SOUTHERN AFRICAN MIGRATION PROJECT

Migration News - August 2003

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

Region:
Southern African countries want common market
SADC summit faces four challenges
Tourist arrivals in Southern Africa reach 12.8 million
Focus on Africa's movement laws
Communities within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park meet
Trans-frontier park: giant leap for conservation
Tighten up border checks - say police chiefs
Reversing Africa's 'brain drain'

Angola:
Police dismantle forgery network
Border police facilities opened
Lubbers to assess repatriation programme
Minister defends reintegration of five million people
Resettlement process highly flawed
Over 12,000 refugees return
UN agency steps up efforts to assist refugees
Illegal foreigners repatriated
MPs analyse refugee situation in Congo

Botswana:
Companies prefer Zimbabweans 
Botswana challenged to stop inhuman treatment
Ex-miners eligible for compensation
Zimbabweans ill-treated in Botswana
Namibia wants suspects extradited from Botswana
 Elders call for expulsion of Zimbabweans
Botswana deports 26,000 Zimbabweans
Ministry to train more nurses
Botswana amends laws to punish foreigners
Angolan refugees to be repatriated

Lesotho:
Textile industry provides skein of jobs
Lesotho weaves its way from rags to riches
Lesotho urges Indian firms to step up investment

Malawi:
Malawi-Tanzania border problems

Mozambique:
South Africa to review visa requirements for Mozambique
Strategic partnership between South Africa and Mozambique
Ressano Garcia border post to open 24 hours
Two South Africans arrested for car theft
Thousands of Mozambicans in South African jails
Zimbabwe, Mozambique agree to slash visa fees
PM confident that SA will rethink visa issue
Mozambicans in rush to offload Zimbabwean currency

Namibia:
High tariffs still hurting exports to Angola
Union to take Home Affairs Minister to court
Home Affairs Minister confirms role for police
Namibia and Angola embrace conservation beyond borders
Immigration officials protest plan
Refugees arrested following food fracas

South Africa:
Threat to sue gold firms greeted with dismay
SA land of hope for Zimbabwe workers
Lawsuit looms against gold mining houses 
Stiffer visa requirements for Zimbabweans
Gauteng launches plans to lure tourists
Agreement to slow outflow of nurses
African refugees in Cape Town
Brain drain shrinks mental care
SANDF exaggerates illegal immigration
Nursing staff leave in droves
Court orders deportation of US fugitives
Biometric ID system raises privacy concerns
SA brain drain not a major problem, claims Erwin
Legal battle to protect immigrants from 'arbitrary' detention
Concourt hears argument on Immigration Act
Immigration case should be heard, says Sachs
AIDS campaign for truck drivers in pipeline
Border protests continue
Migrants to city of gold find frustration
Lack of skills hits building sector
Protesters block Swazi border post
Residents give helping hand to refugees
Swazi clan wants border gate reopened
Illegal immigrants refuse to leave
IAB discusses strategies to reverse brain drain
Invest to curb brain drain
Brain drain worse than thought
Zimbabwe refugee applications for SA shoot up
Six illegal immigrants arrested at former military base
Swazi border blockade planned
Employers can stop brain drain
Eastern Cape Home Affairs offices chaotic says new DG
Bringing them home
SA to import manpower
Dog cops sentenced
Using skilled immigrants will boost economic growth
SA: Gateway for human trafficking
Namibia and South Africa create cross-border conservation park

Swaziland:
Swaziland blockade appears to fizzle out
Swazi border still blocked
Blockade successful at Mananga border
Labour, opposition groups picket Swazi borders
Cosatu prepares to block Swazi border
Borders will operate, says PM
We know nothing about blockade, says Minister
Swazi border blockade planned

Tanzania:
Governments agree to open more border crossing points
Tanzania, Uganda to erect pillars on common border
Immigration clears foreign workers
Kenyans threaten Tanzanian jobs
Immigration bosses may have acted improperly
Government to repatriate 1,167 Rwandans forcibly

Zimbabwe:
Crossborder traders in panic banking
Zimbabwe, Mozambique agree to slash visa fees
SA tightens visa requirements
More white farms being listed for acquisition in Zimbabwe
Skills lost in "internal" brain drain
Crossborder traders to hold exhibition in Zambia
Brain drain hits Zimbabwe's health service
More Zimbabweans seek refugee status in SA
Lecturer exodus threatens universities with collapse
Cross-border traders complain of harassment
Cross-border traders criticized

Region

Southern African countries want common market (Sunday Times, 31/08) - Southern African countries are to embark on an ambitious plan to weld together their economies, eliminate exchange controls and eventually create a single currency for the region. The measures to set the region on a high-growth path by creating one large market are spelt out in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, adopted by the Southern African Development Community this week. The plan is a result of a two-year study to define a new strategic direction for SADC to transform it into an economic rather than a political body. According to the plan, those nations or groups of countries which are successfully implementing trade and economic liberalisation policies are experiencing high economic growth and an improvement in the quality of life of their citizens. "Given the changing global environment, the creation of large markets has become synonymous with increased foreign investment and economic growth," the plan says. SADC member states are Zimbabwe, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and South Africa. The Seychelles is also a member but has indicated that it wants to leave the body. Madagascar has applied for membership. The plan sets out measures and time frames for the economic integration of the region through, among other things: Creating a free trade area in SADC by 2008 through the fast-track implementation of a trade protocol; Establishing a SADC Customs Union by 2010 and implementing a common external tariff; Eliminating exchange control on intra-SADC transactions by 2006; Establishing a SADC Central Bank and preparing for a single SADC currency by 2016; and Creating a SADC regional development fund and self-financing mechanism by 2005. The plan also states that policies, regulations and legislation on petroleum, gas and electricity in all SADC countries should be harmonised between 2004 and 2006. It says the region should be marketed as a "single but collective" tourist destination. Travel and visa restrictions will be removed or eased, and border post procedures and requirements should be harmonised by 2008. The plan calls for improved connectivity in regional transport networks, and that by next year a harmonised user-pay system for transport infrastructure should be developed. To create a better investment climate, the region's leaders have been advised to establish regional anti-corruption and anti-money laundering programmes. SADC's new chairman, Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa said the strategic plan will provide a "roadmap through which SADC can achieve its long awaited dream of a common destiny".

SADC summit faces four challenges (Angop, 28/08) - Regional integration, poverty reduction, food security, and HIV/AIDS control once again became major topics to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders, as the 23rd SADC summit was held here. Speaking at the opening ceremony on Monday, newly elected SADC Chairman and President of Tanzania Benjamin William Mkapa stressedthat "only in regional unity can we face those challenges with confidence and with a decent chance for success." Executive Secretary of SADC Prega Ramsamy also worried in his speech about the slow down regional integration because of the heavy debt and low intra-SADC trade and investment. The president pointed out that two ways can help SADC member countries strengthen regional integration. The first method is increasing intra-SADC trade, while estimates showed that the figure only reached 22 percent of the total SADC trade in 2002, that is "not too encouraging." In order to speed up the integration process, the 14 member states of SADC need to reach 35 percent of total trade volume target by 2005. Low as it is, it brought a target for all member states. The chairman said that to fasten the steps on carrying out the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan is also a way to strengthen the integration process, and he personally hope that such plan can be achieved efficiently and effectively. On the question of food security, the executive secretary said at a press brief over the meeting of SADC council of ministers that still about 7 million people in the SADC region need food assistance in the January of 2004, although cereal production reached 22.89 million tons in 2002-2003, a little bit increase from 21.55 million in 2001 to 2002. Even before the summit meeting, delegates from member nations agreed to take some methods to reduce the food shortage, includingincreasing financial input to targeted agricultural areas, changing unfair trade regulations and other kinds of barriers, andchanging undeveloped rural infrastructure, and among other regulations.

On HIV/AIDS control, Mkapa described that the HIV/AIDS issue isa problem concerning the "survival" of Africans. Mkapa emphasized in his speech that "African region is the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS courage. Many people are HIV positive, or sick with AIDS ... the proper, frank name for the challenge ahead is survival." The chairman stressed some nations may be disappeared or debilitated by the combined efforts of this disease. The president suggested that the communities should make great efforts to ensure the infected people live as long as possible, and those that not infected stay away from the disease. He called on developed countries to release intellectual property protection on anti-HIV/AIDS drags to save more lives of Africans. African continent is heavily infected by HIV/AIDS disease. The HIV/AIDS infected rates in some countries are as high as about 40 percent of whole population. So, it is not surprise that controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS disease thus became a major topic in this SADC Summit. No matter regional integration, food security, or HIV/AIDS control, these topics are closely connected with a final destination -- poverty reduction and enriching member states. Currently in the SADC region, there is still 40 percent of the population living with less than one US dollar per day. The challenge of poverty eradication would therefore be uppermost in the SADC focus. Such focus should be carried out in all SADC activates and official engagement, the executive secretary Prega Ramsamy said inhis speech. SADC institutions had established all four directorates, namely:Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment, Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Directorate on Social and Human Development and Special Programs. The member states are satisfied with mobilization of resources from member states, which is also in the framework of restructuring of institutions and funds from International Cooperating Partners for financing key activities related to the restructuring exercise. The two-day SADC summit is expected to end on Tuesday, and 13 heads of states from 14 member countries attended the meeting. Currently, the 14 member states are Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania,Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Tourist arrivals in Southern Africa reach 12.8 million (The Guardian, 22/08) - Tourist arrivals in Southern Africa reached 12.8 million last year, representing an increase of 6.5 per cent over the previous year, the SADC Secretariat for Infrastructure and Services has said. Presenting a report on Infrastructure and Services Situation in the SADC member states over the past year, the SADC Supervisor for the Directorate, J.S. Caholo, said the growth was achieved despite difficult challenges that faced the industry world-wide. “According to the preliminary data published by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), Southern Africa’s tourist arrivals reached 12.8 million in 2002. This was a growth of 6.5 per cent over the 2001 figure,” he said. He named the challenges that faced the industry over the past year as stagnation of the world economy and the fall out from the September 11 attacks on the United States. He noted that international tourist arrivals experienced a higher annual decline in 2001 than anticipated by the WTO after September 11. “Whilst the WTO had anticipated a limited growth of 1.5 per cent the figure recorded for the year was a decline of 1.3 per cent with a total figure of tourist arrivals of 692 million,” he said. However, Caholo said Africa experienced a 4.6 per cent increase in international arrivals in the same year, with South Africa being the most favoured destination, despite the 1.5 per cent decrease in arrivals.
“In Southern Africa, there were a few bright spots in 2001, with tourist arrivals to Lesotho up by 11.7 per cent, in Namibia by 14 per cent and Mauritius by 20 per cent compared to year 2000,” he explained. The SADC official further noted that a number of developments within the region have also given a positive improvement to the sector, including the signing of the peace accord in Angola. On the future prospects, Caholo said the WTO’s Tourism 2020 Vision forecasts international arrivals to reach over one billion by 2010 and over 1.56 billion by 2020. On the African continent, the SADC official said, international arrivals are expected to double and reach 47 million in 2010 and 77 million ten years later.  The increase has been accorded to an annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent higher than the world average of 4.1 per cent, Caholo said. “Africa’s market share is forecast to increase and to reach five per cent in 2020,” he added. He also said WTO would include some SADC member states in the WTO’s Special Programme of Action for Southern Africa as revealed in the framework of the agreement it signed with the SADC. In the meantime, the SADC regional energy situation has been reported to remain static over the last twelve months on the supply side. However, the SADC Supervisor for the Directorate of Infrastructure and Services, Caholo, said there was steady increase in the traded energy, on the demand side.  “The increase was achieved through the short term energy market established and managed by the SAPP co-ordination centre,” Caholo said. He said considerable progress has been registered in the two projects namely, the Western International Power Transmission and Zambia-Tanzania inter-connector project. “The World Bank has given a credit of 1.1 million US dollars. The study will be completed by the end of 2003,” he said.

