Migration News - April 2003

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April 2003 - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.

Trafficking of women in Southern Africa rampant
Rich countries deplete Africa's medical resources

Aid groups call for increased aid to returnees
Refugees repatriation under debate
Refugee returns continue
Over 1.7 million displaced return home

Immigration probing own officials
Number of foreign lawyers worrisome, say Batswana lawyers
Court fines Zimbabwean for false documentation
BCL never paid expatriate P500 000, Mokgothu
Batswana carry IDs when visiting health facilities
Stories of Zimbabwean immigrants in Botswana
Commentary on immigrants and development
Zimbabweans warned against illegal activity
Six probed for passport scam
Conditions for residence permit application

Bi-national initiative clamps down on poaching
Tourism and the spread of HIV/AIDS
South Africa deports 127 Malawians

Former migrants threaten further disruption
Zimbabwe, Mozambique in bid to curb smuggling

Police seize dagga, truck in drug bust
Angolan refugees to return home from Namibia
UNHCR prepares to start repatriating Angolans
Cross-border parks on way
Government to probe foreign ownership of land

South Africa:
Hotels exposing miners to HIV/AIDS
South Africa to think about people trafficking
Law must respect human rights, says Buthelezi
Business obliged to identify illegal immigrants
Immigration Act contrary to ethos of constitution
Home Affairs gives foreign spouses break
Judge's new ruling safeguards rights of foreigners
Two sections of new Immigration Act invalid, says judge
Confusion over immigration law
Migrants receive grants illegally
Police arrest 400 immigrants
415 people arrested on the East Rand
Zimbabweans march Pretoria High Commission
Constitutional Court to hear Buthelezi's appeal
State must test ruling, says Buthelezi
Two processes to get Immigration Act finalised
Immigration Act causing chaos
Immigration Act bad for investment
Mobile team to speed up issuing of IDs
More embarrassment over immigration laws
Buthelezi apologizes for hasty implementation of immigration regulations
Buthelezi to appeal to Constitutional Court over immigration law delays
New immigration laws enacted 
Police crackdown on bogus Home Affairs office
Immigration Act: New controversy
Chaos as Immigration Act comes into force
Immigration chaos looming?
Immigration Act comes into force
Despondent health care workers flee
More South African farmers for Mozambique
South African refugee centres can't cope, says Buthelezi
South Africa sees rise of sex traffickers
Buthelezi criticizes Home Affairs committee
Foreign immigrants swamp South African rural facilities
58 Cuban doctors for Eastern Cape
Immigration and skills development
Buthelezi set to inspect border security

Swazi victim of crime in South Africa
Enforcement of Immigration Act intensifies
Nothing wrong with my South African citizenship, says Paul Shilubane
Syndicate rustling cattle to South Africa
Top lawyers might be deported
Mhlumeni border gate to open soon
Swazis go to South Africa for medical treatment
Government of Swaziland submits eleven projects for possible funding
South Africans part of forgery syndicate

Foreign teachers, students to be screened
Rwanda is safe for returning refugees, says UNHCR head
Local contractors demand protectionist policy
Forced to go home: Rwandan immigrants in Tanzania 
Refusing to give up refugee status: Rwandans in Tanzanian camps
East Africans may soon move freely across borders
Refugees, agencies braced for political transition
Curfew continues at refugee camps
Traders claim border bias
UNHCR thanks Tanzania for refugee hospitality

40,000 refugees return home from Zambia
Get to know visa requirements, tour operators advised
Immigration arrests fake passports officer
Zambia threatens to deport Zimbabwean farmers
White farmers eke out new life in Zambia
Foreigners' permit racket unearthed
Zimbabwean farmers settle illegally

Increased border patrols fail to deter smuggling
Exiled Zimbabweans link up in cyberspace
Four immigration officers suspended
Commentary on brain drain impacts
Zimbabwe, Mozambique in bid to curb smuggling
Refugees clash at camp
Foreign diplomats gagged
Improvements to Passport Office suggested
Cross-border traders continue exporting basic commodities
100 foreigners arrested in massive clampdown
Facilities for refugees expanded
Shortage of pathologists hits hospitals
Obtaining a passport in Harare: Part 1
Obtaining a passport in Harare: Part 2
Citizenship laws to include foreign farm workers
Thousands flood passport office
Acute shortage of nurses hits Mutare


Trafficking of women in Southern Africa rampant (The Sunday Mirror, 27/04) - The scourge of women trafficking for sexual exploitation in Southern Africa continues to pervade the region as police admit that breaking into responsible syndicates is proving difficult, despite intensive efforts by several stakeholders, The Sunday Mirror has learnt.  In a report released by Interpol recently, it was indicated that the trafficking of women and girls who are later used for sexual exploitation was on the increase not only in Southern Africa, but also across the globe. “It is acknowledged that the smuggling of people is a continuously growing phenomenon and of a global nature,” the report noted. Earlier this year, the former regional head of Interpol in Southern Africa, Senior Assistant Commissioner Frank Msutu, said apart from merely fighting drug trafficking, the police had also extended their operations to cover human trafficking and child pornography on the internet. UN reports indicate that international crime syndicates facilitating the illicit trafficking are mainly from South East Asia and Eastern Europe who lure desperate young women with promises of better jobs and educational opportunities abroad. At a meeting held in Malawi late last year, organised by the African Women in Development Network (AWDN), the 25 participants at the meeting noted that although syndicates that involved the trafficking of women were few, the practice was rampant in the region. In its resolution, AWDN said: “Cases of smuggled women and girls are now rampant. This is a serious violation of women’s rights, pushing them into the evil of prostitution. There is need to form local points around the region to rescue the girl child.” South Africa and Mozambique are said to top the list on the trafficking register in the region while internationally, Nigeria ranks third after Russia and Albania. Interpol however said it was still very difficult to trace the syndicates and monitor their modus operandi with a view to bringing to book those behind the trafficking, owing to a multiplicity of factors. “People-smuggling syndicates are still benefiting from weak legislation, huge profits and the relatively low risk of detection, prosecution and arrest compared to other activities of organised crime,” the organisation said. Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa, a University of Zimbabwe sociologist, said that those behind the trafficking racket have the resources that assist them in the illicit trade.

“In a lot of countries, people involved in the trafficking of women have the resources to transport the women and acquire travelling documents for them,” she said. The barons behind the trafficking of women destined for Italy facilitate the easy and smooth procurement of travelling documents and often use briberies to beat security checkpoints at airports. Upon arrival at their destination, their travel documents are confiscated to ensure that they do not escape, and the proceeds from the women’s sexual escapades are used to cover the costs procured to facilitate their journey to the foreign countries. Gaidzanwa said street children were at more risk of being trafficked, and there was the need to conscientise society about that scourge. The police could do more to penetrate the trafficking syndicates, she said, adding that there was need to put in place mechanisms to protect girls and young women from that scourge. “Kids on the streets without families are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and they can be trafficked to other countries. Society has to publicise such cases and mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that women do not resort to prostitution while at the same time it is ensured that they are protected from trafficking,” she said. Poverty that plagues the region’s greater population together with the continued deterioration of ordinary people’s living standards have worsened the situation. ECPAT International, another organisation that fights women’s trafficking, in its January 2003 newsletter, said: “A gender and rights-based perspective to trafficking recognises that economic and political marginalisation of women and the attitudes toward gender roles and sexuality within society makes both children and women susceptible to be trafficked.” A human rights report compiled last year by The Protection Project, a regional women’s rights organisation, said that although the problem of women trafficking was also being experienced in Zimbabwe, it was at a lower rate than that of other countries in the region. “Zimbabwe has acknowledged a growing problem in trafficking of women. Organised criminal gangs traffic Zimbabwean women and girls into South Africa,” said the report. Gaidzanwa cited poverty as the major factor that makes women prone to trafficking. She said poverty made people want to emigrate in search of a better life as they believe that they would get better jobs abroad. “Poverty makes people want to go to Europe and other places abroad. But when they get there, the reality is not so rosy. That is why red-light districts in many European cities are filled with immigrants from Africa,” she added.

Rich countries deplete Africa's medical resources (Dispatch Online, 14/04) - Conservative estimates by Wilma Meeus and David Sanders at the University of the Western Cape's School of Public Health show that the United States has saved at least US$3,8 million (R30m) in training fees by employing doctors from Nigeria, which has lost 21 000 doctors to the superpower. Nigeria in turn incurred a loss of $420m (R3,4bn) while Zimbabwe conservatively lost $16m (R134m) through the loss of 840 doctors. According to the United Nations, 31 of 53 African countries have less than 32 doctors per 100 000 people with 17 of these countries having less than 10 doctors per 100 000 people. In 41 countries there are less than 135 nurses per 100 000 people and in 17 there are less than 50 nurses per 100 000. Meeus said researchers had found that Africa was set to become a major source of migrants during the 21st century and that 33 800 people migrated annually from Africa since the beginning of the 1990s, of whom about 20 000 to 23 000 are highly skilled. She pointed out that the available data was incomplete and that it was not possible to establish over what time period the migration occurred. "It is known that 21 000 Nigerian physicians left for the US, the Sudan lost 17% of its doctors and Ethiopia and Zambia both lost about 50% of their doctors (but the period over which this occurred is lacking)," Meeus said. Meeus found that, between 1985 and 1995, 60% of Ghana's medical graduates left. In 1999, 78% of physicians in South Africa's rural areas were non-South Africans. During the 1990s Zimbabwe lost 840 of 1200 medical graduates while at least 2 114 South African nurses left for the United Kingdom during 2001. A UN document published in 2000 stated: "It can be extrapolated that between 1985 and 1990, on the 60 000 professionals who emigrated, the continent lost $1,2bn (R9,6bn). This represents the reverse of what development aid tries to achieve through transfer of technology and human resources."

The document warned that this development paradox, combined with the inability of the African countries in building, retaining and utilising indigenous capacities critical to Africa's growth and development, would deprive Africa of its vital development resources and make it more heavily dependent on foreign expertise. In the 1970s, the US government calculated that it gained $20 000 (R160000) for every skilled worker from a developing country. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that for each professional aged between 25 and 35 years, $184 000 (R1,5m) is saved in training costs by developed countries. Meeus said that the 27 richest developed countries have a workforce of about three million professional educated in developing countries. Using the conservative figure of $20 000 (R160 000) per person educated outside these 27 countries, the transfer of wealth from developing to developed countries is about $60bn (R480bn). The savings to these rich countries is a staggering $552bn (R4 416bn) if the UNCTAD figure of $184 000 (R1,5m) is used. The UN also found that Africa spent an estimated 35% of overseas donor assistance annually, about $4bn (R32bn), on salaries of 100 000 foreign experts (all sectors, not only health) to replace lost capacity, to build capacity and/or provide technical assistance.


Aid groups call for increased aid to returnees (Johannesburg, Irin, 15/04) - Unless the government of Angola and the donor community provide increased aid to people returning to their areas of origin, the country could be faced with yet another humanitarian emergency, Refugees International (RI) said on Tuesday. It is estimated that 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 100,000 refugees have returned home since the end of the civil war last year, many to areas lacking basic infrastructure. "Refugees are finding it difficult to survive back home, where food, security and health care are so limited that people struggling to achieve self-sufficiency find themselves once again in an emergency situation," RI noted. Last month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that 15 returnee areas showed alarming rates of malnutrition, mostly in the central highlands, where the majority of IDPs are returning. "The returnees are often in an extremely vulnerable condition. Most of them have been totally dependent on food aid in the gathering areas and when they return to their areas of origin they don't have the necessary coping mechanisms to survive. So we are seeing in some parts alarming rates of malnourishment," Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Belgium head of mission, Fasil Tezera, told IRIN. He added that the lack of healthcare and essential drugs had contributed to the increase in morbidity and mortality rates from treatable illnesses such malaria and respiratory infections. "There are no government health professionals or basic medicines available in any of the returnee sites. And in places where there are clinics, people don't have the funds to pay for services," Tezera said. RI noted that farmers have complained that they could not start farming because they had missed distributions of seeds and tools, while traction power was in short supply.

In a recent report, CARE International noted that many IDPs were returning to areas where the economy had collapsed as a result of three decades of civil war. CARE said that although rural markets could gradually revive in isolated areas, it was unlikely that commercially traded basic staples would reach those regions in the near future. "Even if food becomes available on local markets, most households will have insufficient buying power to acquire it. Food security will continue to be a serious concern through 2003," CARE said. The lack of security was another concern for returnees. RI warned that there were reports of former army soldiers intimidating their neighbours and stealing what little food they had. The NGO urged the government to increase security by establishing trained municipal-level police officers to address ongoing problems of insecurity and called for the authorities to expand basic survival services in return sites, including seeds, tools and food distributions. The UN has said that conditions in areas of return vary widely and 70 percent of people returned home without any form of assistance from the government.

Refugees repatriation under debate (Luanda, Angop, 14/04) - Officials with Angolan Social Welfare and Reinsertion Ministry will meet on Tuesday with local authorities in border provinces for information on the legal framework and principles governing the refugees repatriation process. The gathering to be opened by Social Welfare Minister Joao Baptista Kussumua will also make an assessment of the fundamental needs and the preparations of an operational plan. Participants will outline the structure for the centres for reception, transition and transportation to the areas of destination. Angola is one of the countries with the highest number of refugees, spread all over the world, because of the colonial and post-independence armed conflict. Zambia is among the nations hosting the highest number of Angolan refugees. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR), repatriation of a total 170,000 Angolan refugees in neighbouring Namibia, DR Congo and Zambia, will start in June, organised by the government, the HCR and other international organisations.

Refugee returns continue (Johannesburg, Irin, 10/04) - In spite of the rainy season, the spontaneous return of refugees from Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has continued, with close to 1,000 arrivals registered last week in the eastern Angolan town of Cazombo, according to humanitarian reports. Since last year, some 130,000 refugees have returned home, the government says. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which does not have countrywide coverage, told IRIN it had been able to confirm the arrival of 97,000 refugees. Around half of the returnees have settled in the eastern province of Moxico. A formal repatriation programme by UNHCR is due to begin in June, targeting what was originally 450,000 Angolan refugees in the key neighbouring countries of Zambia, Namibia, and DRC, with smaller numbers hosted in the Republic of Congo and South Africa. The operation would be one of the biggest and most complicated UNHCR has conducted in Africa, said spokesperson Lucia Teoli. Entry points and the sites for reception centres had been agreed with the participating governments. UNHCR had also discussed issues of protection, shelter and transportation with the Angolan authorities and NGOs. "We are working to achieve those conditions of a safe and dignified return," Teoli told IRIN. Most of Angola's refugees will go back to the provinces bordering their countries of asylum. The heaviest concentration of returnees is expected to be Moxico, coming home from Zambia, which sheltered Angolans throughout the country's long civil war.

Over 1.7 million displaced return home (Luanda, Angop, 01/04) - More than 1.7 million internally displaced persons (IDP) have returned home since peace was achieved in the country in April last year. This was announced on Tuesday in Luanda by social welfare Minister Joao Baptista Kussumua, who pointed out the provinces of Bie, Huambo, Huila, Kwanza-Sul and Malange as the largest recipients. In a brief account of the humanitarian situation in the last 12 months of peace in the country, the minister said that although still requiring special attention, the situation has made significant progress. Also leaving the sheltering camps for the areas of preference or destination have been 38,218 demobilized soldiers and 117,004 dependants totaling 153,222 people (about 42 per cent of total). It is estimated that about 300,000 families have been relocated corresponding to a total of approximately two million people, three times the number predicted in the resettlement program approved by the Government last year (550,000). Many of these people left for their areas of origin spontaneously. Those returning home under the resettlement program have enjoyed humanitarian aid from the Government and social partners (NGO’s, UN Agencies and international organizations). Despite the poor condition of roads and bridges, the Government managed to provide some 2,000 tons of food aid and 2,500 tons of non food aid to populations in the most critical regions. At present, Angola has about 2.3 million IDPs of which 270,000 remain at the camps or transit centers. The provinces of Bie, Huila, Huambo, Kuando-Kubango, Malanje and Kwanza-Sul show the largest concentrations of displaced persons. In the same period, about 120,000 Angolan refugees have spontaneously returned from the neigboring countries and settled in different provinces mainly in Kuando-Kubango, Moxico, Uige and Zaire.


Immigration probing own officials (The Botswana Gazette, 24/04) - The Department of Immigration is investigating who amongst their officers could have received bribery from Zimbabwean immigrants to prolong their stay in Botswana. This was after a tip-off to management that some of them were receiving bribery from Zimbabwean immigrants to prolong their stay in Botswana. A Zimbabweans who alleges to be among those who paid bribery also confessed to the Botswana Gazette that he parted with P120 to have his stay in Botswana increased by two months. "I did not have much choice. If you do not pay them they only increase your stay by 4 days," said Nelson Nkumbula who said he is from Harare. Nkumbula said he has not had any trouble from the police because he had his papers put in order, with the help of the Immigration Department officials. He said while he was supposed leave Botswana by the end of February, he has now paid kick-backs to leave end of May. He however said it is not easy in Botswana to give police bribery. "The police in Botswana will not accept bribery easily. The best people to deal with are Immigration officers," said the elated Nkumbula immediately after his release from the Central Police station where together with other Zimbabweans were earlier held and asked to produce their travel documents. Acting Chief Immigration officer Mr Fred Majola confirmed that his department will conduct internal investigations and pass the results to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime. He said there have always been allegations of corruption levelled against his officers but said in most cases proved difficult to verify. "We certainly will follow this one up. We cannot have a department manned by criminals," said Majola. He said the results of the investigations will be shared with the public to win their confidence.

Number of foreign lawyers worrisome, say Batswana lawyers (BOPA, 23/04) -Some Batswana lawyers and members of the public are concerned about the number of foreign lawyers practising in Botswana.  Concerned lawyers told BOPA that requirements in Botswana made it easy for foreigners to practice here while it was difficult, if not impossible, for Batswana lawyers to do so in neighbouring countries. During the recent Parliament budget session MPs said Botswana should reciprocate by making it difficult for foreign lawyers to practice in Botswana.  Omphemetse Motumise, chairperson of the Botswana Law Society, said the society's 2002 membership records indicates that out of the 160 registered private practitioners, 50 or one-third were foreigners.  Motumise said in Zimbabwe foreign lawyers were treated as investors and expected to invest certain amounts of money before they could be allowed to practice.  He said in Britain foreign lawyers were required to go through some training and testing before they could be admitted to practice.  He added that such lawyers also have to apply for work and residence permits, for which there was no guarantee that they would get them even if a company wanted to employ such a person. According to Motumise, foreign lawyers were only permitted to operate in South Africa if there was a shortage in that country or if such a lawyer has expertise in a given field.  He said the matter has not reached a crisis in Batswana bec ause local lawyers were not interested in practising in other countries.  He suggested that the law should be made to allow foreigners to practise in Botswana only if there was a shortage of lawyers. The situation might get worse with globalisation and the implementation of the Southern African Development Community protocol on free movement of goods and services. According to the Legal Practitioners Act of 1996, a person who is not a citizen of Botswana shall be qualified to be admitted as a legal practitioner if he satisfies the court that he or she is a fit and proper person, if he or she has a bachelor's degree in law, or if he or she is resident in Botswana or intends to reside permanently.  Foreign lawyers are also permitted to practice in Botswana if there is a reciprocal provision in the law of the country to be admitted to practice in that country. At present, foreigners are neither allowed to own nor to go into partnership in law firms. They can only practice as employees.

Court fines Zimbabwean for false documentation (BOPA, 22/04) - A 37-year-old Zimbabwean, Keabetswe Ramodimo, who claimed to be a Motswana, last week earned himself an P8 400 fine after a conviction on five counts of uttering false information and nine counts of false documents to a person employed in the public service. Ramodimo, who pleaded guilty to all counts, has been aiding other Zimbabweans to fill Omang applications forms and obtain the Botswana national identity cards fraudulently. He also forged signatures of some headmen in Mahalapye in order to obtain Omang for other Zimbabweans. He had lived at Ginger in Gaborone's Broadhurst area. The evidence presented before the Mahalapye's Principal Magistrate Simba Mawere showed that Ramodimo had been deceitfully obtaining Omang cards for fellow Zimbabweans since April 1999 until July last year. In one of his manoeuvres, Ramodimo branded himself with the following names: Modise Mokoni, Keabetswe Tshenolo and Monareng Tshenolo Katlholo on April 19, 1999 at Konyana Ward in Mahalapye while presenting to the Mahalapye Subordinate Tribal Authority a Sesupo sa Kgosi form which he completed and endorsed. Edwin Batsalelwang, a prosecutor from the Attorney General's Chambers, said when Ramodimo presented the document, he wanted the Subordinate Tribal Authority to believe that the document was prepared and endorsed by Bantsekae Gabatshwane, a ward headman, when it was not. Batsalelwang said the document was prepared by Ramodimo himself, with the intention to assist one Peter Ramodimo, a Zimbabwean, to acquire Omang. In one of his last tricks before he was arrested, Ramodimo told the headman of Tshikinyega ward in Mahalapye on July 30, 2002 that Tshephang Ramodimo was his son and that the latter was a Motswana when this was false. The prosecution stated that the accused person intentionally gave such false information to deceive so the headman could prepare and endorse a form Sesupo sa Kgosi to facilitate the acquisition of a national identity card for Tshephang.

Sentencing the accused, Principal Magistrate Mawere said the circumstance under which Ramodimo committed the offences showed a tremendous amount of determination on his part. Mawere said the manner in which Ramodimo committed the offences made it difficult to detect. He said a deterrent sentence would be appropriate to scare him and other like-minded people from committing the offence. The principal magistrate also said he had no doubt that the accused person benefited financially from the enterprise. Ramodimo was ordered to pay P600 for each of the 14 offences or go to prison for six months for each of the offences in default. The court gave him until the end of May to pay it.

BCL never paid expatriate P500 000, Mokgothu (BOPA, 14/04) - No expatriate employee at BCL was ever paid P500 000 as compensation for an attack by strangers while off-duty, Boometswe Mokgothu, the minister of minerals, energy and water resources, said in Parliament Friday. Answering a question from Selebi-Phikwe MP Daisy Pholo, Mokgothu said however that the individual was paid by the group personal accident insurance for injuries sustained off duty. Mokgothu said the group personal accident insurance is available for all employees who were injured while off-duty irrespective of whether citizen or expatriate. The insurance calculations are salary dependent. He said the group personal accident insurance, which was an employee benefit scheme was also different from the Workman's Compensation Act and was also not discriminatory in terms of citizen or expatriate. Furthermore, not only citizens were employed underground but all people who were technically qualified to go underground do so irrespective of whether citizen or expatriate. He said the Workman's Compensation Act provided for compensation for a fatality whether for an expatriate or a Motswana. It calculated based on the salary. He added that no distinction was made between the compensation of expatriates and citizens who were disabled or killed under the terms of the Workman's compensation Act. The same applies for group personal accident insurance. The compensation was made in terms of the annual salary of the employee, based on the extent of disability sustained according to a published schedule. Mokgothu said for death, compensation was annual salary plus 16 per cent times four years. He said the group personal accident insurance, on the other hand, covered employees when they were off-duty and compensation was also dependent in the extent of disability sustained. He also said as an immediate measure, BCL helps the families of the deceased citizen employees with P5 000 in cash and P1 500 in transport costs to cover funeral expenses, and for expatriates it covers the cost of expatriation of the corpse and personal belongings. "This is a benefit to employees not compensation. Pholo had asked the minister why an expatriate employee of BCL was compensated P500 000 for an attack by strangers while off-duty whereas a Motswana who may be burnt to death underground or may be crushed to death by a loose stones while on duty gets nothing as compensation but P4 000 only to meet funeral costs. She also wanted the minister to say that P4 000 given to the family to meet funeral costs was enough for a local as compared to P500 000 for an expatriate.

Batswana carry IDs when visiting health facilities (BOPA, 14/04) - Batswana have been reminded to always carry their identity cards whenever they visit health facilities to seek medical attention. Healthe minister Joy Phumaphi reminded the MPs that it was important that Batswana carry their identity cards whenever they visited health facilities to differentiate them from non citizens because the latter were required to pay medical fees. She said in a situation where Omang was not available a letter from the kgosi or district commissioner was considered adequate to access treatment. However, she said health facilities were expected to treat patients in emergency cases without asking them to produce their Omang. She explained that it was only after stabilising the patient that they were expected to ask for an identity. Phumaphi was responding to Bobirwa MP James Maruatona who asked if she was aware that some health centres denied Batswana access to medical attention if they did not have their identity cards even when there was evidence that they were Batswana. She said she was aware that there had been some incidents where some patients had difficulty accessing treatment because they did not have their identity cards. "This is regretted and my ministry is doing whatever is possible to rectify this matter," she added. Still in Parliament, assistant education minister Duke Lefhoko said the posts of head of department (Infant) and senior teacher advisor (learning difficulties) at Dutlwe primary school were two separate posts that nonetheless carried the same level of responsibility. Lefhoko said the two posts were graded at the same scale of C2, adding that whereas the two teachers were in the same scale and school, it should be noted that they occupy two different posts and had a different set of responsibilities. It was, therefore, incorrect to imply that two heads of department had been posted to Dutlwe primary school and occupied the same post. He was responding to Lenstweletau MP Moeng Pheto who wanted to know why two heads of department had been posted to Dutlwe primary school in Kweneng. He also, wanted to know if that did not violate the Ministry of Education's policy that prohibited the placing of two officers in one post. However, Lefhoko said his ministry's policy of filling vacancies had not been violated. He said there were 579 posts of senior teacher advisor (learning difficulties) spread throughout primary schools in the country and for the reason that those posts had been graded at C2 salary scale, the Department of Teaching Service Management was in the process of re-designating them head of department. That was being done for purposes of consistency and to avoid confusion, Lefhoko said.

