June 2002 - Click on the country title above theheadlines for the entire article.
Over 20 countries confirm participation atpoverty conference
Southern African's food crisis needs better strategies
SADC and the Lesotho election
SADC single currency needs more time, say experts
South Africa's president chides African leaders, urge goodgovernance
SADC moves to control firearms
SADC addresses food shortages
Southern African ministers discuss famine, restructuring
WFP appeals for food aid in Southern Africa
Agencies, donors, governments to discuss famine in SouthernAfrica
US pledges more food for Southern Africa
Food crisis under spotlight at SADC meeting
Donor fatigue slows down food aid
SADC protocol to increase regional trade
Millions needed to stave off starvation in Southern Africa
13-m in Southern Africa could starve
Interview with WFP regional food vulnerability expert
Millions face starvation in Southern Africa, UN official warns
Aid agency's food stocks for Angola'shungry running out
Social conflicts continue in Angola
Humanitarian aid group to discuss support for displaced persons
Interview: UN Refugee Agency
Thousands of refugees return to famine-hit Angola
10,000 refugees return to Angola since April ceasefire
Strategy to increase tourism
SADC tourism ministers meet in Kasane
Plight of Baswara targeted by global human rights movement
Non-residents to pay for health services
95 investigated for obtaining false drivers' licences in Namibia
Relocated Basarwa families return
Batswana urged to carry identification when visiting
Call for paradigm shift in Botswana's approach to tourism
No intentions to close border post
Comment on policy allowing employment of labourers
North East District "overrun" by illegal immigrants,claims council chairman
Foreigners, rebels still plundering DRC,says UN report
Africa Refugee Day celebrated in Maseru
DA concerned over possible Lesotho violence
Millions facing food shortages
USaid gives US $14 million to fight hunger
Report on Malawin famine
Food aid fails to rescue starving Malawians
Mozambique approves settlement of 13 whiteZimbabwean farmers
Mozambique houses 5,000 refugees
Drought stricken Mozambique needs over 70,000 tonnes of food aid
Mozambique avoids widespread famine
The story of an accidental refugee
Visa requirements rile business people
Government lifts curfew along Kavango River
EU to give green light for tourists to visit north-east
Convoy system suspended in Caprivi
Self-help initiative at Osire refugee camp
No government houses to be sold to expatriates
Namibian business assists Angolan needy
Masetlha takes up new job at presidency
New Groote Schur hospital wards targets UK patients
Attacks on foreigners alarm tourism safety forum
SA businessmen discuss cooperation with Lesotho
South African schools raided for Swazi pupils
Masetlha packs his bags
Almost 100,000 legalised refugees in SA
Two Home Affairs officials arrested for corruption
ANC condemns raids in schools
Buthelezi renews complaints against Masetlha
New migration control within three months
Restrictions on teachers working abroad
I can't risk quitting, says Buthelezi
Five illegal immigrants nabbed for fake goods
Billy Masetlha might be leaving
Concern that anti-democracy laws will hurttrade
Focus on positive aspects of refugeecrisis
Report on trafficking in Tanzania
Zambian drug peddlars nabbed in Dar es Salaam
Child labour common in Zanzibar says ILO
Immigration dept will get machines to detect forged passports
Court acquits 2 SA drivers of mealiemeal theft
Britain and Libya help Zambia with emergency food aid
Immigration directs learning institutions to stop recruitingforeign students
Government maintains open door policy to asylum seekers
Food insecurity will affect refugee supplies, says UNHCR
Zambia moves to restrict entry of cheap Zimbabwe goods
Thousands of Angolan refugees living in Zambia return home
Zambia to run out of food within three months
South African in court for obtaining money by false pretences
Food shortages problem requires urgent measures
50 farmers move to Mozambique
New airport operating below capacity
EU gives more aid to hungry in Zimbabwe
Judge tipped for Swazi Chief Justice post
Zimbabwean farmers allegedly invading land in Mozambique
White tobacco farmers told to leave Zimbabwe
US journalist on trial in Zimbabwe
NGOs meet over internal refugee crisis
Zimbabwe soldiers in Congo food scam
Trial of US journalist opens
Trial of US journalist resumes
American journalist tried for breaking new media laws
Tsvangirai blames Mugabe for food shortage
Mugabe defends land policy at food summit
Mugabe defends land policy, asks for more aid
Danes close Zimbabwe embassy doors
Mugabe attends food summit despite travel ban
New Zealand imposes travel sanctions
Mugabe accused of holding back food aid from opponents
Government lambasts judge for links with International BarAssociation
Mudene denied German visa
Over 20 countries confirm participation at povertyconference (Angop, 25/06) - More than 20 countries haveconfirmed their participation at the African conference on"femininity of poverty and armed conflicts" scheduledfor July 3 in Luanda. Leading the conference organizingcommittee, the deputy minister of family and women affairs,Filomena Delgado, told ANGOP other countries are expected toconfirm their participation this week as they have alreadyexpressed interest in attending the event. She said the event,being run under the motto "against poverty and famine let usmake of Africa a continent of peace, gender equality anddevelopment," will discuss relevant topics concerning mostof African countries. According to her, the Pan-Africa Women'sOrganization (PWO) jointly sponsoring the conference willcoordinate such international institutions like the UN Fund forPopulation, High Commissioner for Refugees, and UN Organizationfor Food and Agriculture that will lead the panels on"Femininity of poverty, economy and health","armed conflicts, refugees, displaced people andpoverty" and "rural women and poverty". Speakingon the program, the source said Angola`s first lady, Ana Paulados Santos will address the second day of the event on the workbeing done by the Angolan committee of support for rural women.The conference has as its aim to encourage concrete actionstoward lessening the effects of poverty, securing women economicpower through access to credit, land, water and energy. The eventis also meant to mobilize African governments, the Organizationof African Unity and the future African union to take concretemeasures to eradicate poverty and implement the recommendationsfrom the Abuja treaty and the Lagos action plan.
Southern African's food crisis needs better strategies(Zambia Daily Mail, 24/06) - Domesticated animals,wildlife, range lands and croplands have been affected severelyfor much of the last decade when rains have either been too muchor too little to support sustainable agriculture, especiallyamong the small scale farmers. If no profound measures are takenonly the range lands would often recover after the calamity, buthum an occupation and utilisation of resources therein willsuffer irreversible damage. While some communities have alsoevolved viable and sustained coping mechanisms, recent times haveseen weakened coping strategies and severe drought-related famineand subsequent suffering leading to loss of life in somecountries in the region. While it is important to note thatcauses and effects of land degradation are many, andinterrelated, drought-related effects have proven to be themost difficult to manage. Drought-related land degradation ordesertification poses a huge threat to sustainable land andresource management in the region. Although there have beennumerous interventions targeted at reducing poverty andimprovement in resource management in Africa and the region inparticular, the outcome has not been as desired. The reasons forthis can be attributed to failure of the external helpers torecognise and incorporate the indigenous peoplespreferences and coping strategies. Rigidity and imposition ofpolicies and strategies are some of the major causes of thiswidespread failure. It is for this reason that feasible,appropriate and effective drought mitigating measures should betaken into consideration by government if poverty can becushioned. According a recent joint report by the Food andAgriculture Qrganisation (FAQ) and the World Food Programme(WFP), it is estimated that about 10 million people in fourSouthern Africa countries are threatened by famine. The UNagencies say this figure is expected to rise this year and wouldcontinue for the next two to three years. The report, drawn fromits missions to Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland says thatmillions of people were on the brink of starvation, and that theywill face grave food shortages this month. The food crisiswill continue up to the next main harvest, in April 2003,the report says. The overall picture, adds the report, willbecome even bleaker when the reports on Zambia and Mozambique areadded to the already critical humanitarian situation. Twosuccessive years of poor harvests caused by natural calamities,coupled with economic crises and disruption of farming activitiesin part, have slashed food production and availability across theregion, resulting in one of Southern Africas worstagricultural disasters in a decade, the report notes.
Over the next year, it is also estimated that four milliontonnes of food will need to be imported to meet the minimum foodneeds of the sub regions population. The joint UN missionscovering six countries brought together leading agricultural andfood vulnerability specialists with their reports constitutingthe broadest, most objective and authoritative study of thecrisis to date. More than in any recent year, governments, donorsand aid agencies have been awaiting the critical results fromthese harvest time missions in order to plan their response. TheFAQ and WFP missions, including observers from governments, donoragencies and NGQs, assessed the outcome of the 2001/2002 maizeharvest, the regions staple food, plus other food crops.They also forecast the upcoming 2002/2003 winter crop production.This is so in order to determine each countrys food importrequirements, including food aid needs, for the next 12 months.Zambia is facing a serious food crisis, and President LevyMwanawasa, perturbed with the hunger situation in the countrycompounded with long dry spells, has declared the rampant maizeshortage, a national disaster. Mr Mwanawasa said apart fromdeclaring the country-wide food disaster, government alsodeclared a national disaster for the water shortage in SouthernProvince. He asked Zambian farmers not to export any maize or itsproducts in view of the impeding hunger in most parts of thecountry. The President urged people in rural areas not to sellall their produce because of the hard days ahead. Zambia and theregion had experienced below normal rainfall in the last rainyseason and this affected agricultural production. Mr Mwanawasasaid while the 1999/2000 rainfall was relatively good, it was notthe case during the following season as high rainfall and floodshad adversely affected most farmers. The national maize deficitin 2001 was estimated at over 360,000 tonnes but government putin measures to address the shortfall. The current foodreserves were only expected to cater for six million Zambians outof the population of 10 million, President Mwanawasa said.To this effect, even Agriculture and Cooperatives minister,Mundia Sikatana, echoed the Presidents remarks by imposinga ban on the export of maize as a cost-effective saving measureto make available the supply of the corn within the country.
The Southern Province, the once highly rated maize productivebelt of the country, has in recent years failed to reach maize atknee high due to the drought. Most rural households ownedlivestock, but rising theft within the villages and diseases havetaken its toll. Due to the severity in water shortages in somedistricts in Southern Province a number of livestock had alreadydied because of lack of drinking water and grazing land.Livestock provide a vital source of cash to buy food whenagricultural production is low. And although mitigation measuresto harness the cereal deficit by increased crop diversificationthrough winter farming were on course, about 485,000 tonnes ofcommercial cereal imports will be required, of which 208,000tonnes will be food aid. More than three million people areseriously affected by reduced food availability and purchasingpower, and will require emergency food aid over the year ahead.Long dry spells combined with a depletion of national grainreserves in the country have adversely contributed to foodshortages driving farmers to consume crops prematurely. With theabnormally high malnutrition rates in rural areas among childrenand women and an extremely high food prices, desperation set inand survival strategies such as skipping meals and eating oftenpoisonous wild foods is the scenario which has beset Zambiatoday. Goats and chickens are being sold at throw away prices tobuy food in rural areas. The most famine-prone countries inSouthern Africa as per UN report, are Zimbabwe whose food crisishas been compounded by the sharp fall in maize produced bycommercial farmers who normally produce one third of the totalcereals; but whose farming operations were disrupted by theongoing land reform activities and widespread illegal invasions,while Lesotho has poor harvest in 2002 with 60 percent lower thanin normal years. The other countries are Malawi, Zambia andSwaziland respectively. Malawis maize production, currentlyestimated at 1.5 million tonnes, has fallen by 10 percent belowlast years poor harvest. And in Swaziland a third year oferratic weather with dry spells affecting crops during theircritical flowering stage, has reduced production particularly inthe dry middleveld, lowveld and Lumbombo plateau. The reportcites a combination of poor production from 2000/01, a severereduction in this years agricultural production, andcontraction in agricultural wage labour opportunities as some ofthe reasons for failures in production. Other factors cited arerising prices which have made a substantial percentage of thechronically poor and hungry households food insecure for aportion of the year. All of the countries affected in the regionare experiencing a combination of problems, including growingunemployment and lack of foreign exchange. And the rapid spreadof HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa, where infection rates are highestin the world, makes vulnerability to food shortages all the moredeadly. As agriculture faces a catastrophic future, cropproduction is declining and could cease and result in untoldpoverty and death altogether over large tracts in Zambia if stepsare not taken to reverse soil erosion, degradation and thedecline in soil fertility.
SADC and the Lesotho election (Business Day, 24/06) - Oneof the most remarkable things about the peaceful completion ofLesotho's recent general election has been how SA's foreignpolicy success has been downplayed. Given the widespreadcriticism SA received for spearheading the Southern AfricanDevelopment Community's (SADC's) military intervention in Lesothoin 1998, it might be thought that President Thabo Mbeki couldtrumpet SA's role in forging a democratic outcome in 2002. SurelyMbeki could be pleased to flaunt a foreign policy triumph in theface of those who have been so critical of his stance towardsZimbabwe. In contrast, there has not been so much as a modestsqueak about SA's role. Before exploring why this is so, it isnecessary to outline the extent of the achievement.
SA troops, acting on behalf of SADC and in collaboration with theBotswana Defence Force, rolled across Lesotho's border onSeptember 22 1998. They were responding to a plea from PrimeMinister Pakalitha Mosisili whose government had lost control inthe face of opposition parties mobilising their supporters andthe defection of rebel elements in the security forces. Thelatter had removed their commanders in the Lesotho Defence Forceand were in the throes of implementing a "creepingcoup". SA came under immediate criticism for a variety ofreasons, but most particularly because poor planning by the SANational Defence Force failed to prevent angry oppositionsupporters from burning down large swathes of the capital,Maseru, and various outlying towns. Critics also argued that theintervention had no standing in international law, and that thenew SA was simply resuming the regional "bully boy"tactics of its apartheid predecessor. It was against thiscontroversy that SA, Botswana and Zimbabwe set about establishingthe parameters for a long-term resolution of Lesotho's acutepolitical problems. Earlier in 1998, faced by the oppositionparties' refusal to accept the victory of the Lesotho Congressfor Democracy (LCD), SA had backed a commission of inquiry intothe election, chaired by SA judge, Pius Langa. This had foundthat despite numerous administrative deficiencies, the resultreflected the overall will of the Basotho people. When theopposition proceeded to reject this finding, SA was pulled deeperinto the mire of Lesotho's faction-ridden politics. Notsurprisingly, the major opposition parties reacted to theintervention. The SA government, although quietly applauded bythe major international players in Lesotho (Britain, the US andEuropean Union), faced an uphill task in negotiating any sort ofa solution. Yet, they managed to broker a deal based on SA's owntransitional experience whereby the LCD would remain in power andall 12 parties which had contested the 1998 election wouldprovide two delegates to an Interim Political Authority (IPA).This body would be charged with devising a new electoral systemwhich would rectify the faults of Lesotho's first-past-the-postelectoral system, whose particular operation had served to almosttotally exclude the opposition from parliament. SA then wiselystood back, allowing the difficult negotiations to be mediated byother players, such as the United Nations Development Programme.The initial deadline May 2000 proved hopelessly optimistic, asvarious power plays broke out between the LCD government and theIPA. Yet, with SA latterly playing a quietly persuasive role, acompromise on the adoption of a new Mixed Member Proportionalelectoral system was reached. This guaranteed opposition partiesa presence in parliament. In addition to its brokering role, SAtook the lead in retraining Lesotho's army. SA's presenceprovided the muscle for the LCD government to court martial therebels and retrench some whose political sympathies with theopposition inclined them to disobey orders. The SADC backed thisup by crafting a plan for the recent election whereby Lesotho'sarmy, police and intelligence services worked closely with theIndependent Election Commission to establish a structure ofnational and local operational committees. These played a keylogistical role during the election. Yet wisely, all SADCmilitary advisers were withdrawn well before the actual election.Despite all these careful preparations for the 2002 election,which all observer groups commended as free and fair, the resultwas again repudiated by elements of the opposition. Yet it wasonly days before the opposition leader's threats to boycottparliament were exposed as hollow, and in effect, the oppositionparties agreed to abide by the new, and fairer, rules of thegame. So why has SA run so shy of claiming credit for thissignificant success? First, the SA government is acutely shy ofthrowing its military weight around to achieve its diplomaticobjectives. Its armed intervention into Lesotho may ultimatelyhave been crowned with a political success, but it is wary ofthis example being used as a precedent. To state the obvious,Zimbabwe is not Lesotho, and any armed intervention there wouldbe fraught with dangers and difficulties. SA foreign policypurports to work in cooperation with SADC, and SA is anxious toavoid being labelled an arrogant regional hegemony. Second, itfollows that SA is keen to maintain the myth of sovereignequality with its smaller and weaker neighbours. Lesotho may havebecome a protectorate of SA, but diplomacy demands SA denies it.However, although SA's careful stance may on one level beadmirable, it may in the long term be at odds with its regionalresponsibilities. History suggests that successful regionalgroupings, such as the European Union, have been forged by theparticular vigour of core states. The future success of both theSADC and the New Partnership for Africa's Development may demandthat SA assume a more hegemonic role than it is politicallycorrect to acknowledge. Southall is Executive Director: Democracyand Governance, at the Human Sciences Research Council
SADC single currency needs more time, say experts (TheNamibian, 20/06) - The proposal for a SADC singlecurrency may not be a viable prospect any time soon, according toresearch by two groups of economists. In a recent article in aNamibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) publication, itschief economist Joel Eita said the region was "not yetready" for monetary integration. Also in recent research, agroup of economists from the region who met at the premises ofthe Namibia Economic Policy Research Unit (Nepru), said thenecessary economic convergence "does not seem to haveoccurred" in the SADC region over the last few years. Percapita incomes, economic growth, rates and inflation differwidely across the SADC region, according to the economists. Forthis reason, establishing a single currency too early could leadto the mass movement of investor and their capital to the"better-performing" economies. The SADC executive hasyet to agree definite dates for implementing the single currencyproposal, except that it would have to take place, at theearliest after 2008, when the first stage of monetaryintegration, a free trade area, is expected to take off. Even thefree trade area faces problems, as many of the SADC countriesalready belong to the Common Market for East and Southern Africa(Comesa), or the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), or both.Eita said in his report that there is a fair amount ofconvergence within SACU, but this is not so in the other SADCcountries. SACU is a union of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana,Swaziland and Lesotho, who have removed customs requirementsbetween them, and all have currencies linked to the South Africanrand. Eita quoted economists Jenkins and Thomas, who in 1997listed a number of problems which stand in the way of monetaryunion. These include high unemployment, which means that monetaryunion could result in vast migrations of labourers. They alsoinclude a strong likelihood that investors in shares and bondswould transfer their money out of the smaller economies at shortnotice. Also, there is a "wide diversity" in thecapability of the different countries' institutions, such ascentral banks. Meanwhile, a group of 14 academics, who met atNepru in Windhoek recently, said the integration process in SADCappears to be moving forward politically but not economically.The economists and political scientists said in a statement thatthe economic integration process "appeared to stagnate"over the past 12 months. The academics agreed that"convergence in important areas such as inflation rates,budget deficits, debt levels and exchange rates were notobserved." They added that the complicated procedures ofimplementing the SADC trade protocol, which has complicated"rules of origin" that differed from product toproduct, may actually be a deterrent to trade, an expansion ofwhich would be necessary for broader economic integration.However, SADC had begun vital reforms of its structure, whichmight lead to closer integration, at least in the politicalsense. Also, progress towards peace in Angola and the DRC wasboosting trade and investment, and therefore integration, fasterthan anyone expected. Although the region is not yet ready formonetary integration, Eita believes that effective co-ordinationof macro-economic policies "could provide the foundationsfor successful monetary integration in future".
South Africa's president chides African leaders, urgegood governance (Pretoria, Sapa-AFP, 17/06) - SouthAfrican President Thabo Mbeki on Monday chided African leadersfor not consulting their people and failing to keep promises madewhile fighting for liberation. "The promise of liberationwas (that) the people shall govern," Mbeki said in anaddress to a gathering of African experts here. "We were notliberated so that people should have dictators of theirown." Speaking on the opening day of a three-day meeting onAfrica's renaissance organised by the Africa Institute of SouthAfrica, Mbeki said the good governance element of the Africa'seconomy recovery plan, the New Partnership for Africa'sDevelopment (NEPAD), was designed to fulfil liberation promises.NEPAD, which offers good governance in return for investment anddevelopment aid, was launched in Nigeria last year at a meetingof some 20 African leaders and officials. "Good governananceis not some foreign concept given to us. It is the basis of ourliberation," Mbeki said. "NEPAD is a programme designedto benefit Africans first: to re-energise and re-activateourselves. We are not doing this to please people outsideAfrica," he said. The South African president called onfellow African leaders to move away from the"deification" of their office and to take ownership oftheir development policy to be able to build partnerships withthe developed world. "NEPAD calls for partners, notbenefactors for Africa," he said, adding that Africans mustaccept their inter-dependence. "If one African country goeswrong, then we all pay. The antithesis is also true. We allprofit when African countries do well. "On this basisAfricans should be able to talk to each other and beaccountable."
SADC moves to control firearms (The Namibian, 17/06) -A motion seeking to ratify a Southern AfricanDevelopment Community (SADC) protocol on the control of firearmsand ammunition in the region has been tabled in the NationalAssembly. Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo said on Thursdaythat the protocol sets out control measures on State and civilianpossession and the marketing and destruction of firearms. He saidthere was a danger of such arms being used by well organisedgroups of rebel factions that could create instability and deraileconomic development in the region. "The trend of increasingviolent crime involving small arms in the SADC region has becomea matter of concern. The proliferation of illicit trafficking insmall arms and light weapons is made easy in the region due tovarious factors associated with limited means and mechanism forcloser co-operation," he said. The protocol will facilitatecollaboration among member states to "vigorously prevent,combat and control the proliferation and illicit trafficking insmall arms and light weapons", he said. The SADC protocol onthe control of firearms and ammunition was agreed on at the SADCSummit in Blantyre, Malawi, in August last year.
SADC addresses food shortages (BOPA, 14/06) - TheSADC Council of Ministers' meeting starts today in Gaboroneagainst the backdrop of a worsening food crisis in the regionwith Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwebeing the most hardhit. Speaking at a welcoming reception lastnight, deputy chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers Dr AnaDias Lourenco said regional projections indicate a cereal deficitin all SADC countries save for South Africa. She said governmentshave taken measures to meet the shortfall including food reliefto vulnerable populations. She added that the SADC DisasterResponse Task Force has recommended short and long-term measures.Lourenco said these recommendations would be considered by theministers responsible for food, agriculture and natural resourcenext month in Maputo, Mozambique. She said SADC was alsoco-operating with the UN and the World Food Programme to supportthe six most affected countries. The meeting, which ends tomorrowwill however focus on the restructuring exercise of the SADCinstitutions. Lourenco, who is Angolan minister of planning, saidSADC has made progress in its institutional reform progress andcentralisation programme. She said the last two of the SADCdirectorates were expected to be in place before the end of theyear.
Southern African ministers discuss famine,restructuring (Gaborone, Sapa-AFP, 14/06) - A two-daySouthern African Development Community (SADC) ministerial meetingin Gaborone spent its first day discussing famine in the regionand moves to restructure the 14-nation body, officials saidFriday. A task force of SADC ministers responsible for food andagriculture will meet in Maputo next month to come up withcontingency measures to counter the famine, council chairwomanAna Dias Lourenzo, Angola's deputy foreign minister, toldreporters. Each new assessment shows the famine in southernAfrica worsening, with some eight million people needingemergency food now, a figure that will rise to 13 million byyear-end, according to UN agencies. Caused by drought, erraticrainfall and warfare, famine spreads across seven countries, andis exacerbated by AIDS and compounded by government policies, aidworkers say. The UN World Food Program (WFP), appealed on June 11for 1.3 million tonnes of emergency food for Lesotho, Malawi,Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with agency chiefJames Morris declaring: "This is the largest single foodcrisis in the world today". Angola is considered a caseapart, as malnutrition there is longstanding as a result of 27years of civil war that ended in April. The Luanda governmentasked the international community Thursday for 64.9 milliondollars in humanitarian aid to help people suffering from famineand to bring former rebels back into society. "Regionalprojections indicate cereal shortages in all but one of ourmember states - South Africa," Lourenzo said. SADC groupsAngola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi,Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa,Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Botswanas deputydirector of information in the Office of the President, BapasiMphusu, said the Gaborone government would provide land for a newSADC headquarters and staff housing. Lourenzo said therestructuring exercise was half-way through. "We have madegood progress in our institutional reform process and ourcentralisation programme of action is on track," she said.The meeting was also briefed on the New Partnership for Africa'sDevelopment (NEPAD) and how it has been received by individualcountries in Africa and outside it. SADC information secretaryEsther Kanaimba said the meeting was also briefed on theimproving political situation in Angola since the ceasefire cameinto force in April.
WFP appeals for food aid in Southern Africa (Rome,Sapa-AFP, 11/06) - The World Food Program appealedTuesday for 1.3 million tonnes of emergency food to help up to 13million people in six southern African countries avoid famine asthe World Food Summit in Rome entered its second day. "Thisis the largest single food crisis in the world today," WFPhead James Morris told reporters after making the appeal for foodaid for Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia andZimbabwe. "We have a very, very serious matter in front ofus," Morris said. The crisis is the most immediate challengebefore the summit, which has reiterated a goal to slash to 400million the number of those going hungry within 13 years, thoughlittle progress has been made since the first gathering in 1996.Morris said soaring rates of AIDS - in some countries more than aquarter of the population is infected with HIV - is compoundingthe problem, as is land reform. Of the 800 million going hungry,40 percent are children, Morris said, and "half of thechildren don't go to school." A WFP program - which has hadsuccess in Cameroon, Morocco, Niger and Pakistan - aims to feedthe 300 million undernourished children either in school or givethem take-home rations. "We can provide a powerful incentiveto cause children to come to school. A hungry child has no chanceto learn. A well-fed child can have a functioning brain and canbegin to learn" properly, Morris said. "We can feed achild in school for 19 US cents or 22 euro cents a day," hesaid. "For a very small investment, we can change a child'slife and it can happen rapidly."
Agencies, donors, governments to discuss famine inSouthern Africa (Johannesburg, Sapa-AFP, 05/06) - Aidagencies, donors and government representatives will meet inJohannesburg Thursday and Friday to discuss what the UnitedNations describes as a "massive food crisis" insouthern Africa. The approximately 100 participants will discussfood and crop assessments and the implications of the crisis overthe next 12 months, the UN World Food Programme said in astatement. "Also to be discussed at the meeting will be thelogistical challenges of delivering massive amounts of food aidand other commodities to the countries in the region, many ofwhich are land-locked," it said. "The devastatingimpact of food shortages on HIV/AIDS-affected people will beanother important topic." UN agencies warned late last monththat at least 10 million people in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland andZimbabwe were on the "brink of starvation". They saidthat figure was expected to rise when reports from Zambia andMozambique were completed.
US pledges more food for Southern Africa (Rome,Sapa-AP, 11/06) - The United States said Tuesday itwould provide a third of the 1.2 million tons of food aid neededto stave off famine in southern Africa, a crisis it said wasbeing exacerbated by Zimbabwe's policies. Andrew Natsios, thehead of USAID, the U.S. foreign aid agency, said the UnitedStates was contributing an extra 275,000 tons of wheat to theU.N. emergency relief effort for six African countries, bringingits total to 400,000 tons. However, he told a press conference onthe sidelines of the U.N. World Food Summit that the problem inZimbabwe, one of the six affected countries, wasn't so much aboutfood as it was food distribution. Natsios said he was concernedby reports that President Robert Mugabe's government waspreventing food aid from getting to opposition strongholds."We've even heard of children whose parents are suspected ofsupporting the opposition being turned away from feeding lines atschools," he said. Zimbabwe's opposition has accused thegovernment of withholding food aid from its supporters even asthe country is experiencing a major food crisis. The World FoodProgram says half of the estimated 12.8 million people at risk ofstarvation in southern Africa are in Zimbabwe. Mugabe'sgovernment has denied the opposition's allegations, butindependent aid workers and human rights groups have raisedconcern over unfair distribution and interference in reliefprograms by local state officials and ruling party militants. Thehead of the World Food Program, James Morris, said Tuesday he hadraised the issue with Mugabe in a meeting Monday, and hadreceived assurances that aid would get through. "He assuredme he would tell the world that there would be no politicalfavoritism or disincentives for allowing us to do our work,"Morris told a press conference. He said, however, that Zimbabwe'sland grab program had complicated relief efforts and contributedto the hunger problem. He cited a 55-60 percent decrease incommercial agricultural productivity this year over previousones. "So it's a major factor," Morris said. Mugabe'sgovernment has embarked on a campaign to confiscate 95 percent ofland owned by the nation's 4,000 white farmers and redistributeit to landless blacks. But since it began in 2000, the programhas helped drive hundreds of white farmers and tens of thousandsof their black workers off the land. Natsios dismissed Mugabe'sdefense of the program in his speech to the food summit Monday.In his comments, Mugabe said the program had created a "firmlaunching pad" for fighting poverty and hunger. "Theeconomic polices that he (Mugabe) is pursuing are collapsingagriculture production in areas where there was rainfall,"Natsios said. Natsios said he didn't oppose the principle of landredistribution in Zimbabwe - where some 4,000 white farmers own athird of the nation's land - just the way it was being carriedout. "Mugabe's not even giving the land to the poor but tohis cronies," Natsios said.