Focus on Africa's movement laws (Nairobi, News24, 20/08) -  A pan-African church group, the All African Council of Churches (AACC), on Wednesday blamed tough immigration barriers in Africa for hampering efforts to unite the world's poorest continent. "Instead of moving towards unity, African nations are erecting higher immigration barriers against their own Africans from different African nations," the Nairobi-based AACC said in a statement. AACC, which groups 169 Protestant Christian churches in 39 countries, said Africa should refrain from complaining about tough immigration rules imposed by western nations until it has reversed its own rules. "We should not be complaining against Europe and the United States barriers until we dismantle our own," the statement pointed out. The group commended regional blocs such as East African Community (EAC), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), describing them as a sign of hope for the continent. "Though belatedly, they are good starting points for African Unity," AACC said. The church group reiterated its oft-stated stance that all religious groups in Africa should work together in tackling economic, political and health problems plaguing the continent.

Communities within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park meet (Maputo, AIM, 19/08) - Local communities dwelling inside the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), covering areas in Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, are to meet in a two day seminar starting on wednesday at the Makulule Conference Centre, on the South African side.  A press release received by AIM on Monday, states that 15 participants, men and women, will be selected within their own communities. On the first day of the event they will cross the border into Mozambique to the area of Massingir Velho and will also visit some tourist resorts and other infrastructures within the park. The idea of the seminar is to exchange information and experiences about the participation of local communities in activities to promote sustained development and ecotourism, and promote their own interests in the development of the GLTP. At the end of the meeting, the participants will produced a document that should contain, among others issues, information about the main problems that these populations are facing and recommendations for their solution. The document will also include recommendations on the ways of exchanging information and to establish a plan for future consultations between the communities. The aim is to bring the populations closer together for an improved understanding about the areas of conservation and management of the huge economic potential available within the GLTP that they can exploit to their own benefit.

Trans-frontier park: giant leap for conservation (The Sunday Mail, 10/08) - The proposed multi-billion-dollar Great Limpopo Trans-Frontier Park (GLTP), linking Southern Africa’s three vast national parks in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique, is billed to prominently feature at the forthcoming World and Parks Congress that is scheduled to be held in Durban, South Africa, next month. The director-general of Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Mr Morris Mtsambirwa, told The Sunday Mail that the Southern African region wanted to further market the proposed Trans-Frontier Park, in which Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park, South Africa’s Kruger National Park and the Limpopo National Park in northern Mozambique will merge to form one of the largest game reserves and natural habitats in the world.  The GLTP will enable ancient migration roots, previously disrupted by border fences set up to establish political divisions, to be re-opened to millions of wild animals, including the world’s last species of elephants, rhinos and lions. The GLTP was a top item on the agenda of the Africa Union heads of state summit in Maputo, Mozambique, in July this year. The leaders of the three countries signed the GLTP treaty in Xai Xai, Mozambique, last year.  "The treaty will enable participating countries to start working and implementing provisions that will make the project a reality by pulling down fences between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and launch a massive cross-border conservation area," Mr Mtsambirwa said. He added that countries involved were working on harmonising the countries’ legislation, developing tours and marketing plans for the largest animal kingdom in the world. The project, mooted in 1999, is expected to be completed in the next five years and will eventually encompass the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, Kruger National Park in South Africa, Gonarezhou National Park, Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe’s Sengwe communal lands as well as the Makulele region in South Africa, in which the country’s famous Kruger National Park is located. The project is expected to strengthen wildlife and improve tourism in the three countries.

Mr Mtsambirwa said: "It is anticipated that tourist flow will increase significantly once the marketing plan is put in motion."  Over the past few years, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector has been depressed due to the barrage of negative publicity the country has been subjected to by the Western media.  The September 11 attack on New York’s twin towers, which left many foreigners terrified to travel by air, also had a significant effect on arrivals.  Despite such problems, the industry, however, has recently begun to flourish again, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).  Analysts attributed the improvement in the sector’s performance to the effects of promotional activities by various stakeholders, which have partly restored the country’s status as a premier tourist destination on the continent.  The establishment of the first phase of the trans-frontier park, covering approximately 35 000 square km, is regarded as a giant step towards the recreation of the massive ecological environment measuring a staggering 100 000 square km. It is expected to further increase tourist arrivals in the region.  Besides the anticipated increase in tourists, the animal kingdom is expected to bring positive results to poor people living near border fences of the three countries. "It is important to note that once the project is up and running, the communities will certainly benefit through sustainable economic development," Mr Mtsambirwa said.  He said discussions to ascertain how communities would benefit were under way. Mr Mtsambirwa added that the mighty project would also enhance political and socio-economic relations among the three countries. The three countries involved say the GLTP would provide the usual traditional attractions and new attractions, including cruises and rugged 4 x 4 adventure drives. Mr Mtsambirwa was optimistic that the giant park, expected to take several years to be complete, would offer a competitive advantage for the three countries and become a strong market tool for Africa worldwide.

Tighten up border checks - say police chiefs (Kampala, News24, 08/08) -Police chiefs from eight African countries on Friday urged states on the continent to introduce stricter border controls in a bid to curb the smuggling of small arms and prevent other cross-border crimes. "Countries (should) put in place measures to effectively curb arms trafficking by strengthening border controls and adequate regulatory and monitoring systems, including data bases and up-to-date records about the flow of small arms and light weapons in private hands," they said in a statement. Police chiefs or their representatives from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, South Africa and Uganda issued the statement at the end of a three-day meeting in the Ugandan capital. They also came up with an action programme under which countries affected by cattle rustling will conduct joint training of personnel in investigation techniques. Cattle rustling is common among nomadic herder communities in Kenya and Uganda. Measures taken against cattle rustling will include branding of livestock for easier identification. The police chiefs meeting was jointly sponsored by the South African-based Institute of Security Studies and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which groups Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

Reversing Africa's 'brain drain' (Mmegi, 01-07/08) - For thousands of Africans living overseas and seeking ways to contribute to the development of the continent, initiatives aimed at staunching the outflow of professional expertise are offering new possibilities. Now, more than ever before, exists "a major opportunity to transform the historical brain drain ... into a new African 'brain trust'," notes John Sarpong of the Digital Diaspora Network Africa. He was among 130 heads of technology firms, non-profit organisations and UN agencies who launched the network in July 2002 as part of a resurgence of initiatives to reverse the loss of professional skills from Africa. Among those targeted are scientists, medical doctors, engineers, lecturers, economists, technologists and other highly skilled people in short supply on the continent. African professionals have tended to migrate to Western Europe and North America. Many are dissuaded from returning home by the economic and political crises that have bedevilled the continent over the last few decades. Failing economies, high unemployment rates, human rights abuses, armed conflict and lack of adequate social services are some of these factors. The UN Economic Commission for Africa and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimate that 27,000 Africans left the continent for industrialised countries between 1960 and 1975. During the period 1975 to 1984, the figure rose to 40,000. It is estimated that since 1990 at least
20,000 people leave annually. A brain drain is said to occur when a country becomes short of skills when people with such expertise emigrate. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) notes that in Africa, the loss of medical doctors has been the most striking. At least 60 per cent of doctors trained in Ghana during the 1980s have left the country. 

The phenomenon "is putting a huge strain on the continent," notes IOM Deputy Director-General Ndioro Ndiaye. To fill the gap created by the skills shortage, African countries spend an estimated $4 bn annually to employ about 100,000 non-African expatriates. "It is high time programmes and policies are put in place to reverse the devastating effects of the brain drain," she says.  Increasingly, development planners are seeking ways to reverse the brain drain or retain skilled professionals at home. They include restrictive policies aimed at delaying emigration, such as adding extra years to medical students' training. Various tax proposals have also been put forward as governments realise that the large numbers of citizens living outside their borders are a potential economic resource.  Another strategy is the adoption of international agreements by industrial and developing nations under which wealthy countries pledge not to recruit skilled people from developing states. However, the two most popular strategies involve transferring skills through networks of professionals and intellectuals and the time-tested approach of repatriation. Because many people are reluctant to return to politically or economically unstable countries, some countries are now trying to find other ways to tap the knowledge and skills of their professionals based overseas. The South African Network of Skills Abroad (SANSA) is an example. Through its website, it invites professionals to sign up.  SANSA estimates that about 60 per cent of the country's expatriate graduates are located in six countries, with Australia, the UK and the US accounting for more than half of them. It reports that at least 22,000 graduates from five major South African universities resident abroad remain in touch with their universities. A significant proportion of the University of Cape Town's graduates in medicine, commerce, education and engineering, all areas in which South Africa has an acute shortage of skills, are living abroad, SANSA notes.

Once professionals join SANSA, they may offer to train their counterparts back home or assist them to conduct research. They could facilitate business contacts and transmit information on research results not available in South Africa. SANSA members may also help to transfer technology to their home country by providing computers and software. Rather than blame departing professionals for the shortage of skills on the continent, SANSA views "these highly skilled South Africans located abroad as a potential asset," note David Kaplan and Jean-Baptiste Meyer. In a report for SANSA, they however stress that the success of networks depends largely on the commitment of expatriates. Other programmes to counter the brain drain involve physical relocation of expatriate Africans either to their home countries or elsewhere on the continent. A major limitation, however, is that large sums of money are required. Some expatriates may wish to be repatriated with their entire families. Others may request salaries comparable to what they earn in their host countries, along with up-to-date technological resources. Another limitation is that repatriation only allows for the return of the individual expatriate and not the knowledge networks to which he or she may belong.  Despite such challenges, the Kenya-based Research and Development Forum for  Science-Led Development in Africa (RANDFORUM) has been exploring ways to repatriate African professionals and intellectuals, as requested in 1999 by the Presidential Forum on the Management of Science and Technology in Africa, a grouping of African heads of state.  That year, a taskforce led by a former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, recommended that RANDFORUM identify overseas-based Africans interested in returning home to offer their skills.  However, organisations involved in repatriation face the challenge of attracting larger numbers of participants. IOM's Reintegration of Qualified African Nationals Programme, which ran from 1983 to 1999, only managed to relocate about 2,000 nationals to 11 countries. Immigration regulations are cited as one of the concerns of potential returnees, notes Chernor Jalloh of IOM. People are concerned, for example, about whether they would be able to return to their adopted country once they leave.

While past IOM programmes focused on permanent relocations, they are now evolving to cater for the needs of those Africans who prefer to remain in their new countries. Instead of permanent relocations, "we now use sequenced visits," says Jalloh, describing some aspects of the newly established Migration for Development in Africa programme. These may be short stays, on a number of occasions to service a particular need, for example, "a request for a specialist doctor in a remote part of Sierra Leone," Jalloh told Africa Recovery. The doctor continues to live abroad, returning when needed to complement the work of teams in the African country. Many Africans long to return but their aspirations are "vigorously thwarted by negligent governments whose priorities ignore national welfare," says Kwaku Asante Darko a lecturer at the National University of Lesotho. Darko, a Ghanaian, stresses that until the factors that lead to migration are dealt with, it "would be catastrophic" to expect to solve the continent's manpower shortages through an immediate return of skilled Africans.  In addition, the continent needs to provide "a conducive environment which is amenable to positive criticism, free of harassment and persecution," says Rohey Wadda of Gambia's Strategy for Poverty Alleviation Co-ordinating Office, a national body that oversees development programmes. African countries must be made "more politically, economically and socially attractive to their citizens."  Given the international nature of the brain drain and the covert support it receives from developed countries in need of skilled personnel, measures in African countries to contain it will only succeed with the support of destination countries, notes the Union for African Population Studies, a scientific, pan-African non-profit organisation. It says that pressure must be exerted on developed nations to modify policies on the immigration of professionals from developing countries.  Industrialised countries are in growing need of two types of immigrant labour; those willing to do poorly paid, dirty and dangerous jobs that their own nationals scorn, and highly specialised professionals, such as software specialists, engineers, doctors and nurses. The US has 126,000 fewer nurses than it needs and government figures show that the country could face a shortage of 800,000 registered nurses by 2020. As a result, industrialised nations have embarked on massive international recruitment drives. South Africa recently appealed to Canada to desist from recruiting its medical professionals. In the rural province of Saskatchewan, Canada, more than 50 per cent of doctors are foreign trained and at least 1 in 5 of the 1,530 doctors there earned their first medical degree in South Africa. According to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, there is a clear need for international co-operation. "There are no easy choices or simple solutions," he says.