Stories of Zimbabwean immigrants in Botswana (Mmegi, 11-14/04) - Siphiwe is a real life Zimbabwean illegal immigrant who has lived and worked in Botswana as a domestic help for five years. She has worked for only one family whose two children she nursed from birth. With the little pay she gets from her employer, she was able to buy some food and clothes for her two children and her mother back in Zimbabwe. But Siphiwe's male employer died this week, and his wife has been on sick leave for over a month. She has asked Siphiwe to leave her job because she can no longer afford to pay her. And Siphiwe has two choices. She can go back home or try and get a job in Botswana. She has received her last pay of P375. But currently she has a serious problem of transport money and finding where to sleep, bathe and eat. Moreover going home would mean her mother and her two children would starve. She has temporarily been accommodated by a cousin who stays in Mogoditshane with her boyfriend in a single room. In the last five days that she has tried to get a job she has been unlucky. A fairly beautiful woman, Siphiwe is now contemplating joining the hordes of Zimbabweans who wait by Orapa House and Dutch Reformed Church in the African Mall. She has even fleetingly considered sex work. Should she do either, Siphiwe will automatically become a target of both the police and vigilante groups. Like hundreds of her country people, she would immediately become the bane of the Botswana Society and qualify for deportation. While in the past deported Zimbabweans could come back into Botswana on the same day they were deported, it might be difficult this time around. The Botswana Government has built an electric fence along its border with Zimbabwe in a bid to prevent illegal crossings, which has been identified as one of the major reasons contributing to a spate of foot and mouth disease outbreaks in the North East. Should she be deported and still make it back to Botswana, Siphiwe will find herself back at the same place from where she was picked by the police. She might finally succumb to prostitution. If she does, she will fall victim to dishonest clients who will use her, refuse to pay and call the police. She may even fall prey to some police officers who might use her, refuse to pay and arrest her. At a traditional court recently, one of six women charged with prostitution said the arresting officer was a regular client of hers, who failed to pay and arrested her instead. Getting odd jobs would be no different.

"Many times we find odd jobs like doing the laundry or cleaning around the house, but the women often refuse to pay and call the police on us instead," said one of the women who wait by the Dutch Reformed Church in an interview with Mmegi. But the line between truth and lies among these immigrants is often blurred. For example there is a Zimbabwean calls himself Johnson Nyoni. He claims a local brick-making company was employing Zimbabweans and paying them only P10 a fortnight before chucking them out. But a visit to the company by Mmegi proved the contrary. First there was never a Johnson Nyoni at the company. But the management suspect who it might be. The description, which includes his Zambian/Malawian accent fits that of Johnson. His real name is Collin and he is a Zambian. He ran away from the company on Wednesday last week after he was beaten up by two Zimbabwean colleagues for stealing their clothes which they had taken off to don trench-coats. A look at the payment register showed Collin was among the highly paid labourers - getting as much as P120 per day. "We could never cheat Zimbabweans. These people are our lifeblood. Batswana would rather queue up to offload stock or furniture, but not work with the mortar and Zimbabweans are a ready labour," said a manager at the company. However she pleaded with this paper not to publish her company name as that would mean closure of business for them when the police come to their premises to arrest immigrants.  In another case Alexandra, a Zimbabwean bricklayer alleged that he had built the foundation of a five-roomed house and was chased by the Motswana project owner when only one course was left. "I told him I had a limited number of days and would therefore have to work even on Sunday so that I could be done by Thursday when I will be going back to Zimbabwe. But he decided not to bring the cement on Sunday. When I came again on Monday he told me he no longer wanted me to work for him and refused to pay me for the work I had done," he said.

Together with the immigrant Mmegi visited the site and interviewed the project owner. It turned out that the owner, whose family runs a construction business, had indeed chased him away and refused to pay him. However he claimed that he chased Alexandra because he now wanted more money than they had initially agreed upon. He said he would pay Alexandra P650 for the foundation and slab of the five-roomed house. Similar work for a two-roomed house around the country costs at least P1000. Now that Alexandra had only laid the foundation bricks, he could not possibly pay him as he could not breakdown the figure, he said. It is because of people like Nyoni that most immigrants are seen as bad, to an extent that even hardworking and non-thieving ones like Alexandra find themselves at the mercy of their employers and the police. Village Chiefs will not spare them either. Recently the Batlokwa chief Moshibidu Gaborone had to summon Zimbabweans and their High Commissioner to the Kgotla to give them a piece of his mind. In the meeting Zimbabwean illegal immigrants were reported to be the masterminds behind break-ins and theft in the village. However Zimbabweans interviewed by this paper said the situation was not as portrayed by the Tlokweng authorities and the villagers. "As in any country, there are thieves among decent folks. When good people travel, they too travel and practice their bad habits wherever they are. There are bad Zimbabweans who come here. But should we all be painted with one brush? Batswana criminals have realised that Zimbabweans have been turned into a scapegoat and are now busier than ever knowing the blame will fall on Zimbabweans," said one of the many Zimbabweans interviewed by Mmegi. The government of Botswana is working on a new law, which shall make it difficult for illegal immigrants into Botswana. Under this law, an illegal immigrant and the person aiding him or her can each be charged P4000. But Zimbabwe has still to come out of the economic abyss, and more illegal immigrants will keep pouring into Botswana. For these men and women, especially with the newly erected electric fence it is hard come, hard stay.

Commentary on immigrants and development (Mmegi, 11-17/04) - Broadly speaking, immigrants have and continue to play a crucial role in the economic development of their host countries. The United States economy would not be the world's locomotive if it did not attract some of the best and brightest minds in engineering, medicine, software programming, investment banking, surgery, bio-technology from other countries. This talent is drawn from all over the world, from Beijing to Benin, Dubai to Durban. Increasingly it is not only, wunder kids that grace the shores of developed countries. In the United States for example, folks from countries such as Nicaragua, Venezuela, Poland, Peru, and Colombia dominate chores such as housekeeping and waiting in hotels. The same applies to many countries in Europe. Old or new. In Southern Africa, South Africa and to a very limited extent Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique seems to serve as attractive destinations for immigrants from many corners of Africa. Sometimes when immigrants, especially less skilled ones, enter the host countries, they face all kinds of hostile reception invariably underpinned by xenophobia. In some cases, citizens feel threatened by immigrants and think their jobs are being taken away. In other cases, nationalist politicians through anti-immigration rhetoric also fan the flames. Utterances by Jean Marie Le Pen in the last French elections are a case in point. The economic melt down currently underway in Zimbabwe, which is unleashed by political expediency, has once again placed immigration under the spotlight in Botswana. On one side, there is a camp that supports a relaxed, open door policy on immigrants especially from Zimbabwe. They argue that the immigrants come with lower labour costs, work harder and therefore contribute positively towards productivity, wealth creation, competitiveness, entrepreneurship and job creation. In general this argument is valid. However it would become even more valid if these benefits are reflected in the cost structure of companies that employ the immigrants. Sadly, this is not always the case. The problem however is not immigrants, but the economic structure that is dominated by government who incidentally is overflowing with cash. It is for this reason that service providers such as construction firms quote higher prices for government compared to fellow private sector clients. The price at which Duguru Builders build for a similar private client is normally cheaper that it would for government. So Duguru Builders simply lives off government and loses the entrepreneurial thrust. Therefore, the sooner we move to privatisation and minimise government's stranglehold, the better.

The other camp consists of those who are vociferously opposed to immigrants. They argue quite strongly that immigrants and Zimbabweans in particular come here to displace them from their jobs. Therefore, they continue, the Zimbabweans must be sent back to their country because they are taking away jobs for Batswana. Which Batswana, I am tempted to ask? Among the folks that congregate off Khama Crescent towards White City, we do not seem to be having Batswana looking for the menial jobs, that the Zimbabweans desperately seek. I am not a great fan of this camp. This is because the experience of other countries shows that immigrants will always be with us as long as they think that the grass is greener on the other side. It does not matter how many pieces of legislation we enact. The country will continue to benefit from blue-collar immigrants. The Zimbabwean influx of course is special and its solution lies in the realm of politics. It is at the higher end of the market where things will continue to be tough. The best and brightest of African immigrants, are snapped up by the Americans, Europeans and Australians. One way of offsetting this lost opportunity is to draw on the support of experienced, retired and serving volunteer executives from these countries to come and help with the transfer of cutting edge technology. We therefore have to accept and appreciate that immigrants and or expats will continue to be with us and contribute towards our development. There will be those that are induced to come, the ones that come on their own and the illegals. The United States for example, guards its border with Mexico vigilantly. Mexicans however continue to slip through. And what about the Chinese man who coiled himself inside the nose wheel casing of a Tokyo bound jetliner but could not survive the frostbite? Immigration is a difficult matter and immigrants deserve to be treated humanely and with compassion. This however cannot apply to those who slam civilian aircrafts into office buildings.

Zimbabweans warned against illegal activity (Zimbabwe Standard, 13/04) -The Zimbabwean high commissioner to Botswana and 70 other Zimbabweans living in that country were this week summoned to a local court and warned against engaging in illegal activities while in that country. The latest incident adds to reports of a diplomatic wrangle between Zimbabwe and Botswana and is set to worsen the allegedly frosty relations already existing between the nationals of the two countries. According to press reports from Botswana, the Zimbabwean high commissioner in Gaberone, Phelekezela Mphoko, was summoned to the Batlokwa customary court by Chief Moshibisu Gaborone, where he was forced to address compatriots accused of having committed crimes. The Tswana allege that Zimbabweans living in that country or visiting, are engaging in prostitution and other criminal activities. During his address, Mphoko pleaded with Zimbabweans in Botswana to stop their illegal activities. "If you misbehave, you must know that other people are bound to react the way they want," warned Mphoko. "Why are you practising prostitution here in Botswana when you know that in Zimbabwe it is illegal? Can't you see that you are destroying the good name of our country?" Chief Gaborone warned Zimbabweans that if found on the wrong side of the law, they would be severely punished. The summoning of the Zimbabweans came after police in that country had arrested three locals in connection with a scam involving the illegal sale to foreigners of Botswana national identity cards. The Botswana authorities say they are looking for 11 other Zimbabweans in connection with the scam. The Zimbabweans are alleged to be charging 1 200 Pula for the fraudulent documents which are highly sought after by Zimbabweans and other nationals such as Nigerians and Congolese, who are in Botswana illegally but are seeking permanent residence in the diamond-rich country. The officer in charge of national registration in Maha-lapye, Dinah Matsha-bo, said they were alreay investigating 16 cases of Zimbabweans believed to have illegally obtained Botswana identity cards.

Six probed for passport scam (BOPA, 08/04) - The Department of Immigration is in the process of seeking Interpol assistance in the investigation of six Batswana suspected to be involved in a scam of selling Botswana passports to foreigners.  Principal Immigration Officer and Head of Passport Section Phatsimo Mosiakgabo told BOPA that they became suspicious because of the frequency these individuals requested for the replacement of lost passports.  The suspects are five men and a woman who is said to have lost about 10 passports within less than four months. The life of a Botswana passport is 10 years and is government property. Mosiakgabo said Botswana passports were ordered from abroad at British £10 (about P90) but government sold them at a subsidised price of P10.  She said the government was not only losing revenue through the scam but passport holders did not seem to care. Mosiakgabo said this was common among students, particularly those studying in neighbouring South Africa. She observed that students studying in faraway countries take care of their passports.  According to Mosiakgabo, cases of lost or stolen passports became common in the 1990s, but this did not raise any suspicion because Batswana were thought to be a non-corrupt nation. She said it was only in extreme cases like that of the suspect who lost 10 passports within less than four months that they become suspicious and involved the police for investigations. She explained that a lost passport was replaced within a year with a temporary one, on the basis that when the lost one was found the owner would still be able to use it rather than use two passports. Mosiakgabo lamented that the Passport Act was silent on the number of replacement passports that could be issued to an individual and within what period.  Also, the Act does not state the amount to be paid for replacement of lost passport. Mosiakgabo acknowledged the need to strengthen the law to reduce passport fraud and ensure that people care and value their passports.

To reduce the fraud of passports the Department of Immigration is on the process of introducing a new system of a machine-readable passport that would be computerised to ensure high security. The project is at the tender stage and by the end of 2004 private companies would have been invited to tender.  Although Mosiakgabo did not want to discuss how much the Botswana national passport was being sold for, there are unconfirmed reports that it goes for up to P20 000.  She said those caught never admit having bought it but to have picked it. Most foreigners who have been caught with a Botswana passport were from west Africa. They alter the passport by removing the photo but the name is not changed. Recently a Motswana was arrested for assisting foreigners to obtain Omang cards - Botswana national identity card.

Conditions for residence permit application (BOPA, 07/04) - Conditions required for applying for a permanent residence permit apply to all individuals irrespective of what category of employment or activity that are engaged in. Labour and home affairs minister Thebe Mogami told Parliament that the Immigration Act requires that a person should have resided lawfully in Botswana for at least ten years under the terms and conditions of a residence permit. Mogami said the applicant for a permanent residence permit must be of good character and had made contributions of benefit to Botswana, hence the minister may, in writing, confer on such a person the status of permanent resident, exempting him or her from the requirement of applying for or obtaining a residence permit. He was responding to Lentsweletau MP Moeng Pheto who wanted to know whether the conditions required for applying for a permanent residence permit whereby the applicant was required to state whether he had made any significant contributions to the economy of Botswana should apply equally to members of religious order, nurses, teachers and medical practitioners. If so, he wanted the minister to say how is the contribution of members of these disciplines measured in economic terms. Mogami said in conferring the status of permanent resident to any individual, he consideres several pertinent aspects such as level of investment and employment created therefrom. Other considerations are expertise and skills which are still in short supply in Botswana and are being brought by the individual, as well as valuable role played by an individual in the socio-economic development of a community. “I do not confine myself only to the monetary or economic inputs made by the applicant when I decide to issue a certificate of permanent residence but I consider all attributes of the applicant which add value to the quality of life in Botswana,” said Mogami. He said he applies these considerations equally to members of religious organisations, nurses, teachers and medical practitioners. Mogami added that if any individual in any of these categories satisfied the levels he considered to constitute significant contributions of benefit to Botswana, he confers on such individual the status of permanent residence. However, he mentioned that individuals may belong to the same category of employment such as teachers or investors but may not have made the same level of contribution which he consider to constitute significant to the benefit to Botswana. Therefore, Mogami explained that it is possible that he may confer one individual the status of permanent residence while denying another in the same category permanent residence status. Where such is the case, it means he felt the other had still to make some more contribution, he said.


Bi-national initiative clamps down on poaching (Lilongwe, African Eye News Service, 29/04) - Malawi has jailed a poacher for seven years of hard labour to send a strong message to illegal hunters targeting newly introduced animals in the Nyika National Park. The park is the focus of a joint Malawi/German eco-tourism initiative that has reintroduced animals to the park and reformed local agricultural practises to be eco-friendly. The new eco-tourism projects are in danger, however, because of massive hunting of the new herds of zebra, antelope and other animals. Magistrate Ken Kalambo of the Rumphi magistrate's court said it was important to make an example of the poacher, 46-year-old Zambian national Savington Munthali. The park, in northern Malawi, shares a border with Zambia and is particularly hard hit by cross-border poachers. The German development company, called Border Zone Development, has welcomed the sentence and pointed out that the binational initiative had resulted in most poachers on the Malawian side of the border giving up poaching and handing their guns over to the ministry of tourism, parks and wildlife. The Malawi government has also urged the company to liaise with the Zambian government to start a similar programme in that country. - ECN-African Eye News Service

Tourism and the spread of HIV/AIDS (Lilongwe, The Chronicle, 20/04) - People have differed on whether tourism is contributing to the spreading of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Others say tourism is also one of the major factors contributing to the wide spread of the pandemic while others are of the view that tourism cannot contribute to the spreading of HIV in the country. Others have said that there is need to create awareness on HIV/AIDS for employees in the tourism industry, tourists and the community surrounding tourist attraction areas in the country because some of them are frequently in close contact with the tourists. Because of these problems the Ministry of Tourism, Parks and Wildlife has embarked on a process to implement a Sexual Reproductive Health Programme for the Tourism and Travel Industry, Parks and Wildlife. The programme aims at improving the quality of life for employees, mostly young men and women in tourism and travel industry and communities around national parks and resorts areas through behaviour change in sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse and gender equality issues. According to the ministry's public relations officer Patricia Liabuba said the project will run for 3 years with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). 'The justification is that the tourism sector employs a lot of men and women, most of them young, who are constantly in contact with tourists from various places both local , and international,' said Liabuba adding that the project will focus on behaviour change communication activities that address safe sexual and reproductive health practices. In addition the project will also focus on information on HIV/AIDS prevention, early pregnancies, harmful socio-cultural practices, sexual transmitted diseases, effects of drugs and alcohol abuse and gender issues will be given to employees, employees and visitors. 'A baseline survey was conducted which has documented the attitudes, behaviours and practices of both employers and employees in relation to sexual related health, HIV/AIDS, gende equality, drug and alcohol abuse among the target groups,' she said. In order to make the programme sustainable, training of trainers workshops will be conducted in all the three regions to acquire the trainers with the appropriate skill to implement the project. The project is also aimed at sensitising communities around National Parks and Wildlife Reserve areas about the scourge of HIV/AIDS and how to avoid it.

South Africa deports 127 Malawians (The Nation, 03/04) - The South African Government on Tuesday deported 127 Malawians who were staying in that country illegally, Immigration officials at Lilongwe International Airport (Lia) confirmed. According to the officials, one of the deportees was a woman. They were brought in by a chartered Air Malawi plane at about 12.10 PM.  “They are 127 in total but one of them is female,” said an Immigration official.


Former migrants threaten further disruption (Maputo, AIM, 30/04) - Mozambicans who were once migrant workers in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) are threatening to attend this year's May Day march, even though the organisers, the country's main trade union federation, the OTM, have made clear that they are not welcome. Last year a group of "majermanes" (as the former migrants are commonly known) severely disrupted the May Day celebrations. Very drunk, they stopped in front of the reviewing stand, and hurled insults at President Joaquim Chissano and other dignitaries, calling them "sons of whores". The majermane disruption shocked and angered trade union leaders. It led to cutting short the 2002 celebrations, and the OTM is determined that nothing of the sort should happen this year. Quite apart from their loutish behaviour, the demands of the majermanes have little to do with the concerns of most Mozambican workers. They claim that the government still owes them money allegedly sent from Germany to Maputo in the 1980s. Under pressure, the government agreed to repay the former migrants' social insurance contributions - which amount to 7.5 million US dollars for the 11,252 majermanes registered with the Labour Ministry. But those who claim to represent the majermanes are demanding much more, although they have been quite unable to show any good reason for further payments. OTM chairman Amos Matsinhe met with two majermane leaders, Arnaldo Mendes and Manuel Nhacutou, last Friday, and told them they would not be allowed to attend this year's march, which will take place, not in Maputo, but the adjoining city of Matola. Mendes and Nhacutou have threatened to disregard this ban. Cited in the weekly paper "Zambeze", Nhacutou said the OTM "has no power to forbid us from marching. We shall march, because we are workers like anyone else". Mendes made the extraordinary claim that the 1st May activities "should not be governed by trade union norms, because there are workers who are not members of any union".

The two said the ban proved that the OTM is complicit "in the theft of the money owed to us", and described the OTM as "a mass organisation for the Frelimo Party" (though the OTM severed its links with the ruling party 12 years ago). The commander of the riot police, Zacarias Cossa, has warned that his men will be on hand to ensure that there is no disruption of this year's march. Mendes and Nhacutou dismissed this, alleging that the police would never attack the majermanes since "25 per cent of our police are returnees from the GDR". They seem to have forgotten that last year the riot police baton charged a majermane demonstration in front of the Mozambican parliament. Matsinhe confirmed to "Zambeze" that the majermanes have been banned from Thursday's march. "We told them that they couldn't march with us, because last year they ruined the march", he said. "The purpose of the march is not what they did in 2002. They did not obey the instructions of the organisers". Matsinhe was not worried so much by the insults against Chissano, but by the fact that they had stopped in front of the reviewing stand, ignoring instructions to keep moving. "The rule is to march, not to stop", he said. "The majermanes have no discipline". As for the claims that the OTM is controlled by Frelimo, Matsinhe retorted "only someone who hasn't read our statutes can make this mistake. As far as I know, there are no parties in Mozambique that have their own unions".

Zimbabwe, Mozambique in bid to curb smuggling (Harare, The Herald, 14/04) - Customs departments from Zimbabwe and Mozambique have signed a memorandum of understanding primarily aimed at curbing rampant smuggling of goods between the two countries. The agreement, which was signed at the just-ended World Customs Organisation for Eastern and Southern Africa regional annual meeting in Vumba last week, is expected to facilitate the exchange of information and improve working relations between the two countries. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority commissioner general, Mr Gershom Pasi, signed the memorandum on behalf of the country while the director general of the Customs of Mozambique Mr Antonio Victor Barros dos Santos, represented his country. The agreement was in line with the World Customs Organisation's policy of encouraging bilateral relations between countries sharing common borders. "We want to assist each other and facilitate the movement of people without the contravention of the laws, said the Zimra commissioner responsible for investigations and international affairs, Mr Tichawona Chiradza. "This memorandum of understanding, therefore, seeks to provide ways and means of achieving this," he added. The volume of traffic between Zimbabwe and Mozambique has increased over the past few years. The memorandum of understanding will also enable closer co-operation to curb the rising smuggling of goods between the two countries. Some Zimbabweans are smuggling basic commodities such as sugar, cooking oil and cotton wool to Mozambique, resulting in shortage of the commodities on the local market. This has caused the prices of the goods to shoot up, particularly on the black market. The Zimbabwe-Mozambique border is one of the longest on the continent stretching for hundreds of kilometres and the signing of this memorandum of understanding will help the responsible authorities to ensure that all loopholes are plugged.

"If there are some investigations going on in Zimbabwe we will be assisted by our counterparts in Mozambique and the same can also be done when they are carrying out their own investigations," Mr Chiradza said. Joint training programmes on a number of Customs and immigration issues will also be organised under the memorandum of understanding. Mozambique has already signed a number of similar agreements with other countries in the region. The country borders with South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The head of international co-operation for the Customs of Mozambique, Ms Susana Raimundo, said apart from information exchange, they have also held some joint training programmes with those from South Africa. "These memoranda of understanding are quite useful and we will soon have an official document. There is a lot of exchange with the South African customs and we also hold some technical meetings to discuss the problems at the border," Ms Raimundo said. They also hold some joint verification exercises and exchange data regarding problems of valuation.


Police seize dagga, truck in drug bust (The Namibian, 29/04) - Three vehicles, among them a South African-registered truck, were seized yesterday and two Namibians and two South Africans arrested after they were caught with large amounts of dagga. Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Angula Amulungu said during a routine patrol at Okuryangava, 840 dagga packets, each weighing 260 grams with a street value of N$656 000 were seized by Police. Amulungu said the dagga was smuggled into Namibia by the crew of the truck that belongs to a South African cargo operator, after they duped immigration and customs officials that their cargo only consisted of washing detergents. The two Namibian suspects arrested include a senior employee at a local private transport company, while the other two are Xhosa-speaking males from South Africa. Police seized the South African truck as well as a dark blue VW Combi used to carry the dagga from the truck to the distribution point in Katutura and a South-African registered Mercedes Benz car used to carry fuel for the Combi. Yesterday's drug bust happened by chance because the Mercedes belonging to a senior employee at a local private transport company ran out of petrol near a clinic at Okuryangava. One of the passengers apparently gave the game away by being too friendly to the Police officers and this aroused suspicion among the law enforcement unit who informed him they were going to search the vehicle. There was a moment of drama shortly after the officers stumbled on the neatly-packed dagga when the 59-year-old man working for a local transport company fled the scene and hid behind a shebeen. He was, however, arrested a 100 metres from scene. All the four suspects are expected to appear in court today on charges of possession of dagga. Amulungu said this was the biggest single dagga bust in Namibia.

Angolan refugees to return home from Namibia (Windhoek, AFP, 23/04) - Some 20,000 refugees are set to return home to Angola in the coming months, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), The Namibian daily reported Wednesday. UNHCR Public Information Officer David Nthengwe and Senior Protection Officer Magda Medina said the repatriation exercise would begin in June and could last until December 2004. The refugee body recently conducted a spot survey at Osire, the largest refugee camp in Namibia, located east of Otjiwarongo, 250 kilometres (190 miles) from Windhoek, and 95 percent of the Angolan refugees there said they wished to return home because of the peace prevailing in their country. There are also Angolan refugees at the Cassava refugee camp near Rundu, which is about 750 kilometres (450 miles) north of Windhoek, and across the Kavango river from Angola. Angola's civil war, which lasted 27 years, ended on April 4, 2002, when the army of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, long a Marxist movement, signed a peace pact with rebel officers from the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. The war claimed an estimated 500,000 lives and maimed thousands, victims of landmines. The budget set aside for the repatriation exercise is five million Namibian dollars (664,000 US) which includes reception centres, equipped with latrines and water. Landmine awareness campaigns will also be conducted among the refugees, as most of them are set to return to the mine-strewn Cuando Cubango province. The UNHCR said it was committed to ensuring that the refugees returned to "acceptable conditions" in Angola.

UNHCR prepares to start repatriating Angolans (The Namibian, 23/04) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will start repatriating several thousand Angolan refugees in Namibia from June. An overwhelming majority have expressed their willingness to return to their motherland, it emerged yesterday during an interview with UNHCR officials Magda Medina, a Senior Protection Officer, and David Nthengwe, Public Information Officer. A recent spot survey undertaken at Osire Refugee Camp found that up to 95 per cent of Angolan refugees want to go home because of the peace prevailing in their country. "We are at the stage of promoting the repatriation. Once we promote repatriation we will facilitate it," said Medina, adding "we cannot guarantee what will happen". She said recent meetings involving UNHCR officials and the Namibian and Angolan governments set the time frame for the planned voluntary repatriation to be between June this year and December 2004. About N$5 million has been budgeted for the exercise. Medina said the planned repatriation fell under a new plan that renews the 1995 tripartite agreement which collapsed with the start of hostilities in Angola between government forces and the Unita rebel movement. A co-ordinator who will oversee the repatriation of the almost 20 000 Angolans at Osire and at Cassava near Rundu, has already been appointed at UNHCR's Regional Office in Pretoria. At a meeting held in Windhoek on March 10, the officials worked out the modalities such as logistics, transport, border and other related issues. The UNHCR is also conducting landmine awareness campaigns among refugees as the majority will be going back to the mine-littered Cuando Cubango Province. In addition, reception centres, equipped with latrines, water and other conveniences will be established to facilitate the planned repatriation. Some refugees have expressed concern that the exercise will disrupt the learning process for their school-going children. The UNHCR said it was working around the clock to ensure that the refugees returned "to acceptable conditions" in Angola. A meeting between Ministry of Home Affairs officials, the UNHCR and other implementing partners to discuss a planned information dissemination campaign that will consist of leaflets and a video on the exercise is scheduled for Monday.

