Migration News - May 2002

Click here for archives

Click here for current news

May 2002 - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.

Party politics no reason to deny food to hungry: Mbeki
Maseru election positive step for region
AU will foster economic integration
Africa's rocky road to regional integration
Africa needs real commitment to AU and NEPAD: Mbeki
Five reasons the region can't ignore Lesotho's poll
Starving neighbours turn to South Africa
Lubombo cross-border project on course, say regional ministers
Dlamini-Zuma confirms launch of African Union
Let us all promote NEPAD: Zuma
Nearly a third of children in sub-Saharan Africa work: ILO report

Displaced people resettlement plan in June
UNITA quartering process in northern region ends
UNHCR delegation due in June
Military delegations start official talks
SADC experts approve forestry protocol
USD 22 million spent in first phase of UNITA troops quartering
Foreign troops in quartering areas
South African minister defends special relations
DRC police contingent ends training in Luanda
65,000 UNITA troops quartered
Government discusses reintegration of UNITA ex-soldiers
Cabinet approval demobilized social reintegration programme
Angola, barely done with war, faces new threat of famine
Focus on quartering areas
UNITA welcomes suspension of travel sanctions
Bie government to resettle 100,000 displaced people
South Africans looking for oil business
Immigration wants tighter border control
Over 42,000 UNITA soldiers quartered
Minister encourages exchanges among Portuguese speaking universities

Don't discourage nurses from taking posts abroad, says official
Stop harbouring illegal immigrants to save public funds, says councillor
Police probing 59 drivers with questionable licences obtained in Namibia
Minister urges international community to be realistic about Botswana's elephant herd
South Africans suspected of night watchman's murder
Commentary on land issues in Botswana
UNHCR to build houses for Angolan refugees
Residents welcome establishment of tourism board
Non-citizens to pay full medical fees at all Botswana health facilities
Company slams government for favouring foreign products
I never lost my Botswana citizenship, says Presidential advisor
Legal case of disabled child schooling in Zimbabwe
Francistown residents blame Zimbabwe immigrants for high crime rate
Botswana population confirmed to be 1.6m
Tribalism is fuelled by some Batswana, says MP

Storm clouds over congo peace process - vital roles for President Mbeki and the UN
"No real progress" at talks in Cape Town
Renewal of full-scale peace talks uncertain
Informal peace talks begin in South Africa
Opposition Alliance awaiting resumption of dialogue
Eastern buffer zone has unanimous support, saya UN official

Thumbs up for Maseru polls
500,000 people in need of food aid
BNP calls for a forensic audit of elections to cast away doubts
Observers say elections were free and fair
No threat of violence after Lesotho's ruling party victory
Maseru's ruling party set for sweeping win
Lesotho kingdom votes, hopes for fresh start
Starvation threatens people of Lesotho
Water project boss convicted of bribery
Critical election begins in kingdom
Lesotho and South Africa launch joint commission
Econet launches Maseru network
R2,3-billion agreement for South Africa and Maseru
South Africa, Lesotho health ministers sign declaration

Fight poverty and AIDS, urges Mandela
Ruling party militants demonstrate against opposition press journalists
'Unwanted' Indians seeks Malawian identity
Illegal imports of cement by traders
Two confess to murdering German tourist
Citizen arrested for German tourist's death
Lilongwe implements unratified land policy
US government provides food aid
Zimbabwe chemical firm to move into Lilongwe
Donors slow to respond to famine, says CARE

South Africa sends medical aid to Maputo
Mozambique is South Africa's largest African trading partner
Mozambican, South African police destroy 1.5 tonnes of illegal arms
SADC launches inter-state political committee
South African project coming on line
South Africa and Mozambique economic cooperation
Mozambique provides success story for Mbeki

Military convoys to continue in Caprivi
Poor regional rainfall slashes harvest expectations
Namibian reporter wins press freedom case in South Africa
Cuban-trained lawyers face discrimination
Angelina Jolie visits Osire refugee camp
Lands ministry to continue probe of foreign land ownership

South Africa:
Home Affairs' new powers akin to past repression
SA keeps its door shut to its neighbours