Angola

Police dismantle forgery network (Luanda, Angop, 28/08) - Angola`s National Police detained, recently, six local citizens and two Vietnameses who were forging documents such as computerised identity cards, passports, registration books and drivers` licence. The forgers were on Tuesday presented to press, at the headquarters of the National Management for Criminal Investigation (DNIC), in Luanda. On the occasion, the head of DNIC`s Department for Crimes Against Public Order, Superintendent Almerindo Almeida, informed that the accuseds were caught red-handed in August 19, inside a photo shop, located in Portugal avenue, in Ingombota district. That official said that during the raid in that establisment 12 non-computerised identity cards, 14 manuscripts containing datas of citizens to obtain identity cards, among other documents, were found and seized.

Border police facilities opened (Ondjiva, Angop, 27/08) - The Governor of Southern Cunene province, Pedro Mutindi inaugurated on Tuesday, in Ondjiva city, the facilities of Border Protection Police`s unit in the, framework of its 25th anniversary. The Governor urged, on the occasion, the corporation members to maintain the patriotic and vigilant spirit in order to make efficient the control of the country frontier. This act was witnessed by the representatives of Namibia`s Border Protection Police`s Unit, members of the provincial Government, religious and political parties entities.

Lubbers to assess repatriation programme (Johannesburg, Irin, 19/08) - UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, is due in Angola this week to assess the refugee agency's repatriation programme. Matthew Brooks, UNHCR spokesman in the capital Luanda, told IRIN on Tuesday that more than 15,000 Angolan refugees had so far been assisted to return home, and Lubbers would be "looking at where things stand, and where things should go from here". The refugees, who fled Angola's three-decade civil war, are returning along four corridors to designated "open areas", where minimum conditions of security and humanitarian access are in place. Two corridors have been established in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to transport returnees home to M'banza Congo in the northern Angolan province of Zaire, and the town of Luau in the far east of the country. From western Zambia, refugees are returning to Cazombo in the eastern province of Moxico, and to Caiundo in the southern province of Kuando Kubango from Namibia. Brooks said UNHCR hoped that in the next two months additional corridors would be opened to take registered returnees from Bas Congo in the DRC to Maquela de Zombo and on to Uige in the north. In the south, Kalai was expected to be an additional destination in Kuando Kubango, across the Kunene river from the Namibian town of Rundu. Over the next two years, UNHCR anticipates that it will assist with the return of 220,000 Angolan refugees. According to government figures, since the end of the civil war in 2002, some 130,000 refugees have returned home under their own steam. More than 400,000 Angolans fled into neighbouring countries during the country's long and bitter conflict.

Minister defends reintegration of five million people (Luanda, Angop, 18/08) - Five million people directly affected by the Angolan armed conflict should be urgently reintegrated in the society to avoid the creation of an environment of social exclusion, defended on Monday, in Luanda, the Angolan minister of Social Welfare, João Baptista Kussumua. The minister defended this while addressing the opening of the 14th consultative council of the Ministry of Social Welfare (MINARS) taking place until 20 August under the motto "Return and reintegration for the consolidation of peace". The minister said that it is a must those people's social reintegration as well as of their families, the displaced and those repatriated, was secured in order to avoid frustrations. The minister emphasised that reintegration of any targeted groups, in a lasting and sustained way, constitutes a social, economic and psychological process, mainly depending on a common vision and agenda of all levels and coherent, consistent and appropriate answers to barriers that might be come across. According to the minister, intervening capacity of provincial governors and their executive organs, in this phase will be determining and decisive to speed the normalisation of lives of populations in communities, needing correct and consistent approval of policies and strategies. As rehabilitation projects, mainly agricultural, begin to have lasting impact and the population supply their basic needs in food, nourishment assistance will cease to be a key factor and become a complementing factor. Information from the Ministry of Social Welfare released last Thursday by vice minister, Maria da Luz, indicate that 3.223 871 displaced people returned to their zones of destination, from April 2002 to July 2003. Besides displaced people, 89.667 demobilised soldiers and 279. 496 dependant civilians were also taken to their areas of destination. The source pointed out that 135.000 Angolan refugees voluntarily returned and 10.999 returned in ambit of organised repatriation, in the period mentioned above.

Resettlement process highly flawed (Luanda, ReliefWeb, 15/08) - The Angolan government and the United Nations are failing to ensure the safe and voluntary return of millions of Angolans to their homes, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The 29-page report, “Struggling Through Peace: Return and Resettlement in Angola,” documents several incidents of government authorities using violence, or the threat of violence, to drive people out of camps where they had been living sometimes for years. The Human Rights Watch report also raises concerns about reported incidents of rape and other sexual violence against internally displaced women and returning refugees. "The end of the conflict in Angola is a blessing for millions of Angolans who can now return home,” said Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. “But unless urgent measures are taken to stop these abuses, peace will be a curse instead.” Hundreds of Angolan refugees have spontaneously returned to their homes since the ceasefire of April 2002, but millions of internally displaced people, refugees and ex-combatants remain in exile, in transit or in temporary resettlement sites within Angola. Rather than paying special attention to children, women, and vulnerable groups, the Angolan government has granted preference to ex-combatants for resettlement. The government has also failed to provide people with identity documents that would help them get access to humanitarian assistance, which is in any case inadequate. “Angola is an oil-rich state with the resources to help its people,” said Takirambudde. “There´s no excuse for the way they have been suffering.” Angolan law has incorporated international standards on the protection of the displaced, but the government has failed to respect that law in practice, Human Rights Watch charged. Landmines have killed or maimed hundreds as they have tried to return home, Human Rights Watch said. "U.N. agencies have also failed to take effective steps to ensure the protection of Angolans from human rights violations. Human Rights Watch urged the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and U.N. Human Rights Division in Angola to increase their outreach to vulnerable groups whom the Angolan government has ignored in resettlement efforts. Human Rights Watch also appealed to the donor community to fully fund the U.N. interagency appeal for Angola.

The Human Rights Watch report urges the Angolan government and international agencies to ensure reasonably uniform conditions in the areas to which the internally displaced, refugees, and former combatants will return, and to pay special attention to the needs of women, children and other vulnerable groups. Most importantly, the Angolan government must respect international and domestic law requiring the voluntary basis on which displaced people should be resettled. Human Rights Watch found that local authorities have forced internally displaced Angolans to return to their home areas by violence or threat of violence. One such incident occurred in transit center Cambabe II, in Bengo Province. Local administration and police forces entered the camp in September and October 2002, and burned the internally displaced Angolans´ homes and 10 acres of crops. With their homes and crops destroyed, the displaced people had nowhere to go except their home areas, which were not ready to receive them. Most fled immediately, without stopping to gather the animals or possessions that had survived the fire. One Angolan humanitarian worker who was present at Cambabe II and witnessed the burning of the displaced persons´ homes, told Human Rights Watch: They were forced to leave the area because the Government wanted to have the land for its own agricultural projects. The [internally displaced] lost ten acres of crops—sweet potatoes and manioc. Burning houses was part of the Government´s policy. In another case, the government threatened to suspend assistance to people in the camps they had been living in for many years. Another humanitarian worker reported: Local administration determined that the camps [at Bengo II] had to be emptied. They told us that the return process was officially open and people should go back to their areas of origin. However, they did not provide transportation or other assistance and they threatened to suspend current assistance. And then, in July 2002, there was a general embarrassment, when WFP food distribution was temporarily suspended in Bengo and Feira [transit centers].

Marlene V., 28, told Human Rights Watch that local authorities instructed her family to leave Bengo II and go to Sanza Pombo (their place of origin), even though they wanted to remain at Bengo II. She said: I don´t have any one there. My mother and father passed away and my children are going to school here [in Negage]. In Sanza Pombo there are no health centers or other services. My husband went there and told me so. In Bengo II, there were about 12 families from Sanza Pombo that did not wish to return. Jorge S., 33, told Human Rights Watch their reasons for remaining: We have been here since September 1999. Here we have a house and land to work on. ‘Return´ means go to a place where roads don´t even go. In other cases, displaced people have been prevented from moving where they want to go, in particular to Luanda, the capital city. Helena S., 29, a displaced woman interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Uíge, where she had been living as a displaced person for years, told us that local authorities had been preventing her from moving on to Luanda, where five of her children and other family members were living. She told a Human Rights Watch researcher: I have not seen my mother for seven years. We were separated during the war. I am from Mbanza Kongo. Here [in Negage] I don´t have land. I don´t have anything. I have five children in Luanda and two here with me. I wanted to go to Luanda where I have family but they told us to wait. I have been waiting for ten months. I´ve been waiting [ever] since there was finally peace.

Over 12,000 refugees return (Luanda, Angop, 13/08) - At least 12,381 Angolan citizens who were living in the DR Congo, Zambia and Namibia have returned to the country since the beginning of the repatriation process implemented by the Angolan Government, in last June. It was informed on Tuesday in Luanda by the Head of the Refugees Department of Angola's Social Welfare Ministry, Mr Alfredo Leite. Speaking at the end of the National Seminar on Provincial Planning for Transition, the official pointed out that, among those number, 549 people came from Namibia, 3,534 Zambia, and 8,298 from the DR Congo. The action is being carried out through four channels known as corridor, being one in the country's Southern-east Kuando-Kubango province, the other in the Republic of Zambia and two in DR Congo.

UN agency steps up efforts to assist refugees (United Nations, 12/08) -The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today it is stepping up efforts to assist displaced Angolans to relocate home after a 27-year civil war and expects 12,000 returnees from neighbouring countries by week's end. The refugees - returning from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia and Namibia - will spend the first few days back in Angola in reception centres, where they receive landmine awareness training and information on HIV/AIDS. They will also receive some food, a construction and basic domestic supplies. "UNHCR is looking at gradually increasing the pace of returns as more areas become open for return in Angola. A total of 13 communes are now open for organized return," a spokesman for the agency, Kris Janowski, said in Geneva. Mr. Janowski added that many other communes were still out of reach because of bad roads, broken bridges or the presence of landmines. UNHCR staff is currently visiting several provinces to identify the next steps required to open up new corridors of return in the next one to two months. An estimated 4.5 million Angolans lost their homes and some 450,000 others were driven into neighbouring countries before the war ended last year. UNHCR has appealed for $29 million for the Angola operation and has received just over $15 million thus far.

Illegal foreigners repatriated (Luanda, Angop, 11/08) - The Provincial Directorate of Immigration in northern Uige Province on Saturday repatriated 23 citizens from the Democratic Republic of Congo, an official source told Angop. According to the source, these foreigners lived illegally in that part of the national territory. One of the repatriated, who resided in Uige for more than three months after entering through Maquela do Zombo, said he came to Angola for commercial reasons and admitted his illegal stay in the country. The provincial police commander, António Martins de Sousa, said likewise operations will proceed in order to discourage similar acts.

MPs analyse refugee situation in Congo (Luanda, Angop, 01/08) - The situation of Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), their control and repatriation is being analysed by Angolan members of parliament with the Congolese authorities. Part of the delegation led by António Ventura de Azevedo from MPLA (ruling party) are MPs such as Brito Júnior and Vicente Telica, from the same party, Devalina Pongolola and Elias Disengimoka (UNITA). Since the start of his visit on July 24, the parliamentary delegation already met with the president of the board of Angolan Communities Committee, to analyse the situation of Angolan refugees, emigrants and students, and getting informed about the current peace situation lived in Angola. Fom the female association in DRC, MPs received a document with worries and programmes, and after they worked with committee and associations of local Angolan workers, who also presented their difficulties and their desire to return to the country. MPs also met with representatives of Angolan political parties in DRC (MPLA, UNITA, FNLA, PDP-ANA and others) and received in an audience by the Congolese Home minister, Théophile Mbemba Fundu, with whom they analysed border issues and security of the Angolan community. Until the end of their visit, foreseen for Sunday the 3rd of August, members of parliament still have planned a visit to the Angolan refugees` centre in Kempese ( in the Lower-Congo province), located 400 km from Kinshasa.