Food crisis under spotlight at SADC meeting (Pretoria,Buanews, 11/06) - Growing food shortages that continueto devastate poor communities across Southern Africa will comeunder the spotlight at the SADC Council of Ministers meeting, tobe held in Gaborone, Botswana, on Friday. Thousands of citizensin the sub-Saharan region are staring starvation in the face,with Malawi, Zimbabwe and Angola the hardest hit countries,prompting authorities to declare the food shortage a crisis.Malawi took the lead in declaring the prevalence of famine withinits borders a national disaster and calling on the internationalcommunity to provide aid and assist in cutting downhunger-related deaths. Amongst those set to attend thediscussions on the catastrophe, will be health minister MantoTshabalala-Msimang and foreign affairs deputy minister AzizPahad, who will depart on Thursday afternoon to represent thecountry at the two-day summit. The meeting ends on Saturday. Theforeign affairs department (DFA) confirmed the two would formpart of discussions on the food security in the region and otherchallenges confronting it. High on the agenda will also beillicit trafficking, abuse of drugs and the development of aSouthern African Development Community (SADC) programme againstcorruption. The SADC gathering will also debate a progress reporton the restructuring of the regional body, including reviewing ofits previous decisions. The Council is also expected to take noteof progress made with regard to the developments of the NewPartnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), as well as discusspreparations for the upcoming inaugural summit of the AfricanUnion (AU) in South Africa in July 2002, said DFA spokespersonRonnie Mamoepa. 'Two memoranda of understanding on macroeconomicconvergence and on co-operation in taxation and related matterswill be considered by the council of ministers,' he said.
Donor fatigue slows down food aid (Pretoria, Sapa,10/06) - The slow response of the internationalcommunity to help relieve Africa's food shortages could partly beascribed to donor fatigue, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister AzizPahad said on Monday. "Some donors are saying... thisproblem... is not brought about by ecological and climate changesbut by political and economic governance," he said inPretoria. "Clearly, there is an element of donor fatigue inthe international community." Efforts to bring the extent ofthe food crisis to the attention of the world had probably alsobeen inadequate. Briefing reporters on President Thabo Mbeki'strip to Italy to attend the World Food Summit in Rome, Pahad saidthe latest reports estimated that more than 13 million people inAfrica faced famine. "The donors are not respondingadequately to the call for assistance." Agencies in southernAfrica were now consulting with the World Food Programme andother United Nations agencies in a concerted effort to relievethe crisis. Making it easier for aid agencies to obtain customsand road toll waivers would also have to be discussed by theSouthern African Development Community, Pahad said. The countriesmost seriously affected were Zimbabwe (five million people),Malawi (3,2 million), Lesotho (444000), Zambia (2,3 million),Mozambique (355000), and Swaziland (144000). Pahad said onlyabout seven percent of the overall need had been met so far."As bad as the situation is now, it is going to worsen inthe second half of the year." In his address to the summiton Monday, Mbeki listed the causes of the famine threat in Africaas civil strife, conflict, migration, natural disasters, unfairtrade practices and an unfavourable economic climate. The NewPartnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) provided a frameworkfor putting into effect the plan of action adopted at the firstWorld Food Summit in 1996. "Nepad identifies agriculture asa priority sector," Mbeki said. It sought, among others, toimprove rural agriculture, to extend reliable water controlsystems as well as areas under land management. On theinternational picture, he said there had been some progress toachieve the targets laid down in the 1996 plan of action."The current situation is that we are reducing the number ofhungry people by six million against a target of 22 million perannum." Mbeki lauded the organisers of the summit, the UNFood and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), for working inpartnership with Nepad institutions. "The premise of thispartnership must be an unambiguous commitment to solving problemstogether in a spirit of joint responsibility among governments,and between them and the private sector and civil society."Pahad said the FAO conference in Rome would hopefully givespecial attention to the situation in Africa. There was much talkabout the liberalisation of world markets, but in reality therewas increased measures of protection in developed countries."European countries have subsidies of close to US360 billiona year for their farmers, and the United States has justannounced subsidies of US160 billion over the next few years fortheir farmers," Pahad said. "Now clearly ...it is verydifficult to see how our primary producers in Africa cancompete." This issue would hopefully come up at the Romesummit, he said.
SADC protocol to increase regional trade (BOPA, 10/06)- Intra-SADC trade is expected to increase substantiallywhen the on-going negotiations between members on productspecific rules of origin are concluded in the next few months.Hennies Erasmus, who is working on the implementation of the SADCProtocol on Trade, says negotiations are centred on productsincluding flour and its by-products, plastics, electronicequipment, vehicles, as well as instruments and measuringapparatus. The protocol, aimed at creating a regional free tradearea within eight years, came into force on January 25, 2000after ratification by the eleven countries that participated inits negotiations. Its implementation phase was launched onSeptember 1, 2000. Eramaus said countries that produce goodsstill remaining outside preferential trade are calling for strictadherence to the rule of origin principle while others areproposing liberal implementation of the rule. "This is justpart of the negotiations which we expect to conclude inJuly." He says the move is expected to unleash a substantialincrease in preferential trade in all categories. Although theregional market is seen as a springboard for the SADC memberstates to integrate themselves effectively into the globaleconomy, intra-SADC trade is dominated by the Southern AfricanCustoms Union (SACU). According to the 2001 SADC annual report,SACU member countries accounted for 41 per cent of SADCsworld export trade and 48 per cent of overall SADC imports in1997. South Africa contributed about 94 per cent of SACUsexports, while accounting for 98 per cent of total SACU imports.The country is also the biggest market for exports from Botswana,Lesotho Namibia and Swaziland as well as their biggest source ofimports. Countries that have ratified the SADC Protocol on Tradeare Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The DRC,Angola and the Seychelles say they are not yet ready.
Millions needed to stave off starvation in SouthernAfrica (Rome, Sapa-AP, 07/06) - The United Nations isplanning to ask donors for dlrs 350 million to dlrs 400 millionin the coming days to try to avert potential famine in southernAfrica, a top official said Friday. The World Food Programestimates 12.8 million people are at risk of staration in sixAfrican countries as a result of drought, floods, depleted foodsstocks, government mismanagement and economic instability."Clearly we're going to have to have a huge response fromthe international community and this will be a great test, agreat challenge," said James Morris, the new executivedirector of the Rome-based food agency. In an interview with TheAssociated Press, Morris said the agency was planning to issue anappeal for about dlrs 350 million to dlrs 400 million in thecoming days. The World Food Program just completed a regionalassessment and is currently in talks with donors and other aidgroups about developing a single pipeline of food into the sixaffected countries: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Swazilandand Mozambique. Morris noted that delivery would be complicatedbecause five of the six countries are landlocked. But he said heexpected strong support both from governments and aid groups onthe ground and from donors. "The world essentially doesn'twant starvation to occur," he said. "And the world willstep up and respond to this. It's not to say it won't take a hugeamount of work to tell the story and get every single lastpossible country to help us on board."
13-m in Southern Africa could starve (Johannesburg,Sapa, 07/06) - Starvation now threatened 13-millionpeople in Southern Africa, the United Nations Food andAgriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP)said on Friday. The warning came as UN officials concluded atwo-day meeting in Johannesburg on the regional food crisis. WFPdeputy director Jean-Jacques Graisse told the conference onThursday that the crisis was worsening with each passing day andneeded urgent attention. On Friday a joint assessment report wasreleased on Mozambique and Zambia - the remaining countries outof six to be evaluated in southern Africa by the twoorganisations. The other four countries assessed - Malawi,Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland - also faced severe shortages.The latest report said an estimated 2,3-million Zambians facedstarvation if they did not get food aid for the next sevenmonths. Along with neighbouring countries, Zambia has experienceda second year of drought, especially in the south, where poorrainfall, combined with lack of seed and fertiliser, cattledisease and inadequate access to markets and health services aremaking life especially difficult for poor households. WFPspokesman Trevor Rowe said huge HIV/Aids infection rates wereexacerbating problems for people who were already mired inchronic poverty. An estimated 174000 tons of food aid would beneeded for Zambia, Rowe said. "All the classic signs ofacute social stress are evident in Zambia... people are turningto desperate measures including eating potentially poisonous wildfoods, stealing crops and resorting to prostitution to get enoughfor their families to eat," he said. According to the jointassessment report for Mozambique, severe dry weather in somecentral and southern provinces have placed 355000 people inimmediate need of food aid. The figure would rise to 515000 afterSeptember, when the meagre harvest was consumed. With 70 per centof the country's population living in severe poverty, many peopleare still reeling from the dramatic floods of 2000 and 2001. TheUN missions assessed the outcome of the 2001/02 maize harvest -the region's staple food - and other food crops in all sixcountries. They also forecast the 2002/03 winter crop productionin order to determine each country's food import requirements,including food aid needs, for the next 12 months. A total ofnearly four million tons of food would have to be imported tomeet the minimum food needs of the six countries' populations.Numbers of people requiring assistance were expected to increaseas remaining food stocks were consumed. The two UN agencies onFriday reiterated the need for donor governments worldwide torespond quickly and generously with food aid donations to avoidwidespread hunger from developing into a humanitarian disaster.
Interview with WFP regional food vulnerability expert(Irin, 07/06) - Close to 13 million people in sixcountries in Southern Africa are in need of food aid from nowthrough to March next year, the worst humanitarian crisis theregion has faced since the 1992 drought. Nicholas Haan, RegionalProgramme Advisor of the World Food Programme's (WFP)Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping unit, was WFP's technicalcoordinator in the inter-agency food assessment missions thatdetailed the extent of the emergency. He spoke to IRIN on thefactors that have tipped the six countries - Zimbabwe, Malawi,Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique - into crisis.
There is a quantitative difference between the last greatSouthern African drought in 1992 that affected some 18 millionpeople and the current food situation. But the current crisis hasbeen described as a "complex emergency". What is thequalitative difference between the two emergencies?
It is quantitatively different because the number of peoplewho need food this year is not as great as those in 1992. Butqualitatively [this year] is very different. 1992 was almostexclusively a drought-related emergency and a very long-termdrought at that. This year it's complex. There are politicalfactors - Zimbabwe stands out. The land reform programme has hada very strong effect on production levels. In Malawi, the sale ofthe strategic grain reserve definitely affected prices last yearwhich affected farmers' ability to purchase food and thereforeeffects household food security.
So there are these qualitative dimensions, and not to evenmention HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS is very different this year. Therewere very low values in 1992, now we are having prevalence ratesin adult populations of around 25 percent, in some places evenhigher. So this has a direct effect on production and directeffects on accessibility.
Many households by December normally depend on purchasingtheir food. That number is around 80 percent of poor householdswho depend on purchasing their food from December through March.Without income coming into their households [because of illnessdue to HIV/AIDS] - that might come from remittances from SouthAfrica, from income from working on a neighbour's farm, fromworking on estates - without that income, the household cannotafford maize, it cannot afford food. So HIV/AIDS has directeffects. Plus the increased demands on caregivers' time is verycritical. And it's particularly women and the elderly caregiversin the household. Because now they have to spend their time notonly taking care of other household members, but also theproduction activities that they normally do.
Perhaps related to HIV/AIDS is also the problem of deeppoverty - households in Malawi even in a good year cannot evencover all their needs. What has happened?
In terms of production, poor households are not producing thefood that they need for the whole year. That's why I mentionedthat normal food stocks will take households up until aroundDecember and then they start purchasing. The question is whetheror not they can afford it at that point. Yes, the macro-economicsituation in all six of these countries [identified as facingcrisis] is on a downward slide, and that has direct effects onnot only the macro economy but trickle down effects onhouseholds.
We see it in Malawi very, very clearly, with the average dailylabour rate called "ganyu" - it refers to casuallabour, a widespread and common means of getting income. Thatdaily wage rate has not changed in five years, it's about 20kwacha [US 27 cents] per day. But the inflation rate in Malawihas been outstanding [May 2001 it was 30 percent]. So you havethis inflation rate, to which all the other prices get adjustedaccordingly - fuel transport, maize prices, they're all directlylinked. But the casual labour rate hasn't budged - its aprecarious situation.
In terms of the interviews you made during the recent cropassessment missions, how did people perceive their situation?
It depends on where the household gets their income. Farmerswho depend on cash crops for export face very volatile globalmarkets. Tobacco for example. This year the tobacco prices aredown significantly, they are at 70 kwacha per kg - its about halfof what it was last year. So that puts them in a very vulnerableposition with regards to global market prices.
The household income of 50 percent of Malawians is 15-20kwacha per day, spread out across the year. And yet maize priceslast year were reaching 30 kwacha per kg. A household of fivepeople needs at least two kg, so that's 60 kwacha and you aremaking around 20 kwacha. But even that's a little misleadingbecause 15-20 kwacha per day, the average daily household income,is spread out across the whole year. When households get cashcrops they sell them and spend the money. Come December, come thehungry months - December, January, March - they don't have thatmoney available. Again, what they're depending on at that time isganyu - casual labour. If the agricultural season is poor, if theplanting season is poor, it has direct effects on the currentsituation because if the planting season is poor, it means thelabour opportunities which people are so reliant on are notthere.
What about issues of affordability of food. Presumably ifpoverty is so entrenched, once this current emergency is over,the whole issue of subsidies needs to be looked at. Presumably,some kind of a safety net will be needed, and for how long?
In 2000, there was no need for large scale food aid. So in ascenario where agricultural production is decent, it's not likethe situation will always require assistance. We do have asituation where production is down, the issue is that nationalgovernments should have policies to accommodate, plan for, thiskind of scenario. A food security policy in any country should beable to capture the needs of people in hard times. So thequestion is, are food crops promoted adequately in a countryversus export crops? Are subsidies and distribution schemes inplace that require a short amount of time to activate rather thana delayed response, which is what happened last year in Malawi.Those are elements of a food security strategy.
Malawi had a starter pack scheme [distributing smallamounts of seeds and fertiliser to farmers], that has beenreplaced by targeted assistance. Are there any other countries inthe region that have that kind of initiative?
Not as robust as Malawi
The alarm has been raised now over the regional foodcrisis, is the humanitarian community in time to turn it aroundvery quickly?
You were saying that things could still go wrong this yearwhich could increase numbers in need, could you elaborate onthat?
Absolutely. All of these countries have experienced stressyears last year, Malawi was more pronounced - but all of them.Zambia did, Zimbabwe has quite a continual crisis, farmers inSwaziland were also harvesting green maize, and all of thesesituations received a tremendous amount of attention inMarch/April. But that's too late at that point, because theharvest was happening in April. So the crisis that many people[humanitarian workers] came out to see, if they got there in May,had largely been alleviated by the natural process of having aharvest. The situation we're in right now is a post harvestsituation. By far, the majority of people do have some harvest -there were some who were actually devastated to the point theyhave nothing left - but the majority do have some harvest. Thequestion is how long will those food stocks last? Most of thosefood stocks will take people through to at leastSeptember/October. Therefore, currently we came out of a badsituation, we have a current alleviation of that problem, but weforesee a very severe problem coming up in the future, especiallystarting around September and even more so in December.
So to the question are we in time, the answer is yes. Thehumanitarian community already had programmes in place to assistpeople in the February/March/April period, we now have bridgingEMOPs [Emergency Operations]. Prior to the results of the foodassessments, we knew there was going to be a need, so we extendedthe assistance for this current period, so people are gettingfood in June. The question is, this is the question, the evenmore large scale response will have to start in September. We,WFP, do not have those resources right now because Septemberneeds will be high, and as I noted, many people's food stockswill have run out at that time. So to avert a crisis, resourcesneed to be mobilised now. We're still in time, but any delay, orany changes to the assumptions we have made regarding winterharvesting, regarding government policies or several otherfactors, then the crisis will be much larger.
Millions face starvation in Southern Africa, UNofficial warns (Johannesburg, Sapa-AFP, 06/06) - Starvationthreatens 12.8 million people in six countries in southernAfrica, said a top UN official and co-chairman of a two-daymeeting on the food crisis which opened here Thursday."Indeed, we see that this is a crisis of enormousdimensions. The situation worsens with each day and clearly needsurgent attention," said the UN World Food Programme's deputyexecutive director, Jean-Jacques Graisse. "The latestassessments indicate that 12.8 million people could facestarvation in the year ahead. The situation will not improveuntil at least the next harvest in April 2003, and it could evenget worse," he said. Aid agencies, donors and governmentrepresentatives began meeting Thursday to discuss what the UnitedNations describes as a "massive food crisis" insouthern Africa. The shortages will affect Lesotho, Malawi,Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to thelatest assessments by UN agencies. The approximately 100participants will discuss food and crop assessments and theimplications of the crisis over the next 12 months.
Aid agency's food stocks for Angola's hungry runningout (Luanda, Sapa-DPA, 26/06) - Food supplies forpost-war Angola were dwindling at a time when more food wasurgently needed for the growing numbers of hungry people in thissouthern African state, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) saidin a statement Wednesday. Warning that food stocks for the morethan 1 million people currently being fed by the WFP would onlylast until September this year, the humanitarian agency expectedthe number of hungry people to rise rapidly to 1.5 million beforethe end of the year. The statement said that until recently,hundreds of thousands of people were completely isolated andinaccessible to humanitarian agencies due to years of conflict.However, security and access improved dramatically since a peaceagreement was signed on April 4 this year, following the death ofUNITA rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi. "Many people, especiallywomen and children, are in extremely poor condition. They willface starvation unless food supplies are urgentlyincreased," the statement said. "We have been eatingonly leaves and roots for the past three months," XavierAugusto told WFP. He arrived with his family at a quartering areain Ndele where WFP was distributing food. The exhausted fatherand his family walked for days, enduring severe hardship beforereaching Ndele. "When we started our way here, there werenine of us, but three of my children couldn't make it, and diedalong the way," Augusto said. Over recent weeks the WFP hasstarted feeding an extra 120,000 desperately hungry people whowere until recently completely cut off from aid due to the war,including families of former UNITA soldiers being demobilizedacross the country in some 34 so-called quartering areas. Whilethe WFP feeds the children, women, elderly and physicallydisabled, the government took the responsibility of giving aid tothe former rebel soldiers themselves. The WFP urged for rapidresponse to its expanded food aid operation, due to start inJuly. According to the statement, the agency would need 241million dollars to feed up to 1.5 million people over the next 18months. The WFP said despite its growing activities in Angola,pledges from international donors have been sporadic.
Social conflicts continue in Angola (Lisbon, Sapa-AFP,21/06) - Angola continues to face serious socialconflicts barely three months after the government and the formerrebel group UNITA signed a ceasefire agreement, the group's newleader said in an interview published on Friday. "The socialconflict continues. Only the armed conflict ended," GeneralPaulo Lukamba told the Portuguese daily Diario Economico. UNITA'spolitical goal was to ensure that the military peace recentlyachieved "leads to a civil peace," he added. TheAngolan government signed a peace accord on April 4 with therebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA)movement, ending a bloody civil war that had rumbled on sinceindependence from Portugal in 1975. Angola's civil war - Africa'slongest armed conflict - left at least half a million people deadand forced some four million civilians to flee their homes andseek refuge either abroad or elsewhere in the country. Under theterms of the peace accord, which followed the death in battle ofUNITA leader Jonas Savimbi in February, 35 demobilization campshave been set up across the southwestern African country forformer UNITA rebel soldiers. Some 80,000 former fighters areawaiting disarmament in the camps but UNITA officers have said aserious lack of food has led many of the still-armed formerrebels to flee the camps. Many have returned to their villages tojoin their families. The United Nations estimates three millionAngolans are in need of immediate food aid and has asked donorsto give up to 142 million dollars (150 million euros) in aid inthe next six months. "We don't consider the problem to besolved. We are merely living a different situation (sinceSavimbi's death) but the problems continue," said Lukamba.Known as one of the rebel hard-liners who opposed previous peacetalks with the Angolan government, Lukamba assumed the UNITAleadership after the killing of Savimbi and the reported death ofAntonio Dembo, UNITA's second-in-command. Lukamba was in Portugalfor four days of talks with the government, after a brief stop inWashington, to explain the current situation in Angola. He willend his trip abroad with a visit to France before heading home toAngola.
Humanitarian aid group to discuss support fordisplaced persons (Uige, Angop, 18/06) - Thehumanitarian aid group under the social welfare ministry (Minars)is discussing Tuesday in Uige city mechanisms to assist with thereturn and resettlement of displaced people into their areas oforigin. Speaking to reporters, the social welfare delegate toUige (north), Cristovao Manuel Quiala, said participants are alsodiscussing several issues like an emergency plan to deal with thedisplaced people reinstallation. Meanwhile, the source announcedthat the regional military commission Saturday started thetransfer of Unita soldiers` families to camps near the quartersof their relatives.
Interview: UN Refugee Agency (Irin, 18/06) - Angola'speace process has spurred preparations for the eventual return of470,000 Angolan refugees sheltering in neighbouring countries.The UN refugee agency's (UNHCR) Assistant High Commissioner KamelMorjane, toured Angola and Zambia last week to assess theconditions for the repatriation of people forced from their homesby close to three decades of civil war.
Morjane spoke to IRIN about the anticipated spontaneous returnof 80,000 Angolans between now and the end of the year. Hereferred to the "benchmarks" that needed to be in placebefore UNHCR could assist with a planned repatriation of Angolansfrom neighbouring countries. Ahead of World Refugee Day onThursday, he also explained why women and vulnerability was thetheme of this year's message.
Q: Angola is the critical issue for Southern Africa interms of refugees, can you describe what your mission was aimedat achieving?
A: Our mission was mainly to finalise the operation plannedfor the repatriation of Angolan refugees from neighbouringcountries. Certainly the new developments in Angola are positiveand I hope - this is a feeling we got in Angola - that peace isirreversible this time. But it doesn't mean that everything is[in place] and it is clear that the country will face now a hugeeffort to reconcile and reconstruct to which UNHCR is ready,together with the rest of the UN system, to play a roleespecially with the repatriation of the 470,000 Angolan refugeesmainly from Zambia, [Democratic Republic of Congo] DRC andNamibia. This is in fact what we have been trying to do duringthis visit together with a technical team sent to the differentcountries ...
We believe that until the end of the year we will have onlyspontaneous repatriation because this big operation [of anorganised repatriation will take time to] be prepared. We can allimagine the consequences of the war when it comes toinfrastructure, when it comes to the socio-economic conditions ofAngola. There are places where nobody has been able to visit yetbecause of the [lack of] roads, the landmines etc. We have to beready, but we would like to profit from the next six months whenwe are expecting spontaneous repatriation in order to prepare theorganised repatriation that will start early next year. For thisyear, however, we believe - and this is an assumption - thatabout 80,000 people will go back on their own ...
Q: What are the minimum conditions that UNHCR would like tosee in place before an organised mass return?
A: Certainly the first thing is security. It's obvious thereis a need for a presence in the regions to where refugees will becoming back to ... The issue of landmines is also something weare taking very seriously. The community services andinfrastructure, all these are necessary in order to take theresponsibility and the initiative of encouraging people to goback home or to promote their repatriation. There are certainlysome benchmarks we have discussed and that should be taken intoconsideration. I hope that during these six months we have now athand, that we can be able to prepare this together with theauthorities - because this is also important, because first ofall they are Angolans going back to their own country. We haveinsisted very much to the Angolan authorities [that they] takethe lead for that ... [and] the commitment we got from thegovernment was that they welcome their people back, and it'sclear they would like to have it, as we do, in an organisedmanner.
Q: It's a big task for any government to provide all thissecurity and landmine clearance etc, do you foresee the refugeescoming back to a central area before being allowed to freely goback to their regions of origin? And will you work with theAngolan government to help raise donor money to assist them?
A: I think both. There are those who will repatriatespontaneously until the end of the year (we have already 15,000who have repatriated on their own). Of the 80,000 whom we areenvisaging, they will go back to their places of origin andcertainly it will be difficult to organise, especially when thereis nobody there yet to organise them - neither from thegovernment side, neither the humanitarian agencies and certainlynot UNHCR. We are just present in the north, in the provinces ofZaire and Uige, but with a very, very light and limited presencebecause let's face it, I think everybody was taken by surprisewith the peace process ... This is why I say for the first periodcertainly there will not be any kind of organisation and peoplewill go back to wherever they like. The organised repatriation,yes, there will be transport, transit camps and the usualmeasures we take to make sure that everything works as it shouldon the operational side.
On the second part of your question, on the resources neededfor that, we'll be going to our donors for this operation. Wehave not yet budgeted since the technical teams are still in theregion, they are supposed to go today to Namibia to finalise therepatriation plan for the 25,000 Angolans we have in Namibia. ButI hope that by, I would say the first week in July, we will beable to have a [budget] figure for 18 months. Our plan is toprepare something for the period starting from 1 July of thisyear to 31 December next year. I have no idea how much this willbe, but I hope that, for two reasons, [the donors will begenerous]. Firstly, because any operation for repatriation isalways something positive ... and second, I think with thecommitment the Angolan authorities have shown us I hope this willmaterialise also into a financial commitment from their part, andthis will also encourage the donors to contribute generously inorder to make this operation possible ... Repatriation willcertainly be, in my view, a contribution to the peace andstability of Angola and for more positive action when it comes tothe neighbouring countries, and I'm thinking in particular of theDRC.
Q: Are you confident the benchmarks can be met?
A: It's not easy, I'm certainly not over-optimistic about it,I'm quite realistic about it and certainly it needs to be workedout through, in particular, the tripartite mechanisms that havebeen set up already - and this is another positive element, thatwe have had already agreements signed sometime ago when wethought that repatriation was about to start in the early 90s. Itwas good to hear the authorities in Luanda say they consideredthey are still bound by the agreements that we have signed withthem and the neighbouring countries and we can consider thiscould be a basis for trilateral cooperation with UNHCR and thegovernment of Angola on one side, and the governments of theasylum countries on the other. This will certainly help, and thiswas decided yesterday that we should go as soon as possible forthe first meetings of these three tripartite commissions in orderto make sure that we are addressing all the difficulties thatcould arise, and certainly they are [many] ... It's obvious itwill not be an easy operation, it needs a lot of preparation,needs a lot of commitment from all the parties, but I think wehave no choice, we have to start.
Q: On your tip to Zambia, talking to the refugees there,what were their impressions?
A: It's clear they are all looking forward to going back home.You can have different views, this is also human, there are somewho are more prudent than others. There are some who are sayingthat this is not the first time and that we have to watch how thesituation will be before we decide to go home. Others, andespecially those who have come a little late, those who arrivedrecently during the last two years in particular, maybe they aremore inclined to go back immediately. This is why we areconsidering a certain number who will not even wait for anyassistance from UNHCR or any other agency and will go backimmediately. But globally, there is a positive attitude, butpeople are of course waiting to see how the situation will be onthe other side - let's not forget that when they are in Zambia orDRC they are getting all the assistance they need. They aregetting services, they are getting education and it's certainlynecessary to deliver the same kind of services if we want therefugees to go back ...
Q: What sort of assistance on the other side, you talked ofschools and health, is this a long term commitment by UNHCR?
A: I think it certainly will not be a long term commitment onthe part of UNHCR. Our plan, as I told you, is to have the sixmonths for the spontaneous repatriation from now until the end ofthe year. And we have a plan for two years from 2003 to 2004 forthe organised repatriation which means that our plan is to bethere from, I would say two-and-a-half to three years maximum, aswe cannot continue to be in a country where the refugees areback. It becomes the responsibility of the government to takecare of their nationals especially when it comes to a countrylike Angola, where we believe the resources that have been usedup to now in the war can certainly be used to help the people andthe reconstruction - although one has to be realistic, it's notan easy job for them. It will take years.
Q: For World Refugee Day, the main themes are women andvulnerability - what is the message you are trying to get over?