Immigrants squat outside Cape Town's customs office
Mbeki signs Immigration Bill into law
9/11 speeds South African anti-terror bill
Government open to changes to Immigration Bill: Mbeki
Employers will find more perils than pearls
South African officials process aid to Maputo
Commentary on Immigration Act: A bit of a joke
Immigration Bill faces new deadline
Immigration Bill is dead on arrival
Buthelezi considers leaving cabinet
Buthelezi warns on amendments to Bill
ANC, IFP ties seem to be mending
Immigration Bill clears last hurdle
Buthelezi vows to leave no stone unturned on new Immigration Bill
Buthelezi warns of growing rift between IFP-ANC
Commentary on Immigration Act: Bad law, bad blood
Quota clause is back in Immigration Bill
Editorial: What a mess
UDM calls on government to protect tourists
'Flawed' Bill passed with conditions
Immigration Bill gets the green light
ANC wants to make changes to Immigration Bill
ANC withdraws late change to Bill
Senior ANC, IFP members meet to defuse tensions
ANC withdraws Immigration Bill amendment
MPs call for more info on child trafficking
Thousands deported from South Africa and Botswana
Protection of tourists on public transport essential
Zimbabweans given the boot in crackdown
ANC wants to make changes to Immigration Bill
ANC back down on work permit quotas
SA economy to benefit from reworked Immigration Bill
ANC gives in to pressure over skilled workers quota
Erwin hints at Immigration Bill changes
Door still open to skills - Erwin
SA's lack of skills needs a measured response
Comment: Immigration Bill could lead to strife
Comment: Buthelezi's bill
Immigration Bill focus moves to NCOP
Immigration quotas could create confusion, says Erwin
ANC proposes amendment to immigration quota clause
Immigration law to cost more
R94-million needed for proper border security
MPs get to grips with the politics of immigration
Conditions at Lindela improve
Immigration Bill passed, 'warts and all'
Parliament springs into action and the Immigration Bill makes deadline
West Cape must expect refugee influx, says premier
Scotland Yard flies in to work on 419 scam
Immigration Bill rejected by organised business
ANC steals Buthelezi's prize Bill
Police sting cracks human smuggling network
Immigration horse-trade irks Buthelezi and business
Assembly passes controversial Immigration Bill
Anger erupts at Muizenberg refugee meeting
Focus in Lindela Dentention Centre
Lawyers echo business concerns over Immigration Bill
Sparks fly as Immigration Bill battle heats up
South African immigration policy futile, says Human Rights commissioner
Report on Lindela Detention Centre
ANC says there's agreement, IFP remains mum on Immigration Bill
Child trafficking claims are false, says Minister Nqakula
Immigration Bill inches towards finalisation
Buthelezi unhappy about Immigration Bill compromises
Home Affairs objects to Immigration Bill changes
Business expresses concerns at changes to immigration law
Toxic skin creams smuggled, 12 Zambians arrested
Government wakes up to flight of health workers
IFP, ANC to meet on eve of immigration vote
Immigration Bill vote delayed again
Tourists flock to South Africa after September 11
Immigration Bill vote delayed, third time in a week
Commentary on Immigration Act: Excessive vigilance is counterproductive
Bilateral agreements to control migration of health professionals mooted
Editorial: Open our doors to skilled Africans
Immigration policy goes backwards
Buthelezi 'at end of tether' over Bill
Report on foreign-owned sweatshop
Future of Immigration Bill in balance
Immigration Bill talks for ANC, IFP
Mbeki plays down visa row
ANC, IFP accused of holding Parliament hostage over Immigration Bill
Thousands of South African citizens wrongfully detained at Lindela, says Attorney General
Ties between South Africa, Angola Good, says official
State furious at US for visa checks on ANC
South Africa 'amazed' by US treatment of Sexwale
South Africa berates US over visa delays for ANC members
US-South Africa relations still good, says Zuma
Top level IFP-ANC meeting to salvage Immigration Bill
Buthelezi keeps his options open on new bill
Buthelezi and Maduna meet over Immigration Bill
Long-awaited Immigration Bill nears completion
Mbeki appoints new Deputy Minister to Home Affairs
Immigration courts vital to Buthelezi's bill
MPs remain divided ahead of Immigration Bill vote
Mozambique pipeline will give South Africa altenative to coal
Sowetan journalist to appear in court
Mbeki, Chissano launch gas project in Mozambique
Mbeki completes successful visit to Maputo
ANC likely to reject clauses in draft bill
Cracking the ANC whip
Buthelezi denies 'special force' reports
Voting on Immigration Bill set for Monday
Mbeki leaves for Maputo talks
Mechanics of the drug market
South African murdered in Mozambique
Suspected 419 masterminds in court

150,000 need food aid in tiny kingdom
Three Nigerians set free by court
Suspects caught trying to smuggle E1m dagga into South Africa
Well-known drug lord arrested in South Africa