Botswana

Companies prefer Zimbabweans (BOPA, 20/08) - Job seekers in Francistown have cried foul at the seemingly preferential treatment accorded Zimbabweans by companies that are looking for workers. Interviewed by BOPA, the job seekers said companies prefer Zimbabweans because they provide cheap labour and do not complain about poor working conditions. One job seeker, Samuel Makgae complained that companies also employ illegal immigrants who do not have work permits through the back door. He appealed to the labour office in Francistown to introduce an unemployment register to ensure that those who register get first preference when jobs become available. Makgae complained that the current procedure of queuing up is unfair because newcomers always get jobs first. Also, there are no ablutions or water where they queue, and times they go for the whole day without food. Another job seeker who preferred anonymity accused labour officers in Francistown of corruption, adding that he was twice asked to pay some money to get employment with a security company. Also, companies have a tendency of dismissing employees without cause or compensation. District labour Officer, Sylvester Komoki blamed the worsening economic situation in Zimbabwe for employment problem in Botswana. He stated that Zimbabweans who flee hardships in their country come to Botswana and compete with locals for few jobs available. However, his office is doing all its best to match seekers with available jobs. They also ensure illegal immigrants are returned home.

Botswana challenged to stop inhuman treatment (The Chronicle, 20/08) - A Botswana civic organisation has challenged its government and citizens to stop the inhuman and brutal treatment of Zimbabweans in that country. Addressing a Press conference at the close of the Africa Civil Society consultations on Zimbabwe in Gaborone last week, an official of the Emang Basadi group, Mr Peter Tshukudu, stunned delegates when he castigated Batswana for illtreating Zimbabweans. He said Botswana and some civil society groups campaigning against the Government of Zimbabwe should put their houses in order first before prescribing and condemning alleged human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. You just have to go to kgotla meetings and see how they attack the Zimbabweans. The language used and the accusations thrown at our fellow Africans are so inhuman. Batswana only feel that it is all right when the Zimbabweans work for them as cheap labour and it is not fair. "What is being done to Zimbabweans in this country is so inhuman that you can feel nothing for them but sheer pity," said Mr Tshukudu. There were more sensitive and human ways to deal with the problem of illegal immigrants than to be brutal, he said. Four Zimbabwean immigrants have been killed in Botswana since November last year. Xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans have escalated to alarming levels. According to the Mmegi newspaper of Botswana, Mr Tshukudu accused Ditshwanelo, a human rights organisation and Batswana leaders of only reacting to the situation in Zimbabwe rather than responding to the problem.
"When someone goes on a mission to help others, he should have solved problems at home first. For Botswana leaders and Ditshwanelo, this means that they must first tackle the mistreatment of Zimbabweans by Batswana," he said. Mr Tshukudu said Botswana should show its character as a nation by being tolerant to Zimbabweans given the challenges in their country. His comments stunned participants to the meeting, which had been organised to condemn alleged human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Civil rights groups from Zimbabwe, which have been campaigning for the vilification of the Government attended the meeting. Despite acknowledgement of brutality against Zimbabweans by Batswana, Archbishop Pius Ncube, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Matabeleland, told delegates to the meeting that "no Zimbabwean had been killed in Botswana". He said that he knew that the people of Botswana would always cater for Zimbabweans. Archbishop Ncube claimed that Zimbabweans were "very upset" to see their country, which was once seen as the second richest in Africa, being "brought down to its knees by President Mugabe". "You will not see Mugabe dancing in Botswana because he knows that he is not welcome here. He would rather be in South Africa because Thabo Mbeki is always flattering him. As far as I am concerned, nobody has been killed in Botswana," he said. The Director of Ditshwanelo, Ms Alice Mogwe told Mmegi that the political and economic challenges in Zimbabwe had created the current "Zimbabweanrelated problems" in Botswana. "We started our mission of helping stop violations in 2 000 before the crisis to tell the Botswana government that as a member of SADC and the African Union, it must do something to stop the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. "Issues that we talked about then are now happening and no action has been taken. Our own people did not heed what we were saying. They did not look at the future but only at the present situation at that time," she said.

Ex-miners eligible for compensation (BOPA, 18/08) - Botswana men who worked or are still working in South African gold mines are at risk of contracting permanent and incurable lung disease known as pneurnoconiosis. This makes ex-mine workers from South African mines now living in Botswana eligible for compensation under the Occupational Disease in South Africa's Mines Act. Dr Nelson Mwaniki of Community Health Services Division in the Ministry of Health said the Occupational Health Unit started an ex-miners' programme in 1999 to facilitate the compensation of the diagnosed ex-miners. He told BOPA that silicosis is one of the diseases falling under the broad category known as pneumoconiosis and it is the commonest type in Botswana. The other types are coal-workers' pneumoconiosis and asbestosis. Silicosis occurs mainly in underground gold mines and is due to exposure to silica dust. As a result, all men who are employed in South Africa gold mines are at risk of getting silicosis. "When the individual inhales the dust some of the particles that enter the lungs are removed by the body's clearing mechanisms but a small portion of these particles get trapped causing fibrosis (scarring) of he lungs," said Mwaniki. He said the development of pneumoconiosis "takes 20 to 40 years" for it to progress to a point where symptoms were present or where the damage qualifies for compensation. "Because of the slow progression of pneurnoconiosis, most ex-miners die before they are even diagnosed," Dr Mwaniki said. He appealed to relatives of ex-miners to allow post-mortem examinations to be carried out on the deceased former miners since such relatives were eligible for compensation if the victim was discovered to have signs of pneumoconiosis. "In very rare cases, the signs and symptoms may appear after less than five years," Mwaniki said, adding that the disease could progress long after exposure had ceased, especially when the exposure was for a long period. He said former miners should liaise with nurses, or social workers, at their clinics so they could assist them in completing the benefit medical examination and all other personal identification forms. The programme was launched in 1994 by the Ministry of Health through Occupational Health Unit, Health Research Unit and Thamaga Primary Hospital. This followed a survey conducted in Thamaga on the prevalence of occupational lung disease among Batswana who previously worked in thew South African mining industry. Dr Mwaniki said the study concluded that there was a high prevalence of occupational lung disease among miners and the first seven former miners diagnosed were compensated with amounts ranging from P12 000 to P 39 000. The ministry's Occupational Health Unit has appealed to all ex-miners in the country to go to the nearest clinic and complete benefit medical examination and other personal identification forms. When the programme started in 1999, it registered benefit Medical examination forms for 3 340 ex-miners and from the results that the unit received 64 former miners, mostly from Kweneng District, have been compensated for silicosis through the TEBA office. Data obtained from the Central Statistics Office shows that there were 16 983 Batswana men working in South African mines in 1990. The number dropped to 12 048 in 1997, which means that a significant number of ex-miners now is at risk.

Zimbabweans ill-treated in Botswana (Mmegi, 15/08) - Batswana have been accused of treating Zimbabweans as if they are not human beings. Speaking in Gaborone at a press conference to close the African civil society consultations on Zimbabwe, Peter Tshukudu from Emang Basadi argued that Ditshwanelo and the leaders of Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the region are only reacting to the situation in Zimbabwe rather than responding to the problem. He said that when someone goes on a mission to help others, he should have solved problems at home first. For Botswana leaders and Ditshwanelo, this means that they must first tackle the mistreatment of Zimbabweans by Batswana. Tshukudu said that Batswana must show their strong quality of a nation that is caring by being tolerant to Zimbabweans given the crisis in their country. "You just have to go to kgotla meetings and see how they attack the Zimbabweans. The language used and the accusations thrown at our fellow Africans are so inhuman. Batswana only feel that it is alright when the Zimbabweans work for them for cheap labour and it is not fair," he said. "What is being done to the Zimbabweans in this country is so inhuman that you can feel nothing for them but sheer pity," he said. He asserted that there are more human and sensitive ways of dealing with the illegal immigrants than to be brutal. The director of Ditshwanelo Alice Mogwe told Mmegi that the political crisis in Zimbabwe has created the current Zimbabwean related problems in Botswana. "We started our mission of helping stop the violations in 2000 before the crisis to tell the Botswana government that as a member of SADC and the African Union, it must do something to stop the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Issues that we talked about then are now happening and no action has been taken. Our own people did not heed what we were saying. They did not look at the future but only at the present situation at that time," she emphasised.

Mogwe said that the representatives at the civil society consultations had to go back to their own countries and consult with local organisations to come up with solutions of pressurising leaders to end the human rights violations in Zimbabwe. Ditshwanelo strongly urged SADC, the AU and their member states to end their silence on the gross injustices in Zimbabwe. It said that the continued silence by SADC and the AU implies support for the dictatorship in Zimbabwe which is contrary to the spirit of the African Charter on human and people's rights. The South African representative Eddie Makwe said that as much as the public is aware of refugees' plight, they should be concerned about human rights violations in certain countries, which results in people running away from home. "We have to see them as brothers and sisters who have suffered in their country of birth and be compassionate about their well being," he said. Archbishop Pius Ncube from Zimbabwe said that he knows that the people of Botswana will always cater for the Zimbabweans. He stated that Zimbabweans are very upset to see their country, which was once seen as the second richest in Africa being brought down to its knees by President Robert Mugabe. He said that Batswana are not angry at the people of Zimbabwe but with Mugabe. "You will not see Mugabe dancing in Botswana because he knows that he is not welcome here. He would rather be in South Africa because Thabo Mbeki is always flattering him. As far as I am concerned, nobody has been killed in Botswana," said the outspoken Archbishop.

Namibia wants suspects extradited from Botswana (Windhoek/Gaborone, African Church Information Service, 11/08) - Namibian Government has intensified bid to extradite 13 Namibians from Botswana, to stand trial on charges of high treason, following a failed 1999 bid to secede Caprivi Region, a barren strip of land in north-eastern Namibia. The country's acting Prosecutor, General John Walters, and a member of his office arrived in Gaborone last week for talks with Botswana's Office of the Attorney General in an effort to get the legal process in Botswana's courts moving again, after an almost seven-month break. In December last year, a High Court in Lobatse in the south of Botswana, ruled in favour of an appeal by 13 Caprivans against a court order that they be extradited to Namibia to stand trial. The 13, Alfred Likunga Kakena, Chris Samuel Mushanana, Jones Brownson Kache, Francis Kavetu Karufu, Puteho Obbicious Matengu, Dunbar Tumisa Muswena, Ivan Masole Kakena, David Nalisa Mumbone, Richard Musapali Sithali, Samulandela Kennedy Ntelamo, Mutoiwa George Kabuko, Thaddeus Muzamai and Claasen John Kawana, are being held at secret locations in Botswana. Since December, an intended appeal by the Namibian Government against the ruling had remained in limbo, with no date fixed for the High Court to hear an application for leave to appeal the judgement. Botswana's High Court Judge R R. Horn had ruled that the 13 exiled Namibians should not be extradited to Namibia. He said the charges were mostly for offences of a political nature, for which one could not be extradited under Botswana's Extradition Act. Walters revealed that another 122 Caprivans accused of similar charges are in custody in Namibia, pending trial on October 27.

