heavier landmines usedagainst vehicles, and vast quantities of unexploded ordnance(UXOs) lying buried or unburied which also maim and claim untoldlives. Following a peace agreedment signed with UNITA, Handicapsaid it was concerned because an estimated 300,000 people whowere forced by the war to flee their homes are expected to returnby the end of the year. "Rendering all the minefields andsuspected minefields secure will take months, even years,"Handicap said. "Organising the return of displaced people insuch conditions places responsibility on the shoulders of theAngolan government, the UN and donors." It urged theinternational community, which it accused of moving too slowly onAngola's food and health crises, to intervene fast on a de-miningprogramme so that people can return home safely. HandicapInternational said that in similar situations elsewhere, mostmine accidents occured when there were massive populationmovements, and that they diminished rapidly as people grewfamiliar with the danger zones.
Refugees returning, but little aid available (Irin,05/07) - "This is my motherland," said PedroMtondo, 27. "When I went to Zambia I went because of the warand now that I see my country is okay I want to come back - so Ican do something so they can have a better life here."Mtondo lives in a field of grass huts on the edge of Cazombo - atiny administrative centre at the easternmost reaches of Angola.He is one of the thousands of Angolans, once exiled by the civilwar, who have taken the first opportunity to come home. It's amovement that neither the local authorities nor the UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had time toprepare for. Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane recentlyheaded a UNHCR delegation to Angola, during which he announced aplan to repatriate an estimated 470,000 Angolan refugees,beginning in January 2003. But he also said that between 8,000and 10,000 former refugees were believed to have returned toAngola since the signing of a ceasefire between the Angolangovernment and the UNITA rebels on 4 April. The people arrivingin Cazombo - most of them from the Mahewa refugee camp in westernZambia - fall into this category. Morjane added that a total of80,000 were expected to return "spontaneously" beforethe UNHCR's repatriation plan begins. Asked whether there wereplans to assist these returnees, Morjane said: "They will goback to their places of origin and certainly it will be difficultto organise [help for them], especially when there is nobodythere yet to organise it - neither from the government side,neither the humanitarian agencies and certainly not UNHCR."When IRIN visited Cazombo, 1,000 had already arrived, and atleast a further 2,000 were said to be at the border awaitingtransport to the town. There's singing and dancing in Cazombo'sone and only street whenever an army truck pulls in, carryingnewly-returned refugees from the border. A single 25 kg sack ofmaize, provided by the government, is shared out among 60 peopleor more. They receive temporary shelter in a disused buildingbefore moving out to the site where they are to build houses.Talking to the people who have been there for a while revealsthat the joy of being back in Angola is soon tempered by therealities of life in Cazombo. One elderly woman told how she hadreceived a two kg food ration when she arrived in Angola inMarch, and nothing since then. She gathers firewood which shesells to local residents, scraping together perhaps 10 kwanzas(US 25 cents) a day to buy food. But in the town's one market,sweet potatoes are the only supplies in evidence. Pinto Kakoma isone of the more fortunate of the refugees in that he was educatedby missionaries in Zambia. He is fluent in English, andcommunicates in the local languages which are spoken on bothsides of the border. But he has yet to learn Portuguese which isessential for getting a job in Angola. "I am very worriedabout the situation here," Kakoma said. "We wouldappreciate it if the NGOs could help us develop this place, andhelp us with food until we are able to go to the fields and startcultivating ourselves." But most people returning fromZambia to Cazombo lack not only seeds and tools, but land aswell. Few of them are originally from the area, but for themoment, they have no alternative but to stay in Cazombo. Thoughthe road from Zambia is clear, broken bridges still cut off thetown from the rest of Angola. The remoteness of the area meansthat the situation of the new arrivals has received littleattention either from NGOs or from central government. One manexplained how he had arrived with his pregnant wife and youngchild, only to find there was no food. They wandered far from thetown to try and forage in the bush. While trying to cross ariver, his wife and child drowned. Officials are talking about a"spontaneous" return. But it was prompted not only by alonging to be on home soil, but also by recent cutbacks inrations to refugees in the camps in Zambia. "We left Mahewato come here because there was no food there," one womantold IRIN. "When we first went there, we got enough food.But later we suffered as the food we received was not enough. Wethought let's go back to our country which could be better."
Progess in the demobilisation process (Luanda, Irin,02/07) - It's about 50 km from the bomb-scarred Angolantown of Kuito to the UNITA quartering centre at Ndele. Threemonths ago, the road would have been impassable - the fourbridges that need to be crossed on the way had long since beendestroyed. But now, the vehicles of aid agencies and the AngolanArmed Forces (FAA) are able to make their way to the camp,crossing makeshift wooden bridges put there by the UNITA soldiersthemselves. The bridges are a sign of what the former guerrillashave been able to achieve with minimal resources now that thecivil war in Angola has finished. Ndele, with its neatly laid-outthatch huts, is typical of the quartering areas planned as acentral feature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) whichwas signed by UNITA and the FAA in Luanda on 4 April. Theagreement, hammered out during a fortnight of talks in theeastern town of Luena, brought an end to a civil war that hadgone on almost uninterrupted since independence in 1975.Following the death on 22 February of UNITA founder and presidentJonas Savimbi, the remaining elements of the UNITA rebelleadership agreed to peace talks. UNITA at that stage hadsuffered heavy defeats in Moxico, the eastern province whereSavimbi himself was hunted down, but substantial numbers of itstroops remained at large in the northern and central areas of thecountry. The main practical challenge of the peace plan was toget the remaining guerrillas to assemble for disarmament. Thesolution was to designate 32 areas around the country -subsequently altered to 34 - where the soldiers were to assemblewith their families. UNITA command structures were to bemaintained within the camps, with the only presence from the FAAbeing a small contingent within the "technical group" -the joint FAA-UNITA unit responsible for demobilisation in eachcamp. Officially, more than 84,000 former soldiers have alreadyreached the camps - considerably more than the 55,000 envisagedin the MoU. According to the Joint Military Commission overseeingthe demobilisation, the soldiers are accompanied by 250,000family members. In reality, the balance may be even more heavilyon the side of the civilians. UN officials say that the figure of84,000 assumes that every adult man with UNITA was a soldier, butthat in reality, UNITA had only around 10,000 armed men by thetime the war ended. In terms of the timetable set out in the MoU,the process of disarming the former guerrillas should by now havebeen completed. But there is no nationwide record of the numberof weapons handed in. At the camps visited by IRIN, the number ofweapons handed in varied between 10 percent and 25 percent of theofficial number of soldiers in the camp - though this would beconsistent with the much smaller number of armed soldiers as somehave suggested. The lack of any clear information on the numberof weapons held by UNITA has led to fears of soldiers retainingtheir guns. There have already been reports of banditry in thecentral Bié province, attributed to former UNITA fighters wholeft the quartering areas. At the same time, the rapid influx ofpeople into the quartering areas has led to worries about foodsupplies to the camps. "We are greatly concerned," saidColonel Faustino Jose, commander of the Ndele camp. "We havereceived some help from the World Food Programme, but also fromother non-governmental organisations but the quantities areinsufficient, and we need further help for the people here in thequartering areas." At Ndele, Médecins Sans Frontières(MSF) staff said recently that the number of cases ofmalnutrition was on the rise, even after the arrival of emergencyfood aid. Severe cases are being referred to the hospital inKuito. "We already sent a total of more than 200 severelymalnourished children to Kuito in three or four weeks and everytime we come back we find 30, 40 more to send with us," anMSF nurse told IRIN, adding that this was partly, but notentirely, due to the continuing arrival of new families in thequartering area. In Benguela province, the UN Office for theCoordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported thatpreliminary nutritional screenings in some quartering areasduring May indicated critical levels of malnutrition among familymembers. In addition, more than 31,660 UNITA family membersrequired non-food item assistance, including essential medicinesand shelter materials.
The Galangue quartering area in Huila province in the south ofthe country was also among the places assessed by OCHA in lateMay. A recent OCHA report said that critical needs in this andother sites in the area include "essential drugs,vaccinations, blankets and clothes, agricultural inputs and anadequate water supply". A recent report by the Catholicbroadcaster, Radio Ecclesia, quoted UNITA sources as saying thattwo people were dying per day in quartering areas in Kwanza Sulprovince in the north, where security concerns have preventedhumanitarian agencies from carrying out assessments. Yet overall,the situation in the quartering areas is not as desperate asfirst feared. Even in the remote east of Moxico province, an MSFassessment team that visited the Calala quartering area early inJune said that the nutritional situation was "not as bad aswe had expected", though there were some cases ofmalnutrition-related disease. Generally, food shortages andassociated health problems in the quartering areas are beingviewed as symptomatic of a wider problem throughout the Angolancountryside, rather than as something specifically associatedwith the quartering areas. The UNITA soldiers have spent years onthe move, and learned survival skills - as in the case of theroad repairs at Ndele which have made food deliveries easier.Children in the camp were also able to benefit from a recentpolio vaccination drive, conducted by the government, UN agenciesand NGOs, and targeting in particular those areas where the civilwar had previously prevented access to health services. Foodsupplies from the FAA, intended for the UNITA soldiers, have beenshared among civilians in the camps. There was not enough to goaround, but with no other assistance reaching the camps duringthe first weeks of quartering, a little was better than nothing.In its plan of action for the next six months, OCHA isprioritising meeting the emergency needs of about 250,000 peoplein what it calls "family areas" - that is, the civiliansections of the quartering areas. To put this in context, OCHAalso envisages assisting 800,000 civilians in areas that havebecome accessible only since the end of the war, and a further1.9 million people - including newly arrived internally displacedpersons (IDPs) - in the areas where humanitarian agencies werealready working before 4 April. Many humanitarian officials haveprivately expressed some frustration with the amount of politicalattention being paid to the quartering areas, when the situationof displaced civilians is often a greater cause for concern.Unlike IDPs, the UNITA men have politicians in Luanda speaking ontheir behalf - and there is a lingering fear that some of themmay still have weapons too.
Nearly 1.5 million Angolans need aid, says UN (Irin,01/07) - About 1.4 million Angolans are urgently in needof food aid until April 2003, a joint UN Food and AgriculturalOrganisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) report said onMonday. This comes as UN Under Secretary-General for HumanitarianAffairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, was setto arrive in Luanda on Tuesday to begin a five day visit toAngola. The Organisation for the Coordination of HumanitarianAffairs (OCHA) office in Luanda told IRIN on Monday that:"The purpose of Mr Oshima's visit is to assess the currenthumanitarian situation and to call the attention of theinternational community to the humanitarian crisis in thecountry. "During his meetings with representatives of theAngolan government, UN agencies, the diplomatic corps and NGOs,Mr Oshima will also discuss the resettlement of displacedpopulations and the provision of humanitarian assistance. Fieldvisits to the critical regions of Bie and Moxico provinces arealso scheduled during the mission in order to have a first handview of the humanitarian situation and current reliefactivities." Oshima would be leading a UN inter-agencydelegation composed of Julia Taft, chief of the UN DevelopmentProgramme Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Recovery, andHoldbrook Arthur, WFP Regional Director for Central Africa. TheWFP/FAO report, the result of a joint crop and food supplyassessment mission to Angola from 15 May to 6 June 2002, blamedthe present food insecurity on the recently-ended civil war. Thelatest figure means more than 14 million people are in need offood aid in drought afflicted Southern Africa. "Theceasefire agreement signed in April between UNITA and the Angolangovernment revealed the extent of suffering by people trapped inrural areas by the conflict. Large numbers of malnourished peoplehave since made their way to reception and transit centres and upto 500,000 are reported to be in a critical nutritionalsituation. "Angola was spared the drought which affectedmuch of Southern Africa in 2001/02, although rains were late. The2002 cereal harvest is estimated slightly down on last year [fivepercent] at 549,000 mt. Production of cassava [an importantstaple in the north of the country] is estimated at some 5.6million mt, seven percent higher than last year," the twohumanitarian agencies said. "Peace came too late to have asignificant impact" on agricultural production. "Inmost of the conflict areas, agriculture had fallen to an almostsubsistence level, with little or no marketable surplus and verylimited trade activity. Self-sufficiency is seldom attained amongdisplaced populations due to the limited access to land andinsufficient seed," the report said. The cereal importrequirements for 2002/03 are estimated at 725,000 mt, of which504,000 mt would be commercial imports and 221,000 mt would beemergency food aid, said the FAO/WFP report. WFP plans to assist1.24 million people, including internally displaced persons(IDPs) with insufficient or no access to land, the families offormer rebel UNITA soldiers, the vulnerable populations inpreviously inaccessible areas and refugees returning to Angola.The remaining needy population would have to be supported byother humanitarian agencies. Of the estimated four million peopledisplaced from their homes since 1998, around two million havebeen allocated land and no longer depend on food assistance, saidthe report. The mission found that some IDPs had already startedto return to their homes to prepare land for the next season andto plant dry season crops in the wetland areas. "Foodassistance and agricultural inputs [such as seed and fertiliser]are urgently required for farmers returning to their homeareas," the agencies said. Prior to independence in 1975,Angola was a major exporter of maize and coffee. As a result ofnearly three decades of civil war, Angola has had to rely on foodimports - both commercial imports of wheat and rice, and foodaid, mostly of maize and beans. The supply of seeds, tools andfertilisers to IDPs and some residents was a major focus ofagencies and NGOs during the 2001/02 cropping season. However,the FA/WFP mission has urged that the Angolan government improvecustoms clearance for agricultural inputs to avoid delays ingetting these to farmers.
Border villagers' complaints (Bopa, 31/07) - Residentsof Mabule, Phitshane and Molopo have expressed dismay at theMinistry of Works Transport and Communications reluctanceto provide their areas with basic infrastructure. The residentswere speaking during a kgotla meeting, minister for PresidentialAffairs and Public Administration Daniel Kwelagobe addressed lastweek. They informed Minister Kwelagobe that some of thefacilities they had requested from the ministry, includedtransport to Mabule, telephones and electricity. They saidbecause of the ministrys reluctance to provide telephones,they had resorted to using South African cellphone network. Theyexplained that though there were a few public phone booths andlines to the kgotla and community junior secondary school, thelines were dead. The residents said criminals were able to escapearrest because there were no communication facilities in theirvillages along the common border. They said they have lost a lotof livestock to their South African neighbours. It was oftendifficult to report criminals to police in Phitshane Molopobecause of lack of phones and bad roads that linked theirvillages to major ones. The residents said their villages werelagging behind in development and that they were never includedin the development budget. The residents requested government toopen a border gate at Mabule so they could visit their relativeson the other side. They were currently forced to travel longdistances to the Phitshane-Molopo border gate when they couldtravel less than a kilometre to Mabule in South Africa. Residentsalso appealed to the Minister to consider posting a BOPA reporterto cover villages along the border, saying their activities wererarely covered. They added that Radio Botswana (RB) was notaccessible in their area, forcing them to listen to foreign radiostations. The residents pleaded with the minister to installradio transmitters to improve the reception in their area. AtPhitshane Molopo, residents requested the government to considerextending business hours of the local border post. Currently theborder opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m. The residents alsocomplained about the newly launched value added tax (VAT), sayingit has forced prices to rise drastically. They wanted thegovernment to fully explain VAT and inform them about taxablegoods and those that were exempted. They also asked the ministerwhether the Ministry of Education would consider closing schoolsin winter because children were suffering during the cold season.Kwelagobe assured residents that he would take their concerns torelevant authorities for action. He also reassured them thatgovernment was not ignoring them. He said it was difficult forgovernment to provide developments to all villages overnight. Hesaid they should be patient as their villages would be consideredin future development plans. The minister briefed the residentson the Delimitation Commission, Ministry of StatePresidents development budget and that of the Ministry ofEducation. Kwelagobe emphasised the importance of contributing tothe delimitation commission. On the issue of opening a borderpost at Mabule, Kwelagobe said it was a long process becauseBotswana could not do so without consulting South Africa.However, he said, the two countries were always consulting eachother on such issues.
Zimbabwean prisoners escape (The Gazette, 31/07) - UrbanPolice in Gaborone have appealed to members of the public to helpthem in re-arresting seven suspects who escaped from police cellsafter they were arrested in connection with various criminalactivities. Six are Zimbabwean nationals, Clement Choto, 19,Ephraim Sibanda, 23, Tanderayi Munangati, Nkuluako Moyo, 20, MoanZipilana, 22, and Nicholas Maputsi, 20. The seventh man is aSouth Africans Thabo Magagula, 24. In an interview with TheGazette, the Station Commander, Urban Police Station,Superintendent Jack Mafefe, said the men used a hacksaw blade tocut through the burglar bars of a cell window. He appealed tomembers of the public to report anyone who may look suspicious.Mafefe said he would not say there was negligence on the part ofthe police until it was established how the suspects escaped.
Suspected illegal immigrant remanded in custody (BOPA,22/07) - Ramotswa Magistrates Court on July 9remanded in custody a man, suspected to be an illegal immigranton charges of malicious damage to government property. Theparticulars of the case are that on July 7, Kudakwashe Dumbujena,36, was arrested at Boatle junction by Ramotswa police onsuspicion that he was an illegal immigrant, put him at the backof a police van and drove him to Ramotswa police station forcross examination. It is alleged that on arrival to the policestation, it was found that Dumbujena had torn the cushions of thevan benches. He is to appear for another mention on July 23. Thecourt also remanded in custody an 18-year-old man on a rapecharge until his trial on October 29. It is alleged that on May26, at around 2 a.m., at Boatle junction, Onkemetse Difutsweallegedly raped a 23-year-old woman, who was on her way home.Appearing for mention on July 9, Difutswe asked for bail, sayingthat his mother had died and he was the only remainingbeneficiary of his late fathers estate. Difutswe also saidhe wanted to look after his parents property. Objecting tobail request, detective assistant superintendent Balibazi Boysaid the community could only feel safe when the accused wasremanded since he might commit serious crimes if granted bail.Refusing the bail, magistrate Linah Mokibe said she was dutybound to protect society by keeping the accused in custody.Difutswe will appear again for mention tomorrow.
Empower Batswana in tourism industry, says MP (BOPA,17/07) - Government has been requested to give Batswanapreferential treatment in the game ranching industry. Boteti MPSlumber Tsogwane said Batswana lack the capital and skills toventure into the tourism industry, and they should be assisted tobenefit from their wildlife resources. Commenting on the draftgame ranching policy when Parliament resumed debate, Tsogwanesaid foreigners who want to invest in the countrys tourismindustry should form joint ventures with Batswana. The debate onthe draft policy had been adjourned early this week after MPsasked for further consultation on the policy. The Boteti MP saidin order to create employment opportunities in rural areastourism industries must be set up in wildlife areas. Tsogwanealso complained about the exportation of live animals, saying thepractise will ultimately kill the local tourism industry asrecipient countries would breed their own stock. The MP forBobirwa James Maruatona said the government should ensure thatBatswana benefit from the envisaged game ranching policy.Maruatona also said there would be a land use conflict betweencattle and game farming, adding that in some areas such as theTuli Block some cattle farmers have sold their ranches becausethey could not cope with the problem. He also appealed to theministries of lands, housing and environment; agriculture; trade,industry, wildlife and tourism and that of minerals, energy andwater affairs to come up with land use plans. Lands, housing andenvironment minister Jacob Nkate welcomed the draft policy asanother avenue through which Batswana would add value to theireconomy, as well as create more employment opportunities.However, Nkate who is the MP for Ngami, expressed fear thatBatswana farmers who did not have the means to venture into gamefarming would be hoodwinked into hoarding land at veryuneconomical fees. He also said the government should make surethat land use conflicts are avoided between the beef industry andgame industry as that could end up compromising the quality ofproducts in both industries. Okavango MP Joseph Kavindama saidBatswana would not benefit from the policy because of lack ofcapital and skill. Kavindama said if Batswana were not assistedto acquire skills in the tourism industry, foreigners would bethe sole beneficiaries of the policy. He accused the governmentof being only interested in making money from the industrywithout empowering Batswana.
Calls to amend employment of Non Citizens Act (BOPA,10/07) - Selebi-Phikwe Town Council last week passed amotion requesting the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs toamend the Employment of Non Citizens Act to make localisation incompanies a reality. Councillor Benjamin Bagayi of Thakadiawa,the mover of the motion, called for a comprehensive monitoringmechanism to follow a programme that will satisfy thetechnological transfer as well as the job needs of the enterpriseand enhance the economy. Bagayi said the expatriate recruitmentpolicy should emphasise on training than production asexpatriates salaries and other benefits are a way of buyingforeign technology. He said he abhors the absence of themonitoring of localisation in Botswana as expatriates were onlyreplaced when ineffective or no longer in good books with aparticular company but not because of localisation. He said thesituation creates tension between local and expatriate personnel,which, in turn, negative affects production and the economy.Bagayi said some positions were often delocalised under thepretext citizen understudies were unsuitable. This deniesBatswana the opportunity to take over. He said understudies wereusually frustrated and left much to the joy of expatriates theyunderstudy. Bagayi suggested a mid-term review to checkeffectiveness of the training with a view to closing anyidentified loopholes. "An effective trainer is the one whosecontract should be renewed to reach to other areas of need in theeconomy," he said. He also called for adequate trainingresources, the review of expatriates incentives and thatthe government should market skilled Batswana to other countriesas expatriates Cllrs Gaone Chamme of Leseding, Kavis Kario ofKopano and Tebogo Venson of Ikageleng supported the motion.Chamme said while most senior posts in the public sector arelocalised, little has happened in the private sector andparastatal organisations. He said expatriates came here to settleand not to train Batswana, a situation, which frustrated Batswanato tap any expertise from them. Kario, who is also the deputymayor, said there is no scrutiny of expatriatesqualifications to ascertain if they are from recognisedinstitutions. He spoke of companies that fire qualified Batswanabut keep unqualified expatriates. Kario added, however, thatBatswana are impatient and lacked a fighting spirit and that theexpatriates were not going to give them jobs in a silver plate.He said if training was done bona fide, most Batswana would havebeen ready to take over from the expatrates. For his part, CllrVenson said companies are only concerned with profits and theirstatus. He regretted that while the motion is good and justified,there is a possibility that government could delay to takeaction. Mothibi Monyakeng, district officer and also chairpersonof immigration selection board, said fields like engineering andinformation technology have few qualified Batswana. The countryalso has few hair dressers and fashion designers. Monyakeng saidit is difficult for the board to reject applications for suchpositions without justification. He lamented the absence ofassociations to set standards in for various professions. He alsospoke of absence of a mechanism to verify that indeed there werenot Batswana applicants for the jobs that the expatriates wouldbe applying for.
Home Affairs Minister tours border post to energisestaff (BOPA, 08/07) - Labour and home affairs ministerThebe Mogami says border gate personnel have a duty to portray apositive image of the country to visitors. Mogami, who wasspeaking during a tour of the Ramokgwebana border gate last week,called on Immigration and Customs and Excise personnel to servevisitors with a positive attitude, saying they were the firstcontact point, and therefore the countrys ambassadors. Hesaid Botswanas land-locked nature made every border postthe gateway to all the Southern African Development Community(SADC) countries and beyond, hence the staffs outstandingresponsibility to impress visitors. Briefing the minister, asenior Immigration and Citizenship official, Mokwaledi Baleki,who heads the Ramokgwebane border gate, complained aboutZimbabwean travellers who often attempt to cross into Botswanawithout money or any possession. Baleki said when refused entry"they do all sorts of tricks including screaming, simulatingfainting or even appealing to higher authorities, claiming theyhad been denied entry into Botswana. He said when they asked themas to what they would survive on since they had no money theyoften replied that "they would survive all the same".Baleki said once such people were allowed inside the country theywere "always returned with a criminal record of one kind oranother". On other issues, Baleki complained of shortage ofstaff, saying there were 16 of them instead of 22. The said thestation was also experiencing a shortage of staff houses, officespace and uniforms. He appealed for the renovation of the bordergate building, saying it was leaking despite the fact that it wasonly 10 years old. Minister Mogami, who also toured theFrancistown Regional and District Immigration Offices, theFrancistown Branch Library and the new site for the Francistownstadium, assured them that he would take appropriate action.
Namibian refugees may go home to Caprivi (BOPA, 03/07)- It is only a matter of time before some of the 2 300refugees from the Caprivi Strip in Namibia who are at DukwiRefugee Camp are allowed to go back to their country. Thisfollows a fact finding mission, comprising officials from thegovernments of Botswana and Namibia, and the United Nations HighCommission for Refugees (UNHCR) to the area to determine whetherit is safe for their return. The mission, which was code named"Go and See Mission," also consisted of representativesof three Kxoe speaking Barakwenas of Western Capri on the onehand and two Lozi speaking Mafwes from Eastern Capri. Themission, which completed its work last week, was appointed on thebasis of the April 11 Tripartite Agreement between UNHCR Botswanaand Namibia. Its report is positive after it toured the villagesof Chetto, Bakane Omega One and Two, Makanga and Chinchimani inthe Caprivi. Chetto, Bakane, as well as Omega One and Two arelocated along the Angolan border, about 300 kilometres west ofKatima Mulilo. People in the area told the mission that they wereinvaded by UNITA rebels from Angola in April 1998 whose aim wasto displace the community and use the area to fight the Angolangovernment. Many people fled to Botswana, leaving some of theirrelatives, properties and livestock behind."Now that Savimbiis dead, things are clam here. What we hope is for our brothersand sisters to come back," said Njaku Tutco, a schoolteacher at Chetto. The village is linked to MichaliMuyongos Caprivi Liberation Movement which is seeking thesecession of Caprivi from the rest of Namibia. It is alleged thata larger fraction of the 590 Chetto population fled to Botswanafollowing swoops by the Namibian police, Defence Force andmembers of the Special Field Force. The-Go-And-See mission endedits tour with a visit to Eastern Capri villages of Chinchimaniand Makanga, about 70 and 100 kilometres from Katima Mulilorespectively. People from the area were displaced after theCaprivi Liberation Movement attacked government property,including the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, an army base anda police station. The separatists are said to have occupied thestate broadcasting office in Katima Mulilo, resulting inPresident Sam Nujoma declaring an indefinite state of emergencyin the region. The resultant clash of the Muyongosseparatist rebels and the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) left atleast 70 people, dead and more than 500 detained. Ross Sanoto, asettlement officer with the Office of the President in Botswana,says the returnees will be repatriated in three groups of up to300 on August 14, 16 and 17. Dukwi refugee camp has 4 000refugees, 2 300 of whom are Namibians. Muyongo has since beenrepatriated to Denmark.Vasna Vazovic of the UNHCR office inRundu, Namibia, said they will provide the returnees withtravelling documents, transport and assist in the resettlementprocess. Article Nine of the Tripartite Agreement recommends thatreturnees should be compensated for their lost property uponproduction of proof. In addition, they will benefit from droughtrelief programmes run by the government. Most of the Namibianrefugees are eager to return to their homes. Life inthe camp is fine and the food is enough, but there is no placelike home," Daniel Boetti said.
Foreign citizens barred from owning hair salons (TheGazette, 03/07) - According to by-laws published by theCentral District last month, foreigners will no longer be allowedto operate hair salons and barber shops in the district. All suchestablishments will be registered and licenced, and only Batswanaolder than 16 will be allowed to operate them.
Citizenship Act amended (The Gazette, 03/07) - TheMinister of Home Affairs has amended the Citizenship Act to allowto grant citizenship to people applying for citizenship who donot speak a local language, if he thinks circumstances warrantit. People applying for naturalisation under the Act are requiredto speak a local language.
2,000 Congolese flee into Uganda (Kampala, New Vision,30/07) - An estimated 2,000 DR Congolese refugees havefled Bundibugyo district following ethnic clashes between Hemaand Lendu in Ituri region, reports Vision Reporter. Kabaroledistrict Internal Security Organisation (DISO) officer, Lt.Katenta Araali Obo, said this at a monthly regional disastermanagement meeting at Kasese RDC's office, recently. Katenta toldthe meeting chaired by the deputy RDC, Wilson Isingoma, that therefugees had overwhelmed the district. He said they have about17,000 head of cattle. "There is a potential displacementdisaster as the clashes continue in that part of the DRC,"Katenta told the meeting. He said another refugee influx wasexpected into Bundibugyo and that 400 had fled into the districtabout two weeks ago. Bundibugyo deputy RDC in- charge of Ntoroko,Aggrey Mwami said the refugees had flooded Rwebisengo.
Tens of thousands desperate for food, blankets,medicines (Irin, 12/07) - Tens of thousands of displacedpeople in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are still indesperate need of dry food rations, blankets, warm clothing andmedicines, as fighting continues to deny humanitarian agentsaccess to the affected area, humanitarian sources told IRIN onThursday. "There has been no humanitarian access to the HighPlateau of South Kivu since fighting intensified in earlyJune," one humanitarian worker said. Fighting between theRwandan army and the dissident Banyamulenge forces commanded byPatrick Masunzu had displaced "in excess of 40,000"people, the worker, who asked not to be identified, said."There appears to be two main forms of displacement,"the official said. "There has been spontaneous flight fromincidents and areas of intense fighting, and many people havecrowded into villages around the centre of Minembwe. To thenorthwest, in the region of Itombwe, significant numbers arereported to have been forcibly regrouped into concentrated areasin order to deny opportunity for dissident fighters to shelteramong the population." Mayi Mayi groups, Interahamwe andBurundian rebels - les Forces pour la defense de la democratie(FDD) - had reportedly been fighting the Rwandan forces in theplateau, the worker said. These anti-Rwandan forces are a looseassociation of Congolese, Rwanda and Burundian groups. DuringJune, the worker said, these forces changed their tactics fromhit-and-run raids to larger-scaled pitched battles against theRwandan army. The latest confrontation was reported on 5 and 6July. Fighting had disrupted pastoral and agricultural patternsin the plateau, the worker said, adding: "Messages arrivingin Uvira speak of increasing difficulty of access to food, and ofhunger becoming widespread." Herdsmen were, the worker said,unable to move the cattle to fresh grazing areas, therebyweakening the animals. Desperation had driven people to usingwooden fencing around fields for firewood, resulting in cows andgoats destroying the remaining harvest. "People are, anyway,unable to reach their fields," the humanitarian worker said."Herders are unable to reach markets to sell or exchangelivestock for other foodstuffs." In addition, the workersaid, cold weather in the plateau had aggravated sickness amongthe displaced who were without shelter or warm clothing."The most pressing need continues to be the negotiation ofaccess for an international mission to assess humanitarianneeds," the humanitarian worker said. "Safeguards haveto be negotiated with the Rwandan authorities who have militarycontrol of the landing strip at Minembwe."