Another 800 refugees to return home to Burundi
Big food shipment arrives
Stock exchange door open to foreigners
NGOs concerned over voluntary repatriation of refugees
Focus on Rwanda refugees in Tanzania
Focus on sexual violence among refugees
No military training for returnees

Government declares food shortage a disaster
Zambia to recruit Cuban doctors for rural hospitals
Food crisis
Mealie meal theft hearing continues
Food shortage to worsen
Lack of national airline affects tourism
Zimbabwe bus impounded by Lusaka authorities
Two South African drivers in court
Refugees denied right to information
Zambia to integrate long-time refugees into local communities
Positive feedback on refugee initiative
Zambia, EU mend ties
Zambia government defrauded of $6 million
New initiative to integrate refugees

Government makes u-turn on Todd's citizenship
Half of Zimbabwe needs food aid
New mining incentives under threat
Border jumpers robbed by armed robbers
Zimbabwe to stop all payments to white farmers for land
WFP seeks to extend food aid in Harare
Tutu forms welfare trust to assist Zimbabwe farmers
At least 75,000 tonnes of imported maize set to ease current mealie-meal shortage
Famine stalks Harare
Zimbabwe students turn to South Africa after exam ban
Tourism promotion launched
UK immigration authorities manhandle Zimbabwean
Government rounds up refugees
Government moves to reassure asian citizens in Zimbabwe
Three million face starvation in Zimbabwe
Three more journalists arrested, charged in Zimbabwe
South African pubisher granted bail
President assents to land Bill
US tells Zimbabwe visa ban does not apply to UN
South African man charged for allegedly defrauding hotel
Police commissioner in France despite sanctions
Zimbabwe ruling party to sue foreign and local media organisations
Government threatens clampdown on NGOs, Oppostion
Government ordered to renew Judith Todd's passport
Judge rules people born in Zimbabwe cannot lose citizenship
Mugabe faces travel curbs in US
Zimbabwe parliament tightens land seizure law
Todd wins citizenship case
Three foreign correspondents challenge new Zimbabwe media law
Zimbabwe court rejects by journalists to drop charges under harsh media laws
Government concedes in test case on citizenship
Foriegn media attacked on World Press Freedom Day
Asian kombi owners flee Zimbabwe
Journalists formally charged, released
Construction sector loses 140,000 jobs in decade
Downturn in domestic tourism figures
Hundreds of white farmers forced to quit
Journalists' arrest condemned


Party politics no reason to deny food to hungry: Mbeki (Parliament, Sapa, 29/05) - Any attempt to deny people food aid on the basis of their political affiliation would be totally unacceptable, President Thabo Mbeki said on Wednesday. During the president's question time in the National Assembly, he was asked what South Africa's reaction would be if it were true that United Nations food aid in famine-hit Zimbabwe was being distributed only to Zanu-PF supporters. Mbeki replied that if such information was received, and it was confirmed, South Africa would condemn it in the strongest terms. Distributing food aid on the basis of people's party political affiliation was fundamentally wrong, he said. Replying to further questions, Mbeki repeated that South Africa opposed the concept and practice of collective punishment - according to which the whole continent would be "punished" by non-support of the New Plan for Africa's Development (Nepad) and the African Union (AU) on the basis that "wrong things are happening in one country or another". It was incorrect to consider Zimbabwe as a "test case" in Africa, for the rest of the world, and thus a "threat" to Nepad. Zimbabwe's problems, economic and otherwise, would not be solved by South Africans or anyone else, but by Zimbabweans. South Africa had a responsibility to contribute "whatever we can" to find solutions to the problems, but the ultimate responsibility lay with the Zimbabweans. Events in Zimbabwe, such as farm invasions and related occurrences, would also not be stopped by South Africans. Mbeki added that "confrontation" with Zimbabwe would also not solve anything. The only solution lay in South Africa, and the rest of the world engaging with the Zimbabwean government.