A: I think its obvious that for us, the situation ofespecially refugee women is a major concern for us. It's been thecase for years now, we have been insisting on that and we havebeen trying when it comes to the protection of women inparticular, we have been trying to take all appropriate measuresin order guarantee their protection, both when it comes to thosewho are in the camps as well as those urban refugees. This is whywe wanted to have Refugee Day focusing on women, not only becauseof what we have been doing, but for the role we want women toplay in the refugee situation because usually they have to takecare of the whole family. They have to play sometimes the role ofboth the mother and the father, and I think this is also a kindof recognition of their role, and what they have been facing ...Refugee Day itself is certainly an occasion to sensitise nationaland international opinion about the situation of refugees today,and the need for additional effort by everybody in order toalleviate their suffering. Of course, when it comes to Africa, weall know the role UNHCR is playing, and the fact that Africa forus is a priority. This is where we have the majority of ourprogrammes and our staff, and this is where also, I must say, wehave the most generous attitude when it comes to asylum, when itcomes to hospitality for refugees. This is why its important forus to underline all these elements during this day.
Q: The sexual exploitation scandal that emerged in camps inWest Africa - was it a wake up call not just to UNHCR but thehumanitarian community as a whole?
A: I think yes, this was something that shocked us. We knewthat there were certainly sexual abuses and exploitation, aseverywhere in the world, it's not only West Africa. In manyplaces where there is needs and vulnerability [exploitation] islinked to that. We were shocked by the fact that the reportconcluded that humanitarian workers are involved in thisexploitation, we knew that there was exploitation, what we didn'tknow was the fact that humanitarian workers [were implicated]. Ithink we have taken all the measures, both when it comes to theprevention in the future, not only in West Africa, but we haveenlarged this to all our programmes all over the world andinvolved all our managers all over the world. We are ready andexpecting the investigation to be over and if there is anyindication [of impropriety] all disciplinary measures will betaken and I think the [UN] Secretary-General did announce it, andthe High Commissioner for Refugees did announce it - there willcertainly be zero tolerance for any kind of abuse if it has beencommitted by any one of our staff members ... But this certainlyshould not in any case suggest that all humanitarian workers [areinvolved] ... We have to recognise that thousands of our peopleall over the world ... continue to work very very hard to assistand to help people - they are doing it in God knows what kinds ofconditions, and sometimes they pay with their lives for that. Oneshould certainly not forget this, even if we can have here andthere a few cases [of misconduct], I think we have to make thedistinction ...
Thousands of refugees return to famine-hit Angola(Luanda, Sapa-AP, 14/06) - The United Nations appealedFriday for international aid to help the first of half a millionAngolan refugees returning to their famine-hit country. April'scease-fire between the government and UNITA rebels, which endedalmost three decades of civil war, encouraged the refugees inneighboring Congo and Namibia to return. But they face adevastated land where up to 500,000 people face starvation. U.N.official Kamel Morjane said dlrs 2 million was needed to help the8,000 refugees who have already arrived. The U.N. refugeecommission will need more help for a massive relief effort nextyear when most refugees will go home, he said. Adding to thehumanitarian crisis there are also 4 million people, about athird of the population, who are refugees within the country.Human rights groups blame both the rebels and the Angolan armyfor causing the tragedy by burning villages and forcing residentsto flee. The cease-fire has opened up areas previouslyinaccessible to aid workers and given them hundreds of thousandsof extra mouths to feed, making the humanitarian situationcritical, according to the United Nations. Angola has been engulfin civil war almost continuously since it gained independencefrom Portugal in 1975.
10,000 refugees return to Angola since April ceasefire(Sapa-AFP, 14/06) - Some 10,000 Angolans who fled nearlythree decades of civil war in the southwest African country havereturned home since the government and UNITA rebels signed aceasefire agreement in early April, officials said Friday. Around400,000 Angolans had fled the devastating war that started intheir country in 1975 to seek refuge in neighbouring Zambia, theDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia, according to theUN High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR). All of those who havereturned to Angola have done so of their own free will sinceAngolan army chiefs and the rebel National Union for the TotalIndependence of Angola (UNITA) officially signed a ceasefire inthe capital on April 4, ending 27 years of civil war, thegovernment's social assistance service said here. An HCR officialin Luanda said the United Nations will launch a programme aimedat helping Angolans who wish to return home to do so. "Wewill not force them to return to Angola. They have to take thatdecision themselves, but we are there to help and encouragethem," the HCR's Kamel Morjane told reporters. "Some8,000 Angolan refugees are hoping to return home by the end of2002," said Morjane, who was due to visit Zambia Friday toevaluate the refugee situation. According to official figures,Angola's southeastern neighbour Zambia has taken in the largestnumber of refugees, with some 210,000 Angolans having fled theresince the start of the civil war in 1975. Most of the refugeesare housed in camps in western Zambia, near the border withAngola. The HCR announced Thursday that around 4,000 refugees hadreturned to Angola from Zambia in the past month. The UN refugeeagency has estimated it will cost around two million dollars tohelp the refugees to return home and reintegrate them inday-to-day life in their native regions. "We cannot organisetheir return until we are sure that the right conditions are inplace," Morjane said, referring to operations to deminecertain parts of Angola to which refugees wish to return.Angola's long civil war, which came on the heels of a 14-yearfight for independence from Portugal, left at least half amillion people dead and forced some four million civilians toflee their homes and seek refuge either abroad or elsewhere inthe country.
Strategy to increase tourism (BOPA, 28/06) - Despitesome obstacles, Botswanas tourism industry, touted as thenew engine of growth and economic diversification, continues togrow steadily. The industry contributes about 4.5 per cent to theGross Domestic Product making it the third largest revenue earnerand an employer of note providing at least 10 000 jobs. Althoughhindered by shortage of skilled and qualified personnel, theindustry attracted some 728 000 visitors in 1997 making it thethird most preferred destination in the SADC region after SouthAfrica and Zimbabwe. Moreri Mabote of the Hotel and TourismAssociation of Botswana (HATAB) believes with trained personnel,the number of visitors could grow. "Tourism is a serviceindustry hence personnel must be well trained. "If a visitoris not well looked after they will be lost to the competition andas such the local industry will suffer. Courtesy and hospitalityare the key," he said. Mabote is concerned that only anumber of companies undertake in-housing training. According toHATAB, regional conflicts have also led to a drop in the numberof visitors. Traditionally, Botswana has been sold as a packagewith Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. As a result, instability in thatcountry has negatively affected Botswanas tourism industry.The Department of Tourisms plans to promote the country asa single tourist destination have been hampered by lack of directflights to destinations such as Maun and Kasane. It is hoped thatAir Botswanas direct flights from Johannesburg to Kasane,Maun and Limpopo Valley will be a significant advantage inmarketing Botswana. The departments marketing strategyinvolves participating in a number of shows such as LondonsWorld Travel Market and co-sponsoring media trips with theprivate sector. Feedback from visitors indicates that in additionto the main products of wildlife and the wilderness, touristswould like to see more cultural tourism. Another problem facingthe industry is the repatriation of funds by foreign companies.HATAB concurs that not all monies paid outside Botswana find itsway into the country. "Because the industry operates throughmany agents who work on commission, the actual amount of moneythat comes to Botswana is less than what the client has initiallypaid for. Although this is the case, some companies prefer toretain their profits." The organisation encourages companiesto plough their profits back into the country and called ongovernment to tighten regulations to ensure that what accruesfrom tourism is exactly what is due. The industry is alsobattling with an image problem with numerous complaints thatcompanies are flouting labour laws and ill-treating workers.Recently, Councillor Gaditshwane Mmutla of Shorobe told a meetingof the North West District Council that some safari companiesdeny people permission to vote during elections. Those who insiston exercising their right to vote are threatened with expulsion,he said. "Rumours of maltreatment of employees have beenreceived but nothing concrete has been found. HATAB has asked theDepartment of Labour and Social Security to furnish them withsuch cases but to no avail." Former Ngamiland districtcommissioner Michael Maforaga has gone on record saying onlyHATAB was happy with the way the tourism industry was being run."Councillors are unhappy, civil servants are unhappy,communities are unhappy. Only HATAB is happy and governmentlistens to HATAB," Maforaga says. Mabote says suchallegations tarnish the image of the country and may result in adecline in tourist numbers. HATAB says it is against any form oflabour abuse and racism and that those found guilty of such actsshould be brought to book. The organisation has called on therelevant officers to investigate allegations thoroughly and takeaction against offenders. Government has also been advised topenalise officers who turn a blind eye to injustice. On the issueof citizen participation, HATAB is confident that Batswana willtake advantage of schemes such as the Citizen EntrepreneurialDevelopment Agency (CEDA). Meanwhile the Department of Tourismhas recommended that some tourism licences be reserved forBatswana. In addition, a tourism framework is being developed toassist councils to prepare tourism management plans. Speaking inMaun recently, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Tourism andWildlife Pelonomi Venson said for democracy to be enhanced, theeconomy has to be partly controlled by citizens. Citizeninvolvement in the tourism industry is negligible, she said.HATAB is however, optimistic saying "more citizens areshowing interest and actually investing." The organisationhas set up a business centre to train entrepreneurs on the skillsrequired. Citizen participation is also realised throughcommunity based organisations where communities living next tonatural resources are given concessions. Most of the communityorganisations have however, been marred by mismanagement andmisappropriation of funds. Others such as Tshwaragano CommunityTrust and Sankoyo have made progress building cultural villagesand camp sites. HATAB has called for the establishment of atourism board to regulate and market tourism products becausecurrently bureaucracy affects implementation. The tourismindustry also has to grapple with environmental concerns onwhether the need to make profit was outweighing conservationespecially in the Chobe area where hotels and lodges aremushrooming. HATAB is confident its members will adhere to strictenvironmental considerations and calls on government to crack thewhip on independent operators who are causing damage to theenvironment. Botswana has developed a national eco-tourismstrategy to ensure enhancement of economic benefits whilelimiting the negative environmental and social impacts.
SADC tourism ministers meet in Kasane (BOPA, 26/06) - TheMinister of Trade, Industry, Wildlife and Tourism Pelonomi Vensonwill host SADC tourism ministers in Kasane at an annual meetingstarting Monday. The meeting will review progress on theimplementation of a programme of Regional Tourism Organisation ofSouthern Africa (RETOSA).A press release from the ministry saysthe meeting is also expected to sign a draft agreement on theestablishment of a southern African tourism development zone. Theimportance of sustainable tourism development in the SADC region,as well as the linkage between tourism development in the regionand the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD)will also be discussed. The release also says the tourismministers took a decision to produce a SADC tourism sectoralreport which they submitted to SADC council of ministers toconsolidate into a SADC report that will be submitted to theheads of state and government at their annual summit in Augustthis year. The Kasane meeting will also consider issues ofregional interest aimed at attracting and increasing both touristtraffic inflows and investment attractions in the regionstourism sector. The meeting on the RETOSA strategic business planwill comprise tourism stakeholders from the public and privatesectors of the SADC region.
Plight of Baswara targeted by global human rightsmovement (African Eye News Service, 19/06) - The globalcampaign against Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve spreadto Canada this week, where human rights demonstrators protestedagainst the forced removal of nomadic Basarwa tribes from thereserve. Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG)demonstrators picketed the World Diamond Conference and accusedthe Botswana government of aiding international mining companiesby forcibly relocating thousands of Basarwa from their ancestrallands in the reserve. "We wanted to add our voice to thegrowing concern about the impact these forced removals will haveon the indigenous people and their way of life. We are determinedto stand in solidarity with the Bushmen (Basarwa). We want thepeople of Botswana to know that although they are on the otherside of the world, we are concerned and will continue tohighlight their plight," said Jessica Asch. Roughly 700Basarwa are contesting their removal from the reserve, and havedismissed the Botswana government's claim that it can no longerafford to provide infrastructure such as water to tribes thatwish to remain in the reserve. Botswana first began resettlingBasarwa in 1985, and whole a recent High Court challenge againsttheir removal on a technicality. The government continues toinsist that the resettlement programme is for the Basarwa's owngood, because the 63 new villages provide water, health andeducation services. Botswana, the world's largest producer ofdiamonds, has the highest per capita income in Africa. Thegovernment says its aim in resettling the Basarwa is to help thembenefit from this wealth, by providing schools, healthcare andjob training. It also says it wants to give the reserve over towildlife conservation that it claims has been thwarted by theBasarwa's hunting activities. Meanwhile, less than 50 peopleremain in the reserve, refusing to move even though their basicservices have been cut off and their hunting licences taken away.
Non-residents to pay for health services (The BotswanaGazette, 19/06) - Overstretched by increasing medicalcosts, the government has decided that non-citizens must pay forhealth services. The Member of Parliament for South East, LesegoMotsumi, told the Ramotswa residents during a kgotla meeting sheaddressed recently that government has decided to charge medicalfees for non-citizens beginning June this year. Motsumi saidnon-citizen patients will pay P20 in examination fees at clinicsthroughout the country while a doctors examination will cost P50.They will also fork out P60 up a night on admission to agovernment hospital general ward while a private ward will cost P120. Motsumi said it is normal practice in other countries tocharge foreigners for services, adding that Batswana pay formedical services in other countries. The MP said there is aworrying trend arising from instability in Zimbabwe where heavilypregnant illegal immigrants cross into Botswana in order to haveaccess to medication and free rations. The MP also echoed callsby Paramount Chief Mosadi Seboko for shebeens in the village tobe shut down. The MP said drunkenness among youth reversesgovernments efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.Motsumi told the residents she and the office of the ParamountChief were seeking the advice of the Ministry of Trade, Commerceand Industry on suggestions that the alcohol content of beveragesbe reduced, that the prices of alcoholic beverages be increasedand the hours of liquor trading be reduced. On Value Added Tax,the MP told residents that it will go a long way to increasinggovernment revenues for development. She told residents that VATwas paid in the past in the form of Sales Tax. Sales Tax wasscrapped because it only applied to certain sections of thesociety. Motsumi also revealed that government has engagedIsraeli experts to advise on agricultural development.
95 investigated for obtaining false drivers' licencesin Namibia (The Botswana Gazette, 19/06) - The Botswanapolice are investigating at least 95 government officers forallegedly issuing drivers licences fraudulently. Theinvestigation follows a reported increase in applications forBotswana licences by nationals who have acquired driving licencesin Namibia. Detective Inspector Thabo Mmupiemang of the SeriousCrimes Squad of the Botswana Police says the governmentemployees, most of them working in the Ghanzi District area, werequestioned following a tip off from police in Namibia. The policesay preliminary investigations show that the scam may havestarted as far back as 1995. Interviewed by The Gazette, WarrantOfficer Eric Clay of Namibia Police Services said among thosearrested are three officers of the Botswana Local Police and twogovernment workers. He said they were arrested in connection withthe illegal issuing of Namibian licences. He said the officerswill be charged with fraud and corruption. He said there isevidence that many Batswana cross into Namibia to obtain driversIicences selling on the black market for about R1,000. A Botswanapolice officer in Ghanzi said after re?entenng Botswana thesepeople apply for valid Botswana drivers licences on the basis oftheir Namibian Iicences. Detective Mmupiemang says the officialsunder investigation include officers from Customs and Excise atMamuno border gate, Ghanzi District Council drivers and tribalpolicemen stationed at Charleshill. However, the OfficerCommanding Local Police in Ghanzi, Mr Moruntshi, said he had notreceived any official report to comment on the mailer. He,however, said disciplinary action would be taken against anyonefound to have contravened the law.
Relocated Basarwa families return (BOPA, 19/06) - About10 Basarwa families who were relocated to Diphuduhudu settlementin Letlhakeng Sub- district in the late 80s are alleged to havereturned to their original places at Mokatswe and Mokgotshanelands. In a kgotla meeting addressed by MP Boometswe Mokgothu onlast week, they said they found it better to reside in the bushwhere they easily found edible wild fruits than at the settlementwithout government's assistance. They said they had complained tothe Letlhakeng Sub-district that they were promised cattle andgoats under the Remote Area Dwellers Progamme (RADP) but to noavail. It seemed as though government "is only concentratingon the newly relocated Basarwa from Central Kgalagadi GameReserve (CKGR) to New Xade and Kaudwane in Ghanzi and Kwenengdistricts, they said. Resident Rwee Raseiqao said some of themwere last given cattle under the same programme in 1995 and thatthey did not receive the exact number allegedly because ofinadequate funds. On other issues, they said their settlement waslagging behind in development, nothing that other Basarwa camps,such as Kaudwane, were far ahead. They complained that residentsof Molepolole were allocated residential plots at the settlementwithout their knowledge so they could benefit from RADP likewatering their livestock freely. Residents were also unhappy thatpublic officers who never visited until the MP toured the areadenied them chances to utilise government assistance schemes.They endorsed the government's recommendation of the white paperto increase members of the House of Chiefs, noting that they willalso have a representative. MP Mokgothu said he was worried thatsome Kaudwane residents were reportedly misusing compensationfunds. He said that some of them bought vehicles or exchangedtheir cattle for cheap radios.About those who have returned totheir original homes, he said the council could have intervenedif he had been informed in good time. At Ngware settlement,residents called for the upgrading of their health post to have amaternity ward. They said the clinic is manned by one nurse andthat there is nobody to assist when she goes on leave. Ngwareprimary school teachers complained that they were not receivingRemote Area Service Allowance (RASA) while other pubic officersin the settlement were getting it. Some of them said they wereonce paid, but payments had since been stopped and the money wasbeing recovered from their salaries. On the National Master PlanArable Agriculture Dairy Development (NAMPAAD) residents saidthey feared it might fail, as the youth were not interested inagriculture. Mokgothu had earlier addressed residents aboutNAMPAADD and the government's draft White Paper on the BalopiCommission into sections 77, 78 and 79 of the Botswanaconstitution.
Batswana urged to carry identification when visiting(BOPA, 19/06) - Batswana have been urged to carry theirOmang cards with them when they visit government healthfacilities in order to prove their nationality. MP Gladys Kokorwesaid in a kgotla meeting at Thamaga, this week, that the move ismeant to determine non-citizens so that they can be charged forthe services they receive. She said government has decided tocharge foreigners in order to recoup some of the money it spendson medical facilities. However, she observed that Batswana werereluctant to carry their Omang, but warned that they will not beassisted if they fail to comply with the request. She informedher audience that Thamaga and Mmankgodi villages have each beenallocated six posts of headmen of arbitration following afeasibility study on paying them. She explained that there wereonly 700 posts to be shared by all the districts, adding that herministry is considering how best to improve the situation. Onother issues, Kokorwe said it is up to Batswana to cancel servingfood at funerals in order to reduce the costs of such events. TheMP was responding to concerns raised by the chairperson ofThamaga umbrella village development committee, Mokgobo Moshaganeabout the rising tendency among Batswana to over spend onfunerals which leave them stuck with huge debts. Residents calledon the Ministry of Local Government to closely monitorimplementation of council projects and take stern measuresagainst unproductive officers.
Call for paradigm shift in Botswana's approach totourism (The Botswana Gazette, 07/06) - Botswana StockExchange-listed tourism group, Chobe Holdings MD, JonathanGibson says if Air Botswana lacks the capacity to establishdirect links between the country and Cape Town, then thegovernment must seriously consider giving air rights for theroute to other airlines. Gibson says because Cape Town has becomea large regional tourist hub, it is important thatBotswanas tourism industry is allowed to tap into availableopportunities Cape Town offers as a tourist destination. For sometime now industry operators have been lobbying government toencourage Air Botswana to establish direct links between Botswanaand Cape Town. At present, tourists wishing to visit Botswanafrom Cape Town have to enter through Johannesburg, a tediousjourney that has discouraged many. Gibson says it is vital thatAir Botswana should realize how an efficient and affordable linksystem between Botswana and big tourist destinations like CapeTown are to the country. However, Gibson says there has been adiscernible improvement in Botswanas tourism industry aftera long period of political uncertainty that characterised thebuild-up to the Zimbabwean March 2002 election.This change offortune could be attributed to tourist operators in Botswanalearning to work around to overcome the obstacles affectingtourist movement in the region, he said. This is because securityis of the essence in tourism, he says. The violent politicalsituation in Zimbabwe in the run up to that countrysPresidential poll was blamed for the poor performance ofBotswanas tourism sector as tourists from the United Statesand Europe shunned Victoria Falls for fear of violence. Events inZimbabwe were a major setback for Botswana as most touristsvisiting the Chobe and the Okavango often use the internationallyacclaimed Victoria Falls as a gateway. Gibson says the occupancyrate of most tourist operators in the Chobe which in the pastdeclined owing to the political climate in Zimbabwe have nowimproved significantly, with promising signs that future bookingswill improve. The improvement is in no doubt occasioned bythe Zimbabwean problems having become a fait accompli, with touroperators learning to work around them, as well as improvedprospects for peace and cessation of hostilities in Angola,he said. Realising the vulnerability of Botswanas tourismsector and its over reliance on other countries as gateways, theHotel and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) is currentlynegotiating with the Ministry of Trade Industry Wildlife andTourism to create more gateways and links so that in times oftrouble the industry would not collapse. Gibson says the industryrecognises that in a short time, Victoria Falls will no longer bethe main gateway to Botswana because of the now entrenchednegative international perception about Zimbabwe. For theforeseeable future Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls will no longer bea route through which the majority of our tourists willarrive, he said. Gibson said there is need for the industryto turn its attention on Livingstone, Zambia, as an alternativegateway. To this end he emphasises the importance of Air Botswanaexpanding links with areas that have the potential tosubstantially increase Botswanas tourism potential. Evenmore important, he says, air fares should be affordable. Ithas not gone unnoticed that the Western Cape of South Africa hasbecome a major world tourist destination. It has become vital tothe industry that direct air-links are established with Cape Townin order that the industry may efficiently tap into thisresource, says Gibson. Gibson observes that provided thatexternal factors currently affecting Botswanas tourism donot deteriorate, the industry is poised for a strong rebound,given Botswanas quality of wildlife. A change infortune is also to a large extent dependent on ourgovernments ability to proactively facilitate the industry,with particular regard to provision of seamless communications,reasonable lease conditions, the unhindered flow of tourists andthe judicious management of the nations wildliferesources, he said.
No intentions to close border post (BOPA, 07/06) - Thegovernment has no plans to close the Botswana/Zimbabwe borderpost at Pandamatenga. Tourists use the border facilities on adaily basis, collector of customs and excise in Maun, SetlhareSeonyatseng told BOPA this week. He said closing the border wouldbe contrary to one of his departments key objectives offacilitating trade flow between the two countries. Seonyatsengwas responding to a motion raised by councillor Tuelo Tengenyanaof Pandamatenga during the last Maun/Chobe council meeting.Tengenyane had suggested that the Ministry of Finance andDevelopment Planning should be asked to reinstate customs andexcise officers at Pandamatenga. According to Seonyatseng, thecustoms officer was withdrawn in January last year only becausethe Pandamatenga border was not busy then. He said, however, thatthey have decided to deploy another officer until further notice.Meanwhile, Councillor Sebati Sebati of Kgosing Ward lamented thelack of pension facilities for councillors who retire. Sebatisaid government should do something for them since they wereserving the nation. "I feel that after serving 10 years,councillors must be rewarded for their efforts," he said.
Comment on policy allowing employment of labourers(BOPA, 07/06) - MP for North East, Chapson Butale hasadvised Batswana not to abuse the new policy that allows them toemploy foreigners for agricultural work. Addressing kgotlameetings at Tati Siding and Matsiloje villages in hisconstituency this week, he said the policy allows Batswana toemploy foreigners as herdsmen, among other things. However, hesaid prospective employers have to follow a procedure set bygovernment such as employing foreigners only when no Batswanahave shown interest. Butale discouraged Batswana from employingillegal immigrants as they contribute to the worsening crimesituation in the country. The MP encouraged Batswana to make thebest use of the newly formulated NAMPAADD scheme, saying it willassist them with modern methods of Arable farming, hence improvetheir lives. For their part, the residents complained aboutwildlife and pests that destroyed their crops, adding that theproblem needed to be addressed for the new scheme to succeed.They also appealed for the drought relief programme because ofthe low harvest this year. Meanwhile, Matsiloje residentscomplained about the acute shortage of water in the village dueto the closure of two boreholes which produced unsuitable water.In response, MP Butale said the North East District Council hadalready prepared a memorandum which proposes to connect Matsilojeto the pipeline from Francistown to Matshelagabedi. He said thememorandum would soon be submitted to the Ministry of LocalGovernment for consideration and funding. He also advisedresidents of communities along the Gaborone/Ramokgwebana road toensure that gates are always closed to prevent livestock fromstraying onto the highway and causing accidents.
North East District "overrun" by illegalimmigrants, claims council chairman (BOPA, 03/06) - NorthEast District Council chairman Gumbu Palalani says his council isconcerned by the influx of illegal immigrants. Speaking at thebeginning of a full council meeting, Palalani said in the lastfour months, 381 illegal immigrants were apprehended andrepatriated. He said the repatriation cost government vast sumsof money, adding that police reports indicated that illegalimmigrants had worsened the crime situation in Botswana. Heaccused some Batswana of compounding the problem by harbouringthem, adding that it should be every citizens duty toreport such aliens to the police. Palalani said the Department ofImmigration and Citizenship planned to address kgotla meetingsthroughout the district to discourage the public from harbouringillegal immigrants and its legal implications. He urgedcouncillors to assist the department in its public education andsensitisation campaign by disseminating information to theelectorate. Palalani said he was happy that the new Department ofImmigration and Citizenship and National Registration officeblocks and staff houses had been completed, which should helpreduce the shortage of accommodation that had dogged thedepartment.
Foreigners, rebels still plundering DRC, says UNreport (The Daily News, 15/06) - The latest UnitedNations report on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) saysrebels and foreign governments are still plundering the country'sresources, everything from diamonds to animal skins. According tothe BBC correspondent at the United Nations, the report saysZimbabwean troops that were drafted in to support the DRC'sgovernment have been reinforced in areas such as Kasai, whereZimbabwean parties have interests in diamond mining. The reportportrays the DRC as a place where rebel movements and foreignarmies are using the cloak of war to disguise what has become ablatant exercise in self-enrichment through the illegal plunderof scarce resources. The report says that direct confrontationbetween rebel groups and the Congolese government hasdisappeared, but fierce conflict continues on the rebel side ofthe ceasefire line, as different factions compete for access togold, diamonds and other mineral resources. The report says thereare also growing fears that criminal networks, from Africa andabroad, are becoming increasingly involved.
Africa Refugee Day celebrated in Maseru (Maseru,Mopheme/The Survivor, 26/06) - There are approximately50 million uprooted people round the world today. 3.3 million ofthem are in Africa and they make 28% of the world refugeepopulation. They fled their homes because of civil wars andpolitical persecution. Lesotho is no exception to this phenomenonwhich has adversely affected the welfare and livelihoods of manyAfricans. As a signatory to the Organization of African Unity(OAU)'s 1969 Convention governing the Specific Aspects of RefugeeProblems in Africa, Lesotho celebrated the Africa Refugee Day onJune 20, 2002. The day was set aside to ameliorate efforts inarticulating the refugee rights, plight and need for protectionagainst public hostilities African refugees experience for theirhosts. This year's celebrations targeted xenophobia which hasbecome a problem in may African countries that host refugees. TheCommissioner of Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs, FrancisSefali said refugees were usually mistaken for economic migrantspartly due to ignorance of the host country's population and alsoas a result of declining economies of African countries. Hepointed out that the high population of refugees in Africa was anenormous burden on the continent with an extremely ailingeconomy. Sefali indicated that this year's theme was"Refugee Women" and was meant to highlight violence,domestic violence, right to employment and land and propertyrights. He said the theme sought empowerment of women refugeewomen who are usually the largest group in any refugee producingsituation. "Women are usually targets of persecution insituations of ethnic cleansing as experienced in Rwanda, Burundi,Yugoslavia and elsewhere," he added. The refugees residentin Lesotho indicated that they were deeply honoured to have beengranted asylum in the country and said they have lived in peacesince their arrival in Lesotho. However they expressed concernthat travel document issued to them by the Ministry of HomeAffairs did not give them similar advantages as the locals."We have to pay high visa fees for one or two journeys. Thedocument, though called a United Nations, is not giving usadvantages that are enjoyed by the locals," they added. Theypointed out that the travel document was restrictive and did notallow them to have free movement and access to social life. Therefugees appealed to the Ministry of Home Affairs to look intothe high education fees paid by foreigners at the NationalUniversity of Lesotho which hindered the progress of theirchildren who are students at the University. The Minister of HomeAffairs, Thomas Thabane indicated that setting aside the refugeeday in Africa was a realization of the importance Africancountries attached to the problem of refugees. He pointed outthat the number of refugees was increasing in Africa because," Africans are running away from other Africans because theyare not allowed to express their political views." Thabanesaid the high number of refugees in Africa was totallyunacceptable and expressed hope that one day all displaced peoplewill return to their homelands and contribute to thesocio-economic development of their countries. He said it washigh time that African leaders sat back and find ways and meansof solving internal disputes which led to prevalence of refugees.There are about 26 refugees in Lesotho from countries such asZimbabwe, Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.Most of then have secured employment in fields such as education,medicine and business.