Rwanda and Congo hold border talks (Johannesburg,Business Day, 10/07) - Officials from the DemocraticRepublic of Congo and Rwanda said yesterday they were in talks toestablish a buffer zone on their shared border with the help ofUnited Nations (UN) troops in a bid to end their four-year war."We are talking about putting in place a curtain between thetwo countries," Vital Kamerhe, the Congolese government'scommissioner to the UN peacekeeping force said . A special envoyfor Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Kagame could meet withCongolese President Joseph Kabila and UN Secretary-General KofiAnnan in Durban, to discuss the plan on the sidelines of thefirst African Union summit, which opened yesterday . "We areexpecting Kagame and Kabila will meet along with Kofi Annan and(SA's President Thabo) Mbeki," said Patrick Mazimhaka. Hesaid Rwanda's understanding of the buffer zone was that it wouldbe "an area patrolled by both Congolese and Rwandan troopsunder the supervision of the UN". Their task would be toprevent incursions by Hutu rebels from the east of the Congo intoRwanda, and to disarm them. The rebels are former members of theRwandan army and militias who carried out the 1994 genocide inthat country.
Rwanda, DR Congo discuss buffer zone (Durban, AFP,09/07) - Officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) and Rwanda said Tuesday they are discussing establishing abuffer zone on their shared border with the help of UN troops ina bid to end their four-year war. "We are talking aboutputting in place a curtain between the two countries," VitalKamerhe, the DRC government's commissioner to the UN peacekeepingforce there, told Nampa-AFP. A special envoy for RwandanPresident Paul Kagame said Kagame could meet with DRC PresidentJoseph Kabila and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Durban,South Africa to discuss the plan on the sidelines of the firstAfrican Union summit, which opened here Tuesday. "We areexpecting that Kagame and Kabila will meet along with Kofi Annanand (South African President Thabo) Mbeki," PatrickMazimhaka told Nampa-AFP. He said Rwanda's understanding of thebuffer zone was that it would be "an area patrolled by bothCongolese and Rwandese troops under the supervision of theUN". Their task would be to prevent incursions by Huturebels from the east of the DRC into Rwanda and disarm them. Therebels are former members of the Rwandan army and militias whocarried out the 1994 genocide in that country in which Hutusslaughtered around a million Tutsis and then fled to the formerZaire as the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front won thefour-month civil war. Kagame believes the rebels pose a threat toRwanda's security and the Kinshasa regime's failure to rout themis one of the main reasons why his troops backed DRC rebels wholaunched the biggest war in Africa in 1998. It brought in thearmies of Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe on the governmentside -- Chad and Namibia have since withdrawn -- while Rwandanand Ugandan troops supported the rebels, as did Burundian troopsat times. The Kinshasa regime believes Rwanda's presence -- ithas some 20,000 troops in the DRC -- is the main obstacle topeace. "We have agreed to withdraw if the zone isestablished," Mazimhaka said. "What we now have todecide is when and where it will be, how deep the joint force cango into the Congo. "But we do not have a deal yet becausethe Congolese have not given us enough detail on how this willwork." The buffer zone was first proposed by the UN SecurityCouncil in April after 50 days of peace talks on the DRC in SouthAfrica failed to deliver a general accord. The Kinshasagovernment signed a sidelines pact at those talks with theUgandan-backed Congolese Liberation Movement and some DRCpolitical parties under which they would join the government, butthe Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), whichcontrols the eastern third of the DRC, was left out in the cold.DRC Communications Minister Kikaya bin Karubi said the Kinshasagovernment had accepted the idea of the buffer zone and was eagerto implement it. "We have agreed to this and we are nowtrying to agree on how, when and where exactly," Bin Karubitold Nampa-AFP. Bin Karubi said the DRC was also, in separateefforts, trying to relaunch peace talks with the RCD. "TheUN is trying to help us arrange another meeting with them,"he said. Sources said however the question of the RCD wasbedevilling a deal between Kinshasa and Kigali. Kabila mistruststhem too much to give them a place in his government, whileKagame is insisting on a government of national unity in Kinshasafor the men who helped him fight the war, they said. "Untilsuch time as the Congolese set up a stable government includingall parties to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in Sun City (SouthAfrica) ... and taking into account the concerns of neighbouringcountries, the situation will remain as it is today," hetold reporters in Kigali on July 3.
Lesotho to crack down on illegal immigrants (Maseru,Mopheme/The Survivor, 23/07) - The Home Affairs Ministryseem determined to rid Lesotho of illegal immigrants and toensure that all those coming into the country have properdocumentation and stay for the purposes applied for when askingfor visas. This has emerged on numerous statement that the newHome Affairs Minister, Tom Thabane has made. While this may be apositive move in curbing crime and corruption, in terms of amongothers, bribery used to oil civil servants hands to issueresidential, work and other permits to illegal immigrants, wehope that there are no other hidden motives to victimised theso-called foreigners in the country. We have watched thisclean-sweep exercise carried in the countries and many Basothowould bear testimony of the pain experienced when people arewrongly taken to custody and send back to their homes in a veryinhuman manner. We also believe that the government will ensurethat proper procedures and measures respecting the human rightsand dignity would be applied when the exercise is carried out.Lesotho and Basotho, in particular, have been known to manyaround the world for their hospitality. We believe our laws areclear and just enough for such a big task to be executed withoutany prejudice. On the other hand, we also wish to note with greatmerriment the assertion and strong willingness by the Ministerand his department of immigration to change the sluggish servicethat has prevailed in the past in the issuing of passports andother immigration documents. If the promise will live up to theexpectations, there is no question that many Basotho would havebeen salvaged from the claws corruption and killing inefficiency.With the present depth of poverty in the country, getting atravelling document had almost become a dream from some rightfulcitizens of this country. We also hope that in bringing the muchneeded efficiency to the department, government will be veryalert and watchful of documentation processed through the windowsand back doors....
Time running out for starving Malawians (Johannesburg,Business Day, 25/07) - In the centre of the Malawiancapital Lilongwe's Old Town, business has never been better atShoprite, one of SA's leading food chain stores. Shoprite hasbecome so popular that the city's only serious traffic jam duringrush hour is outside the Shoprite shopping complex. But onehour's drive away, in the lakeside district of Salima, anotherpicture emerges. Here the queues outside the schools and thehealth clinics are for disaster-relief food bags, donated byvarious countries to the World Food Programme. More than half thelocal subsistence farming community in the region is destituteafter the area was hit by devastating floods along the Lilongweriver earlier this year. The floods swept away most of theirpotential maize harvest and with it the top and richest layer ofthe soil. "It is awful. We do not have any food at all. Wewere sick and did not have enough energy to replant," saidKasenye Zebulani, a subsistence farmer in one of the worst-hitvillages in Salima. This young man and his wife Agnes are bothvictims of a dual catastrophe first the drought, and then thefloods that ravaged central Malawi. And this in a country thatrecorded its best maize production figures to date only two yearsago. This couple and their children are among the many thousandfamilies due to receive food-aid from the programme, which isdistributed in their village by the British development charityAction Aid. About 3-million people in Malawi are now being fed byinternational donations, some from SA and the region but most ofit donated from the US and other major producer countries. Withthe arrival of food aid, and the meagre harvest which will lastanother month or two, Malawians can take a breather. More foodaid, covering half the needs of the 3-million people at risk isalso on its way. The two unanswered questions now are: how manydied before the arrival of international aid; and, naturaldisasters aside, who is to blame for this the worst famine inMalawi in living memory? The number of dead is not yet countedfor but runs into thousands. Many more have died from relateddiseases. Nongovernmental organisations such as Save the Childrenare adamant that the famine could have been avoided, if theMalawi government had listened to the warnings presented to it ayear ago. President Bakili Muluzi's government is under fire forits lack of support, in general, for subsistence farmers and forwide-scale corruption. Most intriguing was the government'shandling of the strategic grain reserve the country's nationalfood security backbone. The government sold off 600000 tons ofmaize before October 2001, enough to feed the whole of Malawi fornine months, only to buy back as much as it could mainly from SA,with the help of Absa Bank which advanced a $30m loan only a fewmonths later, for inflated prices. "The price increased by500% in some areas. It meant that the price of feeding theaverage farming family suddenly shot up dramatically," saidEdson Musopole, regional Director of Action Aid. However, thisargument does not impress hard-nosed Malawian governmentofficials who reject criticism on the famine. The Malawiangovernment says it was instructed by the International MonetaryFund (IMF) to sell off the maize reserve and liberalise the maizemarket. The IMF, however, maintains that it recommended to thecabinet that only some of the reserve should be sold, not everysingle grain. However, there is talk in Lilongwe that someone"high up" made a tidy fortune on the sudden increase instaple food prices that followed the drought and floods. Thenastiest of these rumours is that much of the grain sold by thereserve was at first withheld by unidentified local traders andthen sold off when the price peaked. The catholic commission forjustice and peace in Malawi released a list of names ofpurchasers of reserve maize, which included a number of prominentMalawians. The government later ordered an audit of the reserveto appease the donor community, but lack of detail in the finalreport has seen food aid donors press for their own audit.Possible food price manipulation on such a scale was and still isa regional problem as trade patterns in southern Africa wereaffected when Malawi started to shop around for maize, sayexperts. The issue of the effect of the food crisis on maizeprices in the region was put to programme boss James Morris, whenhe visited the region last week. His response was that was thenature of supply and demand, and the programme could do nothingabout it. Morris, however, said he had made it abundantly clearto leaders such as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that theprogramme would not accept political manipulation of food aid. Hefell short of suggesting that it is up to regional peers todiscipline their neighbours, if short-term greed affects theregion's stability and livelihood. Malawians are themselvesstarting to act. An anticorruption party, with strong views ongovernment mismanagement, was formed in June and Muluzi's questfor a third term in office was quashed by Malawi's parliament bythree votes. In the longer term it boils down to transparentagricultural policies and practices. The Malawian government hasa lot to answer for, say its critics. And time is running out.Within two months, 2-million people will need food aid. Add thepolitical and economic ramifications of the Zimbabwean foodcrisis and the need for corrective peer action is critical.However, for Kasenye Zebulani's family and for his farmingcompatriots in Salima, that is purely academic. Their needs arepressing and immediate and cannot wait for political solutions.
Three million facing starvation in Malawi (Blantyre,The Independent (London), 08/07) - Plumes of yellowflowers stand erect from the cassia trees that line the avenuesof Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. Vivid red-leaved poinsettias20ft wide grow beside the road and banana, paw-paw and avocadotrees are laden with fruit. This is a land of abundant produce,so how is it starving? The weather is cold and grey, much likeEngland. Occasionally, the cloud breaks and there is a shaft ofhot, delicious sun but where is the heat and dust anddrought that are the harbingers of famine? These are the first ofmany puzzles about Malawi. Its climate is equable, its vegetationexuberant, its people are at peace. Why should it suffer a foodshortage? And who exactly is short of food? Discovering the truthis not easy. I arrived in Lilongwe in early June, expecting tofind a country mobilising to deal with the imminent threat ofstarvation. Twenty million are said to be at risk across southernAfrica 3 million of them in Malawi from acombination of drought, pestilence, war, corruption and famine.Instead, I found a government locked in a constitutional rowabout the re-election of the President for a third term and anaid community bemused by the international focus on the countryand unsure how to respond to it. Malawi is hungry and many of itspeople are desperately so but it is not starving not yet.Veterans of the "scorched earth" famines of Ethiopia in1984 and the Sudan in 1990 insist nothing on that scale has beenseen so far in Malawi. Senior executives of the aid agencies inBritain, who have launched disaster appeals to raise funds forsouthern Africa, are privately worried that this scepticism fromprofessionals on the ground will undermine their efforts. Thechief executive of a British-based charity told me last week:"I am confident we can persuade the public to give now tostave off the crisis that will otherwise come in November but ifthe people out there start questioning our efforts that could bevery damaging." I spent 10 days touring Malawi, visitinghospital malnutrition clinics and villages in the bush wherecrops have failed and I saw many children with the dry hair,puffy hands and feet and protruding bellies that are the signs ofmalnutrition. I saw sick elderly grandparents who face a dailystruggle to find food for young children whose parents are dead,victims of Aids. I met villagers whose crops had been stolenbecause the price of maize, the staple food, is rising and thehungry are growing more desperate. I saw homes preparing maizehusks the "hunger food" made from the chaffaround the grain normally fed to chickens but used in lean yearsto tide over families to the next harvest.
But the hunger is not universal. Even in the same village,some have enough and others do not. Moreover, hunger is an annualphenomenon. According to the Demographic and Health Survey 2000,published by the Malawian National Statistics Office, severemalnourishment affects 26 per cent of under-fives in rural areasand 13 per cent in urban areas the result of years of foodshortages. Hunger, disease and poverty exact an annual cull ofthe population in Malawi. The difference this year is that thecull has started early, in May and June, which should be a timeof plenty. At Mulanje mission hospital in the south, 900 childrenwere seen in the malnutrition clinic in May, a record for thatmonth, when the numbers should be falling. At Chitambi, a largevillage of 50 houses four miles from the Mulanje-Blantyre road,people were forced to bring in their crops early this year partlyout of hunger and partly to protect them from thieves. AgnesRenard was drying maize husks outside her home and several houseshad mats of millet drying, normally used for brewing beer butused as a substitute food when maize is short. The village chief,an elderly, frail man wearing a double- breasted blue jacket andbrown trousers rolled to the knee, had planted a small plot ofmaize in front of his house, instead of in the fields, so hecould guard it from thieves. "I only depend on God. WhateverGod prepares I accept. Only God knows the future," he said.To some, this fatalism can seem exasperating. If you are starvingwhat should you do? Sit and wait for death, at God's convenience,or go and search for food elsewhere? Malawi has one of thelargest freshwater lakes in the world with water for crops and anabundance of fish. Why not move to the lake? But this is tomisunderstand the predicament. Where life is hard, communitieslearn to endure. Stoicism is their strength. They have noresources, no savings, nothing with which to pay for a fishingnet or seed or fertiliser or transport to enable them to startagain. Yet they remain cheerful and dignified, not gloomy anddowncast, laughing in the face of hardship. That is the Africanmiracle. Those that have little, share even the little that theyhave. They move slowly and work little, conserving energy. Butthey survive. I asked Grace Malenga, head of the Moyoh Housemalnutrition clinic at Queen Elizabeth hospital, Blantyre, togauge the position. Behind her, solemn-faced children lay inertin the ward where beds had been crammed together in pairs toincrease capacity. Dr Malenga smiled patiently. She has answeredthis question many times. "I can say that where today wehave 20 patients, five years ago we may have had 10. But whatdoes that tell you? Distinguishing the effects of a food crisisfrom the effects of malaria, HIV and tuberculosis is verydifficult. If a child is weakened by lack of food then they willbe more likely to succumb to disease." She paused, thenadded: "However, I am a Malawian villager and when I go tomy village I can see, yes, the situation is quite desperate. Itis not so desperate now but it will be in a few months. There issimply not enough food." I told her I had seen maize husksbeing prepared in the village of Chitambi. "If they areusing maize husks now, that is very serious. This is the time tothrow them to the chickens. October, November, December that is the time to use maize husks when there is no maizeleft to eat." The food crisis is deepened by the Malawianpassion for nsima, the staple food, made from maize flourinto patties that have the appearance and bland taste of solidsemolina. It is a comfort food, filling the belly and warming theblood in a country stalked by hunger, where the nights can becold. Malawians say if a man hasn't eaten nsima, he hasn'teaten. But maize is a fragile plant, susceptible to drought andflood, and constant cultivation of the crop drains the soil ofnutrients. Efforts to persuade Malawians to diversify and growother crops such as cassava have had limited success up to thispoint. The Malawian government has been blamed for selling offits entire food reserves of 167,000 tons but it would have beeninsufficient to cover the current shortfall estimated at 600,000tons. Britain, too, must share the blame. It provided"starter packs" to every farmer in 1998 and 1999containing seeds and fertiliser but, after record harvests, theprice of maize plummeted. Farmers stopped growing the cropbecause there was no incentive. In 2000, starter packs were givenonly to the neediest 1.5 million farmers, which went down to 1million in 2001. That decision proved disastrous. This year'sharvest, hindered by poor weather, came in at 1.4 million tons,compared with the 2 million tons needed to feed the country. MikeWood, the head of the UK Department for International Developmentin Malawi, said: "The Government complained that the decline[in farmers targeted with starter packs] was too steep. Our viewis that if we hadn't done what we did there wouldn't be anyfarmers growing maize. "Unfortunately for everyone, thedecline coincided with poor weather and harvests." The storyillustrates the difficulty facing donors wanting to help withoutundermining a country's capacity to help itself. Last February,the food shortage was the gravest for a decade, and PresidentBakili Muluzi declared a crisis. The price of maize doubled,millions went hungry and an untold number died. This year, thelean months of December, January and February that lie ahead lookcertain to be worse unless urgent action is taken now.Mike Wood estimates about half of the 600,000 tons shortfall iscovered by commitments from donors. The rest, the Government ishoping, will be brought in by commercial organisations to sell onthe open market. But the economy is in meltdown with inflationrunning at 20-plus per cent and interest rates as high as 50 percent, so there is little incentive for businessmen to take therisk.In that case, we may yet witness a famine to rival any seenin Africa in many years.
A COUNTRY'S BURDEN
Aids is stripping African nations of breadwinners. Theinfection rate in Malawi is approaching one in five one intwo among adults above 30. Only the old and the young are left.Rural areas are also losing young, able-bodied farm workers whomove to town.
The population is growing in spite of Aids
Though the rate of population growth has been cut from 5per cent to 2 per cent a year, attendance at family planningclinics is dropping in rural areas. "No one would go to buycontraceptives when there is no food in the house," saidWalter Jiyani, director of family planning agency Banja LaMtsogolo.
The average for a Malawi women is six to seven children.Infant mortality is 150 per 1,000 live births (compared with lessthan six per 1,000 in Britain). Maternal mortality has doubled inthe past five years (from 620 per 100,000 births in 1997 to 1,120in 2001), fuelled by Aids, nursing shortages and lack of care. Awoman in Malawi who has the average of six to seven childrenstands a one in 13 chance of dying during childbirth.
Foreign surgeons to help in cardiac surgery (MauritiusNews, July) -A team of cardiac surgeons will come toMauritius every three months to perform paediatric cardiacsurgery and train local doctors. This was announced by theMinister of Health and Quality of Life Minister, Mr AshokJugnauth. The team has been in Mauritius since the beginning ofthis month and has operated on seven children and examined 34others. Dr A. Kalangos, president of Association HumanitaireCoeurs Pour Tous, leads the team from Geneva for the first time.It also comprises Dr M. Pelegrin, anaesthetist, Dr Mohadjerine,surgeon, and Mr Main Fong, senior manager in the department ofsurgery at Hopitaux Universitaires de Geneve. The visiting teamhas also donated equipment worth around Rs 400,000 to the CardiacCentre at Pamplemousses. Dr Kalangos has even agreed to providetechnical assistance to the centre so that eventually it maybecome a referral centre for the Indian Ocean region. Mr Jugnauthalso says that Hopitaux Universitaires de Geneve is offering ascholarship to train a paediatric cardiologist and a paedriaticsurgeon this year. Mr Alain Fong has agreed to train a Mauritiansurgeon in renal transplant and is studying the possibility oftraining some orthopaedic surgeons. "We are evencontemplating the possibilities of sending some of our nurses fortraining in Geneva" stated Mr Jugnauth.
Chissano calls on Swaziland to combat sugar smuggling(Maputo, Agencia de Informacao de Mozambique, 27/07) - MozambicanPresident Joaquim Chissano on Friday took the opportunity of anofficial visit by King Mswati III of Swaziland to call for avigorous combat against the smuggling of sugar into Mozambiquefrom the neighbouring countries. Mozambique's own sugar industryis under threat from illegal imports, particularly from Zimbabwe,but also from Swaziland and Malawi. At a joint press conferenceon Friday evening, Chissano stressed that cooperation in bordersecurity must also include the fight against contraband. Chissanocalled for respect for the SADC (Southern African DevelopmentCommunity) trade protocol, which, in his view, included thedefence of legal trade by combatting the illegal variety. Hepointed out that contraband can ruin the Mozambican domesticmarket by undercutting domestic prices. Mswati said that somemeasures are under way to reorganise the Swazi sugar industry torespond to the demands of the regional sugar market. Economicsdoes not seem to be the absolute monarch's strong point, for hewas talking about increasing Swazi sugar production. He saidthat. shortly before coming to Mozambique, he had attended theopening of a giant Swazi sugar factory which will make Swazisugar production "more efficient " (i.e. cheaper).Mozambique can take scant comfort from this. For if Swaziland'sown sugar market is saturated, and the country cannot secureincreased quotas on the American and European markets, then therewill be strong pressure to try and dump surplus Swazi sugar inMozambique. Mswati thought that, despite the contentious issue ofsugar, there was room for increased trade between the twocountries. He was interested in importing fish, shellfish andcashew nuts from Mozambique. These are products which Swazisenjoy, he said, but which the kingdom does not produce. Duringtheir talks, Chissano and Mswati discussed reopening the Gobaborder post. Currently there is just one official border crossingbetween the two countries, at Namaacha. The Goba post has beenclosed for over a quarter of a century. The Goba post will bere-opened to the benefit of cross- border trade, and the tourismprojects of the Libombos Spatial Development Initiative. Chissanosaid that on the Swazi side of the border preparations for there-opening were well advanced. He did not say what was holdingthings up on the Mozambican side. The two heads of state alsodiscussed the treatment of illegal immigrants, sharedwatercourses (notably the Maputo river), and possiblepartnerships between Mozambican and Swazi businesses. As forconstitutional reform in Swaziland - where political parties arestill illegal - Chissano said that, through the Commonwealth,Mozambique has made a legal expert available to assist the Swaziauthorities in this direction. Mswati travelled overland toMaputo, and was supposed to cross the border at Namaacha at13.00. In fact, he arrived at 17.30, keeping his hosts waitingfor four and a half hours. For reasons of security, the borderwas effectively closed during this period, thus paralysing theusual cross-border trade. Mswati will spend the weekend attourist resorts in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane,sampling the delights of the Indian Ocean. He is accompanied byone of his many wives, the 19 year old Inkosikati La Masango, aswell as Swazi Foreign Minister Abednego Ntshangase.
Mozambique and South Africa to discuss economic issues(Maputo, Sapa-AFP, 18/07) - Mozambique President JoaquimChissano is due to meet his South African counterpart PresidentThabo Mbeki later this month to discuss economic issues, theInvestment Promotion Centre (CPI) said Thursday. A Mozambicandelegation lead by finance minister Luisa Diogo, is presently inSouth Africa to prepare for the mini-summit, according to CPI.The meeting between the two leaders is expected to be dominatedby discussions on the tariff war between Mozambique's CahoraBassa hydro-electric dam and South Africa's electricity supplycompany, ESKOM. The dam's operating company and ESKOM have failedto agree on a price for electricity supply, with Mozambiqueinsisting the two South African cents ESKOM pays per kilowatt perhour of energy is too little. Other issues on the agenda includethe creation of transport corridors and the exploration ofnatural gas in southern Mozambique.
Special zone to encourage Mauritian investment(Maputo, Agencia de Informacao de Mozambique, 16/07) - A"special economic zone" for agricultural investment maysoon be created over an area of 100,000 hectares in the centralprovinces of Manica and Sofala, according to Agriculture MinisterHelder Muteia, cited in Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily"Noticias". Muteia said this "special" zonewould provide fiscal incentives for Mozambican and Mauritianinvestors. He was speaking after a visit to Mauritius, where hesigned a memorandum of understanding with the Mauritianauthorities on agriculture, food technology and naturalresources. This envisages partnerships between Mozambican andMauritian concerns in such areas as sugar, forestry,biotechnology, fruit and vegetable production and agro-industry.The two governments agreed to promote institutional cooperationin the agriculture sector, develop joint research and trainingprogrammes, and promote joint ventures for the production ofexport crops in Mozambique. A Mauritian consortium is already themajor shareholder in the Sena company, which has rehabilitatedthe Marromeu sugar mill on the south bank of the Zambezi. Muteiahoped that Mauritian businesses would also be interested inreviving the paralysed sugar factory at Buzi, just south ofBeira. He said that a Mauritian delegation will visit Mozambiquein August to assess the viability of rehabilitating the Buzicompany. The Mauritian company concerned, Muteia added, isinterested in producing not only sugar, but also rice, cotton,vegetables and alcohol.
Government denies land conflicts in Manica (Maputo,Agencia de Informacao de Mozambique, 12/07) - Thedirector of agriculture in the central Mozambican province ofManica, Jose da Graca, has denied that there are any landconflicts caused by the prospect of the settling of Zimbabweanfarmers in that province, reports Friday's issue of the dailypaper "Diario de Mocambique". Graca explained that,according to the legal procedure, the government will never grantland to any investor before consultations with the localcommunities. He further explained that the principle agreed withthe communities is that the investors, of whatever nationality,should not be granted land already occupied by local farmers, orland with cultural significance, such as cemeteries and sacredforests. "What is happening is that some Mozambicans whohave farms want to enter into partnerships with Zimbabweans, andsome want to hire out their farms. In the specific case of Baruedistrict, we know exactly who the person is who wants to do sucha deal with the Zimbabweans, because he came to us",explained Graca. He noted that this man has not worked the landin question for many years. He claims that he inherited from hisparents an area of 1,000 hectares, and he never had the capacityto use all of it. There are now 26 families on the farm. Theyhave been working parts of this land since 1975, and the ownersays he wants them removed. Graca said that the major mistakecommitted by this Mozambican was to wait for a foreign investorto appear, before trying to negotiate the withdrawal of squattersfrom the land he claims. In reality, this was a land disputebetween Mozambicans, said Graca, and now attempts were being madeto turn it into a conflict between Zimbabweans and the localcommunity. Graca said that if the people on the farm are willingto leave, then that is a matter for negotiation, but he notedthat this should be between the occupiers and the Mozambicanfarmer, not with the Zimbabwean. According to the Mozambican law,any person who has occupied, in good faith, a plot of land forten years or more, is automatically entitled to tenure of thatland. Graca said that priority goes always to communities when itcomes to land tenure. "Communities have priority, but wealso want the private sector, and we do not want anyconflicts", he said. Bernardo Estevao, a local communityleader in Barue, told the paper that the community is not againstthe coming of foreign investors, but he demands that thecommunity be consulted. He says that the local people were neverconsulted, but were merely "informed" that theZimbabwean farmers had been authorised to occupy the land."We want them to come and help us develop our areas, to giveus jobs and produce the food that we need so much, but theprocess should be transparent and without impositions", saidEstevao.
Defence Minister denies recruiting building workersfor Portugal (Maputo, Mozambique News Agency, 10/07) - MozambicanDefence Minister Tobias Dai has denied a report carried by aPortuguese television station that he was involved in hiringMozambican workers for a Portuguese building company in 2001. Thestory, carried by the private Lisbon TV station SIC, concerned 24Mozambicans who went to Portugal on 9 August 2001, where theyworked for a company in the northern city of Braga, owned by aman named Arlindo Correia. SIC claimed they were working inconditions of near slavery, and that of their monthly salary of64 euros, nearly half (30 euros) was discounted by the employerfor various purposes. SIC dragged in Dai's name. claiming that hehad been involving in the hiring of these workers. When AIMcontacted Dai on sunday he flatly denied the SIC claim."Neither in my personal capacity, nor as Minister ofDefence, do I have, or did I have, anything to do with theseMozambicans going to Portugal", he said. He thought it verystrange that his name should be linked to something that wastotally foreign to his Ministry. He could only imagine that hewas dragged into the story because he had been in Braga when hevisited Portugal last year, at much the same time as the arrivalof the 24 Mozambican workers. Correia's company, called simplyAr-Lindo, intends to set up a branch in Mozambique: the 24Mozambicans were to receive training in Braga, and afterwardsreturn to Mozambique to work in the planned Ar-Lindo branch. 19of these Mozambicans returned to Maputo on 3 July, and AIM spoketo one of them, Simoes Chelene, who said that their recruitmenthad been a strictly private matter. He said a lawyer named DrBoene had drawn up their contracts. Chelene had headed the group,and said he did not know why their contracts were suddenlyinterrupted. They were taken by surprise last week, when theiremployer told them to pack their bags because they would bereturning to Mozambique the following day. Chelene said it wastrue that for eight months they had 30 euros discounted fromtheir monthly wages, supposedly to pay for their eventual returnto Maputo. But, although the work was heavy, he thought itexaggerated to compare it to slavery. During their stay two ofthe Mozambicans, Afonso Mutombene and Atanasio Nhabinde, sufferedsevere injuries. They were cleaning a floor, when one of thechemical agents they were using exploded, setting fire to theirclothes. They received serious burns, and Chelene doubted whetherthey would be able to work again. These two men are still in aPortuguese hospital, and Chelene did not know how long theirmedical treatment would take. That left three of the originalgroup of 24 - Chelene said they had disappeared, presumably toseek other work, as clandestine immigrants, elsewhere inPortugal.