Maseru election positive step for region (Irin, 28/05) - In stark contrast to the regions most recent presidential election in Zimbabwe, Lesotho's 25 May poll has been described as a model for Southern Africa and the continent. It was announced on Tuesday that the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) had won an absolute majority, scooping 61 out of 120 parliamentary seats. The final results were expected on Wednesday. Roger Southall, executive director of the democracy and governance programme of South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council, who was in Lesotho to observe voting, told IRIN: "There's absolutely no doubt that it was free and fair. I don't think there's any doubt that this election was probably one of the most efficiently run elections you could find anywhere in Africa. "A lot of effort had gone into preparing the IEC [Independent Electoral Commission] over the last two years. Their technical capacity has been markedly improved, it was probably the most high tech election that Africa has ever seen." As to the conduct of the poll at voting stations, Southall said polling staff were meticulous in explaining the system to voters. Voters had to cast two votes, one for a party and the other for a constituency candidate. Staff made sure they did not confuse the two ballots. "They were given them one at a time. They deposited the party vote in a box marked party and were guided by officials. Only after that did they then cast a vote for a constituency candidate," said Southall. International observer missions have agreed. A joint statement by international election observation delegations in Lesotho said the poll was "free, fair, peaceful, lawful and transparent". The international observer delegations commended the IEC, polling officers and party agents for their dedication to their duties despite hardships posed by physical and climatic conditions. The election was seen as critical for Lesotho's recovery from the devastating riots that marked the rejection of the 1998 poll, which saw the ruling party win all but one parliamentary seat. The capital, Maseru's, commercial district was gutted and the country's economy fell into recession. The violent rejection of the 1998 election result was because a significant percentage of voters were denied representation in parliament because of the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system that was then in place. The riots led to a military intervention by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). When law and order was restored the Interim Political Authority, incorporating all political parties, was established and the IEC restructured. A new mixed electoral system incorporating the FPTP and the proportional representation (PR) systems was agreed upon. This new system would now ensure that parties would win seats in parliament either by winning constituencies, of which there are 80, or enough votes to warrant some of the 40 PR seats available. Regionally a successful election meant that "after the disaster of Zimbabwe there has been an undoubtedly free and well conducted election in the region," said Southall.

AU will foster economic integration (Daily News, 27/05) - Foreign affairs minister Mompati Merafhe has stressed the importance of a united Africa and its people if the continent was to survive the competition in the global economy. Merafhe was briefing members of the House of Chiefs on the transformation of the OAU to African Union (AU) in Gaborone on Friday. He said the formation of the AU was conceived a long time ago and a time frame of 35 years set but Africa’s current leadership decided to accelerate it and the AU is to be launched during the forthcoming and perhaps last OAU summit in South Africa in July. Merafhe said some of the objectives of the AU would be to foster unity, economic integration, defence of sovereignty and territorial integrity. He observed that with marginal contribution of less than one per cent to the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), Africa still had a long way to go hence the need for economic integration. He said that Africa also come must of age and develop a capacity to resolve its conflicts because it could not expect its international partners to co-operating always burn their fingers here. The minister also told the House that although some member honoured their countries had not financial obligations to the OAU for periods of up to three or four years, they would still be members but they treated as AU would not be allowed a voice during the AU meetings and their citizens would not be the pan-African recruited to work for body. He also informed the chiefs that the existing OAU structures would be names, noting that transformed and given new the heads of state and government summit would be known as the Assembly government. The assembly of heads of state and would be the AU supreme body. The council of ministers would be comprising ministers of renamed executive council, foreign affairs who would be co-ordinating issues of mutual interest of and foster democracy in member states. To promote the continent, the AU will establish a pan-African parliament, he said, would now be known as a adding that the secretariat commission. He said a chairman, who has been hitherto been known as charged with the day-to-day the secretary general running of the organisation, would chair the commission.