 Elders call for expulsion of Zimbabweans (Mmegi, 08-14/08) - Batlokwa deputy chief, Michael "Spokes" Gaborone has agreed with the tribe's elders that they should get rid of Zimbabweans in Tlokweng. He said that he was worried by the escalating crime committed by the Zimbabweans. Speaking at a kgotla meeting on Wednesday, Gaborone said that it is his duty to protect Batlokwa. "We can no longer travel freely at night, our kids cannot go to school and we cannot even send them on errands because they fear Zimbabweans," he said. During the meeting, elders came up with different suggestions on how to solve the problem if illegal immigrants. Some suggested that a state of emergency be declared until the situation normalises while others said the crime prevention committee should go around the village and check if foreigners have residence permits. Others said that people who hire Zimbabweans should be tried as well. Gaborone advocated for the implementation of the old system where visitors were introduced to the chief before they could stay in a village. He blamed some Tlokweng residents for leasing houses to illegal immigrants. He cited an example of a certain man who offers Zimbabweans accommodation and charges them three pula per night. "This is illegal. He does not even have the licence to operate such a business. We have hotels and lodges that can offer such people accommodation," he said. Another elder said that such people bring criminals to the village so they are equally accountable to crimes committed. He suggested that they should be expelled from the Batlokwa community. The onslaught against Zimbabweans has been rekindled by the increased crime rate in the village.  Apparently, some Zimbabweans allegedly broke into a house and stabbed the owner with a sharp object. Others tried to break into another house and later tried to burn it. Tlokweng Police Station commander Robson Maleka shared the same sentiments with the elders. Maleka asserted that the influx of Zimbabweans in the village is worrisome. He encouraged the elders to work hand in hand with the police to combat crime.  He said that the police could not manage on their own. He also said most of the Zimbabweans stay at the dumping site in the village. Some of them are said to be staying in houses under construction without the owners' knowledge. A large number of the Zimbabweans are also found at the lands.

Botswana deports 26,000 Zimbabweans (Chronicle, 08/08) - More than 26 000 Zimbabweans were deported from Botswana last year alone as the clampdown on locals in the neighbouring country continues, Botswana police and immigration officials have said. According to Botswana’s Chief Immigration Officer, Mr Roy Sekgororoane 26 717 Zimbabwean illegal immigrants were apprehended and deported from that country last year. Botswana police have come under heavy criticism from Zimbabweans for their illtreatment of locals. Some Zimbabwean travelers with valid travel documents have also claimed that the police in that country were subjecting them to inhuman treatment. Botswana Police Commissioner Norman Maleboge told that country’s media that his force does not have adequate manpower to deal with the influx of Zimbabweans. “They overstretch our facilities and resources because illegal immigrants once apprehended, have to be placed in temporary shelter centres and prisons,” said Comm Maleboge. “We do not have the manpower to deal with this problem.” Three Zimbabweans died in a Francistown prison early this year following a fight with their Botswana counterparts. Investigations revealed that the fights were fueled by xenophobic sentiments, which continue to take root in that country. “We think there is a lack of employment in their country, when they are interviewed they claim that they are looking for employment,” said Mr Sekgoroane.
Villagers in northern Botswana have reportedly formed a vigilante group known as the Zimbabwe Clean up Campaign to track down locals entering that country. The exercise is said to have the blessing of that country’s police and army.

Ministry to train more nurses (Chronicle, 06/08) - The Government has increased the number of student nurses in schools of nursing countrywide by more than 50 percent in an effort to counteract the effects of the brain drain, which has severely affected the health delivery system in the country, Chronicle learnt yesterday. In an interview, the Chief Nursing Officer in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Ms Cynthia Chasokela, said the increases mean that the country would now be churning out more than 1 700 graduate nurses every year up from 1 198. She said by increasing the number of students undergoing nurse training the Government was hoping to fill the vacant posts that have been and are continuously being left by nurses leaving the country. “We are not saying by doing this we would no longer have shortages of nurses in the country but we hope that it would go a long way in alleviating the problem especially in the rural areas,’’ she said. Ms Chasokela said the Government was also looking at ways of addressing the shortage of tutors in the schools of nursing pointing out though that the problem was not a big issue. “We might be having a shortage of tutors but it’s not an issue because there are some who are being trained at the Zimbabwe Open University. They would be soon completing their studies and would fill the vacant posts,’’ she said. She said a number of issues affecting the health personnel especially nurses were being thoroughly looked into as part of the health revival plan. “There are a number of issues that are being looked into and once those issues are addressed I am sure we will be able to retain our nurses who are leaving the country for what they call greener pastures,’’ said Ms Chasokela.
In an effort to retain nurses, the Government introduced the bonding system where nurses and doctors are required to work in the public health sector for three years after completion of their studies. Before the introduction of the bonding system, hundreds of nurses used to leave the country soon after graduating to work in countries such as Britain, Australia, Canada, Botswana and South Africa as general hands at institutions such as old people’s homes. The country has been experiencing a brain drain among nurses and doctors. Most of them were leaving for Britain every year. Zimbabwe’s private sector employs about 15 000 nurses while the public sector accounts for 11 000 nurses.

Botswana amends laws to punish foreigners (Chronicle, 01/08) - The Botswana Government has amended its laws so that foreigners can be tried at customary courts where they can be punished through humiliating sentences such as lashings in public by chiefs, Chronicle learnt yesterday. According to the Botswana Press Agency, one of the first recipients of the new legal system was a Zimbabwean who was caned by a Gaborone Customary Court after he was found in possession of stolen cellphones. The news agency further said 15 illegal immigrants were waiting for their turn at the court “A middle aged Zimbabwean man arrested by the police at the Gaborone bus rank recently in possession of eight stolen cellular phones has been found guilty and caned by the Gaborone Customary Court,” reported the Agency. In the past, Zimbabweans have complained that they are taken to customary courts in that country where they are not afforded an opportunity to present their own side of the story as they do not understand the languages used in the courts. Botswana media reported that police in that country had embarked on a “stop, question and search operation” targeted at Zimbabwean illegal immigrants. More than 153 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants were arrested in Botswana last weekend during a socalled cleanup campaign, as immigration officials in the neighbouring country step up their campaign to flush out illegal immigrants. BOPA said 153 Zimbabweans were arrested for loitering and overstaying in Botswana, while others were nabbed for working there without work permits and one was arrested for failing to declare currency. The operation was conducted by different police stations in the capital, which has become home to thousands of Zimbabweans seeking employment in that country. “Some had overstayed in the country, others were working without work permits while another batch was arrested for idling,” said the report. “Nine of the illegal immigrants were arrested for entering the country through undesignated points.” Last year Botswana deported more than 26 000 Zimbabweans for entering that country illegally.

Angolan refugees to be repatriated (Mmegi, 01/08) - Officials from Botswana and Angola are scheduled to meet in South Africa early next month to quicken the repatriation of Angolan refugees in Botswana. An official of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Botswana Ben Rotima said on Tuesday that the meeting will choose commissioners to work out the logistics of the repatriation. "The process is quite advanced between the two countries and once the commissioners are chosen the repatriation would start. We hope that those who are not going to the landmine infested areas will be able move after the meeting," he added. The move follows the signing of a tripartite agreement between Botswana, Angola and UNHCR which last June in Gaborone during the first ever state visit by Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos. Botswana which has about 2000 Angolans, but only 850 are classified as refugees. "The voluntary repatriation process is ongoing and people are being encouraged to repatriate. The work of the commissioners would be simply to find out whether there is transport and that the conditions in their home country are ripe for them to return," Rotima said. "But we are encouraged by what happened to refugees who were repatriated from DRC ( the Democratic of the Congo) and Zambia," he added. The United Nations estimated in February that about half a million Angolans had been driven from their country by 27 years of civil war. The conflict ended in April 2002, when the government, signed a peace pact with the rebel UNITA movement following the death of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi. The war claimed an estimated 500,000 lives and maimed thousands. At least four million were displaced.

Lesotho

Textile industry provides skein of jobs (Business Report, 05/08) - While South Africa has shunned the Asian low-wage path to development through textile and garment manufacture, Lesotho is embracing it wholeheartedly. It's becoming Africa's Singapore or Bangladesh, says Luigi Malvestio, the director of Taiwanese garment manufacturer Lesotho Fancy Garments Group in Maseru. Taiwanese investors - mostly in the rag trade - already employ between one-fifth and one-quarter of Lesotho's workforce. Malvestio told an UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) earlier this year that with the right government policies and investor decisions, the textile industry could expand its labour force to 1 million in a few years - employing nearly half of Lesotho's population. Already Lesotho is the largest exporter in sub-Saharan Africa to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which gives African exporters preferential access to the US, especially for textiles. Lesotho is producing about half of the garments sold to the US from sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly 3 million pairs of jeans or chinos and even more T-shirts and other knitted garments are being manufactured a month, mainly in Taiwanese factories in Lesotho, destined for famous US chainstores such as Gap, Walmart, Target and Sears Roebuck, or bearing labels such as Levi's. Though there are Taiwanese garment factories in South Africa, most investors say they prefer Lesotho for three main reasons. The labour unions are much less aggressive and, officialdom is much more helpful about providing investors with work permits to bring in Taiwanese. Thirdly, Lesotho is classified as a least developed country, so garment manufacturers based there are allowed to source their fabric from anywhere in the world and still enjoy duty-free access to the US under Agoa. In South Africa manufacturers have to source higher-priced fabric from the US or from Africa. In about 60 Taiwanese factories in Lesotho, about 50 000 Basotho are earning an average of R600 to R900 a month - about the same as a South African domestic worker. But at least they have jobs. Even though many of the Taiwanese entrepreneurs lost their factories and even their homes when they were targeted during political riots in 1991 and 1998, most have stayed on.

Like Tony Yen, the chairman of the Africa Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce, almost all live across the border in Ladybrand and commute to their Maseru factories. Taiwan's chief representative in South Africa, Du Ling, says the big difference with Lesotho is that the government is far readier to give investors work permits to bring in skilled foreign workers.  "That's why many companies are moving to Lesotho," Ling says. But if Lesotho is attracting investment now because of its favourable position under Agoa, that will end in September next year, when it will also have to source its fabric from the rest of Africa or from the US. However, several major Taiwanese garment manufacturers are gearing themselves up for that change by embarking on what they call "vertical integration operations". In laymen's terms, they are building factories that will spin, weave and die denim and other fabrics, supplying their own garment factories with African fabric and thereby qualifying for Agoa benefits. For example, Lesotho Fancy Garments Group, which already has an investment of nearly $7 million in Lesotho, employing over 3 000 workers and producing 1.38 million garments a month, is now planning to increase the investment to $50 million, mainly by building its own fabric mill. The Nien-Shing Group, the largest investor in Lesotho, which concentrates on jeans and employs 7 000 people, is also going the vertical integration route by making its own denim. It now has three factories, producing more than 1 million pairs of jeans a month. It is building a fourth and fifth, eventually boosting its total investment in Lesotho to $2 billion in an operation that will employ 15 000 people, says Eric Chao, who is in charge of the company's Lesotho garment operation. In Malvestio's report to Unctad he said Lesotho was at the crossroads.  If it made the right decisions and went fully into vertical integration, it could reach $2 billion a year in exports to the US - up from the present $400 million - and create a total of 1 million jobs - half of Lesotho's population. These workers and entrepreneurs would not only be directly involved in garment manufacture but also associated industries such as packaging. "This will also open the door to the Basotho people to become entrepreneurs as the large firms subcontract work to smaller businesses to make buttons and other accessories. That's how Bangladesh did it," he says. He says the Lesotho government has already played a part by relaxing the granting of work and residence permits for foreign technicians, by cutting down on red tape for exporting samples, leasing land free or for big discounts, and allowing investors to open foreign exchange accounts to level out fluctuations in the exchange rate. "I believe that the textile industry in Lesotho can create a Lesotho free of unemployment," he says.