DA concerned over possible Lesotho violence (Pretoria,Sapa, 03/06) - The Democratic Alliance on Mondayexpressed concern that political violence may erupt inneighbouring Lesotho following last month's parliamentaryelections. The refusal of opposition parties to accept the pollresults, coupled with food shortages and famine, was a recipe forunrest, the party's eastern Free State spokesman Roy Jankielsohnsaid in a statement "The South African government shouldtake all necessary and peaceful steps to prevent a repetition ofthe 1998 violence and to protect South Africans and theirproperty both within and along the border with Lesotho," hesaid. The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy won the poll -getting 77 seats in the kingdom's 120-seat parliament. Theleaders of some opposition political parties instituted legalproceedings against that country's Independent ElectoralCommission (IEC). They want a recount. Jankielsohn said the DAwas concerned over the absence of South African troops on theborder with Lesotho in the event of violence breaking out. Thepolice did not have the capacity to patrol the border on aregular basis. "Many South Africans have business interestsin Lesotho and the country has only just started to recover afterthe 1998 post-election violence," he said. Disputedelections in 1998 led to a mutiny by soldiers and militaryintervention by South Africa and Botswana at the request of PrimeMinister Pakalitha Mosisili. The intervention left at least 75people dead, and Maseru and two other towns were laid waste inrioting. Asked about Jankielsohn's statement that South Africansecurity forces were on standby to prevent violence in Lesotho,Defence Ministry spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said: "I am notsure what they mean by standby." He added: "SouthAfrica can only deploy troops in another country under theauspices of the Southern African Development Community, theOrganisation for African Unity, or the United Nations."Mkhwanazi said no troops were deployed along the border, as thiswas only done at the request of the police to assist withcrime-prevention operations. The Foreign Affairs Department wasnot able to comment on the DA's concerns on Monday, butreiterated its earlier call on all parties in Lesotho to acceptthe election results and work together on a peaceful andprosperous future.
Millions facing food shortages (Washington, FutureHarvest, 27/06) - Makoka, Malawi - As this nation of 10million people faces its most serious food crisis in recentmemory, government officials are encouraging farmers to planttrees as part of a long-term effort to improve soil fertility andincrease food supplies. This year, Malawi faces a 700,000-tonshortfall in grain production, much of which will be made up byforeign food aid. Even so, development experts predict wide scalehunger. An estimated 65 percent of all Malawians live in povertyand survive on less than a half dollar per day. All of Malawiwill be hard hit, including the central part of the country, thenation's traditional breadbasket area," predict FutureHarvest scientists working with the International Centre forResearch in Agroforestry, ICRAF, in Nairobi, Kenya. "Theconditions that led to food shortages are directly linked to thequality of Malawi's soils," says Andreas Böhringer, ICRAF'sDevelopment Leader for Southern Africa. "If you can boostsoil fertility, the country should be able to meet most of itsfood needs relatively quickly," he says.
Attempts to improve Malawi's soils in the past, however, havefallen short of that goal. Throughout the 1990s, governmentprovided farmers with subsidized fertilizer and seed, a practicethat temporarily increased food production but eventuallycollapsed because of the high cost. "The sad fact is thatMalawian farmers remove far more plant nutrients and organicmatter from the soil than they can possibly put back," sayseconomist Per Pinstrup-Andersen. "Its not that they areunaware, but being a land-locked country makes it difficult tosupply them with fertilizer. Moreover, when fertilizer isavailable, its probably too expensive," he says. Culturalpractices, including the expansion of agroforestry and theplanting of nitrogen-fixing trees, can remedy the situation byhelping rural people do a better job of managing naturalresources and increasing farm income, he adds. Pinstrup-Andersenis director general of the International Food Policy ResearchInstitute, a Future Harvest think tank based in Washington, DC.
Trees on Farms
"Virtually the only people who are not suffering from thisyear's food shortages are farmers who use agroforestry, thepractice of planting trees on farms," adds Böhringer.Approximately 22,000 Malawian farm families have been trained inagroforestry techniques and are managing to feed their families,a development that has not escaped the attention of the country'sMinistry of Agriculture and foreign aid donors. Maize farmers whopractice agroforestry, Böhringer notes, usually produce anywherefrom two to four times more than the national average. The UnitedStates Agency for International Development recently awarded$600,000 to ICRAF increase the number of farmers trained inagro-forestry over a two-year period. The goal is to reach100,000 farm families by 2004.
High Rates of Return
"USAID's contribution may not seem like a great deal ofmoney if you consider the enormity of the challenge in Malawi,but then the rate of return on an investment in agroforestry canbe extremely high," says ICRAF Director General DennisGarrity. ICRAF economists estimate the cost of training andequipping one farm family to practice agroforestry at about US$2.50. Roughly 40 percent of the nation's farm families, theycalculate, could be practicing agroforestry by 2005 at cost ofabout $10 million. "That's a one-time investment,"Garrity adds. "Subsidized fertilizer and seed distributionschemes cost millions and go on and on, year after year."
Different Places, Different Systems
Agroforestry is practiced in different ways, depending upon localfarming conditions and population density. In some cases, treesare planted in fields that the farmer decides to leave fallow, inessence giving the soil a chance to rest. In others, trees areplanted with crops, either side by side or in rotations. Onething that many agroforestry systems have in common is theplanting of fast-growing trees that take nitrogen from the airand deposit it in the soil. Some of these trees havenitrogen-fixing root systems, which also allows the plant tostore nitrogen in the branches and leaves. The young trees arecut, chopped, and mixed into the soil, just prior to plantingfood crops, thereby building up organic matter and addingnutrients. As long as the trees are growing, they capturenitrogen that the farmer would otherwise have to purchase in theform of fertilizer. "There's an agroforestry option foralmost any situation or location," says Böhringer, and notall trees used in agroforestry are there to improve the soil, hesays. "One of our priorities is to help farmers earn cashfrom their trees, either by producing fruits for the market or byturning out medicinal products. One such medicinal tree is PrunusAfricanus. An effective prostate disease remedy popular inEurope, "Prunus" is now considered an endangeredspecies because of over-harvesting, a problem ICRAF scientistsare working to remedy. ICRAF scientists note that efforts areunderway to encourage farmers to grow a domesticated form of treeas a source of cash income in the hope of halting non-sustainableharvesting in forest areas.
USaid gives US $14 million to fight hunger (Irin,18/06) - Malawi, battling to cope with critical foodshortages, has been given US $14.6 million in aid from the UnitedStates Agency for International Development (USAID). On MondayUSAID granted the government of Malawi what amounts to Malawiankwacha 1.1 billion as part of an ongoing cooperative effort totarget poor sectors of the country. Over three million people inMalawi will need food aid until March next year, a joint Food andAgricultural Organisation and World Food Programme (WFP)assessment has found. Roger Yochelson, USAID Mission Director,said in a statement that the funds would be used to import maize,continue support of the Malawi Environmental Endowment Trust andfor family planning activities. The US $14.6 million brings theamount of aid given to Malawi to US $20.6 million. It was thelatest tranche of funds under USAID's performance-basedNon-project Assistance Programmes in the agricultural andenvironmental sectors, he said. The funds were released followingthe "liberalisation of agricultural input markets, expandedmarket competitiveness, the establishment of a comprehensivepolicy and legislative framework for environmental issues,strengthening of the capacity of institutions responsible formanaging natural resources and the environment, and theachievement of sustainable financing for natural resourcemanagement and environmental protection activities," theUSAID statement said. "USAID applauds the decision of thegovernment of Malawi to dedicate the majority of the funds to theimport of approximately 40,000 mt of maize, to be procured anddistributed through commercial market mechanisms, usingcompetitive tendering processes," Yochelson said. Thegovernment of Malawi is currently overhauling the operations ofthe National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), to enhance its capacityto store, manage, and sell maize. President Bakili Muluzideclared a state of disaster in the country on 27 February,following reports that hundreds of people were dying of hunger.Over 500 people have officially been reported dead, although itis feared that the figure could be higher. USAID had immediatelyresponded by providing US $25,000, which was combined with US$37,000 in development funds, to enable Catholic Relief Services(CRS) to divert 630 mt of food stocks to support new supplementalfeeding activities. Aid partners such as Medicines Sans Frontiersand Save the Children have also been implementing supplementalfeeding activities. USAID's Food for Peace (FFP) said it wouldreplace the 630 mt of maize donated by CRS, valued at about US$360,000. Relief agencies believe the deterioration in theoverall humanitarian situation could result in a large-scale foodcrisis as early as September or October this year, if sufficientassistance is not forthcoming. A consortium of nine NGOs led bythe WFP are working with the government of Malawi to coordinaterelief activities and to develop a mechanism that would respondto the current crisis. The first shipment of emergency food aidby USAID, totaling 15,040 mt which included 13,500 mt of maize,1,320 mt of beans, and 720 mt of oil through the WFP, had alreadyarrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. "The first 3,000 mt wasdelivered to Lilongwe on 4 June. Distribution to targetedcommunities is scheduled to begin in mid-June," thestatement said. An additional 3,000 mt of maize from the USgovernment has been redirected from a regular FFP project inTanzania to the emergency programme in Malawi. USAID has alsoprovided a grant to Africare for US $90,000. Africare will bedistributing Likuni Phala (soya-fortified maize meal) for theEuropean Union Supplemental Feeding. Yochelson said USAID wasfinalising a grant to the NGO consortium to monitor food andnon-food needs within the country and strengthen the governmentof Malawi and local authority capacity to monitor, plan andmanage disaster assistance.
Report on Malawin famine (The News, 13/06) - ForChief Dzobwe, the traditional leader of a small cluster ofsettlements outside the central tobacco heartland of Kasungu,some 100 kilometers north of the capital, Lilongwe, this year'sfamine is historic. "I was a young boy in 1949," theyear old former miner says, "but this year's famine remindsme of the one we had then." "We did not think thingswould be this bad," Malawian Vice President Justin Malewezisaid. "The difference is that while in 1949 we could walklong distances to find food," says the chief, who claims helost two to three of his villagers a week at the height of thefamine between January and March, "there is now nowhere togo to find food." BBC's Raphael Tenthani Kasungu, whereofficially more than 100 people starved to death by March, is theworst affected of Malawi's 27 districts. But government officialssay the picture is just as bleak in other parts of the country.Vice President Justin Malewezi says warning signs that there wasan impending famine started flashing as early as August last yearwhen it was noted that the country, which requires at least 1.8million tonnes of the staple crop, maize, per year to feed its 11million people, had a deficit of 400,000 tonnes. "But we didnot think things would be this bad," he admits. Indeed thegovernment's belated admission that a human catastrophe islooming in the country has caught donors unprepared. A seniorWorld Food Programme official says it was difficult to convincerich governments to release emergency funds for Malawi withoutthe government acknowledging there was a famine. Maize from grainwarehouses has been in short supply. When the government finallydid, more than seven million people, or three quarters of thecountry's population, were on the verge of starvation. Lessonsmay have been learnt because, this year, although the entiremaize crop has not yet been stored in granaries, the governmenthas already asked for help. The ministry of agriculture haspublished crop estimates, saying Malawi is set to record a600,000 tonne deficit. Secretary for Agriculture Ellard Malindisays the current lull in the famine is only temporary as peopleare currently eating maize grown in their gardens. But mostfarming families do not harvest enough maize.
People queuing for maize rations at an aid agency site inSalima
He says the government is therefore urging rich countries and aidagencies to assist the country with emergency food aid if a humancatastrophe is to be averted. The call for food aid, made whenPresident Bakili Muluzi declared a state of national disaster inFebruary, has received a lukewarm response from donors, fuelingfears that the crisis will continue. Malawi needs at least $21.6mto avert a human catastrophe. But so far less than $5m have comethrough. Mr Malindi says a number of factors, including heavyrains in some areas and prolonged dry spells in others, have ledto a drop in the harvest of maize. He says other reasons for thedrop in maize production include floods, as well as rampagingelephants and hippos, which have destroyed large tracts of cropfields in a number of lakeshore districts, especially in thesouthern district of Mangochi. "If we don't handle the foodcrisis well, it will be difficult to convince people to vote forus." Mekkie Mtewa, a Mangochi Member of parliament said. TheUnited Nations Development Programme, UNDP, says that betweenJanuary and April, UN agencies spent at least $2m on emergencyfood aid for vulnerable groups in 19 of the country's 27districts. UNDP representative Zahra Nuru says UN experts arecurrently assessing the situation to release more aid. Malawi'sformer colonial master, Britain, has so far also released £2.6mof food aid for 255,000 households. A number of churchorganizations have come in to help, but the scale of the disasteris just too great. Some donors say the donor fatigue is due inparticular to the fact that last year's maize reserves wheremismanaged. Some of these stocks were sold to Kenya despitewarnings that a famine was looming. But Ellard Malindi, theSecretary for Agriculture, says the government sold the maize toKenya because it had reached the end of its shelflife. Thecountry's Anti Corruption Bureau is still investigating thecontroversial sale to check whether there was any corruptioninvolved. The food crisis has also affected the country's socialstrata. In hospitals, the orthopaedic wards are full of amputeeswho received mob justice after being caught stealing. "Itwas pumpkin leaves that we survived on" Anifa Matebule, aneyewitness said. School attendance has also droppedsignificantly. President Bakili Muluzi has again assuredMalawians that the government will make free food available tothe most vulnerable. But Anifa, who is also a grandmother in thesouthern tea growing district of Thyolo, says she has heard itall before. She lost a daughter and a grandchild to the famine."In January the government said we would get free maize, butit was pumpkin leaves that we survived on," she says,brandishing a ration card for a World Food Programme fooddistribution exercise which she says has come too late. MekkieMtewa, the MP for Mangochi, who has just been dismissed as deputyagriculture minister for revealing that senior politicians werehoarding maize in order to sell it at higher prices, says thefamine may be a political barometer. Those without money begoutside department stores correspondents reported. "2004(when the next general elections will take place) is not too farso if we don't handle the food crisis well, it will be difficultto convince people to vote for us," he says. But in Kasungu,Chief Dzombe says he has no time for the politics of 2004. Havingburied two of his teenage nephews, what he needs is for thepoliticians of today to deliver. "The crops have failedagain this year and, if we don't get help, we will perish,"he says.
Food aid fails to rescue starving Malawians (AfricanChurch Information Service, 03/06) - While many donorshave pledged to offer aid to three million hunger strickenMalawians, old people, pregnant women, children and other needycommunities are starving, Our Blantyre-based correspondent BrianLigomeka, reveals the barriers obstructing the delivery of foodaid to needy communities. A 60-year old Marko Dakosita fromNdamera Village southern Malawi's border district last weekenddied after eating a snake. A traditional chief in the area sayshis villager did not eat the snake out of fun or for magicalpurposes but out of desperation. "He spent a number of dayswithout food. We have been waiting for food aid to come but weekshave elapsed without receiving it," says Chief Ndamera. Hecharges that while Nsanje district has been worst hit by hunger,he is surprised that the government is busy distributing maize tosome districts especially those which are stronghold of rulingparties. "Sometimes I think that we suffer quite a lot inthis area because our district is regarded as an oppositionstronghold," laments Chief Ndamera. Nsanje district, whichlies on the border between Malawi and Mozambique, is the home ofthe leader of the country's biggest opposition group, MalawiCongress Party (MCP). The government admits that over threemillion Malawians could face a critical food shortage in the nextfew months if the international community fails to provide urgentfood aid to the southern African country. Government officialssay some people especially the aged, orphans, are alreadysuffering from hunger. Lucius Chikuni, Malawi's commissioner fordisaster preparedness, relief and rehabilitation, says that209,000 tonnes of maize are required to save vulnerable Malawiansfrom starvation. According to official statistics, 501 peoplestarved to death in Malawi between December 2001 and March thisyear. "Our survey found out that most farming families didnot harvest much this year because those who had a good crop atemost of it in the field while in other areas, the crop failedbecause of floods or prolonged dry spells before the maize cropmatured," says Chikuni. Statistics from Malawi's Ministry ofAgriculture indicated Malawi recorded a deficit of 600,000 tonnesof maize during the last crop season. The Malawian governmenturgently needs at least US$21.6 million to offset the shortage.The spectre of famine is already in many rural areas, especiallyin the central and southern regions. Residents in the centrallakeshore district of Nkhota Kota have started eating maizehusks, wild fruits and tubers to remain alive. Others are eveneating banana stems. According to Kerren Hedlund of the UnitedNations - World Food Programme, many peasant families had a poorharvest due to bad rains, floods and rampaging wild animals likehippos and elephants. Meanwhile, Malawi's Minister of AgricultureAleke Banda said that although some food is already coming, theamount is far short of what Malawi requires. He says the foodaid, which has already trickled in Malawi is not enough to bedistributed in all needy communities. "We have so farreceived only 200,000 tons in pledges but we are facing a maizeshort-fall of 600,000 tonnes," Banda said. He howeverdismissed allegations that the government is discriminating otherareas due to political reasons. The European Union announced inthe Malawian administrative capital, Lilongwe, that itsheadquarters in Brussels had set aside US$26.75 million for theimmediate purchase of 95,000 tonnes of maize. The EU will alsobuy 40,000 tonnes to restock empty maize silos in Lilongwe. TheU.S. government is reportedly shipping in at least 110,000tonnes, while Britain has released US$5.84million in food aid.While the present harvest period had eased Malawi's food crisis,more than three million people are still in need of urgent foodaid. In February, the government said that seven million peopleout of a population of 10 million had no food. Floods, droughtand a government decision to sell off its grain reserves -arguing that they were old - contributed to the food crisis. AWorld Food Programme official statement noted: "There wereseven million people in need then, at that time, there was acrisis because maize had not been harvested. Now maize has beenharvested. But presently the assessment is that about 600,000households, which should be about 3.1 million people, arecurrently needing assistance." The statement added:"People were eating the unripened green maize [in the earlymonths of 2002] because there was no food. This consumption ofgreen maize will cause a shortage as the months go on. The nextplanting season is in October, so they need food aid to keep themgoing in the days and months ahead. The food they have [from thisseasons' harvest] may last up to about June, so they need aid totake them through to the next harvest season in April 2003."The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned that theunfolding food crisis in Southern Africa threatened to become amajor humanitarian catastrophe if an immediate and adequateresponse was not mounted. "In a region already bearing thefull brunt of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the food crisis presents anew and ominous threat to the survival of the most vulnerable -the children and women," says UNICEF's Regional Director forEastern and Southern Africa, Urban Jonsson. "A rapidassessment of nutritional status undertaken by UNICEF in Malawilast month showed that some 45,000 children are facing severemalnutrition, with the situation likely to worsen in the2002-2003 lean season." "The Malawi assessmentconducted at clinics for under-five shows that the number ofchildren with moderate malnutrition in the last six months hastrebled. The trend is the same with pregnant and lactating women.Even more alarming, the assessment shows that some of themoderately malnourished children are deteriorating to severemalnutrition," the agency said. UNICEF said it had providedsupplementary and therapeutic feeding to children and fortifiedmaize meal to pregnant and breast-feeding women at variousfeeding centres in Malawi. Chikuni said a national Relief andRehabilitation task force was working on immediate and long termplans to deal with the current food crisis and avoid a repeat inthe future. Among medium term interventions, a winter croppinginitiative that was expected to yield 75,000 of maize tonnes byOctober 2002, was already underway. Chikuni said a keyintervention would be proper management of strategic grainreserves. WFP Emergency Officer, Kerren Hedlund said a constanthurdle facing agencies was the lack of an adequate transportationnetwork in Malawi.
Mozambique approves settlement of 13 white Zimbabweanfarmers (Maputo, Sapa-AFP, 24/06) - Mozambique'sgovernment has agreed to allow at least 13 white Zimbabweancommercial farmers to settle in the fertile central province ofManica, the agriculture ministry said Monday. Each of the farmerswill be given 1,000 hectares (2,400 acres) of land, in line withMozambican law that only allows land to be leased for up to 50years, the ministry of agriculture and rural development said ina statement. Mozambican law does not allow land to be sold. Twofarmers were allotted land near the administrative post ofMavonde, 10 in Barue district, and one near the administrativepost of Vanduze. All the land is in Manica province, whichborders Zimbabwe. Most farmers have almost completed thenecessary legal process and the 13 should soon receive officialleases to the land, the statement said. In a few cases, localcommunities are yet to be consulted on the proposed settlement ofwhite farmers, the statement said. More than 50 Zimbabweanfarmers have submitted requests for land leases in Mozambique.Zimbabwe's government has earmarked about 95 percent ofwhite-owned land for resettlement by blacks. For more than twoyears, white farmers have been the target of politically attacksby pro-government militants who in some cases forcibly occupiedtheir land. Mozambique has taken a cautious approach to requestsfrom white farmers for land, hoping to avoid importing Zimbabwe'sinequitable pattern of land ownership, in which the tiny whiteminority owns more than one-quarter of the nation's land.
Mozambique houses 5,000 refugees (Maputo, Sapa-AFP,20/06) - Mozambique needs more than 70,000 tonnes offood aid for over half a million people affected by drought inthe south and centre of the country, authorities said Thursday."We need over 70,000 tonnes of food for immediate relief forover 500,000 people affected by drought," National DisasterManagement Institute (INGC) director Silvano Lanha told AFP.Mozambique has in recent weeks received food aid from severalcountries, including the United States and Italy. The UnitedNations World Food Programme (WFP) has also been assisting some300,000 people in immediate need of aid through food-for-workprogrammes. Southern Africa is experiencing its worst drought ina decade with Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwebeing the worst hit. The drought that hit the region between 1991and 1992 affected about four million people in Mozambique.
Drought stricken Mozambique needs over 70,000 tonnesof food aid (Maputo, Sapa-AFP, 20/06) - Mozambique needsmore than 70,000 tonnes of food aid for over half a millionpeople affected by drought in the south and centre of thecountry, authorities said Thursday. "We need over 70,000tonnes of food for immediate relief for over 500,000 peopleaffected by drought," National Disaster Management Institute(INGC) director Silvano Lanha told AFP. Mozambique has in recentweeks received food aid from several countries, including theUnited States and Italy. The United Nations World Food Programme(WFP) has also been assisting some 300,000 people in immediateneed of aid through food-for-work programmes. Southern Africa isexperiencing its worst drought in a decade with Malawi, Lesotho,Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe being the worst hit. The droughtthat hit the region between 1991 and 1992 affected about fourmillion people in Mozambique.
Mozambique avoids widespread famine (Maputo, Sapa-AFP,08/06) - Mozambique has learnt the hard way from twoyears of devastating floods and is now managing to avoidwidespread famine, even as 13 million people in other southernAfrican countries face starvation. "Mozambicans have been sohit by catastrophe that they now ride them well," said aEuropean diplomat based in Maputo. "Mozambique shows theparadox for a country used to natural disasters, but lessaffected than others in the region," he said. In its June 4report on Mozambique, the UN's World Food Program (WFP) saidgrain production would actually rise in 2002 to 1.7 milliontonnes, a five percent gain over last year. The current harvestof maize, the staple grain, is projected at 1.2 million tonnes,up eight percent over last year. A surplus of 100,000 tonnes isexpected in northern and central Mozambique. This is the resultof a policy of prevention by the National Institute for DisasterManagement (INGC) and by good weather enjoyed in northernMozambique, where fields received enough water and were morewidely cultivated than in the south. Southern Mozambique is proneto extremes of floods and drought, and in the region's Gaza,Inhambane and Maputo provinces - and to a lesser degree thecentral provinces of Tete, Sofala and Manica - some 515,000people need about 70,000 tonnes of food to survive until the nextharvest in March 2003, according to WFP. But that's less thanthree percent of the population of 18 million people, and the WFPreport said "the deficits in the south and certain centralareas should be covered by food aid and commercial imports."Poor roads and railways, many of which were destroyed in the1976-1992 civil war, makes affordable transport between northernand southern Mozambique impossible. The northern surplus willtherefore most likely be sold to neighboring Malawi and Zimbabwe.The INGC was created after the 2000 floods that left 700 peopledead and has paid particular attention to weather, with theresult that the "government had predicted" the droughtin Mozambique, said Joao Zamissa, head of the agency's planningdepartment. The institute also conducts educational programsaround the country to teach in simple terms illiterate sustenancefarmers about cyclones, floods, droughts and how to react to eachto minimize their effects. These preventive programs"allowed us to overcome the situation", Zamissa said."We have a national policy that aims to reduce as much aspossible the loss of life," he said, adding that he hopedthe countries hardest hit by famine "can benefit from ourexperience, for no country can act alone." The last majorfamine in Mozambique came in 1991-1992, when the civil war wasstill raging. The combination of war and drought left 3.5 millionpeople hungry. According to UN agencies about 12.8 million peoplein southern Africa again face famine, through a combination ofdrought, conflicts and poor policy-making. Zimbabwe, Malawi,Zambia, Angola and Swaziland are among the most affected nations.
The story of an accidental refugee (The Namibian,28/06) - He was an accidental refugee to start with,says Daan Melen Boetie. Now he wants to come back home. WhenBoetie (25) passed through the Ngoma border post on Namibia'sfrontier with Botswana on Monday evening, it was two years andtwo months to the day since he left Namibia, he says. Implicit inthe reason for his short return to Namibia this week, is the hopethat things had changed in the time since April 24 2000. That isbecause, when he and a group of residents of the village of Omega3 fled into the night on that date, they were making a fearfulrun for their lives. The Barakwena community of West Caprivi wasfinding itself caught in the crossfire of one of Africa'sdeadliest, longest and most intractable conflicts - Angola'sdirty civil war. Boetie and most of the people of Omega 3 ran fortheir lives, leaving behind everything they had, when a gunbattle between Unita and Namibia Defence Force soldiers eruptedat their village, he says. That was a few months after Namibia'sgovernment had decided to allow its Angolan government allies touse Namibian territory to attack Unita, in an attempt to finallydefeat Unita's rebel army and end Africa's longest-running civilwar. By the early days of 2000, Angola's war had duly startedspilling over into Namibia. Travellers on the Trans-Caprivihighway through West Caprivi were ambushed, killed and robbed,allegedly by Unita bandits. Residents of the area also reportedbeing harassed, attacked and robbed by Angolan soldiers, fromboth sides of the conflict. And in the middle of this were theKhwe. It was in this atmosphere that he was only visiting afriend at Omega 3 when a frightening gunfight broke out in theearly morning hours of April 24 2000, says Boetie. As thevillagers ran into the bush, he followed. They spent the nightthere, and the next day kept on going, heading for safety untilthey reached the fence marking the border between Botswana andNamibia. So began an accidental exile that has now lasted forover two years. But now he is home, for a few days at least, tosee if it is safe to return. The United Nations High Commissionerfor Refugees and the governments of Botswana and Namibia, whowere the parties to an agreement on the voluntary repatriation ofrefugees, arranged the visit. Boetie appears to be brimming overwith enthusiasm at the prospect of coming back. Previously,before war came to Omega 3, he and his community at Omega 1 wereliving in peace and not having problems with Namibia's securityforces, he says. Now, at Dukwe, there are Namibians dead setagainst the return of their compatriots to Namibia, who arepresenting problems for him and his fellow Khwe, he says. Theseare people who are vehemently opposed to the current Government,who will only agree to return to the Caprivi Region when adifferent government is in power or the Caprivi Region has becomean independent country on its own. He, however, wants to comeback, to his home and the father, sister and brother he leftbehind. Another sister who remained behind has died in hisabsence. At Dukwe, cut off from just about all news from home, hedid receive a message informing him of her death, he says. Exceptfor the fact that the Dukwe refugees are confined to a camp and,unable to work, forced into idleness, he cannot complain of anyspecific serious hardships there. The main problem is the mostobvious one: it just is not home. "It just doesn't feel likehome," he relates. "There's nothing better than home.Home is always home."
Visa requirements rile business people (The Namibian,24/06) - The need for visas for business trips betweenSADC countries, which often take over two weeks to approve,proved a major concern at the NCCI AGM on Saturday. VekuiiRukoro, Managing Director of Sanlam Namibia, said theserequirements were getting in the way of beneficial regionaltrade, especially the visa required for Namibians entering Angolaand South African business people entering Namibia. Rukoro'sinsistence that these visa requirements be eased was supported byNamPower MD Leake Hangala, who also revealed that the issue wasmentioned during the recent Government and business trip toAngola. Apparently the Angolan government promised President SamNujoma's delegation they would look into the matter of visaexemptions.