Africa's rocky road to regional integration (Nairobi, Sapa-AFP, 25/05) - Faced with their relegation to the minor league of the world's political and economic players, sub-Saharan states are talking increasingly of integration as a means of holding their own against the super-powers. But as was made clear at this week's summit meeting of the continent's largest trading bloc, there are numerous obstacles on the path to regional cooperation. Chief among these is war. There are currently about a dozen conflicts raging in sub-Saharan Africa, one of them, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), involving six different countries. Another hurdle is the outmoded nature of many of Africa's economic infrastructures in today's globalised world: many remain state-dominated, protectionist and even downright corrupt. And despite the hullabaloo over the "African Renaissance" and, more recently, the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the continent's leaders still lack unity of vision. While his peers were extolling virtues of zero tariffs, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi highlighted these problems when he addressed the seventh summit of the 20-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in Addis Ababa on Thursday. "Our economies are small and undiversified. Many of our countries are heavily dependent on foreign aid. Most of our economic entities have been established in a highly protected environment," lamented Meles. "I suggest we devote more attention and resources to bring about meaningful structural transformation of our economies based on the realization that this is a precondition for the ultimate success of our agenda of economic integration," he said. COMESA, which was created in 1994, has a potential market of 350 million inhabitants and a GDP of 170 billion dollars. Nine of its members formed a Free Trade Area in 2000, and many speakers at the summit called for this to be enlarged. The FTA is meant to evolve into a customs union by 2004 and a monetary union by 2025. COMESA members DRC, Zimbabwe and Angola are fighting on the opposite side to Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi in the DRC war. On the other side of the continent, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been aspiring to regional integration for a quarter of a century. It is home to 237 million people and boasts a GDP of 372 billion dollars. Unusually for such an African organisation, it plays an important military and political role, and sent troops to conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s, with different degrees of success. Free movement of people is assured within ECOWAS member states - visas are not required - but when it comes to moving goods around, there is much work to do before conditions meet the definition of free trade. Only 12 percent of ECOWAS trade takes place between member states. Five ECOWAS member states, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Guinea, envisage monetary union by 2004. Within ECOWAS, the eight-member West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), mostly former French colonies, already enjoys a common currrency, in the form of the CFA franc. Trade law has been harmonised in UEMOA, which in 1998 set up a regional bourse in Abidjan. A customs union with a common external tariff has been in place since January 2000. In the south of the continent, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) comprises 190 million people with a GDP of 176 billion dollars. Set up a decade ago, its aim is to promote regional economic integration, solidarity and peace. These days, the fight against poverty tops SADC's agenda. Forty percent of its population lives in extreme poverty. The proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day is greater in SADC countries than anywhere else in the world. The integrationist ambitions of the Economic Community of Central African States have come up against the perceived protectionism of two oil-rich states: Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Africa needs real commitment to AU and NEPAD: Mbeki (Cape Town, Sapa, 24/05) - President Thabo Mbeki on Friday called on all Africans to commit "in our millions", on Africa Day on Saturday, to a determined effort to build the African Union and implement the New Plan for Africa's Development (Nepad). Writing in the African National Congress' website, ANC Today, Mbeki said these two projects "are not merely about the further political and economic integration of our continent, important as these objectives are". "They are about a true renewal of our continent. They are aimed to achieve Africa's Renaissance, the rebirth of our continent. Africa must become a continent of democracy, peace and safety. It must become a truly welcoming home for all its peoples, regardless of race, colour, ethnicity or religion. "Africa must become a continent of prosperity and human upliftment. Africa must become a continent of great learning and rich cultural expression. It must become a continent of freedom for women, happiness for the children, respect and support for the disabled and the elderly," he said. In celebrating Africa Day 2002, all Africa believed that the continent was poised to begin a new day. "The millions of our people wait in anticipation for the further maturation of the African dream, building on what has been achieved since the Charter of the OAU was adopted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963. "These masses wish for such an outcome because, correctly, they do not want a repetition or continuation of many of the wrong things that have afflicted the peoples of our continent during the last 40 years. "They do not want to see their countries ruled by non-elected military regimes. They do not want to see their countries torn apart by war, imposing intolerable suffering on the people, as happened in Sierra Leone and elsewhere. "They do not wish that again we experience the terrible genocide we witnessed in Rwanda. They desire that the millions of refugees and displaced Africans should return to their homes," Mbeki said. "The peoples of our continent want to see an end to the poverty and underdevelopment, which condemn the majority of Africans to a life of misery. They want an end to the situation according to which as the rest of the world experienced growing economies, our continent regressed into even greater poverty. They want the global marginalisation of Africa to come to an end." To bring about these results would require the united effort of all the peoples of Africa. "None of us should stand aside as a spectator in the mistaken belief that the responsibility to rebuild our continent is the responsibility of only some of our people." Africa's leadership would have to work hard to ensure that corruption in their societies was rooted out, so that all available resources reached especially the poor in their countries, Mbeki said.