Lesotho weaves its way from rags to riches (Business Day, 01/08) - An inspector hired by the USbased retail chain The Gap is measuring up a garment at the Lesotho Fancy Garments Group. He has spent two months at the sprawling factory in the capital Maseru ensuring that standards are up to scratch to meet the requirements for The Gap's order.  "It's all been fine. No problems so far," says Jimmy Lasum. Apart from making garments for The Gap, Lesotho Fancy Garments Group is also manufacturing for US department stores, including JC Penney, Target, WalMart and Sears.  The economy of tiny Lesotho with a population of about 2,2-million is being transformed by Taiwanese investment in the garment industry, driven primarily by access to US markets through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).  It has meant massive job creation and there is more to come. These jobs could be in SA, but the Taiwanese factory owners say wages and tough trade unions are a deterrent. Lesotho Fancy Garments Group is one of a growing number of Taiwanese ventures in Lesotho taking advantage of the tariff and quotafree access of sub-Saharan countries to the US under Agoa. The Fancy Garments Group employs 35000 people at two factory sites and has plans to build another two facilities in Lesotho. The nearby CGM factory, owned and run by Andrew Chang, a Taiwanese citizen who has lived for 20 years in SA, employs nearly 7000 workers and makes jeans for Levi Strauss, Lee and a number of other US brands. Nien Hsing Textile Company employs 7000 people and will ultimately become a vertically integrated, cotton-spinning, denimweaving and jeans-manufacturing enterprise. According to the Taiwanese government liaison office in Pretoria, 30 Taiwanese manufacturing companies in Lesotho employ nearly 50000 people, about 20% of the country's workforce. If the choice was on infrastructure alone, these jobs would have come to SA. But across the Caledon River, in Free State, Taiwanese- owned industries are all in capitalintensive sectors such adhesive tapes, woven plastic bag manufacturing and denim weaving.

And they are not investing in new capacity, some complaining that the rand at current levels is pushing them into the red as it rules out exports. Apart from wage rates, Taiwanese businessmen complain about problems obtaining work permits in SA compared to Lesotho, and this country's high crime rate. In the mass garment industry, the benchmark for costs is the People's Republic of China. Massive economies of scale and high rates of productivity mean that Lesotho cannot compete on cost alone. But the tariff and quota-free access gives Taiwanese producers in Lesotho the advantage, although Chinese costs of production in the garment industry are an estimated 30% to 40% lower than those of Lesotho. Even with a 17,5% tariff that they must pay, the Chinese can still sustain a competitive advantage, but the key break the Lesotho garment industry has is that Chinese manufacturers face quotas under the World Trade Organisation's multifibre agreement. The agreement falls away in January 2005, raising the prospect that the Chinese could effectively swamp the US market. However, to ensure a wider sourcing of garments and to spread the benefits of trade, the US may push the Chinese to enter into a voluntary quota system similar to that reached with the Japanese on steel. Another worry for the Lesotho garment industry is that after September next year, Agoa will no longer allow it to use raw materials that are not from Africa or the US. This could mean higher costs as Asian cloth tends to be cheaper. To deal with this, some firms will soon produce their own cloth from US or African cotton supplies. In Lesotho the minimum wage for a machine operator in the industry is about R650 a month, compared to R800 in SA. At CGM, owner Chang says his average wage rate is about R1000 because of a productivity bonus system and overtime payments. For him, the fact that Lesotho's corporate tax rate at 15% is half of SA's, is also a significant factor. According to Taiwanese factory owners there is no problem obtaining work visas for technical staff in Lesotho. After 1994, SA became more restrictive and with the new Immigration Act passed this year, it has become even worse. Most of the Taiwanese who work in Lesotho live in Ladybrand, about 12km from the Lesotho border. After some of their property was destroyed in 1991 and in 1998, they took fright and moved across the border. The boom in job creation in Lesotho could be an object lesson for SA in small business and job creation.

Lesotho urges Indian firms to step up investment (New Delhi, Sapa-AFP, 01/08) - Prime Minister of Lesotho Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili has urged Indian industry to step up investment in the African nation, a statement by All India Association of Industries (AIAI) said Friday. He added that Lesotho, a mountainous country totally surrounded by South Africa, is emerging as one of the most favoured investment destinations in the world with Taiwan and Hong Kong. Mosisili said although Lesotho is a relatively small country it has concessionary market access to the South African Customs Union, the European Union (EU) and also to the United States. He added that recently a similar arrangement has been worked out with Canada through a memorandum of understanding. Lesotho's business fraternity was looking to enter into collaborations with Indian business firms in various areas including water harnessing, textiles, electronics information technology and financial services, Mosisili said.
He added that the Lesotho government was deeply committed to privatisation and Indian companies have ample opportunities in the power and telecommunication sectors. AIAI president Vijay G. Kalantri urged Indian industry to set up manufacturing bases in Lesotho so they can get easy access to the huge African, European Union, United States and Canadian markets.

Malawi

Malawi-Tanzania border problems (Business Times, 01/08) - It would not come as a surprise to hear that Malawi has banned Tanzanians from fishing on Lake Nyasa. After independence from British rule in the early 1960s, the country that was once known as 'Nyasaland' changed its name to Malawi, and the new Government unilaterally decided that what has always been known as Lake Nyasa should become 'Lake Malawi!' Since then, Malawians have considered Lake Nyasa as wholly belonging to them. For its part, Tanzania has never seen the need to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion. That is perhaps Mistake Number One. The border between the two countries is marred by complexity. This makes Malawians feel they are entitled to the entire resources of the lake, including fishing. Documents at the National Museum of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam indicate that, in 1962, some members of Parliament enquired whether Tanganyikans were legally entitled to fishing in Lake Nyasa. According to Paper No. 11 of the National Museums of Tanzania, Chief Mhaiki, MP, raised the question in the National Assembly on June 11, 1962 "whether Tanganyika, as far as its boundary with Nyasaland (now Malawi) is concerned, was bound by the Peace Treaty between England and Germany of 1919." If so, Mhaiki asked, what "steps did the Government intend to take to remove the disadvantages affecting the people living on the shore of Lake Nyasa," The then prime minister, Rashidi Kawawa, in his written reply to the question stated: 'No part of the Lake Nyasa fell within the boundaries of German East Africa and, accordingly, no part of the lake is within the boundaries of Tanganyika!' Definitely, the statement was counterproductive as far as fishing and navigation on Lake Nyasa are concerned. However, it is understood that Kawawa subsequently gave the indication that he knew and emphasised that "the boundary between the two countries was of great economic, political and social importance to Tanzania." According to records at the National Museums, in 1967 the Government took up the matter again, by adopting a position which differed from that of 1962.

The Government wrote to Malawi as follows: 'Tanzania has no claim over the waters of Lake Nyasa beyond a line running through the medium of the lake, and it is this line alone which is recognised by the Government of Tanzania as both the legal and just delineation between Malawi and Tanzania.' Records show that, on January 12, 1967, the Malawi foreign ministry confirmed the reception of the note, stating that the matter raised in it would 'receive the consideration of the Malawi Government and a further reply would follow.' In spite of all these efforts, however, solution to the problem is still not in sight. Tanzanians continue to fish on Lake Nyasa simply because of the friendly relations that exist between the two countries. "If Malawi gets a tyrant, Tanzanians will be the losers. They will not be able to fish on the lake any more. They are at a disadvantage. International law favours Malawi more than Tanzania," says Ebehard Haule, a resident of Liuli, a town on the shore of Lake Nyasa.

Mozambique

South Africa to review visa requirements for Mozambique (Maputo, AIM, 28/08) - The Mozambican and South African governments agreed in Pemba, the capital of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado province on Wednesday, that South Africa is to review the visa requirements for Mozambican citizens who want to visit South Africa, reports Thursday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias".  The new South African Immigration Act, in place since last April, toughens the visa requirements for Mozambicans to enter that country. Currently, it is compulsory for visa applicants to pay a 500 Rands fee (about 62 US dollars), and prove that they have at least 2.000 Rands to spend in South Africa, plus a proof of accommodation or a letter of invitation. This makes it difficult to a common Mozambican citizen to travel to South Africa, thus dropping the level of business in some South African cities and towns, that had Mozambicans as their most frequent clients. The review of these requirements is one of the decisions taken during the meeting between the presidents of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, and of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, who recommended the establishment of a task force to deal with the matter. Mozambican Planning and Finance Minister Luisa Diogo, spokesperson of the Mozambican delegation, said that Mozambique has set up an interministerial commission charged with the task of examining the matter and produce a report to be presented to the next meeting between the two heads of state. The issue also raised some concern on the South African side. The South African Industry and Commerce Minister, Arec Elwin, said that his country's authorities are discussing the steps to be taken in the short term. The two presidents also broached the issue of migratory labour. Sources of the Mozambican delegation to the meeting told reporters that lately there have been some improvement in this concern. At the end of the meeting, the two presidents also signed a memorandum of understanding on the initiatives for energy development in the Zambezi Valley, as a ground for future agreements and the respective implementation documents.

Diogo said that "this memorandum is for both parties to seek opportunities of investment in the South African and the international markets in the area of energy", adding that there is enough room for other potential partners in this business. The issue of the Cahora Basa Hydroelectric power producing dam, in the western Mozambican province of Tete, was also discussed. Mozambique is holding 18 per cent of the shares in the undertaking, where the remainder 82 per cent belong to Portugal, and Mozambique is nursing the idea of proposing to the Portuguese government to allow South Africa into that business as a means to overcome the dispute over the electricity charge. Erwin declined to comment on this matter, saying that this concerns the Mozambican and the Portuguese governments. "In terms of this memorandum, if the Mozambican government needs our assistance we are happy to help. However, I would like to make it clear that the negotiations over Cahora Bassa must be held solely between the Mozambican and Portuguese governments. Cahora Bassa is a Mozambican government's property and we address this issue under that perspective" said Erwin. The meeting also discussed the Sena and Ressano Garcia railways, the Maputo port, the Nacala Development Corridor, and the accomplishments in these undertakings. Chissano said that the choice of Pemba as the venue of this meeting was to give the South African delegation the opportunity to appreciate first hand the investment potentials in this region.

Strategic partnership between South Africa and Mozambique (Johannesburg, Irin, 21/08) - South Africa and Mozambique are set to consolidate their strategic, diplomatic and economic relations at an upcoming bilateral meeting.
President Thabo Mbeki and his Mozambican counterpart, President Joaquim Chissano, will co-chair the SA-Mozambique Heads of State Economic Bilateral summit in Pemba, Mozambique, on 27 August. The forum was established in 1997 to discuss strategic projects between the two countries. John Stremlau, head of the department of international affairs at South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand, told IRIN the bilateral meeting was "a good example of what the New Partnership for Africa's Development [NEPAD] is all about". The agenda for the upcoming summit will focus on: cooperation on labour and migratory matters; transport and communications issues, including the Maputo Airport Concession and rehabilitation of the Sena railway; energy issues such as the natural gas pipeline project of South African company, Sasol, in Mozambique, and the Northern Mozambique Power Development Initiative. Environment and tourism development projects such as the cross-border Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park will also be addressed, as well as trade and industry spatial development initiatives - the Beira, Zambezi and Nacala development corridors - and an economic cooperation agreement. "It's all about ensuring that we are able to create a better life for both Mozambicans and South Africans," said South African Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota. The current relationship between the two countries evolved out of Mozambique's assistance to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and conversely the role the apartheid regime played in supporting the former Mozambican rebel group, RENAMO. "There's some historic gratitude for what Mozambique incurred [during apartheid]," Stremlau noted. He added that "South Africa is sensitive to Mozambique's dignity, but on the other hand the presence of South African economic investment is enormous, that's why the [economic cooperation] agreement is important - you would want to ratify a sense of partnership".