Government lifts curfew along Kavango River (TheNamibian, 19/06) - The Ministry ofDefence has lifted a dusk-to-dawn curfew that restricted themovement of people along the banks of the Kavango River. The movefollows an apparent end to the banditry attacks that have plaguedcivilians in the north-east since the end of 1999. The Ministryhas also stopped all military escorts along the Trans CapriviHighway, on the 190 km stretch of road between Bagani andKongola. The dusk-to-dawn curfew was enforced eight months ago bythe Namibia Defence Force (NDF) as a deterrent to numerous,nightly cross-border attacks that mainly targeted Namibiansliving near Angola. During the curfew, residents on both sides ofthe Kavango River, which forms the border between Namibia andAngola, were told to stay at least 200 metres from the river'sbanks during curfew hours. When the curfew was imposed, criticssaid it had no legal basis as the Constitution provides forfreedom of movement and that there was no state of emergency inthe Kavango under which this right could be suspended. At a mediabriefing yesterday, Defence Minister, Erkki Nghimtina said:"The Ministry (of Defence) would like to announce to theresidents of Kavango Region that the restrictions within certainlimits of the Kavango River at night have also been lifted witheffect from today. "You can now swim, draw water from theriver or catch fish anytime you so choose," the Ministersaid. He assured Namibians and foreign visitors, who have avoidedvisiting the Kavango and Caprivi Regions, that peace andtranquillity have returned to the north-east. Nghimtina, however,appealed to the residents of the Kavango and Caprivi to remainvigilant and to report all suspicious-looking objects (whichcould be unexploded ordnances) and people to the security forces,particularly to the Police. He also said that the military convoybetween Bagani, east of Rundu, and Kongola, west of KatimaMulilo, had deterred raids on motorists. The Minister said theconvoy cost between N$200 000 to N$300 000 a day in operationalexpenses. This translates into an amount ranging between N$170million to N$260 million for the duration of the convoy thatstarted in early 2000.
EU to give green light for tourists to visitnorth-east (The Namibian, 19/06) - TheEuropean Union (EU) is to issue a travel advisory to citizensfrom the 15-nation bloc stating that it is now safe to travel tothe Kavango and Caprivi. The Namibian has been reliably informedby a senior EU diplomat that a fresh advisory is likely to be putout in the next few days. The diplomat said the securitysituation along the border between Namibia and Angola had changedfor the better this year. "We are going to modify our traveladvisories accordingly. We have not yet finalised the full text... of course, we are going to take into account that thesituation has changed." At its recent annual congress, theHospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) appealed to all foreignmissions and embassies to "reconsider their travel advicepublished to nationals via the Internet and other means"telling them not to travel to the two regions because ofinstability. The United States of America (US) also issued atravel advisory cautioning against trips through the north-eastafter banditry attacks in the Kavango and the Caprivi Regions inwhich hundreds of villagers and travellers were targeted. At theheight of the attacks, three French children were killed alongthe Trans Caprivi Highway in 2000. Hundreds of Namibians wereeither maimed or murdered during two years of raids. BernardFaro, Deputy Head of Mission at the French Embassy in Windhoek,said the Mission will probably issue another travel advisoryrecognising the new stability in the region in two months. Hesaid an advisory issued a few months ago mentioned possiblesecurity risks in the Kavango, Caprivi and Ohangwena Regions.Faro said recent developments are an indication that the borderareas are now safe. "We will change this advisory perhaps intwo months ...we've to continue to tell the (French) touriststhey have to be careful especially at night," he said. Thediplomat, however, expressed concern that four French nationalshad died in vehicle accidents while travelling along some ofNamibia's untarred roads. He said plans were afoot to printpamphlets that will advise French visitors on how to drive safelyon Namibia's roads. A diplomat at the US Embassy said he wasaware of HAN's appeal but said at present no change to traveladvisories were being considered. Deiter Duxmann, Deputy Head ofMission at the German Embassy, said "right now we are intouch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin to resolvethe situation. We are working on it, then we will issue anothertravel advisory". Duxmann said the Embassy was also in touchwith the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Namibia which had givenassurances that all the necessary security arrangements werebeing put in place. Oswald Theart, a prominent lodge owner atRundu, says the lifting of the military convoy will boost tourismin the region. He said tourists have always argued "what isthe need for the military convoy if it is peaceful (as stated bythe Government)? This will definitely result in an influx oftourists. We are grateful to the Ministry of Defence for liftingthe convoy." "It (the suspension of the convoy) willhave a tremendous effect on tourism," he said. PeterVisagie, a manager at Zambezi Lodge at Katima Mulilo, said sincethe recent suspension of the convoy there had been an increase intourists to the Caprivi. "There is new hope ... we areslowly getting more tourists to the Caprivi. All the localindustries in the Caprivi are benefiting slowly," he said.
Convoy system suspended in Caprivi (Irin, 17/06) - TheNamibian army has suspended its military escort system along thepreviously insecure Trans-Caprivi highway in the northeast of thecountry, The Namibian newspaper reported on Monday. Since 2000,road traffic had been escorted twice a day between Bagani andKongola in the Caprivi region, in response to sporadic ambushesofficially blamed on Angolan UNITA rebels. Foreign AffairsPermanent Secretary Mocks Shivute confirmed the suspension of theconvoy at the weekend, despite earlier denials by the defenceministry, The Namibian reported. Shivute, however, cautionedmotorists to only travel on the road between 7.00 am and 5.00 pm,and to avoid journeying at night. "The security situation inthe northeastern part of Namibia returned to normal following thesigning of the [April] ceasefire agreement between the governmentof Angola and UNITA," Shivute said in a statement. He addedthat ex-UNITA fighters and their families had been moved from theborder into designated transit camps inside Angola and no longerposed a threat along the Namibian-Angolan border. Humanitariansources told IRIN that the suspension of military escorts sincethe beginning of the month had provided much greater freedom ofmovement, although a heavy Namibian Defence Force (NDF) presenceremained along the road. The strictly-enforced convoy system hadparticularly affected people living in small settlements in theregion. In the wake of the Angolan ceasefire, "it's beenvery quiet, we don't see movement of [refugees] in or out ofNamibia," the aid worker said. However, although with theimproved security situation a trickle of returning tourists wasnoticeable, the availability of weapons meant that "thepossibility of general crime is very high". In the meantime,cross-border trade has increased. Alongside basic commoditiessuch as maize and soft drinks, Namibian Windhoek lager has becomea popular export item into Angola.
Self-help initiative at Osire refugee camp (NamibiaEconomist, 07/06) - Refugees at the Osire Refugee Camphave taken up agricultural activities and formed small businessesto alleviate hunger and poverty among themselves. The refugees,mostly women, work as volunteers in an agro-forestry project inthe camp, planting trees and growing vegetables. AfriCare, aninternational humanitarian organisation, manages the project. Theprogramme manager, Mr Mohammed Konali, said the project wasdeveloped to educate refugees and also to help them grow theirown food to supplement their diet. The refugees have plantedfruit trees, mostly papayas, and as many of them do not haveenough land to cultivate, each family wishing to do so is beingallocated a small piece of land. Although it is a refugee campfor more than 20000 refugees, mainly from Angola, there is anopen market where women are selling what little they have totheir fellow refugees. Items sold at the market are fish, bakedcakes, cooking oil, vegetables and various other consumables.Besides the open market, the camp features aguesthouse and a number of restaurants andshops owned and run by refugees themselves. Konali saidthat although the spirit of entrepreneurship can be seen in thecamp, many of them have no money to start their own business, andAfriCare, being a welfare organisation, cannot give loans to therefugees. To encourage small enterprises, AfriCare is in theprocess of introducing a so-called gramming banksystem in the camp. Konali explained that under this systema small amount of money can be given to the refugees in groups ofthree to five, to use effectively and pay back within a specifiedtime to allow others to also receive the money. It is arisk-free system. No guarantee is needed as they themselves willforce each other to use the money wisely and to pay it back ontime, as they all want to benefit from it, said Konali.These are just some of the projects in the camp that refugeeshave undertaken to empower themselves. With the looming peacetalks in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, most of therefugees said they would go back to their home countries ifordered to do so. I cant wait to go back home,said Paul Katenge, who works as a primary school teacher in thecamp. Asked what he was going to do back in his country, he said:I have seen and learned many things here that cannot beseen in my country. I am going to start an export and importbusiness.
No government houses to be sold to expatriates (TheNamibian, 05/06) - Non-Namibians employed in the civilservice will no longer be eligible to buy Government houses.Cabinet announced yesterday that the sale of Government houses toforeign nationals has been suspended with immediate effect. Fouryears ago, Government said it would sell some of its housesbecause they were expensive to maintain and that provision ofaccommodation was no longer a condition of service for Stateemployees. When Cabinet approved the sale of Government houses tocivil servants, expatriates were not excluded from buying thehouses because the Cabinet memo was silent on it. "Due tothis misunderstanding, offers were also made to foreigners andsome Deeds of Sale were already signed with foreigners occupyingGovernment houses," a statement issued by Foreign AffairsPermanent Secretary Veiccoh Nghiwete said. The Ministry Works,Transport and Communication projects that it will generate up toN$256 million on the sale of the 900 houses in Windhoek alone. Inthe other 12 regions, Government hopes to sell around 500 housesat open market prices.
Namibian business assists Angolan needy (NamibiaEconomist, 03/06) - The Namibian business community hasgiven donations worth more than N$200 000 in cash and kind ashumanitarian assistance to displaced Angolans and formerUnita rebels. The assistance includes blankets from Agra,Castle Brewing Namibia and Telecom, while Namdeb and NamPowerdonated N$20000 each. The Olthaver and List Group donated N$5000and food worth more than N$40000. Standard Bank Namibia donatedN$10000, while Namib Mills contributed food to the value ofN$25000. President Sam Nujoma, scheduled to visit Angola nextweek, will hand over the donations to the Angolan government as agoodwill gesture and an indication that the Namibian governmenttakes the plight of these needy people seriously. The Presidentwill be accompanied by a delegation of business-people who wishto cement existing business relationships and foster new businesscontacts. The donations are in response to a plea from theNamibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) to the businesscommunity, two weeks ago, for donations to the people of Angola.
Masetlha takes up new job at presidency (Pretoria,Sapa, 27/06) - Former Home Affairs director-generalBilly Masetlha took up his new post as a presidential adviserlast week, the presidency said on Thursday. "He started withus on the day after he left the Home Affairs Department,"presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo said. Masetlha left hisprevious post after his contract expired on June 20 amid a stormyrelationship with Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi.President Thabo Mbeki last week announced Masethla would beredeployed to the presidency as an adviser on matters of securityand the criminal justice system. His new appointment was also onthe level of director-general, Khumalo said. Masetlha waspreviously also a director-general of the SA Secret Service, butwas redeployed to Home Affairs by Mbeki. Khumalo dismissed as"rubbish" reports that Masetlha was now a "superD-G". "That is devoid of all truth," he said.Applications for Masetlha's old post closed on April 18. Deputydirector-general Ivan Lambinon would act as director-generaluntil a replacement was found. Masetlha and Buthelezi have failedto see eye to eye, and Mbeki's intervention had been sought onseveral occasions. Buthelezi is also the leader of the InkathaFreedom Party, while Masetlha is a member of the African NationalCongress. The minister recently accused Masetlha ofirregularities, including the creation and filling of 153 postswithout ministerial approval. In October last year, Buthelezipresented the parliamentary home affairs portfolio committee witha list of 64 complaints about his director-general, whom heaccused of insubordination. Buthelezi also claimed Masetlha hadbeen working without a valid contract. Rumours of Masetlha'sredeployment to the presidency surfaced in the intelligenceagencies as far back as July 2001, according to documents foundby the Desai Commission. However, Mbeki extended Masetlha'scontract with Home Affairs for a further year, despiteButhelezi's request that he not do so. In a confidentialmemorandum to then Western Cape director-general and former spymaster Dr Niel Bernard dated July 6, 2002, Piet Smit - a formerSA Secret Service operative and security adviser for theprovincial administration - said Mbeki had asked Masetlha to jointhe presidency. Masetlha - with the help of select individuals -was expected to develop a system to provide Mbeki with reliableintelligence, Smit wrote.
New Groote Schur hospital wards targets UK patients(Cape Town, Business Day, 26/06) - Hot on the heels of asimilar project by Johannesburg General Hospital, Cape Town'scash-strapped Groote Schuur has opened a new private ward, whichit hopes to use to attract private patients particularlyforeigners and muchneeded revenue. The hospital has opened thefirst phase of a R1,5m, 32-bed private facility, which isexpected to generate R9m a year after the first year. The profitwill be split equally between the provincial treasury and thehospital, which will use its new revenue stream to upgradefacilities for public- sector patients. Groote Schuur isaggressively marketing its private-bed facility to fee-payingpatients from overseas, and is finalising negotiations with theUK government that will bring cardiac patients on the UK NationalHealth System (NHS) to Groote Schuur for surgery. "The NHSis prepared to pay £10000 a bypass, a procedure which costs usR50000," said Saadiq Kariem, chief medical superintendent atGroote Schuur. The hospital also hopes to attract locals who aremembers of medical schemes. Groote Schuur's private ward willprovide the same quality and standard of care as the privatesector, says Kariem, but at rates 30% lower than those set by theBoard of Healthcare Funders. This is not Groote Schuur's firsttaste of a public-private initiative. It already rents space tothe 125-bed, R45m UCT Medical Centre, a joint venture between theUniversity of Cape Town and German hospital group Röhn Klinikum.However, in this case the province receives all the fees. GrooteSchuur spokeswoman Philippa Johnson said Groote Schuur's newprivate ward would not compete directly with the medical centre.Netcare director Ian Kadish said he welcomed competition inprinciple, but private facilities within public hospitals had anunfair advantage over private hospitals because, for example,they had the benefit of facilities that were paid for by thepublic works department. The ward, which opened its doors on June3, currently has nine patients. Kariem says that the hospitalintends to have the ward running at 80% capacity by early nextyear. Kariem says post-1994 budget cuts, and the more recentdevaluation of the Rand have had a devastating impact on therange of services Groote Schuur can offer. "On average thecost of consumables has risen by 30%." Combined withincreased patient demand, this has led to a sharp reduction inthe services the hospital can offer. " Our hip replacementwaiting list now has more than 800 patients, and we have had tostop doing hernia repairs because people were waiting up to threeyears for the procedure.
Attacks on foreigners alarm tourism safety forum(Nespruit, African Eye News Service, 26/06) - Threeforeigners were attacked in separate incidents in Mpumalanga inthe past week, raising the concern of the Lowveld tourism safetyforum. All three attacks took place on the same day, June 22, andcost two Mozambicans and a Swaziland national their belongings aswell as nearly R25 000 in cash. The robbers also hijacked theSwazi citizen and one of the Mozambicans of their vehicles. Theattacks took place on the N4 toll road between Machadodorp andWitbank and the road between Malelane and Swaziland's Jeppe'sReef border post. "Such incidents send a bad signal totourists," said spokesman for the Lowveld Area PriorityCommittee Forum on Tourism Safety, Muntu Thumbathi, on Wednesday."The Lowveld community and the province depend much on therevenue generated by tourism," he explained. The forumcomprises police, traffic control, tourism industry andgovernment representatives, and was established to address thescourge of attacks on tourists. A zero-tolerance campaign isalready underway at tourist destinations like Pilgrim's Rest andHazyview, as well as in tribal areas like Shabalala and Nyongane,near Hazyview. Meetings are also planned for the Shabalala andNyongane areas to urge residents to prevent domestic animals likedogs, goats and cattle from straying onto roads and risking thelives of motorists. Thumbathi said the provincial police servicewas also looking into increasing its visibility on the N4 tollroad, while security had already been beefed up in Nelspruit."Hooligans and vandals who prey on tourists are warned thatsecurity has been beefed up, especially in Nelspruit, to curbmugging and thuggery against tourists and the public," hesaid. All hotels and lodges will also be asked to fingerprint newemployees and determine whether they have a criminal record.Rallies are planned to make communities aware of the benefits oftourism and how it creates job opportunities. The forum hascreated an after care programme to help tourists who have beenattacked, either with re-applying for travel documents, accessingmoney and making travel and accommodation arrangements. The forumalso arranges for tourists to return to the province once theirattackers are arrested, so they can testify against the suspectsin court.
SA businessmen discuss cooperation with Lesotho(Maseru, Sapa, 24/06) - A delegation of 20 South Africanbusinessmen and bankers based in Lesotho held successful talkswith the South African High Commission in Maseru at the weekendon development co-operation with Lesotho. The talks, organised bythe High Commission, were about the contribution of the SouthAfrican business community to the implementation of projects forLesotho's economic development. This followed the conclusion ofthe agreement on a joint bilateral commission of co-operationsigned in Maseru in April last year by President Thabo Mbeki andPrime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho. South Africa's highcommissioner Japhet Ndlovu told the businessmen that they hadbeen approached to contribute investments towards theimplementation of the co-operation programme, which was a SouthAfrican and Lesotho initiative. Ndlovu said the purpose of theagreement was "to uplift Lesotho from its present status asa least developed country within a period of five years". Hesaid the South African businessmen seemed satisfied about thepolitical stability reigning in Lesotho at present, after therecent general elections in which nine opposition parties gainedentry into parliament for the first time since independence.
South African schools raided for Swazi pupils (TheIndependent, 21/06) - Desperate criminal syndicates haveresorted to using school pupils as mules to smuggle firearms,dagga and other contraband to evade capture in the Pongola areawhich borders Swaziland and South Africa. In addition, the poroussituation of the Swaziland-South African border in thenorth-eastern part of KwaZulu-Natal requires regular trooppatrols. Last weekend, a joint operation involving members of theSouth African Police Service, the National Defence Force andimmigration and tracing unit from Home Affairs Department, sawthem swooping on several schools in the Pongola area looking forillegal immigrant Swazi learners. During the raid, 17 localschools, including Dumenkungwini and Masithokoze Primary Schoolsas well as Khulumeluzulu High School, were fined R1 500 each forcontravening the Aliens Control Act. The schools were found tohave enrolled Swazi learners. The modus operandi used byinspectors from the Home Affairs department's immigration andtracing unit to identify illegal immigrants involves checking theforearms of learners for vaccination marks so as to distinguishthem from South Africans, whose inoculation marks are usuallyfound on the upper right arm. The raid drew sharp criticism fromthe ANC, which said the raid was reminiscent of what Nazis did toJews in Germany during the Holocaust. However, the defence forcehas denied that its participation in the raid had traumatisedlearners. General Mbulelo Tshiki, officer commanding RegionalJoint Task East, under whose jurisdiction the Pongola area falls,said it had not received reports that learners were traumatisedduring the raid. "Our troops are always playing a supportiverole when police or Home Affairs officials conduct these raidsand they are professionals - they do not use guns to harasslearners," said Tshiki. He added that border patrols werenormally done by troops because police were so overstretched interms of crime fighting.
Masetlha packs his bags (Parliament, Sapa, 20/06) - HomeAffairs director-general Billy Masetlha's controversialtwo-and-a-half year tenure ended on Thursday, closing a chapteron a stormy relationship with Home Affairs Minister MangosuthuButhelezi. Masetlha, a former South African Secret Service head,will be redeployed to the presidency to reinforce its securityand criminal justice work, President Thabo Mbeki announcedearlier this week. A Home Affairs spokesman confirmed on Thursdaythat it was Masetlha's last day at the department and that he waspacking up. He was not sure whether a farewell party had beenorganised for Masetlha, who has been accused by Buthelezi ofinsubordination, as well as incurring thousands of rands inunauthorised expenditure. Applications for Masetlha's post closedon April 18. Deputy director-general Ivan Lambinon will becomeacting director-general until a new incumbent is appointed, thespokesman said. Rumours of Masetlha's redeployment to thepresidency surfaced in the intelligence agencies as far back asJuly 2001, according to documents found by the Desai Commission.However, Mbeki changed tack and controversially extendedMasetlha's contract with Home Affairs for a further year, despiteButhelezi's request that he not do so. In a confidentialmemorandum to then Western Cape director-general and former spymaster Dr Niel Bernard dated July 6, 2002, Piet Smit - a formerSA Secret Service operative and security adviser for theprovincial administration - said that Mbeki had asked Masetlha tojoin the presidency. Masetlha - with the help of selectindividuals - was expected to develop a system to provide Mbekiwith reliable intelligence, Smit wrote. Buthelezi's claims thatMasetlha incurred thousands in unauthorised expenditure, becausehe did not have a valid contract, will be the subject of aparliamentary question by the Freedom Front.
Almost 100,000 legalised refugees in SA (Pretoria,Sapa, 20/06) - There are almost 100,000 legalisedrefugees in the country, the Department of Home Affairs said onThursday, World Refugee Day. Departmental spokesman LeslieMashokwe said since the Refugees Act of 1998 became fullyoperational in 2000, the process of dealing with asylumapplications in South Africa had improved significantly. SaidMashokwe: "Unlike in the past, there is a time frame of 180days within which asylum applications have to be finalised."The process has also been decentralised to five RefugeeReception Offices of the Home Affairs department across thecountry where status determination officers have the power togrant refugee status to serving applicants." He said theproject to eradicate the backlog of asylum claims pending since1994 had been successfully completed and there was currently nobacklog in dealing with asylum applications. Once granted refugeestatus, a person enjoyed virtually the same privileges as acitizen and may work, conduct business or attend school. "Asfrom May, refugees were issued Refugee Identity Cards confirmingtheir status in the country and the department in conjunctionwith the United Nations High commissioner for Refugees hasstarted issuing UN Conventional Travel Documents to refugeeswishing to travel beyond the orders of South Africa."Mashokwe said his department, in line with its vision of"Rendering World-class Service," would continue torender the best possible service to asylum seekers and refugeesin the country. "The department will also in conjunctionwith other role players, continue to educate the South Africanpublic on the plight of refugees, and to make a distinctionbetween refugees who have been forced from their countriesthrough circumstances beyond their control and illegalimmigrants."
Two Home Affairs officials arrested for corruption(Pretoria, Sapa, 18/06) - Two Home Affairs officialswere arrested on corruption charges, the department reported onTuesday. An administration clerk at the department's head officewas apprehended on Tuesday morning by the police on charges ofcorruption relating to the designation of marriage officers,departmental spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said in a statement inPretoria. The man would appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Courton Wednesday. On June 13, a senior official working in the PortElizabeth office was arrested and issued with admission of guiltfines totaling R6000 on four charges of contravening the RefugeesAct. Mashokwe said the woman was nabbed after she fraudulentlyrenewed permits issued to asylum seekers awaiting the outcome oftheir applications. "The two officials will also besubjected to internal disciplinary hearing," he said.
ANC condemns raids in schools (ANC, 17/06) - TheANC in KwaZulu-Natal is shocked by reports about police and armyraids looking for Swazi children in schools in Pongola area nearSwaziland border. The reports say police and army officers getinto the schools and demand to inspect arms of children in orderto check if they have inoculation marks distinguishing them fromthose of Swaziland. If suspected Swazi children are found in aschool, the school is allegedly forced to pay a certain amount offine. Schools allegedly affected by this harassment areDumenkungwini and Masithokoze (Primary School) and KhulumeluzuluHigh School. The ANC is extremely appalled by these reportedraids, which are reminiscent of what Nazis were doing to Jews inGermany. The ANC demands an urgent probe by the Ministries ofSafety and Security and Defence. This sort of thing cannot beallowed in this democratic South Africa.
Buthelezi renews complaints against Masetlha(Parliament, Sapa, 11/06) - When Home Affairs MinisterMangosuthu Buthelezi introduced debate on his department's budgeton Tuesday, he offered no word of thanks to his director-generalBilly Masetlha, but he had complaints. Masetlha's contractexpires on June 20, and this time President Thabo Mbeki haslistened to Buthelezi's litany of complaints and not renewed thedirector-general's contract, at least in the department of homeaffairs. Buthelezi has previously turned to the National Assemblyand its home affairs committee to highlight the problems he haswith Masetlha, including tabling a dossier of 64 complaints. Thedossier, he said in a recent interview, had grown to over 100complaints, and Masetlha defied him almost daily. On Tuesday,Buthelezi blamed irregularities in the department "due tothe unfortunate breakdown in my relations with mydirector-general in the past two years". "As he is nowpreparing himself to leave, more actions taken in violation ofprescripts are emerging. "For instance, just this morning Ihave been advised that he established 153 posts and filled manyof them without my knowledge or approval, which makes the entireoperation and related incurred expenditure unauthorised,"Buthelezi said. It would take time to reconstruct properadministration, discipline and regular practises within the homeaffairs department after Masetlha's departure, "but I amcommitted to bring about the necessary administrativerenaissance". "I consider it extremely unfortunate thatwhile I related pleasantly with the director-general at apersonal level, our working relationship was fraught with so manydisputes and acrimony," Buthelezi said. And when it came tothe customary thanks to department officials at the end of thespeech, Buthelezi avoided mentioning Masetlha. Instead heconveyed his sincerest thanks to his deputy director-general,Ivan Lambinon. Masetlha, a former director-general of the SouthAfrican Secret Service, was redeployed to the home affairsdepartment in December 1999. His contract was controversiallyextended by a year, despite a request from Buthelezi to Mbekithat this should not happen. Relations deteriorated even further,especially over the immigration bill, and Deputy President JacobZuma was called in to mediate. Public Service Minister GeraldineFraser-Moleketi's office said last week Masetlha's contract wouldnot be renewed and that Masetlha's post will be advertised.
New migration control within three months (Parliament,Sapa, 11/06) - Home Affairs Minister MangosuthuButhelezi hopes the new system of migration control will beginwithin the next three months, with the necessary regulationspublished within 30 days. Speaking during his budget vote debate,he said he was committed to making the Immigration Act work inspite of its flaws, and again warned he would not introduce majoramendments after the ANC introduced radical changes, including aquota system for work permits. Noting that Trade and IndustryMinister Alec Erwin was opposed to the quota system and hadwanted it amended by the NCOP, Buthelezi said: "We will tryto marry the quota system with what was originally adopted byCabinet, taking into account the statements made by ourcolleague..." The act, including the quota system, would beimplemented by means of extensive regulations. Buthelezi notedthat for various reasons the NCOP was unable to amend the quotasystem as requested by Erwin, and that the Council had asked him(Buthelezi) to do so as soon as possible. However, he wascommitted to implementing the Immigration Act as it was passed byParliament and would not introduce substantial amendments."I will bring to Cabinet only those amendments which arenecessary to correct aberrations, such as cross-references tosections which no longer exist, or unintended language created bythe unjustified collapsing of various sections into one," hesaid.
Restrictions on teachers working abroad (Parliament,Sapa, 10/06) - South African teachers will no longer beable to take long leave so that they can take up teaching postsabroad, Education Minister Kader Asmal announced on Monday.Speaking after a meeting with the nine provincial education MECsat Parliament, he said the matter had been raised by the SouthAfrican Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), with the Council ofEducation Ministers (CEM). There was a growing practice ofteachers taking long leave, and even sick leave in some cases, totake up teaching posts overseas. "Council agreed that thepractice was unacceptable, and that no teacher should have leaveapproved for this purpose," he said. Teachers found to beguilty of such action would be dismissed. The department wasasked to audit and monitor the situation, and report back to theCEM. Asmal also said he had asked for the comprehensiveinvestigation into various education costs to be expedited,because of concerns raised about children being excluded fromschool because their parents could not afford school fees anduniforms. The study was looking into the costs of education,including transport and uniform costs, and would inform a reviewof legislation and policy, including the school funding norms."But let me be clear that we are not in the business ofappeasing students, or political opportunists, and we are notabout to start making populist decisions about such weightymatters. "We must take responsible decisions, based onpractical realities, and driven by the ongoing quest for equityand quality." Turning to legislation, Asmal said a specialtask group was being formed to review all education legislation -particularly the South African Schools Act - against"unfolding and changing circumstances". The team wouldalso be asked to check for consistency between nationallegislation and provincial education ordinances. The council hadfurther taken a decision that examination centres which did notcomply with national policy should be de-registered. This wouldmainly affect private centres, and significantly enhance theintegrity of the Senior Certificate exams. "Sadly, there aresome examination centres which operate very poorly managedexaminations, without adequate supervision of candidates,"Asmal said.