Five reasons the region can't ignore Lesotho's poll (Johannesburg, Business Day, 21/05) - Many people are reacting to the coming Lesotho general election on Saturday with a big yawn. After all, they reason, Lesotho is so small and insignificant that it does not really count. But such an easy dismissal is dangerous, because Lesotho's coming poll matters for at least five reasons. The first is quite simply that SA, let alone Lesotho, cannot afford a repeat of the disaster of the 1998 election, when post-electoral disputation of the result by disgruntled opposition parties culminated in the destruction of Maseru. This followed the effective loss of political control by the re-elected government of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, led by Pakalitha Mosisili, when the security forces declined to reimpose order after opposition forces had taken to the streets and rendered the country ungovernable. When troops from SA and Botswana intervened without adequate intelligence and insufficient commitment to the immediate task of reimposing order, opposition youth ran riot. Widespread arson and looting followed, not only in Maseru but in small towns across the country. In the process, the reputation for competence of the newly integrated SA National Defence Force took a beating, as did that of SA's government itself. SA and the Southern African Development Community now need to demonstrate that their forceful diplomacy which saw the retraining and restructuring of the Lesotho Defence Force and some heavy arm-twisting of Lesotho's fractious politicians to devise a new electoral system has had a productive outcome after what was a demonstrably flawed start. A peacefully run and concluded election will indicate clearly that Lesotho is fully open for the safe conduct of business, and confirm SA's own reputation as a safe haven for investment. An associated and second reason Lesotho's election matters is that especially after the recent electoral fraud in Zimbabwe the continent's hopes for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) badly need a success story. Central to Nepad's vision is the commitment of participating African governments to peer review in promoting peace, security, democracy and good governance. SA's involvement in Lesotho preceded finalisation of Nepad. But, if the electoral process were to unravel again, observers would fairly ask: if external pressure can't sort out a country contained within the borders of SA, what realistic prospect is there that Africa's leaders will be able to cajole adherence to democratic norms out of more obstreperous states? After all, SA's attempts to contain Mugabe are already failing dismally. Collapse of the considerable effort put into constructing good governance in Lesotho could throw the Nepad initiative into disarray. A further reason the significance of Lesotho's election extends well beyond its borders is its adoption of a mixed electoral system may well prove a pointer for adoption of more appropriate, democracy supporting institutions elsewhere. Lesotho's political troubles in the past decade can, in considerable measure, be put down to the inappropriateness of the first-past-thepost electoral system. As distribution of the votes for the various major political parties were distributed similarly in each and every constituency, the two prior elections' results were totally unbalanced. Ntsu Mokhehle's Basotholand Congress Party won 75% of the total vote in 1993, and the successor Lesotho Congress for Democracy took 60% of the vote in 1998. Both elections were declared free and fair, but exclusion of opposition parties from the national assembly led them to not only challenge but undermine the result, not least by appealing to the king and army to intervene. The long and difficult negotiation process between the Lesotho Congress party and all opposition parties since 1998 has now resulted in the adoption of a mixed electoral system. Because the aim of the system is at achieving overall proportionality of representation by compensating parties that lose out under the constituency system, the leaderships of losing opposition parties are virtually guaranteed election. The electoral system has therefore shifted towards political inclusion, and potential troublemakers will end up inside, rather than outside, parliament. Not surprisingly, SA's own electoral task team considering the reintroduction of some form of constituency system within the constitutional constraints of maintaining overall proportionality is looking at the election with interest. Yet it is to democracy movements in Anglophone countries such as Zimbabwe and Kenya, where manipulation of the British-style, first-past-the-post system operates so blatantly in favour of the ruling parties, that Lesotho's electoral engineering may prove most appealing. The fourth reason Lesotho's election matters is the need to arrest the reverse wave of democracy which has recently been gaining momentum throughout southern Africa. In recent contests, countries such as Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe appear to have gone backwards, as incumbent parties have rigged the rules to ensure re-election. The election in Lesotho which appears to have been efficiently and neutrally organised by an independent electoral commission will hopefully contribute towards the rooting of democracy at the heart of the wider region. Finally, of course, Lesotho's politicians owe it to the nation's people to stop squabbling and to turn their attention towards constructing a decent future. Lesotho's post-independence history has been marred by dictatorship, military rule, and political violence. This election seems to offer the country its best prospect to date for political peace and security. Roger Southall is Executive Director, Democracy and Governance, Human Sciences Research Council.

Starving neighbours turn to South Africa (Mbabane, The Mercury, 21/05) - South Africa is now the only hope for millions of starving people in the southern African region, according to a Southern African Development Community (SADC) bulletin. The country's projected 17 percent increase in the production of white maize, the staple food in most neighbouring countries, is expected to go in full to famished countries such as Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana. South Africa is also expected to import 280 000 metric tons of yellow maize from Brazil and Argentina to supplement the shortage that may result from the export of white maize. According to a bulletin released by an SADC meeting on the food crisis in the entire SADC region, estimates of the export potential for maize this season would vary, but an availability of one million tons was likely. "Approximately half of this amount is earmarked for Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, leaving half a million tons for other countries in the region," the bulletin stated. The bulletin said South Africa's burden would be eased by countries from east Africa which had reported excellent yields in white maize this season. An estimated 180 000 to 220 000 tons of white maize could be delivered to the SADC region competitively, the bulletin stated. Zimbabwe has purchased at least 30 000 tons of white maize from Kenya, with a landed cost in Harare slightly below the landed cost of maize imports from South Africa. Uganda has already supplied Zambia with 30 000 tons of white maize. Meanwhile, more than three million of Malawi's 10 million people will face a critical food shortage in a few months' time if urgent food aid does not reach the country. Lucius Chikuni, Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation, said the government was urgently looking for 209 000 tons of maize to rescue vulnerable Malawians.