"It is a demonstration of the way neighbours should be working effectively together; [of] neighbours developing a capacity to work with each other, even though there are tremendous differences in terms of size and power - the economy of Mozambique is about the size of an average South African town - yet they exude a true sense of partnership," Stremlau noted. While Kota added that "for the purposes of NEPAD, partnerships in the region are quite important; relationships have to be consolidated first between neighbours". Indeed, this partnership was underscored by the fact that in recent years South Africa has become Mozambique's largest trading partner. "South Africa and Mozambique's economic relationship is the strongest in the Southern African region. Current investment by South Africa in Mozambique totals approximately US $4 billion. Trade between the two countries is also on the increase, with 57 percent of Mozambique's imports emanating from South Africa (18 percent of South Africa's exports to Africa)," a South African government statement noted. "About 26 percent of Mozambique's exports are destined for South Africa. These figures render South Africa Mozambique's largest foreign direct investor and trade partner," the statement added. Kota noted, however, that trade benefits were skewed in favour of South Africa as the more developed partner. The role South African companies could play in Mozambique's development was highlighted by the chemical and fuel company, Sasol. "The South African Natural Gas Pipeline Project is proceeding well and is on schedule. Arrival of the gas in Secunda, South Africa, [from its point of origin in Mozambique] is scheduled for February 2004. Sasol is highly valued and respected in Mozambique. The company's operations and social development projects are considered by the Mozambican government as a sterling example of corporate citizenship," the SA government statement said. The value of the project, bringing Mozambican natural gas to South Africa along an 865 km pipeline, is expected to exceed US $1 billion, according to Sasol's website.

Ressano Garcia border post to open 24 hours (Maputo, AIM, 21/08) - The Ressano Garcia border post, between Mozambique and South Africa, is soon to be open 24 hours a day in a bid to attain the objectives of the Maputo Development Corridor, that include maximizing the profitability of the Maputo Port, reports Thursday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias". Citing Mozambican Transports and Communications Minister Tomas Salomao, the paper says that extending the border post working hours from eight to 24 is a necessary step if one is to attain the cargo handling target of 15 million tons a year. Salomao was speaking during the inauguration ceremony of two new tow-boats, recently purchased from Japan. "Our border is functioning only eight hours, but if we want the cargo handling to attain 5, 10, or 15 million tons a year, the border must be open 24 hours a day", he said. He added that the relevant authorities have been approached and the matter is currently under discussion between the two countries. Another matter has to do with the poor performance of the customs services, of which many clients, including the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), have been complaining. In order to ensure profitability of the Maputo port, the process for the concession and rehabilitation of the Ressano Garcia railway line is in an advanced stage, and efforts are being made to improve the access route to the port. For the improvement of the access, the works to build a stretch of road from the Maputo-Witbank highway to the port, will soon be adjudicated. The cost of the project is estimated at one million US dollars, granted by the Swedish Cooperation Agency to the Mozambican Railway company (CFM). During its first four months of operation, the MPDC has invested about 10 million USD in cargo handling and ship manoeuvring equipments.

Two South Africans arrested for car theft (Maputo, AIM, 19/08) - Two South African citizens, identified as Lungisile Toti, and Gideon Josias Phiri, have been arrested in the central Mozambican province of Manica accused of stealing a truck at gun point in their own country, reports Tuesdayu's issue of the daily paper "Diario de Mocambique". The police believe that those two are part of a larger network operating in different countries in southern Africa. The arrests were made during a joint operation conducted by the Mozambican police and the Customs services, to try and check contraband of vehicles and food products, particularly sugar. Manica provincial director of the customs services Jose Miguel Chicote said that another three trucks, believed to have been also stolen at gun point in South Africa, were seized in Chimoio, the capital of Manica, last week. On these vehicles, that were found parked on the street, Chicote said that "their legitimate owners have been called to identify the trucks, and we are coordinating with the police, since this seems to be a case of organized crime, to return these vehicles to their rightful owners". During the same operation, the Mozambican authorities in Manica have also seized six light vehicles for the use of phoney number plates.

Thousands of Mozambicans in South African jails (Maputo, AIM, 18/08) - Thousands of Mozambican citizens, some of them living illegally, are serving jail terms in South Africa, inducted of various crimes, including armed robbery, revealed a source of the Mozambican Consulate in Johannesburg. Luis da Silva, from the Mozambican Consulate in South Africa, told AIM that more than 2000 mozambicans are serving jail terms in different prisons in the northwest region of the Gauteng province, near the border with Botswana, for crimes such as armed robbery, illegal possession of minerals like platinum, gold, car theft, and murder. Silva also said that this figure was obtained in a survey made by the Mozambican Consulte in some South African jails. However, he believes that the real number is probably higher, and the sentences vary from six months up to seven years. He further explaind that those who show good behavior are awarded a suspended sentence, but immediately deported back home. Silva said that the worrying fact is that some of them return to South Africa and, if caught, they are charged for this new offense, and have to serve for a full term. He said that there are still a number of Mozambican citizens detained in the Lindela deportation centre, in Krugersdorp, about 70 kilometres west of Johannesburg. The South African government introduced in April a new Immigration Act, toughening visa requirements, in order to restrain the number of illegals, but it seems to be having an opposite result. Silva said that in his last visit to Lindela he found at least 1000 Mozambicans, compared to the usual number of between 600 to 800 he saw in previous occasions. All are accused of illegal immigration. He said that to reverse this trend it is necessry to explain to the people the negative consequences of illegal immigration. Complaints in the Lindela prison are continuing, but Silva said that he found a significant improvement, even in terms of hygiene and food, if compared to a few months ago.

"We cannot confirm whether or not the prisoners have been beaten or abused by the police, even though some of them still complain", he said. Silva said that the consulate is also worried about the unexplained deaths of Mozambicans in the hospital of Leratong, a few kilometres from Lindela. He said that during a visit to that hospital, he learnt that 14 mozambicans had died recently from HIV/AIDS, meningitis, tuberculosis and related diseases. "We asked the Lindela authorities for the transladation of the bodies to Mozambique in the same way they deport the illegals to our country", he said, adding that "we do also want a full explanation of the reasons of these deaths". Silva also complained of delays in notifying the deaths. "They leave the Mozambicans sick for a long time, and they only notify the consulate after their death, which makes matters worse for the purpose of identification of the deceased and, in some cases, even their place of birth is unknown", he said. "Even for those 14 bodies lying in the hospital of Leratong there is no evidence that all of them are Mozambicans. We have been working with the management of the Leratong hospital and the Lindela detention centre to fully identify the deceased", he stressed. The consulate keeps the records of those who have full identification in order to help their relatives to locate their graves.

Zimbabwe, Mozambique agree to slash visa fees (Mutare, The Daily News, 18/08) - Zimbabwe and Mozambique immigration chiefs on Thursday signed a bilateral agreement here to slash visa fee requirements by more than 50 percent for nationals from the two countries to ensure effective economic development. A visa issued in three days for a single entry that used to attract US$50 ($41 200 at official rate) will now cost US$20 ($16 480) while a double entry visa, which was pegged at US$70 ($57 680), was slashed by 50 percent. A visa valid for six months issued in three days will now cost US$45 ($37 080) from the previous US$200 ($164 800). Elasto Mugwadi, Zimbabwe’s chief immigration officer, on Thursday said the new visa fees would be effective from 1 September 2003. The Zimbabwean official said there should be a total abolition of visas between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, adding that the reduction in visa fees was a step towards complete abolition of visas for nationals of the two countries. Mugwadi said: "This review is the starting point, then we will slowly move towards achieving that goal (of totally abolishing visa requirements). "It had become a concern to both countries that the visa fees were too high. They were an impediment to business development between our countries." Mugwadi’s Mozambican counterpart, Panachande Idrissa Momade, said the bilateral agreement was by mutual consent. Momade said: "This most certainly is going to make the life of businesspeople and the ordinary man easier." The latest development comes in the wake of previous unsuccessful attempts by the Zimbabwean foreign affairs office to abolish and relax the visa requirements through the Zimbabwe-Mozambique Joint Commission. The Mozambicans had in the past reviewed their visa fees upwards on numerous occasions, which had impacted negatively on efforts to have the visa requirements abolished altogether. Both Mozambicans and Zimbabweans have common interests in business, as most local goods have a ready market in the former Portuguese colony. In Mozambique there is ready cash, which is scarce in Zimbabwe, for essential commodities and hardware goods as Mozambique is rebuilding its infrastructure destroyed by a civil war that stretched for nearly two decades.

PM confident that SA will rethink visa issue (Maputo, AIM, 14/08) - Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi expressed confidence that South Africa will rethink its visa policy for Mozambicans as it has proved prejudicial, not only to Mozambicans but also to the South African businesses. Mocumbi made this coment while recalling one more aniversay of the Southern African development Community (SADC), to be celebrated on 17 August. He aknowledged that the new conditions imposed on ordinary Mozambican citizens to obtain a visa to South Africa makes it very difficult for the majority of them to travel to this neighbouring country, and that some South African businesses have complained of losses caused by this policy. Mocumbi noted that this seems to work against the SADC established integration policy, which calls for a free circulation of people and goods, but he explained that it has to do with specific conditions from one country to another, which are being negotiated at bilateral level. He said that, despite some setbacks in the organization's policies towards integration, some positive steps are being implemented, including the trade protocol, the common strategy for the fight against diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, and visa exemption for diplomatic staff. In his briefing, Mocumbi also comented on a document approved by the Ministers Cabinet last week, concerning the renewal of the mandate of the Water Supply Regulating Council, that had ended its three year term. He stressed that the government's policy is not to privatise the water supply services. "Water is an essential public" he said, adding that all that is privatised is the management of the services. He noted, however, that the private management has to abide by certain regulations, to ensure the implementation of the government's policy for this sector, this being the reason for the existence of that body. On the HIV/AIDS, Mocumbi reiterated the government's commitment to grant heath services to the entire Mozambican population, particularly to women and children. He said that it is in the context of this policy, that the Mozambican health services are granting free HIV tests to pregnant women and free drugs to prevent the transmission of the virus from mother to child.

Mozambicans in rush to offload Zimbabwean currency (Harare, The Herald, 08/08) - The intention to phase out $500 notes has triggered panic in Mozambique where large amounts of the bills are stashed. As a result, Mozambican nationals are said to be frequenting the eastern border city of Mutare on shopping sprees in a bid to offload the notes before they cease to be legal tender. A manager with a clothing shop in the city said they were recording above normal sales as most of their customers were coming from across the border.  "Yes we have been having increased sales although these are rising gradually but certainly business has improved ever since the Mozambicans have been coming back to Mutare. "The situation is also the same with grocery shops, they are the only ones that can be seen pushing trolley's full of groceries in some of the major shops," the manager said. The Mozambican nationals were said to be also targeting wholesales in a bid to offload the notes. Some butcheries on the outskirts of the city in the Zimunya area along the Mutare-Masvingo highway are said to running out of meat due to the influx of shoppers from Mozambique. "The Mozambicans have literally invaded this place because they are buying meat in bulk, we are having to increase the frequencies with which we have to acquire new supplies due to increased demand," said Mr Mike Mazano who is employed in one of the butcheries in Zimunya. However, bank officials in the city said there had been little improvement in the deposits of $500 notes. "It seems that these people are avoiding the banking system or rather they do not have bank accounts so the only logical way of disposing of the local currency is by re-introducing the money in the system through retail outlets," the bank official said. The development comes hard at the heels of indications that moneychangers in Zambia are making concerted effort to get rid of the local currency before it seizes to be legal tender within the next two months. Billions of dollars in local currency especially $500 notes are said to be awash in neighbouring countries especially Mozambique and Zambia and as far afield as the United Kingdom. Zimbabwe has been battling with an acute shortage of notes, which has resulted in many people failing to access their money through banks. Although the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has injected about $24 billion into the market, the situation has remained unchanged as people continue to queue for their money. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Herbert Murerwa recently announced that the RBZ would soon introduce a $1,000 bill which is expected to ease the cash shortage while the $500 note was expected to be phased out. A new $500 bill would soon be introduced into the market.