More people may need assistance (Irin, 02/07) - Mozambique'sfood security crisis could worsen, should the important autumncrop fail in parts of the country that are already battlinghunger. Earlier this year a joint Food and AgriculturalOrganisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) assessmentfound that about half a million Mozambicans needed food aid. AWFP consultant in Maputo told IRIN on Tuesday that this numbercould rise should the autumn crops fail. The FAO/WFP Crop andFood Supply Assessment Mission visited Mozambique from 21 Aprilto 10 May this year to determine needs in the wake of a regionalfood crisis brought on by drought. About 515,000 people in poorhouseholds in 43 districts of the southern and central regions ofMozambique were identified as "facing severe foodinsecurity". This was about 15 percent of the totalpopulation of the two regions but was less than three percent ofthe country's total population. It was estimated that the needywould require 70,050 mt of food aid until April 2003. "About355,000 of the proposed 515,000 beneficiaries require immediatefood aid of 53,250 mt through March 2003, while a second group of160,000 people requiring 16,800 mt should be added in September2002 because their current-year harvest production will beexhausted at that time," the FAO/WFP report said. WFPconsultant Peter Haag told IRIN that officials were"starting the next round of assessments as we speak"and that "there is a general belief that these numbers [ofpeople needing aid] are going to go up". Of particularconcern was the possibility that, as a result of the poor weatherconditions, the autumn harvest could fail. "Mozambique hastwo harvests, spring and autumn, the autumn harvest is quiteimportant for the south and that's why people are quite concernedthat the situation could become worse, if the second crop failsthe numbers [of those in need] will go up," Haag said. Atpresent the WFP was supplying food to between 250,000 to 350,000beneficiaries. This was being done in line with the governmentspolicy to, wherever possible, conduct food-for-work programmes,he said. The current crop assessment would not only survey thecrops in the food insecure southern and central parts of thecountry but also in the north, where pests have taken their tollon cassava crops, another staple food. "One thing that wasnot at all included in our budgets [of aid required], which isnot related to droughts, is that a number of districts in Nampulain the north will have problems with their cassava [crops],because of pests. For the people it does not matter if they gowithout food because of drought or pests," Haag said.Mozambique had so far been lucky in the sense that "it washardest hit where population density was not high". However,people would continue to be food insecure because "they aresticking to drought vulnerable crops ... people are still verymuch sticking to white maize". This was despite efforts bythe government and FAO to get people to diversify their crops.WFP information officer, Inyene Uyoden, told IRIN that althoughthe harvest in the north of the country had been better than thesouth, it was cheaper and logistically easier to import reliefmaize from South Africa. Said Uyoden: "The costs of bringingthings from the north to the south are [greater] than getting itshipped from Durban straight up to Maputo. For some of thecommercial farms [in Mozambique] the costs of bagging the maizeand shipping it is fine, but not for the smaller farms ... youneed a certain amount of maize for the economy of scale tokick-in. "We've been trying to get them [smaller farmers] toform cooperatives so we can get them to sell as a group."Apart from the economic stumbling blocks, transportinfrastructure also made sourcing maize and other stocks from thenorth difficult. Mozambique's infrastructure was severelydegraded during its long civil war. "The roads in the northare not good, getting crops from the fields to a main centre,such as Beira or Nampula, and from there on to the south isgenerally difficult," Uyoden said. It had been reportedthat, where possible, farmers in the north were exporting maizeto neighbouring Malawi, which is struggling with its own foodsecurity crisis.
Deported American refugee official in Windhoek(Harare, The Daily News, 31/07) - John Michael Graglia,an American deported from Zimbabwe last Wednesday over theTongogara refugee camp sex-for-perks scandal, is in Windhoek,Namibia. He is reportedly waiting for the result of his appealagainst the government's decision to deny him a work permit.Graglia is an intern with the International Catholic MigrationCommission (ICMC), seconded from the John Hopkins School ofAdvanced International Studies in Washington DC. Last month heexposed the alleged rampant sexual abuse of vulnerable exiledwomen and boys by officials at the refugee camp in Chipinge.According to sources in the Immigration Department, Graglia wasdeported for rushing to report the scandal to the ICMC and theUnited Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) headquartersin Geneva without first informing Zimbabwean authorities. He wasalso accused of giving the story to The Daily News. The ICMC runsthe camp on behalf of the government and the UNHCR. Efforts toget comment from the chief immigration officer failed on Sunday.
Student xenophobia comes under fire at university (TheNamibian, 31/07) - A decision to bar foreigners frompositions on the Students Representative Council at theUniversity of Namibia has been criticised as"xenophobic" and narrowly nationalistic. The YoungDemocrats, the youth wing of opposition party, the Congress ofDemocrats, yesterday said the move recently adopted by the SRC atthe University of Namibia did not "reflect the internationalcharacter" of Unam. "The argument of the proponents ofthis xenophobic proposal that foreign students might interferewith Namibian politics is unfounded, baseless, (and) ridiculousif not stupid," the Young Democrats said in a statement."Namibians, especially the youth, should embrace the spiritof the African Renaissance and be happy to live with fellowAfricans in particular and citizens of other countries ingeneral." The move to keep foreign students out ofleadership positions comes on the heels of the formation of theAfrican Union, accompanied by calls for continental unity. Twoout of 12 positions on the SRC at Unam are currently occupied byAfricans from outside Namibia. About one-third of the students atUnam are foreigners. However, the SRC has proposed that only oneforeign student should be allowed to sit on the SRC. Undercurrent rules any student can run for any position on the SRC. AUnam spokesman said the proposal has not yet reached Unam'smanagement. Such a move can only be carried out once it has beenapproved by the University's Council.
University to exclude foreign students from StudentCouncil (The Namibian, 29/07) - Foreign students at theUniversity of Namibia (Unam) are upset by a StudentsRepresentative Council decision to restrict their representationon the SRC. If the decision is endorsed by the UniversityCouncil, the highest decision-making body at Unam, foreignstudents will only be allowed to contest for a single portfolioon the SRC while 12 positions will be reserved for Namibians.Unam has about 2 000 foreign students and 4 000 Namibianstudents. At present students from other African countries occupythe portfolios of Vice President and Secretary General on theSRC, with the other 10 positions are occupied by Namibianstudents. Proponents of the exclusion policy say foreign studentson the SRC could interfere in Namibian politics as they couldaccess local politicians via their role on the SRC. Localstudents apparently feel Namibia's national integrity could be atrisk if they allow foreign students to run for all the positionson the SRC. "They (proponents) say if there are manyinternational students in the SRC it will be very difficult totrain future Namibian leaders," said a Unam student. OnFriday more than 100 students from Angola, Botswana, Zambia,Zimbabwe, among other African countries, held a meeting at Unamat which they signed a petition opposing the move. "Theimplications will be very drastic ... international students willbe sidelined in decision making," said one foreign student.He said the proposal bordered on "segregation" whilethe image of Unam "would be "tainted". The studentadded that relations between local and foreign students weregenerally good, but the decision "is apparent xenophobia, wedon't know where it comes from". Herold-Stanley Binda,Speaker of the Students' Parliament at Unam, defended the SRCdecision. He accused opponents of blowing the issue out ofproportion. Unam had various committees and structures throughwhich international students could air their views and could berepresented, he added. "The most important thing is we wantto develop the expertise of Namibian students. We only have oneuniversity and this is the place were we have to nurture ourleaders. If not, then what are we doing?" said the studentleader. "Our people (students) cannot become leaders (SRCs)in other countries. If you go to Botswana you will not find aNamibian serving on their SRC, why should we accept thisnonsense," he said Added Binda: "We are PanAfricanists, yes we agree with all the sentiments (of PanAfricanism) and we are committed to the AU (African Union),however it is acceptable to think internationally and actnationally." Unam spokesman Edwin Tjiramba was not availablefor comment over the weekend, and several efforts to contact ViceChancellor, Professor Peter Katjavivi, proved futile.
Tourists robbed at gunpoint (The Namibian, 26/07) - Twotourists from Holland were robbed at gunpoint in the Karibib areaon Wednesday. The two robbers stole goods, including jewellery,clothing and photographic equipment, and N$6 200 in cash from thetourists, Police sources said yesterday. The sources said therobbery was carried out by a tall, lean suspect and a short,squat man at around 14h30 near a lodge at Karibib where thevictims were staying. One of the suspects had a rifle while theother was armed with a revolver. Both are believed to have beeninvolved in a spate of robberies targeting farmers in the area.One of their apparent victims was tied up and left in a fieldbefore he freed himself. The farmers have now grouped togetherand are reportedly trying to track the duo. They have reportedlycomplained that the Police are slow to react to robberies onfarms because of a lack of transport.
Namibia, Angola tackle cross-border crime (TheNamibian, 23/07) - The 9th Annual Namibia-Angola JointCommission on Defence started sitting at Ondangwa in northernNamibia yesterday. Among others, defence officials will look atenhancing co-operation on the prevention of cross-border crime.Officially opening the four-day meeting, the Namibia DefenceMinistry's Permanent Secretary (PS), Erastus Negonga, noted thatit was taking place at a time when the two countries werewitnessing the ongoing peace process in Angola after many yearsof civil war. Negonga said the meeting would also discuss thepeace process in Angola, trade relations, bilateral matter aswell as defence and security issue. He noted that the governorsof the regions situated along the border of Kunene and QuandoLubango were attending the meeting. Negonga, who is leading theNamibian delegation, said a report would be prepared fordiscussion during a ministerial meeting scheduled for Thursday.Namibia and Angola's Home Affairs and Defence Ministers areexpected for that session.
Restaurant problem on way to resolution (The Namibian,19/07) - A labour dispute at the China Grand Restaurantin Windhoek moved closer to resolution yesterday when the manageragreed to pay severance packages to two employees. The manager,Lin Luo, had not arranged the packages nor had she given theemployees written warnings before dismissing them as required bythe Labour Act. At a meeting with union representative GertrudeUsiku and a Ministry of Labour inspectorate official yesterday,Luo agreed to pay the workers their salary in lieu of one month'snotice, as well as severance pay of one week for each yearworked. Luo, who was sent from China to run the establishmentonly two months ago, said she had not been familiar with theprovisions of the Namibian Labour Act until a few days earlier.John Shiku and Simon Kamenye were fired for allegedly refusing todo work assigned to them. The workers deny these charges. Usikuof the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) said thedismissal was "unprocedural". She said while the unionwould accept an out-of-court settlement this time, further casesof arbitrary dismissal would be taken to the Labou r Court. Theworkers accepted the deal in principle. The exact payment theywill receive has yet to be worked out. The union's Usiku alsoaccused the restaurant of paying low wages, but Luo said shethought the wages were reasonable. Cooks and waitresses start ona basic salary of N$250, and receive bonuses and taxi money inthe region of N$300. The highest paid waitress earns just overN$800. It was also revealed that being more than five minuteslate is subject to a N$10 fine, if an employee is rude tocustomer it earns a N$20 fine. Luo said this was necessary tomaintain "discipline". Usiku said ignorance of theLabour Act was not a valid excuse. "If you set up a businessin Namibia your managers must know what the labour law says - itis a basic requirement," said Usiku. Luo said she was sentto Namibia by the Chinese state-owned company that owns acontrolling stake in the business, which was set up "as agesture of friendship" between the two countries and theirruling parties.
We must lure back African emigrants, says Nujoma (TheNamibian, 10/07) - President Sam Nujoma yesterday calledon fellow African leaders to lure the continent's top scientistsand engineers back home. Speaking at the OAU-AU heads of statemeeting in Durban, Nujoma said it was high time African leadersmade it their unfailing duty to encourage and provide thenecessary incentives for the thousands of educated Africansworking in Europe, North America and other parts of the world toreturn to the continent. "They must come back home andcontribute to Africa's socio-economic development and theupliftment of the standard of living of our people. They must bepersuaded to make a contribution to the ending of Africa'shumiliating marginalisation," the President said. Heexpressed the hope that the development of African people'sskills and expertise would be high on the agenda of the AfricanUnion (AU). "Requisite knowledge and skills will enable ourcontinent to realise the optimal exploitation and use of itsresources and thereby to be able to effectively fight poverty anddiseases that haunt millions of Africans today," he said.President Nujoma said he wanted to see Africa act in unity andwith renewed sense of seriousness to be able to influence theinternational economic order and protect the interests of thecontinent's people.
Refugee case settled in court (The Namibian, 09/07) - Thelast of the court cases lodged against the Minister of HomeAffairs after an October 2000 decision to expel 98 people accusedof being Unita sympathisers and "terrorists" fromNamibia have been settled. Government Attorney Vicki Erenstein yaToivo and Legal Assistance Centre lawyer Beatrix Greyvensteinconfirmed to The Namibian that the cases had been resolved out ofcourt. The Ministry of Home Affairs last week informed sixlong-time residents of Namibia, who had been in danger of beingdeported as prohibited immigrants, that no decision had in factbeen taken to declare any of them persona non grata in Namibia.The six sued the Minister of Home Affairs and the SecurityCommission in late 2000 over a purported decision to remove themfrom Namibia. While the long-pending matters have been laid torest, the question of who should bear the legal costs has not yetbeen resolved, Erenstein ya Toivo said. The six are:
* Louis Muhigirwa, who was born in Rwanda and came to Namibia asa refugee in 1993
* Ngeve Raphael Sikunda, the son of the former representative ofUnita in Namibia, Jose Domingos Sikunda, and who has lived inNamibia since the mid-1970s
* Linus Tjieva, who was born in Angola but says he has lived inNamibia since 1950
* Alendjius Kosta, likewise born in Angola, before he says herelocated to Namibia in 1972
* Antonio Tjindjamba, also born in Angola, and since 1992 arefugee in Namibia
* Oscar Mundombe, born in Angola and living in Namibia since 1994
The names of all six were on a list Home Affairs Minister JerryEkandjo sent to the Security Commission in September 2000, askingfor the body to recommend that they be declared prohibitedimmigrants and be removed from Namibia. Ekandjo informed theCommission that the six had been identified as "Unitaactivists, sympathisers and soldiers as well as foreign nationalsfrom Rwanda and Burundi who are a security threat to the Republicof Namibia". He claimed they were "involved interrorist activities in Namibia, furthering the interests ofUnita and that of their respective countries to the detriment ofNamibia". The Commission complied and recommended that theybe removed from Namibia since they were considered to be securitythreats to the country. The six only heard of the decision afterSikunda Sr launched what would turn out to be a protracted andbitter legal battle to prevent his deportation. He eventually wonhis case in the High Court and again in the Supreme Court, whereit was ruled that the Security Commission's decision was invalidsince it had not first heard Sikunda Sr on the matter, and alsobecause there were two vacancies on the Commission when it metand made the recommendation. The Supreme Court judgement onSikunda Sr's case effectively settled the other cases, Erensteinya Toivo explained. She added that her clients had throughoutsaid that the six were never declared persona non grata, orserved with warrants for their removal from Namibia. The basis oftheir claim that they had been declared prohibited immigrants wasa letter the Home Affairs Minister sent to the localrepresentative of the United Nations High Commissioner forRefugees, asking his assistance in finding an alternative abodefor the listed persons, she said. That letter, which came tolight during the High Court litigation on the fate of Sikunda Sr,was however later retracted. Whether the six will now be allowedto remain in Namibia is unclear, though. Home Affairsspokesperson Mikka Asino said on enquiry that he had no knowledgeof any decision in this regard. He added that he could in anyevent not reveal anything in this respect, until something hadactually been decided.
A better tourist season expected (The NamibiaEconomist, 05/07) - Judging from the statistics offoreign arrivals in Namibia, the year 2001 was definitely not agood year for businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry.The statistics from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism,indicating the total number of foreign arrivals to Namibia, showthat for the year 2001 there was a significant decline in thenumber of foreign arrivals registered at Hosea Kutakointernational airport compared to those of 1999 and 2000. Whilethese figures include permanent residents that travelled abroad,the majority of foreigners that entered Namibia through HoseaKutako airport are tourists. During September last year, arrivalstook a steep downturn with only 13740 foreign arrivalsregistered. For the remainder of the year, a total of 33490foreigners arrived through Hosea Kutako. However, the totalnumber of arrivals for October, November and December was down byonly 4497 people compared to the corresponding three months of2000. But December 2001 was still the month that recorded thelowest figures of foreign arrivals, at 8623, in three years.Arrivals for December 2000 totalled 10339 and for December 1999it came to 11583. However, bookings for the corresponding monthsthis year have been referred by travel agents and people in thehospitality as good compared to last year. Thisperiod, being the holiday season for Europeans and SouthAfricans, is expected to boost the tourism industry in Namibia aswell as in the region. According to Ms Gitta Paetzold of theHospitality Association of Namibia, the whole Southern Africanhemisphere is expected to enjoy a better season this year.Several resorts have reported that they are fully booked for thenext four months. The Okaukueyo and Halali restcamps in Etoshaare amongst these. Since last week, the number of vehicles fromSouth Africa showed a dramatic increase. South African tourists,unable to afford holidays overseas due to their currencyssharp depreciation, streamed into Namibia at Noordoewer andAriamsvlei, by the hundreds, a policeman stationed atKeetmanshoop said. Over the past weekend, so many vehicle crossedthe Namib Naukluft Park on their way to the coast, that at timesit seemed as if they were driving in convoy.
Tourism grows in the north (The Namibia Economist,05/07) - For this year, the Nakambale Museum haspredicted an increase of 8% growth in visitors numberscompared to last year. This can be seen from the number oftourists we have received and from the bookings for the next twomonths, said Mrs Magdalene Kaanamutse the museumco-ordinator. The northern based Nakambale Museum is located fivekilometres from Oniipa, a little community village that hosts themain mission station which include the Lutheran hospital, and theLutheran printing factory. Although the museum was initiallyestablished to tell the history of Martin Nakambalesexpedition, the first missionary to set up a church in the Ndongatribal area, it has become more involved with the community andit is now fully acknowledged as a community based initiative.According to Kaanamutse, the museum has put up a stall for thecommunity women to display and sell their baskets to thetourists, and the money generated from the stall is given back tothem. Besides the basket stall the museum has a craft centrewhere young people are taught how to make various curios usingclay or to carve images from wood. These programmes empowerour people with skill and give them the chance to becomeentrepreneurs, she said. Nakambale Museum is a member ofthe Namibian Community Based Tourism Association. Apart from amuseum it has a lodge, a traditional Ndonga rest house and arestaurant with the menu that features traditional Ndonga food.Traditional consumables like cooking oil from the Marula tree,lotions and creams from wild bushes, made by the communitymembers, are also sold to tourists.
Caprivi exiles to ponder possibility of safe return(The Namibian, 02/07) - A tough choice about whether toreturn faces the Namibian refugees in Botswana, after a generally- but not entirely - positive visit to Caprivi by five of theirrepresentatives last week. The five - Fidelis Mutanikelwa Muchaliand Ivan Vistor Kabunga, who hail from south central Caprivi, andWilliams Mayundu, Daan Melen Boetie and Kimson Ndando Sikundja,who are members of the Khwe community in West Caprivi - concludeda four-day tour of their home areas on Friday morning. They werewelcomed back home warmly in their respective home villages fromTuesday to Thursday. They were assured that it was safe to returnhome during visits to Khwe settlements in West Caprivi and theMafwe tribal authority's seat at Chinchimani in the Linyantiarea. The potential risks that may await them and fellow refugeeson their return to Namibia were emphasised on the last stop oftheir tour on Thursday afternoon, at Makanga village, some 70 kmwest of Katima Mulilo. The fear is that at least some of theeventual returnees could face the same experience as the previousgroup of voluntary returnees, who returned home from Botswanaduring 1999. Makanga residents claim this would mean beingtreated with suspicion and facing Police questioning, harassmentand even physical assaults. About 700 out of about 2 300 Namibianrefugees at Dukwe in Botswana have indicated a willingness to bevoluntarily repatriated. Makanga is Kabunga's home village. Thisis where some of his closest remaining relatives - his father,grandmother, aunts and uncles - stay. But it is also a villagewhere several of the 128 Caprivi high treason accused used tostay. Most of those suspected of involvement in a plot to secedeCaprivi from the rest of Namibia have been in Police custody forclose to three years. It was also in this area that exiledseparatist leader Mishake Muyongo allegedly made a public speechin early September 1998, announcing a plan to secede the CapriviRegion from Namibia, and where some of the alleged CapriviLiberation Army members who carried out armed attacks at KatimaMulilo on August 2 1999 gathered for training during October1998, and again assembled before the surprise attacks. Kabunga -a 25-year-old former insurance agent - has been away from herefor some three years and seven months. This was a time in whichhe had gone through major events of his life - getting married toa fellow refugee from Caprivi, the birth of a daughter now eightmonths old, and the death of his mother back home - all whileexiled from the land of his birth. On Thursday the people ofMakanga received him back with a rapturous welcome, exuberantgreetings, many smiles and a few tears of joy. More than ahundred residents of the village crowded together for animpromptu meeting with Kabunga, his fellow prospective returnees,and the officials from the United Nations High Commissioner forRefugees and the governments of Namibia and Botswana who wereaccompanying them on their "go and see" visits to theirformer homes. Once it had been explained that the purpose of themeeting was for Kabunga and the others to hear what the situationback home is, before they and the other refugees at Dukwe decidewhether they will return home now, the community opened its heartfurther. What came pouring out were grievances about claimedPolice interrogations, intimidation and assaults that previousreturnees and other residents say they have been experiencing.The villagers want their exiled neighbours to return, but thenthere must be better assurances of their safety than the brokenpromises that the previous returnees had been given, it wasexplained. UNHCR field officer Vesna Vukovic, who is based inRundu, told the community that the tripartite agreement underwhich the voluntary repatriation is to take place has a provisionstating that the Namibian government has to inform the UNHCR assoon as any returnee is arrested, detained or becomes involved inlegal proceedings. She encouraged the community itself to alsoreport such incidents. However, they complained that since thereturn of the previous batch of refugees in 1999, the UNHCR hasbeen absent, failing to follow up on their well-being. Therefugee agency will now make follow-up visits to Makanga, Vukovicpromised. It does not appear that the UNHCR can do much more,though. The agreement guarantees that no returnee may face anylegal proceedings, persecution, punishment or discrimination forhaving left the country as a refugee. It does not guarantee thatreturning refugees will not face prosecution in Namibia for anycrimes that might have been committed before their departure fromthe country. On Friday morning, shortly before the group returnedto Botswana, Kabunga indicated that he remained positive abouthis plan to return home. "I feel free to come backhome," he said, explaining that his father had warned himthat some previous returnees had become involved in shootingincidents - the August 2 1999 attacks - which caused them to facePolice questioning at the very least. "Those things happenedduring my absence," he said. "I'm ready to come back tomy country." What remains to be seen, though, is whether hisfellow refugees will be willing to do the same.
Local tourism students leaving for Germany(Johannesburg, Sapa, 31/07) - South African Tourismchief executive officer Cheryl Carolus on Wednesday officiated atthe send-off for 20 students who leave for Germany where theywill receive tourism training. The 20 Amathuba II students willundergo a 12 month all-expenses paid tourism training programme.Carolus said that tourism had been identified as one of thecountry's key five economic growth sectors. "We are veryfortunate indeed to have been offered this generous funding fromour German partners. "They can be secure in the fact thatthe opportunity they have made available to these enthusiasticand talented young people will make a real difference to theirlives as well as significantly contribute to the growth oftourism between our two countries." In a statement, SouthAfrican Tourism said the 20 students were chosen from across-section of comunities following a comprehensive selectionprocess of accredited German-speaking, South African touristguides. The Amathuba, meaning opportunity in Zulu, is now in itssecond year and is partly funded by the German government. Theproject serves, in part, to introduce the students tointernational tourism standards. The students have alreadycompleted a basic German language course in preparation for thetrip. "One of the ways of sustaining tourism is by ensuringthat there are sufficiently trained representatives who willconstantly improve the image of our country," said SAAirway's spokesman Victor Nosi.
Sa farmers start patrolling Lesotho border(Bloemfontein, Mail & Guardian, 31/07) - Agri FreeState farmers established their own special task force at ameeting this week to patrol the border between South Africa andLesotho, the organisation said in a statement on Friday."Agricultural representatives reiterated theirdissatisfaction with the decision to withdraw SA National DefenceForce troops from the border," the organisation said. TheNew National Party last week appealed to Defence Minister MosiuoaLekota to reconsider the deployment of soldiers on South Africa'sborders following an upsurge in stock theft. The NNP said farmersin certain areas had recorded losses of up to R1 million permonth since the troops had been withdrawn earlier this year. Theborder between Lesotho and South Africa was especially a problemspot. NNP representative on agriculture Bertie van der Merwe saidthe deployment of defence force troops along the border workedwell in combating crime. "... crime decreased by 50%compared to last year," Van der Merwe said. Lekota earliersaid the armed forces were obligated to support the police inmaintaining security, particularly where the latter was not equalto the task. "If the police can't cope they'll tellus." The police had not asked the SANDF to return to theborder, he said. "It should not be a daily thing. In fiveyears' time there should be no to support the police except in anemergency." Police representative Senior SuperintendentLazarus Tlomatsana said the police was aware that the SANDF didnot have the funds to continue guarding the borders. He saidguarding the country's borders had always been a function of thedefence force, with assistance from the police. He said thepolice had set up a task team to "look into the newsituation" and that the police would have to expand theirduties to include the borders. The whole process is beingreviewed and if we get complaints from people affected byincreasing crime on the borders, we will assist them,Tlomatsana said. Agri Free State said they welcomed hisstatement. We trust that the allocation of funds in futurewould be realistic and that it would not be necessary for farmersto take responsibility for border control, the body said.
Soweto crime sweep produces 36 arrests of illegalimmigrants (SABC News, 28/07) - Forty-six people werearrested in the Soweto area in a crime sweep that started atmidnight and ended early this morning, police said. Thirty-six ofthose arrested were illegal immigrants and the others were wantedfor crimes ranging from dagga possession to theft and unlicensedfirearms, police added. Three guns and forged ID documents wereconfiscated.
Lesotho diamond row hits SA courts (Sunday BusinessReport, 28/07) - The Lesotho government and the LesothoHighlands Development Agency acted unlawfully in efforts todeprive six South African diamond mining companies of miningrights leases in an area they intended to flood for ahydro-electric project, the Pretoria high court was told. Nowafter more than 10 years of court battles in Lesotho, costing R15million, the companies have taken on the South African governmentand President Thabo Mbeki, foreign affairs minister NkosazanaDlamini-Zumu and her deputy Aziz Pahad. In an application broughtin the Pretoria high court on Friday, Josias van Zyl, a Gautengbusinessman wants the court to review and set aside any decisionsby Mbeki last year to refuse to give him diplomatic protection inhis dispute with the Lesotho government over the cancellation ofmining leases in Lesotho and its expropriation withoutcompensation. The applicants are Van Zyl and his wife Gail intheir capacity as trustees of Burmilla Trust and the Josias vanZyl Family Trust, the Swissbourgh Diamond Mines and five othermining companies, Patiseng Diamonds, Motete Diamonds RampaiDiamonds, Matsoku Diamonds and Orange Diamonds, which form theSwissbourgh Group. In 1986 Swissbourgh formally applied fordiamond prospecting lease rights in five areas in Lesothoincluding the area of Rampai and Letseng La Terae. Full miningrights were granted in July 1988. Van Zyl told the court theLesotho government was obliged to compensate the companies foractual damages of R89 million, while damages from loss of incomeas a result of the expropriation of the leases amounted to aboutR3 billion. Van Zyl said on the basis of various geologicalreports Swissbourgh had applied for six further leases inLesotho, known as extension leases. On 7 September 1990Swissbourgh was invited to a joint meeting of the militarycouncil, the minister's council and the mining board of theLesotho government to report on progress made on the fiveregistered mining leases as well as to answer questions relatingto the extension lease applications. At the meeting the issue ofpossible flooding of the one lease area (called Rampai) wasraised in respect of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) -a commercial hydro-electric joint venture between South Africaand Lesotho. A solution was negotiated with the Lesothogovernment and the extension lease applications were approved andgranted by the military council. This resolved any possibleconflict between the rights of the Swissbourgh and RampaiDiamonds and the interests of the Lesotho Highlands DevelopmentAgency (LHDA) - a government controlled body - and accommodatedits activities within the Rampai mining lease area in theimplementation of the highlands water project, Van Zyl said. InApril 1991, General Ramaema removed Major-General Lekhanya aschairman of the then military council. Soon after the Lesothogovernment demanded $12 million from Swissbourgh before thesigning and registration of the extension leases, previouslygranted by the military council. Swissbourgh regarded this demandas a form of bribery and in breach of the provisions of theextension lease agreements and rejected the demands. Van Zyl saidLesotho military personnel then robbed Swissbourgh of diamondsfrom the Patiseng mining lease area and threatened to kill himand his staff. The company then withdrew the extension leaseapplications, which although granted, had not yet been signed andregistered. It then decided to enforce its rights in respect ofthe Rampai mining lease and informed the LHDA that it wasconducting its activities unlawfully in the Rampai lease area. Inearly 1991 during talks between the Lesotho government andSwissbourgh's lawyers, the company was invited to reinstate itapplications for the extension leases. The company complied withthe request but the Lesotho government later refused to sign andregister the extension leases. Swissbourgh and Rampai Diamondsthen took legal action against the LHDA for its unlawfulactivities in the Rampai mining lease area and obtained aninterim interdict from the Lesotho high court in July 1991. TheLHDA however ignored the interim interdict and Swissbourgh andRampai Diamonds asked the court that the LHDA be held in contemptof court. A crisis was however averted by an agreement to liftthe interim interdict and encourage the parties to talk and finda solution. Van Zyl said it later became clear that the Lesothogovernment and the LHDA had no intention to negotiate aresolution to the problem, but had concluded the agreement underfalse pretenses. Two days after the interim interdict was lifted,the Lesotho government unlawfully cancelled the Rampai mininglease - and two days later the remaining four leases - on thebasis that Swissbourgh had been in breach of the terms. The LHDAobtained a 90-day lease over the Rampai area in November 1991following the cancellation of the Rampai mining lease. This was aprerequisite for the conclusion of foreign loan agreements withthe assistance of the World Bank that the LHDA held a valid leaseover the area covered by the LHWP, including the Rampai mininglease area, and that there would be no claims in respect of themining lease there. Two days later the companies obtained aninterim interdict and a court order setting aside thecancellations of the mining leases. On March 20 1992 the Lesothogovernment adopted the Revocation of Specified Mining LeasesOrder that purported to revoke all the companies' mining leasesand prohibited any claims for compensation and/or damages. Theorder gave retroactive immunity from the suit to the Lesothogovernment and the LHDA. Another court battle ensued by thecompanies to have the revocation order aside and two years laterthen Chief Justice BP Cullinan ruled in favour of the companiesand further interdicted the LHDA from interfering with theSwissbourgh and Rampai's mining lease rights. The Lesothogovernment and the LHDA appealed against the court's finding and,while they lost the appeal, they succeeded in having theinterdict lifted. The appeal court agreed that the revocationorder was invalid stating: "It is a far-reaching militarydecree quite inconsistent with the fundamental values of theBasotho nation, articulated in modern times in constitutions bothbefore and after the date of the revocation order. "Itrepresents the temper of a military culture which no civilgovernment could ever want to be proud of." On March 27 1995the high court by consent of the Lesotho government ordered thatthe purported cancellations of the leases by the commissioner ofmines in 1991 were also unlawful. However, in that case, as partof the unlawful stratagem to expropriate the Swissbourgh andRampai's mining rights and property without the payment ofcompensation, the LHDA launched a counter-application with theknowledge and concurrence of the Lesotho government, the SouthAfrican government and the World Bank, on the basis that theRampai mining lease was conferred to the Swissbourgh in 1988 onthe basis of a procedural irregularity on the part of the Lesothogovernment. When it became clear that the LHDA had not taken anylawful steps to acquire the rights to use and flood portion ofthe Rampai mining lease area, the Lesotho government in August1995 amended the LHDA Order of 1986 by providing for theexpropriation of land rights within the LHWP scheme area withoutcompensation. Van Zyl said this act, for the first time, gave theLHDA the legal right to interfere with the Rampai mining leasearea and "ingeniously" paved the way for a LHDAcounter-application that only the "valid holder" of amining lease would in future be entitled to compensation.