Cross-border parks on way (The Namibian, 14/04) - The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is finalising a treaty for the establishment of a trans-frontier park comprised of the Ai-Ais Park in Namibia and the Richtersveld Park in South Africa. Motivating his Ministry's budget for 2003-2004 in the National Assembly on Thursday, Minister, Phillemon Malima said the initiative was recently discussed and supported by the Presidents of Namibia and South Africa, Sam Nujoma and Thabo Mbeki, and their governments. He said the project would improve the conservation management of an area with the richest biodiversity in Namibia and provide a new focus for tourism development in the south of the country. Malima indicated that negotiations with Angola were also underway for a trans-frontier park consisting of the Skeleton Coast Park in Namibia and Iona National Park in Angola.

Government to probe foreign ownership of land (The Namibian, 01/04) - Officials from the Ministry of Lands, accompanied by Police and immigration officers, are to start visiting commercial farmers throughout the country from today.
The exercise, announced by Lands permanent Secretary Frans Tsheehama, is aimed at determining the nationality and status of all commercial landowners in the country. The Police and immigration officials will handle information pertaining to their areas of operation. Tsheehama said the information will help the Ministry to update its data bank. The probe into foreign ownership of land will last for about one month. The Government has said in a press statement it is not pleased with the progress of the provisional valuation roll of agricultural properties. The Ministry sent out forms which were to form the basis for the publication of the provisional valuation roll of agricultural properties in the country but only around 60 per cent of the commercial farmers have returned the forms. Some 486 commercial farmers have yet to send them back to the offices of the Ministry. The land valuation and taxation regulation of December 2001 stipulates that those who do not return the form could face a fine of N$20 000 or five years behind bars, or both. The farmers had until the beginning of February to hand in their forms, but only 7 800 of the expected 12 684 were completed and returned to the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation by the end of last week. The lack of interest has already forced the ministry to postpone the publication of the provisional valuation roll of agricultural properties until 28 February. The forms were available at post offices and at the office of the valuer-general in the capital, Windhoek. However, commercial farmers argued that not all of them lived near post offices. The farmers were required to disclose the number of farms they own, the total hectarage, and the names and nationalities of the owners. The data will be used to determine the amount of money the farmers will pay under a land tax which will be introduced today (April 1). The land tax was first announced last April but was not implemented. Information at the Ministry's disposal indicate that SA nationals own at least 82 farms totalling around 805 699 hectares, while Germans own a further 82 farms which total 337 849 hectares.

However, the information is regarded as outdated and Government argues that the figures represent only a fraction of farms owned by foreign nationals in the country. Many farms owned b foreigners in close corporations with Namibians are still under investigation. Lands Minister Hifikepunye Pohamba said earlier that the commercial farms were transferred into close corporations at "an alarming rate" shortly after Government announced that it would introduce the Commercial Agricultural Land Act in 1995. In 1995 alone, close to 275 farms or six million hectares were converted into close corporations as gifts or donations. Pohamba said Government was investigating the practice of transferring commercial farms into close corporations and intends to tax companies registered as owners of the particular farms. Government announced a year ago that it would slap a 0,75 per cent tax rate on the value of each hectare of undeveloped land owned by commrcial farmers in Namibia and one per cent on land owned by absentee landlords. The move is aimed at compelling farmers to sell excess land to Government for resettlement. The land tax will be backdated to April 1 last year. Through the proposed land taxaton, Pohamba said, Government would be able to raise revenue of at least N$18,4 million each year. He said the tax rate for absentee landlords was likely to be pushed up after one year when a re-evaluation of the rates would be done. The tax rate would incease by 0,25 per cent per hectare on each additional farm owned by an individual commercial farmer. Pohamba said the implementation strategy for land tax required four phases for the creation of a valuation roll of all taxable properties. These phases incude the property identification exercise, the creation of the valuation roll, the lodging of objections and the sitting of the valuation court, and billing and collecting. The Ministry hopes to release the valuation roll for public consumption at the end of April. In terms of the proposed land tax, farmers will not be taxed on improvements they have made on their farms.

South Africa

Hotels exposing miners to HIV/AIDS (Pretoria, BuaNews, 30/04) - The single sex hostel system and lack of proper housing for most mine workers has been identified by some stakeholders at the Mining Industry HIV/AIDS Summit as a major factor exposing workers to diseases such as HIV. The summit, currently underway in Midrand, is being attended by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and representatives of organised labour and business. Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad and Mpumalanga premier Ndaweni Mahlangu are also among the dignitaries at the event. The representatives said the single hostel housing method, that has been in use since the apartheid era, had a serious impact on the social and family lives of the miners. President of the National Mineworkers Union (NUM), Senzeni Zokwana who earlier on addressed the conference, said the hostel method 'made thousands of workers lonely and susceptible to HIV/AIDS.' He said there was a need to fast track the current government's approach to turn hostels into family units. This was echoed by Minister Tshabalala-Msimang: 'We must confront the fact that, unless miners and their families have decent accommodation in close proximity to their places of work, investing in health care services alone will be like drawing water with a bucket full of holes as the bottom.' The conference is held under the theme 'Sharing Experiences and Strengthening Partnerships in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in the Mining Industry.' Speaking at the same function, deputy minister of minerals and energy, Susan Shabangu, said HIV/AIDS was affecting the human resources of the mining industry. She called for strengthening of partnerships and inclusion of families of mine workers, as they were also affected by the pandemic. 'We need to continue to make a difference, not only in the industry, but also in the communities and homes where our workers come from,' said the deputy minister. The mining industry, government and labour are expected to sign a declaration of intent committing the parties to step up the fight against HIV/AIDS.

South Africa to think about people trafficking (SABC, 30/04) - South Africa would need to "investigate" before defining a specific crime dealing with trafficking in people, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister, said today. Speaking in Bali on the second day of an international conference on human smuggling and trafficking, he said this could give greater impetus to law enforcement. However it could also make actual prosecution more difficult.  "One needs to decide whether the fight against trafficking in people would not be equally promoted under the application of existing provisions of the criminal code, but with separate and dedicated policy emphasis and administrative capacity," he said. South Africa was committed to ratifying the United Nations Convention on Trans-National Organised Crime and its protocols. "However, in respect of certain portions of the protocol dealing with the trafficking in persons, we will need to read down or apply a restrictive interpretation of some provisions. "In fact, we cannot construe the language of such protocol as requiring us to extend permanent residence or a stable immigration status to victims of trafficking merely on that account."  South Africa had experienced an "inordinate" abuse of the asylum process, even though the number of asylum applications remained low compared to other countries. It feared that some provisions of the trafficking protocol could give rise to problems if anyone subject to deportation could raise the objection that he or she had been a victim of trafficking. Trafficking covered people brought into South Africa not only under duress but also merely under false pretences. "If the claim of being a victim of trafficking may lead to a temporary or permanent immigration status, such claim is likely to be abused, as much as the asylum claims are," he said.

Law must respect human rights, says Buthelezi (Business Day, 30/04) - I must take exception to the opinion expressed by the Human Rights Commission's deputy chairman, Dr Zonke Majodina, in an article entitled "Immigration Act contrary to ethos of constitution." I have the highest respect for the independent institutions established under chapter nine of the constitution, which are watchdogs of democracy. But there comes a time when one must wonder where the watchdogs' watchdogs are, and whether chapter nine institutions are beyond the institutional system of checks and balances. Therefore, I feel obliged to point out that such an article really went beyond the mark and that its criticisms are unwarranted. It has become almost cliche to criticise the Immigration Act, calling it controversial and yet, with a few exceptions, nobody ever raises substantive issues to define the nature of this controversy nor suggest how things should otherwise be handled. The article reflects the pattern of those stating that the Immigration Act and its regulations are a vast improvement on the previously existing legislation, but they are nonetheless "controversial". The only criticism expressed by Dr Majodina is that the Immigration Act states the objective of administering migration control in accordance with the highest standards of human rights protection would be in conflict with having an effective of law enforcement. The conclusion is drawn that this would be somehow constitutionally repugnant. A human rights culture is not about lessening law enforcement and government action, but rather about building within the law guarantees to ensure that law enforcement respects human rights. I am also surprised that Dr Majodina would make reference to the Cape High Court having declared the Immigration Regulations invalid on procedural grounds, when the matter is sub judice in the Constitutional Court, and should be dealt with by organs of the state with the same restraint which I have thus far shown in commenting on it. It shall suffice to say that I immediately took measures to correct the deficiencies identified by the Cape High Court by commencing a new regulation-making process, even though, obviously, I did not agree with the findings of the court as I appealed them. The policies underlining the Immigration Act have nothing to do with xenophobia. We are opening the front door of migration control and wish to accommodate all foreigners who quality under the liberal provisions of the Immigration Act. However, it is our intention to close the back door to illegal immigration and ensure that the law is upheld. This has got nothing to do with "creating the impression of a country under siege".
M G Buthelezi MP
Home Affairs Minister

Business obliged to identify illegal immigrants (Business Day, 30/04) -An interesting aspect of the new Immigration Act is that businesses will find themselves in a new role: enforcing immigration law. Banking institutions, estate agents, insurance brokers, employment agencies and others will be tasked with identifying "illegal immigrants". Underlying the new regulations is the government's intention to ease SA's skills crisis by allowing the recruitment of skilled foreign professionals into the country. They are also intended to create job opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs in light of the country's shortage of skilled professionals. The new Immigration Act was delayed for several years largely because of disagreements between Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the African National Congress. In addition, lawyers in the past few weeks have been engaged in battle with Buthelezi over the legislation. The battle reached a peak after the minister lodged a notice of his intention to apply for leave to appeal in the Constitutional Court against the Cape High Court's judgment in March which struck down the regulations, making it impossible for the act to come into force until a decision was made on appeal. The regulations to accompany the act, published on November 25 last year, were found to be "unlawful and inconsistent with the constitution and invalid by the high court. The act has been broadly criticised. For example the justice department did not support the idea of an independent immigration court, and there has been opposition to the 2% levy placed on foreigners' salaries. Until a decision is made on the new act's validity, the new regulations are intended to come into effect. Employers will be obliged to refuse services to illegal foreigners, including provision or facilitation of loans, money transfers, accounts, property purchasing or rental, insurance policies and even admission by clinics. They will have the duty to report illegal immigrants to home affairs. To achieve stricter controls and minimise corruption, immigration practitioners such as legal advisers will need to form an association. The members will be audited by the department by measures such as regular testing and tight control on registration and liability insurance.

Arguably, the new act is an improvement on the old Aliens Control Act, in that processes have been streamlined and antiquated evaluation systems eliminated. The principle underlying the new process is that the department does not want to be perceived as controlling what immigrants do on a daily basis it wants to know who is entering the country, for what purpose, and for how long. The aim is to ensure that neither the public nor market interests are threatened. In the light of the department's lack of resources, the need to provide certification has been outsourced to chartered accountants or people delegated by them. Employers of foreign workers need to provide documentation which attests terms and conditions of employment are not inferior to those in SA. The documentation also needs to confirm conditions of the applicant's post, together with a job description. The applicant's qualifications must be evaluated by a SA Qualifications Authority. This certification must be provided by a charted accountant to a regional office handling such applications. The department will undertake training, enforcement and policing. The regulations provide that 2% of a foreigner's taxable pay will be paid quarterly by firms to the department, to be used for developing skills in SA. Permanent residence is only granted to a limited number of immigrants. Certain criteria are taken into account for example, whether the person is skilled or semiskilled. The regulations also set guidelines for foreigners who intend establishing businesses in SA. Criteria include investing at least R2,5m, a good business track record, geographical spread of economic activity, employing five South Africans, export potential and transfer of technology. A new class of work permit has been created for "exceptionally skilled foreigners". Certain permits may be negotiated with the labour department and home affairs to arrive at favourable conditions. The immigration advisory board may waive certain requirements in the national interest. Immigration officers will be able to enter work places without warrants to inspect company records. They can copy employment contracts and other relevant records. Although it seems a daunting piece of legislation particularly in its early stages of implementation it is welcome for SA at this critical stage of shortage of skills.
Temkin is professional services correspondent.

Immigration Act contrary to ethos of constitution (Business Day, 24/04) -The recent media reports about the continuing court case that questions the constitutionality of the Immigration Act Regulations once again highlights the controversy relating to the passing of the Immigration Act. The passing of this act should have provided SA with the opportunity of erasing discriminatory legislation from our statute books and replacing it with new legislation in keeping with our constitutional democracy. However, the manner in which the drafting of the regulations occurred leaves a lot to be desired.  Indeed, even the drafting of the Immigration Act itself was a long and tortuous process. Without underestimating the challenge that an overhaul of the Aliens Control Act presented, the consultative process that was followed left many civil society organisations feeling their submissions were not having any effect on the content of this legislation. In the end the final draft bill that was eventually passed through Parliament was shambolic and controversial. The bill was, however, signed into law with the promise it would be sent back to the drafters for redrafting. But first, the regulations referred to in the bill needed to be drafted before the act could be implemented. Just as in the drafting of legislation, regulation making is an important function that should take into account our constitutional values of accountability, responsiveness and openness. In the course of exercising the mandate given to him, the home affairs minister was challenged in the Cape High Court, which came out with a ruling that the regulations were unconstitutional in that he did not follow the procedural steps required.  Despite this, an equally serious matter that has been the concern of many in human rights circles is the content of the Immigration Act. This is because sections of the act are almost exactly the same as those contained in the Aliens Control Act.

The first objective set out in the Immigration Act is stated as: "Promoting a human rights-based culture in both government and civil society in respect of migration control". The rest of the objectives section is suffused with the term "illegal foreigners". On the one hand, the home affairs department is encouraged to "prevent and deter xenophobia".  On the other hand, the department aims to "concentrate resources and efforts in enforcing the act at community level and discouraging illegal foreigners" and further down the section, "create a climate of co-operation with communities and organs of civil society to encourage them to co-operate with the department to implement the act". The overall objective that seems to stand out is the need to deter and prevent people from illegally migrating to SA, which creates the impression of a country under siege.  Not only has this deterrence approach not proven its effectiveness, but it risks fuelling xenophobia and racism further. Because of the nature of xenophobia in the country, large numbers of darkerskinned black South Africans have been subjected to institutionalised harassment and detention at Lindela Repatriation Centre, amid threats of repatriation outside SA.  Clearly, these are the kind of provisions that will surely open the act to further constitutional challenges.
Dr Majodina is deputy chairman of the Human Rights Commission.

Home Affairs gives foreign spouses break (Business Day, 22/04) - A foreign spouse or life partner of an SA citizen or permanent resident, who applies for a work permit under the new Immigration Act, will not be forced to leave SA to apply for the permit, says the home affairs department. Department spokesman Leslie Mashokwe was responding to concerns raised by immigration specialists that the new act, which came into effect last month, did not make provisions for this, leaving people in the dark once again. Immigration specialists said the original act, the Aliens Control Act, had not clarified that matter, which then had to be decided by the Constitutional Court. It also appeared the Immigration Act, never made available for public comment, also did not clear up the question. Mashokwe, however, reassured the public that a foreign spouse or life partner may "lodge an application at any local office of the department and will not be required to leave the country in order to lodge the application". "The status quo remains in respect of the spouses, life partners and dependent children of SA citizens or permanent residence permit holders, under the new act," he said. The previous act, the Aliens Control Act, forced foreign spouses to leave SA to apply for a permit and remain out of the country until the permit was granted. Following a class action by Anette Susan Booysens and others against Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Constitutional Court on June 4 2001 ruled foreign spouses could apply for a work permit while living in SA, and did not have to show they possessed any special skills which could not be found in SA. Judge Albie Sachs, in a unanimous decision for the Constitutional Court, upheld a high court judgment that the act was inconsistent with section 10 of the constitution which guarantees the right to dignity, as it failed to give proper recognition to importance of family life.  The decision of invalidity was suspended, however, for a year to give Parliament time to deal with the problem. Parliament missed the deadline which meant that from June 5 last year people could apply for work permit s without leaving the country. The new Immigration Act and its regulations were declared invalid by the Cape Town High Court in March because Buthelezi had not invited public comment prior to promulgating the new regulations. Lawyers dealing with immigration say the law leaves many unanswered questions. The new legislation and its regulations came into force on April 7 following the signing by Buthelezi of notice of his intention to seek leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court against the high court decision. The appeal in effect put the high court judgment on hold. The case is expected to be heard in the Constitutional Court next month.

Judge's new ruling safeguards rights of foreigners (IOL, 23/04) - Police may no longer arrest and deport a person on "suspicion of being an illegal foreigner" without a proper hearing. This process was due to start today because certain sections of the Immigration Act have been declared illegal. There can be no deportation without a proper hearing and a chance to appeal, Mr Justice Ben du Plessis ruled yesterday.  Lawyers for Human Rights is considering a damages claim against the Department of Home Affairs on behalf of a South African citizen arrested in Johannesburg and deported to Zimbabwe because he did not have his identity document on him. Judge Du Plessis ruled in unequivocal terms that this type of arrest would be unlawful. LHR called the judgment a "landmark victory". Home Affairs was ordered to pay the costs of the application. "This judgment will do much to curtail arbitrary arrests that served administrative convenience at the expense of individual liberty," LHR's national director, advocate Rudolph Jansen, said. The bulk of the arrest and detention provisions in the new Immigration Act survived constitutional scrutiny, but the head of LHR's Refugee Rights Project, Jacob van Garderen, said this was because they were linked to administratively fair procedures. "We are satisfied that the judge's interpretation will adequately protect the rights of foreigners," Van Garderen said. Judge Du Plessis rejected the department's pleas that they were saving money by having people detained on ships, trains and planes and could not allow them to come into the country. The general detention provision in the act was allowed to stand, but the judge made it very clear it allowed only for the arrest of people who were officially declared to be illegal foreigners and not suspects. Van Garderen explained that officials use arbitrary methods like style of clothing, skin colour and inoculation marks to identify people who are not South African. LHR attorney Chris Watters said the department would now have to follow a process before deporting an illegal foreigner from South African shores. If this process was followed, Judge Du Plessis said, there should not be a problem with the detention of illegal foreigners waiting to be deported. "Detention in conditions violating human rights does not happen because the act allows it, but because the act is not complied with," the judgment said. The Constitutional Court has to confirm a declaration of unconstitutionality before it becomes operative.

Two sections of new Immigration Act invalid, says judge (Pretoria, Sapa, 22/04) - In the latest court ruling against Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday, declared two sections of the new Immigration Act unconstitutional and invalid. Judge Ben du Plessis ruled that section 34(8) of the Immigration Act of 2002, did not provide for procedural protection of persons held on a ship and was therefore unconstitutional, but suspended the order for a year. He further ruled that the wording of section 34(2), dealing with persons held on a ship, was unconstitutional. The judge, however, refused an application by Lawyers for Human Rights to declare sections 34(1), 34(1)(d) and 34(9) of the Act unconstitutional as well. The sections deal with among other things the arrest and deportation of illegal foreigners without a warrant and their detention without a trial. The deportation of illegal foreigners was a legitimate governmental object internationally recognised, the Judge said.  The arrest of foreigners for the purpose of deportation was a just cause for the deprivation of freedom by means of arrest. It was also a rational way of attaining the legitimate governmental object of deporting illegal foreigners. The Act did not provide in section 34(1) for the arrest of persons other than those who were in fact illegal foreigners. The possibility of the section rendering lawful the deprivation of the freedom of other persons did not arise.  "I conclude that the power to arrest in terms of section 34(1) of the Act does not limit the substantive aspect of the right to
personal freedom," the Judge said.  He said illegal foreigners who were detained had the right to request at any time that their detention be confirmed by a warrant of a court. They could also not be detained without a court order for longer than 30 days.
To complaints that the circumstances under which illegal foreigners were detained were not in accordance with their basic human rights, Du Plessis said this was not because the Act allowed it, but because the Act was not complied with. 

The judge found that LHR had the legal standing to bring the application as it genuinely acted in the public interest. The very reason for its existence is a concern for human rights. In view of the difficulties facing foreigners, particularly illegal foreigners, whose rights may be infringed, it is in the public interest that an organisation such as LHR acts as public conscience to protect the rights of foreigners, he said. Concerning section 34(8), the Judge said the powers given to immigration officers in the sub-section were arbitrary. Persons who were not illegal foreigners but have been notified that they were or whom an immigration officer had declared to be illegal, could be detained on ships under this section even in cases where there was not even a reasonable suspicion that they were illegal foreigners. The Cape High Court in March declared regulations accompanying the Act invalid and unconstitutional because Buthelezi did not follow essential notice and comment procedures before gazetting the regulations. Although Buthelezi was refused leave to appeal against the ruling and the court ordered that previous legislation should remain in place. The Department of Home Affairs will seek leave to appeal the ruling in the Constitutional Court next month.

Confusion over immigration law (IOL, 22/04) - Illegal immigrants may have been arrested unlawfully because the police have not been told that the new Immigration Act has come into operation. This problem recently came to the attention of immigration lawyers after they were asked by police officers what they were supposed to do. Lawyers for Human Rights has written to the minister of justice requesting clarification. Captain Ronnie Naidoo said no one had told police the new Immigration Act had come into operation. Home affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said he could not speak for the police, but they should have known the new act had come into operation.  Immigration lawyers found themselves tangled in red tape as both the Government Printer and the various home affairs offices were caught on the wrong foot when the law came into force. Chaos also seems to be reigning at the country's ports of entry. Johannesburg immigration lawyer Chris Watters said he had a client who came to the airport who had the words "Aliens Control Act" scratched out on his papers and changed to "Immigration Act". "Can this be a legal permit?" Watters asked. Because the new act does not make provision for applications for special exemption to be lodged, a final-year student from the Democratic Republic of Congo had been unable to study or attend classes since her study permit expired. Even though it was recommended that she be given a certificate of special exemption, the director-general signed it only after the new law kicked in. Because transitional measures relate only to permits and not to certificates, she finds herself in limbo. The Law Society's spokesman on immigration, Julian Pokroy, said immigration lawyers were now faced with "incredibly complex and novel situations". "But we are trying to process what we have got." He said the Law Society had called on the Department of Home Affairs to start a campaign to inform people about the regulations under the new act. Pokroy also said he would be setting up the first website in the country where the elusive new forms will be available online. His website is at

Migrants receive grants illegally (Johannesburg, Sapa, 22/04) - Migrant workers from neighbouring countries are illegally receiving social grants from South Africa, a South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report said on Tuesday. "In all its efforts to eradicate fraud and corruption, the government has not instituted measures to deal with migrants who have access to social grants when in fact they are not entitled to such services," said the annual economic and social rights report released by SAHRC chairman Jody Kollapen in Johannesburg. The 533-page document, compiled between 2000 and 2002, said a substantial number of migrant workers entered South Africa monthly to collect social security benefits. It is not clear whether the Social Development Department was able -- when re-registering claimants -- to separate citizens from people who were once migrant workers during the apartheid period. The report said there was rampant corruption in the national and provincial social welfare departments despite government's efforts to curb this practice. Two officials from the national department were investigated for corruption and maladministration totalling about R4,2-million between 2000 and 2002. While some provinces reported fraud in this period, the Eastern Cape government said there had been no acts of fraud or corruption in its province. The report however said information from sources revealed that in some parts of the former Transkei fraud syndicates had been uncovered. It said the allocation of the government's child support grant (CSG) was unconstitutional. Currently, children above the age of seven were not eligible for a grant. The constitution defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years, therefore to deny children between the ages of eight and 18 grants was unconstitutional. The report said street children did not have access to the CSG and other forms of assistance such a poverty alleviation programmes and projects offered to other children. "These kids are unable to benefit from the primary school nutrition programmes because they do not go to school and cannot even access basic health services." The document said refugee children were denied access to the CSG because they were not citizens of the country and did not have the necessary documentation. This was against Article 23 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children, which requires South Africa as a party to ensure that refugee children received appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance. Children with minor disabilities were also denied access to a child dependency grant (CDG). The CDG provides for certain contingencies, such as severe disability in childhood, while failing to provide for childhood chronic illnesses. "This group of children and their families have extra costs and burdens due to the health condition that greatly reduce their chances of development and equal opportunities in life."

Police arrest 400 immigrants (Thohoyandou, Sapa, 21/04) - A total of 400 illegal immigrants, most of them Zimbabwean natives, have been arrested in Limpopo. Police spokesperson Captain Ailwei Mushavhanamadi said on Monday the immigrants would soon be deported to their respective countries. They were arrested during a police operation which started on Friday and ended on Monday.

415 people arrested on the East Rand (SABC, 20/04) - More than 400 people were arrested for various crimes during a police operation on the East Rand today. Prudence Mvelase, a police spokesperson, said the crimes included rape, murder,
attempted murder, armed robbery, drinking in public and traffic offences. Some of the 415 people arrested were suspected of being illegal immigrants. Police confiscated six stolen vehicles, 20kg of dagga, stolen computers and radios, five unlicensed firearms and seven licensed firearms. Mvelase said police also recovered 140 litres of alcohol from an unlicensed shebeen.

Zimbabweans march Pretoria High Commission (SABC, 18/04) - Several hundreds Zimbabweans living in South Africa, marched on their High Commission in Pretoria today. They were protesting against what they described as the repressive policies of the Robert Mugabe regime, and the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. They called on President Robert Mugabe to hand over political power to the majority of Zimbabweans. The mood was upbeat among the hundreds who marched on the Zimbabwean High Commission near the Union Buildings. However, no sympathy was forthcoming from the Zimbabwean authorities. No one arrived to receive the petition from the protesters.  The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's main opposition, said more than three million Zimbabweans are now forced to live outside the country. According to the party, misrule, hunger, starvation and the death of democracy are some of the reasons that have forced Zimbabweans into exile. The march co-incided with the day Zimbabweans celebrate the collapse of a racist minority rule 23 years ago. According to the MDC, Zimbabweans have nothing to celebrate. The party said human rights violations have reached appalling proportions.

Constitutional Court to hear Buthelezi's appeal (Cape Town, Mail & Guardian, 19/04) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi's application for leave to appeal a ruling striking down new immigration regulations will be heard by the Constitutional Court. The ruling was issued last month by a full bench of the Cape High Court, which found the regulations invalid and unconstitutional. The High Court judges refused Buthelezi leave to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal, and also issued a certificate saying they did not believe the Constitutional Court would come to a different conclusion. Buthelezi nevertheless lodged papers with the Constitutional Court, and on Thursday Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson directed that the application for leave to appeal would be heard on May 20. He said Buthelezi should file written argument by May 13, which should be comprehensive enough for the court to dispose of the application without having to hear further argument should leave to appeal be granted. The original High Court application against the regulations was brought by Cape Town specialist immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg. The effect of Buthelezi filing notice of his intention to seek leave to appeal was to suspend the High Court ruling, so that the regulations, along with the new Immigration Act, are currently in force and being applied by the department of home affairs.