I can't risk quitting, says Buthelezi (Independent,06/06) - If he were to follow his instinct he wouldimmediately withdraw from President Thabo Mbeki's cabinet,Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said. But if hedid he would be blamed for any resulting violence, and hadtherefore decided to bite the bullet. In a frank interview inthis week's edition of the Financial Mail, he said: "Myinstincts say I should be leaving now. But at the same time, Irealise the moment I do that, the sluice-gates will be opened andthey'll say I was responsible for any eruptions of violence."I have to sacrifice." Buthelezi, who is the HomeAffairs Minister, said the threat of violence between IFP andAfrican National Congress supporters was still real. "Thereare no-go areas here (in KwaZulu-Natal). There is internecineconflict... it's just under the surface. "That's why I hadto issue a very strong statement to appeal for peace to mysupporters last Friday." Buthelezi was referring to IFPprotesters who were massed at Ulundi on the day the KZNlegislature voted in favour of Pietermaritzburg as the province'slegislative seat. Several other parties voted in favour ofPietermaritzburg after an IFP walkout. The United DemocraticMovement abstained and the African Christian Democratic Party wasnot present. Asked if he was still committed to co-operativegovernance, Buthelezi said: "Yes, but I don't think the wayI've been treated enhances co-operation." There had been ameeting between the ANC and IFP in April where it was decided todiscuss the legislative capital issue at a later meeting."But in spite of it, they went ahead and voted forPietermaritzburg. I mean, how many times must we be treated likerubbish like that? All the time? Pacts are just talk." Askedhow the relationship between the ANC and IFP could be improved,he said the main thing would be to correct "theirvilification of me". "We were supposed to begin aprocess of joint meetings because, for the young people in theANC, there is a view that I am the wretched of the earth, theworst thing." Buthelezi also highlighted other areas of whathe believed were examples of the ANC's bad faith towards its IFPgovernment partners. This included the breach of an agreement onthe Zulu monarch and the issue of traditional leaders, which hadyet to be resolved. "In 1999, we signed a co-operationagreement, but as soon as elections were over, they relaxed andnever honoured it. It's now 2002, and this issue of traditionalleaders has not been resolved," Buthelezi said. He commentedon the new Immigration Act, which led to a row between Butheleziand the ANC in parliament, when the ANC adopted radical changesto his original blueprint. Buthelezi said problems had beencreated for no rhyme or reason. "However, it's much betterthan the Aliens Control Act, and it's a basis on which we canbuild." As to when it would come into force, he said:"When we have a better understanding of how long it willtake to complete the system of migration control, we willannounce a switch-over date." It would be a mammoth task,which was not helped by the fact that his director-general, BillyMasetlha, had not made any preparations. Buthelezi said hisproblems with Masetlha had also strained relations with the ANCand "destroyed our co-operation". "Look at theissue of my director-general and how it has dragged on and on...You can see how we can get the impression that our co-operationis not taken seriously. "Last October, I put down 64 casesof defiance. By now, it's more than 100. He defies me on a dailybasis." Buthelezi said he had been informed by PublicService Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi that Masetlha'scontract expired on June 20 and that the post would beadvertised. Asked whether it was time for the relationship toend, he said: "Well, I said so two years ago. It's in theinterests of governance and the department, which is almostbreaking at the seams. There is a lot of disillusionment and lowmorale. The officials are so embarrassed, not knowing who tolisten to."
Five illegal immigrants nabbed for fake goods (SABCNews, 05/06) - Five illegal immigrants were arrestedwhen the Johannesburg Commercial Crime Unit raided a seven-storeybuilding in Johannesburg and confiscated fake goods worth aboutR500 000. The fake labels range from Diesel, All Star, and othertop sporting labels. Police made a breakthrough, six months afterintense scrutiny of the Medical Arts Building in Jeppe Street,Johannesburg. The Crime Unit confiscated 15 sewing machines,track suits, handbags, jeans, caps and running shoes, and thetemplates that are used for faking the football clothes.Inspector Dennis Adriao, a police spokesperson, said all thearrested illegal immigrants were taken to home affairs. Theimmigrants are from China, Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
Billy Masetlha might be leaving (Pretoria, Sapa,04/06) - Home Affairs director-general Billy Masetlhacould be replaced within weeks following months of publicquibbles with Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Masetlha's contractcomes to an end on June 20, Home Affairs Department spokesmanLeslie Mashokwe said on Tuesday. His post was advertised in lastSunday's newspapers. Asked whether Masetlha would apply for theposition, Mashokwe said: "He hasn't indicated that tome." Masetlha could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.The presidency said the president had the power to redeployserving directors-general. But presidential spokesman BhekiKhumalo said he was not aware of any plans to redeploy Masetlha,or to give another director-general his vacant post. Khumalo saidit was not unusual to advertise a director-general's post. It wasthe prerogative of the president to appoint directors-general,but President Thabo Mbeki delegated that responsibility tonational ministers in a "presidential minute" somemonths ago. It has since become the practice to advertise thepost, after which the relevant minister would appoint a panel ofministers to make a recommendation to Cabinet. The presidentcould still technically make his own appointment or overrule aCabinet decision in this regard, "but the current practicehas not been departed from", Khumalo said. Masetlha, aformer director-general of the South African Secret Service, wasredeployed to the Home Affairs Department by Mbeki. He andButhelezi have failed to see eye to eye, and Mbeki's interventionhad been sought. Buthelezi is also the leader of the InkathaFreedom Party, while Masetlha is a member of the African NationalCongress. In October last year, Buthelezi presented theparliamentary home affairs portfolio committee with a list of 64complaints about his director-general - who he accused ofinsubordination. Buthelezi also claimed Masetlha had been workingwithout a valid contract.
Concern that anti-democracy laws will hurt trade(Irin, 10/06) - There is some concern in Swaziland thatthe gazetting of a bill aimed at silencing pro-democracy groupscould jeopardise much needed trade and investment. The InternalSecurity Bill, which seeks to reinforce a royal ban on oppositionpolitical activity, has also offered ammunition to the verypro-democracy groups it seeks to neutralise. In a section certainto inflame pro-democracy labour unions, the bill would allowmembers of the public who suffer property damage during a marchor demonstration, regardless of who is responsible, to sue theorganisers of the march. Two years ago, in an industrialrelations act, a similar measure was included by palacecounsellors to King Mswati III in an effort to stop thepro-democracy Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) fromcalling workers' stayaways to press for democratic reform.Hooligans in towns had used those demonstrations as opportunitiesto vandalise property. The International Labour Organisation(ILO) and United States (US) labour federations threatened topress for economic sanctions against the kingdom if the labourlegislation was not amended. Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlaminichanged the act after Swaziland was temporarily dropped from a UStrade scheme, the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), thatpermits Swazi goods to enter the American market duty-free, abenefit that supports the country's export industry.
Being dropped from GSP cost Swaziland, in one instance, US $69million in initial investment and 10,000 jobs when a textilecompany, which had announced its intention to set up a plant inthe country, opted instead for Lesotho, a neighbouring kingdomsurrounded by South Africa. The company's total investment wouldhave amounted to US $180 million over five years. Some industrialmanagers have expressed their dismay to IRIN that tradeagreements with the US and the European Union may be in jeopardyif Swaziland is again found in violation of human rights."Tens of thousands of jobs are coming this year through theAfrican Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), but these investorswill pull out if we lose AGOA. And for what? Because some senileprince is upset when a town boy wears an African NationalCongress (ANC) T-shirt?" said one Matsapha business owner.The ANC is the ruling party in neighbouring South Africa. A smalllandlocked country, Swaziland's economy is based largely onagriculture and agro-industry. According to the latest World Bankprofile, sugar, citrus, and wood pulp are the major sectors, andasbestos and coal are the major minerals. Subsistenceagriculture, practised mainly in the Middleveld and Lubomboplateau, employs about 60 percent of the population. Soft drinkconcentrate, wood pulp, and sugar are the main exports. The Swazieconomy is heavily dependent on South Africa from which itreceives 83 percent of its imports and to which it sends 74percent of its exports. Average real gross domestic product (GDP)grew at over six percent between 1968 and 1993. However,political change in South Africa has eroded some of Swaziland'sadvantage in attracting foreign capital, on which much growth hasdepended in the past, and GDP growth has averaged about threepercent during 1995-2001. Apart from jeopardising investment theInternal Security Bill has given pro-democracy groups moreammunition against government.
Last Friday Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland announced itwould petition the African Commission of Human Rights, which isbased in Banjul, Gambia, to declare Swaziland's government inviolation of the African Charter, which the government signed in1991. The charter places an obligation on the government torespect the document's human rights codicils. "For months,the prime minister has promised a new law he described as amakhundu (a traditional fighting club) to use against bannedpolitical groups, but government is beating its own self over thehead with the Internal Security [Bill]," said attorney SamEarnshaw, deputy president of the Swaziland Law Society. Theorganisation has been critical of the sometimes arbitrary andoppressive rule of sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarchy.The new law, which is expected to be passed by a parliamentdominated by royalists and palace appointees, has been describedby political observers like Joshua Mzizi, president of the HumanRights Association of Swaziland, as the palace's preemptivestrike to avoid public demonstrations that progressive groupsplanned to mount when the palace unveils a new constitution laterthis year.
The new constitution will ban organised opposition to royalrule in perpetuity, and strengthen the powers of traditionalauthorities. "This law attempts to silence dissent and closeoff any legal challenge to authority," Mzizi told IRIN.Among the measures is a mandatory 15-year prison term for phoningin a bomb hoax, a fine of about Lilangeni 10,000 (US $1,000) fordesecrating the country's flag, and a year in jail for refusingto follow a police order. Attorney-General Phesheya Dlamini,whose office drafted the Internal Security Bill, objects to thetiming of the lawyers' petition. He told IRIN: "Basic issueslike human rights are constitutional issues, and theconstitutional drafting process is now going on. This is not thetime to jump ahead of an outcome when the process is takingplace." Dlamini told the state-owned Swazi-TV that theInternal Security Bill is an anti-terrorism measure. He citedthree unsolved bombings on government facilities since 1995 asevidence of terrorist activity in the kingdom. August Simelane, amember of the Swaziland Youth Congress, the banned youth wing ofthe outlawed political party the People's United DemocraticFront, scoffs at the attorney-general's rationale. "Theattorney-general wants it both ways. He can write an oppressivelaw that touches on subjects that should be handled in aconstitution, and do it while a constitution is being prepared.But everyone else must keep quiet," he said. Simelane saidthe government's claim, that the Internal Security Bill is ananti-terrorism measure, is intended to generate internationalsympathy during the US-led war on terrorism. He likens it topalace claims during the Cold War that oppression of itspolitical opponents was necessary to contain communism. "TheInternal Security [Bill] says that if I wear a T-shirt with apolitical slogan, I am a terrorist, and I can go to jail for upto five years. This is terrorism, all right. It is stateterrorism," he said.
Focus on positive aspects of refugee crisis (Irin,28/06) - While seen by many as a burden on the country,the refugee crisis and the subsequent relief and developmentprogrammes in western Tanzania have, in fact, encouragedinvestment and opened up an inaccessible and forgotten part ofthe country, government officials and development workers in theregion have said. After the initial impact on the local residentsand the environment of thousands of refugees fleeing conflicts inRwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the10-year-old crisis has not had as negative an impact as has beenreported by the media or perceived by the public, governmentofficials and development workers said. "I think that ifpeople are saying that impact is only negative, they are notbeing honest," said Jesse Kamstra, Kibondo projectcoordinator for Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service (TCRS), anorganisation that has been involved in relief and development forwork in the region for over 10 years. "I have been here forfive years and I have seen tremendous growth in the KibondoDistrict and Kigoma Region alone," he said. While Kibondo isstill a fairly remote town, some 1,400 km west of Tanzania'scommercial capital, Dar es Salaam, Kamstra said the influx ofrelief and development organisations had had a positive effect onthe host communities, government revenue and infrastructure inthe area. "At TCRS alone we employ 350 personnel, and thosepeople are paying their taxes and spending their money here inKibondo," he said. "Also, the trucks that are coming upwith food for the refugees are transporting products such asmaize and peanuts to be sold outside the region. I really haveseen a huge impact on the economy." Locals agree thatimprovements to transport and infrastructure have also madetravel and communications in the region much easier. "Itused to take over three and a half hours to travel from Kigoma toKibondo, but now we can do the trip in just over an hour," aKibondo resident said. "Also, there used to be just one busa week, but now there are three a day that make thejourney." Those who feel that the impact of the refugeeinflux has been purely negative often claim that compared to therefugees in the camps, Tanzanians in the refugee-affected areasare completely ignored. However, those working in the developmentand governing of the district say that the imbalance is beingcorrected. "At the beginning we had 20 national andinternational organisations working with the refugee camps, butnot a single one was looking at the refugee-affected areas,"Helen Macha, Kibondo's district executive director, said."Nobody realised that the refugees stayed in the classroomsand the dispensaries and used the same facilities as the peopleof Kibondo. However, these organisations realised that there wasan imbalance and this was causing tension between the refugeesand the Tanzanians."
Nature of development
That situation has now improved, she said, with many primaryschools being built and the Tanzanians being granted access tosome of the health facilities in the refugee camps. "As aresult, this tension has been greatly reduced," she said.The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugeessays these developments have been carried out through projectsthat have continued to "rehabilitate and construct selectedschools, teachers' houses and health centres, and to improvewater supply systems in the refugee affected areas".Statistics on enrolment at primary school and on health problemssupport these claims of development. Official figures for primaryschool enrolment in the district have risen from 30 percent in1998 to 88 percent in 2002. Meanwhile, figures for cases ofmalnutrition have dropped from about 10 percent in 1998 to 2percent at present in some of the divisions of the district. Thesectors critics seem to have the most problems with are thedegradation of the environment and decreasing security because ofthe movement of so many people in a region that is dogged by war.
Development organisations recognise that an influx of so manypeople and the subsequent increased demands on firewood have ledto large-scale environmental degradation. However, Kamstra said,these organisations had started to tackle the problem. "Theagencies have tried to tackle the environment issue, with our ownagency [TCRS] having planted over a-million-and-a-half trees,while the development side of our organisation has even largeroperations in the refugee-affected areas," he said.
Humanitarian workers say the security issue is more complicatedas there have been many reports of the availability of small armsand of Burundian rebels using the refugee camps as traininggrounds for their operations in Burundi. The Institute forSecurity Studies in the South African capital, Pretoria, said ina report on small arms in Tanzania that while levels of ownershipand use were not at "crisis levels", penetration was a"serious concern" for the government. Some Tanzanianswho live near the border with Burundi share these concerns, andsay that armed bandits are plentiful in the area. However,Kamstra said the area had always been prone to banditry and, withthe help given the police in the region by agencies such asUNHCR, "there isn't such a huge difference now".Likewise, a representative of the Ministry of Home Affairs inKibondo, Epiphany Chokola, told IRIN: "There are cases ofboth locals and refugees being arrested with small arms, but ingeneral the camps are calm and, as of today, banditry is not aproblem around the camps." He added, "In the end, thecoming of the refugees has been positive."
Report on trafficking in Tanzania (The East African,10/06) - Significant numbers of women and children inTanzania and Uganda are abducted or coerced to serve as sexslaves, prostitutes and forced labourers, the US State Departmentsays in a new report on worldwide Trafficking in Persons. Kenyais not included in the survey because it is among the countrieswhere the State Department could not gather enough reliableinformation about what it terms "this modern form ofslavery." In Tanzania, the practice is said to occur mainlyon an internal basis, although the report cites unidentifiedsources as suggesting that Tanzanian women and girls may betrafficked to South Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe towork as prostitutes. "To a lesser degree," the reportadds, "Tanzania is a destination point for traffickedpersons from India and surrounding African countries." TheUnited States itself is not exempted from the findings.Describing the US as principally a transit and destinationcountry for trafficking in persons, the State Department cites a1997 estimate that some 50,000 women and children are traffickedannually into the US for sexual exploitation. In its section onUganda, the report focuses on the "tens of thousands"of women and children abducted by the Lord's Resistance Armyduring the past 15 years. Other instances of trafficking inUganda are not mentioned in the study. Neither the Tanzanian norUgandan governments fully complies with minimum standards forcombating trafficking in persons, according to the StateDepartment. The report consequently places the two East Africancountries in a "Tier 2" category, which includes about50 nations making "significant efforts to bring themselvesinto compliance" with the standards. Tier 1 countries, thosejudged to be carrying out the most rigorous anti-traffickinginitiatives, are mostly prosperous and politically stable states.Tier 3 consists of 19 countries, including Sudan, that are saidto be making no effort to institute safeguards againstenslavement of their people. The US law requiring issuance of anannual international survey on human trafficking calls forimposition of penalties on Tier 3 countries beginning next year.The punishments could take the form of cuts in US aid as well asmoves by Washington to block World Bank lending to the condemnedcountries. The State Department report says Uganda is striving tostem trafficking despite "limited resources, a civilconflict and continued kidnapping raids" by LRA forces. Atthe same time, however, the Ugandan government "does notactively investigate or prosecute cases of trafficking,"according to the report. Tanzania's efforts to curb the practiceare hampered by "severe financial constraints, pervasivecorruption and porous borders." A new section of Tanzania'spenal code makes trafficking inside or outside the country acrime, but the penalty for it is "relatively light,"the State Department says. Tanzania is one of three countriesparticipating in a pilot programme intended to eliminate theworst forms of child labour, the report notes. Children aretrafficked from rural to urban areas in Tanzania for domesticwork, commercial agriculture, fishing and mining. Young membersof the country's large refugee population are especiallyvulnerable to being used as labourers on Tanzanian plantations,the report says. The State Department says there are no firmestimates of the total number of people being traffickedworldwide. No fewer than 700,000 and as many as four million werebought, sold, transported and held in slave-like conditionsduring the past year, the report suggests.
Zambian drug peddlars nabbed in Dar es Salaam (TheExpress, 06-12/06) - The police, in collaboration withthe Anti-Drugs and Smuggling Unit of the Customs and ExciseDepartment Squad, arrested two Zambian nationals in possession ofdrugs in Dar es Salaam onWednesday, the Director of CriminalInvestigation (DCI) Commissioner of Police Adadi Rajabu hasrevealed. The DCI said the Zambians, Kabwe Aleko Mulenga (50) andMonga Joseph Mwansa, were arrested at the SDV Notco yard inTabata in possession of 1,836.6 kg of Cannabis Resin or Hashish,valued at Tsh 186.3 million. The resin was transported fromLusaka, Zambia, to Dar es Salaam using a Leyland DAF lorry withregistration AAF 5878, he added. Adadi said the drugs were in acontainer with serial number PRSU-232076-4, and were hidden undersix large logs. When the logs were splintered apart, it wasdiscovered that they were hollow inside, and were skilfullysealed using pieces of wood, which were laced with blackglue, he explained. The drugs were to be transported toCanada by a ship from Dar Port via South Africa in the guise oftimber cargo. One of the suspects, Mulenga, was found with twopistols in his briefcase upon inspection, each with 15 rounds ofammunition. The pistols were a Pietro Bereta Gardon Vt calaParabelium PB NOD 92 manufactured in Italy. The second one was aBDN 9MMLuger manufactured in the US. We are stillcommunicating with our counterparts from the Interpol in Canadaand Zambia so as to establish if there any other suspectsconnected to the incident, Adadi said. The DCI soundedalarmed, saying the incident was different from others, as it wasa pointer that drug dealers were now owning and importing weaponsinto the country, something against the law and potentiallydangerous to Tanzanians.
Child labour common in Zanzibar says ILO (Irin, 04/06)- A recent rapid assessment by theInternational Labour Organisation (ILO), an associateorganisation of the United Nations, has found that child labouris "common" in Zanzibar, with prostitution, fisheriesand seaweed farming among the "most hazardous" sectorsin which children are involved. The report also found evidence ofchild labour on clove plantations in Zanzibar, a semi-autonomousisland chain within Tanzania, and in the hotel and tourismsector, for which it is also famous, although the levels of childlabour in these sectors were classified as "moderate".The results were published last week in a report of the ILO'srapid assessment on the worst forms of child labour in Zanzibar,which was conducted in June 2001. The information was collectedfrom 489 respondents over a five-day period. The 2001 SituationAnalysis of Children in Tanzania recently released by the UnitedNations Children's Fund (UNICEF) also painted a depressingpicture, noting that, while the country had maintained relativestability and improved its economic performance, this had nottranslated into real improvements in the lives of children."Tanzania has not met 2000 targets, and is far from being ontrack to meet 2015 international development targets," thereport stated. "Instead, virtually every critical measure ofchild wellbeing stagnated or declined through the 1990s."Because the ILO report on Zanzibar was on the basis of a rapidassessment, it does not provide an in-depth analysis of theimpact of child labour, according to sources at the organisation.However, it does propose a series of measures that would go someway towards tackling the problem. These included: a sensitisationprocess for all stakeholders about the impact of child labour;measures to withdraw children from child labour in fishing andprostitution, while providing alternative income sources;formulation of bylaws restricting child labour; and a curb on thetourist-induced influx of western influences on Zanzibari people.According to the report, the main causes of child labour arepoverty, irresponsible parents, family breakdown, a lack ofalternatives for children after they have completed their formaleducation, and children's desire to be financially independentfrom their parents. Children between the ages of six and 14 werefound to be involved in the preparation of seeds, planting,harvesting and drying processes on seaweed farms on the eastcoast of Unguja (the main island of Zanzibar, often referred toas simply Zanzibar), where working environments were reported tobe "dangerous". Meanwhile, through the process of"physical counting", researchers revealed there weresome 50 child prostitutes (aged between 14 and 18) in the StoneTown, the main urban centre on Unguja. None of these childrenwere reported to be attending school, but, of the childprostitutes, only three percent were said to have originated inZanzibar. The extent of child labour in Zanzibar varied not onlyby sector but also according to the time of year, with the hightourist season and harvest time significantly increasing thelevels of child labour, according to the ILO report. Whereas thesituation might not be as serious as in other African or Asiancountries, the Zanzibar government regarded child labour,especially in the fishing industry, as an issue needing to betackled immediately, Omar Shajak, Principal Secretary in theMinistry of Employment, Youth Women and Children, told IRIN atthe weekend. "It is a serious concern for the government,and it will continue if measures to reduce it are nottaken," he said. Shajak said the Zanzibar government and itsdevelopment partners had assessed the ILO findings at a recentworkshop, and would now address the issue through programmes suchas an existing ILO pilot-project, aimed at empowering women toreduce child labour. There was also a particular need for anadvocacy campaign to curb child prostitution, according toShajak. "We want to make sure that the norms, attitudes andthe values of Zanzibar are inculcated in the youngergeneration," he said. "There needs to be an advocacycampaign among men, but the young also need to learn thatprostitution is not a good way to earn money." The ILO hassuggested that additional studies should take place to explorethe nature, scope and impact of child labour in cloveplantations, the hotel and tourism sector, and in prostitutionduring their respective peak seasons. It also proposed thatgrass-roots communities be empowered to monitor levels of childlabour, and that the ILO, together with the social partners,"explore the possibility of including an element that willcushion household incomes in their efforts to combat childlabour".
Immigration dept will get machines to detect forgedpassports (The Express, 31/05-05/06) - The ImmigrationDepartment in the country will soon introduce modern detectivemachines to detect forged passports in possession of the would-betravellers who travel within and outside the national boundaries.The machines, popularly known as the Machine ReadablePassport, will be bought from outside the country anddistributed to various border posts as well as at the Dar esSalaam and the Kilimanjaro International Airports. The reasonbehind the move is to curb the increasing use of forged passportsfor international travel as well as those issued for East Africa,and which are said to be acquired illegally, mostly by theft,wherein illegal owners tend to remove the real picture and slottheir own. The Immigration Dept Assistant Director(Documentation) Cunibert Sambalyegula said in an interview lastweek in Dar es Salaam that this was the only means his departmentwould apply to curb cases concerning passport thefts. There havebeen numerous complaints lately with regard to lost passports inthe country. Sambalyegula, who is overall in charge ofdocumentation, also thanked some diplomatic missions in thecountry for their help, which enabled them to net a few culpritswho attempted to seek visa and were found to be in possession offake passports after a counter check with the immigrationdepartment. He named the US mission which had been workingclosely with his department and being on alert upon receivingpassports for a travel visa to the US. He said people in thecountry should take care of the document for it is anidentification of a persons nationality and which if lost,the ownerwould be liable to be sued before the court of law andface imprisonment. Sambalyegula did not state the estimated costof the machine and the number required to be bought, but notedthat the order would be placed once the budget is passed thisyear. Meanwhile, the immigration department has retrieved 1096lost passports in the last seven years.
Court acquits 2 SA drivers of mealie meal theft (ThePost, 25/06) - Two South African truck drivers appearingjointly with three others on charges of stealing a K95 millionconsignment of mealie meal were yesterday acquitted by a Lusakamagistrate's court. Delivering ruling in a case in which JacobusAndreas, Louis Botha, Reuben Hampela, Philpas Schlopz and AdrianBanda were charged for the alleged theft of goods in transit inFebruary this year, Lusaka principal resident magistrate FrankTembo said the prosecution had failed to establish a prima faciecase against Andreas and Botha. The 3,259 bags of mealie meal hadbeen ordered by C& S Investments from South Africa and wasrecovered at a warehouse being used by Lifasi in the Chinikaarea. There was evidence before the court that one of the drivershad never been to Zambia before, while the other had been oncebefore so they stopped to get directions to C&S Investmentson several occasions before off-loading at the wrong warehouse.The court also heard that one of the drivers lead the C & SInvestment accountant to the place where they had delivered themealie meal once the mistake had been realised. Magistrate Temboput Hampela, Schlopz and Banda on their defence for the allegedtheft of 3,259 bags of mealie meal in February this year. Thematter comes today for fixing of defence date.
Britain and Libya help Zambia with emergency food aid(Lusaka, Sapa-AFP, 25/06) - Britain has donated 10million pounds (15 million dollars / 15.5 million euros) worth offood aid to starving people in Zambia while Libya is giving 6,000tonnes of food relief, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa hasannounced. "Britain has offered us 10 million pounds worthof food aid," Mwanawasa was quoted as saying by Zambia DailyMail Tuesday. Mwanawasa also said: "Libya has been verygenerous. It has been confirmed that Libya is going to import forus 6,000 metric tonnes of food." Meanwhile, Libya has alsosent a consignment of military uniforms to be used by the Zambiansecurity forces including the army, the airforce and the police.
Immigration directs learning institutions to stoprecruiting foreign students (The Post, 22/06) - TheImmigration Department has directed learning institutionsrecruiting foreign students to stop the practice. Immigrationdepartment public relations officer Ibvuta Lungu yesterday saidthe practice had contributed to the influx of illegal immigrants.Lungu said his department was aware of learning institutions thatwere admitting foreign students illegally. He said theseinstitutions were not consulting the Immigration Department andwarned that any institution that did not heed his directiveswould face the wrath of the law.
Government maintains open door policy to asylumseekers (Zamnet, 21/06) - The Zambian government willmaintain its open door policy to victims of persecution andasylum seekers, lands minister Judith Kapijimpanga has assured.Opening the world refugee day celebrations in Kala Campyesterday, Kapijimpanga said it was the government's hope thatpeace will prevail in the region to allow refugees return totheir respective countries. "Since time immemorial, Zambiahas been a safe haven to refugees and asylum seekers and we wantto sustain this while the government and the internationalcommunity find ways of brokering peace in the region," shesaid. Kapijimpanga said the recognition of the crucial role arefugee woman held in peace and development was long over-dueconsidering the large numbers of women and children in camps theworld over. "The world is full of wars, terrorism and otherman made calamities that render human displacements and deaths.Women and children are the most at risk yet not recognised,"she said. Kapijimpanga urged the donor community to increase foodsupplies in African refugee camps and financial support as wasthe case with refugees from the West. She said although thegovernment was committed to protecting and care of refugees, theeconomic impact of looking after them was hard to cope with,especially that government had to share the same meagreresources. And United Nations High Commission for Refugeesrepresentative Ahmed Gubartalla assured refugees that foodrations would normalise next month. Gubartalla said UNHCR wouldensure that women in refugee camps were elevated to 50 per centleadership positions. "Women refugees are core elements offamily survival. We will ensure food distribution and managementwas 80 per cent controlled by women," he said. Gubartallasaid refugee camps had become breeding grounds for despair and soeveryone should be committed to the plight of refugees because itwas crucial to development of global security. And a refugeerepresentative Mbulyo Musange - a headteacher at Kala - appealedto President Levy Mwanawasa to intervene quickly together with UNSecretary General Koffl Annan to restore peace in the region."We don't intend to be refugees forever, we would like to goback to our countries and settle again in peace. Please help ushave our peace back," Musange said. "To the Congoleserefugee community in Zambia, may I say it's time we worked on ourbehaviour and respect the rules of the host country as you knowthat the 'new deal' government will not protect you when youbreak the laws." Musange urged the refugees to cultivate apeaceful environment in respective camps. Earlier, Luapula deputyminister Alex Chama said there had been sporadic banditryactivities by refugees in the province through use of guns. Hesaid the situation must be controlled by restricting the movementof refugees to surrounding communities.