Transfrontier park for SA-Lesotho border (SundayTimes, 28/07) - A R155-million conservation parkcovering more than 8km² is being planned to boost ecotourism andto alleviate poverty in the border region between South Africaand Lesotho. The Maluti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservationand Development Project aims to protect the biodiversity of theareas between the two countries through conservation, sustainableresource use and development planning. At a special ceremony inJohannesburg on Friday, Environmental Affairs and TourismMinister Valli Moosa signed the agreement with his Lesothocounterpart, Lebohang Ntsinyi. The agreement will lead to amassive 15.24-million (about R157-million) grant by the WorldBank's Global Environment Facility, of which $7.325-million(about R75-million) is destined for Lesotho and 7.925-million(about R81-million) for South Africa. Commenting after signingthe agreement on Friday, Moosa said the project would provide thecountries with an opportunity to promote conservation of theunique biodiversity and cultural heritage of the region as wellas stimulating ecotourism in Africa. The project is the largestof its kind in Lesotho, and the first bilateral conservationproject between the mountain kingdom and South Africa. A separateagreement was also signed on Friday by KwaZulu-Natal's MEC forAgriculture and Environmental Affairs, Narend Singh, on behalf ofthe KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Board, which will managethe project on behalf of the South African government. Theproject, which will cover just over 5 km² in Lesotho and almost3 km² on the South African side, is expected to be completed intwo years. "Now that the agreements have been signed,funding from the [Global Environment Facility] will follow,"said Singh. Ntsinyi said cooperation between the communities inLesotho and South Africa was in line with the spirit of the NewPartnership for Africa's Development . "A major challengefor Lesotho and South Africa is to establish sustainableecotourism destinations in this border region that will lead tolong-term alleviation of poverty and the development ofinfrastructure that will benefit communities rather thanindividuals." The country director for the World Bank, FayezOmar, said the project should be viewed as a practical example ofthe type of partnerships that could be developed between the bankand Southern African countries.
British AIDS test 'insults' SA nurses (Sunday Times,28/07) - The head of South Africa's largest nursingunion has lashed out at plans to make HIV tests compulsory forforeign nurses working in Britain - including thousands of SouthAfricans. The president of the Democratic Nursing Organisation ofSouth Africa, Ephraim Mafalo, this week said compulsory testswould stigmatise HIV-positive nurses and harm their chances ofworking abroad. "We will not be compelled to take the test.It would be very unfortunate if our members in Britain . . . areforced to submit to HIV tests," Mafalo said. His commentsfollowed media speculation in Britain this week that 700 infectednurses may have come from Africa to Britain last year. Britain'sDepartment of Health intended instituting HIV screening tests fornew nursing recruits, the reports said. South Africa is thesecond biggest provider of foreign nurses to Britain after thePhilippines. A total of 2 114 South African nurses were recruitedin 2001-02, of whom 425 could have HIV, based on a 20% prevalencerate. In contrast, the Aids rate in the Philippines is less than0.1%, according UN figures . Britain recruited 473 Zimbabweannurses in 2001-02, of whom 34% could be infected. Mandatory HIVtests would be an insult to African nurses working abroad, Mafalosaid.
Marriage scam uncovered (The Sunday Independent,27/07) - Morningside businesswoman Elvira Louise Daviesgot the fright of her life when the news that she was now marriedto an illegal Pakistan national, Syed Asaad Ali, was broken toher. At 50 she was divorced, happy and financially well off. Thelast thing she had on her mind was a spouse. Early this month,Davies went to the department of home affairs office in UmgeniRoad. Since that day her life has changed dramatically. First,the clerk congratulated her on her recent marriage. Then shefound out she was married in community of property. Worse was tocome. She discovered that if she wanted the marriage annulled orwanted a divorce, she would have to bear the costs and that theprocess could take up to two years. "I am not taking thislying down," she said this week. "This incident hasbroken my trust in this government. I am presently seeking legaladvice about whether this has infringed my constitutional rightto privacy and my dignity and good name." There is even areal fear that in the event of Davies's death, her"spouse", who has since acquired a residence permit,can inherit her estate. Marriage scams are not new in SouthAfrica, but Davies's ordeal points to department officialsworking in cahoots with illegal immigrants. The scams normallyinvolve willing South African women, who marry foreigners in whatare called "paper marriages" for a fee. In Davies'scase, however, there was no consent. Meanwhile, she is stillmarried to Ali, who gave a Morningside residential address. But,according to departmental records, he has now left the country.Although the department has launched an investigation, it hasseldom brought culprits to book in similar cases in Western Cape,Pretoria and Durban. The scam has become so big that thedepartment has had to bring in the police, the elite ScorpionUnit, and appoint a task team specifically to deal with it.Davies applied for an identity document last year and waited forup to six months, calling regularly to check on its progress.Finally, she went to the Umgeni Road offices and found thedocument was lying under the counter and not under lock and keyas required. She suspects her exposed documents resulted in herpersonal details being abused. On investigation, officials foundher "marriage" had been conducted in Pietermartizburg.The marriage certificate had Tippex used on it and a letter,ostensibly signed by her, supported Ali's application for aresidence permit. Graham Young, the assistant director in thedepartment, said the marriage officer, whose name is known, wasbeing investigated. How the fake and altered marriage certificatepassed approval for a residence permit to be authorised; howDavies's identity document was used; and how she was chosen as abride are under probe. "I put my trust in the department.Information I gave them makes them privy to what my life isabout. Corrupt officials used that information to make legal - ata price, I suspect - Ali's stay in South Africa," saidDavies. "I have property, assets, money, and he has a claimto all of that. You never think this will happen to you, and whenit does it is difficult to shake off." Senior officials inthe department, speaking on condition of anonymity, said therewas an onus on the department to verify information given byforeigners. They said recently, a marriage officer from Umgenihad sold a marriage certificate to another Pakistani seeking aresidence permit. He filled it in the parking lot and submittedit. "The corruption is cancerous among the officials.Departmental heads are failing to take any responsibility forfear of victimisation. "We even found that marriages havebeen conducted without the spouses' identity documents," oneofficial said. Young said the department viewed corruption in aserious light and had "no place" for corrupt officials.
Rise in foreign tourists to South Africa (PretoriaNews, 27/07) - More foreign travellers visited SouthAfrica from January to May this year compared to the same periodlast year, South African Tourism said on Friday. Spokeswoman LizSheridan said: "May is traditionally the lowest point of theoff-season for South Africa and is the focus of campaigns, suchas Opportunity SA, by South African Tourism to reduce theseasonality in our overseas markets." These markets includedthe Americas, Asia and Europe. Sheridan said the seasonal patternhad made it difficult for the tourism sector and the airlines, inparticular, to manage their yields during the off-season and hadadversely affected employment and sustainability. "This iswhy reducing seasonality has become a key objective of SouthAfrican Tourism's growth strategy." She said the decisionwas made in March this year to introduce the three-monthOpportunity SA package to the British market. The promotionencouraged travellers who had never considered South Africa as adestination to visit during the off-season. It also aimed toraise awareness of South Africa as an affordable destination. Thepackages were sold out within the first few weeks. "Ourtourism growth strategy identified a key set of countries andattractive market segments as the focus of South AfricanTourism's international marketing activity. The growth boom seento date in 2002 has been driven by arrivals from the UK, US andEurope," Sheridan explained. The most significantcontributor to the growth was the UK market. "For the periodJanuary to May, there were 20,6 percent more arrivals (from theUK) in 2002 compared with 2001. The first five months of 2002 hasseen 31802 more tourist arrivals, from the UK, compared with2001," Sheridan said. "Marketing in Germany, France andItaly yielded increases in arrivals of 19,4 percent, 14,5 percentand 8,2 percent respectively. A 10,9 percent growth was achievedout of the Netherlands, altogether resulting in 74,268 moreEuropean tourists coming to South Africa so far this year."This means that 212 more jumbo jets full of passengersarrived in South Africa during this period." Sheridan saidan increase in the number of tourists from the United States,Asia and Africa was also experienced during the first five monthsof this year.
SA, Zambia sign defence co-operation agreement(Pretoria, BuaNews, 26/07) - South Africa and Zambiasigned a defence co-operation agreement in Pretoria yesterday.The agreement to formalise mutual co-operation in defence betweenthe two African nations was signed by defence deputy ministerNozizwe Madlala-Routledge and her Zambian counterpart WamundilaMuliokela. In terms of the agreement, the two countries willdevelop and formulate procedures for military co-operationbetween their armed forces. They will also promote co-operationin the training of personnel and undertake combined militaryexercises such as peacekeeping operations. Addressing the mediaafter the signing ceremony, deputy minister Madlala-Routledgesaid the agreement was of crucial importance to both countries.'South Africa is prepared to work closely with Zambia ondefence-related matters,' said Ms Madlala-Routledge. In hisspeech, Mr Muliokela said the agreement would create closerworking relations and trust between the two forces. 'Theagreement will also draw the two countries closer and fosterpeace and development,' said Mr Muliokela. He said Zambiaregarded South Africa as a strong strategic defence partner inthe region and the continent.
Johannesburg seen as Africa's tourism Mecca(Johannesburg, Business Day, 26/07) - Johannesburg isincreasingly being viewed as the Singapore or Paris of Africabecause of the business and shopping opportunities it offered,Environment Affairs and Tourism Minister Valli Moosa saidyesterday. He was speaking at the release of SA Tourism'squarterly report, and said that SA was starting to show signs ofliving up to its tourism potential. As an example Moosa saidvisitors from Angola were now bigger spenders than visitors fromany other nation. The latest statistics showed that tourism to SAhad been growing strongly, rising 7,4% to 2,36-million visitorsfor the first five months of the year. Moosa said that with 72%of visitors coming from Africa, it was a priority to attract newvisitors from the continent and ensure that those who alreadyknew the country made return visits. The minister wasparticularly happy about the success achieved in increasing thenumber of visitors from the UK by 10% in May. This rise led to a108% rise in the number of seats booked on South African Airwaysflights from London to Cape Town for that month. The increase inMay was an indication that SA was starting to change theseasonality of its tourist arrivals, Moosa said. He said SATourism would focus next on attracting visitors from India. Oneadvantage of attracting Indian tourists was that they normallycame in the offpeak period. Another market that SA was targetingwas China. Moosa said that after lengthy talks, SA was only thesecond country in Africa to have received Approved DestinationStatus allowing Chinese tourists to visit here more easily. Thiswas significant as only 17 other countries worldwide have thisstatus. He said this had put SA in an "extremelycompetitive" position, and that in a year's time the volumeof visitors from China would be noticeable. SA Tourism chiefoperating officer Moeketsi Mosola said it would be a challenge toemulate the recent strong growth in future. He was confident,though, that his organisation had support from government andbusiness and the resources to see a repeat of if not animprovement on this growth.
Namibia and Angola ex-combatants live in appallingconditions (SABC News, 25/07) - Severe diarrhoea attackssuffered by pupils at a farm school outside Bela-Bela, formerlyWarmbaths, in the Limpopo Province, have practically broughtclasses to a halt. Poverty is suspected to be the cause of thesickness. The school has an overall number of some 473 learners.Most of the kids at the school are legal immigrants from Namibiaand Angola. Their parents lost their jobs in 1994. Most of themwere in the army. They are now dejected and live in appallingconditions. On Monday this week, about 90% of the learners wereaffected by diarrhoea and classes were left empty. The area wherethey live is comprised of more than 300 family units with atleast seven members in each unit. Johanna Mabote, the principalof Rhenosterkop Primary School, says learners were taken to anearby clinic after the attacks on Monday, but the nursescomplained that most of the children had had little to eat, whichmade the medicine given to them to combat the diarrhoeaineffective. Mabote suspects that the cause of the sickness ispoverty. She says the people are staying in tin houses with noventilation, no proper sanitation and no proper running water.Most of the breadwinners have died and the widows cannot supportthe children because they are unemployed. The community hasappealed to the government for food and clothing.
Cabinet rules that SANDF must return to border patrols(Pretoria News, 25/07) - Amid increasing concern aboutthe South African borders' vulnerability to cross-border crimeand illegal immigrants, the cabinet has agreed that soldiers whohave been with drawn from border patrols be sent back to theborder. The reversal comes after the SA National Defence Force(SANDF) withdrew completely from some sections of the border andscaled down its operations. In other areas, prompting whatexperts have described as a "crisis" in bordersecurity, especially along the crime-ridden borders with Lesothoand Mozambique. It emerged earlier this week that the entirestretch of South Africa's border with Botswana and Namibia wasnot being protected. While fewer than 1000 soldiers wereresponsible for patrolling the borders with Lesotho, Mozambique,Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Yesterday, Safety and Security MinisterCharles Nkaqula said the cabinet's three-day lekgotla -- whichended on Tuesday night -- had decided to redeploy some of thearmy units which earlier had been withdrawn from the border."There is a plan that we are going to put into operation toensure that the phasing out (of SANDF patrols) is not as rapid ashas been the case," said Nkaqula, who also heads thecabinet's security cluster. So we are going to return to theborder posts some of the units that have been withdrawn while weare upgrading the deployment of members of the SAPS," hesaid. In terms of a long-standing agreement between the SANDF andthe SA Police Service (SAPS), soldiers assist the police withborder patrol duties. However, the SADF recently pulled out manyof its troops because of budgetary constraints, leaving thealready hard-pressed police force to tackle problem. Said Lusse,deputy chief of SANDF Joint Operations, there was "just notenough money to continue the patrols. Lusse, speaking at aseminar in Pretoria on Tuesday also admitted that the withdrawalhad taken place too quickly. Defence Ministru spokesman SamMkhwanazi yesterday insisted that the police had to take finalresponsibility for border control, but added that the SANDF wouldsupport the police "whenever we need to." However, hecould not explain why huge sections of the border were leftunprotected when the Constitution -- while not givingreponsibility to either the police or the army for patrolling theborder -- clearly envisages that the defence force plays a rolein protecting the country's territory. Section 200(2) of theConstitution says the primary object of the defence force is todefend and protect the Republic, itd territorial integrity andits people in accordance with the Constitution and the principlesof international law." Henri Boshoff, a military analystwith the Institute for Security Studies(ISS) said the DefenceForce was responsible for protecting the State, but whether theSANDF was neglecting its responsibilities by scaling down borderpatrols was a "technical debate." The SANDF'spredicament, according to Boshoff, was that it had planned on 19companies -- of 140 soldiers each -- doing border patrol duties,but could only deploy seven units due to financial constraints."It's not because the SANDF doesn't want to do the work, butthey can't afford it," said Boshoff. The SANDF had asked for$477-million for joint operations in the 2002/03 financial year,but received only R126-million. The cutbacks were having adetrimental effect on crime levels, with stock theft in the FreeState and KwaZulu-Natal soaring since April, when the SADFstopped joint operations.
Police raid in Durban nets illegal immigrants anddrugs (Daily News, 25/07) - In a pre-dawn raid, sevenillegal immigrants were arrested in a block of flats in Durbanand police seized 55 ecstasy tablets. The raid was part ofOperation West, which has so far netted about 200 suspects wantedfor a series of crimes, including drug dealing. In a jointoperation, members of the South African Police Service, MetroPolice and officials from the department of home affairs, enteredthe office block at Power House in Albany Grove, and found atleast 200 people living illegally in the building. Provincialpolice spokesperson, Director Bala Naidoo, said the building wasbeing managed by an illegal immigrant. "The raid was aimedat targeting organised crime. Through our intelligence, we haveidentified a number of buildings in the Durban area which arehavens for criminals. "Power House is one of the buildingsthat has been condemned by the municipality. The owner has beenserved with notices by the municipality, but continues to allowpeople to live in the building." Naidoo added there were anumber of buildings in the Durban area which housed foreignerswho were being exploited by landlords. "These people areunemployed. A number of them turn to crime for money," saidNaidoo. Naidoo said since the operation started, there had been amarked decline in crime in the Point area.
Military will continue helping the police in bordercontrol (Sapa, Pretoria, 25/07) - President Thabo Mbekion Thursday confirmed the military would continue assisting thepolice in tasks such as border control. Special budgetaryallocations had been made to make this possible, he toldreporters in Pretoria. "Because the police are unable tocope with tasks on their own, additional funds from the policebudget have been allocated so that the Defence Force can carryout its work," Mbeki said. "That matter has beenresolved." A senior SA National Defence Force officerearlier in the week said parts of the country's border were beingleft unattended as soldiers began to be withdrawn from this taskbecause of budget constraints. Deputy chief of joint operations,Major-General Jan Lusse, said seven companies or 952 soldiersdeployed along borders in the first three months of the year wereinsufficient. At least two more companies were needed. Mbeki onThursday said military support for the police had for years beendealt with on an ad-hoc basis. "They say the number of yearsthat this has happened indicates that this does require specificbudget allocations. So, we will address it in a more permanentway," he said.
Home Affairs corruption crackdown (Pretoria, Sapa,25/07) - The police and the Department of Home Affairson Wednesday night launched a country-wide operation to crackdown on corrupt Home Affairs officials and illegal immigrants,police spokesman Captain Ronnie Naidoo said. Naidoo said onThursday that the operation was launched just before midnight onWednesday night in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the EasternCape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, and ended around 4pm onThursday. In that time, 50 employees of the Department of HomeAffairs were arrested for alleged corruption, as well as 30 oftheir associates and 1200 illegal immigrants. A large number offalse documents were also confiscated. "The operation waslaunched in order to vigorously deal with corruption in theDepartment of Home Affairs," Naidoo said. "Theseindividuals misuse their position in the department... forpersonal gain." He said in some cases elderly women andforeigners were targeted and made to pay for identity and traveldocuments. Naidoo said some of the arrests followed a series of"controlled purchases" during the operation. He said itwas not suspected that those arrested were part of a syndicate,but their arrest would assist in curbing organised crime,"since syndicates utilise these opportunistic elements toget fraudulent documentation." Those arrested would facevarious charges including corruption, fraud and forgery. Theywould appear in court next week.
Nearly 75% of foreign tourists come from Africa, saysCarolus (Business Day, 24/07) - Almost three quarters offoreign tourists visiting SA are Africans, says SA Tourism's CE,Cheryl Carolus. She said yesterday about 67% of the nation'stourism was domestic, while visitors from Africa made up 70% ofthe other 33%. "The Western Cape (until recently) did notknow Zimbabwe ranked fifth out of the top 20 tourism sources. Wehave to look past our prejudices," she said. Given suchstatistics, the drive by domestic tourist operators to priceeverything in dollars had to be revisited to keep SA affordablefor domestic tourists. The country's image abroad was alsochanging for the better. Carolus told the Johannesburg Press Clubmembers yesterday perceptions about security had changed sincethe September 11 attacks in the US, and SA was being seen as asafe destination. South Africans abroad were also doing theirpart, she said. The "dinosaurs" with nothing positiveto say about the country were steadily being replaced by a newgeneration, she said. However, Carolus said, the media andordinary South Africans could still do more to promote thecountry. "People pick up on the (news) wires what is said,not only by journalists but also regular South Africans likeme," she said. Referring to a recent fracas involving theunder-21 New Zealand rugby team, Carolus said there was littleauthorities could do about foreigners "with their ownagenda" bad-mouthing SA. The team claimed they were nearlyhijacked during their stay, and that some players had been chasedthrough Johannesburg's streets. Witnesses, however, said the teamhad been thrown out of a Johannesburg nightclub aftermisbehaving. Carolus said the coming World Summit on SustainableDevelopment, expected to attract up to 65000 delegates, wouldpromote SA as a prime tourist destination and events venue."The summit will show that (the country) is a world-classdestination for sophisticated events, and will help redefine thebrand Africa," she said.
SAA pilot held in coke drama (Pretoria News, 23/07) - Policelast night arrested an SA Airways pilot at Cape TownInternational for possession of 4.5kg of cocaine with a streetvalue of R1,4-million as he was about to fly to London. It wasone of the biggest drug busts at the airport. The cocaine hadbeen in a secret compartment in his luggage, and was uncoveredwhen the polices Border Policing Unit at the airport did aroutine search of crew on flight SA220. The pilot, 40 years old,is to appear in court within days, when he can be named. SAA gavetheir full cooperation and assisted the police throughout theoperation, said Provincial Commissioner Lennit Max. An SAAspokesman said the airline would not tolerate illegal or criminalactivities, including drug-trafficking by staff, anywhere including on the airline premises or on their aircraft. SAAreserves the right to suspend the accused, convene a disciplinaryhearing or conduct its own investigation, but the fate of theaccused is always determined by the outcome of the courtcase, said the spokesman.
Lindela probe could lead to exhumation (The Star,23/07) - Justice may finally be served in the case ofillegal immigrant Hameed Manesi, who died mysteriously in theLindela repatriation centre. Police have confirmed that they havelaunched investigations into the validity of claims by theDepartment of Home Affairs, which administers Lindela, thatManesi's death in March had been due to natural causes. On Mondaythe West Rand SAPS were attempting to obtain one last statementbefore they could apply for the exhumation of the body of Manesi,a Malawian immigrant who was given a pauper's burial after hisbody lay unidentified for a month. A police spokesperson said onMonday that the new investigation would also extend into thecircumstances surrounding the death of Ikechukwu Obiakor, aNigerian immigrant who was allegedly beaten to death by Lindelasecurity guards about the same time that Manesi died. Sixsuspects face murder charges over Obiakor's death, and willappear in court again on August 20. The new probe has castaspersions over claims by the Department of Home Affairs, whichlast week circulated a photograph of Manesi's corpse showing noinjuries. A photograph of the body, taken in the Krugersdorpmortuary and later shown to The Star, showed apparent bruises onhis face. Police said the aim of an inquiry would be to get thebodies of the two immigrants exhumed and new post mortemsconducted, to determine the causes of death. If Manesi's bodyshowed signs that he had been tortured, police would open amurder docket.
No evidence of economic meltdown (Business Day, 22/07)- The time has surely come for those AIDS specialistswho predict the epidemic will cause some kind of economicmeltdown to produce their evidence for scrutiny lest they do moreharm than good. As usual when facts are sparse and moralindignation runs high, the air is filled with sloppy argument andwild prophesy. The debate on the economic effects of AIDS nowresembles the early debates on the epidemic itself: pick a numberand double it every year. The effect is not neutral. As the BlackDeath showed, the instinct of rich people faced with plague is toflee. Skilled young emigrants already cite fear of economicimplosion as one reason why they see no future here. Amongbusinessmen, the responses are troubling but not irrational. Nobusiness invests in care for employees unless it sees a profit atthe end. One company has reduced its HIV burden simply byretrenching mainly low-skilled workers. Others are cutting backon medical aid, and many are switching to defined contributionpensions. Karoo farmers send trucks far to the north to hireworkers for sixmonth spells so that they incur no longtermobligations. The emigration of South African companies, and theirdrive to develop assets in less afflicted parts of the world, maynot be related to the epidemic but the fact that 100 of thecountry's top companies have "overseas strategies" doesraise an eyebrow or two. The principle reasons for predictingeconomic implosion are two: firstly, sickness and death in thelabour force will impose heavy, perhaps crippling, costs oncompanies, and secondly the loss of skilled people to disease mayprove insurmountable. (A third argument, that we are trainingpeople who will die before they can repay the cost of theireducation, seems to me to have little validity; as it is, we areeducating millions of people for lives of unemployment.) The lossof skills, however, is serious. Already about half a millionskilled jobs cannot be filled, and the Labour Force Survey of2001 found less than a tenth of the work force to be skilledmeaning they had degrees, diplomas, or NTC technicalqualifications. Emigration aggravates the problem. A study at UCTfound that in a three-year period, SA recorded 80000 emigrants;but five foreign countries simultaneously recorded the arrival of240000 South African immigrants. If predictions of economicmeltdown gain further credence, it may well grow worse. Lessskilled people will be easier to replace from the vast pool ofunemployed, most of them (4,4-million in 2001) having at leastsome high school education and many having matric. Clem Sunterargues that there is no such thing as an unskilled worker; theloss of any worker entails costs. That's true, but in themid-eighties I lost a third of my staff to emigration in a yearand I know that, except at levels of high skill, one copes bycrash-training, by jobsplitting, by finding unsuspected talent inodd places. It's not easy but it can be done. So far, despite therising death count, there is no sign of meltdown. Populationgrowth has virtually ceased but GDP continues to climb steadilyif modestly, raising average per capita incomes. As usual inSouth Africa, this new wealth is grotesquely maldistributed, someclasses growing ostentatiously richer while the sick are drivento destitution. The effects of destitution have been seen in thefailure of micro-lenders and retailers, especially furnituresellers, whose businesses depend on credit to the poor. But theretailers, having passed their debts to usurious"administrators", are curtailing credit and movingup-market. The human misery is huge, but the economic effect isrelatively limited. So far there is little to show that theoutcome will be much different from that of the Black Death: theratio of fixed investment to population will improve sharply, andin time labour shortages will drive up wages for skilled workers.If there is evidence to the contrary, I'd like to hear it. In themeantime, the predictions of economic implosion, evidentlyintended to shake down businesses for money, are the equivalentof yelling "Fire!" in a crowded cinema. It sendseverybody diving for the exits.
Police to probe Lindela deaths (The Star, 22/07) - Justicemay finally be served in the case of illegal immigrant HameedManesi, who died mysteriously in the Lindela repatriation centre.Police have confirmed that they have launched investigations intothe validity of claims by the Department of Home Affairs, whichadministers Lindela, that Manesi's death in March had been due tonatural causes. On Monday the West Rand SAPS were attempting toobtain one last statement before they could apply for theexhumation of the body of Manesi, a Malawian immigrant who wasgiven a pauper's burial after his body lay unidentified for amonth. A police spokesperson said on Monday that the newinvestigation would also extend into the circumstancessurrounding the death of Ikechukwu Obiakor, a Nigerian immigrantwho was allegedly beaten to death by Lindela security guardsabout the same time that Manesi died. Six suspects face murdercharges over Obiakor's death, and will appear in court again onAugust 20. The new probe has cast aspersions over claims by theDepartment of Home Affairs, which last week circulated aphotograph of Manesi's corpse showing no injuries. A photographof the body, taken in the Krugersdorp mortuary and later shown toThe Star, showed apparent bruises on his face. Police said theaim of an inquiry would be to get the bodies of the twoimmigrants exhumed and new post mortems conducted, to determinethe causes of death. If Manesi's body showed signs that he hadbeen tortured, police would open a murder docket.
Special Report: Indside Lindela (The Star, 19/07) - Noone shed a tear. In spite of their large number - there were morethan a thousand - none of the men and women felt the need to cryover their looming deportation as they stayed incarcerated at theLindela repatriation camp. They had been there before, in thesame situation and at the same place, and had learnt tocircumvent the imperfect system by finding their way back intoSouth Africa. Their dismissive, if not indifferent, attitude wassummed up by a young man in his early twenties from Mozambiquewho interrupted Terrence Letsholo. Letsholo is an inductionofficer and also head of security who had risen through theranks. "You can say what you want, but next week I'll becoming back with five others. I'll be the sixth," theMozambican bragged.
Tuesday July 16 2002: I am a locked up inside the Lindelarepatriation camp near Krugersdorp, armed with some cash, anotebook and a pen, which we're later told falls under a list ofprohibited items. "You could injure others using apen," Letsholo explains to the bewilderment of many. Truthis, I have just worked myself into trouble, if you may aftersetting myself up as an illegal immigrant from Botswana. Ieventually joined hordes of illegal immigrants whose faces showedtheir fury at being arrested and kept at the controversial camp.They all seem to share something in common beyond being picked upby the SAPS and immigration officials from all over Gauteng. Theentire system doesn't work because virtually all will find theirway back into Africa's breadbasket, Thabo Mbeki's land of minkand manure. They are furious at what they refer to as an"annoying temporary inconvenience". I waltzed into thecamp late afternoon to find nearly 200 people waiting. It was anopen place, some sort of a courtyard. Several rows of concretechairs, painted in a dark brown paint, lay under a gazebo.Opposite were three offices prominently marked in white paint -"consulate". Each of the three offices had a brownwooden desk and three chairs. I occupied one of the chairs in oneroom, but pulled it away towards the door and leaned against thewall. We were allowed into the offices as a cold wind blewoutside. All credit to Terrence Letsholo, chief of security, whoinvited us in, although his unidentified assistant was notimpressed at our apparent comfort. As we waited, a femalesecurity guard informed us that we would be called into thecomputer room, just a stone's throw from where we evaded thecold, for data capturing. A short, chubby and polite woman, shecalled us in turn depending on the police station where we hadbeen booked. She hollered with papers in her hands:"Pretoria, Diepkloof, Orlando, Booysens, Jeppe, Hillbrow .One by one and with amazing, if not award-winning patience, wewere processed by a middle-aged white man operating the computer.Letsholo, an affable, handsome and articulate young man, was onhand to help us get our fingerprints taken. When my turn camelhad to emulate those who had passed before me. I announcedconfident1y, but with my head strategically facing down: "Iam Jeffrey Makwe. I was born in Botswana. I am 40 yearsold." I briefly removed my cap for the picture to be taken.I prayed no one recognised my face! And then I made way forothers, holding on to my new identity card, which we would laterbe told how important it was to keep all the time. Then, likeherded cattle, we duly moved into the next room, bigger but alsoboasting long rows of concrete chairs. These were also paintedbrown.