State must test ruling, says Buthelezi (Cape Town, Business Day, 16/04) -Government needed to test a Cape Town High Court judgment which would allow anyone to challenge state actions even when not directly affected by them, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said yesterday. He briefed Parliament's home affairs committee on developments around the Immigration Act and its regulations which were declared invalid by the high court because the department had not followed the public consultation requirements of the act. "We as the government have a very important concern of national interest in determining whether the Cape High Court's ruling on the issue of locus standi was correct as such ruling has potentially immense consequences for our legal system and our government." He said that under such a ruling anyone would have the power to go to court to challenge the lawfulness of the action of an organ of the state when a law, rather than a provision of the bill of rights, is alleged to have been contravened, even when the applicant has not been directly damaged or specifically affected by such decision. Buthelezi said he had received senior counsel opinion that the court could have acted beyond its powers when it suspended the legislation which had been adopted by Parliament and promulgated by the president.
"If correct, the court's order preventing the Immigration Act from coming into force would be a nullity". Buthelezi said he would be publishing the draft regulations for the second round of public comment shortly. They would also be tabled in Parliament. He said he intended to pursue the process of public consultation on the regulation as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, important electoral legislation setting the framework and rules for next year's elections will probably be presented to Parliament by the justice and constitutional affairs department after June, acting home affairs director general Ivan Lambinon told the committee.

Two processes to get Immigration Act finalised (Parliament, Sapa, 15/04) -Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi told MPs on Tuesday that he would publish draft regulations for a second round of public comments on the controversial Immigration Act after the first round ended on Tuesday. "I have extended the first period of public comments from 21 to 31 days...(after) I have been ordered by a court of law to do so," said Buthelezi during a briefing to the portfolio committee on home affairs on the litigation surrounding the act and the way forward. He said it was difficult to anticipate how long it would take to process the comments received, as this would depend on "their nature and extent". Buthelezi confirmed to the committee that he would be pursuing both section 7(1) of the bill -- which related to tabling the regulations, soliciting public comment and publishing final regulations -- as well as appealing a Cape High Court decision ruling declaring the immigration regulations invalid. "It is my intention to pursue the section 7(1) regulation-making process as quickly as possible... (it) is important that this process is completed without undue delays so as to bring final certainty into the regulatory framework of migration control. "There is also urgency because the immigration regulations which are presently in force and effect have been declared invalid by the Cape High Court. "Because such declaration of invalidity has been suspended by virtue of the pending appeal -- to both the Constitutional Court and Appellate Division of the Supreme Court -- there is urgency in completing the section 7(1) regulation-making process, should the appeal fail." Buthelezi said he had been advised by two senior counsels that the Cape High Court's decision on the merits of the matter were "erroneous" and on appeal it could be found that the immigration regulations were in fact valid. He also said that the establishment of the Immigration Advisory Board would continue so that it could be operational by May 21.

Immigration Act causing chaos (Johannesburg, News24, 14/04) - Confusion and controversy reign with the country's migration controls and, "strictly speaking, every single overseas visitor - including Super 12 rugby players - entering South Africa is here illegally. The new Immigration Act and accompanying regulations were hurriedly tabled by Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi last Monday night. However, a senior lawyer says every move made by the department in accordance with the new legislation is null and void. The reason is that in March the Cape High Court found the regulations to be unconstitutional. Buthelezi's legal team appealed to both the Appeal Court and the Constitutional Court, but appeals were turned down. In practice, the new legislation cannot be enforced without the regulations. Buthelezi's lawyers sent an urgent fax for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court to counter the Cape court's ruling, but registrar Martie Stander refused to accept the appeal by fax. However, Buthelezi tabled the new legislation and regulations on Monday night a week ago, apparently under the impression that everything was in order. On Friday, the department referred Beeld to a statement indicating that the new legislation and regulations had been tabled and apologised that it had happened "without prior notification". In the meantime, a second urgent leave-to-appeal application was sent to the Constitutional Court on Tuesday last week, but it was again unacceptable. The problems apparently were rectified on Thursday, said Stander, but Mr Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson had not indicated by Friday afternoon if he had found the documents in order and if the application for leave to appeal was acceptable in the present form. "This meant that no application for leave to appeal had been accepted legally and the introduction of the regulations on Monday a week ago was nullified because it was found to be unconstitutional by the Cape High Court. The senior lawyer said: "In practice, it means that everyone who has arrived in South Africa since Monday last week - from business to sports people - is here illegally. "Until the application for leave to appeal is accepted by the Constitutional Court, the Immigration Act and the regulations cannot be implemented." Lawyer A Katz, who was successful in the Cape Supreme Court with the application to have the regulations declared unconstitutional, did not want to comment yesterday afternoon because the case was sub judice.

Immigration Act bad for investment (Business Report, 14/04) - The business community, and the property industry in particular, have reacted with concern after the new Immigration Act and its regulations, which make it practically impossible for all but the most well-heeled foreign nationals to take up residence in South Africa, came into effect at 6pm on Monday.  This is the result of the signing by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, of a notice to appeal against the High Court's setting aside of the act in the Constitutional Court.This despite the fact that the minister's application in the High Court for leave to appeal to the Appeals Court was denied by a full bench of judges. The new act requires applicants to meet extremely high financial qualifications and to pay extraordinary application fees. Its regulations, and their coming into effect on Monday, have shocked the business community, property agencies and owners as well as prospective migrants to South Africa. Until Monday the rather unusual situation was that the new act applied but its regulations did not, as the High Court recently ruled that the regulations of the previous Aliens Control Act would apply. Ian Slot, chairman of Seeff Western Cape Licensees, said: "The current state of affairs in which the act and its regulations are in effect as a result of a technicality due to the minister's notice to appeal, is unacceptable and untenable. "It seems to be in migrants' best interests to not apply for residence until the Constitutional Court has ruled on the matter," Slot said. "We agree with High Court judges John Hlope and Deon van Zyl that it is highly unlikely that the Constitutional Court will rule differently to the High Court in its setting aside of the act's regulations. "Cape Town law firm Eisenberg & Associates successfully challenged the act and its regulations twice in the High Court. The court found the regulations to be invalid and unconstitutional. "It was successfully proved that the minister did not allow for any public participation in the formulation of the regulations. "The correct procedures under which regulations are required to be made were also not complied with. "We find the department's conduct in this matter extremely disappointing," Slot said. "The minister has, through a technical point, succeeded in bringing into effect an act and regulations which have twice been set aside by the High Court.

"This begs the question: Does the minister really believe that there are legitimate grounds for appealing against the setting aside of the act? "Or was his notice to appeal simply a mechanism to enforce his will regardless, and to bring into effect an invalid and unconstitutional act and regulations? "Is this not a waste of the courts' time? Does it not also undermine parliament and democratic processes? Isn't the minister's conduct sending out the wrong message? Is this really how government wants to spend the extra money being collected by SARS and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel? "It has been our view that the department should take the act's regulations, which are fundamentally flawed and its criteria unworkable, back to the drawing board," Slot said. "The minister's special advisor, Mario Ambrosini, said on Monday that this 'reform' would serve South Africa's interests. How does this act constitute reform? It undermines South Africa's set goals for direct foreign investment. "When foreign nationals purchase property in South Africa, they make a strong commitment to this country's future. "This act, as well as key aspects of the capital gains tax provisions, adversely affect South African as well as foreign buyers and investors. They need to be reconsidered or challenged, before they do further damage to South Africa's ability to attract much-needed foreign capital." According to Slot, the regulations at first required financially independent foreign nationals (those without pension-type income) to prove a net worth of R20 million as well as to pay an application fee of R100 000 to obtain permanent residence in South Africa. "Retired foreign nationals seeking permanent residence from 12 March would have been required to prove either a pension-type income of at least R25 000 per month or a R15 million net worth," he said. "In March, this was then changed. The regulations now require a proven net worth of R12 million providing an income of R15 000 per month." Alternatively, applicants must prove either a pension, irrevocable annuity or pension plan of at least R20 000 per month, as opposed to the earlier R25 000. "Making income or wealth such an important yardstick by which to determine the contribution of prospective South African residents is questionable," Slot said. "It concerns us that government appears once again to have embarked upon legislation which has serious ramifications for present and potential property owners without adequately engaging both the public and the property industry in discussions about the effect of these proposed policies. "Surely the hallmark of an effective democracy is public participation on key decisions based on informed and open public debate?"

Mobile team to speed up issuing of IDs (Dispatch Online, 10/04) - Social Development MEC Neo Moerane will send a mobile team of Social Development, Home Affairs and Health officials to Port St Johns soon to conduct a blitz on identity and other documentation connected with social grant applications. After holding an outreach imbizo there last week, Moerane heard many appeals from people who could not access social grants because they lacked the mandatory barcoded birth certificates and identity documents. "The MEC has promised people we will go there with a mobile team involving the three departments," said Social Development spokesperson Gcobani Maswana yesterday. He said the "service on wheels" would take photographs and speed up the issuing of identity and other documentation which would immediately allow qualified people to apply for and access child support, old-age, disability and other grants. The department had also come across several elderly people whose current bar-coded identity documents showed them as being far younger than they in fact were. The mobile team would assess these cases. The ages of elderly people who were never issued with birth certificates is often estimated through medical assessment. "It was clear that people are being frustrated on several levels by the current services on offer. We hope to address this."

More embarrassment over immigration laws (Johannesburg, IOL, 09/04) - As the department of home affairs opened its doors to a new system of migration control on Wednesday confusion and controversy reigned once again. "It is an embarrassment," one immigration lawyer said, while allegations were made that the legal team for the department had not filed a pivotal application to the Constitutional Court on Monday, even though they said that they had. A month ago two judges of the Cape High Court ruled that the immigration regulations were unconstitutional because they had not been tabled for public comment. The judges initially refused to give home affairs leave to appeal against the judgement. Their ruling was, however, suspended on Monday afternoon when the legal team for the department of home affairs claimed to have filed an application for leave to appeal at the Constitutional Court. Because the court had accepted that home affairs had properly filed this application for leave to appeal, they dismissed another late night application by leading immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg to stop the Immigration Act from coming into operation.  As daylight dawned on Wednesday it seemed, however, that home affairs' legal team attempted on Monday afternoon to file the Constitutional Court application by fax, but this was not acceptable to the court which expects 25 copies of the papers to be filed in person. Eventually the application was filed at the Constitutional Court at 1pm on Wednesday.

Buthelezi apologizes for hasty implementation of immigration regulations (IOL, 09/04) - As the department of home affairs opened their doors to a new system of migration control yesterday, confusion and controversy reigned once again. "It is an embarrassment," one immigration lawyer said while allegations were made that the legal team for the department of home affairs had not filed a pivotal application to the Constitutional Court on Monday, even though they said that they had. A month ago two judges of the Cape High Court ruled that the immigration regulations were unconstitutional because they had not been tabled for public comment. The judges on Monday initially refused to give home affairs leave to appeal against this judgment. Their ruling was, however, suspended on Monday afternoon when the legal team for the department of home affairs claimed to have filed an application for leave to appeal at the Constitutional Court. Because the court had accepted that home affairs had properly filed this application for leave to appeal, they dismissed another late night application by leading immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg to stop the Immigration Act from coming into operation.  Yesterday it seemed, however, that home affairs' legal team attempted on Monday afternoon to file the Constitutional Court application by fax but this was unacceptable to the court which expects 25 copies of the papers to be filed in person. Eventually their application was then only filed at the Constitutional Court at around 1pm yesterday. Immigration lawyer Chris Watters said that "this is extremely embarrassing for the country. It is not inconceivable that someone is going to get hurt or fed-up". He said that by yesterday the Johannesburg's home affairs staff had not heard what was going on. One official said that they did not have all the forms. Another said that they were still busy with decisions taken under the old Aliens Control Act, Watters said. Immigration lawyer and chairman of the Law Society's immigration committee Julian Pokroy said they had written to home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi telling him that there was confusion and asking him what to do. Buthelezi had, after being ordered to do so by the Cape High Court, tabled his regulations for public comment. "Our most pressing problem is what will happen if Buthelezi's appeal does not succeed. We will have an Immigration Act without regulations. We could be faced with a situation where nobody would be allowed to exit or enter the country." Buthelezi apologised in a statement for the inconvenience that the hasty implementation of the immigration regulations might cause. "The new system has come into force without prior notice, which is bound to exacerbate the unavoidable teething problems which are necessarily associated with the launching of any new administrative reform," Buthelezi said. "We regret any inconvenience." 

Buthelezi to appeal to Constitutional Court over immigration law delays (Business Day, 08/04) - Lawyers battled into the night yesterday in the Cape Town High Court over SA's troubled immigration legislation after Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi lodged notice with the Constitutional Court of his intention to seek leave to appeal. An appeal would suspend last month's high court judgment, which struck down key regulations, ironically making it possible for the new act, the Immigration Act, to come into force with its regulations until a decision was made on the appeal or the appeal was heard. As a result, immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, who brought the challenge in the high court, applied yesterday for the court to place in operation the order despite any application to the Constitutional Court. The high court yesterday refused the home affairs department permission to appeal against the ruling on March 11 by Cape Judge President John Hlope and Judge Deon van Zyl that regulations which were supposed to come into effect at midnight that night along with the new Immigration Act, were ultra vires and unconstitutional. The ruling was suspended until yesterday pending a decision on the leave to appeal. Up to that point that new act was in force with the Aliens Control Act. The Immigration Bill has been eight years in the making and has had a long and bumpy history. The regulations to accompany the act, published on November 25 last year, were found to be "unlawful and inconsistent with the constitution of the Republic of SA" and therefore invalid by the Cape Town High Court on February 17 this year. The court said the immigration regulations could not be considered to be in force as President Thabo Mbeki had not yet determined a date for them to come into effect by publication in the Government Gazette. This was corrected and the regulations were published in the gazette. On February 25 a state law adviser cautioned the National Assembly's home affairs committee that the new immigration regulations necessary for the new Immigration Act to come into force on March 12, might be open to a successful court challenge as they did not appear to be transitional.

The department had insisted the regulations were a transitional mechanism and would be replaced in terms of Section 7 of the Act, which requires an advisory immigration board be set up within 90 days of the legislation coming into force. On March 11, a day before the bill was to come into effect, the Cape Town High Court declared the regulations invalid and unconstitutional because Buthelezi failed to invite public comment prior to promulgation of the new regulations. The act has been broadly criticised. For example the justice department did not support the idea of an independent immigration court, and there has been opposition to the 2% levy placed on the salaries of foreigners. There are some, however, who believe it is a better piece of legislation than the present act, which offers only one class of work permit instead of the four outlined in the new act. According to Deloitte & Touche Immigration manager Lino de Ponte, the new act was promulgated in the middle of last year and has been operating with the regulations of the Aliens Control Act.

New immigration laws enacted (Johannesburg, Irin, 08/04) - South Africa's new Immigration Act has left too much discretion to police and immigration officials, and criminalised ordinary job seekers from neighbouring countries, the NGO Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) said on Tuesday. After several delays, amendments and last minute court challenges, the legislation replacing the Aliens Control Act was finally enacted on Monday evening. Although the main thrust of the objections to the act were that it placed very high financial requirements on immigrants who wanted to retire in South Africa, and did not contain enough investor-friendly clauses, LHR was concerned about the impact on alleged illegal immigrants, small traders and job seekers. "The new act's main focus is on big business and large corporations, and facilitating the movement of international professionals. There is no adequate provision for the majority of people who need to enter South Africa," Jacob van Garderen, coordinator of LHR in South Africa, told IRIN on Tuesday. Instead of creating user-friendly mechanisms, the new act made it more difficult for people to apply for work permits, and for entrepreneurs to employ skilled people, he explained. It also didn't deal adequately with certain categories of migrants like the significant number of neighbouring nationals employed for generations in agriculture, mining and small businesses. Nor did it make provision for people like Zimbabwean craft traders who needed to enter the country for a few weeks, or casual labourers. "It criminalises a large number of migrants who would otherwise have entered South Africa legally, and places an unacceptably high burden on enforcement agencies like the police and the immigration authorities," Van Garderen said. "If this movement was regulated it would give the state the opportunity to know who is entering the country." The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) agreed, adding that the act gave arbitrary powers of "search and seize" if there were reasonable grounds a person was not South African. The language of the act, although meant to curb xenophobia, could also promote it through wording that gave the impression South Africa was being "bombarded by foreigners", SAHRC deputy chairwoman, Zonke Majodina, said. LHR was particularly concerned about the immigration enforcement mechanisms of the act, which left an "unacceptable degree of discretion" to the police and immigration officials, and involved private companies in detention and deportation. According to the act, alleged illegal immigrants may be detained for 30 days without a warrant before being detained, after which an extension ordered by a judge is required. This would give detainees the opportunity to place their case before a court and possibly have the warrant of detention set aside. However, Van Garderen said, not many detainees knew this and were held for "unacceptably long periods". Refugees and asylum seekers would continue to refer to the separate South African Refugees Act and would not immediately be affected by the new Immigration Act. The new act makes provision for an Immigration Court, which will eventually replace the Refugees Appeal Board. The departments of Justice and Home Affairs are still debating the jurisdiction of the proposed court.

Police crackdown on bogus Home Affairs office (SABC, 08/04) - Police and Home Affairs officials have closed down a building operating illegally as a home affairs office at Mayfair, south of Johannesburg. Police confiscated identity documents, passports, drivers' licenses and roadworthy certificates. Police also found cheques to the value of more than R80 000. Police suspect that the place has been operating since 2001. No arrests have been made. Lesley Mashokwe, a Home Affairs spokesperson, says this could be the work of a syndicate. Mashokwe says though the matter is in the hands of the police, the home affairs department will also do its own investigation.CC MacKay, a Johannesburg Metro police spokesperson, says two licensing officers suspected of being involved in the scam will be suspended.

Immigration Act: New controversy (Cape Town, News24, 08/04) - Fresh controversy erupted over South Africa's new immigration regime Tuesday when it emerged that it may have been put into operation unlawfully on Monday night. However, this suggestion has been dismissed as "absolute nonsense" by the home affairs ministry. The regulations that accompany the new Immigration Act were declared invalid by the Cape High Court last month, but on Monday the ministry announced it had lodged notice of an appeal with the Constitutional Court. The effect of filing notice would have been to suspend the high court ruling, and on Monday evening home affairs officials were given the go-ahead to implement the new act, together with the disputed regulations, at points of entry to the country. But it has now emerged that the Constitutional Court did not in fact accept the ministry's bid to file, because its lawyers did not follow correct procedure. According to court registrar Martie Stander, they only filed the correct documents at 13:00 on Tuesday. "We received a fax yesterday (from the lawyers) which we refused to take, because the rules of the court say it's 25 copies that need to be lodged," she said on Tuesday afternoon. "They didn't adhere to the rules of the court." Stander said the lawyers did phone to check the fax had arrived. "We just gave them the information that, it's not that we don't want to accept it, we cannot accept a document by way of fax." This means, under one interpretation, that for some 18 hours immigration officials were doing their job according to an unlawful set of regulations. They should in fact have been operating under the new act along with completely unrelated regulations issued under the old Aliens Control Act. This would have created a situation which both the ministry and specialist immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, the man who brought the challenge against the regulations, acknowledge would have been chaotic and unworkable - even though perfectly legal.

It would also appear to place a question mark over the whole hearing of a high court application late on Monday afternoon by Eisenberg for a special ruling that the status quo should remain despite what he - and a full bench of the court - assumed was a valid lodging of Constitutional Court papers. The court dismissed his application, and awarded costs of two counsel against him. However Mario Ambrosini, special adviser to home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, told Sapa that this interpretation was "absolute nonsense". "The papers were in the Constitutional Court at four o'clock yesterday," he said. "At ten o'clock this morning the chief justice was reading them." He said filing was "a process" and that the papers were merely stamped by the registrar's office at 13:00. "It's splitting hairs in a situation where there are no hairs to be split," he said. Eisenberg said on Tuesday afternoon he had written a letter to judge Deon van Zyl, one of the two judges who have been dealing with the ongoing court battle over the regulations, pointing out what happened and asking for his direction. Court rules do allow judges to vary or rescind orders they have already made, without being approached by means of a formal application. The new act and regulations were supposed to come into force at midnight on March 11, but after Eisenberg's successful challenge earlier that day, Van Zyl ruled that the old act and regulations should continue in force until 18:00 on Monday April 7.

Chaos as Immigration Act comes into force (IOL, 08/04) - The new Immigration Act, along with regulations which were declared invalid and unconstitutional by the Cape High Court last month, have come into force. This followed a marathon legal battle, which Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi still hopes to continue in the Constitutional Court. On February 17, leading immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg secured a Cape High Court ruling declaring the immigration regulations unconstitutional because no special proclamation on the regulations had been published in the Government Gazette.  The regulations were then supposed to come into force at midnight on March 11, but Eisenberg secured a second ruling from a full bench of the High Court that they were unlawful. Eisenberg had filed the second application because Buthelezi - who claimed they were only interim regulations - had refused to table them for public comment. This would have meant that at midnight the new act would have come into force along with unrelated regulations issued under its predecessor, the Aliens Control Act - a situation which would have led to chaos at immigration control points. However, with only hours to go, Judge Deon van Zyl issued an order that the old act remain in force, along with the old regulations, until 6pm yesterday. Back in court yesterday morning, Van Zyl and Judge President John Hlophe rejected a formal application by Buthelezi to take his case to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. They also issued a "negative certificate" saying they believed there was no prospect of the Constitutional Court reversing their decision either - although this does not preclude Buthelezi from approaching it - and ordered the minister to pay Eisenberg's costs. The ruling left Home Affairs staff who had been listening to the legal arguments confused about which act and which regulations they would be administering from 6pm. One senior official approached Eisenberg's advocate Anton Katz in the street outside the court afterwards, and said: "Mr Katz, can I ask you a simple question. Where the hell are we?" The question was resolved after a fashion yesterday afternoon when Buthelezi's legal representatives filed notice with the Constitutional Court of their intention to seek leave to appeal. Buthelezi's special adviser, Mario Ambrosini, asked if he was pleased by the ruling, said: "We hope that all the customers and service recipients will be pleased. We did it for them."

Immigration chaos looming? (Cape Town, News24, 07/04) - The prospect of immigration chaos loomed anew on Monday when Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi was refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal against a ruling striking down key regulations. The effect of the refusal, by a full bench of the Cape High Court, is that at one minute past 18:00 on Monday, the new Immigration Act will come into force coupled with outdated regulations from the old Aliens Control Act. Immigration experts say this will lead to chaos at South Africa's ports of entry. However, government lawyers could still avert disaster by applying to the Constitutional Court before 18:00 for leave to appeal. Monday's ruling follows a finding on March 11 by Cape Judge President John Holphe and Judge Deon van Zyl that the regulations supposed to come into force at midnight that night, along with the new Immigration Act, were invalid and unconstitutional. The challenge to the regulations was brought by immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg. The judges' ruling would have meant that the new act came into force with the old regulations, which bear no relation to the legislation. But in a second decision late that night, Van Zyl ordered that both the act and the regulations be suspended until 18:00 on Monday, pending a decision on leave to appeal. He and Hlophe refused Buthelezi leave to go to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. They also issued what is known as a "negative certificate" saying they believed there was no prospect of the Constitutional Court reversing their decision, and ordered him to pay Eisenberg's costs. A negative certificate does not preclude Buthelezi from going to the Constitutional Court.
However, his legal team appeared on Monday morning to have been caught by surprise by the realisation that they faced a deadline. Home Affairs officials were no less concerned. One senior official, who had been listening to the case from the public gallery, approached Eisenberg's advocate Anton Katz in the street outside the court afterwards, and said: "Mr Katz, can I ask you a simple question. Where the hell are we?" Eisenberg is expected to oppose any bid by Buthelezi to seek Constitutional Court leave to appeal.

Immigration Act comes into force (Cape Town, Sapa, 07/04) - The new Immigration Act, along with regulations which were declared invalid and unconstitutional by the Cape High Court last month, came into force at 6pm on Monday. This followed a marathon legal battle, which Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi still hopes to continue in the Constitutional Court. The regulations were supposed to come into force at midnight on March 11, but specialist immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg secured a ruling from a full bench of the High Court that they were unlawful. This would have meant that at midnight the new act would have come into force along with unrelated regulations issued under its predecessor the Aliens Control Act -- a situation which would have led to chaos at immigration control points. However with only hours to go, Judge Deon van Zyl issued an order that the old act remain in force, along with the old regulations, until 6pm on Monday [SUBS: APRIL 7]. Back in court on Monday morning, Van Zyl and Judge President John Hlophe rejected a formal application by Buthelezi to take his case to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. They also issued a "negative certificate" saying they believed there was no prospect of the Constitutional Court reversing their decision either -- although this does not preclude Buthelezi from approaching it -- and ordered the minister to pay Eisenberg's costs. The ruling left home affairs staff who had been listening to the legal arguments confused about which act and which regulations they would be administering from 6pm. One senior official approached Eisenberg's advocate Anton Katz in the street outside the court afterwards, and said: "Mr Katz, can I ask you a simple question. Where the hell are we?" The question was resolved after a fashion on Monday afternoon when Buthelezi's legal representatives filed notice with the Constitutional Court of their intention to seek leave to appeal. The filing would have automatically suspended the High Court's original finding that the regulations were invalid, and brought in the new act together with new regulations, had not Van Zyl's order been in force until 6pm.

As it happened, at 6pm, when the new regime finally clicked into gear, the two teams of lawyers were back in court arguing an application by Eisenberg to have the automatic suspension suspended. Hlophe and Van Zyl rejected the application shortly before 8pm, despite Katz' argument that allowing the regulations to come into force would "irreparably prejudice the public interest". It meant, Katz said, that there could be "no return to a lawful situation" should the Constitutional Court rule against Buthelezi. The judges also ordered Eisenberg to pay costs this time around, and rejected an immediate bid by his legal team to appeal. After the hearing, Eisenberg said through a legal representative: "Because the matter is now before the Constitutional Court, it would be inappropriate to comment on the merits of the matter. "However it appears that the effect of the dismissal of the (suspension of the suspension) application this evening is to bring into force invalid and unlawfully made immigration regulations. "Let the Constitutional Court have the final word on the issue." Buthelezi's special adviser Mario Ambrosini, asked if he was pleased by the ruling, said: "We hope that all the customers and service recipients will be pleased. We did it for them. "At the beginning it (the new system) won't be easy. There are going to be teething problems. "But we hope that in due course the launching of this reform will serve South African interests." He said immigration officials had been literally standing by with new sets of rubber stamps for documents to hear the outcome of the court hearings.