Food insecurity will affect refugee supplies, saysUNHCR (Zamnet, 14/06) - Food insecurity in the regionwill have a tremendous effect on refugee supplies, United NationsHigh Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative AhmedGubartalla has said. Briefing the Press yesterday, Gubartallasaid the drought situation in the region will not spare therefugees and that the Commission was getting concerned with thenutritional impact it would have on the refugees. "SinceOctober last year we have been giving half food rations to therefugees and with the given food situation in Zambia rations inour camps will be complicated," he said. "If thenationals are suffering due to drought, by extension the refugeesare affected too. But we are taking measures as a Commission withour partners the World Food Programme (WFP) and Zambiangovernment to mitigate the problem." Commenting on thesituation in the region, Gubartalla said it was time to givesupport to the peace process in Angola to ensure the currentinitiative does not fall apart. "We are optimistic this timeround the peace that has eluded Angola for the past three decadeswill be sustained," he said. He said the peace in Angola andthe Democratic Republic of Congo would benefit countries in theregion including citizens. He said following peace prospects inAngola 4,000 refugees had since returned to Angola on spontaneousbasis. He also said out of 210,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia,4,600 babies have been born. Gubartalla at the same briefingannounced that UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for RefugeesKamel Morjane will be arriving in the country today (Friday) fora two day visit. He said Morjane's visit to the sub-region comesin the context of the recent political developments in Angola.Morjane will visit Zambia from 14 to 16 June 2002 and is expectedto meet with senior government officials, UNHCR, otherstakeholders while a visit to some refugees camps is alsoplanned. This will be Morjane's first visit to Zambia since hisappointment as Assistant High Commissioner. He will beaccompanied by UNHCR deputy director of the department ofinternational protection and the deputy director of AfricanBureau. And the UNHCR yesterday donated 21 vehicles worth K2.2billion to the government and other partners in the country.Gubartalla said the government would receive five vehicles, twofor Care International, Red Cross and Lutheran World Federationwould get three each, while YMCA, African Humanitarian Action(AHA) and Christian Outreach Relief and Development (CORD) wouldget one each. UNHCR's Mongu office would get one vehicle whilethe remainder will be distributed soon when recipients areidentified. The vehicles are to be used for logistics and otherrefugee based programmes. Gubartalla also said this year's WorldRefugee Day celebrations that falls every June 20th will be heldone Kala refugee camp which hosts 24,000 Congolese refugees. Hesaid to recognise the women refugee resilience and valour in theface of many odds, the refugee day in Zambia will be celebratedon the theme: "Empowering refugee women as partners forpeace and development."
Zambia moves to restrict entry of cheap Zimbabwe goods(The Financial Gazette, 13/06) - He told the FinancialGazette yesterday that his organisation had researched the pricesof products in the region and compiled a database that would beused to ensure that cheaply priced goods did not enter theZambian market. Zambia has been plagued by cheap imports frommember nations of the Common Market for Eastern and SouthernAfrica free trade area since 2000. It has especially had problemswith products from Zimbabwe where, because of significantlydevalued exchange rates on the parallel market for hard cash,Zambians have been able to buy Zimbabwean goods more cheaply thanthey cost to produce in Zambia. This is a threat to Zambianmanufacturers who are unable to compete with the cheap products.Mwansa said: "What the ZRA has done is to go through theregion and get the official prices of products and we are usingthese official prices as reference for the products that aredeclared at the border for assessment of value." He said themeasures were separate from efforts by Zambias Ministry ofCommerce and Industry, which has said it will adopt a statutoryinstrument to curb the dumping of cheap Zimbabwean goods on itsmarket. The revenue authority had also embarked on a majoranti-smuggling operation, which involves physical inspections andescort of goods in transit, among other measures to prevent cheapgoods from being dumped in Zambia. "This can be seen insimple language as anti-dumping measures, but not in the WTO(World Trade Organisation) sense," Mwansa said.
Thousands of Angolan refugees living in Zambia returnhome (Lusaka, Sapa-AP, 13/06) - About 4,000 Angolanrefugees living in Zambia have returned home in the wake of acease-fire agreement between the Angolan government and rebelforces, a U.N. refugee official said Thursday. Ahmed Gubartalla,the local representative of the U.N. High Commissioner forRefugees, said the signing of a cease fire between UNITA rebelsand the government in April played a significant role in therefugee's decision to return to Angola. The refugees also wereaffected by the World Food Program's decision to introduce cutback on rations in the camp last year. "Of course somerefugees told us that they will be returning to Angola becausethe half-ration of the food was not good for them,"Gubartalla told a news conference in Lusaka. "But I believethat if we did not have the cease-fire and the peace processstarting in Angola, nobody would have to come and said they wantto go back to Angola." Angola and UNITA began fighting afterthe country's 1975 independence from Portugal. After the killingof rebel leader Jonas Savimbi by Angolan army in February, newpeace talks began, culminating in the cease-fire. The returningrefugees were from Meheba refugee camp in northwestern Zambia andMayukwayukwa in western Zambia. They went back to Cazombo, innortheastern Angola, where more than half of the 200,000 Angolanrefugees in Zambia came from. Zambia hosts about 300,000refugees, most of them from Angola.
Zambia to run out of food within three months(Independent, 07/06) - Zambia will run out of foodwithin three months unless the international community comes toits aid, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said on Friday as hewarned of "harrowing times" ahead for his country.Southern Africa, including Zambia, is facing its worst foodshortage in a decade because of a mix of natural calamities andeconomic instability. "We have a real crisis on our hands.We need urgent help, and I repeat my appeal to the internationalcommunity to come to our help. We cannot talk of development ifour people are starving," Mwanawasa said on the sidelines ofthe World Economic Forum's Africa summit in the Indian Ocean portcity of Durban. "We exhaust our current food stocks inAugust, and then we shall have nothing," Mwanawasa said. Hesaid Zambia would "go through harrowing times in the six toeight months after August and needs urgent relief over thatperiod". Zambia needed more than 600 000 tons of reliefmaize after the failure of crops in key growing areas, he said.That figure would rise to 1,3-million tons if restocking nationalstrategic reserves was taken into account. Zambia's plight hasbeen exacerbated by Anglo American's shock announcement inJanuary that it would withdraw from its Konkola Copper Mines(KCM), majority owned by its subsidiary Zambia CopperInvestments. The copper mines are Zambia's lifeblood and KCMaccounts for 67 percent of Zambia's total metals production, butuncertainty since the Anglo announcement has hurt KCM's output.Zambia has forecast real GDP to grow by 4,3 percent this year,but analysts say expansion, weighed down by the food and Anglotroubles, could come in at 2,5 to three percent. Anglo'swithdrawal has fuelled bitter feelings in Zambia, and Mwanawasasaid his quarrel with Anglo American was over its decision toleave Zambia "without giving adequate notice"."The issue is one of corporate governance. We want Anglo toleave Zambia as quietly and as peacefully as possible, withoutdisrupting the operations of the mines," he said. "Thatdoes not seem exactly to be the case." Mwanawasa said onThursday that Anglo had offered Zambia $30-million (aboutR300-million) to offset its withdrawal from KCM. The sale of theKCM mines to Anglo in 2000 had raised hopes of an economicrevival. An Anglo spokesperson declined on Thursday to discussdetails of the agreement with Zambia but said Mwanawasa hadmisrepresented some of the facts. Mwanawasa said on Friday thatthe agreement Anglo spoke of was "nothing" and fell wayshort of the $200-million the government had estimated was neededfor retrenchment packages, cleaning up the environment and otherlegal obligations. "Just because things are not rosy forthem, they want to pull out in a rush and without dealing withthe consequences of that to my people," he said.
South African in court for obtaining money by falsepretences (The Post, 04/06) - A South African nationalyesterday appeared in a Lusaka magistrates court charged withobtaining money by false pretences. Before magistrate Frank Tembowas Gerald Liriue, 42, jointly charged with a Zambian EnockManda, 32. Reading out the charge, magistrate Tembo said the duowere charged with obtaining money by false pretences at a dateunknown but in December 2001. Magistrate Tembo said the accusedobtained K7 million cash from Misheck Kafololo by pretending thatthey had bags of fertiliser for sale when in actual fact theynever had any. Liriue and Manda denied the charges. Manda is onbail while Liriue is remanded in custody. Before adjournment, theSouth African national requested the court to grant him bail. Hesaid police had his passport and the complainant had even visitedhim at the prison. Liriue said Kafololo had even been reimbursedpart of the money swindled from him. But the state objected tohis application saying Liriue was a South African and had noteven furnished police with his personal details and had no properaddress. Magistrate Tembo refused to grant him bail because ofthe reasons advanced by the state. The case was adjourned to June17 for mention and June 27 for trial.
Food shortages problem requires urgent measures (ThePost, 04/06) - Government needs to take a full-fledgedproactive stance in addressing the food shortage problem, JesuitCentre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) social developmentproject co-ordinator Muweme Muweme has said. Muweme saidgovernment's declaration of a national disaster in light of thelooming hunger situation in the country was encouraging but thesituation required appropriate and urgent measures to avert acrisis of huge proportions. President Levy Mwanawasa last weekdeclared the food shortage a national disaster as people in partsof the country would run out of food as early as next month.President Mwanawasa also said available stocks would only besufficient for about 6 million people out of a population of 10.3million. Muweme said this was a clear indication of the urgencyof the problem. He said the hunger problem would be devastatingbecause of the context in which it was occurring. He said thisyear's hunger situation was a result of the recent drought thecountry has experienced as well as a carry-over from last year'sinadequate food. "What is needed, within a short period, isa full-fledged proactive stance by government in addressing thisproblem," said Muweme. He said while the winter maizeproject might contribute towards meeting the national shortfall,the fact that some parts of the country would run out of food asearly as July made it imperative to find alternative ways ofaddressing that problem. He said it was also critical whenavailing the maize especially in rural communities, to look atthe ability of these communities to afford the food in light ofthe poor agricultural performace which is the major source oftheir income. Government last year subsidised the importation ofabout 200,000 metric tonnes, the estimated food shortage, but itappears more would have to be imported this year. A provision ofK11 billion has been made in this year's budget for suchpurposes. Muweme said a lot of households in Zambia had sufferedprolonged hunger or inadequate food intake and the onlydifference between daily household experience and the currentnational situation was the intensity of the problem and cause."It is important that government goes beyond looking at thesituation in its current form and look at those factors core toacessing food by households, especially poor households," henoted. Muweme said it was difficult to see how a situation ofunemployment and generally low wages could enable access toadequate food. He said it was a foregone conclusion that one ofthe major reasons for inadequate food intake by majorityhouseholds was the high cost of living which the JCTR basic needsbasket indicated stood at K814,350 as of end last month. Themarginal decline of K11,150 from the April figure of K825,500 hasbeen attributed to marginal declines in the cost of mealie meal,kapenta and charcoal. The cost of food alone presently stands atK371,150 against K326,300 in April. Muweme said it would beimportant to see government's declaration in concrete termsthrough enabling households to have access to food which was animportant element to human dignity.
50 farmers move to Mozambique (Zimbabwe Independent,28/06) - At least 50 beleaguered Zimbabwean commercialfarmers have applied for land leases to the Mozambican governmentafter they were ordered to cease operations or face imprisonmentin Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Independent has established. Reportsfrom Mozambique say 50 farmers have submitted requests for landleases since President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reformstook a turn for the worst with a May 10 amendment to the LandAcquisition Act. The amendment stipulates that a farmer shouldstop farming 45 days after being served with a notice ofacquisition and subsequently vacate the property at the end ofanother 45 days. Zimbabwean farmers are also relocating toZambia, Uganda and Namibia. There is also demand for them inAustralia and New Zealand. The Mozambican Agricultural ministrysaid in a statement 13 Zimbabwean farmers had been allocatedfarming leases. Mozambique prohibits the sale of land toindividuals or companies. "The 13 farmers will be settled inthe fertile central province of Manica and each will be given 1000 hectares of land in line with Mozambican law that allows landto be leased for up to 50 years," the statement said.Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) spokesperson Jenni Williams saidthey were aware some farmers were moving to Mozambique. "TheCFU is aware that a number of farmers from our membership arealready farming in Mozambique and a lot more are planning to movethere and other countries in the region with conducive farmingconditions," said Williams. The Mozambican government saidthe farmers were given land in the districts of Barue, Mavondeand Vanduze in Manica province, which borders Zimbabwe.Mozambique, also facing a crippling drought, is set to takeadvantage of Mugabe's controversial land reforms to attract theexperienced farmers viewed as the best in the region. Over 2 900Zimbabwean white commercial farmers issued with Section 8 orderswere ordered to stop all farming activities on Monday.
New airport operating below capacity (The FinancialGazette, 27/06) - The new Harare International Airport,built at a cost of $4 billion, is operating below capacity, withonly 1.3 million passengers or about 50 percent of the 2.5million expected to pass thorough the airport actually expectedto do so this year. Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ)boss Karikoga Kaseke would not divulge loses the CAAZ hadincurred as a result of lower patronage of the airport but headmitted revenue had declined. "I cannot talk about ourrevenue for it is unethical, but all I can say is our revenue hasnarrowed over the past two years," Kaseke, whose CAAZ runsthe airport on behalf of the government, said yesterday. Kasekesaid the number of passengers arriving at or departing from theairport was actually lower than when the old and smaller airportterminal was still in use. "The number of passengersarriving or departing from the airport has been drasticallyreduced from an anticipated 2.5 million to only 1.3million."Last year we only had one million one hundred thousandpassengers passing through the airport. These figures are belowthe 1997 figures where we had 1.6 million passengers while usingthe old airport," he said. Built amid controversy aftercharges of corruption and kickbacks said to involve seniorgovernment officials, the airport was designed to handle anaverage of two million passengers annually who were expected toflock to Zimbabwe, attracted by a booming tourism industry. Butthe tourism sector has virtually collapsed as is the casewith nearly every other sector of the economy under thestrain of skewed economic and political polices of thegovernment. By April this year 17 major airliners, among themQantas Airways Limited, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, AustrianAirlines Cargo, Air Mauritius and Air Portugal had stoppedflights to Zimbabwe, citing low passenger loads. British Airwaysand South African Airways are among a few international carriersstill landing at Harare Airport. According to Kaseke, about 30percent of people showing up at the airport daily are actualpassengers while the remaining 70 percent come only to welcome orbid farewell to relatives. He said the CAAZ, which has notawarded its staff pay rises in the past two years, had had todevise strict cost-cutting measures which he said would see theauthority through to 2004 when business is expected to improve."We have also removed all activities that do not add valueto the corporation and we have deliberately avoided any newrecruitment," the CAAZ chief said. "Internationalpassenger service fees will be increased from US$20 to US$30while a new domestic passenger service fee of US$5 will beintroduced with effect from August 1. We will also offer a 0-35percent discount deposit to airlines depending on the frequenciesof their flights."
EU gives more aid to hungry in Zimbabwe (Brussels,Sapa-AP, 24/06) - The European Union allocated 6 millioneuros (dlrs 5.9 million) to provide aid to hungry Zimbabweans andagain condemned the policies of President Robert Mugabe foraggravating his country's food crisis. "The private sectorhas a leading role to play in bringing in food on the market. Thegovernment must remove the constraints which are preventing thisfrom happening," said Poul Nielson, the EU aid commissioner.With Zimbabwe facing a potentially devastating hunger crisis,nearly 3,000 white commercial farmers faced a government deadlineMonday to immediately stop work and forfeit their farms, leavingcrops unharvested. The demand is part of a program introduced byMugabe's government to hand white-owned farms to landless blacks.Farmers face a fine or up two-years imprisonment if they disobeya deadline to cease operations by midnight Monday and vacatetheir homes by Aug. 8. EU foreign policy spokesman Gunnar Wiegandsaid Mugabe's administration was pursuing a policy that"denies basic rights" to citizens. "This cannot goon," he told reporters. However Wiegand acknowledged theEU's limited sanctions on Zimbabwe -denying visas for Mugabe andhis associates and freezing their financial assets - had not hadmuch impact. The EU also cut economic development aid to thecountry, but has maintained emergency humanitarian assistance.The latest money will focus on getting food to children and ruralworkers in areas most affected by the food shortages, the EUsaid.
Judge tipped for Swazi Chief Justice post (The SundayMirror, 24/06) - Justice Wilson Sandura, the onlyremaining judge belonging to the old Supreme Court bench accusedof bias towards white commercial farmers by Government, is set tomove to Swaziland where he has been offered the post of ChiefJustice, the Sunday Mirror has learnt. Speaking from Swaziland,an impeccable source in the Swazi government said Sandura hadbeen offered the job after an agreement was reached innegotiations between top Swazi and Zimbabwean governmentofficials. He said Swaziland had for some time been scouting fora chief justice in the region and had eventually settled on theexperienced Zimbabwean judge. He added that the pool of good andexperienced Zimbabwean top lawyers had impressed the Swazigovernment. Swaziland is reported to be experiencing unspecifiedproblems with its current chief justice, who is a white Britishnational. Because of the problems, the country had resolved toengage a black lawyer from the region. The Swazi authoritiesoverlooked South Africa because of its limited pool ofexperienced black legal experts. The official saidSwazilands request to engage Sandura was even discussed informal meetings at the Supreme Court in Harare and the deal forhim to move was struck when the judge was endorsed as a suitablecandidate. It is reported that the British government showedunusual enthusiasm to sponsor the deal while the Zimbabweangovernment is understood to be more than happy to releaseSandura. Sandura was appointed to the High Court bench in 1983and immediately superseded Justice George Smith to become thejudge president. In 1989, President Robert Mugabe appointed himto chair a commission that was tasked to investigate allegedcorruption at Willowvale Motor Industries. The scam, whichinvolved top government officials, was a systematic racket inwhich prominent individuals bought cars from the company withgovernment assistance and then sold them at exorbitant prices.The widely publicised racket resulted in the sacking and forcedresignations of several cabinet ministers and Zanu PF stalwartssuch as Morris Nyagumbo, who later committed suicide, FrederickShava, Dzingai Mutumbuka and Enos Nkala. In recent years, Sandurahas emerged as a controversial figure whose relations with thegovernment were becoming increasingly strained. In April thisyear, the government denied Sandura permission to travel toMalawi where he had been invited by the International BarAssociation as part of high-level jurists tasked to assess thesituation facing the legal profession and the judiciary in thecountry. The government was not amused by Sandurasassociation with the top international lawyers body, whichhad been campaigning for the isolation of Zimbabwe, over what theassociation perceived to be human rights violations. As a resultthe Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, PatrickChinamasa wrote to Sandura informing him that his applicationcould not be accepted. Earlier, Sandura had clashed with theChief Justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku over a case involving theMovement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. Sanduramade a dissenting judgement over a ruling by Chidyausiku to theeffect that Tsvangirai could not be granted legal redress againstMugabe when the government made several changes to the ElectoralAct. He argued that Tsvangirai, contrary to the submissions byChidyausiku, had the locus standi (legal justification). Thisruffled the feathers of many in Government who perceived thatSandura was showing apparent support for the opposition. Sandurais the last of the members of the old Supreme Court bench, whichfaced intense criticism from various circles relating to allegedracist judgments against blacks and the government. The first tomove was the then Chief Justice, Anthony Gubbay who many saidclearly favoured white commercial farmers when deliberating overland issues. Justices Ahmed Ebrahim, Nicholas McNally and AliIbrahim then followed in the wake of mounting pressure for themto vacate the Supreme Court. When Gubbay retired, many lawyers,including the University of Zimbabwe constitutional law lecturer,Lovemore Madhuku campaigned for Sandura to be made the next ChiefJustice but he was pipped to the top post by Godfrey Chidyausiku.Chinamasa hardly concealed his displeasure with the judges, whomhe described as having a colonial mentality. He clashed withSandura in February this year when the judge refused to attend ameeting to which Chinamasa had invited him just after theresignations of McNally and Ebrahim. In 2000, Professor JonathanMoyo, who is now the Minister of Information and Publicity,called for Sandura to step down from the delimitation commissionthat had been tasked with coming up with new boundaries forpurposes of parliamentary elections. Sandura had said the timegiven to the commission was too little to complete the task. Whencontacted for comment, Chinamasa professed ignorance over theimpending move by Sandura. Chidyausiku would neither confirm nordeny that Sandura was headed for Swaziland. I wouldntwant to comment on that issue. Im sorry, I dont speakto the press, he said. Justice Sandura could not be reachedfor comment.
Zimbabwean farmers allegedly invading land inMozambique (Maputo, Sapa-AFP, 21/06) - Authorities inMozambique and Zimbabwe have launched a probe into claims byprovincial authorities that Zimbabwean commercial and peasantfarmers were seizing arable land along the border withMozambique. "We have had reports of illegal land occupationsfrom the Manica provincial authorities, the most serious case ofwhich involves a major Zimbabwean tobacco grower," nationaldirector of land mapping and planning Jose Mucombo told AFPFriday. Mucombo said authorities in one district of Mussorizereported that Zimbabweans have been extending their farms acrossthe border into the fertile lands of the central Manica province."There have also been persistent reports of Zimbabweanpeasants violating the border in different locations..." hesaid. Mucombo said governments of the two countries have agreedto form a technical commission to probe the issue. The commissionis expected to examine whether the border demarcations of the1930s still stand or have suffered illegal alterations. Mucombosaid it was not clear that the alleged Zimbabwean invasions arelinked to the controversial land reforms in Zimbabwe, which haveseen many white commercial farmers losing land to the governmentfor redistribution amongst landless blacks. Meanwhile, aMozambican government plan to resettle some Zimbabwean farmerswho legally requested land for lease is still underconsideration. However, farmers who have asked for very largeland holdings have had their requests turned down by Maputo, forfear of importing the Zimbabwean problem. In Mozambique, all landbelongs to the state and can only be leased for a period of up to50 years.
White tobacco farmers told to leave Zimbabwe(Sapa-AFP, 19/06) - White Zimbabwean tobacco farmerswere warned Wednesday to cooperate with the government ofPresident Robert Mugabe or pack their bags and leave the country."Time has come to realise that tobacco farmers must workwith the government of the day, that government is the ZANU-PF(Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union) government," thepresident of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, Kobus Joubert saidat an annual congress of predominantly white large-scale tobaccogrowers. "To survive and continue farming in Zimbabwe weneed to be part of the solutions, not part of the problem,"Joubert warned. James Chiweshe, head of the Zimbabwe Associationof Tobacco Merchants, told the scores of farmers gathered for thecongress: "We need to be able to liaise with the government.We should never try to be too clever." Joubert added:"The time has come to make a choice, (either) we offer asubdivision (of farms) and co-exist, and try to keep a productiveunit, or we pack our bags and go. "Land will bedistributed," he said, adding that the maximum farm sizesdrawn up by government for individual owners were a"reality". Some farmers have tried resist Mugabe'scontroversial land reform programme of taking land from whiteowners and redistributing it to blacks. The reforms are a bid tocorrect longstanding inequities in land ownership that has seen70 percent of the country's prime farmland in the hands of whitesmaking up just one percent of the population. The two speakerstold the farmers to remain apolitical if they wanted to stay inthe tobacco business - Zimbabwe's most lucrative crop and topforeign exchange earner after gold. "We must not getinvolved in politics. We as large-scale farmers do not make therules," said Joubert. "We should not be used by UncleToms," Chiweshe said, in a reference to opposition leaderMorgan Tsvangirai who has drawn considerable support from whitefarmers. Although Joubert acknowledged that the land reforms hadhad a "severe" impact on tobacco due to disruptions ofoperations, eviction of farmers, beatings and murders of farmers,and looting and extortion, he reminded his colleagues that theprogramme would proceed. "The sooner we get on and recognisethese realities, the better," he said. "Possibly ourbiggest problem is that we have got an attitude. Arrogance iswhat breaks down everything," he said. Chiweshe also warnedthe farmers: "If you think you can use it (tobacco) as aweapon, that weapon can be used against you. Let us not push thegovernment up the great wall bacause it will be a big mistake. It(government) will defend itself ... and it will be us who will belosers." Tobacco brings in about one-third of the country'sdesperately needed foreign exchange. Zimbabwe last year was thesecond largest supplier of flue-cured tobacco on theinternational market after Brazil. China was third.
US journalist on trial in Zimbabwe (Harare, Sapa-AFP,17/06) - A Zimbabwean prosecutor told a court hereMonday that a US journalist charged with publishing falsehoodsmay not be jailed if convicted in a landmark trial under a toughnew press law. Thabani Mpofu said if Andrew Meldrum wasconvicted, the state would not seek his imprisonment but wouldtry to have him fined. "This case before you is, in mysubmission, not the worst case of its type. There was foundationlaid elsewhere. The accused published a falsehood, whichfalsehood is derived from elsewhere," Mpofu said."Should the accused person be convicted, the state will notask this court that the accused be imprisoned," he said,because the story had appeared earlier in the private Daily News,and because the story had an an identifiable source. The commentsarose as Magistrate Godfrey Macheyo considered whether he had thejurisdiction to preside over the case. The maximum fine Macheyocan impose is 10,000 Zimbabwe dollars (180 US dollars), comparedto the 100,000 dollar (1,820 US dollars) maximum sentenceallowable for the offence Meldrum is accused of committing. A10,000 dollar fine would be just one-tenth of the maximum, butthe law also provides for up to two years in prison. But Mpofusaid the anticipated sentence in Meldrum's case was not a prisonterm because he did not create the story, but reproduced a falsestory. However, defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa expresseddiscomfort at discussing the possible sentence before the actualtrial even started. "We are putting the cart before thehorse," she said. Meldrum, who works for British daily TheGuardian, is charged with publishing falsehoods under athree-month-old press law. The charges arise from a storyinitially carried by the Daily News that President RobertMugabe's supporters had beheaded an opposition sympathiser infront of her children. The story was discredited after the manclaiming to be her husband was found to have fabricated it.
NGOs meet over internal refugee crisis (The FinancialGazette, 13/06) - Zimbabwes non-governmentalorganisations (NGOs) meet next week to consider local solutionsto the countrys internal refugee crisis after failing tomobilise international aid but NGO representatives fear theproblem is almost insurmountable. In April, the NGOs approachedinternational humanitarian agencies for assistance in dealingwith more than 50 000 people who have been forced to flee theirhomes because of political violence that has disturbed thecountry since 2000. Solutions suggested to international agenciesincluded the establishment of a "tented" city inHarare, where most of the displaced people have fled to, and theprovision of food and other necessities. Although internationalhumanitarian organisa-tions are providing some assistance forprogrammes caring for internally displaced people, NGOrepresentatives this week said they had not been able to mobilisethe kind of support they wanted. "The scale of the problemis not yet big enough for them to act," Tim Neill, one ofthe organisers, told the Financial Gazette. "They act whenthe numbers of internally displaced people approachhalf-a-million. "We havent got anywhere near thosenumbers yet and they really cant help us out." AndrewNongogo, spokesman for NGO coalition Crisis in Zimbabwe, said theinternational agencies had indicated that they wanted to continueworking within United Nations progra-mmes already in place inZimbabwe. "They decided that they were going to continuewith their work with the WFP (World Food Programme) and not tryto do anything extra because of the politics around theissue," he said. "They said they already have greatdifficulty anyway in raising food and they didnt see thelikelihood of being able to generate any more." The WFP hassince last October been working on a programme that is targetingmore than 500 000 people in six Zimbabwean provinces for foodaid, but has received a slow response from donors to pleas forassistance. The UN agency, which together with the Food andAgriculture Organisation estimates that about six millionZimbabweans nearly half the population needemergency food aid, is likely to expand the number of targetedbeneficiaries. But NGO officials said very few, if any, of thesebeneficiaries were likely to be internally displaced people whoare scattered around Zimbabwe and are not well known in thecommunities they have fled to. "They are not in theirlocality and in their new neighbourhood they are not known,"Nongogo pointed out. "To get on that (food distribution)list is a problem. "We are going to sit down next week andtry to see what we can do locally. It will be the NGOs, thechurches, trying to find out if there are other ways we canapproach the problem." But NGO officials said the task wasalmost insurmountable because of various obstacles facingorganisations trying to assist internally displaced people. Theseinclude grain shortages, the govern-ments refusal to grantpermits to aid bodies to import food and the state-run GrainMarketing Board (GMB)s monopoly over grain distribution, aresult of the severe maize and wheat shortages facing Zimbabwe."We cant get grain from the GMB because we are notmillers and because they are facing shortages themselves,"Nongogo said. "We cant buy grain from people becausethats not allowed. We can try and get ground mealie-mealfrom millers, which is what we have been doing, but this is not along-term solution. This is a serious problem that is going torequire very innovative solutions." Other obstacles includethe alleged control of food distribution in rural areas by rulingZANU PF activists who are preventing opposition party supportersand their children from accessing food. NGOs said the lack ofdefinitive statistics on internally displaced people could alsohamper the establishment of support systems, which have toprovide shelter, food and counselling for people traumatised byviolence and displacement. In a report on a survey of displacedfarm workers, Amani Trust, which works with victims of politicaltorture, said: "Using the data derived from the presentstudy, a very crude estimate would then be derived in thefollowing way from the above findings: take all high-risk farms,those with multiple reports of gross human rights violations;calculate the rates of gross human rights violations at 71percent of all adults; calculate the rates of gross human rightsviolations at 55 percent of all children; calculate the rate ofpsychological disorder at 81 percent of all adults. "Nowthis may seem to lead to impossibly high rates, but in theabsence of proper epidemiological investigations, it is vital tohave some estimate of social and medical requirements. "Itis clearly better in the current humanitarian crisis to err onthe side of generosity than design helping systems that missproblems. "It is evident that the overall number of personsaffected by the events of the past two years will be exceedinglyhigh indeed, and there is a pressing need both forepidemiological investigations into the prevalence of traumadisorders as well as an urgent need to design adequate helpingsystems that do not marginalise any sector of thecommunity." Analysts say these problems are likely to becompounded by the large numbers of farm workers who would havebeen displaced at the conclusion of the governmentscontroversial land reform programme in August. By then, allcommercial farmers who have been issued Section 8 noticesdemanding that they cease farming should have left theirproperties. Neill said: "We are first of all trying to findout what exactly is happening by getting some idea of the scaleof the problem. The bottom line is that there has beendisplacement affecting thousands of people. "What everyoneis worried about is what will happen come August when farmers whohave received Section 8 notices have to leave their farms.Whats going to happen to all these workers?" Nongogoadded: "This is just the bottom end of the problem. It mustbe seen in the context of the larger food situation. We arefacing starvation and we do not even have the capacity to delivergrain." Opposition Movement for Democratic Change presidentMorgan Tsvangirai this week said Zimbabwe had to import about 150000 tonnes of maize and wheat per month to avert starvation, butthe country did not have the infrastructure for this. "Thetask is probably beyond the capacity of regional ports andrailways, which also have to cater for the food needs of othercountries in the region. This is a worrying development to us asstarvation in the country is becoming a certainty," he said.