We sat diligently as Letsholo, undoubtedly the night'sprotagonist, paced at the front of the room to read us the houserules, and not the riot act that had been expected. He is fluentin English, Zulu and Sotho, and his attempt at Shangaan waswidely appreciated. "Ladies and gentlemen," the youngman started, "welcome to Lindela. For as long as you are inLindela, I am going to be like your father, or brother orfriend." He made his spectacular oral presentation first inEnglish, then Zulu and Sotho, and at times looked my way as if toinquire whether I'm related to a newspaper columnist - a thoughtI obviously dreaded. It was comforting to hear Letsholo stress:"No one in this place has a right to beat you up." Manysighed with relief. But, he warned, "especially you,Motswana man (referring to me), please look after yourcellphone". He warned Zimbabweans that Lindela was not aplace where they could gamble with cards and warned the rest tolook after their personal possessions as Tanzanians were good atpick-pocketing. That's when I decided I would sleep wearing allmy clothes, including boots! Other instructions were that no onewas allowed to sell anything once inside Lindela, be itcigarettes or extra clothes. 'Also," warned Letsholo,"no one should try to escape because it is too dangerous.Our fences are high. We have, one with barbed wire and the otheris electric. Besides, there are patrol dogs running between thefences. If the dogs should find you stuck there you can't say'I'm sorry'. So don't try to escape. You'll only hurtyourself." Letsholo also warned that inmates discoveredselling cigarettes would have them confiscated and distributed topotential buyers for free. Same thing with clothes. If foundselling clothes "it means you don't want them any longer andwe will give to them to those who were arrested wearing shortpants and light stuff". After induction we were subjected tobody searches. There were three security guards to perform thetask. We formed long queues and one by one, were ordered to stepbarefooted onto a greyish blanket. The first official used ametal detector to body-search us, while the other two appliedtheir skills at a thorough manual body search. "You can'tbeat all three of us," one boasted after finding a pen in aMozambican's man's pockets. Items such as nail clippers, sharpinstruments and tools such as a trowel were taken away andstored. A pack of cards from a Zimbabwean man was also thrownaway. Letsholo and his troops finished searching us at 10pm andwe were taken to the dining hall for supper. Later they stood usin a long queue and marched us in pairs, in an almost drill-likemanner taking us into the cells. My partner was a quiet man whowould later sleep in the bed next to mine. It was a happy endingafter a snail's pace procedure that lasted too many hours.
Stench of toilet in cell number 3 is masked by cigarettesmoke - Cell number three, in which I was held, lay just astone's throw from cell number one that only housed Nigerians."This was done after a special request because there arethings, or rituals, that they perform together in the middle ofthe night, such as praying," an official told us. As we weremarched in pairs to our various cells, (there are 30) my newZimbabwean friend Sifiso Ndlovu and I were in front of the queue.We were, therefore, lucky to have the first choice of bunk beds."Which way shall we go?" I asked Ndlovu, who isfamiliar with prison life after serving two years in Leeukop. Hisanswer was to fling himself onto the bottom bed in the corner 1followed and chose the one next to his. There was noiseeverywhere as inmates scrambled for beds. In the end, all 56 ofus knew where each would sleep. From Ndlovu's and my bed westruggled to catch a view of the television set that was tuckedabove the door. Nevertheless we managed by changing sleepingpositions. As soon as everyone settled, house rules were brokenone after the other. First to do so was Zimbabwean Gerald Zitha(20). "Cigarettes here, one rand each," he screamedfrom his bed. The rush to him was unbelievable. In no time theentire room was engulfed in smoke. One could have easily thoughtthe house was on fire. The bunk beds were in four rows. Oursection, which faced the door, had four. To our left were eightbunk beds and to our right 11. Two were next to the door,occupied by unlucky men who struggled to see the TV set. The cellwas roughly 10m by 9m. Inside the cell was a shower with a toiletnext to it and a silver basin where those who had toothbrushesand toothpaste brushed their teeth. The walls around the toiletwere about 2m high. Dozens of men formed a queue to the toiletafter we had supper. Because the partitioning wall does not goright to the roof the stench emanating from the toilet floodedthe cell. Man, I've never appreciated cigarette smoke like that.It served as an air freshener! Chief of security TerrenceLetsholo had warned that there was no hot water in the shower. Headvised us to take a shower outside at a clearly designatedcommunal area. "But please, never go to the showeralone," Letsholo warned, "get a friend who will watchover your clothes as you shower or you may come out and find yourclothes have been stolen. I've warned you about theMozambicans." Many did not have toiletries. Lindela providedinmates only with soap. The tuck shop opened at 9am and I boughtmyself a washing rag, a toothbrush, roll-on and soap. Ndlovu waskind enough to offer me his toothpaste. I reciprocated thekindness by offering my special soap. But by 10am Ndlovu'sLindela identity card was being taken away from him. It wasrepatriation day for Zimbabweans. Home affairs was looking for800. They got them easily Ndlovu and I exchanged phone numbers."Don't worry my friend," he said, "I'll be backsoon. I just want to spend a week at home to sort out a fewthings. I'll definitely be back."
Back in our cell I found men sitting on beds watching TV. AMozambican man was breaking another house rule. He held a pair ofbrown pants high and wanted cash offers for it. It was extremelycold and the main reason there were no takers was bankruptcy.Many had been arrested wearing short pants or light attire. Thefood was delicious, though. Everyone looked forward to thechanging menu. For supper we ate hot pap and hot mincemeat mixedwith carrots and potatoes, cabbage and four slices of brown breadwith jam and butter, a cup of mageu and an apple! For breakfastwe had brown porridge, mixed soup, six slices of brown bread withpeanut butter and a cup of tea with milk. Two security guardsstood at the door leading to the communal toilets, each with aroll of tissue paper to provide each person with a share of theroll. We were told we could play soccer if we liked, but it wastoo cold and the soccer pitch, like virtually every piece ofground, was also tarred! I hurriedly left Lindela after an olddrinking mate who works for the Home Affairs Departmentdiscovered me. "Please Mr Makoe, we are not the bad guys.The bad guys are people who run Lindela. This is trouble. Howcould no one recognise who you are?" By that time I was out!
A staff member to be proud of - Charles Mogale, headof the Department of Home Affairs Lindela, is a highly-skilled,competent civil servant who believes in justice. He summoned meto his office for what he called "an interview",although it worked out as an interrogation. I had been arrestedon the basis that I was a Botswana national who had become aSouth African by manying a local. Apparently, since I was nowdivorced, my South African status had been nullified. The nextday my family brought my SA identity book. Mogale looked at itand contacted his head office. There I was, a bona fideSouth African, and my ID book also showed I carried a SApassport. "You were in Oshoek in December. You were flyingin March. I don't understand," he said. "But I was bornin Lobatse, Botswana, and also use a Botswana passport," Isaid. Matters were complicated by the fact that I was stillmarried, according to the records, although I played the fool andinsisted my wifewas the one who claimed we were divorced. I wasworried when Mogale put a driver on standby to take me to theembassy of Botswana for identification. At that point, the manwho was convinced I had been wrongly arrested announced "Iam going to release you right away on what we call Jay 10 (Ithink he said). It gives you 21 days for those who claim you areillegal to provide proof. I'm also going to continue looking intothis matter. In the event of any new developments, please call meon this number ... I'll also give you a call," he said. Asfor my alleged divorce, Mogale, a father figure to hissubordinates, encouraged me to find a way to resolve mydifferences with my wife, "at least for the sake of thechildren". Now Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, here you havean employee to be proud of.
West African arrested for money laundering (IOL,19/07) - Five West Africans were arrested in Berea,Johannesburg, on Friday for allegedly contravening foreigncurrency legislation, police said. Senior Superintendent MaryMartins-Engelbrecht said the men were arrested after a two-weekprobe. The five, aged between 25 and 40, were arrested at acellular shop in Berea at about 10am on Friday. One of them isthe owner of the shop. Two of the men originate from Mali, twofrom Gambia and one from Senegal. They would be charged under theUsury and Money Laundering Act and would face additional chargesof resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. Foreigncurrency valued at about R500 000 were confiscated. The moneyconsisted of currencies from the United States, Europe, Britainand China. It was believed to be the proceeds of drug couriersand other drug-related crimes.
Cop held for tourist robbery (The Star, 18/07) - Apolice officer has been arrested in connection with the robberyof a group of Taiwanese tourists earlier this month outside Ogiesin Mpumalanga. And more arrests of policemen are expected.Johannesburg Metro police spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said thearrest came in the wake of the arrest of Cleyton Davids inconnection with the same robbery on Monday. Davids, 36, wasarrested in Soweto after suspected stolen good were found in hispossession. He was also found in possession of rifles and pistolsallegedly used in the attack. On Tuesday he was remanded by theOgies magistrates court on robbery charges. Early reports of theincident mentioned two "bogus" policemen but Minnaarconfirmed on Wednesday that the policemen were "real"."Strong evidence indicates that one of our members wasinvolved in the robbery," said Minnaar. The robbery tookplace on July 7 when a bus carrying about 40 Taiwanesebusinessmen was held up by a gang of armed men, two of whom weredressed in police uniforms. A total of R2-million was stolen.During the hijacking, the gang of armed men stopped the bus andthen forced the tourists to hand over their valuables. The metropolice officer is presently being held in jail and he is alsoexpected to appear in the Ogies magistrate's court. More arrestsare expected.
SA, Lesotho discuss joint development (Maseru, Sapa,18/07) - The speedy implementation of a developmentproject under the Joint Bilateral Commission of Co-operation(JBCC) between Lesotho and South Africa was discussed in Maseruon Thursday. South African officials, the Lesotho government,parastatal organisations, and the South African businesscommunity in Lesotho, were present at the talks. South Africa'sdeputy high commissioner to Lesotho, Pinkerton Mjikeliso, saidthis followed the launch of a programme which would facilitatethe speedy implementation of six development projects under theJBCC agreement, signed by Lesotho's former Foreign Minister TomThabane and South Africa's Foreign Minister NkosazanaDlamini-Zuma in Maseru on May 8. The South African parastatalorganisations represented were the Development Bank of SouthernAfrica (DBSA), the Industrial Development Corporation, theCouncil for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Councilfor Mineral Technology. The South African High Commission inMaseru was represented by High Commissioner Japhet Ndlovu andMjikeliso. Some of the sessions were attended by the UnitedNations Development Programme (UNDP) representative andco-ordinator of UN systems in Lesotho, Scholastica Kimaryo; theEuropean Union Commission representative in Lesotho RobertCollingwood; and the director of the Privatisation Unit of theLesotho Ministry of Finance, Mothusi Mashologu. The purpose ofthe agreement was to "uplift Lesotho from its current statusas a least development country within a period of fiveyears." The talks are due to end in Maseru on Friday.
South Africa deports former Slovak secret police chief(Johannesburg, Sapa, 18/07) - The 41-year-old formerhead of the Slovakian National Intelligence Service, Ivan Lexa,was deported to Slovakia by on Thursday morning, police said.Lexa had been held under the Aliens Control Act in Pretoria priorto his extradition after he was arrested on Sunday inKwaZulu-Natal. Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said Lexatook off on a 12-hour Zurich-bound flight at 1:30am and wasaccompanied by Home Affairs Department officials. There were noSlovak officials with them. In Switzerland, Lexa and his escortswould board a flight bound for the Slovak capital, Bratislava. Hehad been on the run for two years from charges of abuse of powerand corruption in his country. South African authorities regardedLexa as an illegal immigrant, which allowed them to deport himquickly, avoiding extradition proceedings. Back in Slovakia, atribunal would decide whether Lexa should be held in preventivedetention, the Tsar news agency in Bratislava said. Slovak policehad been hunting Lexa, an ally of former prime minister VladimirMeciar, on suspicion that he managed a defamation campaignagainst Meciar's main rival, former president Michal Kovac. He isalso suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of Kovac's son inAugust 1995.
SA Constitution is 'too liberal', says Buthelezi (TheSowetan, 18/07) - Home Affairs Minister MangosuthuButhelezi blamed South Africa's "too liberal"Constitution for the unsuccessful fight against the influx ofillegal immigrants. Speaking to the media yesterday at theLindela transit camp where illegal immigrants are held beforebeing deported, the minister said that the country's Constitutionallowed "every Tom, Dick and Harry to come into the countryto enjoy the benefits of that South Africans enjoy." He saidthat the situation also encouraged xenophobia among SouthAfricans, who saw the illegals taking away the benefits to whichthey were entitled. Buthelezi admitted that the efforts torepatriate illegal immigrants were not successful because thoserepatriated often returned. "Some of the people in line forrepatriation said to me today: 'See you next week'. It's likepouring water into a bottomless bucket," Buthelezi said. TheDepartment of Home Affairs spends about R28million a year tomaintain Lindela and on its repatriation programme. Buthelezi wasvisiting Lindela yesterday on a fact-finding mission concerningthe recent deaths of two illegal immigrants at the camp. In areport presented to Buthelezi, Lindela management dismissedclaims that one of the deceased -- Malawian national Hamid Munesi-- died after being assaulted. Lindela spokesman Mr PapaLeshabane told the media that Munesi died of natural causes. Hesaid Munesi was diagnosed with a condition on Febuary 28 andtreated. However, Munesi's condition deteriorated and he wastaken to Leratong Hospital, where he died a week later. Leshabanealso claimed that the second deceased -- a Nigerian national --died after he was assaulted at a shebeen near Lindela after heescaped with other inmates. They were later recaptured by Lindelastaff. "Contrary to reports, the body that was shown to themedia was not Munesi's. That was a Nigerian who was later given apauper's burial," he said. Leshabane confirmed, however,that police were investigating criminal charges against Lindelastaff. He said that no staff member had been suspended inconnection with the Nigerian's death.
Buthelezi impressed by Lindela repatriation centre(Business Day, 18/07) - Home Affairs Minister MangosuthuButhelezi said yesterday that he was impressed with what he sawat the Lindela repatriation centre outside Krugersdorp on theWest Rand. There have been a number of reports alleging that thecentre was in shambles and illegal immigrants held there were nottreated fairly and humanely. Buthelezi visited the centre toinquire about the circumstances leading to the death of twoillegal immigrants in March this year. A Nigerian man wasallegedly beaten to death when he and four others escaped fromthe centre on the night of March 9. The following day a Malawianman also died of "natural causes". His family, however,claimed that he had also been beaten to death. Buthelezi saidyesterday that he had been shown the doctors' certificatesrelating to the two men's deaths, and had been briefed on whathappened. But he said that since there was a criminal caseunderway in connection with the Nigerian's death, he did not wantto say too much on the matter. "I'm quite impressed withwhat I have seen so far," he said. "I will be taken ona full tour a little later." A spokesman for Lindela, PapaLeshabane, said the allegations that the Malawian man was beatento death had arisen because his family had identified and claimedthe wrong body. A family member of the Malawian man, who wasidentified as Hamid Mnesi, claimed the body on March 11 for aMuslim burial. Leshabane said Mnesi had all the relevantinformation about the deceased, but mistakenly claimed the bodyof the Nigerian man. The family later claimed that the body theyhad been given showed signs of serious assault. It was only laterestablished that they had been given the wrong body. Leshabanesaid Lindela and the company that ran the centre had no controlover the mortuary. He also denied that the dead Nigerian had beenassaulted by security staff at the centre but said that he wasassaulted by patrons from a nearby shebeen, called The GreenHouse. He said no disciplinary steps had been taken against thesecurity personnel of the centre who were suspects in the courtcase regarding the man's death because they "were innocentuntil proven guilty". It costs the home affairs departmentR1,5m a month to have Lindela run on tender by a private company.The department spends about R28m a year to deport illegalimmigrants.
Authorities pass the buck in Lindela deaths (The Star,17/07) - Who is responsible for the deaths of the twoillegal aliens at the infamous Lindela repatriation camp nearKrugersdorp? Not us, says the Department of Home Affairs. And notus either, says Bosasa, the agency hired by the department toensure the safe custody of aliens at the camp. At a mediabriefing called on Wednesday to "explain" the death ofMalawian Hameed Manesi and Nigerian Ikechukwu Obiakor, who bothdied at the camp in March, the two parties denied any culpabilityfor the incidents. Last week The Star revealed several unansweredquestions regarding the matters. We also reported how relativesof the Malawian buried the wrong man in Lenasia.. Lindelaofficial Papa Leshabane said it was not the camp's fault thatObiakor had tried to escape, only to be assaulted by locals whoapprehended him at a shebeen near the camp. He insisted that hiscompany's mandate related to the immigrants' safe custody whilewithin the confines of the camp. Leshabane said the peopleimplicated in the assault and death of Obiakor still had theirjobs because "everyone is innocent until proven guilty"and that they would wait for the outcome of the legal process. Asenior Home Affairs official Lorraine Makola, flanked by MinisterMangosuthu Buthelezi, said the police did not inform thedepartment that an illegal alien at the camp was a materialwitness in the murder investigations, resulting in his beingdeported. Buthelezi had visited the camp to get first-handinformation on the murders and to observe conditions at the camp.Regarding the mix-up of the bodies as reported in The Star,Leshabane said it was not their fault that a man claiming to be arelative of the Malawian identified the wrong corpse. He doubtedthe accuracy of The Star's story, which questioned that the manhad died of natural causes because of bruises on his body.
Anglogold and labour in historic AIDS pact(Johannesburg, Business Report, 16/07) - AngloGold hadsigned an agreement on HIV/Aids regulations in the workplace withfive labour unions, the gold mining company said yesterday."AngloGold has a well-developed response to HIV/Aids,ranging from preventative management programmes to the provisionof assistance to and treatment of those who are affected,"chief executive Bobby Godsell said. The document was signed bythe National Union of Mineworkers, MWU Solidarity, the NationalEmployees' Trade Union, the SA Equity Workers' Association andthe United Association of SA. The agreement commits AngloGold todevelop and maintain responsible programmes in partnership withthe trade unions to minimise the impact of the disease. Itincludes sections on the rights of employees, testing,confidentiality and disclosure of information and the managementof HIV/Aids programmes by the company. Provision is made for theestablishment of a joint management-union working group tomonitor the implementation of the agreement and to consider anystrategic issues relating to HIV/Aids. AngloGold also gives anundertaking in the document to continue with its feasibilitystudy on the provision of anti-retroviral drugs to employeesliving with HIV/Aids in partnership with other role players inthe industry. AngloGold's shares gained R19 to close at R460yesterday.
Lindela camp operators sue human rights NGO (The Star,14/07) - Bosasa Operations, which runs the Lindelarepatriation camp on behalf of the Home Affairs Department, hassued an NGO that fights for immigrants' rights in an attempt togag it. The International Organisation of Foreigners (Inof) wasserved with papers on Thursday by lawyers acting on behalf ofLindela. Part of the letter to Inof, hand-delivered 24 hoursbefore The Star's report on Friday about the mysterious death ofa Malawian immigrant and a series of discrepancies in the policeinvestigations, read: "We are instructed that yourorganisation has in the past - and in continuing to do so - madegroundless and false accusations regarding the conditions andoccurrences at the Lindela repatriation centre. This conduct isobviously made with the intention to embarrass our client and toinjure their business reputation." The letter added:"Our client is not prepared to tolerate your unlawful actionany longer and... we hereby demand that you refrain from makingany false and unsubstantiated statement regarding our client andthe operations at the Lindela repatriation centre. "Shouldyou fail to accede to this demand, you will leave our client withno option but to approach the High Court for appropriate relief,in which case our client will seek a special cost order, not onlyagainst your organisation but against the office-bearers thereofpersonally." Inof's lawyer, Jose Nascimento, also known as"the McBride lawyer", poured scorn over the legalthreats by Couzyns Attorneys, saying: "It is our client'sopinion that the rights of persons subject to incarceration interms of public international law have not been met by theLindela repatriation centre." He added: "Theseinfringements contravene the rights of detained persons incustody. In fact it is our client's concern to request theDepartment of Home Affairs to order a commission of inquiry intothe conditions, circumstances and occurrences at Lindela. It goeswithout saying that our client will not be intimidated by suchthreats." As the exchange raged, the South African HumanRights Commission said the only solution was an independentcommission of inquiry into Lindela. HRC deputy chairperson JodyKollapen said on Sunday night: "Quite clearly, it seems thatforeigners don't enjoy full protection of our laws and ourconstitution. Murders have been committed at Lindela and we, as anation, have a right to demand that a full and properinvestigation be conducted and those responsible feel the fullweight of the law."
Diplomatic row sparked by Lindela (The Star, 12/07) - Abizarre tale of mixed-up corpses and shoddy police work hasrelatives in an uproar following the deaths of two men at theLindela repatriation camp near Krugersdorp. The cavaders of themen were swopped, a material witness was hurriedly deported andpolice have not taken a statement from a key eyewitness. Thebungling and fears of a cover-up have sparked a diplomatic row,with the Nigerian embassy demanding a proper investigation. Atthe centre of the mix-up is the Lindela repatriation centre,where, on March 10, Nigerian Ikechukwu Obiakor was allegedlymurdered and Malawian Hameed Manesi died of what the Departmentof Home Affairs called natural causes. But The Star obtainedpost-mortem photographs of both bodies, which indicate thatManesi was also beaten up. Obiakor's body was swapped withManesi's - even though it was clearly marked in the mortuary -and released by the police to relatives of the Malawian, a whoburied him in Lenasia. Even as they buried him, Manesi's friendswere unsure if they had the right body. The mix-up was discoveredwhen Obiakor's friends arrived to collect his body. The corpsehad already been given a pauper's burial, so they demanded to seethe photographs of the body that had been buried. Theyimmediately realised that the wrong corpse had been put into thewrong grave. Some of the unanswered questions arising from TheStar's probe include:
Now the Nigerian embassy and the family of Manesi aredemanding that both bodies be exhumed so that the mix-up can beresolved. They are also demanding a thorough investigation intothe men's deaths. Investigating officer Detective Inspector DavidMakoko says he is concerned about securing a conviction becauseof the deportation. Five men and a woman, all employees ofLindela, have been charged with the murder of Obiakor. Makoko hasasked the Nigerian consulate to locate Mmaduka, "a principalwitness". Makoko wrote in his request: "He washurriedly deported back to Nigeria before his crucial statementcould be taken." Makoko has confirmed that he believes thewrong man was buried in Lenasia. But another witness, OmegaOkafor, is not impressed with Makoko. Okafor says he told policehe saw Obiakor being beaten and shot at close range, but policehad refused to bring him to the identity parade of the officialwho allegedly took part in the fatal assault. They also had nottaken a statement from him, even though he had spoken to thepolice about what he saw. Makoko said the official had become astate witness. He also said he had spoken to Okafor, but theDirectorate of Public Prosecutions would decide if he would be awitness. Kingsley Nnabuagha, chairperson of a Nigerian pressuregroup, Orlu Zonal Union International (Ozui), said: "We wantthem to exhume the remains of our brother, conduct a newpostmortem and foot the bill to send his corpse back to Nigeria,where he will be given a traditional farewell in accordance withour traditions." Attorney Lue Kannieeappan, who is actingfor Ozui, said the organisation would also be taking legal actionagainst the Immigration Department, the Lindela camp, thesecurity company guarding Lindela, and the security officersaccused of murdering Obiakor. Manesi's friend, Dr Goolam Seedat,said the body they buried was so disfigured that friends andfamily were unsure if they were burying the right body. But hehad his doubts: "When I saw the face, I said 'this is notHameed!' He lived with me for four years. I knew him. But peoplearound me at the funeral overruled me." Seedat alsochallenged claims that the Malawian died of natural causes."He was a healthy man. I could testify in court. On the dayhe died, he phoned me from Lindela, saying: 'Doctor, please comefetch me. They are going to kill me.' On the day he was picked upby the police, he was supposed to go and distribute charity moneyto the poor. He was very likeable. Now they've killed him. He hasleft his wife and five daughters in Malawi." Home Affairsspokesperson Leslie Mashokwe promised that the matter would beinvestigated. West Rand police spokesperson Superintendent MilicaBezuidenhout said the people who had claimed Obiakor's body,mistaking it for Manesi's, were responsible for the mix-up.
Hundreds still die in police "care" (Mail& Guardian, 12/07) - An Amnesty International reportreleased this week says torture and ill-treatment are the mostfrequently reported human-rights violations committed by policein Southern Africa. The Policing to Protect Human Rights reportfound the South African Police Service (SAPS) was often cited forbribery and corruption. It also found a high level of illiteracyin the SAPS. The report, based on a study of the policing methodsof Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, foundthat human rights violations occur predominantly in thecontext of criminal investigations but are also used to terrorisepolitical opponents. Violations occur in three areas:During the investigation of crime and the arrest, detentionand interrogation of suspects; when dealing with vulnerablesocial groups; ... and in the policing of activities essential toparticipation in the political life of the country. InSouth Africa a Zimbabwean citizen, Thabani Ndlodlo, was awardeddamages in 1999 after the state conceded that two police officershad unlawfully assaulted him and shot him in the legs afterattempting to extract a bribe from him as a suspected illegalimmigrant. They had also maliciously prosecuted him on criminalcharges and wrongfully detained him for 446 days, says thereport. The report says several hundred deaths occur in policecustody or as a result of police action in SouthAfrica each year. It found that investigations by the IndependentComplaints Directorate show the majority of these deaths haveresulted from the use of force or torture by police, mostly atthe time of arrest. Some of the incidents have involved summaryexecutions of criminal suspects. In South Africa, ZakheleMabhida was fatally shot by police on 23 April 2001 in theoffices of the Durban Murder and Robbery Unit. Several hoursearlier, he had handed himself over, unarmed, to the police inconnection with an investigation into the killing of two policeofficers. Forensic medical evidence indicated that he hadmultiple gunshot injuries and had been shot at close range in thechest, the report says. Other findings include theexistence of torture rooms. Consistent accounts fromsurvivors of torture by members of the Brixton Serious andViolent Crimes Investigation Unit in South Africa indicate thatinterrogators have used a toilet at the units headquarterswhere victims have been tied up, naked and hooded, and subjectedto electric shock torture, says the report. The reportfound that torture methods vary from country to country but thatthere are similarities in torture techniques across countries,which raises the troubling issue of how police officerslearn torture techniques.
Torture methods referred to in the report are suffocation withthe inner tube of a car tyre or a plastic bag. This is hard todetect medically in survivors. These methods have been reportedin Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and, less frequently, inBotswana. "A similar method of torture, referred to as the'helicopter', was once notorious among members of the formersecurity branch in apartheid South Africa and has also beenreported in Swaziland," the report says. Under-resourcing offormal police services and a lack of faith in the capacity of thepolice has led to the rapid growth of "poorly regulatedprivate security services", mostly to the benefit of privatebusinesses and wealthy residential areas. In South Africa morethan 200 police officers are killed yearly, the highest globalrate for such deaths, a recent study shows. The report suggeststhat "such a high level of killings must have a profoundimpact on morale and on feelings of safety and security amongother officers". "These conditions underlie one of themain contexts in which human rights violations by police occur:in the investigation and combating of ordinary crime," saysthe report. Among the recommendations in the report is thatgovernments should "take steps to improve police officers'conditions of work and the resources available to police forcesto enable them to perform their duties in a professionalmanner". The report highlights positive aspects of policingin South Africa. Since 1995 the SAPS has put in place "oneof the most comprehensive programmes of human-rights training inthe region. By the end of 2001 approximately 29 000 officers hadbeen trained." Special training on law-enforcement issuesrelating to women and children has been introduced in Zambia andSouth Africa, where victim support units have been established insome police stations. "Staff of the recently establishedDirectorate of Special Operations receive special training incrime investigation skills under a cooperation agreement with theUK Police Training College at Hendon and MetropolitanPolice," says the report. In addition to these changes, theSAPS is following a "friendlier" approach in dealingwith crowds and marches. Emphasis in South Africa has shiftedfrom crowd control to crowd management. Police officers undergotraining that stresses minimum use of force with a gradualresponse. Officers start with negotiations and move to offensivemanoeuvres only when other approaches have failed. The policehave also recently introduced training in "soft"skills, such as conflict resolution and conciliation. As part ofthe "friendlier" approach, the report says, in late1998 the SAPS adopted a policy "to regulate the detentionand interrogation of criminal suspects in custody at policestations and provide safeguards in areas such as record-keepingand medical care With regard to internal monitoring and dealingwith complaints from the public, the SAPS has a variety ofinternal systems ... these include a complaints investigationsection and an inspectorate.
Mpumalanga province offers armed guards for foreigntourists (Pretoria, BuaNews, 11/07) - Mpumalanga isoffering armed escorts to foreign tourists visiting the provincefollowing the hijacking at the weekend of a tour bus carrying 41Taiwanese visitors. The hijackers, some of whom were dressed aspolicemen, fleeced the Taiwanese business delegation of anestimated R2-million in cash and valuables on Saturday.Mpumalanga tourism safety chief Judy Langley said Mpumalanga hadalready told foreign embassies it would organise armed policeescorts for all tour buses visiting the province if there was anyconcern about the safety of tourists. 'It would be naïve tobelieve that this kind of thing could not happen again. We havetherefore begun discussions with key foreign embassies toimplement better security,' said Ms Langley. 'Armed guards orpolice escorts on tourist buses are some of the suggestions.' Theprovince already sponsors foreign crime victims to fly back toSouth Africa to testify in court cases if their attackers arearrested. 'The measures are designed to nail criminals who targettourists, and to help tourists ensure that justice is done,' saidMs Langley. The Taiwanese business delegation has meanwhile madean urgent appeal for the return of personal and businessdocuments, identity papers and other personal items stolen duringthe attack. The delegation was on its way to the Eighth TaiwanBusinessmen's Meeting in Swaziland to welcome Taiwan PresidentChen Shui-bian on Saturday when three vehicles ambushed it nearthe small town of Ogies. The vehicles forced the tour bus off theN12 road near the Ogies/Balmoral off-ramp, after which two mendressed as a policeman and a metro traffic officer ordered thebus driver into their vehicle for 'reckless driving'. Four othermen then boarded the bus and stripped all cash, jewellery,cameras, mobile telephones, watches and other valuables from thedelegation of Taiwanese tourists, South Africa-based Taiwanesebusinessmen, and Taiwanese entrepreneurs based in the Americas.The hijackers drove their captives 2km further down the road,before fleeing in a getaway car. The traumatised Taiwaneseimmediately returned to Johannesburg, but later drove toSwaziland for the conference under police guard. A high-levelMpumalanga government and tourism delegation met the Taiwanese atthe Oshoek border post on their return on Tuesday afternoon. 'Wemet with the Taiwanese businessmen to express our outrage and tooffer whatever support we could. We have also pledged ahigh-level police probe into the incident and organised an escortfor their bus,' said provincial government spokespersonChristabel Hlatshwayo. 'Many of the businessmen were verytraumatised, and said they were afraid to travel in the regionagain. They were very happy at our offers of additionalsecurity.' The delegation stressed their business and otherdocuments stolen in the hijacking had no resale value andappealed for their return. Mpumalanga's tourism directorate hasmeanwhile also helped the Taiwanese embassy in Pretoria issueemergency passports. Police have yet to make any arrests in thecase, but have recovered one of the vehicles used to force thebus off the road. The sedan is believed to be stolen.