Despondent health care workers flee (Mail & Guardian, 07/04) - Nurses and doctors are still endangered species despite efforts by the Department of Health to retain them, the 2002 South African Health Review has found. The annual review published by the Health System Trust is the most comprehensive look at issues affecting the health care sector. The review found that 43% of doctors plan to work overseas after completing their community service. This number has increased from 34% in 1999. The review attributes the exodus of health workers to lack of management, stress, work overload and emotional burnout, which lead to a decrease in productivity and low staff morale. The Department of Health implemented compulsory community service in 1998 for doctors, dentists and pharmacists to improve the delivery of public health services. This year community service has been extended to seven other professional groups to fill gaps in the health care service. The South African Medical Association estimates that 5 000 doctors have left the country, with the number likely to increase if urgent measures are not put in place. More than half of the young, white doctors interviewed intended to work overseas, compared to 10% of African doctors and 40% of coloured and Indian doctors. Most of the doctors felt that they had made a difference during their community service year. However this had had no effect on their career plans and had merely delayed them by a year. “This is in contradiction to the hopes of the Department of Health that establishing compulsory service would positively influence health professionals’ future contributions.” Recommendations in the review include that the department provide incentives for these young professionals to return to South Africa and implement recruitment and retention plans to prevent the brain drain. A chapter on the “voices” of primary health care workers shows their frustration at the lack of resources and the inadequate training they received. Health care workers felt discouraged because they were unable to utilise their skills, were overworked and had no time for the individual needs of patients. The government can forget about a functioning health system if public health workers are not remunerated adequately, trained, supported and evenly distributed, says the review.

The review laments the absence of the National Health Bill, which, after seven years in draft form, has yet to be passed. The lack of national legislation creates confusion for provinces in finalising their laws, it says. The review calls on African leaders to advocate for the control of tuberculosis (TB), malaria and HIV/ Aids, and to keep the world’s attention on the effect these diseases have on development. There is little evidence that TB and malaria infections are abating. The National TB Control Programme has a three-year plan and aims to reach an 85% cure rate for TB patients. South Africa is ninth on the list of 22 high TB burden countries. “An estimated 4,7-million South Africans are infected with HIV and 1,6-million of these will develop TB,” says the review. TB/HIV pilot sites in four provinces have illustrated the need for community mobilisation. “Both malaria and TB programmes are not doing well due to poorly functioning health systems,” says the review. The Global Fund for HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria should be supported, together with other interventions like the Stop TB and Roll Back Malaria campaigns in Southern African countries, the review says. A section of the review dealing with nutrition found that 72% of children survive on a diet of only maize and sugar. It says children between the ages of one and nine had diets that were poor in nutrients. In its review the National Food Consumption Survey found that bread consumption was low. One in five children in South Africa is stunted and one in 10 is underweight. Adequate human resources are needed at primary and secondary health care levels if the implementation of integrated nutritional interventions is to succeed. Dr Patiswa Njongwe, chairperson of the Health System Trust board, says this year there has been an increase in the number of Aids patients seeking health care from already overstretched public sector facilities, particularly clinics in under-serviced communities. “Health care workers at all levels of the health care system grapple with the burden of caring for the sick, and coping with the [HIV/Aids] epidemic,” he says. The health review says the provision of antiretroviral treatment is inevitable, and that 20 000 people are already being treated with anti-retroviral drugs. “In the next three to seven years universal access to antiretroviral drugs in South African will become a reality”. A survey of of 728 Aids households revealed that 34% of their monthly income goes to health care.“The study highlights the need for policy-makers to address the health needs of people with Aids. Without a comprehensive approach to this problem existing poverty will be deepened.”

More South African farmers for Mozambique (SABC, 05/04) - More South African farmers have signed an agreement to farm in Mozambique. The 65 mostly small-scale farmers are from the Nkomazi area in Mpumalanga. In terms of the agreement, they will join an equal number of Mozambicans to farm 10 000 hectares of land donated by the Mozambican government. The project will get underway in six to eight months' time, once a crop feasibility study has been completed. The Namaacha area is most suited to sugar cane.

South African refugee centres can't cope, says Buthelezi (The Natal Witness, 03/04) - Refugee reception centres in South Africa are critically understaffed and cannot meet their obligations, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Wednesday. He was replying to a written question in the National Assembly on whether his department has sufficient capacity to process applications for refugee status. "I have written a letter to my colleague [Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi] ... to lift the moratorium on [employing] staff." Buthelezi said his department does not provide allowances for the maintenance of refugees because its role is only to regulate the stay of refugees in the country. Buthelezi said refugees are entitled to seek and take up employment in South Africa, and are allowed to travel abroad and return to the country. He agreed there is a perception that refugees are a drain on the country's resources, but the contrary is true, he said.

South Africa sees rise of sex traffickers (Mail & Guardian, 02/04) - A multibillion-dollar international market in the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation is mushrooming in South Africa. It has become, behind drugs and guns, the third-largest source of profits for organised crime. And, while researchers say South Africa has become the country of choice for the transnational networks of traffickers and pimps, we still have no law to deal with the problem. Ugljesa Zvekic of the United Nation’s regional office for drug control and crime prevention says only two countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region — Botswana and Namibia — have ratified the UN’s Convention on Transnational Organised Crime, which deals with trafficking in people. “But ratifying the convention means nothing if the individual countries do not implement domestic laws to deal with the problem themselves,” he said. The value of the global trade is estimated at $7-billion. According to a report on human trafficking in the SADC region released by the International Organisation for Migration this week, women and children are enticed by promises of employment and opportunities into a multitude of abusive situations including the sex industry, drugs and forced marriages. “Young women and children are especially vulnerable to the recruitment tactics of the traffickers because civil unrest and economic deprivation leaves them with few opportunities at home ... Migration [is] ... a natural and common solution.” Once they are lured into the industry, either through deception, coercion or force, the women are tricked into paying up to R100 000 in “debt-bondage”. This is the advance of money to the woman for the costs of travel, accommodation and food as part of the deception. “The ... trafficker will take all the earnings she receives as a sex worker and, to protect his investment, he will assist the victim in applying for refugee status to prevent her deportation should she be detained by the police,” the study says. The nature of the trafficking is both “cross-border and in-country”, said coordinator of the report Jonathan Martens.

Chinese mafia from South-East Asia and Swaziland; Bulgarian syndicates from Eastern Europe; the Russian mafia; and African criminal groups from mainly Angola, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo are pinpointed as the four main syndicates. Victims are from most countries in the SADC region as well as from Thailand, China and Eastern Europe. According to the acting deputy director general in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dr Dudu Khoza, the development of organised criminal groups in the SADC region cannot be understood in a vacuum. “The end of the Cold War and the weakening of state power in various parts of the world have ensured higher levels of transnational criminal activity ... criminal enterprises seek activities ... where maximum profits can be obtained.” Southern Africa is a fertile ground for traffickers, who “easily capitalise on the vulnerabilities created by war, endemic poverty, minimal education, unemployment and a general lack of opportunity for much of the region’s population,” the report said. In South Africa, the trafficking is mainly organised by refugee syndicates. “Male refugees struggle to survive unemployment and xenophobia in the country, therefore many choose to recruit female relations from their country of origin to South Africa ... they are required to earn R250 or more each night and work from private accommodation or on the street.” Zvekic says South Africa is the most popular destination because it “already has a well-developed network of crime groups and the economic development levels mean there is a clientele for these services in sex”. Khoza confirmed that South Africa does not have any legislation that deals specifically with trafficking in people, but said that the South African Law Commission is dealing with the matter. Currently, South Africa uses Acts on refugee, domestic violence, aliens control and prevention of organised crime against trafficking.“Trafficking in people is new with respect to drugs and weapons. For the latter two there are law-enforcement procedures in place to deal with them. Trafficking however is the weak link,” said Zvekic.

Buthelezi criticizes Home Affairs committee (The Natal Witness, 02/04) -Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi clashed with members of Parliament's Home Affairs committee on Tuesday, accusing ANC MPs of using him as a "political doormat". The IFP leader, who has locked horns with ANC MPs on numerous occasions, said he does not know of any other minister who is treated in such a disrespectful manner. He also warned of the tenuous relationship between the IFP and ANC. "I have endured a lot of humiliations for the sake of reconciliation." The working relationship between the two parties has become strained amid floor-crossings that could give the ANC control in KwaZulu-Natal. The IFP currently holds the premiership in the province, and with the Democratic Alliance now holds the same number of seats in the provincial legislature as the ANC and its allies. The latest conflict relates to criticism by members last week over Buthelezi's non-appearance before the committee.

Foreign immigrants swamp South African rural facilities (Malelane, African Eye News Service, 01/04) - Mozambican and Swaziland immigrants are swamping government facilities in South Africa's border provinces and are aggravating rural poverty, Mpumalanga economic affairs MEC Jacob Mabena warned on Tuesday.  The immigrants, largely women and children, are believed to illegally enter South Africa to benefit from local free government medical, schooling and social security schemes. Mabena said South Africa's growing human rights culture, attempts to improve gender rights, and its relatively high standard of living also appeared to play a role. "Nkomazi, one of Mpumalanga's poverty pockets, has a population of about 400 000 rural villagers with an estimated population growth rate of 4,8% per annum. Over 53% of these people are women. This growth and poverty is mainly attributed to the growing influx of people coming from neighbouring countries such as Swaziland and Mozambique," said Mabena. Only 23% of Nkomazi residents, Mabena added, have jobs. Mpumalanga has therefore launched its first regional rural development agency, the Nkomazi Economic Development Unit (NKEDU), with an initial R35,5 million grant from the United Nations, Italian government and provincial government. The agency will, Mabena said, seek to boost economic growth in the area by concentrating on developing small grassroots or micro entrepreneurs. A special emphasis will be placed on empowering rural women interested in commercial agriculture, agricultural manufacturing, tourism and rural professional services. NKEDU will assist these entrepreneurs through a package of small loans, technical training, and professional support services. "We need to ensure that there isn't duplication of services offered by other development agencies, and that any economic planning takes existing plans by other stakeholders into consideration. We're not reinventing the wheel," said Mabena.

58 Cuban doctors for Eastern Cape (Umtata, Dispatch Online, 01/04) - The Eastern Cape Health Department was recruiting 58 Cuban doctors to help ease staff shortages especially in remote areas, departmental spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said here yesterday. The doctors were expected to assume their duties early in May. "We're trying to attract local professionals but they don't want to work in these areas. The department on the other hand has a duty to improve the health standards of our people," said Kupelo. The department's deputy director for health professional services, Nomvula Silwana-Kwadjo, and three University of Transkei academics are leaving for Cuba on Friday to spearhead the programme. The inter-governmental exchange programme seeks to share medical expertise and help improve social development. Kupelo said his department was also distributing a fleet of 300 cars in the province to address transport backlogs. The department would build an R84million hospital intended to service Idutywa in this new financial year. "This shows our commitment towards social development. A number of jobs have been created through these projects and we want to enable everyone to benefit from their constitutional rights."

Immigration and skills development (Business Day, 01/04) - For the past few months the media have been rich with concerns regarding the skills crisis facing our country. The movement of skilled and informed personnel is an important element in the development and transfer of technology. Remember when Marco Polo went east? The intellectual property that his expeditions pillaged required both the transfer of artefacts and the tacit skills required to use them. The skilled and to-be-skilled must travel as part of the constant learning that underpins innovation. One should therefore inquire how our country, with its now open borders, is to prosper as part of the global economy when so many countries Taiwan, Singapore, the US, Canada are actively pursuing the acquisition of skilled staff through generous salaries and relocation packages. After all, Polo did return home. Our skills crisis is partly captured in Statistics SA data that indicate we have seen a net loss of skilled personnel of about 11800 since 1994. In expressing concern at the exodus of skills, critics of government policy overlook three important factors that affect our skills stock. The first is the flow into SA from sources quite different to those that fed the apartheid economy and war machine. This inflow is coming from Africa in two forms: experienced staff and novice students. These flows are significant and valuable, but also a threat to the source economies. As far as skilled personnel are concerned, Stats SA reports a gain from Africa of 480 over the past three years. This gain represents a temporary and sometimes permanent loss to their countries of origin. The foreign African student population in our higher education institutions is now running at close to 18% of the total student population. This new stock holds promise both for their countries of origin and for us. SA has become a major training ground for countries to the north of the Limpopo and is more than fulfilling its obligations under the terms of the Southern African Development Community Protocol on education and training. These graduates should play an important role in their home economies. Those that remain as postgraduates or post-doctoral students may contribute further to our local knowledge production.

The second factor is the release into our economy of those citizens previously barred access, namely black men and women. This is a huge intellectual and leadership resource whose existence is ignored by those who are obsessed with the brain drain, for which read white families packing for Perth. Ignoring this pool of talent is a form of silent racism. The third factor is the slow but sure growth of the number of African school leavers who hold that cherished pass in higher grade mathematics or physical science. How do we know this is increasing, and what is driving it? Last year for the first time the education department asked all senior certificate candidates to indicate their population group on their examination entry form, to allow the department to monitor redress. The information is being processed, but ahead of its release we are able to say something concerning the performance of the African group. This is possible as there is a close correlation between being an African student and also writing an African language: about 98% of those taking African languages and writing mathematics or physical science are in fact Africans. So the existing databases indicate that last year 3335 African students passed higher-grade mathematics, which is a 20% increase on 2001. In physical science there were 6075 passes, which is also 20% above the previous year. Yes, the absolute numbers are small, which is precisely why the department spent so much energy last year promoting these subjects. We would aver that the 20% increase is in fact the beginning of a turnaround in the teaching of the gateway subjects in our presently disadvantaged schools. The strategy to improve mathematics and science teaching may now be showing dividends. We would argue that the real bottleneck to the development of the skills needed for an advanced valueadded economy is not the minutiae of immigration law. In the medium term it is the internal efficiency of education, especially science and mathematics teaching. Solving the skills shortage is thus a multithrust process. Get schooling right; address the fit between academia and societal needs; draw on foreign skills as necessary; and above all do what is possible to make local work conditions attractive. This last call includes social stability, democracy, and economic policies that encourage entrepreneurship.
Asmal is the education minister. Dr Kahn is an executive director at the Human Sciences Research Council.

Buthelezi set to inspect border security (Nelspruit, African Eye News Service, 01/04) - Cross-border crime and the effectiveness of South Africa's rural law enforcement agencies will come under the spotlight in Mpumalanga this week. National home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi will tour the country's electrified border with Mozambique as part of a security audit to develop more effective safeguards against international crime syndicates. Buthelezi, who is conducting the tour as part of the national Imbizo Week initiative, will be accompanied by Mpumalanga safety and security MEC Thabang Makwetla. The high-powered delegation will seek to convince border communities to assist law enforcement agencies by reporting suspicious activities. Buthelezi and Makwetla will also use the opportunity to canvass the most pressing developmental needs in border communities as part of an attempt to fine-tune government development strategies. Provincial security spokesman Ntime Skhosana said on Tuesday that the delegation would in addition inspect the Lebombo border post in Komatipoort to gauge police and customs concerns. The Lebombo border gate processes more than 5 000 people and 300 vehicles into Mozambique every day. The increasing volume is believed to mask growing drug trafficking, vehicle smuggling, stock theft, and illegal immigration. "[Mangosuthu and Makwetla] will therefore listen to the community's concerns and try give both the general public and concerned officials insight into government's strategies," he said.


Swazi victim of crime in South Africa (Nhlangano, The Swazi Observer, 25/04) - A SWAZI national was severely beaten and robbed of over EI5 000 while in South Africa last week. The man had gone to buy a motor vehicle in Durban when he was assaulted by the thugs. Allen Sukati, an employee of CashBuild in Nhlangano, related to The Swazi Observer how the men, who pretended to be members ofthe South African Police Service, attacked and eventually robbed him of his money. Sukati, who still had not regained his full senses following the assault and robbery, said he was attacked at the Drive Inn, a place in Durban where motorists take their vehicles for sale. "I carried with me extra money besides the one I intended buying the car with, but I returned home empty handed, an experience I will never forget," he said. Sukati said having spent a night in one of the Durban resorts he then proceeded to the Drive Inn, where he had a chance of test-driving one of the many vehicles on offer. "I was not satisfied with the car I had test-driven and I went around in search of another," Sukati said. He said it was while he was looking around that he noticed a man emerging from nowhere and he ignored him, going ahead with his business. "Later on, four men who introduced themselves as SAP officers confronted me enquiring if I had not found any money they claimed belonged to one Indian who had also come to buy a car. I responded after they had produced their IDs that I had not found the money they were talking about. But another man emerged and the four asked the same question," he said. Sukati said he recalled the face of the man who was also questioned as resembling the one whom he saw picking up something. He said the four 'bogus' police officers then decided to bundle them into their vehicle and warned them that they would be made to tell the truth at the police station about the money. He said along the way, he was assaulted all over the body by the four, who used the butts of their guns and forced him to show them where he had hidden the money. He said later, the other man claimed he had the money they were looking for and he handed the same brown envelope he had picked up at the Drive Inn. "They asked me to hand over my envelope and I obliged. With the other man having confessed he was the one who got the money for the said Indian, the envelopes were returned and I was sure that the same envelope returned to me was the same one which had my E 15 000 inside. They set us free afterwards and since it was some kilometres away from where I was picked up, I was forced to hire a taxi," he said. Sukati said it was when he opened the envelope with the intention to pay the taximan a sum of E50 for the trip that he realised that he had been cheated. He said the envelope only had lotto tickets inside. Sukati whose home area in Manzini said he had to see how he made it back to Swaziland with only E6 left in his pocket.

Enforcement of Immigration Act intensifies (Mbabane, The Times of Swaziland, 24/04) - Government has not only opened a file for prominent lawyers or individuals who violate the Immigration Act by holding dual citizenship, but the net has been cast wide, the attorney general Phesheya Dlamini has said. He said the clean up campaign is not a witch hunt aimed at certain individuals, but its objective is to make sure that by the time the country has a new constitution, they have swept all the dirt. "We are looking into the issue of dual citizenship. There are reports that some have even treble citizenship. When we look at that issue, we are interested in the security of the country and its institutions. What if such a person decides to take a loan, commits fraud or a criminal case, and disappears. Where do you start searching for him or her, using which nationality because they use different travelling documents," he wondered. Dlamini said they also opened a file for people with high moral standards and they are being checked. "Here we observe that maybe we do not operate at the same level. Not very long ago, some lawyers were in the newspapers, telling the world how much they have made. On those, we are checking if they have declared all their income and to see if there has been no element of tax evasion," he said. Dlamini further said following his discussions with the Law Society on the submission of audited attorneys' files, they are also going to check if those people who seem to be standing on high moral grounds satisfy the basic requirements of the law. "It is pointless to call for one party to put its house in order while allowing others to do as they please. We understand that we have crisis in the judiciary, for instance the understaffing in both the AG and DPP chambers. While that it is our agenda to address it, let there be no one law for Peter and the other for Paul," the AG said. He said government will also be checking if the people who are shouting above their voices have repaid the scholarship fees, saying they are looking at the wide range of issues in its entirety. "We don't want to have a situation where we would find ourselves being troubled by problems that we would have long solved when time for doing so permitted," he said. Law Society President Paul Shilubane said on the issue of submitting audited accounts to the AG's office it is a legal obligation, which they have told their members to fulfil. "As far as I am concerned we have told our members to have their books up to date and it is up to them to make sure that they comply with the law," he said. Concerning his matter of holding dual citizenship, Shilubane said that he had already addressed the issue and wouldn't like to say anything more than what he said earlier. The Law Society president in an earlier interview with the Times confirmed that he holds dual citizenship and as far as he knew, he violated neither the Swazi nor South African Immigration Act.

Nothing wrong with my South African citizenship, says Paul Shilubane (Mbabane, 15/04) - Law Society president Paul. M. Shilubane says he is a Swazi citizen and has got a South African identity card as well, which he got in 1994. Chilubane together with another top attorney, whose name is still being withheld, are being investigated by government, at least by attorney general Phesheya Dlamini's admission, for holding dual citizenship. Interviewed yesterday, Shilubane said he is not ashamed of holding both Swazi and South African citizenship because by so doing he has not violated any law of either country. "I got my Swazi citizenship in 1970 by registration, because my mother is a Swazi. In 1994, I also applied for the South African ID, which I got and it is no secret that I am an admitted practising attorney in South Africa as well," he said. Shilubane said there are many other Swazis like him and doesn't understand why they are trying to make his Swazi citizenship difficult, as there is no law which forbids one from holding dual citizenship, at least between the two countries. Meanwhile, the International Bar Association (IBA) has condemned the threats made by the AG that government has opened a file to deal with certain lawyers who hold double citizenship. The IBA has described the submission by Crown Counsel Vuyile Dlamini that the Law Society president Paul Shilubane was not a Swazi as harassment following their (IBA) report on the coun-try. "We are deeply concerned by the lack of serious action being taken by key officials in the kingdom to address some fundamental problems with justice, human rights and international obligations," says Phillip Tahmindjis, Programme Lawyer at the IBA. He said instead they are seeing a further undermining of the legal profession and some petty, vindictive actions against individuals. "The attorney general's actions are particularly disappointing given the dialogue we have had with the king and his recognition of the challenge ahead. We again urge the government to embrace the need to reform and to follow the recommendations set out in the IBA report to return Swaziland to the rule oflaw." Tahmindjis said. The threats come only days after the IBA published a damning report on the serious failings of the government to uphold the rule of the law in the kingdom. The report was produced following a close dialogue with the Law Society and interviews with members of the government and the judiciary. The report identified the action of the AG in interfering in a highly publicised case last year as the first in a sequence of actions by senior officials in the country, which undermined and threatened the independence of the judiciary.

Syndicate rustling cattle to South Africa (Mbabane, The Times of Swaziland, 15/04) - Cattle rustling cases which had declined towards the end of last year have resurfaced and a syndicate rustling livestock to South Africa is wrecking havoc as in the past two weeks over 50 head of cattle have been stolen. Ten head of cattle were recovered in South Africa by a joint operation of Swazi and South African police last week. Mankayane and surrounding areas were the initial victims of the syndicate. First 33 cattle worth E50 000 were stolen in Mankayane and Bhunya. 11 were reported stolen last week also at Mankayane. The latest incidents occurred at Lundzi and Lutfotja where cattle worth E42 400 were stolen. Interesting in these cases is that in both incidents the livestock were stolen on the same day, with some cattle being stolen in the early hours of the morning (around 6am) and the other some hours later (around 9am). At Lundzi nine cattle worth E13 400 were stolen while at Lutfotja 13 cattle worth E29 000 were stolen. Speaking on the matter police PRO Vusie Masuku said an unidentified syndicate is responsible for the theft. "Our investigations point out that there is a syndicate behind this seemingly growing criminal industry and we are continuing with our investigations following the fact that some cattle which were stolen in Swaziland were recovered in South Africa," he said. He said no suspects were arrested in connection with the missing cattle.

Top lawyers might be deported (Mbabane, The Times of Swaziland, 11/04) -Two top lawyers in the country, both holding senior positions in the Law Society (a lawyers organisation) are being investigated for holding dual citizenship and may be deported. The attorney general Phesheya Dlamini yesterday confirmed to the Times that government has opened a file on such lawyers to see if Swazi citizenship is not being undermined. "We have heard reports that there are people who would use Swazi citizenship when it suits them. We have laws like the Immigration Act that seeks to guard against such or if they want to become Swazis they could either through naturalisation, khonta or apply for temporary residence permit (RTP)," he said. Dlamini said the Immigration Act does not allow visitors to work in the country or stay in the country illegally. "Visitors are only allowed to be in the country for 14 days and after that they have to either renew their papers or go back to their countries," stated Dlamini in an interview yesterday. Dlamini said the Immigration Act is not meant to deal with the poor Mozambicans, but for laws to be seen to be working, they must also effectively deal with the rich and famous. "But this is a sensitive matter, which needs thorough investigations and government will make sure that it does not handle it irresponsibly as that may be viewed as only targeting certain individuals," he stated. "We will make sure that we satisfy ourselves that we don't embarrass the country by the manner it is handled," he said. Controversial advocate Ernest Vusi Thwala recently wrote a letter to His Majesty the King and copied it to the prime minister Sibusiso Dlamini and AG where he alleged that one of the lawyers being investigated brought the International Bar Association (IBA) experts and International Commission of Jurists into the country to tarnish its image. "This lawyer who is not a Swazi, made a public statement saying His Majesty's Constitutional Drafting Committee is illegal. Why this lawyer is still in the country is beyond me. This lawyer also wanted to drag you Your Majesty out of seclusion," Advocate Thwala wrote to the king. The AG confirmed having been copied the letter to the king by Advocate Thwala, which he said he received this week. Efforts to get the two lawyers being investigated with a possibility of being thrown out of the country drew a blank. One of the lawyers was reported to be on holiday in South Africa while the other's cell phone was on the voicemail mode.

Mhlumeni border gate to open soon (Mhlumeni, The Times of Swaziland, 11/04) -  The long awaited re-opening of the Mhlume Border gate might be finally realised, following the near finish construction of the terminal block and staff houses on the Mozambican side. Yesterday Mozambican High Commissioner Zacarias Kupela led a high-powered delegation of about 10 officials from his country comprising the army, police and customs in touring the Goba Frontiar, which is otherwise known as Mhlume in the country. Accompanying Kupela from Swaziland was the Siteki Town Board councillors and the Lubombo branch of the Association ofSwazi Business Community, which included Siteki tycoon, Moses Motsa and others. Motsa when contacted later yesterday said they were impressed by what they saw and it is clear that the border might be opened soon. "Though the High Commissioner didn't state when they will finish, he emphasised that they were a bit behind schedule and have now asked the constructors to work overtime. If things were going according to our wish, we would have the border re-opened by now, but we were encouraged to see the kind of progress they have made," he said. Motsa said the High Commissioner told them that already the road is being reconstructed as well, and they have covered 18km from Namacha. Siteki Town Board secretary Gciniwe Fakudze also confirmed the High Commissioner's tour of the border. "We were quite pleased to have him in our town. Despite visiting the border, he spent the night here on Wednesday before touring the border and came to visit the market where he witnessed a number of displays by the Mozambican nationals who are now resident here," Fakudze said. When the Times visited the border it found the constructors busy roofing the main terminal building and the also doing some finishing touches on their staff houses. On the Swazi side, the Mhlumeni Border gate, which was completed three years ago, was turning into a white elephant and the unused tarred road to the border had turned into a cattle kraal, judging by the cow dung spilled all over it.