Zimbabwe soldiers in Congo food scam (The FinancialGazette, 13/06) - An unspecified number of Zimbabweanarmy officers have been suspended from duty on charges theymasterminded a million-dollar racket in which food meant forsouthern African forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC) was diverted and sold on the black market. A ZimbabweDefence Forces (ZDF) spokesman told the Financial Gazette thisweek the soldiers, who include senior Zimbabwe National Armyofficers responsible for sourcing and transporting food rationsto troops in the DRC, are being tried under a court martial. Hedid not say how many suspects were involved in the racket."In this case, the involved servicemen had the duty tosource and transport the rations on behalf of the SADC alliedtroops deployed in the DRC," the ZDF spokesman said withoutgiving any further details. "There is a court martialpresently going on. Since the matter is under the courts, wecannot give you further information." Sources however saidthe officers would divert trucks and wagons containing foodrations destined for soldiers operating under the auspices of theSouthern Africa Development Community (SADC) and sell the loot tomiddlemen. The defence forces spokesman however said Zimbabwe wasnot prejudiced by the racket, understood to have been going onsince SADC forces moved into the former Zaire in 1998 to prop upthe beleaguered government of slain Congolese leader LaurentKabila. "Under the SADC allied forcesarrangements/agreement, the DRC government finances the rationsdemands," he said. Zimbabwe has more than 7 000 soldiersstationed in the DRC while other SADC allies Namibia and Angolahave pulled out their troops in line with ceasefire accordssigned by the combatants in Zambia nearly two years ago.
Trial of US journalist opens (The Financial Gazette,13/06) - The trial of Andrew Meldrum, the Americanjournalist who is the Zimbabwe correspondent of BritainsGuardian newspaper on charges of publishing falsehoods opened inHarare yesterday. Meldrum is the first out of 11Zimbabwean and foreign journalists arrested under the newlyenacted Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act toface trial for allegedly publishing falsehoods. Meldrum wasarrested in April for a news article which appeared in theGuardian headed "Girls see mother beheaded by Mugabesupporters", which was based on a story by the Harare-basedDaily News which turned out to have been fabricated by a conman.Meldrum entered a plea of not guilty before Harare magistrateGodfrey Macheyo. His lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said in her defenceoutline that Meldrum would reject a warned-and-cautionedstatement recorded by police who denied him access to lawyers.She said Meldrum did not publish the false story deliberately ashe had tried to verify the Daily News story with the police butofficers at very senior level refused to give any help. Mtetwasaid the decision to publish the story was not Meldrums.She contended that Meldrum could not be charged with publishingfalsehoods because the story which appeared in the Guardianclearly attributed the news item to the Daily News, as is thenorm with such news items anywhere else in the world. Mtetwa saidthe fact that several media houses in the world carried the samestory without any problem and that the state-controlled mediaregularly publish falsehoods without problems showed that the lawwas being applied selectively and targeting certain journalists.Thabani Mpofu prosecuted. To open the case, Mpofu called thefirst state witness, Julia Musopero, the sister to the woman whothe conman, George Nyadzayo, also known as Enos Tadyanemhandu,had claimed had been beheaded in the full view of her two teenagedaughters. Musopero yesterday averred before the court that hersister was not murdered, but died of AIDS after battling with thedisease for four years. The Access to Information and Protectionof Privacy Act imposes heavy fines and jail terms of up to twoyears for "abuse" of "journalistic privilege"such as publishing falsehoods. The trial of the Daily Newsjournalists who wrote the story will start on June 20.
Trial of US journalist resumes (Harare, Sapa-AFP,13/06) - The trial of US journalist Andrew Meldrum,accused of publishing falsehoods in what is widely seen as animportant test of a tough new media law in Zimbabwe, entered itssecond day Thursday in a magistrate's court in Harare. Meldrumwho writes for Britain's Guardian newspaper, is the firstreporter to face trial under the law enacted by President RobertMugabe three months ago, shortly after he was returned to powerin hotly disputed elections. If convicted he could face up to twoyears in prison or pay a fine of 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars (1,820US dollars/ 1,925 euros). The charges stem from a story thatMugabe's supporters had beheaded an opposition supporter in frontof her children in April this year. The story was initiallyconfirmed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),but later the man claiming to be the dead woman's husband wasfound to have fabricated the incident. The Guardian has printedcorrections. But magistrate Godfrey Macheyo responded toarguments put forward by Meldrum's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa,saying he did not take retractions seriously. "Aboutretractions, maybe I don't know, (but) I don't think it issomething that is an issue at the end of the day. I don't thinkit's something I will take seriously," said magistrateMacheyo. A police officer in charge of Magunje district, wherethe alleged murder was reported to have taken place, InspectorPhillip Mpofu, was Thursday called to testify for the state.Mpofu said he refused to comment to the private paper The DailyNews, the first to publish the story about the alleged murder,because he believed the paper was from the devil. "I hateliars as a police officer, I have four or five copies of theDaily News where they were lying. "I hate liars because theybelong to the devil," Mpofu told the court. A Daily Newsreporter, Lloyd Mudiwa, also facing charges under the media overthe same story, in a trial due to open on June 20. Meldrum, whoalso works for other foreign media such as CNN and Radio FranceInternational (RFI), is a US national but holds permanentresidency in Zimbabwe, where he has lived since October 1980. Inall about a dozen journalists have been charged under theinformation act which was enacted in March and has been widelycondemned by international press watchdog groups. ReportersWithout Borders (RSF) has urged the courts "to show theirindependence of the government and to do all they can to see thatthe charges against him (Meldrum) are dropped." "He wassimply doing his job and nothing can justify his imprisonment forthis," RSF secretary general Robert Menard said in astatement. And in a letter addressed to Mugabe and made publicWednesday, the International Press Institute said the new law"is generally seen as a charter to repress the media".
American journalist tried for breaking new media laws(Harare, Sapa-AP, 12/06) - An American journalist, thefirst to be tried under draconian new media laws aimed atstifling free speech in Zimbabwe, pleaded innocent Wednesday tocharges he knowingly published false information on allegedpolitical violence. U.S. citizen Andrew Meldrum, 50, acorrespondent for the British newspaper The Guardian, faces twoyears in prison should he be found guilty by the Hararemagistrate's court. Wednesday's trial marked the first time oneof the twelve journalists charged with violating media laws hasbeen prosecuted. The media laws coupled with new securitylegislation have made critical reporting of the government acrime. The United States has condemned the restrictive media lawsand said Meldrum was a victim of intimidation. A Zimbabweanjournalist, Lloyd Mudiwa, a reporter with The Daily News, thecountry's only independent daily, is scheduled to appear in courton the same charges next week. The two were arrested last monthafter reporting on the killing, allegedly by ruling partysupporters, of a woman near the town of Karoi, 200 kilometers(120 miles) northwest of Harare. The woman's husband reportedlysaid she had been hacked to death and decapitated in front of hertwo children. Police later said the killing never happened. TheDaily News retracted the story, saying it was tricked by itsinformant on the story in a bid to discredit the paper. Thenewspaper's aggressive coverage has addled President RobertMugabe's government which has repeatedly dismissed it as anopposition mouthpiece. Beatrice Mtetwa, Meldrum's lawyer, saidMeldrum denied state allegations he published false informationwithout trying to verify the facts. The police did not respond toinquiries on the case and only began investigating it after thefirst allegations of the killing were carried by The Daily News,Mtetwa told the court. Mtetwa argued the source of the report wasnot interviewed by police ahead of the trial and no testimonyfrom him was included in the outline of the state case againstMeldrum. "Political violence has been a reality in Zimbabwein the past two years ... the story was consistent with otherreports of political violence," from previously reliablesources, she said. Defense lawyers also said they would arguethat no action had been taken under new media laws, enforced inMarch, against the state media for repeatedly publishing falseinformation. Mtetwa said the charges against Meldrum were"clear abuse and selective use" of the media laws and"an attempt to intimidate media practitioners in theindependent press." Since unrest in Zimbabwe began two yearsago, independent journalists have only had restricted access toofficials and operate under the threat of violence. Stateauthorities refuse to talk to them and the police rarely divulgeinformation. State prosecutor Thembani Mpofu said Meldrum wascharged under Access to Information laws because he abusedjournalistic privilege by publishing falsehoods. The state saidthe woman identified as a murder victim in Meldrum's storyactually died from an illness. Julia Musopero, the first statewitness called to the stand, was identified as the woman'ssister. Musopero testified her younger sister died ofAIDS-related illness. Independent human rights groups say atleast 57 people, most of them opposition supporters, have died inpolitical violence this year. Mugabe was declared the winner indisputed presidential elections March 9-11 that the oppositionhas refused to recognize. Several independent observer groupshave said the vote was deeply flawed, citing political violence,repressive laws and unfair voting conditions that swayed the pollin Mugabe's favor. New media and security laws enforced since theelection have been condemned as part of Mugabe's strategy tostifle criticism of the government. Mugabe led the nation toindependence in 1980 and ruled virtually unchallenged until theeconomy collapsed and political violence erupted in recent years.The United States was unequivocal in its condemnation of thetrial and the media laws. "We deplore the use of newdraconian laws to restrict the freedom of the press inZimbabwe," Richard Boucher, the U.S. State Department'sspokesman, said. "The United States condemns the governmentof Zimbabwe's continuing harassment of the free press and callson it to cease all such action." The U.S.-based Committee toProtect Journalists has named Zimbabwe one of the 10 worst placesto be a journalist, alongside Afghanistan, Colombia and Iran.
Tsvangirai blames Mugabe for food shortage (Harare,Sapa-AFP, 11/06) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader MorganTsvangirai on Tuesday, blamed President Robert Mugabe'sgovernment for the food shortage here and denounced hisparticipation at the World Food Summit in Rome. "RobertMugabe is deliberately misleading the world by claiming thatZimbabwe has no food because of drought," Tsvangirai said ina statement. "The chaotic land reform and government failureto take urgent measures to avert the crisis are to blame,"he said. Tsvangirai repeated accusations, reinforced by reportsfrom rights groups, that MDC supporters were being denied foodaid. He called for churches, non-government organizations, andpolitical parties to create a new mechanism with the government'sGrain Market Board to distribute food. "Our only concern isthat no one should be denied food assistance or even access topurchase grain or indeed be subjected to any form of politicalretribution for the purpose of accessing food," he said.Mugabe, who exploited a loophole in a European Union and UStravel ban imposed for rights abuses to address the summit inRome, said his land reform program was a "firm launching padfor our fight against poverty and hunger." Hundreds ofwhite-owned properties have been earmarked for compulsoryacquisition by the government in a bid to correct colonial landownership imbalances which left whites - less than one percent ofthe population - owning more than 70 percent of the country'sprime farmland. Mugabe said his government's fast-track landacquisition programme had been a response to "the people'scry for land". The UN's World Food Programme says sixmillion Zimbabweans, nearly half the population, need emergencyfood aid as the country faces famine due to drought.
Mugabe defends land policy at food summit (Rome,Sapa-AFP, 10/06) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabeissued a robust defence of his government's controversial landreform programme at the World Food Summit in Rome on Monday.Mugabe, who defied a European Union and US travel ban imposed forrights abuses to address the summit, said the programme was a"firm launching pad for our fight against poverty andhunger". Hundreds of white-owned properties have beenearmarked for compulsory acquisition by the government in a bidto correct colonial land ownership imbalances which left whites -less than one percent of the population - owning more than 70percent of the country's prime farmland. Mugabe said hisgovernment's fast-track land acquisition programme had been aresponse to "the people's cry for land". The move"enables people to fight poverty by directly working ontheir own productive and fertile land, their own I say withemphasis, because land being the most important natural resourceof any country must first and foremost belong to and be trulyowned by the country's indigenous people. "Hence Zimbabwe'sland must rightly belong to Zimbabweans." Several whitefarmers were killed in violence which accompanied the land takeover and the ensuing intimidation during Zimbabwe's elections inMarch which confirmed the 78-year-old's grip on power. The 15 EUstates imposed a travel ban on Mugabe as part of a string ofsanctions for human rights abuses during the election campaign,but to come to Rome the president exploited a loophole in the banwhich allows him to attend UN-organised conferences. He said theland programme has enabled hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweansto take up farming. "Where previously only a handful ofcolonial settler farmers were undertaking commercial farming thecountry now has over 260,000 farming families on varying sizes ofland sharing a total of 12 million hectares of prime agriculturalland," Mugabe said. "Contrary to widely disseminatedmisrepresentation by our detractors there is now a brighterfuture for our farming community across colour, gender and ethnicdivides." Mugabe joined a chorus of African leaders incalling for a "more comprehensive and humane" approachby rich countries to the question of developing world debt.Earlier, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinsonresponded at a press conference to reports of criticism ofMugabe's presence at the summit. "Maybe it's better thatPresident Mugabe is here and maybe he can recognise that he andhis administration has the primary responsibility" in facingthe emergency, she said. "We have to work with those whohave the responsibility and President Mugabe has thatresponsibility and in many way this summit might help to bringthat home forcibly. I hope so."
Mugabe defends land policy, asks for more aid (Rome,Sapa-AP, 10/06) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabedeflected accusations that his policies were exacerbatingZimbabwe's food crisis Monday and instead touted what he saidwere his successes in alleviating hunger. Mugabe spoke to theU.N. World Food Summit here, skirting a European Union travelban. EU and U.N. officials said the ban couldn't prevent him fromattending an international meeting. Mugabe defended hisgovernment's program of confiscating white-owned farms, saying itwas a "firm launching pad" to fight poverty and hunger."My Government has responded to the people's cry forland," he said. "Contrary to widely disseminatedmisrepresentations by our detractors, there is now a brighterfuture for our farming community across color, gender and ethnicdivides," he added. The program was kicked off in 2000 andaims to confiscate 95 percent of land owned by the nation's 4,000white farmers - mostly the descendants of British and SouthAfrican settlers - for redistribution to landless blacks. Theland seizures, coupled with ruling party militants' occupation ofwhite-owned farms, has driven hundreds of white farmers and tensof thousands of their black workers off the land. Critics say thechaotic implementation of the government program and theoccupations has disrupted agriculture production. Zimbabwe'sopposition has also accused the government of withholding foodaid from its supporters even as the country is experiencing amajor food crisis. On Monday, the main opposition Movement forDemocratic Change said it was "shocked and dismayed at thesheer hypocrisy of Mugabe's attendance at the U.N. World FoodSummit in Rome." "The Mugabe who talks about the needfor international aid to help tackle the food crisis is the sameMugabe who is blatantly denying food to hundreds of thousands ofpeople suspected of voting for the MDC in the recent presidentialelections," it said in a statement. EU spokesman GunnarWiegand also criticized Mugabe's presence here, even though heacknowledged Italy couldn't block him from attending. "It isdistasteful to see the president of Zimbabwe giving theimpression he is really caring about the poverty and theprovision of food of his people" when his policies showedotherwise, Wiegand said. The EU imposed economic and diplomaticsanctions against Mugabe's government after a dispute withelection monitors in February. It cut off 128 million euros (dlrs110 million) in development aid, banned all travel to the EU forMugabe and 20 of his cabinet ministers and froze their assets inEurope. There is a separate EU ban on bilateral ministerialmeetings with Mugabe and the other banned officials. The Italianssaid they were upholding it. Nearly one fourth of Zimbabwe's 12.5million people are facing hunger according to an estimate by theU.S.-funded Famine Early Warning System Network. The World FoodProgram estimates half the population will need food aid to avertstarvation this year. Five other southern African countries arealso at risk of starvation because of drought, floods, governmentmismanagement and economic instability, WFP says.
Danes close Zimbabwe embassy doors (Johannesburg, TheNamibian, 10/06) - Strained relations between the Danishand the Zimbabwean government came to a head on Thursday asDenmark announced it will close its embassy later this year.
Mugabe attends food summit despite travel ban (Harare,Sapa-AFP, 08/06) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe isattending the World Food Summit in Rome despite an EU travel ban,as his nation grapples with a famine affecting about half of thepopulation. The state-run Herald newspaper said Saturday thatMugabe left Friday for the summit, where leaders and officialsfrom 180 nations will work to craft a plan to half the number ofthe world's hungry by 2015. The European Union, the United Statesand several other western nations have imposed sanctions onMugabe, including a travel ban, over rights abuses and allegedfraud during his campaign for re-election in March. But countriesthat host UN institutions are required to allow all leaders toattend UN meetings, although the host country can restict theirtravel to a limited area around the airport and the actual UNbuilding. The four-day Rome summit will tackle major problems atthe heart of Africa's struggle with poverty, including AIDS, soilsalination and mass urbanization in the developing world.Zimbabwe's maize harvest this year is expected to be only 510,000tonnes, about 28 percent of average crop produced in the lastdecade, according to a study last month by UN agencies. Thesouthern African country needs about two million tonnes of maizeto feed its population, and the dramatic shortfall is alreadybeing felt in both cities and remote rural areas. The shortagecame when a drought coincided with the government'sviolence-wracked land reforms, and after the government delayedfor months last year in accepting reports that warned of alooming famine. The UN World Food Programme estimates that sixmillion people need emergency food aid. The government put thefigure at 7.8 million people - more than half the population. Atleast one in four adult Zimbabweans is suffering from HIV, and UNofficials fear a devastating death toll as people whose bodiesare already under attack by the virus begin to suffermalnutrition.
New Zealand imposes travel sanctions (The SundayMirror, 08/06) - Another country New Zealand, hasimposed travel sanctions against President Robert Mugabe, hisCabinet and service chiefs in a continued international smearcampaign aimed at isolating Zimbabwe. In a circular inpossession of The Sunday Mirror dated May 3, 2002, the NewZealand Immigration Service (NZIS) said its government hadslammed a travel restriction on Mugabe and his closeassociates, preventing them being issued with visas to enter orbeing granted permits to enter the country. New Zealandjoined some members of the EU, Britain, Germany and France inimposing sanctions against Zimbabwe government officials onalleged human rights abuse and political intolerance. The UnitedStates of America had also imposed travel restrictions on thecountry. New provisions have been inserted in both theresidence and temporary entry parts of the operational manual; togive effect to the ban on the issue of visas or the grant ofpermits to Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, and his closeassociates. The provision states that ordinarily, none ofthe persons named in the list of names compiled by the ministryof foreign affairs and trade, provided to NZIS and approved bythe minister of Immigration may be issued a visa to enter NewZealand (including a transit visa) or granted any permit to be inNew Zealand, reads the circular. But the secretary forinformation and publicity, George Charamba, told The SundayMirror this week that the Zimbabwe government was no longerconcerned with the travel sanctions and was currently focused onsuccessfully completing the land reform programme which startedin February 2000. What the New Zealand government must knowis that President Mugabe was democratically elected by the peopleof Zimbabwe and no amount of Western scorn would end prematurelyhis six-year term, said Charamba. He said the sanctionswere not a protest about alleged human rights abuse and politicalintolerance. This is a war against President Mugabe by theWest, but let me assure them that we are determined to fight forour sovereignty to the bitter end. The New Zealand foreignministry came up with a list of 20 Zimbabwean authorities who arebarred from entering the country with effect from last month.President Mugabe, local government minister Ignatius Chombo,Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, home affairs ministerJohn Nkomo, security minister Nicholas Goche, youth ministerElliot Manyika, information minister Jonathan Moyo, justiceminister Patrick Chinamasa, agriculture minister Joseph Made,foreign minister Stan Mudenge, defence minister Sydney Sekeramai,cabinet secretary Charles Utete and foreign secretary WillardChiwewe top the New Zealand sanctions list. Others are army chiefGeneral Vitalis Zvinavashe, army chief Lt-General ConstantineChiwenga, air force commander Perence Shiri, police commissionerAugustine Chihuri, Central Intelligence Organisation chief ElishaMuzonzini and Charamba. The New Zealand government also announcedthat it would permit Zimbabwe nationals who are temporarily inthe country to apply for temporary permits for a further sixmonths with effect from April 30 to enable them to remain legallyuntil the situation in Zimbabwe stabilises. Under thisprovision, Zimbabwe nationals may apply for and be grantedfurther temporary permits of six months duration until thesituation in Zimbabwe stabilises.
Mugabe accused of holding back food aid from opponents(Harare, Sapa-AP, 08/06) - Zimbabwe's opposition accusedPresident Mugabe Saturday of withholding food aid from itssupporters even as the country is experiencing a major foodcrisis. Distribution of food packages have been halted by thegovernment in several areas known as opposition strongholds, saidWelchman Ncube, a leading official of the opposition Movement forDemocratic Change. The government has denied the oppositionclaims, but independent aid workers and human rights groups haveraised concerns over unfair distribution and interference inrelief programs by local state officials and ruling partymilitants. "Mugabe is responsible for the hunger of childrenacross Zimbabwe on the basis (of whether or not) their parentssupport the MDC," Ncube said. Ncube's accusations came asMugabe arrived in Rome for a U.N. food summit that is scheduledto begin Monday. Zimbabwe is among several southern Africancountries seeking food aid to avert starvation among theirpeople. Ncube described Mugabe's trip to Rome as a cynical ployto skirt a European Union travel ban on Mugabe and top officialsimposed to protest human and democratic rights violationsfollowing disputed presidential elections in March."(Mugabe) has the gall to say he is going to a foodconference when he has destroyed agriculture and food security inthis country," Ncube said. Severe food shortages have beencaused by erratic rains and farm disruptions in a governmentprogram to nationalize 95 percent of white-owned farms. TheU.S.-funded Famine Early Warning System Network estimates nearlyone fourth of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people are currently facinghunger. The World Food Program estimates half the population willneed food aid to avert starvation this year.
Government lambasts judge for links with InternationalBar Association (Harare, Sapa-DPA, 06/06) - PresidentRobert Mugabe's Government Thursday publicly rebuked a seniorjudge for maintaining links with the International BarAssociation, the world premier body of leading jurists. In aletter released to the state-owned daily newspaper The Herald,Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa accused Supreme Court judgeWilson Sandura of "undermining and not contributing tojudicial independence in Zimbabwe" through contacts with theInternational Bar Association after it censured alleged breakdownin the rule of law year. Chinamasa, who has previously demandedthe resignation of Sandura, one of the last remaining judges fromthe era of former chief justice Anthony Gubbay, said theassociation had helped "demonise" Zimbabwe by itscensure. Gubbay was forced to take early retirement last year inthe face of death threats. Chinamasa forbade Sandura fromaccepting an invitation to join an International Bar Associationmission to assess the judiciary and legal profession in Malawi,currently in controversy over alleged unpunished corruption,human rights abuses, and President Bakali Muluzi's bid to gain anunconstitutional third term in office. For Sandura to"align" himself with the association was"tantamount to the serving judge setting himself up as arival political authority", claimed Chinamasa. Legal sourceshere say Sandura will not respond to what they believe is adeliberate attempt to taunt the judge into resignation. In thepast two years six highly respected judges have quit in protestat "selective" application of the law, state-sponsoredviolence, and breaches of the constitution.
Mudene denied German visa (The Sunday Mirror, 04/06) -Zimbabwes foreign minister, Stan Mudenge, becamethe first casualty of the European Union (EU) smart sanctionsimposed on President Robert Mugabes government when he wasdenied a German visa, The Sunday Mirror has learnt. Diplomaticsources this week said the Germany embassy in Harare had turneddown Mudenges visa application as part of the EU travelbans announced last year on Zimbabwe government officials foralleged gross human rights abuse and political intolerance.The embassy informed Mudenge that it was not in a positionto grant him a visa because Germany is bound by the resolutionsof the EU, said the source. Mudenge intended to travel toGermany for his daughters wedding at the end of this month.The Germany embassy, the sources claimed, was also irked byMudenges comments upon return from New York with presidentRobert Mugabe when he described travel sanctions against Zimbabweas useless. The embassy was of the opinion that if Mudengeis allowed to go to Germany he will use the opportunity as apropaganda stint that the EU sanctions were not working like whathe did after the UN childrens forum, added thesource. Mudenge was quoted in the media soon after arriving fromNew York saying Mugabe and his entourage had no troubletravelling to the United States for a United Nationschildrens forum. Everything was properly planned.Nobody wanted any incident and things went on smoothly,said Mudenge. He boasted that the United States had given MugabeVIP status despite the so-called sanctions. TheAmericans were up to scratch with their commitment to the hostcountry agreement. We wanted to demonstrate that the sanctionswill not stop us from carrying out our diplomaticfunctions, added Mudenge. This was despite the fact thatthe United States had only allowed Mugabe to enter New Yorkbecause he was on a UN mission. The German embassy this weekdeclined to comment on the Mudenge debacle. We are verysorry, we cannot comment on that issue, said a spokespersonof the embassy. When contacted for comment yesterday, Mudengedenied making an application for a Germany visa but confirmedthat he intended to travel to the country for his daughterswedding at the end of June. The minister professed ignorance thatGermany was now implementing the EU sanctions. I amcertainly going to apply for the visa. It is my right to be at mydaughters wedding at the end of the month. I am the onlyparent of my daughter, said Mudenge. He said even if hisapplication was turned down the wedding would certainly goahead. I know there is a lot of politics at play butthat will not stop the wedding and that will also not stop us(Zimbabweans) from taking our land, added Mudenge. Apartfrom the travel bans, the EU also resolved to investigate andseize all assets belonging to the Zimbabwean officials. Thetravel bans were imposed before and just after ZimbabwesMarch 8 - 11 presidential elections that the United States, theEU and others decried as fundamentally flawed. Besides the EU,the United States has since come up with a list of governmentministers, officials and people it perceives to be in connectionwith Mugabes government. The USA Assistant Secretary ofState for African Affairs, Walter Kansteiner, recently statedthat on 22 February, President George W Bush signed aproclamation suspending entry into the US as immigrants ornon-immigrants those persons responsible for actions thatthreaten Zimbabwes democratic institutions. He said hisgovernment was compiling a list of people connected toMugabes government who are barred from entering the USA.Among those on the sanctions list are all government ministers,prominent bankers Enock Kamushinda and Taka Mutunhu, the ZimbabweElectricity Supply Authoritys chief executive Sydney Gata,and National Oil Company of Zimbabwe chief executive, WebsterMuriritirwa. Businessmen Mutumwa Mawere, Philip Chiyangwa,Saviour Kasukuwere, David Chapfika, Bill Rautenbach and JohnBredenkamp are also listed. Spouses of those listed will also beaffected. Other latest additions to the original list of 20 areCabinet chief secretary Charles Utete, Mariyawanda Nzuwa, thechairman of the Public Service Commission and head of theElection Directorate, Misheck Sibanda, the head of administrationin Mugabes office, and the permanent secretary in theMinistry of Transport and Communications, Christian Katsande.
This page last updated 09 July 2004.