Lubombo cross-border project on course, say regional ministers (Pretoria, BuaNews, 14/05) - Regional ministers from Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa moved forward yesterday reaffirming their joint programme to create a vibrant tourism economy in a cross-border zone between Lubombo Mountains and the Indian Ocean. Mozambique's minister of tourism, Fernando Sumbana Junior, announced after the Tourism Indaba 2002 in Durban yesterday, that the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) had taken a number of steps along the road to economic growth and job creation in eastern Swaziland, southern Maputo province and northern KwaZulu-Natal. 'We have upgraded roads, built new border posts, rolled back malaria and created the protocols and co-operative agreements that will allow us to promote the beautiful wilderness areas we share as a world class tourism destination,' said Dr Sumbana Junior. He added that there had been a 64 percent decrease in malaria cases in Swaziland, a 40 percent decrease in Mozambique and 76 percent decrease in South Africa 'because of a joint campaign by our health authorities to control this disease.' The three ministers met to assess progress with the Lubombo SDI since it was launched in May 1997 by former President Nelson Mandela, President Joaquim Chissano and His Majesty King Mswati III. In his comments, Swaziland's minister of economic planning and development, Prince Guduza Dlamini, praised South Africa for mobilising a massive wave of investor interest in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. He said this was a clear sign that areas of similar natural beauty in other parts of Lubombo SDI would attract similar support from the private sector. 'It is clear that there is huge potential to attract investment into this transfrontier tourism zone so that we can promote economic growth and job creation in all three countries,' he said. Environmental affairs and tourism minister Vali Moosa pointed out that the SDI had encouraged cross border trade and tourism. The three countries have upgraded border posts at Kosi Bay and also at Golela/Lavumisa. Work has begun to rehabilitate the old Mac Mac pass that links northern Maputaland to Swaziland through a scenic route across the Lubombo mountains. Mr Moosa also announced that the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, a key component of the Lubombo SDI, had attracted a massive wave of investor interest in new game lodges and beach resorts along the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, the three ministers also announced that they were proceeding to set up joint commission to plan the transfrontier conservation programme. This is aimed at linking the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, the Ndumo and Tembe Elephant Parks with the Maputo Elephant Park in Mozambique and the Lubombo Conservation in Swaziland.

Dlamini-Zuma confirms launch of African Union (Johannesburg, Business Day, 10/05) - The July launch in Durban of the African Union (AU) will go ahead despite contrary advice obtained from a panel of some of the continent's "eminent people", Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said yesterday. The AU, successor to the 39year-old Organisation of African Unity (OAU), is to be the continent's Parliament. African countries took this decision in July last year at an extraordinary OAU meeting in Zambia. The AU secretariat was given a year to prepare for the SA launch. Earlier this week, however, the 15-member panel set up to advise the OAU secretary-general on the Durban changeover gathering ruled that the year had been insufficient for preparation. The panel also said that not all of the OAU's 53-member states were ready to pay their financial obligations to the new body. There is "no way (the launch) is going to be changed", DlaminiZuma said. She dismissed the "advisory" panel's recommendations, saying their "confusion" seemed to stem from the fact that they had been looking at everything the AU's Constitutive Act envisages. Dlamini-Zuma said the AU Act envisaged, among other things, the setting up of such institutions as an African central bank and an African court of justice. It had been envisaged that any of those institutions would have been set up before the assembly of the AU first met. Dlamini-Zuma said, however, the assembly would have to decide, for example, where the court would be and what issues it would deal with.