Swazis go to South Africa for medical treatment (Mpuluzi, The Times of Swaziland, 06/04) - Residents here risk their lives by going to South Africa for medical treatment yet they have a clinic in the area, which has not operated for the past four years. The clinic, whose construction started about 20 years ago, was finished in 1999 but has not fully operated because of water and equipment shortages. This sends a challenge to the newly appointed minister of health and social welfare Chief Sipho Shongwe who takes over from the outgoing minister Dr Phetsile Dlamini who has indicated that she will continue to help improve health in the country. The cabinet reshuffle announced this week has seen Dr Dlamini being transferred to the ministry of tourism, environment and communications. According to residents of the area they now risk their lives to get treatment in South Africa because their movement has been limited by soldiers along the border with South Africa who have threatened to shoot them if they continue crossing illegally. "We risk our lives to get access to a health facility in South Africa. This area does not have transport so we can't go to Mbabane," said Juliet Dlamini. The clinic, she said, is about 15 kilometres from the area and so they find it accessible. She said there is one bus they have in the area but it is so unreliable that when one wants to go for treatment in Mbabane he or she has to leave the day before to sleep at relatives' homesteads closer to Mbabane. Dlamini said the only health service they get is twice a month when nurses from the Sobhuza clinic in Manzini visit the area to treat patients. She said they have to ask the ministry of public works and transport to fill the tanks at the clinic with water in preparation for the arrival of the nurses every month. She said the water then drains out of the tanks as the pipes have started leaking. "We reported this to government a long time ago and we were told that our problem would be attended to," she said. She said what they have seen so far is the arrival of plumbers two weeks ago who however could not test if the pipes have been mended correctly as there is no water. Another resident, Letta Dlamini, said they started building the clinic on their own but were later helped by the Swazi and the Canadian governments with funds. "We started with one house where we had planned that nurses could come and treat us but we got donations to complete it to the way it is now," she said. Dlamini said the water shortage is not only a problem at the clinic but also to the residents who now draw water from the nearby Mpuluzi river. She said the chiefs in the area, one of whom is arrested Chief Nhloko Zwane, have tried to solve the problem but nothing has happened so far. She said it was planned that after the water problem has been solved at the clinic there would also be a clean water supply for the residents. A visit closer to the clinic was not possible as the gate was locked. From a distance we could see that the paint at the clinic has started to peel off. The clinic has four nurses' houses which are also unoccupied. The area also has a bad road, which could also be the reason why transport operators abandon it. It \\ gathered that the only bus operating as lukhozi transport is not just unreliable for it wa this week hijacked by robbers along the Sappi Usutu forests. The thieves bolted away with an undisclosed sum of money.

Government of Swaziland submits eleven projects for possible funding (Mbabane, The Times of Swaziland, 04/04) - The government of Swaziland submitted eleven projects for possible funding by the Republic of China in the financial year 2003/2004. The projects are computerisation of customs data at all border posts, Enhlambeni water supply, replacement of transmission and ancillary equipment at SBIS, operating equipment for CMAA. Others are the rehabilitation of armcos, culverts and feeder roads, replacement of medical equipment in government health centres, computers for high schools, computers for government ministries, Mantjonga maize meal project and national elections. Principal secretary in the ministry of economic planning and development, Ephraim Hlophe said the technical monitoring committee meeting is a forum for discussing the implementation of the protocol co-operation between the two countries. Hlophe said the TMC is held annually and precedes the joint meeting, which is held alternately between the two countries on a yearly basis. He said the purpose of the meeting is to review progress of all projects that are financed by the Republic of China through the protocol and discuss proposals of new projects and procedures for disbursing project funds. Hlophe thanked the Chinese embassy for the valuable support to the development initiatives ofthe country. He said his ministry would like to also reaffirm its commitment to the efficient use and successful implementation of all projects financed under the protocol.

South Africans part of forgery syndicate (Mbabane, The Times of Swaziland, 04/04) - Two South African who are part of a syndicate dealing in fraud have been arrested in South Africa for forging home affairs minister Prince Sobandla's signature and selling fake Swazi citizenship certificates. All the certificates they sold to unsuspecting people bore the forged minister's signature. The syndicate is believed to have been colluding with some officials at the ministry of home affairs, as it is still a mystery as to how they got hold of the minister's 'authentic' signature. The men who were supposedly arrested by Johannesburg police are expected to appear in court this morning in South Africa. Prince Sobandla confirmed the arrest of the two South Africans and said they will be appearing in court today facing misrepresentation charges. It still not clear where the fake documents were to be used because the men were also found in possession of fake Swazi travel documents. In most cases such documents are sold to people who hope to have citizenship of a particular country when they in actual fact don't deserve them. "People no longer steal passports but they have now found a way to forge my signature and then make their own passports," stated Prince Sobandla in an interview. The prince wondered how they managed to forge his signature. "I think it has to do with the fact that we sign a number of documents and it could have happened that they had a look at such papers and thereby attempted to forge my signature," he said. The minister alluded to the fact that some of the signatures on the documents presumed to be his did not look anything like it. "They may look like mine at a glance but upon better inspection you realise that they are different from mine," he said The minister, who condemned the forgery, said there was a Swazi team comprising officials from his ministry which will be travelling to South Africa to attend the case. It was gathered that they are likely to appear as witnesses. One of the officials that will travel to South Africa today was only identified as Simelane. "To my knowledge he was supposed to leave today (yesterday). The last time I talked to him he was preparing the final touches for the journey," said one unidentified officer who was in the company of the minister during the interview. Attempts to establish how many documents the syndicate had in their possession were unsuccessful. The arrest of the syndicate members, underlines submissions that were made in the Senate yesterday that there are people who are guilty of issuing documents to undeserving applicants. Senator Walter Bennett submitted that people like Indians and some foreign business people get favours from certain officers at the ministry when it comes to work permits.


Foreign teachers, students to be screened (The Arusha Times, 1-25/04) -The Arusha Regional Immigration Department has launched a special operation to track down foreign teachers and students, working or learning in the country without the relevant permits. This operation, according to the Regional Immigration Officer (RIO), Method Rwekaza, will mainly target the local mushrooming English medium schools, most of which are privately owned and international schools. "It is however important for people to know that we are less concerned with their employments because that is the precinct of the Labour department", said Rwekaza."We just want to ensure that, these people have relevant working or staying permits". According to Rwekaza, of late there have been an astounding number of complaints, some in written forms, blaming the Regional Immigration Office, for not taking any steps towards these immigrants. A case study was the recent issue of Jaffery Academy, the school was said to be having nine foreign members of staff who were allegedly working there without the required permits. The complaints were put in a letter said to have been written by18 teachers at the school with their names listed, but since they did not have their signatures put down, the letter’s authenticity left a number of questions. Still the Immigration officer went to investigate and indeed found some teachers without the residential permit Grade B but the school management explained that, applications for their residence and working permits had already been sent to both the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Labour. "I decided that, it wasn’t going to benefit the students if we stopped those teachers from working until they acquired the relevant documents", said Rwekaza. Therefore, the Immigration office opted to issue them with special passes at the cost of US$ 400 each, giving them a grade period of two months. A second visit at the school on the 25th of March following more complaints, the Immigration officers discovered that seven out of the 12 reported foreign members of the Jaffery staff, had already acquired the permits. These include, Raza Khamer, Mrs Shauline Srivastava, Najesh Pareed, Andrew A. Ntiende, Savariappan Charles, Mrs Manjet Bhogal and Srinivasan Sundari.

Other claimed foreigners, alleged to be working at the school illegally, were found to have either already left or just volunteers such as Mrs Masuma who only goes there to teach students Islamic religion. Mrs Insiya Ghulammhussein, and Tasmeen Tayaball both of whom were mentioned in the alleged "Teachers letter" were apparently discovered to have quit teaching there long time ago. The rest, Mrs Aarti Trevedi, Mrs Masuma Hussein and Mrs Fatema Bachu are still holding special permits number, SP 00044203, SP 00053250 and SP 00053248 respectively, waiting for their RPBS. Same complaints were targeted to the Arusha Modern School said to have five foreign members of staff but since the school is currently closed the RIO is yet to follow them up and see if they are working here legally or not. The Green Valley School of Mbauda is also listed for seven illegal immigrants members of staff but again, this will be investigated when the school opens early next month. "We are not intending to chase these teachers out of the country", said RIO Rwekaza. "Unless if they commit crime." According to the officer, most people viewed the idea of throwing foreigners out as being the ultimate solution but it was unnecessary. "If they are performing their duties well and their employers still need them, we only ask them to correct their mistakes and secure the right permits.

Rwanda is safe for returning refugees, says UNHCR head (Nairobi, Irin, 16/04) - Rwanda is safe for refugees in Tanzania and Uganda to return home, the head of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, told IRIN on Tuesday. However, he added that any repatriation must be voluntary. Lubbers, who visited Uganda and Tanzania as part of a tour of East Africa, was speaking at a news conference in Nairobi. "In Tanzania, we informed the refugees that they could return to Rwanda. Some have returned but many remain," he said. The position taken by the Tanzanian government to repatriate most Rwandan refugees by March, he said, had resulted in a number of them entering Uganda. Such people, he said, were "not refugees anymore". However, he said, "they could register individually as refugees" in Uganda. On 12 April, an international NGO, the Lawyers Committee, issued a statement in New York saying at least 6,000 mainly Rwandans and Burundians who had left Tanzania were living in unofficial camps in southwestern Uganda without adequate food, housing and medical care. "For more than a year and a half, this group of refugees - which is predominantly made up of Rwandans and Burundians - has been barely surviving in unofficial camps, unable to legally work and without any humanitarian aid," the committee reported. Lubbers said he had found no evidence to support speculation that one refugee camp in Uganda was being used by Ugandans to train Rwandan dissidents. Lubbers toured the Kiryandogo refugee camp in Masindi District, northeastern Uganda, during his visit to Uganda. "We did not find any indication that this is a camp for training dissidents to fight," he said.

Local contractors demand protectionist policy (The Financial Times, 16/04) - The presence of policies that empower locals to play key roles in their country's economies, in several foreign countries, has stirred Tanzanians involved in the construction industry to request their government to emulate these systems. Many local contractors believe that liberalisation of trade and services has brought about unfair competition which seems to exclude locals. Locals cannot compete on an equal footing with multinational companies thus the formulation of local empowerment policies is now necessary. The Executive Chairman of the National Construction Council (NCC), Mr. Kesogukewele M. Msita, says that empowerment policies through legal and regulatory instruments have been effective in Singapore, South Korea, Botswana and the Republic of South Africa. The Tanzanian Construction industry has not been spared from the effects of unfair competition from multi-national companies. Available statistics show that 80 percent of all construction work in Tanzania is being done by foreign companies. The remaining 20 percent is what is being done by local construction companies inspite of the fact that local contractors make up 90 percent of the total. Unlike the Tanzanian situation, South Africa has reversed this trend. About 80 percent of the market share of construction projects in the Republic of South Africa is carried out by local companies, while only 20 percent is still in the hands of foreign companies. The same situation applies in Singapore, South Korea and other newly industrialised nations. The question therefore is: How did these countries manage to turn the situation around? Many strategies were applied, but the most effective, which Tanzania needs to emulate, Mr. Misita insists, is by enacting legislation that empowers local contractors. In Botswana, for instance, the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2001- Act No. 10, has a section, part eight, called" Reserved and Preferential Treatment" . Part of this section, No. 67, stipulates clearly that: "In order to promote the empowerment of citizen contractors, all citizen contractors shall, in relation to their respective classification, be treated fairly and equitably in respect of all procurement and disposal activities". Likewise, the Republic of South Africa enacted a similar Act-Preferencial Procurement Policy Framework Act, 2000 whose aim was to empower local contractors.

Another effective approach towards empowering Tanzanian citizens to fully participate in running their nation's economy, and to benefit from the liberalisation of the economy and services, would be through working out financial schemes for borrowes in the industry. In Tanzania, like in any other developing nation, the majority of enterprises are mainly medium or small. Commercial banks it too risky to lend to such enterprises. Contractors and consultants cannot easily access working capital in commercial banks. However, since Tanzania has adopted a private-sector approach to economic growth, the sectors which are still weak need such. On its part, the NCC is working on a final draft for the establishment of a Development Fund, which is expected to be an important instrument of selfhelp through members' co-operative efforts. "This will be a lending scheme in the form of loans or working capital on conditions that can reasonably be met by members". he emphasized The NCC is currently sourcing Tsh. 11 bn/- so that the Development Fund can start functioning and provide loans and/or working capital to its members. The government has shown great support for the construction industry, including accepting the initiation of the the NCC, and the Engineers Registration Board. However, these efforts need to be supported by a bold policy and a legal framework that confines to locals. For example, the Public Procurement Act needs to be amended to clearly assist local contractors as other countries have done. If such actions are not taken quickly before the year 2010, it will be too late, because after that date, all sectors, including local tendering, shall, according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) , be open to equal and fair competition with multinational companies. One of the reasons why local contractors have been unable to complete their works on schedule in their tender documents is corruption. Many contractors still bribe when applying for tenders. When they get such tenders, they start rewarding the individuals who awarded them the tenders. This reduces the amount of the allocated funds, even before they have syaryed work on their projects. In Tanzania, the contribution of the industry to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and capital formation is estimated to be 5 and 50 percent respectively.

Forced to go home: Rwandan immigrants in Tanzania (Kigali, Internews, 15/04) - In early March this year, over 2,300 Rwandans arrived at the Kibungo transit camp, a centre that receives Rwandan refugees returning from Tanzania. These were not the usual refugees. They were Rwandans living within the local community near the border and had never been in the camps. When the governments of Rwanda and Tanzania had signed an agreement to repatriate all Rwandan nationals living in Tanzania as refugees, these people had not considered themselves part of the target group. Over several weeks in early March, they had been identified and evicted as illegal immigrants. "Most of them left Rwanda in the 1980's, some of them were born there," Odette Nyiramirimo, the Secretary of State for Social Affairs in the Ministry of Local Administration told Internews. When we arrived at the camp, the returnees were placing their complaints before Nyiramirimo and James Kimonyo, the governor of Kibungo province. Internews spoke to some of them. "I was grazing livestock; they came and beat me up. In the confusion, I was taken one way and the livestock in another. They took the money I had in my pocket, and told me, 'Rwandan go home'. They took us to a school compound and when we were many of us they put us in a pick up and brought us to Rwanda," a bewildered young man told Internews. "I do not know Rwanda, I was born in Tanzania, I do not know what to do," he adds. The President of the National Repatriation Commission, Sheik Abdul Karim Harerimana told Internews that the move by the Tanzanian government caught more than the evictees by surprise." We had not anticipated this. We asked them to stop the process for some time so that we can talk with them and work out the modalities of how it should be done," Harerimana explained. Internews asked the Tanzanian Ambassador to Rwanda, General Martin Mwakalindile, the rationale behind the evictions. He explained that the forcible return of persons categorized as illegal immigrants to their countries of origin was a national exercise not limited to Rwandans alone. "We have very many refugees, Rwandans, Burundians, Somalis and others. Like all other countries in this region we also have a lot of illegal immigrants.

Unfortunately, these illegal immigrants are often linked to criminal activities. They take advantage of the presence of genuine refugees. In this case, we had Rwandans who were here illegally, and they had to go home. We are going to continue with this campaign," Mwakalindile stated. At the camp, the evicted Rwandans had barely enough cover from the rain that pelted them during our visit. Few had umbrellas or warm clothes. The reception centre where they were gathered consists of two main tents and two large open air shelters used for item distribution. On one side are several make-shift toilets. Inside the tents women are preparing the midday meals. Most pots have yams mixed with bananas, or maize and beans. The fires have to be lit outside, or in a small area in one tent with earth dug cooking stoves. Due to the congestion, most of the food has to be tended in the rain. "There is a lot of pain here; there is also a lot of confusion. The people here feel that they have been treated as criminals. The eviction was not handled very well, so we are talking to the Tanzanian government to see how to handle this better next time," Nyiramirimo told Internews. If the adults are upset, the children seem to be oblivious about it. They play in the mud and rain, while others queue up at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) truck to fetch water. These are the lucky ones. "I left behind two children. One is six and the other is five. My husband was away. He had gone to see a family who were recently bereaved. I do not know where he is. When they picked me up I had gone to fetch water. I want to go back and see if the children have rejoined their father, I do not know what has happened to them," one woman told the officials. She is not alone. Several other women in the group have also lost children and some have been separated with their spouses. Nyiramirimo tries to reassure them. "Please register yourself, we talked to the Tanzanian authorities and those of you who left young children and property will have a period in which you can go and check on your property. Those of you who want to come back can come back, those of you who would prefer to stay in Tanzania must get the proper papers allowing you to do so," she explained.

Mwakalindile admits that the forced repatriation may not been handled appropriately. "We are investigating the allegations that some people were maltreated. It is possible that some of the officials treated the people badly for whatever reason; these are going to be punished," he promised. He however explains that there are cases where the allegations made are untrue. "Some said they had lived in Tanzania for over 20 years, but it was later found that the papers they had were not in order. What we have told them is if they want to stay in Tanzania they have to go through the legal process and get their papers. There were allegations that naturalized Rwandans have been forcefully repatriated, but I think that these are few mistakes; most members of the group were illegal immigrants" he added. The evicted Rwandans were given plastic sheeting, blankets and cooking pots as well as food to last three months by UNHCR although they do not fall under the organisation's mandate. They will be taken to their original districts where the local officials will resettle them. But that poses a problem. Those born in Tanzania have no idea where to resettle. Moreover in a small country facing population pressure, they fear their return could spark land conflicts. "I have lived out of Rwanda for so long, I am afraid that if I show up at home and try to ask for land from my brothers we will end up in a conflict, please advise me what to do," one evictee asks Nyiramirimo. "For now, try to talk to your family members and if that fails then go to the district officials and see if there is communal land that they can assign you. But even if you do not get land you can find a way of earning a living. There is a lot of work to be done in Rwanda," she tells him. "Some people tell us that we should leave those who are outside to stay there since we are a small country and our resources are meager, but we do not agree with them," Harerimana tells Internews. "Every Rwandan has a right to come back home, Rwanda may be small but there is space for all of us," he asserts. In a country where most land holdings are less than an acre, those returning will have to jostle just to get space to build a house. Harerimana says that in any other country the returnees would remain refugees; people who have to ask permission to live there, but in Rwanda, however difficult their situation, they would be home. One has to wonder if that is enough.

Refusing to give up refugee status: Rwandans in Tanzanian camps (Kigali, Internews, 15/04) - An estimated 400 Rwandan refugees in the Lukole B refugee camp in Ngara, Western Tanzania, do not want to return home claiming that the country is insecure and that crimes perpetrated against their families immediately after the genocide have not been addressed. "There are those who do not want to return, especially those who left the country in 1994, but they are not many and we hope the Tanzanian government will take up their responsibility in the matter," Odette Nyiramirimo, the Secretary of State in charge of Social in the Ministry of told Internews on March 11. Last year a joint agreement signed by Rwanda, UNHCR and the Tanzanian government gave a deadline of December for the repatriation of all remaining Rwandan nationals living as refugees in the country. Since then over 23,000 Rwandans have returned. Officials in Rwanda assert that those who refuse to come back are using the pretext of insecurity and criticism of the justice system to cover up for other motives such as possible participation in the genocide. "There are people among them who do not want to return because they participated in the genocide, or they supported the thinking behind genocide, or may be were associated with people who committed killings, or were members of the former Rwandan Army," Sheik Abdul Karim Harerimana, the President of the National Repatriation Commission, the body charged with resettlement of returning refugees told Internews. "When we meet them we tell them to come back, if they participated in any killings they will go through Gacaca, hopefully confess what they did, if they did not participate then let them come back and help build their country Rwanda," Harerimana added. On March 28, Internews visited the Lukole B refugee camp in Ngara where we spoke to the few Rwandans remaining there. All of them are reluctant to give us their names. They do not agree that their refusal to return may be linked with the genocide. "What they say, that some of us have refused to come home because we are killers is not true. It is not true at all, says one of the refugees we spoke to. It is the death of our family members, and the disappearance of others as my colleague said that is the reason why we do not want to go back home," a young man tells Internews.

Those we talk to include an old 60 years old woman. She says that she left Rwanda during the genocide and returned in 1996, but soon fled again. "In 1996 I had a husband and six sons. The local defense policemen came home and carried my husband away. Then my eldest son, soon all of them had gone. They never returned. They were all killed. Today they talk about Gacaca, but its only justice for Tutsi victims not for Hutus. Why do they remember Tutsi victims of the genocide, why do they not consider me a survivor and yet I am the only one left in my family? She asks with tears in her eyes. She is not alone. Another refugee, this time a young man about 25. "I was the tenth in a family of 11 boys, today; I am the only one left. We hear that they want unity and reconciliation, but the justice they have set up only looks into the crimes perpetrated by one part of the population. We are afraid of going back home, and that is why many of us do not return," he asserts. Internews asked Harerimana about these allegations. "I have often told these refugees, Rwanda is not inhabited by angels. We live in a country like any other. There are people who do bad things; there are people who kill. This was particularly so after the genocide. We had very poor security and people were avenging the loss of their family members. That is not to say the government condoned the killings. It is not true we are looking only at one side of the issue. There were people that killed others, and we have arrested many of them, they have been tried and sentenced." He insists. Harerimana explained that most of the killings that took place in 1996 and 1997 we were related to the general insecurity in the country which at the time was under attack from infiltrators operating from camps outside the country, a situation that has not changed. "They cannot say they refuse to return to the country for this reason," Harerimana asserts. According to Harerimana, those in the camps are only a small group, but there are also others who have avoided repatriation by moving out of the camps and into neighboring countries.

"It is hard to follow up on them or change their thinking, some have fled to Zambia, Malawi to avoid repatriation, and some have gone northward to Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some of those who have left indeed have the intention of joining rebel groups that aim to fight Rwanda, but that is not such a threat to us because Rwandans have come to value their security and know the importance of peace, so they will not accept to shelter anyone who wants to disrupt that. What we urge all of them is to give up this kind of thinking and come back to the country," he explains. The Lukole Refugee camp in the Western Tanzanian district of Ngara looks like a large orderly village. The only difference between the camp and surrounding villages are the armed guards, the uncharacteristic order with which the houses are built, and certain amenities such food distribution centers, flour mills and metal water tanks that are not so common in remote Tanzanian villages. It is a relatively comfortable existence by rural African standards. On the day Internews arrived at the camp a Tanzanian national team of enquiry is interviewing the Rwandans still at the camp to find out why they were not willing to return home. Kalunga Lutato, the UNHCR senior representative in Rwanda explained their role. "The way the team works is that it studies the reasons why the refugee wants to remain a protected person. If the reasons are seen not to be valid then they will be repatriated. If they are valid then the refugee may remain in the country of refuge or be relocated to a new country," Lutato explains. The UNHCR works closely with both the Tanzanian and Rwanda governments, and often, the reasons given for not returning differ depending on the audience. "We have gone and talked to them quite often, and they give a variety of excuses. Some say that they have mixed marriages or are born of a mixed, Tutsi and Hutu parentage. They express fears there will be people who will not accept them. My opinion is this is a flimsy excuse. They are not the first people in Rwanda to have mixed marriages or come from mixed lineages.

Mixed marriages older than colonialism. Researchers say that currently the majority of Rwandans have mixed blood, so if they came back they would be in the majority, not minority," Harerimana asserts. "The second group claims there is no democracy in Rwanda, and I tell them that we are in the process of installing a democracy and it would be better if they came and contributed to that process," he adds. "The last group says there is no security. I tell them that the can only say that because they are not living in Rwanda. We have one of the most secure countries in the region, so as one can see, these are excuses. I think one of the main motivators for remaining behind especially for those who were government officials before the genocide is the hope of being relocated to a third country, preferably in Europe," Harerimana suggests. If indeed the refugees at the camp are hoping for relocation abroad, Lutato does not think they stand much chance. "We have relocated several, so it is possible that it may cause reluctance to return. But I must say that if anyone thinks 'well if I go to Rwanda I cannot get a job or live well I will wait to be taken to the US,' I think they will be very disappointed, the teams that interrogate them are very thorough," Lutato muses. While the refugees continue to debate as to whether Rwanda is safe enough to return to or not, the Tanzanian and Rwanda governments as well as other agencies are beyond the debate and are now working towards the close down of Lukole B for Rwandans. "When this exercise of verification by the Tanzanian national enquiry team is finished we hope to declare the repatriation of Rwandans successful and a closed chapter," the UNHCR representative tells Internews. After that, he says, all those remaining will cease to be protected persons and will have to apply for residence like any other person entering Tanzania. Tanzanian Ambassador to Rwanda, General Martin Mwakalindile, says his country looks forward to an end of the repatriation process. "I think it is not unfair to say it. We are tired. This area where the refugees are based used to be a very quiet and tranquil place; there were very few cases of banditry or killing, now it is the order of the day," Mwakalindile told Internews. "We have paid a very high price in terms of the environment and mostly socially. The people in that area do not understand the government. Often we have had to get into our pockets (as Tanzania) to maintain them. Our citizens in that region do not understand why we continue to host these people when their countries are now supposed to be stable. I think it is time for them to go home," he asserted.

East Africans may soon move freely across borders (Arusha, African Church Information Service, 14/04) - The East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers wants regulations and other administrative hurdles that militate against free movement of citizens of the three member states abolished. The decision to scrap out existing impediments to ensure free movement of people within Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, was reached at by consensus at the Fourth Extraordinary Meeting of EAC Council of Ministers, held here April 8-9. In a statement released after the consultations, Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister, Kalonzo Musyoka, urged the council to approve immediate removal of restrictions, especially those concerning movement of fishermen in Lake Victoria. The lake is shared between the three countries.  Musyoka stressed that the fishing community could not be expected to identify respective national borders inside the lake. The council of ministers consented that free movement of people, goods and services within East Africa, was critical towards attainment of major objectives of the treaty that established EAC. Such objectives included achievement of sustainable growth and development of partner states.  The council is the second highest organ of the EAC, after the Heads of State Summit. It consists of the ministers in charge of foreign affairs and regional cooperation from the three countries. It is responsible for programmes of the Community.