Democratic Alliance wants ex-Home Affairs DGdisciplined (Cape Town, Sapa, 10/07) - The DemocraticAlliance on Wednesday called for disciplinary action to be takenagainst former home affairs director-general Billy Masethla,alleging he misled Parliament by providing false information inreply to a parliamentary question. DA spokesman Mike Waters said"this came to light when, in an unprecedented move, HomeAffairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi contradicted his own D-G'swritten reply by adding information of his own". In awritten reply to a question on the cost of annual strategicplanning sessions, "Masethla said this amounted to R360,000for the 2002 session". However, Buthelezi"counteracted" this with an additional response on thesame document, stating: "Instead of the amount of R360000...the total cost of the 2002 strategic planning session has so farbeen determined at R1132588,75". Said Waters: "As faras I am aware, this is the first time that a minister has openlycontradicted an official reply from his/her department and hasvery serious connotations." The DA wanted an investigationto establish "why the former D-G seemingly gave falseinformation in a reply... whether Parliament was in fact misledaround the expenditure of public funds, and if the detailsprovided by the minister are accurate, what caused the dramaticincrease from R278640 for the 2001 strategic planning session toR1,1 million for the same purpose this year". Masethla, whois no longer with the home affairs department, an has beenredeployed to the president's office where he serves as anadvisor to President Thabo Mbeki, was not available for commenton Wednesday.
Congolese refugees protest in Durban (SABC News,08/07) - A small group of Congolese refugees have stageda protest in Durban's city centre as the OAU's final summit getsunder way. The Congolese are calling for a complete foreign troopwithdrawal from the DRC. They are targeting Rwandan PresidentPaul Kagame in particular, as well as the leaders of Uganda andBurundi. All three presidents are believed to be attending thismorning's session to disband the OAU. Congolese refugees saytroops from Uganda and Burundi must immediately withdraw from theDRC if the country and the Great Lakes region is to enjoy lastingpeace. They accuse Kagame of fostering civil strife. GerardMbumba of the Community of Congolese in South Africa called onthe African Union to urgently intervene to resolve the dispute.Angry protesters set alight Congolese party flags and screamedabuse at Kigame. They carried banners calling for an end to thekilling of innocent women and children. A strong policecontingent kept a watchful eye on proceedings but the protest waswithout incident.
We need those expats (The Sowetan, 07/07) - Africancountries and companies are being urged to change their mindsetson how they perceive expatriates, in order to reverse the"brain drain" and reap the benefits of their skills,which are sorely needed on the continent. Speaking about thebrain drain affecting business in Africa, an internationalrecruitment specialist says it is vital that countries andcompanies find ways to coerce expats back. The valuable workexperience and additional skills these expats gain while workingabroad could have a major effect back in their home countries,and help raise the skills level on the continent, says Anthonyvan Graan, Jobsender's international director. But to achievethis an important shift in attitudes needs to take place. He saysmany African countries have a negative and even hostile attitudetowards their nationals working abroad. "The view is verymuch: 1f you didn't want to stay here and work here, then wedon't want you to come back'." It is estimated that 23 000university graduates leave Africa every year to pursue overseascareers. This trend means that Africa is rapidly losing many ofthe skills the continent needs. Many young Africans are alsochoosing to study abroad and invariably do not return to thecontinent. But with Africa regarded as an important emergingmarket, these people are needed to help contribute to theregion's success. Businesses and governments in Africa also needto change their mindsets in the way they treat expats who doreturn, he says. "I think it is the way companies deal withthese nationals whcn they do return that determines the level ofvalue they bring to the company," Van Graan says. There isanother benefit for countries that have a sizeable number oftheir nationals working abroad - they send money back home. Indiais a country that sees the value of this and does not penalisepeople for it, he says. Indian nationals currently workingoverseas contribute a lot to the country's gross domesticproduct. On the other hand, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe announcedplans this week to bar jobseekers from finding work in and out ofthe country and to prevent matriculants from going to college oruniversity unless they first join the Zanu-PF army. Ironicallythis could have the opposite effect of encouraging thesematriculants and graduates to avoid compulsory military serviceby leaving the country. If a less hostile stance is adoptedgenerally in Africa, Van Graan says, the process of winning backnationals from abroad will be easy. He does, however, emphasisethat motivation for returning will differ from person to person.He cautions too that the longer people stay out of the country,the more emotional and financial reasons they have to remain.This is especially valid for those have invested in houses andsettled with their families.
SA not safe haven for foreign criminals, say police(City Press, 07/07) - The SA Police Service (SAPS) hasenjoyed considerable success over the past two years in arrestingand extraditing well-known people wanted mainly for fraud intheir countries amounting to millions of rands. Some 14 allegedcriminals were found extraditable to their various countries bythe SAPS during 2001. One such person was a British national,Keith Goldstone, who was sought by his country for tax fraudamounting to R27 billion (£178 million). Others who wereextradited were wanted for various crimes including fraud, drugdealing, murder, armed robbery and theft. Goldstone was arrestedin Durban on July 5, 2001 and extradited to Britain on December23. The head of the SAPS international media desk, SeniorSuperintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht, told City Press thepolice did not know how long he had been in the country at thetime of his arrest. "He could have been in and out of thecountry," she said. Goldstone was being sought by theBritish government and Scotland Yard and may have entered SA witha normal passport and established links with local businesspeople to act as fronts for him. The Pretoria branch of Interpol,the international police organisation, has receivpd about 400requests to trace international criminals from countries like theUnited States, Germany, Australia, Italy, Namibia, Canada,Zinibabwe, Botswana, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Angola. Mostof those being sought were wanted for fraud in their countries,and the requests to trace them were sent to all Interpol members.Martins-Engelbrecht added that more than 2 000 requests forextradition had been received by SA and circulated to allInterpol members. She said criminals used different methods toenter the country. Before arresting suspects, the SAPS needed toobtain a notice of extradition and a formal extradition request,together with an international warrant of arrest. "If thesepapers are not ready, all we can do is to monitor the movementsof the suspect," she said. People who are to be extraditedhave a right to appeal. Because SA has abolished the deathpenalty, the police can extradite suspects to countries with thedeath penalty only if those countries undertake not to executethe suspects if convicted. Martins-Engelbrecht said the SAPS andits intelligence units were very swift in apprehending thesecriminals. "The message is clear and simple: South Africa isnot a safe haven for criminals from other countries. "Theymay run, but they can't hide. We have a formidable tracing teamwhich is a force to be reckoned with," she said.
SA not ready to open Beitbridge border post on 24-hourbasis (Johannesburg, Sapa, 04/07) - Home Affairsauthorities on Thursday said they were not ready to open theBeitbridge border post on a 24-hour basis. The Department of HomeAffairs was reacting to media reports that the government wasunwilling to open the border post from July 1 2002 on this basis.But the South African government was not ready because itsZimbabwean counterpart had not responded to the initiative, saidHome Affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe. "No officialresponse has come from the government of Zimbabwe in this regard.Consequently, there cannot be agreement on an implementation dateas yet." Mashokwe said the South African government wasfully committed to opening the border post on a 24-hour basis,but consultation between government agencies had to take placefirst before this could be carried out. The Beitbridge post issituated near Messina in the Limpopo province, on the borderbetween South Africa and Zimbabwe.
SAHRC begins hearings on human rights violations onfarms (Cape Town, Sapa, 03/07) - The South African HumanRights Commission began its hearings on allegations of humanrights violations on farms in the Western Cape on Wednesday, etvreported. The SAHRC would hold the hearings around the countrywhere farmers and farm workers would testify. Farm workersaccused farmers of unfair labour practices. They complained thatfarmers were hiring casual workers and that farmers evicted themfrom their homes when they lost their jobs. Farmers'organisations denied that workers were being abused by theiremployers, saying farmers were always attacked. The commissionsaid it was not interested in pointing fingers but wanted to finda solution to the problems at the farms.
Zimbabwe famine will affect SA, claims Leon(Johannesburg, Sapa, 02/07) - Zimbabwe has a 75 percent"food gap" - one of the highest in the world,Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Tony Leon said upon his returnfrom a fact-finding mission on Tuesday. The gap is defined as ashortfall between the provision of the minimum nutrition requiredfor the population and the food at hand. "This famine willnot contain itself within the borders of Zimbabwe," Leontold reporters in Johannesburg. He said a United Nations WorldFood Programme official told him the 75 percent food gap was oneof the highest recorded in world history. The South Africangovernment needed to look ahead and put contingency plans inplace because the food shortages would soon start impacting onSouth Africa. "People are moving out of the urban areassomewhere else because there is no food there," Leon said."I think the impact on us is going to be immense ... If wecontinue with our policy on the one hand and their policy on theother, we are facing big, big problems." Leon, DA landaffairs spokesman Dan Maluleke, rural safety spokesman AndriesBotha, and Nick Clelland-Stokes embarked on a two-dayfact-finding mission to Zimbabwe and met commercial and smallfarmers, South African property owners, the UN and farmworkers.They also visited farms occupied by so-called war veterans inMazoe Valley and in Bindura, north of Harare. Leon said the SouthAfrican government should protect South Africans who own farmsand businesses in the neighbouring country. "South Africashould stand up for the commercial and property rights of its owncitizens." Sixty-two percent of all commercial farms inZimbabwe have been served with Section 8 Land Act notices, makingfarming activity on those farms a criminal offence on pain ofimprisonment. "There are 2900 commercial farmers willing andready to produce, but they are told to cease farming. At the sametime, the Zimbabwean government is asking for international foodaid. I really can't understand that," Maluleke said. Leonsaid it was impossible for any importer of basic commodities tosell their products. "The government sets prices at a levelcompletely unrelated to market conditions but forces importers tobring their goods into Zimbabwe on a parallel rate. "In thecase of salt, the cost of importing it has gone up as much as 100percent during the past two months while the controlled sellingprice has not risen." Clelland-Stokes said it was aneye-opener to "actually be there and see for yourself"what was happening. "There are orchads laden with fruit, butfarmers will be criminally prosecuted if they pick the fruit fromthe trees. It's an entire waste."
Refugees march to home affairs (Mbabane, Times ofSwaziland, 19/07) - A very reluctant home affairsminister Prince Sobandla eventually succumbed to pressure andwithdrew the status of close to 40 refugees who demanded to berepatriated to countries of their choice before ordering they beisolated for security reasons. This was after the refugees, 37 intotal (17 adults and 20 children) packed their bags and abandonedthe Malindza refugee camp before marching to the minister' 'soffice with their demand. This is the first of its kind since thecountry offered hospitality to refugees. The refugees, from theDemocratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Angola camped at theministry until 4.30 p.m. when police were called to take themaway to one of the local police stations pending theirrepatriation. Police public relations officer, Vusi Masukuconfirmed that 37 refugees were being kept in one of the localpolice stations at the request of Prince Sobandla. He said thatthe minister had revoked their refugee status and requested aprovisional isolation for the refugees in terms of theImmigration Act. The action by the refugees took the minister bycomplete surprise yesterday and he appeared extremelydisappointed, even though it was not the first. The group firstembarrassed Prince Sobandla at the refugee camp in front ofvarious guests during refugee day celebrations last year. Duringthis event, they stood up and toyi-toyed, chanting their demandsand distributing pamphlets, one given to the minister himself byone of the refugees he had begun to regard as a close friend andwould even invite to his house. A United Nations High Commissionfor Refugees (UNHCR) representative based in Pretoria BemmaDonkol later apologised to Prince Sobandla about the misconductof the refugees but the refugees disassociated themselves fromthe apology. Donkoh tried to address the issue but failed. TheUNI-ICR eventually left it to the Swaziland government to takeits own decision in line with UN conventions on refugees. UNHCRofficials are expected in the country any time from today tointerview the refugees individually before their repatriation cantake place. Yesterday, all that Prince Sobandla could say was;"I have tried all that 71 could to avoid having to sign thisletter because as a man of God, I do not like to do what I wouldnot like others to do unto me." The action by the refugeeswas viewed as gross misconduct and breach of refugees ethics inany state thus they had to be isolated from the Malindza campwhere they are based. The refugees have continuously contestedthat the ministry of home affairs and the then local office ofthe UNHCR which was headed by Neihmer Warsame was deliberatelyrefusing to grant them transit to countries of their choice whenin actual fact applications to such countries were rejected.
Upgrading of border post staffs (Goba, Times ofSwaziland, 15/07) - While Swazis take pride in thesaying that there is no hurry in Swaziland, one should alsoconsider Mozambique. Tired, old and ravaged buildings which arethe remains of the civil wars a couple years ago, still standtall while the new look border post building is struggling tocome out from the foundation. This explains the situation at theMhlumeni border on the Mozambican side. The country had promisedthat by the end of next month, the structures on its side wouldbe complete and the border ready for use. A big board, written inPortuguese, pledges that within 90 days all the job will be donehowever with only 10 days left only one house is showing signs ofmeeting the promise. The old buildings provide shelter to thecustom officers and the builders who have put boxes and plasticbags in the windows to prevent the chilling cold. A faint roadleads out of the "city" and there are signs that atsome point there is construction going on. According to ArimandoFeio who is the senior official of the Hydrofoam ConstrucoesMocambique company said his company is working its fingers to thebone producing the best at the lowest possible cost. "Wehave been comparing what we have with what is on the Swazi sideand we are trying that we match or have something better thanthat. I cannot commit myself on as to when we will complete thebuilding as we are now left with only ten days from thecontract," he said. The depreciation of the 19 giant housesat the border is taking no-one by surprise. The houses standaround a bush of grass and they have been there for the past fiveyears. There are only ii people living there and five of them aresoldiers while the others are customs duty staff members.
Exiled Swazi chiefs could be deported from SouthAfrica (Manzini, Times of Swaziland, 15/07) - Self-exiledchiefs, Mliba Fakudze, Mtfuso Dlamini and the over 100 supportersmight be deported back into the country by African government forbeing illegal immigrants. The South African government isreluctant to renew residents' permits for the evicted chiefs.Apart from that the chiefs are now living as beggars asorganisations that supplied them with food withdrew the servicesun& questionable circumstances. It is suspected though thatthe local government has a hand in this. The immigrationdepartment has also questioned the chiefs' decision to enrolltheir children in South African schools without permitsgovernment. The South Africa's immigration department is said tohave told the chiefs when they went to apply for the renewal ofthe residents permit Swazi government has informed them that theyfled Swaziland to avoid the law. This followed concern raised byparliament about reports that the South African government wascontemplating giving the evicted resid the other Swazis residingin South Africa, political refugee permits because of theproblems in the country. The foreign affairs ministry then tookup this issue with the South African government to verif& thestatements. Chief Mliba's wife told the Times that life was nolonger good in South Africa and indications are that they wouldnot be given permits. "The South African authorities haveasked us a number of times where we got the permission to takethe students to school because permits were issued by theimmigration department," she said. She said they also havedifficulty in getting even food because the associations thatused to support them have since stopped without any given. Theyused to get some of their food supply from the South Africa's RedCross Association but it has since reduced the supply. She saidthey were now forced to live by begging for food from one personto the other. "It would have been better if we were onlyfaced with the problems of permits but now we do not have evenfood," she said. She said they had to borrow money for herto come to Swaziland to bury her relative because they no longerhave cash. The chiefs people left the country in 2000 after theywere evicted by government for refusing to accept the authorityof chief Prince Magi. They have been denied permission to returnto their homes a number of times by the police despite the HighCourt and the Court of Appeal ruled that they be allowed toreturn to their homes without any conditions set. Policecommissioner Edgar llillary told the High Court recently that thepolice decision to block the evictees from returning to theirhome for the safety of both the evictees and the prince and theirsupporters.
Swazis warned not to travel to SA by road (Mbabane,Sapa, 11/07) - The Swaziland government has urged itscitizens to avoid travelling to South Africa by road, SABC newssaid on Thursday. The warning follows an attack last week on abus carrying Taiwanese business people at Ogies, Mpumalanga. The40 Taiwanese were robbed of R2-million in cash, as well asjewellery, passports, air tickets and credit cards by mendisguised as policemen. The Ministry of Education warned allschools and colleges planning trips to South Africa during theAugust holidays to either cancel such trips or postpone themuntil the situation improved.
Alleged bribery of customs officer (Mbabane, Times ofSwaziland, 05/07) - Siteki businessman Moses Motsa isexpected to appear before the High Court for allegedly bribing aSouth African customs officer, Shaun Gates at the Mahamba borderpost by offering El 000 to him so that he does not search goodscontained in his truck registered SD 500 OH. Motsa is co-chargedwith three others Nonhlanhla Mzimeleni, Ephraim Dlanuini (bothlocal civil servants) and Siflso Nkambule. The case is expectedto resume at the High Court on November 20 and 21, 2002. On thefirst count, Motsa, who is the director of EvukuzenzeleSupermarkets chain of stores and the others are charged withbribery alleged to have happened on September 2, 2000 at theMahamba border post. They are said to have promised El 000 toGates employed by the South African revenue services asinducement not to search the said truck and not to leave anytrace of goods carried through the South African border intoSwaziland by the said truck. They are said to have thuscontravened Section 20 (1) (a) of the prevention of corruptionorder No.19 of 1993. On count two, they are charged withcontravening section 24(b) Act 12/ 1993. They are alleged to haveon September 2, 2000 made a false declaration of value of goodscarried through the Mahamba border gate in a truck registered SD400 0(1 and truck registered SD 550 OL to reflect a value of onlyE120 000 and mass of 20 000 kg while in fact the value of thegoods on the trucks was E585 528.85 and mass of 22 793.8 kg. Thecrown states that the offence on both counts are visited byaggravating circumstances in that: 1. The first and secondaccused (Mzimeleni and Dlamini) are civil servants employed touphold the revenue act. 2. That the first and the second accusedbeing employees of government conspired with Motsa and acted ashis agents to the government. 3. That the actions of Mzimeleniare particularly repugnant in that she was motivated and bound tocorrupt other public officers at the Mahamba border. PhilaDlamini would represent government while attorneys from R. Dladlawill represent the four.
Census boycott to be legally punishable (The Express,25/07) - The government says it will prosecute a personwho deliberately refuses to attend the population and housingcensus to be held next month countrywide. The statement was inresponse to a recent report that ethnic groups in the society hadannounced a boycott of the census saying they did not know itsreal meaning. The Commissioner for Census, Dr. Damas Mbogoro toldreporters in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday that Census Act number oneof the year 2000, which will be effective from 2002, allowed thegovernment to take into court anyone objecting to housing andpopulation census. He said the Act will be effective after thepresident addresses the public officially on the essence ofcensus. Dr Damas, however, said his office would not wish thepublic to go against the government order, saying that thegovernment will do all possible to educate everyone on essence ofcensus. He said the census will enable the government to put inplace development plans with the primary responsibility ofimproving peoples lives and national economy. On Tanzaniansliving abroad, Dr. Mbogoro said, they will be excluded from thecensus due to financial constraints and lack of a proper systemto count them in such an exercise. He said the year 2002 censuswill cost Tanzania Tsh 34 billion. He informed his office wouldreveal the result within nine months if everything went right,adding that the success of the whole process will depend onco-operation from the public. The last population and housingcensus was conducted in Tanzania 14 years back and was said to besuccessful.
US earmarks more funds for refugees in Tanzania (TheExpress, 18-24/07) - Tanzania will be largestbeneficiary of the additional contribution from the United Statesto help refugees in Africa. According to a press release from theAmerican embassy in Tanzania, US $ four million has beenearmarked for refugees who take asylum in Tanzania out of thetotal $ 12.4 million package for additional relief funding,donated through the World Food Programme. About 20 percent of theeighty thousand refugees in Africa take asylum in Tanzania. In astatement issued by the US state department, the US governmenthas called on all other donors to contribute generously to theworld food program to ensure that critical life saving programsreceive the resources they need for the remainder of the year.The US government is the largest contributor to WFP worldwidewith its contributions to WFP operations presently estimated atUS $ 150 million for this year alone. Although usually most ofthe donations come in the form of commodities to refugees, WFPscountry director for Tanzania Mr. Nicole Menage said theadditional funds will enable his office purchase commoditieslocally, thereby benefiting both refugees and Tanzanians. Othercountries who will receive the additional funding to helprefugees include Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea,Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Uganda andZambia. "This contribution will provide approximately onemonth worth of food for these refugees, who are in difficultcircumstances owing to breaks in food supply at a time whenemergency feeding needs worldwide are burgeoning, said thespokesperson of the US state department. A statement from the USstate departments bureau for population, refugees andmigration, said the additional funding is expected to benefitmore than 1.8 million refugees who fled their homes because of anumber of conflicts in the African continent. Meanwhile, anon-profit organisation, University of the Middle East Project(UME), has started an intensive program of training for teachersfrom the Middle East and North Africa. The organisation attemptsto bring together gifted scholars and professionals to debate,influence and know each other in an atmosphere of tolerance andacademic freedom. Since its inception in 1999 to date, UME hasgathered students and professionals from 14 Middle East and NorthAfrican countries to study governance, civil society, teachereducation and sustainable development in addressing some of thecritical needs of the conflict-ridden region.
Tanzanians can now get international computer drivinglicense (The Express, 18-24/07) - Tanzanians riding onICT skills highways now have an opportunity to obtain anInternational Computer Driving License (ICDL), recognisedinternationally, now that the country is connected to the networkof more than 40 countries in Europe and Africa where the licenseis obtainable. The concept of Computer Driving License started inEurope and was formerly known as European Computer DrivingLicense. The object of the licence is standardisation of hightechnology skills in ICT. It has been introduced in Tanzania ICTsector by the University of Dar es salaam computing centre.According UCC Sales Executive Norbert Nongwa, Tanzania is thesecond African country after South Africa to register to thenetwork, which also enlists 40 countries in Europe. To obtain thecomputer driving license, a person first takes elementary andadvanced courses and then takes the international driving licensewhich successfully completed awards its graduand with aninternationally recognised certificate. Apart from trainingon how to use different software programme this license trainingwill go into details on how the programmes are made so thatgraduands in ICT skills go beyond what is happening on theircomputer monitors, said Mr. Nongwa. To start with, UCC willoffer the course in its downtown training centre in CRDB Azikiwebranch and, hopefully the computer driving license course will beextended to UCC branches in Arusha and at the Hill campus.
Dwindling numbers of refugees opting for repatriation(Irin, 08/07) - An increasing number of Burundianrefugees in camps in western Tanzania are "droppingout" of the repatriation process, despite having registeredfor it with the office of the United Nations High Commissionerfor Refugees (UNHCR). A UNHCR spokeswoman, Ivana Unluova, toldIRIN on Monday that "bigger and bigger numbers are droppingout", which, she said, might be due to the volatile securitysituation in Burundi. "The numbers are registered, but theyare not turning up for the returning convoys." Last week,only one person had turned up for repatriation from a UNHCR campin Kasulu, something which rendered the whole process "veryuneconomical", she added. Meanwhile, the governments ofBurundi and Tanzania have said they will send a delegation toUNHCR headquarters in Geneva to petition for allowingrepatriation to all areas in Burundi. Currently, the UN agencyonly facilitates repatriation to the northern provinces, whichare deemed relatively secure. "There has been no meeting [ofminds] between the governments of Burundi and Tanzania and UNHCRon this issue," said Unluova. "The governments claimthat the security situation in the south is not as serious asUNHCR says, and that UNHCR should respect the will of therefugees to return to the southern provinces." TanzanianMinister for Home Affairs Mohammed Seif Khatib said last weekthat when the UNHCR had expressed concern over security, bothgovernments had reiterated that the issue of internal securitywas the "prerogative of the governments" themselves,the Tanzanian-based Guardian newspaper reported. Unluovaconfirmed that since March, representatives from both governmentshad been stating that all Burundian refugees in the Tanzaniancamps should be repatriated within six months. "But we don'tknow when that six months is supposed to start from," shesaid. "We are fairly confident that they are using it in avague manner deliberately." She said that at a recenttripartite meeting, a request had been made to the UN for fundingto allow both governments to conduct the repatriation themselves.The Guardian reported that Khatib and the Burundi minister incharge of resettlement of internally displaced persons andrefugees, Francoise Ngendahayo, had "vowed that the twogovernments would carry out the repatriation exercise ofBurundian refugees on their own if need be". "But thatis not the way we operate," Unluova said. "UNHCR'sofficial position on this has put a strain on therelationship," she added. To date, about 80,000 refugeeshave registered for repatriation, and over 16,000 have gone home.
Trade talks between Zimbabwe and Zambia stall (Harare,Zimbabwe Independent, 26/07) - Last week's proposedmeeting between Zimbabwe and Zambia to review the trade impassebetween the two countries fell through after officials fromHarare arrived 12 hours late, only to find the Zambian delegationgone. The meeting was a follow-up to Zambia's ban earlier thismonth on all Zimbabwean imports. Despite the Zimbabweandelegation arriving late, an informal meeting was later heldbetween Zimbabwe's permanent secretary in the Ministry ofIndustry and International Trade, Stewart Comberbach, and Comesaassistant secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya. Some members of theZimbabwean delegation only arrived on Tuesday evening leading tothe cancellation of the meeting. The meeting was scheduled forMonday morning. Sources said during the informal meeting it wasagreed that Comesa rules had not been followed as the Zambianshad ignored the provisions of the regional grouping's safeguardmeasures against product dumping. Sources said Ngwenya madenumerous recommendations including the introduction ofcountervailing duties for subsidised imports. "TheSecretariat also proposed that for the dispute to be resolvedComesa safeguard measures be applied, which includecountervailing duties for subsidised imports and influx ofimports that the domestic industry cannot compete with in caseswhere dumping has been established and when there are balance ofpayments difficulties," said the sources. "Ngwenya alsoproposed that the enforcement of the CD1 system being implementedby Zimbabwe be supported and expedited." Some of thecompanies from Zimbabwe which attended the meeting includedCairns Foods, Turnall Fibre Cement and BAT, among others, whilstthe Zambian delegation included the Zambia Farmers Union andZambia Association of Manufacturers. Last month Zambia bannedimports of Zimbabwean cooking oil, wheat products, asbestos andeggs. The Zambian Secretary for Commerce and Industry MbikusitaLewanika has meanwhile said the ban on Zimbabwean products stood.Launching the Agricultural Trade Forum (ATF) on Thursday lastweek, Lewanika said historically Zambia had been tooaccommodating in trade at the expense of its own economy."The ban on 14 Zimbabwean products remains unblocked tocompel mutual trade between the two countries," he said."The ban is a temporary move to reduce institutionalisedsmuggling." Lewanika said at a meeting in Zimbabwe onWednesday last week his counterparts were unhappy with theunilateral decision effected by the Zambian government but thatthe delegation from Zambia justified the need to reduce dumping.Lewanika said the meeting reached a consensus in which Zimbabweagreed to address the problem to ensure sustainable trade.
Angola abducted 261 Zambians, says Home AffairsMinister (Zambia Daily Mail, 24/07) - About 261 Zambiansfrom Western Province have been abducted into Angola over thelast two years. Home Affairs Minister, Mr Lackson Mapushi, toldParliament yesterday that the Zambians were abducted betweenJanuary, 1999 and March 2002. Mr Mapushi said when answering aquestion from Sikongo MP, Mr Best Makumba (UPND), that the issueof abductions was resolved through the existing diplomaticchannels between the two governments. Mr Mapushi said he would betravelling to Angola next month where he would among otherissues, seek to strengthen relations and resolve any outstandingissues between the two countries. Parliament also heard thatGovernment could release the cobalt sales audit report in thenext six weeks. Finance and National Planning Deputy Minister, MrPatrick Kalifungwa, said Government had contracted aMauritius-based company but registered in Zambia to prepare thereport which was now ready. Mr Kalifungwa said there has beendelay in releasing the report due to funding shortfalls. He wasresponding to Lusaka Central MP, Mr Dipak Patel (FDD), who wantedto know when the report would be publicised as agreed between theInternational Monetary Fund and Government in the letters ofintent signed in 2001. Mr Kalifungwa also disclosed thatGovernment has put in place a HIPC funds tracking system to tracehow these resources were being utilised. Local Government andHousing Deputy Minister, Mr Mbita Chitala, disclosed that localcouncils had a debt burden of K84.5 billion owed in variousforms. Some of the debt is owed in form of salary arrears,Pay-As-You-Earn, Zambia Revenue Authority taxes, unremmitedworkers' contributions, benefits, legal costs and the 50 per centsalary increment awarded to the workers in September last year.Mr Chitala said the K10 billion released yesterday would only gotowards settling the 50 per cent, leaving out the over K30billion in arrears for workers. He was responding to ChipangaliMP, Mr Lucas Phiri, who wanted to know when the chiefs'remuneration would be increased. And Agriculture and CooperativesMinister, Mr Mundia Sikatana, said Government has released K500million to the Natural Resources Development College to raise thestandards of the institution. Mr Sikatana also said the Ministryof Finance has approved the employment of guards to patrol theborder with Angola to protect Zambians from attacks. He saidabout 423 cattle were stolen at gun-point along the Zambia/Angolaborder mainly in Sikongo area in the last two years. Those wholost their animals would only be compensated after establishingthat this was through genuine means. He was responding to aquestion by Katuba MP, Mr Jonas Shakafuswa, who wanted to knowwhether Government would honour its promise in this year's budgetthat compensation would be given to those who lost their animalseither through disease or other ways.