Let us all promote NEPAD: Zuma (Pretoria, BuaNews, 09/05) - The continent's widely hailed economic recovery plan, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), needs to be owned and popularised by all Africans if its life changing projects are to record incredible success on the continent. Deputy President Jacob Zuma said this about the plan in Parliament, Cape Town, yesterday in response to wide ranging questions from opposition parties and parliamentarians. The radical African plan, warmly welcomed by developed nations, offers African nations investment in exchange for good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law as well as rapid development and an annual economic growth of seven percent for the continent by the 2015. Quizzed if the plan, that sought to turn around African misfortunes, had made any inroads in its infants stages, Mr Zuma said the ambitious self-reliance plan, which has seen African leaders dedicating time to put flesh to it ahead of the G8 meeting in Canada next month, was well on track for execution. Management structures have also been put in place, the Nepad heads-of -state and Government Implementation Committee, as mandated at the OAU Summit last year, has met on two occasions, he pointed out. 'Work is currently underway to produce an implemental action plan with concrete projects and programmes. Some of these have to be done in time for the G8 Summit in Canada in June 2002, and for presentation to the African Union Summit in Durban in July,' stressed Mr Zuma. Asked about government's plan to combat the supposed 'moral decay' in society, following the recently held moral regeneration summit, Mr Zuma said government, together with the launched civil society driven Moral Regeneration Movement, had identified their roles and issues that needed urgent attention. Amongst the latter was the breakdown in parental control of children in families, the general blurring of the line between right and wrong and the lack of respect for human life and authority. 'In this regard, respective Government departments are working out concrete action plans in order to realize the objectives of the movement,' added Mr Zuma. Mr Zuma's remarks comes a few weeks after the delegates representing civil society organs converged in Pretoria's Waterkloof air force base hangar to work out plans to fight the erosion of the nation's moral fibre. Regarding Zimbabwe's food shortages, Mr Zuma was asked if government had thrown rescue money into the Zimbabwean state coffers to redeem the troubled country's growing food crisis. Mr Zuma indicated that the South African government had not yet taken such a move. 'The Government has not provided financial assistance to Zimbabwe in the past twelve months.' 'South African parastatals continue to do business in Zimbabwe but such transactions are undertaken on a purely commercial basis with no financial assistance from the Government,' he stressed. The landlocked southern nation, fresh from its contentious presidential elections, faces massive starvation with worrying reports of communities running out of basic foodstuff, especially maize.

Nearly a third of children in sub-Saharan Africa work: ILO report (Pretoria, Sapa, 06/05) - Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest proportion of labouring children between the ages of five and 14, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reported on Monday. Twenty-nine percent of children in this region were economically active, compared to 19 percent in Asia and the Pacific, 16 Percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 15 percent in the Middle-East and North Africa. This contrasts with two percent of children in this age group employed in industrialised countries, and four percent in transitional economies. The global average is 16 percent. The figures were contained in a document entitled: "A future without child labour", the ILO's third global report on the topic. The report, simultaneously released in several cities world-wide, found that 245-million children were engaged in child labour, 186-million of them aged between five and 14. At least 8,4-million boys and girls were involved in the worst forms of child labour - including slavery, prostitution and pornography, and fighting in armed conflicts. This meant, the report said, that one child in every six between the ages of five and 17 could be classified as a child labourer. One in eight were exploited in the worst forms of work. "The persistence on such a scale of this violation of children's basic human rights casts a shadow over us all," the ILO said. The organisation proposes that the number of child labourers and the proportion of a country's children employed, should become key indicators of economic and social development. Unveiling the report in Pretoria, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana urged South Africans to report cases of child labour. "Whenever anyone sees any child working, they must sound the bell, raise awareness and contact my department so that we can indeed have a future without child labour." The minister referred to an 11-year-old girl losing part of her right leg last year when it got caught between the wheels of a trailer transporting her to work near Ceres in the Western Cape. She earned R25 for three days fruit-picking. This case, he said, was but one of many. "And you will all agree with me that even one case is one too many." Under South African law, children younger than 15 are not allowed to work at all. Those between 15 and 18 may not work in harmful circumstances. The minister accused some employers of "exploiting the poverty of our people". A new practice was emerging on South African farms of paying workers per crate rather than for a day's work. This prompted some people to put their children to work as well in a bid to earn more. Mdladlana said his department hoped to finalise a draft white paper by the second half of the year on a national child labour action programme. The ILO report said the spread of HIV/Aids was having a big impact on child labour statistics. Adult deaths were forcing many children to take care of their younger siblings. Other factors included the global financial slow-down, political and economic transition, natural disasters, and armed conflicts. The report said there was no quick-fix solution to child labour. What was needed was a combination of economic growth, respect for labour standards, universal education and social protection, and a better understanding of the needs and rights of children. In the meantime, decreasing fertility rates in developing countries offered some cause for optimism for a future reduction of child labour. Fertility in these countries had dropped to just under three children per woman - about half the rate of 30 years ago. The report also proposes that economic incentives may be one way of encouraging parents to send their children to school. Ken Andoh, Pretoria office director of the ILO, said poverty was often named as an "excuse" for persisting child labour. It was rather child labour which gave rise to continuing poverty, he said at the Pretoria ceremony. "It is quite clear that child labour perpetuates poverty across generations, as it prevents children from gaining education and skills."

This page last updated 09 July 2004.