Refugees, agencies braced for political transition (Kibondo, The Guardian, 07/04) - In Burundi the first period of a three-year transitional government is drawing to an end. Under the terms of the peace agreement to end the civil war, presidential powers are to be transferred from a Tutsi to a Hutu on May 1. But speculations among analysts and commentators over what the future holds for Burundi is rife. Aid agencies in western Tanzania and some Burundians are not relying on a smooth transition of power. They believe that waiting till the day will be too risky. The result is that refugee numbers have been mounting steadily and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has put in place a contingency plan to deal with a fresh influx. “The refugees are not going to sit around and wait until May - they are going to try and get out now,” said Annette Nyekan, UNHCR’s head of sub-office in Kibondo, where at least 6,000 Burundian refugees have arrived in the last three months alone. “Most of the fighting is in Ruyigi and Makamba, so we should be expecting them,” she said. “We have to act now.” UNHCR is in the final stages of putting together a countrywide contingency plan for an influx of up to 60,000 refugees: “We have plans for as many as 20,000 refugees coming into three of our sites in Ngara, Kibondo and Kasulu,” Nyekan told the UN news agency, IRIN.  She said that plans involved stocking fuel and water supplies, preparing for bush camps if necessary, and putting in place regional stockpiles of food and non-food items. However, given the uncertainty surrounding the transition and the whole peace process, UNHCR and other agencies acknowledge that the number of refugees could be much higher. Observers say that if numbers do rise much above 60,000, serious problems could arise because a new camp would be needed and extra equipment and infrastructure would have to be airlifted in. UNHCR says it is already experiencing severe funding problems for its Tanzanian operation, largely due to donor fatigue and the slow pace of the peace process. The possibility of a new caseload will stretch it considerably. Tanzania’s Ministry of Home Affairs is aware of the pending crisis and is desperate to avoid it because it believes Tanzania suffers greatly from the refugee influxes. The ministry’s representative in Kibondo, Epiphany Chokola, says the country could handle 60,000 refugees this year but beyond that the pressure would be too great. The refugees have started coming as many believe that the longer they wait the harder it will be to flee Burundi in the event of trouble. “There are government soldiers in Gitega who say that when May comes, no one should run away. That is why I ran away now,” Theresa Ndegaya, a 40-year-old Burundian woman from Ruyigi, told IRIN.
Despite losing five of her six children to war and disease in Burundi, Ndegaya was fleeing for the first time. She had heard talk of fighting being planned for May and eventually decided to leave.  “Recently I had been sleeping outside my house because I was afraid of being killed, but enough is enough,” she said. Other refugees waiting to be registered at the Mtendeli refugee camp also told of government troops being deployed and the fear of being caught up in 1 May related violence. “We returned to Burundi from Tanzania in June last year, but recently things have been getting worse so we left again,” Stephan Mvungwa, who left Ruyigi with his wife and three children, said. “It was the way the soldiers were looking at us -it made us feel uneasy. Also, there is talk that there will be killings when there is supposed to be a change of power.” Mvungwa said that soldiers were trying to block escape paths, but his family ran at night and reached the border after travelling for three days through the bush.
Like most analysts, the refugees in the camps are unwilling to predict what will happen over the next month. But after so many broken promises and agreements, few believe any statements of reassurance coming from Bujumbura or from the peace negotiations. President Pierre Buyoya “is impossible”, a refugee in Nduta camp said. “He has signed all these ceasefires, but when he goes back to Burundi, he ignores them,” the refugee said. “He will never change. Only the international community is in a position to force him to change.” There are others, though, who believe Buyoya has his hands tied and that real power lies with people behind the scenes. So predicting what will happen is virtually impossible. “We believe that Buyoya is working for a clique, and they are the people who won’t let him quit,” said Barnabus Bugera, a teacher and former diplomat in the first Buyoya government now living in Kanembwa refugee camp. “The situation is very confusing.”

Curfew continues at refugee camps (Dar es Salaam, Irin, 03/04) - A curfew imposed a month ago after several nights of violence in two Burundian refugee camps in western Tanzania continues, IRIN learnt on Thursday. Calm has returned to the Mtabila and Myovosi refugee camps, near Kasulu, but the 20:00 to 06:00 local time curfew imposed by the Tanzanian authorities is still in place. Seventeen Burundians were arrested on 6 March following the violence at the camps that resulted in the rape of four women. "This was a very well organised and serious group of armed people," Ivana Unluova, spokeswoman in the Tanzanian Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told IRIN. "However, thanks to the good cooperation between UNHCR and government authorities, 17 Burundians have been arrested on charges that include rape, possession of firearms and armed robbery." The motive for the violence remains unclear. Some refugees believe the attacks might have been politically motivated, while others put them down to banditry. "These people came to intimidate people, not steal," an eyewitness in Mtabila refugee camp told IRIN. "They came into the camps, drank and paid for several beers and then went on the rampage." The eyewitness said the group targeted the Tanzanian police, the "Sungusungu" - refugees that are responsible for security in the camps - and the wives of the Sungusungu, leaving behind pamphlets intimidating the refugees.  "They might have been trying to destabilise the camps so much that people would return to Burundi," the eyewitness suggested. Refugees in the camps are still confused and afraid. Some continue to sleep outside their houses for fear of more attacks. Although the curfew is still in place and aid agencies leave the camps before 15:00 local time for security reasons, aid workers say the situation has improved considerably. Unluova told IRIN that UNHCR initially thought the events were politically motivated because there was evidence of an increase in rebel incursions into the camps. However, UNHCR now believed banditry was behind the attacks.

Traders claim border bias (Nairobi, The Nation, 03/04) - Kenyan border traders claim that Tanzanian security officials are harassing them. The businesspeople at Isebania Town accuse the Tanzanian police and immigration officials of "imposing conditions unfavourable for the growth of cross-border trade." During a meeting with Kuria DC Khamisi Shivogo, the traders, who included Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials, claimed they were not allowed to cross the border to buy or sell goods, unlike their Tanzanian counterparts. "Our neighbours go as far as Kisii Town (about 80km away) to buy goods. We can't freely go into Tanzania," said Mr Muchiri Kanyi, the chamber branch chairman. The traders further claimed that plainclothes Tanzanian police were "sneaking" into Kenyan markets to harass traders. A councillor, Mr Charles Nyangi, said Kenyans visiting Tanzania for a few hours were charged $5 (Sh380) per vehicle. Mr Shivogo, on his part, promised to tackle the issues raised with his Tarime district counterpart, Mr Pascal Mabiti. "We want to create a conducive atmosphere for cross-border trade in line with the spirit of East African Community," he noted.

UNHCR thanks Tanzania for refugee hospitality (Nairobi, Irin, 03/04) - The actress Angelina Jolie, the goodwill ambassador for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Tuesday thanked Tanzania for its continued hospitality towards refugees. Jolie followed a group of 91 newly-arrived children, separated from their families in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), from their registration in Kigoma, to the Lugufu refugee camp in western Tanzania. The actress helped the children build huts on a newly allocated site at Lugufu. The camp hosts some 85,000 Congolese refugees. Around 4,000 are new arrivals who fled recent fighting in eastern DRC. "Personally and on behalf of UNHCR, I want to thank the Tanzanian people and their government for keeping the borders open over the years," Jolie said. "Their continued understanding and generosity have helped to keep many families alive."


40,000 refugees return home from Zambia (Lusaka, Zambezi Times, 16/04) -An estimated 40,000 Angolan refugees living in Zambia have returned to their country, following a cease-fire in April which ended 27 years of civil war, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR spokesperson in the Zambian capital Lusaka, Kelvin Shimo said about 30,000 returnees had "self-settled" in Angola, meaning the UN agency did not have a hand in their repatriation. "The other 10,000 from the refugee camps spontaneously returned to their villages once they heard of the cease-fire," he said this week. About 81,000 of the Angolan refugees in Zambia live in Maheba and Mayukwayukwa camps, while the rest are settled in and around urban areas. In June, after the rains and after the seven identified crossing points in Zambia have been upgraded and rehabilitated, the UNHCR would begin voluntary repatriation in which Shimo reckons about 30,000 refugees will be resettled. "We are pacing ourselves. Next year we will repatriate another 40,000 and then the residue will be mopped up in 2005," he said. UNHCR representative in Zambia, Ahmed Gubartalla has held talks with stakeholders to resettle the returnees so that they will not be forced to flee back into Zambia. The Angolan authorities have already begun rehabilitating basic infrastructure and establishing administrative structures throughout the country to deal with the refugees. Angola is expected to receive about 450,000 returnees from neighboring countries in the next couple of years, in a deal engineered by the Tripartite Commission on the repatriation of Angolan refugees established on Dec. 9. UNHCR regional spokesperson Fidelis Swai said Zambia had taken a number of measures to ensure the smooth repatriation of returnees. The government had guaranteed it would facilitate proper documentation and vaccinations for children before their return. Angolans who fled the war do not have proper birth or death certificates. "The correct documentation is essential for everyone. Not only will it give the Angolan government statistics for planning for the returnees, it will also assist us (UNHCR) in our appeal to donors," he said. It was also important to screen and register returnees to make sure they were genuine Angolans and not refugees who settled in Zambia from elsewhere.

The repatriation of the Angolans is expected to ease logistical pressure on both the Zambian government and UNHCR, which have had to look after a rapidly expanding refugee population at a time of dwindling resources. Many refugees apply for permits to enable them get employment to look after their families because the rations are sporadic and often inadequate. Juluis de Silva, in Zambia since 1998 and preparing to go back to Angola, says it is humiliating to wait for food or supplies, so like many refugees, engages in illegal trading. "What can I do, I am after all, a displaced person," he says. During Angola's 27-year-old civil war, thousands of refugees fled into Zambia's Western and North Western provinces. The country currently hosts the largest number of Angolan refugees in Southern Africa (211,000) followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (163,000) and Namibia (24,500). In Namibia, UNHCR spokesperson David Nthengwe said there were concerns raised about the conditions on the ground being suitable for the return of refugees. "While people have raised concerns of landmines and food shortages, many are still keen to return to Angola," he said. He said most of the returnees would like to resettle in Kuando Kubango, the province from where most of them fled during the war. "The focus is now getting the necessary documentation in order. Students studying in Namibia will be allowed to continue," he said. In the DRC, designated border crossings have been identified to be used by convoys leaving refugee camps in southern DRC for the Angolan provinces of Moxico, Uige and Zaire. The UNHCR said it had already opened seven offices in northern Angola to which many of the refugees were expected to return. The UNHCR, the Zambian, Angolan, Namibian and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) governments agreed two months ago, to a regional approach to the repatriation of Angolans from the sub-region. Last year, UNHCR launched an appeal for $34.5 million to pay for repatriation and reintegration of Angolan refugees from across Southern Africa and abroad until the end of 2004. So far, the agency has received only a third of its appeal amount. A recent survey, conducted in refugee camps in Namibia, DRC and Zambia, showed that 80 percent of the refugee population wanted to return home, said UNHCR. Of these, some 66 percent wanted to go home this year.

Get to know visa requirements, tour operators advised (The Times of Zambia, 12/04) - Government has advised tour operators to familiarise themselves with the immigration circular that outlines visa requirements for different categories of tourists. Minister of Tourism Patrick Kalifungwa said that it was of utmost importance for operators to be familiar with the circular and make it a tool for their day-to-day operations.  Mr Kalifungwa said Government was aware that easy frontier formalities were one of the prerequisites for tourists' choice of destination.  He said it was for this reason that the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Immigration Department had issued a circular outlining various visa requirements.  Mr Kalifungwa said that particular attention needed to be given to sections that dealt with genuine tourists. He said that groups of bonafide tourists could get their visa fees waived at any port of entry into Zambia through foreign tour operators or travel agents in conjunction with local tour operators. "For visitor in transit, they could acquire their visas at the Zambian missions abroad or at any port of entry which is valid for seven days," he said.

Immigration arrests fake passports officer (The Times of Zambia, 10/04) -The immigration department has unearthed a scam in which a Congolese national has been issuing passports and visas to different nationals. The suspect, who allegedly opened an immigration office in Lusaka's Garden township, was found with chemicals which were being used to print American dollar notes. Immigration department acting public relations officer Greenwell Lyempe disclosed this in Lusaka yesterday, adding that the suspect was also found in possession of counterfeit dollar notes. Mr Lyempe said immigration officers pounced on Joseph Wenzi following a tip-off from members of the public. Mr Lyempe said Wenzi was also found with forged passports from Malawi, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia with 15 date stamps from different countries which have since been confiscated. "I can confirm that we have also recovered six passports from DRC, one Zambian, a Malawian, two Congolese documents, four blank travel documents, five fake receipts and four PS endorsement stamps and assorted stamp pads used for issuing visas for various countries," he said. He said the department was currently interrogating the man. He said the suspect, apart from issuing visas, was also extending various permits of many foreign nationals especially from the DR Congo. He was found with equipment, rubber stamps and forged receipt books as used by the immigration department. Mr Lyempe urged the immigration officers throughout the country to be on the look-out for fake passports and other invalid travel documents. Meanwhile, the department has also rounded up 24 prohibited immigrants in Lusaka for contravening the Immigration Act. He said 11 were Congolese nationals, eight Chinese, a Liberian and an Indian. The Chinese nationals were picked up for flouting the Immigration Act by abandoning the areas of businesses they had obtained permits for. Some of them had gone into trading, yet obtained permits for manufacturing while others were picked up because they had no documents to stay in the country.

Zambia threatens to deport Zimbabwean farmers (Lusaka, News24, 06/04) -Zambia's department of home affairs is threatening to put white Zimbabwean farmers out of the country because they apparently do not have the necessary immigration documents. Farmers, however, deny that they are staying in the country illegally. They say they are still "looking around" and will approach immigration officials soon. Greenwell Liempe, spokesperson for the immigration department, said more than 100 Zimbabwean farmers entered Zambia on tourist visas last year. He said the farmers planned to settle and farm in the fertile Mkushi area in central Zambia. "Some of the farmers entered Zambia on the pretext of visiting family, but they have no legal immigration documents. We would like to help them to resettle here, but they have to adhere to the law and get the necessary permits," he said. Liempe said the farmers would be prosecuted and deported if they continued to stay in the country illegally. Deputy president Enoch Kavindele said earlier that most Zimbabwean farmers did not have enough money to buy farms in Zambia. "Most of the farmers who came to Zambia are satisfied with the quality of the soil. They can grow tobacco or produce other agricultural products here, but they do not have enough money." The Zambian government is demanding $220 per hectare. Gregory White, one of the farmers who considers farming in Zambia, said the farmers are also looking at land in northern Zambia and would apply for permits soon. He admitted that some of the farmers did not have enough money to buy land because of the way they were chased from their farms in Zimbabwe. He said the Zimbabwean farmers, white and black, had money in the bank but their accounts were frozen when they left the country. Cain Mathema, Zimbabwean High Commissioner in Zambia, said it was untrue that these farmers did not have money. "They have money in banks in the countries they came from. "If there are any black farmers who were affected by the land reform and who fled to Zambia, they are welcome to return. "There is lots of land for real farmers who are willing to co-operate with the Zimbabwean government," he said.

White farmers eke out new life in Zambia (The Sunday Mirror, 06/04) - Beleaguered former Zimbabwean white commercial farmers are trekking to neighbouring Zambia where they are reportedly trying to establish their farming presence. Sources from Zambia say about 25 whites had relocated into that country following a ‘painful’ realisation that there was no going back on President Robert Mugabe’s land exercise. The farmers, who have chosen Zambia as their destination are said to be occupying farms previously owned by Zambezi Ranching Company, a Zambian based agriculture company. The area is located in Choma district in the southern province. Namu Musulwe, the district’s agriculture co-ordinator was recently quoted in the Zambian press as saying 13 farmers had settled in that area. Musulwe said the farmers were venturing into commercial cropping of tobacco and maize in the district, which is regarded as the farming province of Zambia. Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president, Colin Cloete told the Sunday Mirror that more than 100 white farmers had relocated from Zimbabwe to countries such as Mozambique, Angola, Uganda and Zambia. Cloete said the former land owners had chosen to migrate because they aim to eke a living and were trying escape Zimbabwe’s bad economy. He explained that more could have left the country had it not been for the fact that they are still waiting for the government to compensate them. “They have realised there is no future in Zimbabwe and a lot more are planning to go; they are still waiting for their compensation from the government,” Cloete said. “The farmers have no choice; they have been dispossessed of what was their only means of survival, kicked out of their houses and the harsh economic environment is forcing a lot of Zimbabweans, not necessarily white farmers, to cross borders as a survival means,” he said. He asserted that the farmers had realised that they need to earn a living and also that continued fighting with the government over lost land was now futile and tiresome. A number of white farmers had also been receiving relocation assistance from the European Union (EU), an establishment which has openly opposed Zimbabwean government’s land policy. Cloete was positive that the departure of the farmers did not mean the death of the commercial agricultural sector.

He said those leaving the country were former CFU members, ‘but the remaining and the new breed of farmers will have to drive commercial agriculture’. “There is always a future for commercial agriculture since it is the only sector which drives the country’s industry; and the fact that some farmers have been rendered non-productive does not mean that the sector will crumble for good, commercial agriculture is here to stay,” Cloete said. He, however, blamed the government for poor economic management and said even if some whites were smuggling farming equipment out of the country, it was because of the ‘harsh economic environment created by government’. “You can not blame the farmers, what they are doing can not be separated from parallel market foreign currency dealings,” he said. A lot of farming equipment ranging from irrigation pipes, tractors, harvesters has been taken out of the country to either Zambia, Botswana or Mozambique. Sources privy to some of the transactions say more specialised farming equipment such as the latest models of John Deere tractors, was being held in storage in warehouses located in various industrial sites. International transporters, it is alleged, are being used to ferry some of the equipment, which apparently is likely to end up being used by those farmers who are relocating. Government has tried, albeit, with little success to clamp down on white farmers who are taking equipment out of the country. The rather unsavoury treatment of whites in the country by the government has unleashed the wrath of international white opinion against President Robert Mugabe. But even in the face of extreme sanctions from self imposed human rights watchdogs, United States and Britain, the Zimbabwean government has firmed its stance that there is no going back on the land reform exercise. It is estimated that the land reform programme led to more than 3 000 former white owned farms falling into the hands of blacks.

Foreigners' permit racket unearthed (Zambia Daily Mail, 03/04) - The Immigration Department has uncovered a racket in which some foreigners had illegally altered their old permits to extend their stay in the country.  The racket had been uncovered in the on-going permit renewal exercise where the Immigration Department under the Ministry of Home Affairs had introduced new immigration permits with security features to avoid possible forgery. Immigration spokesperson Mr Greenwell Lyempe said in an interview yesterday that some foreigners had altered their old permits to include other members of their family or further still add to the validity date. So far, the department had recorded 10 cases of altered permits and had threatened to revoke the culprits permits. He stated that it was an offence for immigration permit holders to alter changes on the documents without authority from relevant authorities. Mr Lyempe said the holders had since been charged with a guilty fine of about K1 million each. "When a foreigner comes in the country and decides to marry and have children, he illegally includes the names of his new family members without seeking authority from us and also extends his permit's validity," he said. The change to the permits was done with the hope of avoiding forgery and easy damage and was costing between K1.5 million to K4 million. He however, described the renewal exercise as successful noting that about 2,500 foreign nationals had acquired new permits while more than 3,000 new applicants had been processed. The renewal exercise expires on 3rd May this year. And Mr Lyempe said 15 Prohibited Immigrants (Pis) were arrested of which five are Congolese, four Rwandans, two Kenyans, two Tanzanians, one South African and a Somalian. The 15 were all found with wrong immigration documents and will appear in court soon.

Zimbabwean farmers settle illegally (The Times of Zambia, 02/04) - Some Zimbabwean white farmers who entered Zambia on visitors' permits have settled in the Mkushi farming block without necessary documents, the immigration department has said. Immigration spokesman, Greenwell Lyempe said yesterday in Lusaka that preliminary investigations had revealed that several illegal settlers from Zimbabwe were in Mkushi.  He warned the farmers to get necessary papers or face prosecution. Mr Lyempe said it was illegal for any foreigner to conduct business in Zambia without the necessary papers issued by the immigration department. Meanwhile, the immigration department has picked up three Rwandese nationals who had no legal documents to stay in Zambia. Mr Lyempe said immigration officers at the Lusaka International Airport arrested a man after it was discovered that he was using a forged Canadian passport. Another Congolese man was picked up by the officers for being in possession of a forged passport. The five are in detention.


Increased border patrols fail to deter smuggling (Mutare, The Daily News, 25/04) - Illegal cross-border trading in basic commodities continues unabated, despite intensified border patrols along Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique, police in Mutare said on Wednesday. Edmund Maingire, the police spokesperson in Manicaland, attributed the illegal trading to the deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe. Maingire said: "Cases of smuggling will continue for as long as the economy keeps depreciating." A growing number of residents in Mutare, many of them jobless and whose prospects for employment are bleak, have turned to cross-border trading to make ends meet. The illegal traders smuggle bread, soft drinks, beer, cooking oil, sugar and paraffin - which are also in short supply in Mozambique. The government has blamed the illegal traders for creating shortages of basic commodities in Mutare's supermarkets because they bought the items in bulk. Maingire said the Mozambicans, on the other hand, sold second-hand clothing, rice and, in some instances, hard drugs in Zimbabwe. Said Maingire: "We have observed an increase in the number of Mozambicans involved in the smuggling of goods into our country." The police, he said, would continue to confiscate goods illegally brought into the country or smuggled out by cross-border traders. Zimbabwean security forces patrolling the border have in the past been criticised by Mozambican authorities for ill-treating their nationals.

Exiled Zimbabweans link up in cyberspace (The Daily News, 22/04) - After feeling lonely while in the United Kingdom (UK), Quentin Tannock, capitalising on information technology, made sure that no other Zimbabwean would encounter the same problem. Tannock and his friend David Wright established – an on-line database of Southern Africans that can be accessed over the Internet from the web site “The site was created to help Zimbabweans abroad to stay in touch with friends, family and contacts,” said Tannock. “We started the service after realising the extent of the diaspora among the southern Africans around the world, particularly Zimbabweans.” Over five million Zimbabweans are said to be living abroad as they run away from the economic and political turmoil in the country. They are either in South Africa, the United States of America, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and other countries. Tannock, a University of Zimbabwe law graduate, is studying for a masters degree at Cambridge University. “When I got into England I was like a fish out of water, I knew no one there, “ said Tannock. “So for the past 12 months I have been thinking about that. When I came back here four months ago, we set up the website. The response was fantastic.” He says more than 10 000 people have managed to hook up with friends, relatives and former classmates so far. “The response in the first week was alarming,” he said. “The respondents were mainly Zimbabweans and eventually foreigners with connections in Zimbabwe started joining in.” In Zimbabwe, one can benefit from the service by paying $3 500, while those in the diaspora can pay using credit cards. One of the convincing features of the service is the unique privacy protection offered through the messaging features. Users can be found and receive messages from other users without seeing their personal contact details. Similarly, users can s

end messages through the site without disclosing their personal contact details such as their e-mail address. The site is operated to the highest data protection standards and the company is registered under the UK Data Protection Act. To save users having to log in frequently to check for messages the site has an automatic e-mail notification that e-mails a user when a message awaits them on the site. Added to this is a feature where users can request an e-mail notice of when a friend the user has been looking for successfully joins up. The search facility on is broad and users are not limited to only finding people that they went to school or university with. The site allows you to search for any southern African you know using their name or nick-name and one other field, such as the country they are now in or the school that they went to. Tannock said of the proceeds they have received from subscribers to advertise about the website. “I will not rest until I have reached the 50 000 mark,” he said. “But at the rate at which people are responding we will smash that target soon.”

Four immigration officers suspended (The Herald, 21/04) - Four immigration officers have been suspended during the last six months for allegedly demanding bribes from foreigners in exchange for extensions to work permits. Investigations are at an advanced stage. Chief immigration officer Mr Elasto Mugwadi confirmed some staff had demanded payment for extensions from unsuspecting foreigners. "We have laid traps and managed to trap a few of our workers who were involved," Mr Mugwadi said. But while the simple process of extending a permit has led to corruption, the rigorous procedure to issue the permit in the first place is believed to be free of corruption. The first issue of a work permit involves approval from other ministries and departments and the number of officials spread across several ministries makes it impossible to cheat. Some immigrants who claimed they were made to pay bribes in foreign currency said many Nigerians and Ghanaians were still living in the country although their temporary work permits expired two years ago. They said it was apparent that some of these were involved in criminal activities and illegal dealing in foreign currency. Mr Mugwadi conceded that some foreigners who were granted temporary work permits were sometimes a nightmare as they went into hiding after the expiry of their six-month permits. "We do follow them up and have them deported if their term has expired. We also make some follow ups to find out if they are adhering to the required conditions." Foreigners usually have to work in a specific job or for a specific employer as a precondition to get a permit. Investors have to retain their investments. An Asian who spoke on condition of anonymity said he was made to pay US$400 by one immigration officer in October last year for an extension. He said the officer delayed his paper work until he had paid the money. The officer arranged that the two meet at Africa Unity Square where the money was paid, alleges the Asian.

Most immigrant workers from other countries who include Pakistanis, Chinese and Nigerians who applied for investment and work permits, said the Asian, had also been made to pay "corruption fees" in foreign currency. Another Asian who has worked in the country for the last 20 years said he had to pay a bribe in foreign currency after an official threatened to cancel his investment permit. "What is painful though is that we are honest people trying to earn a living in Zimbabwe and help build the country and yet we are treated this way. "We know of many foreigners who were granted residents’ permits or work permits using bogus credentials. "Most of these are foreign currency dealers who pretend to be operating small shops," the Indian said. Mr Mugwadi confirmed there were some Asians living in the country without any permits. "We have one case of an Indian national who is appearing before the courts who has lived in the country for years without a permit," he said. Some Asians yesterday disclosed that the man in question was a foreign currency dealer owning several currency shops around town. The Indian national is said to have come into the country as a doctor but was fired after it was discovered that he was not a qualified gynaecologist. Mr Mugwadi said his office had tried having the man deported but with no success as his lawyers kept postponing the hearing of his case at the High Court. Foreign women and foreign men married to Zimbabweans are allowed to stay in the country following a Supreme Court ruling that to do otherwise would be to breach the rights of the Zimbabwean spouse. However, said Mr Mugwadi, there were dangers of marriages of convenience. Many countries make elaborate checks to ensure that marriages are genuine, by finding out how long the couple has been married before they want to live in the country and by making the foreign spouse renew his or her permit regularly. Last year, Sibongile Tutani of Marondera was shot dead by her Nigerian husband after she had requested his deportation. This was after she had realised that all this man wanted was to acquire businesses and ditch her.