Angolan refugees begin the trek home (Irin, 18/07) - HomesickAngolan refugees are packing up their meagre belongings, throwingcaution to the wind, and trekking back to battle-scarredhomesteads many of them have not seen in decades. An estimated9,000 refugees, 4,000 of them from Meheba and Mayukwayukwa campsin northern and western Zambia, and others spontaneously settledalong the border, have crossed back into Angola since a ceasefirein April ended the country's long civil war. The UN refugeeagency UNHCR projects "that another 5,000 may repatriatespontaneously to Angola before the on-set of the rainy season,bringing the estimate of spontaneous repatriation to about 15,000this year for Zambia," UNHCR spokesman Kelvin Shomo toldIRIN. "In view of the spontaneous repatriation, UNHCR inZambia is facilitating their return by advising those refugeesopting to repatriate on the right procedures to follow and theconditions back home. They are further informed that UNHCR or thegovernment will not prevent those who opt to return from doingso," he added. The UN agency will start the organisedrepatriation of Angolans from across the sub-region early nextyear. This was resolved at a meeting between UNHCR assistant highcommissioner Morjane Kamel and the agency's southern Africanrepresentatives a month ago, at which a regional approach to theexercise was agreed upon. "It is envisage organised thatrepatriation may take place some time in the first quarter ofnext year after the rainy season and will continue up to 2004. Interms of logistics, this exercise will require enormousresources. Consequently, budgets are being worked out,"Shimo said. "In Zambia, UNHCR Representative AhmedGubartalla has held a number of consultations/discussions withvarious stakeholders -donors and NGOs working with refugees - onthis matter. The discussions have centred on preparedness,resources and presence in areas of asylum and also return,"he added. The repatriation of the Angolans is expected to easelogistical pressure on both the Zambian government and UNHCR,which have had to look after a rapidly expanding refugeepopulation at a time of dwindling resources. A fall in donorsupport for refugee programmes meant that refugees in Zambia havebeen on half ration since October 2001. Currently Zambia hosts300,000 refugees - the majority of them Angolans - one of thehighest figures in the world. "It should be noted that theoverall food supply for refugees in our camps is now improving.In this regard, World Food programme (WFP) is currently providinga full ration of cereals and oil, whereas in the case of beansand salt, they are planning to provide full ration as of thismonth. The WFP has assured UNHCR that they have stocks in-handfor a full ration for refugees in Zambia till the end of theyear," Shimo said. Meanwhile, around 2.3 million Zambiansare expected to face food shortages over the next few months asthe effects of poor weather and mismanagement take their toll onthe country's food security. President Levy Mwanawasa hasdescribed the food shortage, which is expected to start bitingthis month, as "a national disaster".
Lusaka temporarily bans imports from Zimbabwe (Harare,The Herald, 19/07) - Zambia has temporarily banned theimportation of some Zimbabwean products, including some basicfoods, in a move designed to protect its own markets. In astatutory instrument issued on Friday last week, the ZambianMinistry of Commerce, Trade and Industry embargoed theimportation of asbestos roof sheeting, blankets, bananas, woodand wood products, eggs, cigarettes, cooking oil, paint and sugarfrom Zimbabwe. The Zambian Government has however, emphasised tothe Ministry of Industry and International Trade, which wasofficially informed of the embargo on Wednesday this week, thatthe measure "would be of a temporary nature only." Butaccording to recent reports in the Zambian media, the authoritiesin that country were preparing legislation to ban the importationinto Zambia of a number of Zimbabwean commodities. However, theGovernment has expressed confidence that a practical andrules-based resolution to the difficulties, which have crept intothe trading relationship between the two countries fully in linewith the provisions of the Comesa Treaty, would be forthcoming.The Ministry of Industry and International Trade last night saidit was fully committed to the promotion and enhancement of tradeand investment between the two countries. The ministry said theZambian government had stated that goods imported from Zimbabwewere being priced at levels, which not only effectively undercutsimilar Zambian manufactured goods but also were oftenconsiderably lower than the production costs of those same goodswithin Zimbabwe. During a series of meetings between Zimbabweanand Zambian trade and customs officials that began in August lastyear, Zambians registered concern over what they described as the"dumping of Zimbabwean commodities and products on theirmarkets." Detailed analysis of these concerns conducted bythe Zambians and the Comesa Secretariat with the assistance ofthe Ministry of Industry and International Trade have identifiedthe use of parallel-market rates in the pricing formula ofZimbabwean goods exported to Zambia as the core of the valuationproblem.
Two SA truck drivers in court (Ndola, The Times ofZambia, 18/07) - Two South African truck driversyesterday appeared in the Lusaka magistrates court jointlycharged with two Zambians for allegedly diverting three truckloads of mealie-meal destined for a Zambian company from SouthAfrica. The two drivers, Louis Johanes Botha and JacobusMarthinus Andreas appeared before principle resident magistrateFrank Tembo on a charge of theft of goods on transit. Evidencebefore the court was that on February 6, 2001, while working withZambians, Adrian Banda and Rueben Hampela, they allegedly stole3,520 bags of mealie-meal valued at K95,040,000 from three truckswhich were conveying the bags from Meway Procurement and Tradingof South Africa to C and S Investment in Lusaka. During continuedtrial a witness for C and S Investment Sunday Maluba, the companyaccountant told the court that his firm had ordered themealie-meal from South Africa and confirmed with the suppliers(Meway) that the consignment was being sent. But the drivers uponarrival in Lusaka allegedly off loaded the mealie-meal at awarehouse in Chinika area instead of C and S Investment. MrMaluba said he intercepted the truck on its way back to SouthAfrica without the mealie-meal. He said he questioned the driverson the where about of the mealie-meal who later led him to awarehouse in the industrial area of Lusaka. All the accused areon bail and trial continues on March 25. And a senior manager atSun Hotel in Livingstone who was charged with possession of drugswas yesterday acquitted of the case. Senior resident magistrateChristofer Syachifula, acquitted Bruce Williams , 32, warehousemanager who was arrested on January 17 for allegedly being inpossession of 04g of marijuana and was later released on bond. Inpassing judgment, Mr Syachifula said Mr Williams had beenacquitted because the evidence was based on tip from public andthat no one appeared to adduce evidence. The accused had noknowledge of the drugs, and there was enough evidence to show thedrugs had been planted , as three workers involved had testifiedthat they had been sent to plant the drugs.
359 drug traffickers arrested (Zambia Daily Mail,05/07) - The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) arrested359 people for trafficking in various prohibited narcotics whosestreet value was pegged at K48.2 million. In a statement inLusaka yesterday, DEC spokesperson Nason Banda said of thosearrested, seven were from the Democratic Republic of Congo, aSouth African, two Tanzanians, two Britons and two Somalians.Others are a Kenyan, two Chinese, nine Angolans, an Indian,Italian and a Canadian. Mr Banda said as at June 28, 78 of thearrested persons had already been convicted by the court of law.The drugs included cannabis, cannabis seed and cannabis resin.Others are heroine, tezapam, miraa and lidocaine.
Doctors vow to stay away until they get increase(Harare, Business Day, 31/07) - Zimbabwean juniordoctors went into the fifth day of a strike yesterday and vowedto stay away until the government gave them a pay rise of atleast 50%. Hospital officials and witnesses said patients werebeing turned away at the two largest hospitals in Harare as thefew available doctors dealt only with emergency cases. "Whatwe've said is, taking into account the current- economic problemsin Zimbabwe, we want an increase of at least 50% and then wecould negotiate for more while we are back at work" HowardMutsando, president of the Hospital Doctors Association said. Hesaid most of the group's 750 members had joined the strike lastFriday to protest against salaries averaging Z$53 000 a month.Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate has been more than 100% everymonth since November 2001. The Zimbabwe dollar is at 55 to thedollar but is trading at around 600 on the black market.Zimbabwean doctors have to work for at least two years in statehospitals after training before they can go into privatepractice. But over the past decade, hundreds have abandoned theirhospital stint midway and trekked to neighbouring SA and Botswanaor to Britain in search of better pay. Zimbabwe's health sectorhas already been hit by a shortage of drugs and equipment as thecountry struggles with an economic crisis. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe'smain opposition has rejected as fraudulent the victory byPresident Robert Mugabe's ruling party in a mayoral election heldat the weekend. In results announced on Monday for the ballot inthe central town of Kadoma, Fanie Phiri of Mugabe's Zanu (PF)party polled 6 886 votes against 6 214 for the Movement forDemocratic Change's (MDC's) Editor Matamisa. The narrow win cameafter the ruling party lost five similar polls in the capitalHarare and other major cities to the MDC over the past year. MDCsecretary-general Welshman Ncube said: "In the same mannerthat Zanu (PF) has repeatedly stolen the people's victory in thepast, the Zanu (PF) machinery was involved in constructing awarped victory against a genuine expression by the people ofKadoma.
Zimbabwe protests Zambia's embargo on local goods(Harare, The Herald, 31/07) - Zimbabwe yesterdayprotested the ban on imports slapped by Zambian authorities onits products saying the embargo violates regulations andprocedures governing the conduct of trade between and among themember states of the Comesa Free Trade Area. The Minister ofIndustry and Interna-tional Trade, Dr Herbert Murerwa, saidyesterday that the Comesa Treaty was very clear in respect oftrade remedy provisions and the prescribed conduct of traderemedy investigations, which must be followed prior to any of thevarious safeguards or remedial measures being invoked. "Themeasures unilaterally introduced by the Zambian Ministry ofCommerce, Trade and Industry are thus not in keeping with therules of the Comesa organisation, which is hosted in thatcountry, nor are they at all helpful with regard to assistingwith the search for a Comesa-compliant rules-based, amicable andsustainable solution to the trade-related problems between thetwo countries," he said. Dr Murerwa said his ministry wasaware of complaints from Zambia with regard to allegations of the"dumping" of various Zimbabwean-made commodities andproducts on the Zambian market. The fundamental component of theZambian complaint revolved around the pricing of Zimbabwean goodsflowing into Zambia through formal channels and the degree ofillegal trade or smuggling taking place across the common border.Zimbabwean and Zambian officials held a meeting last week inKariba, facilitated by the acting secretary general of Comesa totry and address the concerns. "At the meeting in Kariba, itwas made clear to the Zambian delegation by both the Zimbabweandelegation and by the Comesa secretariat that the embargointroduced on July 12 constituted a violation of the ComesaTreaty," said Dr Murerwa. He said with regard to the pricingconcerns, a deal was struck between the two revenue authoritieson the method to be used when evaluating goods being exportedfrom Zimbabwe into Zambia. The valuation method adequatelyaddresses the pricing concerns of Zambian authorities andeliminates any need for them to have resorted to the embargoimposed on July 12. The Ministry said the two countries wereopposed to smuggling. "By its very nature, illegal trade andsmuggling does not abide by any rule, even a trade ban andbanning trade in certain products is unlikely to see a stop tothose products entering either Zimbabwe or Zambiaillegally," the minister said. What was required, he said,was a much enhanced degree of co-operation and co-ordinationbetween the two revenue authorities of both countries. A draftMemorandum of Under-standing has already been submitted by theZimbabwe Revenue Authority to its Zambian counterpart.
Famine could stalk Zimbabwe by September (TheFinancial Gazette, 25/07) - Zimbabwe could have a famineon its hands by September if President Robert Mugabe's governmentdelays a decision on whether to accept genetically modified foodaid, a senior American aid official said week. Roger Winter, anassistant administrator at the US Agency for InternationalDevelopment (USAID), said Zimbabwe had "expressedconcerns" over GMO (genetically modified organism) foods,limiting the amount of food the agency can bring in to help feedthousands of needy people. "We do not have other productsthat do not have GMO in the volumes and within the time framesthat are necessary to keep the food pipeline full," Wintertold journalists in Harare. "Famine and food related deathsare not pretty. I argue that they are certain in this case ifthere is not an adequate food pipeline. You are going to start inall likelihood seeing serious impacts of at least a localisednature as soon as September," he said. Zimbabwe, facing itsworst political and economic crisis in 22 years of independence,is at the centre of a devastating food shortage sweeping acrosssouthern Africa, including Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland andMozambique. In June, the US said it gave Zimbabwe 8 500 tonnes ofmaize but a further 10 000 tonnes was rejected because it did nothave a certificate saying it had not been genetically modified. Asenior agricultural official said it was standard governmentprocedure. Winter said other aid groups did not have the capacityto fill the gap that would be left by a rejection of US foodsupplies, which he said accounted for 50 percent of the totalinternational aid effort. "The volumes that the US isoffering to supply cannot be made up for by any other country orgroup. As of right now, most traditional humanitarian donors forthis kind of emergency have yet to step up to the plate,"Winter said. USAID, through the UN World Food Programme, has todate distributed 42 930 tonnes of food aid mainly in the southernparts of the country mostly hit by shortages. Aid agencies sayfour to six million Zimbabweans need food aid this year, part ofa wider food crisis threatening nearly 13 million people in thesix southern African countries. Once the bread basket of thesouthern African region, Zimbabwe now needs food aid afterdrought and the invasion of white-owned farms since February 2000slashed staple maize output. The government says the shortage ofmaize, the country's staple crop, is due solely to a drought thathas hit small-scale black farmers who produce 70 percent ofnational output. The government has also blamed dwindling foodsupplies on its political opponents and foreign interests, who itsays want to punish Mugabe for seizing white-owned commercialfarms for redistribution to landless blacks. The government,following up the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms in thepast two years, has ordered nearly 3 000 farmers to stop farmingand in June gave them a 45-day deadline which expires inmid-August to quit their farmhouses.
650 white farmers evicted ahead of August deadline(The Financial Gazette, 25/07) - Nearly 650 whitefarmers have already been evicted from their farms by newsettlers, some of whom are senior government officials, ahead ofthe August 10 deadline set by the government for them to quittheir properties or face prosecution, Commercial Farmers' Union(CFU) president Collin Cloete said yesterday. Most of theevictions have taken place in farms around the three Mashonalandprovinces, he told the Financial Gazette. "About 650 farmershave been pushed off their land by government officials andpotential A2 settlers," Cloete said. Under the government'scontroversial land reforms, A2 model farmers refers to the newblack landowners with farming skills and financial resources whoare taking over commercial agriculture from the white farmers.But many of those who have benefited under the A2 scheme areclose associates of President Robert Mugabe and supporters of hisruling ZANU PF party. Calling the future of largely white-ledcommercial agriculture in Zimbabwe bleak, Cloete said thegovernment's land reform drive now looked more like it wasintended to purge the white farmer. "The future of farmingis bleak. It looks like the intention is to get all the land andget rid of white farmers," the CFU chief said. He said about70 percent of the estimated 4 500 white commercial farmers hadbeen issued with government orders to stop farming by August 10,while the government had been issuing Section 8 orders to theremaining farmers. The latter order bars farmers from carryingout any farming for 45 days after which they must leave theirproperties. The often violent and chaotic land reforms arelargely blamed for disrupting farming last season and causing a60 percent plunge in food production, triggering the current foodcrisis which threatens half of Zimbabwe's population or sixmillion people. The United States, Canada, the European Union,New Zealand and Switzerland have imposed sanctions on Mugabe and52 of his top officials over their land reform policies and othergovernance issues.
Zimbabwean government vows sanctions won't stop landgrab (The Financial Gazette, 25/07) - Zimbabwe'sgovernment has condemned the European Union (EU) for extendingsanctions against President Robert Mugabe's officials, but vowedthe move would not stop its controversial seizures of white-ownedfarms. In statements quoted by the official Herald newspaperyesterday, Mugabe said he would never surrender on the issue,while his Information Minister Jonathan Moyo branded as a wasteof time the sanctions slapped by the EU earlier this week. Moyodescribed as "crude" the EU's decision to add 52 morenames to a list of 20 Zimbabwean leaders and officials bannedfrom travelling to the EU. He said the visa and asset freezesagainst Zimbabwe's ruling elite and some prominent supporters ofthe ruling ZANU PF party were part of a drive by former colonialpower Britain to derail the redistribution of white-owned farmsto landless blacks. "Instead of paying attention to issuesconcerning the welfare of the majority of Zimbabweans, they areusing the most uncivilised and crude way to support their kithand kin who are the white commercial farmers claiming to beZimbabweans," he said. "It is obvious that the EU istrying to do everything possible to derail the landredistribution programme which we have to finalise by August31," he added. Moyo also accused the Western media of sidingwith the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) andlying to the world about the situation in Zimbabwe over humanrights abuses and political violence. Britain was working toprotect the interests of minority whites in Zimbabwe and not thewelfare of both blacks and whites, he charged. "It is clearthat the Western media is trying to fool the world about thesituation in Zimbabwe," he said. The Herald also quotedMugabe as telling his officials at a party to mark the officialopening of Parliament this week that he would never yield groundon the issue of land. It quoted the 78-year-old, who hasregularly attacked British Prime Minister Tony Blair over thepast two years, as saying that "Blair, that young man"was wasting his time with sanctions against his government overits land policies. "The land belongs to us, we fought forit, we died for it and we shall continue to fight and die forit," he said. "But somehow this young fellow thinks no,if he piles sanctions on we will surrender. Nobody has taught himthat we don't know the word surrender in relation to our rights.That word we can't spell, it's not in our dictionary,"Mugabe said. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said this weekthat sanctions against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and histop aides were working to isolate them on the world stage. The EUimposed so-called "smart sanctions" against Mugabe'sgovernment in February ahead of a March presidential poll he wenton to win amid widespread allegations of election malpractice.The sanctions included a ban on the sale and supply of arms andof equipment which could be used for internal repression. Theextension of the EU sanctions came as nearly 2 900 farmers inZimbabwe face a government deadline to leave their land bymid-August. The opposition MDC welcomed the sanctions, saying themove showed the international community was determined to holdMugabe to book on issues of democracy and human rights abuses.
EU names 52 more Mugabe associates for travelrestrictions (Brussels, Sapa-AFP, 22/07) - UPDATES with52 names added. ADDS details, background The European Union onMonday added 52 names to a a list of Zimbabweans facing"targetted sanctions" including President RobertMugabe's wife Grace, EU sources said. The decision was made at ameeting of EU foreign ministers convened in Brussels mainly atthe behest of the former colonial power Britain, concerned over alack of progress towards political dialogue and a perceivedclampdown on press freedoms in Zimbabwe. "There is no doubtabout the intensity of concern across the European Union aboutthe desperate plight into which Mr. Mugabe has plunged hiscountry and which is contributing to the deteriorating situationelsewhere in southern Africa," British Foreign SecretaryJack Straw said as he arrived for the meeting early Monday. Thesanctions, initially applied to Mugabe and 19 close associates,bar the named individuals from obtaining visas to travel to EUmember states and freezes any assets they may have in theeurozone. The new names include members of the ruling ZimbabweNational African Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) politicalbureau and their deputies, as well as deputy cabinet ministers,EU sources said. The EU imposed the initial sanctions afterHarare expelled an EU observer team monitoring preparations forpresidential polls in which Mugabe was returned to power in Marchamid widespread allegations of fraud and state-sponsoredviolence. The EU has also imposed a ban on arms sales andmilitary supplies to Zimbabwe. "We are in no doubt that thesanctions which were imposed in the middle of February have putpressure on the Zimbabwe government and led further to theirpolitical isolation," Straw said. Mugabe has passed toughnew media legislation, which is currently being tested in thecase of two Zimbabwean journalists who went on trial Monday forallegedly publishing falsehoods and breaching journalisticprivilege. A lawyer for Geoff Nyarota, editor of the country'ssole independent daily, and his Daily News reporter Lloyd Mudiwa,issued a counter-challenge that the lawe was itself in partsunconstitutional. A magistrate will Wednesday decide whether thecase should go to the Supreme Court. US journalist Andrew Meldrumwas last week acquitted of publishing false information butimmediately found himself up against an expulsion order, which heis contesting. Mugabe's government is also at odds with Britainover his controversial land reforms under which commercial farmsowned mainly by the small white minority have been seized fortransfer to landless blacks.
Second journalist to go on trial (Harare, Sapa-AFP,21/07) - A Zimbabwean journalist with a private daily isdue to appear in court Monday to face trial under the country'stough new media law, his lawyer Lawrence Chibwe said. LloydMudiwa of Zimbabwe's sole independent daily, The Daily News,becomes the second journalist to be tried under the Access toInformation and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), after USjournalist Andrew Meldrum, who was acquitted last Monday. Mudiwais to appear before a magistrate court facing charges ofpublishing falsehoods and abusing journalistic privileges,similar charges to those that Meldrum faced. The charges againstMudiwa arise from a story, which has since proved false, that theDaily News broke in April alleging that a woman had been beheadedin front of her children by Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF partymilitia. The paper later retracted the story and offered anapology to President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African NationalUnion-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), after it was found that thechief source of the story, a man claiming to be the dead woman'shusband, fabricated the incident. Mudiwa's hearing was supposedto have opened June 20, but the state prosecutor Thabani Mpofusought a postponement to allow him to try Mudiwa along with hiseditor-in-chief Geoff Nyarota. But Chibwe said Nyarota had byFriday not yet received a summons to appear in court with Mudiwaon Monday. Mudiwa was arrested on April 30 along with anotherjournalist from the Daily News, but the court later tossed outcharges against his colleague. They were released from policecustody two days later pending the trial to open Monday. Thepress law under which the journalists are being charged wasenacted just days after President Mugabe's controversialre-election in March. Journalists found guilty under the law faceup to two years in prison or a 100,000 Zimbabwe dollar (1,818 US)fine. Since the law took effect on March 15, 12 journalists havebeen arrested - some of them more than once.
Mugabe refuses to meet with white farmers (Havana,Sapa-AP, 20/07) - President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwewrapped up his visit to Cuba on Friday saying he won't meet withwhite farmers who have had lands seized in his country's plan toredistribute property to landless blacks. "The white farmershave channels" they can use without sitting down with theirnation's president, Mugabe told a news conference. They cancontinue their talks about land redistribution with the nation'svice president, he said. "They are not satisfied with thatlevel of authority," said Mugabe. "They think that byvirtue of their being British and white they are more divine thananyone else." But the white farmers "are not superhuman beings," he added. Zimbabwe's government has targetedabout 95 percent of farms owned by the country's white minorityfor seizure, saying it wants to redistribute them among landlessblacks. The often violent program of seizures has been condemnedby Western governments and has contributed to widespread foodshortages. Mugabe has been increasingly the subject ofinternational criticism and sanctions after his disputedre-election in March. As his popularity has waned, he has imposedcurbs on journalists and opposition parties, and many criticshave been attacked or threatened with prosecution. Mugabe, 78,has ruled Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in1980. After March elections that independent observers said wereriddled with irregularities, the 15-nation European Union imposedan embargo against Mugabe's government. The United States alsohas leveled sanctions. At Friday's news conference here, Mugabeinsisted the elections were free and clean and saw no need tohave his nation's courts validate the results. "These days,I don't know if Mr. (George W.) Bush won the elections atall," said Mugabe. "Who voted for him? Only the SupremeCourt. In my case it was our voters." During Mugabe'sfour-day stay here, Cuban authorities agreed to continueproviding medical personnel to Zimbabwe and to eventually providethe African country with any AIDS treatments successfullydeveloped in Cuba in ongoing research.
Zimbabwean publisher buys top SA newspaper (TheFinancial Gazette, 18/07) - Zimbabwean publisher TrevorNcube has bought the influential South African Mail &Guardian weekly in a deal funded by the Harare-based AfricanBanking Corporation. Ncube, chief executive of the ZimbabweIndependent and Standard weekly newspapers, has acquired 87.5percent of the shareholding of M&G Media Limited fromBritains Guardian Newspapers Limited for an undisclosedamount, it was announced this week. Ncube becomes the chairmanand chief executive of the Mail & Guardian, replacing veteranbroadcaster Govin Reddy who will work for the group as aconsultant and remains on its board. Industry sources this weeksaid they believed that South Africa-based Zimbabweantelecommunications mogul Strive Masiyiwa was behind the deal toacquire one of the regions most respected newspaper titles.Neither Ncube nor Masiyiwa could be contacted for commentyesterday. According to a statement this week from theBritish-based Guardian Newspapers Ltd, Ncubes NewtrustCompany Botswana Ltd had come out tops out of 20 offers for theaward-winning but loss-making South African weekly. Ncube wasquoted by South Africas Business Day newspaper yesterday assaying he intended to turn the fortunes of the newspaper aroundand transform it into a regional media player. The Mail &Guardian, which also owns a specialist tabloid called TheTeacher, is reported to have made a staggering loss of 12 millionrands about $60 million last year and has not madea profit in the past five years. The paper was founded by formerjournalists of the now defunct Rand Daily Mail in 1985 and becamea constant thorn on the then South African apartheid government.Ironically, it has also been accused by the African NationalCongress-led government of President Thabo Mbeki of bias againstit, a charge it denies.
Currency trading on Bulawayo streets (The FinancialGazette, 18/07) - Angelina Dube has lost count of thenumber of times she has been arrested and fined for peddlingforeign currency in the open streets of Bulawayo in the past fewmonths. Angie, as she is known by many, says she does not regretabandoning a menial job at a textile firm in the citysBelmont industrial area to ply her trade on the streets ofBulawayo, where she illegally buys and sells foreign currency ina scam blamed by the government for fuelling Zimbabwesinflation. Welcome to Bulawayos Fort Street the areawhich Finance Minister Simba Makoni once called the "WorldBank of Bulawayo". Every working day Angie and hundreds ofother women, many of them from the white-robed Vapostorireligious sect, depart from their homes just like any otherworker to arrive in the central business district of Bulawayo,Zimbabwes second largest city, at 8 am to start work."Its better to pay the fines or bribes than to justsit at home and pray that God will provide the food," Angie,45, told the Financial Gazette in her hunting ground this week."The money I was earning at the textile firm was not enoughto feed my four children and pay rent. We make huge profitshere," she added, casting a suspicious glance at two mencoming our way. The two men, clad in black suits and darksunglasses, zoomed past Angies "shop" without aglance. I could see that she and her colleagues, who were by nowhiding inside the side shop, were relieved. "I thought itwas them, you know the police. They know most of us even indisguise," she said, pointing at the direction of the twomen who seemed to be minding their own business on a bright andsunny Monday morning. Prior to using her own savings to ply theforeign currency black market, Angie just like othernewcomers in the trade used to buy and sell the hard cashthey obtained from well-known businesspeople here for profit.Every morning, she said, they would flock to the offices of thesebusiness people to get their individual "float". At theend of the trading day, they would go back to the businessmen tobalance the books before receiving a commission out of the moneythey would have traded on the streets. Most of the women whospoke to this newspaper this week said they were nowself-employed. They use their personal savings to buy the SouthAfrican rand, the Botswana pula, the British pound sterling andthe United States dollar the most popular currencies which they sell to individuals, banks and companies inneed of the scarce commodity. The dealers position themselves instreet corners to conduct their illegal transactions but saybusiness has been hit by a crackdown by police on illegal moneychanging in the past few weeks. Many now engage sentries atvarious points of the city to look out for the police. Theforeign currency dealers quickly disappear each time the sentriesalert them of suspicious people who might be plainclothespolicemen. Making handsome profits through the illegal tradehowever seems quite easy for most of them. They buy the foreigncurrency at a cheaper rate and sell it at exorbitant rates toforeign currency starved-banks and companies. "Apart fromemploying sentries, most of us now dress like shoppers in town toevade the police," Angie said. "But it is back-firingbecause they now know the trick." If caught, the illegalforeign currency peddlers such as Angie are fined $500 on thespot but could face much stiffer sentences under the ExchangeControl Act. Police in Bulawayo deny that any of their officerscould be taking bribes, as alleged by some of the money changers,to allow the illegal transactions of foreign currency. "Anymember of the public who has paid anything to the police is freeto report," said a police spokesman. "It is a crime fora police officer to take a bribe. Those who have done so in thepast have been dealt with according to the laws." Due to thebooming black market, police have resorted to charging offendersunder the Exchange Control Act which stipulates stifferpenalties, unlike the previous Miscellaneous Act whose maximumfine was $500. Thembi Ndlovu, another dealer along the bustlingFort Street, said some of her colleagues had become instantmillionaires because of the flourishing foreign currency exchangemarket. "When the rates went mad about three weeks ago, mostof the women made millions," she said, barely concealing hersmile. "The business is so lucrative that we dont mindbeing harassed by the police," said Thembie, one of theenergetic women who sprints up and down to every car with foreignnumber plates driving along Fort Street. Earlier this week, thedealers were buying the rand for $55 and selling it for as muchas $70. They bought the Botswana pula for $85 and sold it for$110, the British pound was being bought at $780 and sold for $1000 and the American greenback changed hands at $800 after beingbought for just $590. "This is good business. Why should thegovernment want to make us poor?," protested Thembie, whosaid she studied commerce at high school. "We are notstealing from anyone; we are merely taking advantage of theirpoor economic policies." She said most dealers were inbusiness because of large amounts of hard cash that was beingsent into the country by Zimbabweans working abroad in countriessuch as Botswana, the United Kingdom, South Africa and the UnitedStates. "This week, for instance, was a good one for some ofus because of public holidays in Botswana," Thembie noted.Asked how the dealers arrived at a particular exchange rate eachday, she explained: "We liaise with some bureaux de changesthat we sell the foreign currency to. We also have friends at thebanks. "We work hand in hand with the financial institutionsof this country. The government should understand this and makesound economic policies." While the dealers might laugh allthe way to the bank, it is not always smooth sailing becausethere are robbers who also ply the same street and lurk at everypoint waiting to pounce. Many of the dealers have lost fortunesin both local and foreign currency to these armed robbers. Lastyear a dealer was allegedly kidnapped and her mutilated body waslater found in the outskirts of the city, minus her newly foundfortune. "We are very concerned about our security. We tradecautiously with any foreigner who might ask us to come into theircar," Thembie said. She said she did not take any foreigncurrency out of Zimbabwe but traded it locally at higher ratesbefore depositing the earnings into her savings account. She hasbought a house with some of the money and intends to "investsome of it in shares" on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
Court suspends deportation of US journalist (Harare,Sapa-AFP, 17/07) - US journalist Andrew Meldrum,acquitted of publishing falsehoods but told to leave Zimbabwe, onWednesday was granted time to challenge his expulsion orderbefore the Supreme Court. The Zimbabwe High Court suspended thedeportation order until Meldrum, who claims his rights have beenviolated, is heard by the constitutional court. Justice AneleMatika said his order was "final" and"definitive" after the government's lawyer Yvonne Dondotried to argue that Meldrum should leave the country by Wednesdayevening because he was a "security risk". Meldrum, thecorrespondent for Britain's Guardian newspaper, has lived inZimbabwe for more than 20 years. The first journalist to be triedunder tough new media legislation, he was acquitted Monday by amagistrate's court following a high-profile trial, but minuteslater immigration officials served him with a 24-hour expulsionorder. His lawyers said the order violated his constitutionalrights and immediately applied for a suspension. Matika onTuesday granted a 24-hour reprieve until 5:00 pm (1500 GMT)Wednesday. Meldrum's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa argued Wednesday thathis right to a fair hearing, as well as his freedom of movementand residence in the southern African country, had been violatedby the expulsion order. She charged that Home Affairs MinisterJohn Nkomo was acting in "bad faith" in respect ofMeldrum's rights. In handing down his judgement, Matika said hewas required to refer allegations of breached constitutionalrights to the Supreme Court. "My hands are tied," hesaid, adding he was "satisfied" claims that Meldrum'sconstitutional rights had been violated were "not frivolousor vexatious." The government argued Wednesday that Meldrumdid not enjoy "absolute rights" under the constitution,as he is not a citizen and is also deemed a security risk."I cannot allow (Meldrum) to remain in the country beyond5:00 pm because such an extension would be detrimental to thesecurity of the state," Nkomo said in papers placed beforeMatika on Wednesday. He added that Meldrum was "deemed to bean undesirable inhabitant because among other reasons he waspublishing stories outside the country which were intended totarnish the image of the country. "The applicant, being analien, can be expelled from Zimbabwe," Nkomo said, addingthat the deportation order was "reasonably justified in ademocratic society." The charges against Meldrum stemmedfrom a false story first published in the local Daily News, andreproduced by The Guardian reporting that supporters of theruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front(ZANU-PF) beheaded an opposition supporter in front of herchildren. Both papers later retracted the story. Under Zimbabwe'simmigration regulations, a non-citizen's permanent residencepermit can be cancelled at the stroke of a pen. "The need toexclude the applicant immediately arises out of the securityconcerns," lawyer Dondo argued. But Mtetwa argued that ifthe minister had any sensitive information concerning thesecurity risk he should have placed it before the judge. Meldrumand some other foreign correspondents in Zimbabwe were last yearbranded as "terrorists" by the state media. Under theAccess to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), twoforeign correspondents have already been expelled from thecountry in the past 18 months and a third was refused renewal ofhis work permit. Critics say AIPPA is an attempt to muzzle thefree press in Zimbabwe, which has been increasingly critical ofPresident Robert Mugabe and alleged human rights abusesperpetrated by his supporters.