Commentary on brain drain impacts (The Herald, 17/04) - The exodus of Zimbabwean unskilled and skilled labour to overseas countries, mainly UK, has not only deprived the country of critical human resources but has also led these migrant workers into a vicious social and economic trap. The history of migrant labour shows that workers are driven into economic exile by the belief, either imagined or real, that they will be economically and socially better-off when they go to a different economy where there are perceived better job opportunities. This has been the major cause of rural-urban migration where people migrate to urban areas in the hope of quickly securing employment and bettering their lives. Such hopes have more often than not been unable to be realised leading to job seekers taking on any activity that can bring food to the table. Historically we have had migrant workers coming to Zimbabwe from Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique and we also had Zimbabwean workers going to South African mines then commonly known as "Wenela". In the Americas we have always had Mexican workers migrating to work on USA farms especially in Texas. In all these cases very few of the migrant workers realise their dreams of "striking it big" both financially and socially. We know of our grandfathers who went to "Wenela" for many years only to come back without a family and with a few meaningless possessions like mirrors and radios which in real terms never managed to sustain them for a long time. Some of the people who went to "Wenela" never came back not because they did not want to but because they did not have the means to do so as they were caught in a vicious socio-economic trap. The history of labour studies show that migrant labour has always been exploited by employers who take advantage of the desperate situation of these workers. A closer analysis of any situation involving migrant labour shows that it is the employers who encourage directly or indirectly the illegal entry of these workers into their employ. An illegal migrant worker provides many advantages to the employer. Firstly the migrant worker is in a desperate situation and in most cases does not have the means to get back home should he not like the situation and therefore the worker is forced to work under any conditions in order to raise money for minimal survival.

Secondly if the migrant worker is working illegally, he has no recourse to the labour laws of that country and is therefore at the mercy of the employer. If the worker is underpaid or is not paid at all he cannot report the employer for fear of being deported. The only thing he can do in the event that he is not paid is to look for the next job. This has been the case with most of Zimbabwe’s migrant workers overseas. Most went there with the dream of getting rich overnight. In most cases that dream has been shattered and these workers have found themselves in a virtual trap. Some sold their houses and cars and some abandoned their jobs in order to join the great trek to UK with the hope of replacing these assets as soon as they started working. Many have been frustrated to find out that the situation on the ground is very different from what they expected. The working conditions are tough, there is very little respect accorded these workers and abuse is rampant. The workers are paid far less than the citizens of that country despite the fact that most are working up to twenty hours a day. Some are not paid at all and they have no recourse to the law because they are illegally working there. Since accommodation is expensive in these countries most of the workers share accommodation and you can find as many as ten people sharing a room in squalid conditions. Trapped in this quagmire some of the migrant workers, both male and female, have resorted to prostitution in order to supplement their incomes. Some have even gone into prostitution full time because it is a lucrative business in western countries. With proceeds from these vices the migrant workers can afford to buy properties back home and these properties will entice other people to want also to become migrant workers but thinking that the properties were bought as a result of honest working. But when they migrate they are surprised at how things are different but they cannot come back because they will have been caught up in a vicious trap. I am not at all implying that all those that are buying properties it is a result of them engaging in moral debauchery.

Some have managed to do so through hard work in foreign countries especially when they are employed in their professional jobs. The social dilemma for these workers has come in the form of lack of socialisation, reduced social contacts with friends and relatives at home and breakdown of marriages. Since some of the workers work long hours a day they have little time for recreation and socialisation, which can actually lead to stress and eventually mental breakdown. Marriages have also broken down because of the long absence of spouses, which has often led to infidelity. The winners in a situation where there are so many illegal migrant workers are the employers who directly and indirectly encourage this migration. The migrant worker is often underpaid, abused and ill treated by the employer who knows that the workers cannot do anything since they will be working illegally in the first place. The worker on the other hand cannot easily get back home because he will be in an socio-economic trap. Socially because he will be embarrassed to go back home empty handed with nothing to show for his escapades and economically because he will not have the means to go back home. We have had cases of migrant workers who from Southern Africa who are being used as slaves in New Zealand and Australia because they have no means of coming back home. I think it is time that something is done about improving conditions of migrant workers in foreign countries.

Zimbabwe, Mozambique in bid to curb smuggling (Harare, The Herald, 14/04) - Customs departments from Zimbabwe and Mozambique have signed a memorandum of understanding primarily aimed at curbing rampant smuggling of goods between the two countries. The agreement, which was signed at the just-ended World Customs Organisation for Eastern and Southern Africa regional annual meeting in Vumba last week, is expected to facilitate the exchange of information and improve working relations between the two countries. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority commissioner general, Mr Gershom Pasi, signed the memorandum on behalf of the country while the director general of the Customs of Mozambique Mr Antonio Victor Barros dos Santos, represented his country. The agreement was in line with the World Customs Organisation's policy of encouraging bilateral relations between countries sharing common borders. "We want to assist each other and facilitate the movement of people without the contravention of the laws, said the Zimra commissioner responsible for investigations and international affairs, Mr Tichawona Chiradza. "This memorandum of understanding, therefore, seeks to provide ways and means of achieving this," he added. The volume of traffic between Zimbabwe and Mozambique has increased over the past few years. The memorandum of understanding will also enable closer co-operation to curb the rising smuggling of goods between the two countries. Some Zimbabweans are smuggling basic commodities such as sugar, cooking oil and cotton wool to Mozambique, resulting in shortage of the commodities on the local market. This has caused the prices of the goods to shoot up, particularly on the black market. The Zimbabwe-Mozambique border is one of the longest on the continent stretching for hundreds of kilometres and the signing of this memorandum of understanding will help the responsible authorities to ensure that all loopholes are plugged.

"If there are some investigations going on in Zimbabwe we will be assisted by our counterparts in Mozambique and the same can also be done when they are carrying out their own investigations," Mr Chiradza said. Joint training programmes on a number of Customs and immigration issues will also be organised under the memorandum of understanding. Mozambique has already signed a number of similar agreements with other countries in the region. The country borders with South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The head of international co-operation for the Customs of Mozambique, Ms Susana Raimundo, said apart from information exchange, they have also held some joint training programmes with those from South Africa. "These memoranda of understanding are quite useful and we will soon have an official document. There is a lot of exchange with the South African customs and we also hold some technical meetings to discuss the problems at the border," Ms Raimundo said. They also hold some joint verification exercises and exchange data regarding problems of valuation.

Refugees clash at camp (Mutare, The Daily News, 12/04) - The hatred between the Hutus and the Tutsis that led to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda which claimed more 800 000 lives and spilled into the Democratic Republic of Congo, has spread to a refugee camp in Zimbabwe. About 100 exiles from the DRC at Tongogara Refugee Camp, 188km south of Mutare, on Thursday demonstrated against their Rwandese counterparts demanding their removal from the camp on allegations that they were “killers”. A Rwandese national staying at the camp yesterday said the DRC nationals marched from the camp to Chipangayi Police Post. “They said they do not want to stay with people from Rwanda because they are killers,” said the Rwandese, who did not want to be named. There are more that 200 Rwandese at the camp. The majority of them are from the Hutu ethnic group, which is largely blamed for the 1994 genocide that left more than 800 000 Tutsis dead. John Adu, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Zimbabwe, yesterday said his office was investigating reports of the strained relations between the Congolese and Rwandese refugees. However, Adu said: “We strictly avoid tribal sentiments. We don’t encourage that at all. If a refugee had problems with another tribe back in his or her country of origin, they are not supposed to bring them here because this is a neutral country.”

Foreign diplomats gagged (The Independent, 11/04) - Foreign diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe have been banned from making speeches at their national day events after Australian High Commissioner to Harare, Jonathan Brown's recent condemnation of rising repression in the country. Sources said the Dean of Diplo-mats, Ndali-Che Kamati of Namibia, on February 5 distributed a copy of a Foreign Affairs order barring ambassadors and high commissioners from making addresses on their national days. "The order basically states that the practice of making speeches during national days should be discontinued," a diplomatic source said. "After that, embassies and high commissions have stopped speeches, toasts to President Ro-bert Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe, and any other gestures of courtesy." It was the declining number oftoasts to Mugabe that proved the final straw for government, the sources said. "Ambassadors, particularly from the European Union and North America, generally preferred to toast 'the people of Zimbabwe'," one source said. Sources said the order was meant to gag outspoken diplomats who have criticised government over repression and human rights abuses. While diplomats like Ka-mati, Zambian High Commission-er Dingiswayo Banda, who is also Dean of African Diplomats in Ha-rare, and Nigerian High Commis-sioner Wilberforce Juta, have tend-ed to whitewash Zimbabwe's simmering political and economic crisis, others have been less indulgent. Spanish ambassador Javier Sandomingo issued a stinging rebuke on the occasion of his national day last year, lamenting the failure of Harare to address issues raised by his government. 

But Brown, in his address, turned up the volume. In some of the strongest remarks made by a senior diplomat in Harare, he told an Australia Day gathering on January 26 that his country, which supported the process leading to Zimbabwe's independence and reconstruction, was shocked by the current dramatic national decline. "Australia has watched with dismay as the people of Zimbabwe have become poorer," Brown said. "They are now more vulnerable to ill-health. They are more hungry, more often." Brown said Zimbabweans had become victims of growing repression. "They are less able to enjoy the democratic and human rights guaranteed to all peoples in the Commonwealth," he said. "Above all, the people of Zimbabwe were, in Australia's views and in the view of the Commonwealth Observer Group, denied the free expression of their will in the March 2002 presidential election." Brown noted that since the disputed poll, repression had been intensifying. "Since that election, we have seen the government of Zimbabwe tighten its grip on its people, further denying their freedoms of speech and association, and their protection under the law without discrimination," he said. The government has of late been sending Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials to national days instead of ministers as was the custom in the past.

Improvements to Passport Office suggested (The Herald, 09/04) - Reports on the trials and tribulations of people who spend hours on end queuing at the Passport Office are depressing. It is clear from the reports that applying and eventually getting a passport is a nightmarish and energy-sapping experience. The whole process takes months, a delay which, in our view, is unnecessary and can be avoided. Reading or listening to these reports, we are hard pressed to conclude that the Passport Office is severely understaffed and therefore failing to cope with the large number of people trying to get passports. There is obviously a huge backlog. Reports indicate that about 200 of the hundreds of people seeking application forms are served each day in Harare. They could be fewer in smaller towns. A significant number of them are turned away for lack of the required colour photographs and other documents. We feel that three things have to be done urgently for the good of the Passport Office itself, the applicants and the already over-burdened taxpayer. The first is to clear the backlog and the office has to hire more people to achieve this. Such people should ideally be competent, security cleared and disciplined individuals who can work confidentially. Such people can be found in the Zimbabwe National Army. The army has educated men and women who can be called upon to help as clerks in the Passport Office. The army has been called upon to help in various spheres including the reconstruction of infrastructure. Our soldiers are back from the DRC and should be able to help. Once the backlog has been cleared, we feel that the passport office should operate on a full cost recovery basis. This will mean applicants having to pay more for passports, which will enable the office to break even and operate like a business. The money which applicants are being charged now to get passports is, in our considered view, very low. We feel it is unfair for taxpayers to subsidise people applying for passports, which are optional documents. Operating on a full cost recovery basis would enable the office to hire adequate employees and reduce the processing time remarkably. The money that is being used to subsidise passports could then be used to process other documents such as national identity cards and birth certificates which, we are convinced, should be issued out free of charge. This would enable every Zimbabwean — rich or poor — to get such documents. The Passport Office should also undertake a public awareness or education campaign, through which people should be made aware of what is required at every stage of the application process. This would limit the number of people who stand in the queue for a long time, only to be turned away because something is either missing or has not been done correctly.

Cross-border traders continue exporting basic commodities (The Herald, 09/04) - Cross-border traders feeling the pinch on the ban by the Government on export of basic commodities have defied police presence and continued to export the goods to a ready market in Mozambique, a snap survey revealed this week. The daring traders had opened up illegal entry points along the Forbes Border Post despite heavy police presence armed with automatic rifles and vicious dogs. At Forbes Border Post scores of unemployed youths were entering the bush carrying items such as sugar, cooking oil, milk, margarine, mealie-meal and to a lesser extent, maize. Manicaland police spokesman said there was a serious battle between police and illegal traders along the border area. About 70 illegal traders were being arrested everyday with huge quantities of goods confiscated, but the traders remained defiant. ''These traders are aware of the banned goods but they still force themselves into Moza-mbique through illegal routes,'' said the spokesman. He said locals arrested when coming from Mozambique were being fined $600 for both illegal entry and exit but the fee had not helped in reducing the activity. The Government banned the recent export of basic commodities a few weeks ago after Mutare city was reported to have run out of sugar and cooking oil owing to hoarding by traders from both Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

100 foreigners arrested in massive clampdown (The Daily News, 09/04) - About 100 foreigners have been arrested in Harare since last week in a police operation code-named Operation Dzokera, Shona for “go back”, to rid the country of illegal immigrants. A police source said some of the arrested foreigners were detained at various police stations in Harare last week pending their deportation. It could not be established if any of the alleged illegal immigrants had been deported by yesterday.
Officers at the immigration department referred questions to Elasto Mugwadi, the chief immigration officer, who could not be reached on Monday and yesterday. “Members of the team are checking records and tracing foreigners who have overstayed and those who do not have valid residents’ permits,” said the police source. “They are going to places frequented by foreigners and tourists. Those whose papers are not in order are arrested and detained while waiting for the arrival of the next plane to their home countries.” The police said in a statement at the weekend the blitz code-named Dzokera, targeted foreigners living in the country illegally. The police said they had recovered illicit drugs and skin bleaches from some of the foreigners. They urged all those living in the country without valid documents to turn themselves in at the nearest police stations. Isaac Mukaro, the commissioner for refugees, said genuine refugees had so far not been affected by the operation. “If any genuine refugees were affected, they would have been in touch with me,” Mukaro said.

Facilities for refugees expanded (Mutare, The Daily News, 07/04) - The unprecedented influx of refugees into Zimbabwe has forced the United Nations to expand facilities at Tongogara refugee camp, a UN official has said.  John Adu, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to Zimbabwe said: "We have to expand the camp because the number of refugees coming to Zimbabwe has increased." Tongogara camp, 188 kilometres, south of Mutare, accommodates about 1 000 refugees. But with the number increasing by the day, the UNHCR said the expansion of the camp became a priority. Since January this year, Zimbabwe has experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of asylum seekers. An average of 300 asylum seekers arrives in the country every month up from a monthly average of 50 last year. Since last week, more than 200 new arrivals were resettled at the camp. Zimbabwe is home to 10 000 refugees. Adu said most of the asylum seekers were from war-torn countries such as Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC. The majority of the Rwandese are coming from Tanzania where they are expelled by the Dar es Salaam government. The number of asylum seekers from Burundi has increased amid heightening tension between the Tutsi-led government and Hutu rebels. In the DRC, thousands of people continue to flee the country despite a peace deal signed in South Africa recently. Other refugees are from Congo-Brazzaville, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Liberia.

Shortage of pathologists hits hospitals (The Daily News, 05/04) - A serious shortage of pathologists has hit Harare Central and Parirenyatwa hospitals, the country's major referral hospitals, resulting in the two institutions suspending post-mortems when the only government pathologist was on leave since last month. Dr Salvator Alex Mapunda, the pathologist, is believed to be in Tanzania on holiday and is only expected back later this month. The situation had caused delays in burials as a number of bereaved families needed post-mortem results before interment. Investigations this week revealed that 15 bodies were lying at Harare Hospital mortuary since last month, due to Mapunda's absence. The bodies would only be buried following post-mortems when Mapunda returns. The situation is believed to be the same at Parirenyatwa Hospital although officials at the hospital were not forthcoming with details. Dr Chris Tapfumaneyi, the Harare Hospital medical superintendent, said there was a marked increase in the number of bodies waiting for post-mortems at the hospital. Said Tapfumaneyi: "The hospital cannot do much about the piling bodies as it is a matter that is handled by the police since they are responsible for bringing in the bodies," he said. A post-mortem has to be conducted before burial in all cases involving murder. Dr David Parirenyatwa, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, said he would investigate the shortage of pathologists and issue a statement. An official with the Hospital Doctors' Association, said Zimbabwe needed at least six government pathologists at hospitals in Harare alone. The HDA official said a number of pathologists had left the country for greener pastures. A Chitungwiza family this week claimed that they had not been able to bury their relative since 14 March because a post-mortem was still to be conducted. The Magaya family suspect that their relative died under unclear circumstances in Highfield. Another family said they had to bury their relative, Brighton Manasa, in Rusape without autopsy results as they could not afford to wait any longer. Manasa is suspected to have been murdered by unknown assailants last month in Warren Park. "We could not afford to keep his body at Harare Hospital mortuary for too long because of the funeral expenses," said Austin Gwaure, his uncle. As a result, we had to bury him without post-mortem results."

Obtaining a passport in Harare: Part 1 (The Herald, 04/04) - The Herald today begins to serialise the ordeals that one goes through before getting a passport at the Passport Office in Harare. Thousands of people in the country spend days queuing in order to get the travel document. Despite an announcement early this year that the Passport Office was going to operate 24 hours a day, there has been little improvement in as far as the queues are concerned. Our reporter, Joseph Katete, yesterday thought he would obtain the passport application form in less than 30 minutes. Read on. Full of optimism that in about 30 minutes, I would have left the Passport Office since I just wanted to collect the form, I joined the queue just after 8am. There were about 200 people in front of me and I had never imagined that there would be so many people wanting to collect an application form. I wondered how long they had been queuing since the office opens at 8am. The officials came after about five minutes and started handing out the application forms, albeit at a snail's pace. A conversation with some people in the queue revealed that those who were in front and were now being served had slept there or had come as early as 3am. Patience is not one of my attributes, but I thought of exercising it as I waited for my turn to be served. Moreover, I had faith in the mostly young and energetic officials and thought that since they had begun handing out the forms seemingly late, they would strive to serve people fast. To my bemusement, the officials went about their work slowly and I grew impatient. At about 10am, the officials went for tea after serving less than 30 people. I later on realised that a lot of people around me were carrying big envelopes and fearing that I had joined the wrong queue, I asked some people standing next to me who, as anticipated, told me I was in the right queue.

The big envelopes, they said, contained long birth certificates, two passport size colour photographs and a metal national identity card, and probably photocopies of these. It was after I had asked the reason for all these certificates that I got dropped a bombshell: only those with long birth certificates, the national metal identity card and two colour passport photos would be given the forms. I did not have the long birth certificate with me in the queue, but I thought it was no problem since I had my national ID. After all I just wanted to collect a form which I would complete and then submit together with copies of the long birth certificate and the national ID card. At least, that is what I thought. In some countries, applying for a passport can just be done on the Internet and one can just download the application form. As time ticked towards lunch and with hunger starting to take its toll, compounded by the fact that I did not have money to spare, I started thinking of abandoning the queue. The dismissal of two beautiful young ladies ahead of me because their photos were said to be of poor quality was the final straw. What chance did I have given that I did not have the pictures? As l left the Passport Office just before lunch, in frustration, I made up my mind to come as early as 4am in the morning the next day with the three important things: two colour passport size photos, a long birth certificate and my national ID. Today I will rejoin the queue with the required documents and see how it goes.

Obtaining a passport in Harare: Part 2 (The Herald, 05/04) - DAY 2 at the Passport Office and our reporter Joseph Katete manages to get the application form. Please read on for more details. To be in the city centre by 4am yet one lives in a township that is more than 25 km away could be physically and mentally taxing. It means you have to wake up before 3am. I did not make it to the Passport Office by 4am as I had resolved on Thursday. In fact, that was the time l left to catch my transport into the city. At the bus stop, a sizeable number of people, mostly women who sell their wares at the market, were already there. Few buses had started operating and the two that came first were going to Mbare. The bus operators obviously know that the majority of passengers during this time of the day are women vendors and men who work in the light industry near Mbare. This reminded me of the talk around town on why women vendors are generally short-tempered people. They wake up at some ungodly hour. I finally boarded a bus to the city centre at around 4.30am. I reached the Passport Offices at around 5am and there were already scores of people waiting in different queues outside the building. There were four queues and each serving a different purpose. There is a queue for collecting an application form; a queue for those wanting to hand in the forms; a queue for those wanting to collect their passports and so it goes on. I joined the queue to collect a form and gave a sigh of relief when I discovered that I had just made it into the first 10 people. Then began the long wait until 8am. There were some interludes that made us forget to think of how many minutes remained before the offices opened. A security guard gave up distributing cards with numbers for positions in the queues, alleging that he had overheard somebody saying the cards were fake. The old security guard started shouting on top of his voice, saying "Ndisu tinotonga pano" (We are in charge here). People laughed as they took it to mean that he was one of the guys employed to entertain them as they waited in the queues!

Then came a drunken man who could barely stand on his own. He claimed that he should be the first to be served. He took another man to the front of the passport collection queue and ordered him to stand there. "Sir, you are number one, make sure no-one comes before you and please do not forget to pay when you have been served," he said. Later on, he brought another young man who wanted to collect his passport and placed him second. He then made frequent visits to his clients asking if there were any problems. Good customer care perhaps, but every time he came he demanded money for cigarettes. Just before 8am, I realised that in all the queues whites were in front positions, yet when I had arrived there at 5.10am there was only one white couple that wanted to collect their national identification cards. I had, by the way, come prepared given that I had failed to collect a form because I did not have the required documents. Armed with three sets of passport size photos from different studios in case some were said to be of poor quality, I waited patiently for my turn. The move paid well since the first set of photos was rejected and it was after I took the other pair that I was handed the application form. Much to my amazement, I was told to submit it on 18 July. The issuing officer also filled in the first portion of the form with my name, national registration numbers and the photos and passport forms were stamped to make sure that only the issued form would be used. On investigating further, an official at the passport office told me that this was being done as a security measure so that the forms would not be sold to other people who are too lazy to join the queue. Well, at least I am happy that I got a form, but now I have to wait for two whole months before I submit the form. My ordeal is not yet over as I wait for the date.

Citizenship laws to include foreign farm workers (Johannesburg, Irin, 04/04) - The Zimbabwe government has decided to extend citizenship to all Southern African Development Community (SADC) citizens who were resident in the country at independence in April 1980.  A communiqué released after a meeting of SADC foreign ministers in Harare on Thursday said the government would promulgate the Citizenship Amendment Act for the farm workers "mainly of Malawian, Mozambican and Zambian origin". Welcoming the move, the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) said the Act would recognise the problems that up to two million farm workers and their families faced. Godfrey Magaramombe, director of the FCTZ told IRIN on Friday: "It will give them access to social services and, as citizenship is tied into land rights, will enable them to participate in land reform programmes. It will allow them to get birth certificates and national identity documents, and birth certificates for their children, which affects their right to progress beyond primary school." Access to social services would also be a welcome relief for farm workers affected by the country's land reform programme. In February the monthly report of the Famine Early Warning Systems Network said the number of commercial farm workers adversely affected or displaced by the fast-track resettlement programme had increased significantly. Although in some cases the newly installed farmers had absorbed former commercial farm workers, many still faced problems. Foreign workers did not have family links in the rest of the country, or the money to return home. Losing their livelihoods and their homes meant they had to rely on relief food provided by NGOs like the FCTZ. All farm workers will be included in an assessment of the food security situation on farms.

Thousands flood passport office (The Daily News, 03/04) - There was chaos at Makombe Building in Harare yesterday as thousands of people jostled for positions in a queue for passports more than a kilometre long.  The queue snaked from the government complex entrance along Harare Street, into Herbert Chitepo Avenue and then into Leopold Takawira Street, as far as the Girls’ High School entrance, before finding its way through Park Lane and back to Harare Street. Some of the people in the queue said they had slept there on Tuesday. Those who turned up early yesterday morning found the queue already meandering its way around the city, as demand for passports has outstripped supply. Most people in the queue said they would do anything to leave the country to seek a better life elsewhere. They cited as their reasons for fleeing the country political violence, which they said was now at its peak, and unemployment, now hovering around 80 percent. “Zimbabwe has become like a torture camp for most of us,” said Vagaria Chizunza, “prompting me to look for a passport to move to Namibia or South Africa where I feel I will be able to do something better with my life.” He said although he was likely to be given a date to submit his passport forms yesterday he was sure it would be another two months before he returned to join another queue to leave his forms, duly filled in. Cosmas Ndira of Mabvuku said he was thinking of border-jumping because his
efforts to obtain a date for the past week had failed. He said: “Even if my forms get to be processed it will take another nine months before I get a passport, which is too long a period for me to wait.” According to Harris Mutawu the United Kingdom is a haven and his visibly exhausted face spoke volumes of his determination to leave the country. Those not patient enough to wait in the queue said they would go back today to pay $3 000 to vendors and street kids who sleep in the queues every night and sell their front positions to the endless procession of ever-eager applicants.  The action by Kembo Mohadi, the Minister of Home Affairs, to introduce double shifts for civil servants processing passports in order to ease the congestion, seems to have failed. The flood of applicants continues unabated.

Acute shortage of nurses hits Mutare (The Daily News, 03/04) - The acute shortage of nurses at clinics run by the Mutare City Council is adversely affecting the city's health delivery system, a senior health official has said. Simon Mashababe, the council's acting medical officer of health, told a recent meeting of the council's health management committee that: "The council's health department has only 74 nurses instead of the required 131 nurses." The council operates seven clinics and an infectious diseases hospital. He said Dangamvura Polyclinic, which serves about 100 000 people, had only one nurse and each of the clinics was operating without a sister-in-charge. Nurses, doctors and other medical staff have been leaving the country for greener pastures in the United Kingdom and United States in the last two years.

This page last updated 13 June 2003.