Zimbabwean publisher buys Mail & Guardian(Business Day, 17/07) - The Mail & Guardian'sforsale sign came down yesterday after its Londonbased parentcompany, the Guardian Media group, said the paper had been boughtby veteran Zimbabwean journalist and media mogul-in-the-makingTrevor Ncube. After an extensive search for "a suitablebuyer" and sifting through more than 20 offers the Guardiansold 87% of its stake in the weekly newspaper to Ncube, CEO ofthe Zimbabwean Independent and The Standard. The Guardian willkeep a 10% stake in the loss-recording newspaper. The price wasnot disclosed. The acquisition was fully funded by the AfricanBanking Corporation Limited, which is listed on Botswana's andZimbabwe's stock exchanges. Ncube formed the Newtrust CompanyBotswana Limited to facilitate the acquisition of the Mail &Guardian. He has taken over the two roles of chairman and CE ofthe newspaper. Ncube has replaced Govin Reddy, who will continueto work for the newspaper on a consultancy basis. As chairman ofthe newspaper, Ncube will be stepping into the shoes of BobPhillis, who is CE of the Guardian Group and chairman of itswholly owned subsidiary, the Guardian Newspaper Limited. Philliswill remain on the Mail & Guardian's board as a nonexecutivedirector. Phillis said the Guardian group's decision to sell wasbased on the belief that it was not right for the paper to beowned by a white and foreign company. He described Ncube as asuccessful and independent publisher, and said that he wasconfident that the weekly would prosper under his control. Ncubesaid his long-term vision was to be a regional media player, andthe Mail & Guardian, with its presence in southern Africa,presented the opportunity of setting the idea in motion. Ncube'sownership of the Mail & Guardian marks the end of an era forthe newspaper and the beginning of a new one, closing a chapterof white and international ownership of the paper. The newspaperhas had a long and turbulent history, marked by several attemptsby the apartheid government to shut it down, banning orders andprosecutions. The newspaper was started in 1985 by formerjournalists of the now-defunct Rand Daily Mail and SundayExpress, notably Anton Harber and Irwin Manoim. The Weekly Mail,as it was then titled, was closely aligned with the liberationmovement. The newspaper's ultra-left position and its vigorouscriticism of apartheid made it extremely popular with the UnitedDemocratic Front and the trade union movement. The newspaperquickly gained a reputation as one of the fiercest independentvoices in the fight against apartheid. In 1995, a year after SA'sfirst democratic election, the Guardian Media group became themajority shareholder in the newspaper. The paper has long stoppedworrying about possible closure and bans. However, a major tasklies ahead that of rebuilding it. The challenges ahead for theMail & Guardian may be of a different nature, but they are noless daunting. In fact, the future may even be more challengingthan the past because the paper has been bleeding since itsinception. It was kept alive by the generosity of the Guardian,which invested more than R50m in its 10year reign at the M&G.Last year alone the newspaper was estimated to have suffered aloss of about R12m. The biggest challenge for Ncube is to stemthese losses. In doing so, however, he has to ensure that heretains the newspaper's editorial and financial independence.Ncube said his plan for turning the newspaper around includedaggressive cost cutting, growing new revenue streams, andvigorously marketing the newspaper throughout southern Africa.Another big challenge is convincing government, which sees thenewspaper as a hostile force, otherwise. Curiously, the paperalienated itself from its former staunch supporters who after the1994 democratic elections became the new government elite and theemerging class of black capitalists. Ncube said he wanted tostart on a clean slate and extend a hand of friendship to the SAgovernment. All that he asked for was for government to give thenewspaper a chance "because we are in this together"."There are two sides to a story, and government's side mustbe heard," he said. But in giving government a voice, hedoes not plan to compromise the paper's editorial independence.The government will be given credit where this is due, but thepaper must remain free to criticise it if there is a need to doso. Referring to Zimbabwe, Ncube said that the danger of anunfree press was that it provided a breeding ground fordictators. Harber, who had expressed an interest in buying backthe newspaper, said he was pleased that the Guardian wasrelinquishing control of the newspaper. Now a minorityshareholder, Harber said the period under the Guardian's controlwas not a happy one for the newspaper. He declined to elaborate,but said the Guardian had "seriously mismanaged" theMail & Guardian. Harber said that he wished Ncube well inrebuilding the newspaper.
Zimbabwean publisher buys Mail & Guardian(Business Day, 17/07) - President Robert Mugabe'sgovernment lost a case in the country's courts when a Hararemagistrate acquitted Andrew Meldrum, Harare correspondent for theLondon Guardian newspaper, on charges under new press laws of"publishing falsehoods," on Monday. Within two minutesof magistrate Godfrey Macheyo delivering his ruling, a seniorofficial in the immigration department ordered Meldrum to anoffice in the court building where he handed the American citizenorders to get out of the country within 24 hours. Ohio-bornMeldrum has lived in Zimbabwe for 20 years and is officiallyregistered as a permanent resident. His lawyers said they wouldbe seeking a high court order immediately to revoke the order.Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said the order had been issued by homeaffairs minister John Nkomo. "They cannot order him to leavewithout allowing him to fight the order in court," she said.Meldrum said the magistrate's ruling was "a victory and avindication for me, and also for Zimbabwe's press. "Thereare 13 other journalists charged under the same law, and withthis verdict they will have a defence to show they were acting asresponsible journalists. "This trial has exposed thisgovernment as working to pervert the rule of law and stamp out afree press in this country, journalists who are trying to holdthe government accountable, for the good of all Zimbabweans,human rights and for a government that is not corrupt." Headded his deportation order was consistent with the government'sefforts to try and stop him from doing what a journalist issupposed to do. Last year Zimbabwe deported BBC correspondentJoseph Winter and Mail and Guardian correspondent MercedesSayagues. The case was the first test in court of the Access toInformation and Protection of Privacy Act passed on March 15 andcondemned internationally as one of the most repressive presslaws in the world. Under the new law, journalists can be jailedfor two years for reporting a "falsehood." It alsoallows journalists to work in Zimbabwe only if they are licensedby a state "media commission." Meldrum was arrested onMay 1 after writing a story that quoted the local independentDaily News as reporting that militias of Mugabe's ruling ZANU(PF)party had beheaded a woman in a rural area who was suspected ofsupporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Thereport turned out to be a lie, manufactured by a confidencetrickster trying to swindle the MDC out of money for"funeral expenses" for the allegedly murdered woman heclaimed was his wife. The woman had died of Aids a few yearsearlier. Meldrum was held in jail with two Daily News journalistsfor two days. In his hour-long judgment, magistrate Macheyo saidMeldrum had reported a falsehood, but could not be found guiltybecause he had not deliberately written a lie. He had askedpolice to confirm or deny the report, but, in line with a policynot to speak to most of the independent press, they would notrespond to his query. "All he needs to show is that when hepublished the report, he honestly believed it was a truestory," said the magistrate. "In this case, the accusedrelied on a newspaper story. The newspaper (the Daily News,reviled by Mugabe's officials as a mouthpiece for the MDC and theBritish government) is a reliable source of information, and thestory looked balanced," he said. "He made attempts toverify the information with police, but they would not confirmit. "The court's view is that he acted like any reasonablejournalist," he said, and found Meldrum not guilty. Reactingto the Harare judgment the Foreign Correspondents Association(FCA) in Johannesburg welcomed the acquittal and condemned thedeportation. "The FCA strongly condemns the extraditionorder that was served on Meldrum by Home Affairs officials withinminutes of his acquittal today in Harare. "The FCA calls onthe Zimbabwean government to reverse this unreasonable and unjustexpulsion order," the FCA statement read. The statementadded that while welcoming Meldrum's acquittal on charges ofpublishing falsehoods and abuse of journalistic privilege, theFCA remained opposed to the "draconian" Access toInformation and Protection of Privacy Act under which Meldrum andZimbabwean journalists have been charged.
White farmers desperate for dialogue with Mugabe(Harare, Sapa-AFP, 15/07) - Embattled white Zimbabwefarmers Monday appealed for direct talks with President RobertMugabe over a controversial land reform programme in which theyare likely to lose 95 percent of their land. "We appeal toour state president for dialogue," said Colin Cloete,president of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU). "The mainproblem that has developed since (March presidential) electionsis lack of clarity. That is why we need to talk to the statepresident," Cloete told a news conference. The appeal camejust under four weeks before farmers, whose properties have beenearmarked for compulsory acquisition, are supposed to vacatetheir farms. About 2,900 farmers have been issued with ordersthat compelled them to stop farming operations on June 24 and tomove off their properties by August 9. On May 10 the governmentamended the Land Acquisition Act to order farmers, whoseproperties have been earmarked for acquisition, to stop farming45 days after a notice of acquisition has been issued. They areordered to vacate their properties another 45 days after that.The goverment has promised that it will not take all land fromfarmers but will leave a farmer with just one property. ButCloete said that had not been the case as more than 1,000 farmerswho own only one property have been issued with acquisitionorders. He said there had been conflicting statements on theimplementation of the country's land policy from variousofficials. "We don't understand the (land) policy. We needto hear from the state president," he said. He said thefarmers feel marginalised in the land reform exercise and therehas been lack of trust which has prevented dialogue between themand government. "Surely the need for re-grouping of allparties has arrived. We are resolute and determined to find asolution. It is not too late," he said. The Zimbabwegovernment is taking millions of hectares (acres) of white-ownedland for redistribution to hundreds of thousands of landlessblacks. Although totalling less than one percent of thepopulation, white Zimbabweans own about 30 percent of all thecountry's land. The reforms have targetted as much as 95 percentof white-owned land.
US journalist ordered to leave Zimbabwe (SABC News,15/07) - A US journalist said today that he was orderedto leave Zimbabwe within 24 hours after being found not guilty ofpublishing a false story under President Robert Mugabe's newmedia laws. "The government has told me they have revoked mypermanent residence permit," Andrew Meldrum, the Zimbabwecorrespondent of Britain's Guardian newspaper, told reportersafter he met with immigration officials. Meldrum - a 50-year-oldnative of Hudson, Ohio who has lived in Zimbabwe for 22 years -was the first of a dozen journalists accused of publishingfalsehoods to go on trial. "This is consistent with agovernment that is trying to stop me from reporting what is goingon here. I'm trying to see what I can do and I will consult mylawyer right now," Meldrum said. He was ordered to leave thecountry shortly after Judge Godfrey Macheyo delivered his rulingin a Harare court. Meldrum was accused of reproducing a storyfirst published in Zimbabwe's privately-owned Daily News thatMugabe's militant supporters had beheaded a woman earlier thisyear. The newspaper later said the story was false and apologisedto Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. "It is the court's viewthat the accused is found not guilty and is thereforeacquitted," Macheyo said in his judgement. He acted like areasonable journalist and tried to verify the story. He tried tocontact the police who could not confirm the story to him. Itcannot be reasonably said that he had a guilty intention,"Macheyo said.
France concerned that French-owned farms targetted(Harare, Sapa-AFP, 15/07) - France's ambassador toHarare Monday expressed concern that farms legally acquired byFrench nationals in Zimbabwe have been listed for compulsoryacquisition. Didier Ferrand said that despite diplomaticcomplaints to the Zimbabwe government on the inclusion of theFrench-owned properties, the farms were still listed and somefarmers have received orders to vacate by August 9, in compliancewith the new land laws. "It is also most regrettable that inspite of all steps that were made here and in Paris, propertiesand productive farms belonging to French nationals are stilllisted for compulsory acquisition... although they were legallyacquired and do not meet the criteria for official landdistribution," said Didier Ferrand. According to whitefarmers' leaders, the Zimbabwe government has earmarked 5,909farms totalling 10.5 million hectares of land for compulsoryacquisition, in an effort to correct colonial land imbalances.Ferrand said "it is unfortunate that, due to a number ofoutstanding political and economic issues, is has not beenpossible to reiterate the full potential of cooperation betweenour two countries". France will, nevertheless, try tomaintain political dialogue with the Zimbabwe government, saidFerrand.
Shop manager arrested for selling sugar to Mozambicansmugglers (Harare, The Herald, 12/07) - A manager with aTM Superma-rket in Dangamvura, Mutare, was this week arrested forselling large quantities of sugar to suspected Mozambicansmugglers. And in a separate incident, a Grain Marketing Boardemployee at Masvingo depot was arrested yesterday after 18 stolenbags of maize were found at his house in Mucheke suburb. Policeare intensifying efforts to curb the smuggling out of basicgoods. The TM manager, Alexander Tunzi, was arrested on Tuesdaynight and was detained in custody as police continued with theirinvestigations. He was expected to appear in court yesterday. Itis alleged that Tunzi received about 15 tonnes of sugar fromChiredzi on Monday and sold 2 000 kilogrammes to the public onTuesday. Members of the public, who had seen the delivery truckoff-loading the sugar, were not amused and continued queueing inanticipation of more sugar. Police confirmed the arrest and saidon Tuesday at around 12 noon, Tunzi later sold 2 000 kg of sugarto a Mozambican only identified as John. At around 4 pm, anotherMozam-bican, David Musa, arrived at the shop with a Nissan lorry,registration number 523-383S, which he had hired to ferry thesugar to Honde Valley. Police suspect that he intended to smugglethe sugar into Mozambique. Provincial police spokesman, InspectorEdmund Maingire, said police received a tip-off from members ofthe public who had seen people loading the sugar in the truck andwent to the supermarket to investigate. Tunzi and Musa werearrested and at the time of going to press, police were recordingwarned and cautioned statements in the presence of their lawyer,Mr Andrew Makoni of Makoni and associates. The truck and thesugar, which was valued at $207 000, were confiscated. InMasvingo, police spokesman inspector Learn Ncube confirmed thatClemence Charuka who is employed as a sales representative wasfound with 18 bags of maize, which were meant for the rural folk.It was discovered that Charuka was conniving with a lorry driverto steal the maize by reserving some bags at various sellingpoints, which they would then sell for their own profit atexorbitant prices. The official price of a 25kg bag of maize is$315 but they would sell it at $800, which they would convert totheir own use. Inspector Ncube said the police were alerted by ananonymous caller that some bags of mealie meal were in Charuka'shouse. Other bags were found at the driver's house but he has notyet been arrested since he was out of town on business. Thearrest of Charuka comes barely a week after the arrest of anotherbusinessman and six others for hiding salt in Masvingo.
Catholic refugee camp officials sacked for sex abuses(Harare, Mail & Guardian, 11/07) - Two seniorofficials of a Catholic church agency meant to help refugees havebeen sacked for sexually harassing and demanding sexual favoursfrom their charges at a camp in Zimbabwe, it was confirmed onThursday. Dale Buscher, head of the commission, said he wascertain that allegations against the dismissedofficials were true for at least 10 women and girls between theages of 15 and 35. Allegations of sodomy involving a 15-year-oldboy also surfaced. I do not know if there was any statutoryrape or coerced sex to get services, Buscher said.Tongogara, a camp once visited by Diana, the deceased princess ofWales, holds about 500 refugees, mostly Somalis, Rwandans,Angolans and Sudanese. It is run by the ICMC on behalf of theUnited Nations High Commission for Refugees.
US slams eviction of white farmers (The FinancialGazette, 11/07) - The US government has criticisedZimbabwes detention last week of 15 farmers for allegedlyfailing to obey orders to stop farming and the continuing driveby Harare to evict farmers, saying this will reduceZimbabwes ability to provide food for its citizens."It is extraordinary that the government of Zimbabwe istaking action to shut down operations on productive farms when,at the same time, it has declared a national emergency to dealwith widespread hunger and possible famine," a US StateDepartment spokesman said this week. The 15 farmers were chargedby the authorities last week after they continued attending totheir sugar crop in defiance of a June 24 government orderrequiring nearly 4 000 of Zimbabwes biggest farmers to stopfarming or face prosecution. The government issued the order,under which the farmers must vacate their land by mid next month,using its controversial Land Acquisition Act which bans financialcompensation to owners of farms that are being seized by thestate. The State Department said in a statement: "Evenbefore this latest development, the governments actions andpolicies had collapsed Zimbabwes economy and causedwidespread suffering within Zimbabwe and the region. "Thedestruction of Zimbabwes agricultural sector will takeyears to fix, thereby consigning Zimbabwe, once a prominentagricultural exporter, to the role of food importer and aidrecipient." Zimbabwe is in the throes of its worst economiccrisis. It also faces mass starvation unless international donorsurgently provide more than 500 000 tonnes of food aid to feedmore than six million people or half the population. Whilepoor rains last season are blamed for causing food shortages insouthern Africa, food experts hold Harares controversialfast-track land reforms and the seizure of productive farms byits supporters largely responsible for its food crisis. The US,which has given US$27.5 million worth of food aid to Zimbabwesince the humanitarian crisis emerged several months back, saidit would provide an additional 100 000 metric tonnes of food aidto Zimbabwe and other drought-hit southern African states.
Zimbabwe food shortages worsen (Harare, Sapa, 10/07) -Faced with the worst famine in Zimbabwe's history, notenough is being done to import emergency food supplies in time toavert the looming catastrophe, a United Nations report issued inHarare on Wednesday warned. The latest report by the UnitedNations' relief and recovery unit said the rate of purchases offoreign grain, the national staple, were still "relativelyslow." A total of 270,000 tons of food - less than twomonths' supply - had been brought in so far, by both PresidentRobert Mugabe's government donor agencies. Plans for another289000 ton had been made, giving the country enough food foranother two months. "The remaining nine months' cereal needsare as yet unaddressed," the report said. Usually selfsufficient in grain, the country needs a total of 1.86-millionton as a result of massive lawless disruptions of the country'sonce-thriving commercial farms by the regime and, to a lesserextent, drought, relief agencies said. An estimated six millionpeople are faced with famine, and already nearly four million are"extremely food insecure," the agency said. The reportalso disclosed that expectations of a substantial wheat crop hadbeen slashed by half, with a maximum of 96000 ton now expected.The government has banned most of the country's white commercialfarmers from growing wheat as part of Mugabe's notorious campaignof seizures of white-owned land. The commercial farming sectorusually grows about 350 000 ton, almost enough to meet nationalconsumption. The government had arranged to import 35000 ton, thereport said. The UN bulletin also said UN agencies were trying topersuade the government to lift its ban on private companiesimporting food. Only the Grain Marketing Board, a state-runmonopoly, is allowed to import grain. It said a plan was beingdrafted to set up a special foreign currency facility to be usedby "reputable businesses" to buy food overseas. Thegovernment has claimed that multinational and white-ownedcompanies are hoarding food in a conspiracy to cause"artificial shortages" that would result in unrest andMugabe's overthrow. Stores and supermarkets around the countryare almost permanently ringed by queues not only for maizemeal,the national staple, but also cooking oil, sugar, bread and salt.The government scorned warnings early last year that foodshortages would occur, and agriculture minister Joseph Made saidthere was "plenty of maize." The country is in themidst of economic collapse, compounded by inflation now estimatedat 122 percent. Economists have said Mugabe's refusal to carryout economic reforms guarantees that the situation will continueto worsen. In rural areas, said the report, households have beenforced to rely on meals of wild vegetables, tubers, pumpkinleaves and cooked green mangoes. To try to earn money to buyfood, many people had turned to "coping strategies,"that included stealing and prostitution. Last week the UNlaunched an international appeal for US507-million to buy amillion tons of food for 10.2-million people in fivefamine-stricken southern African countries. Zimbabwe is due toget 45 percent of the food, a total of 452995 tons worth US229million. The report said the famine would be at its worst betweenDecember this year and March 2003 when stocks of food will be attheir lowest and prices at their highest.
Zimbabweans turn to Mozambique for land (The SundayMirror, 09/07) - Authorities in Zimbabwe and Mozambiqueare inves tigating claims that Zimbabwean commercial and peasantfarmers are seizing arable land along the Mozambican side of theborder, The Sunday Mirror has learnt. According to an AgenceFrance Press (AFP) report published last week on the BotswanaGazette website, recently Zimbabwean farmers were illegallyseizing fertile land across the Mozambican border. AFP quotesMozambiques national director of land mapping and planning,Josq Mucombo as saying: We have had reports of illegal landoccupations from the Manica provincial authorities, the mostserious case of which involves a major Zimbabwean tobaccogrower. He said authorities in one district of Mussorizehad reported that Zimbabweans had been extending their farmsacross the border into the fertile lands of the central Manicaprovince. Mucombo said governments of the two countries hadagreed to form a technical commission to investigate the issue.Contacted for comment, a senior officer with the Mozambicanembassy in Harare, who declined to be named, said he was notaware of the illegal land grab claims in Mozambique byZimbabweans and referred The Sunday Mirror to the agricultureauthorities in Mozambique. The Minister of Information andPublicity in the Presidents Office, Professor JonathanMoyo, declined to comment, referring the matter to Mozambicanauthorities. However Manuel Alfasek, a technical services officerwith Mozambiques agricultural provincial office in Chimoio,while confirming Zimbabweans were receiving land for settlementthere, said this was being done in an orderly manner. It istrue some Zimbabweans have approached us for land to settle andfarm and we have given them the land as per their requirements.Everything has been done properly and we have not heard anyreports of land-grabs, he said. According to Alfasek, 23Zimbabwean farmers comprising white commercial farmers andpeasants, have so far been given land in the Dombe and Sidengadistricts in Manica province and are actively involved in growingmaize, tobacco, sunflowers as well as cattle ranching. Thesettlement programme for Zimbabwean farmers has gone very wellwith us as they have been able to fulfill all the requirementsincluding getting licenses for their land. We would urge moreZimbabweans to come in and start farming, said Alfasek.
Court orders Zimbabwe to issue passport to rightsactivist (Harare, Sapa-AP, 08/07) - Zimbabwe's HighCourt ordered the government Monday to issue a passport to aveteran human rights activist in a ruling that could have majorimplications for millions of Zimbabweans of foreign descent. Thegovernment plans to appeal Judge Benjamin Paradza's ruling that apassport be given to Judith Todd, 57, who was stripped of herZimbabwean citizenship because she took no steps to renounce apossible claim to a New Zealand passport. Todd was born inZimbabwe, but her father, former Rhodesian Prime Minister SirGarfield Todd, 93, was born in New Zealand. He moved to thesouthern African nation, which was still a British colony when heled it, as a missionary 70 years ago. Paradza granted RegistrarGeneral Tobaiwa Mudede permission to appeal his ruling to theSupreme Court, but said Judith Todd had to be issued with apassport in the interim and ordered that this be done within 14days. Lawyers for Todd, a human rights worker as well as apioneer of the nation's independent media, expect the appeal tobe heard in about three months. Last year President Robert Mugabeintroduced tough new citizenship laws aimed!weans of Britishorigin of the right to vote, claiming they had not properlyrenounced their claim to British citizenship. However the law,which bans dual citizenship, will also affect more than 2 millionZimbabweans with Malawian and Mozambican parentage. Mudede hasdemanded any Zimbabwean suspected of having a claim to a secondcitizenship must produce proof from the foreign country that theydo not secretly hold its passport. Many embassies refuse toprovide such proof, saying they do not provide consular servicesto non-citizens. At a High Court hearing in May, Judge SandraMungwiro ruled Mudede's actions illegal, and refused him theright to appeal her ruling. But Mudede claimed Mungwiro shouldnot have heard the case because her husband may have a secretclaim by descent to Malawian nationality and approached Paradzafor permission to take the matter to the Supreme Court, nowheaded by Mugabe loyalist Godfrey Chidyausiku. Zimbabwe has beengripped by more than two years of political and economic turmoil,as the increasingly unpopular Mugabe clings to power. Independenthuman rights groups say scores of people, most oppositionsupporters, have died in political violence this year surroundingMugabe's disputed re-election in March. Observer groups said thevote was marred by rigging and intimidation.
Court finds ban on farming to be illegal(Johannesburg, Business Day, 05/07) - A Zimbabwean highcourt judge ruled yesterday that amendments to a land law thatmade it illegal for some farmers to carry on farming wereunconstitutional. The ruling was made in the case of GeorgeQuinnel, who made an urgent application last week to the highcourt to carry on farming. He was one of 2900 farmers ordered tocease farming under the country's land laws. The ruling did notprevent the arrest yesterday of 15 farmers for defying the ban.Commercial Farmers' Union spokeswoman Jenni Williams said thefarmers from Chiredzi, southern Zimbabwe, had been charged underthe Land Acquisition Act "for interfering with theresettlement programme". Meanwhile, Justice Minister PatrickChinamasa has threatened to investigate and punish Judge FergusBlackie, who issued a warrant of arrest against him for failingto appear on a contempt of court charge. The charge arose fromChinamasa's criticism of a court ruling against three Americanswho were convicted of illegal arms possession in 1999. Chinamasasaid he was appalled that Blackie investigated "innocentpeople" instead of worrying that "dangerous USterrorists" were freed. He accused Blackie of behaving likeformer judge Michael Gillespie, who criticised the government forlawlessness when he quit the bench last year.
Army, police arrest informal traders at border(Harare, The Daily News, 05/07) - A combined police-armyoperation in Mutare has sealed off all illegal entry points intoMozambique from Zimbabwe in a blitz which netted hundreds ofcross-border traders. The traders allegedly enter Mozambiquethrough bushes surrounding Mutare's low density residentialsuburbs of Morningside, Darlington, Bordervale, Greenside andTiger's Kloof. The traders have been observed in the early hoursof the day, trekking back from Mozambique with empty bags inhand. The legal entry point is through Forbes border post. Duringthe night, the traders allegedly make their way to neighbouringMozambique through the mountains which divide the two countries,to sell scarce commodities such as salt, sugar, cooking oil,margarine and white maize- meal. Last week, heavily armed policeand soldiers raided major wholesalers in Mutare and impoundedessential commodities worth millions of dollars after suspectingthe companies of hoarding the products and selling them toillegal traders for export. Edmund Maingire, the provincialpolice spokesman, could not be reached for comment yesterday.There was no immediate comment from the army either. The countryhas been dogged by shortages of basic commodities since thegovernment embarked on its controversial land reform programme,disrupting farming activities and forcing industries to shutdown. Security roadblocks are mounted along the Beira Roadtowards Forbes border post where vehicles crossing intoMozambique are thoroughly searched . An immigration officer whorefused to be named said: "This is a joint operation by thepolice and soldiers. Our department has nothing to do with that."We heard that illegal cross-border traders are being beatenup, but have not actually got in contact with the victims."The immigration officer dismissed reports that military weaponswere being smuggled into the country through the border post asclaimed by the police. "We have not heard of any suchcases," he said. "If indeed that's happening, it iscertainly not through Forbes border post."
Government to import another 200,000 tonnes of maize(Harare, Sapa-AFP, 02/07) - Zimbabwe's government plansto import another 200,000 tonnes of maize to stave off a faminethat threatens millions people, Agriculture Minister Joseph Madetold Tuesday's edition of the state-run Herald. "We have sofar brought in 400,000 tonnes of maize into the country. Most ofthe maize is being distributed to needy people to avertstarvation," Made said. "We are preparing to import anadditional 200,000 tonnes and the Grain Marketing Board willoversee the smooth delivery of the maize to districts facingshortages," he added. The government late last year gave theparastatal Grain Marketing Board (GMB) a monopoly on buying andselling maize and wheat in Zimbabwe. Rights groups and theopposition have accused the GMB selectively distributing food tosupporters of President Robert Mugabe. The latest UN humanitarianreport on Zimbabwe, published last week, said 5.5 million peoplein the population of 13 million face famine. Zimbabwe needs toimport a total of 1.8 million tonnes of food to survive until thenext harvest in 2003. Zimbabwe's food shortages have been blamedin part on a drought, and in part on Mugabe's tumultuous landreforms, in which more than 90 percent of white-owned commercialfarms have been targetted for resettlement by blacks. Under a newlaw, about 2,900 white-owned farms were supposed to stop workingMonday, but many farmers ignored the deadline, according to theCommercial Farmers Union which represents them. The land reformshave hamstrung commercial farms since February 2000, whenpro-Mugabe militants turned the resettlement scheme into aviolent campaign of farm invasions, closely tied to politicallymotivated attacks on opposition supporters. Six other Africannations - Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland andZambia - face serious hunger problems, because of combinations ofbad weather, poor policy and conflict.
This page last updated 09 July 2004.