Namibia

High tariffs still hurting exports to Angola (The Namibian Economist, 29/08) - The Namibian business community is still faced with the problem of high tarriffs on the Angolan borders. This follows the engagement of a British company, Crown Agency, by the Angolan authorities, to collect revenue on behalf of the state The chief executive of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) said on Wednesday that reports reaching the chamber still indicate that the problem which has been going on for most of the year has persisted. “We understand that the Angolan government is doing what it can to resolve the problem” NCCI chief executive Tarah Shaanika told the Economist. He said the move has hit hard at Namibian exporters, since most of them are small scale companies. “ We are in contact with the Angolan Chamber of Commerce, and we are optimistic that a more favourable trade regime will be put in place” said Shaanika. He said having 'normal' custom procedures may take time as Angola is still recovering from the affects of a long running civil war which ended last year. He said the reduction of the tariffs will help Namibian exporters compete with large corporations from Brazil, Portugal and South Africa. “By world standards most of Namibian companies can be classifiled as SME's” he said. He said trade with Angola has dropped “signifanctly” ever since Crown Agency started its operations. Shaanika however remained optimistic that the matter will be resolved. “It is not beyond repair” he told the Economist. Regarding trade with the north, the NCCI boss said the country's northern regions stand to benefit from trade with Angola, given their proximity to the country. “ Angolans have the purchasing power, trade with them will create jobs” said Shaanika. On the Northen Railway Extension Project, Shaanika said the project will lower transport costs and increase the volume of goods going into Angola.“We hope it will work to the advanatage of our exporters” he said. The extension project includes the construction of a railway line from Tsumeb to Ondangwa and then to Oshakati and Oshikango. Shaanika hopes the Angolan government will extend the project into Angola. The project is due for complexion in 2007.

Union to take Home Affairs Minister to court (The Namibian, 08/08) - The Namibian Public Workers' Union (Napwu) is to take Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo to court over a "unilateral" decision to transfer certain functions from immigration officials to the Police. Napwu will file papers today asking the Labour Court to put a stop to Ekandjo's plans. The application is being brought against Government, the Minister, the Inspector General of the Police and the Public Service Commission (PSC). Announcing the decision at a press briefing in Windhoek yesterday, Napwu's General Secretary, Petrus Nevonga, said "the Minister's (Ekandjo) conduct against employees is an insult to Namibian workers". Napwu contends that Ekandjo's decision to transfer immigration functions to the Police is unlawful because changing conditions of employment is subject to union negotiation. As such, the union says, the move contravenes both the Labour Act and a recognition agreement between Napwu and Government. The move is also said to contravene the Police Act. Napwu argues further that by putting a stop to the immigration officers' protest two weeks ago and refusing to receive their petition, Ekandjo breached the conditions of collective bargaining as outlined in the Labour Act. The Inspector General of the Police, Lukas Hangula, is cited because he obeyed Ekandjo's alleged instruction to put an end to the protest. Napwu is also taking issue with Hangula for allowing the transfer of immigration functions to his service, despite the Police Act not making provision for this. The union's legal representatives have also been instructed to file a civil claim for damages for the arrest and detention of General Secretary of the Namibian Farmworkers' Union (Nafwu), Alfred Angula, at the march. Yesterday Nevonga shot down Minister Ekandjo's claim that Cabinet endorsed the decision to allow the transfer of immigration functions to the Police. Napwu is also taking issue with the Minister over the Immigration Control Act of 1993. The union charges that the Immigration Department has never operated in line with the Immigration Control Act of 1993. Further, the union says Act has also not been amended to incorporate proposed changes to the immigration officials conditions of service. Cited among alleged Home Affairs Ministry's violations of the Act, is the failure to appoint a Chief Immigration Officer under which the department should resort.
According to Nevonga, after extensive consultations by the union in 2001, recommendations were made to bring the department in line with the Act. He said the PSC was working on these recommendations last year but, he claimed, apparently Ekandjo stopped the process earlier this year. Dave Smuts will represent the union.

Home Affairs Minister confirms role for police (The Namibian, 05/08) - Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo says moves to transfer the security duties of immigration officials to the Police will go ahead as planned despite attempts by workers and trade unions to fight it. Ekandjo ignored numerous requests by The Namibian for comment on recent allegations by the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) against him concerning his refusal to accept a petition from the workers at a protest on July 24. Yesterday Home Affairs spokesperson Mikka Asino referred this newspaper to an article in Namibia Today, saying Ekandjo had given the Swapo weekly "an exclusive interview" and that there was nothing more to add. The article quotes Ekandjo as saying: "We are going ahead with the transference of some of those functions. There is no going back. We are not going to compromise the security of the country". Ekandjo is quoted as saying the decision to remove security functions from immigration officials is not his own, but rather a resolution taken at last year's Swapo Party Congress. "This is not Jerry Ekandjo's decision. This is the decision of the Congress which is the highest decision-making body of the party (Swapo). All card-carrying members of the party must abide by it," Ekandjo is quoted as saying in the article. The Minister also said that none of the immigration officials will lose their jobs as a result of the planned move. He told the Swapo mouthpiece that the immigration officials' conditions of employment will not be changed, and those affected by the decision will be required to carry out other immigration functions such as issuing permits and passports. Yesterday NUNW President Risto Kapenda told The Namibian that he was pleased to hear that the Minister had "shifted" his position from earlier saying that an additional 400 Police officers would be recruited to take over border control and that none of the officials stand to lose their jobs. But he added that it was not good for Ekandjo to take the decision alone. "There is no scope for him to go it alone without consultation with the union," said Kapenda. The union leader said even though the officials' conditions of employment might not be changed dramatically, the removal of a function agreed to by the union on their behalf still required consultation. Kapenda says in the light of these developments he sees an amicable solution to the matter and that he will enter into negotiations today with an unnamed figure to resolve the impasse.

Namibia and Angola embrace conservation beyond borders (The Namibian, 05/08) - Government on Friday entered into an agreement with Angola to pave the way for a cross-border conservation area. Minister of Environment and Tourism Philemon Malima and the Angolan Minister for Urbanism and Environment, Virgillio de Fontes Perreira, kickstarted the development of a transfrontier park comprising the Iona National Park in southern Angola (15 150 square kilometres) and Namibia's Skeleton Coast Park (16 390 square kilometres). Malima said the park will improve the conservation status of the northern Namib Desert as well as create tourism opportunities for the people of the area. Perreira said better conservation was among his government's plans to rebuild the country after the war as it could lead to creating employment opportunities through tourism, thereby helping reduce poverty. Namibia will play a large role in the rehabilitation of the Iona Park and has already helped Angola with aerial assessments of the status of the area which is still riddled with landmines, making land investigations difficult. The park has similar fauna to the northern areas of the Skeleton Park and is teeming with large game as well as livestock, but Perreira says their movement needs to be better controlled. Angola is also revising its hunting policy to curb exploitation of the area. A meeting of officials from both countries is scheduled to take place in Luanda before the end of the month to speed up activities on the transborder initiative.  Namibia also signed a park pact with South Africa on Friday - officially establishing the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

Immigration officials protest plan (The Namibian, 01/08) - The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) yesterday gave Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo an ultimatum: receive a petition from immigration officials - in public - or face the consequences. Should the Minister fail to consider grievances raised in the petition, the NUNW says it will seek intervention from a higher authority. They declined to specify who they have in mind. The umbrella union threw down the gauntlet at a press briefing inWindhoek after spurning a request from Ekandjo yesterday to meet with them to iron out issues related to last week's demonstration by immigration officials. Immigration officials took to the streets to protest Ekandjo's moves to transfer their duties and functions to the Police. The NUNW has said it is not prepared to engage with the Minister in any way, unless he publicly receives the immigration officials' petition and considers their grievances. "You can't humiliate and brutalise people, then say you want to talk. That is an insult to people's integrity. We cannot allow him to disrespect the workers and he expects them to respect him," NUNW President Risto Kapenda told a media briefing in Windhoek. On Wednesday the Namibia Farmworkers' Union (Nafwu) demanded that Ekandjo be removed from office, charging that he disrespects the rights of workers. The union also wants the Minister to drop charges against Nafwu General Secretary Alfred Angula, who was arrested at the demonstration for allegedly interfering with the execution of Police duties. Ekandjo deployed Police and paramilitary officers to block the immigration officials from marching to his office to present their petition to him. Unionists were up in arms as they had written to the Police, Ekandjo and the Windhoek Municipality to inform them of the march and planned petition hand-over. Yesterday Kapenda spelled out that the Home Affairs Ministry is a very special one in any country and the person who runs it must be someone who understands the people and his country. "We are not condemning the Ministry of Home Affairs. We are clear who is the problem. Jerry as a person is the problem. He is the person we are condemning," Kapenda said. The umbrella union also spoke out strongly against the use of force at last Thursday's demonstration. It described the use of force as uncalled for, "unlawful and the work of an insane mind". The NUNW says despite the fact that uniformed civil servants are not permitted to affiliate to a trade union, the benefits the Police force have obtained over the years, have been as a result of negotiations between unions and the Government. "Now the Police are commanded to fire at people who have been negotiating their salaries," said an outraged Kapenda. Numerous attempts by The Namibian to reach the Minister yesterday for comment both at his office and on his cellphone, proved fruitless.

Refugees arrested following food fracas (The Namibian Economist, 01/08) -Police said on Tuesday that 20 refugees from country's biggest refugee camp had been arrested, following a demonstration in protest of reductions in their monthly food rations. Police spokesman, Angula Amulungu, said the refugees will be charged with inciting violence and obstructing law enforcement officers. “Some of them were even trying to beat up police officers,” Amulungu told the Economist. The refugees, at the Osire camp, had on Monday refused to accept the rations which had been cut by half. The rations were cut from and 12 to six kilograms of the staple, maize meal. The World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday said it has been forced to reduce the maize meal rations, following a ban on the import of maize meal by the government. The government imposed the ban to encouarage the buying of maize from local farmers during the harvest period. The head of the WFP in Namibia, Abdirahman Meygag, said in an interview that the ban had affected the UN agency's supplies to the more than 20 000 refugees for July. The refugees are mainly from Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Buying maize in Namibia is twice as expensive as buying from South Africa,” said Meygag. He said maize from South Africa costs the WFP about US$140, a tonne. while buying it in Namibia costs US$280 per tonne. He said the WFP had written to government to have the agency exempted from the import ban. The government will take a decision on Thursday. Meygag said if the government does not rescind the decision, the WFP will have no maize meal to hand out to the refugees next month. “Even if the maize meal is available locally, the problem is that the price is too expensive,” said Meygag.

South Africa

Threat to sue gold firms greeted with dismay (Business Report, 29/08) -A veiled threat by a London-based lawyer that he might sue South African gold mining companies on behalf of former mineworkers who suffer from occupational lung diseases, was greeted with dismay yesterday. Richard Spoor, a Nelspruit occupational health specialist attorney, said his law firm had been working closely with the National Union of Mineworkers on a campaign to achieve justice for former mineworkers, economic empowerment and the development of the rural areas. There was in-principle support in the gold mining industry and an appreciation that the legacy of mining needed to be addressed. "It's also an opportunity to address the whole apartheid reparations." A "hit-and-run approach and cherry-picking" was not the way to do it, and there had to be sustained and multilateral initiatives to find an all-embracing solution, Spoor said. He was speaking after Richard Meeran, of the London law firm Leigh, Day & Co, said this week that former gold miners from the Welkom area had sought his firm's assistance with possible claims or compensation for silicosis and phthisis (silicosis with tuberculosis) against South African mining companies. Meeran represented 7 500 South Africans in the London high court in a multimillion-pound damages lawsuit against British multinational Cape plc for asbestos-related diseases. Cape settled out of court after protracted litigation. It then reneged on an offer to pay £21 million, and eventually paid £7.5 million in compensation. Meeran said that whereas the asbestos industry had been made to pay worldwide for its past misconduct, the gold mining industry had to date "escaped virtually scot-free". "In the meantime we shall continue our investigations with a view to instigating legal proceedings in the near future should the companies adopt an intransigent attitude," Meeran said. These companies now needed to consider the setting up of a substantial compensation scheme.

Dan Mofokeng, the spokesperson for the Bond Victims' Association: "We have assisted at least 1 000 gold miners in the Welkom area. "Silicosis and phthisis have devastated the region. Sick miners and their families have been left jobless and impoverished. Our attempts to secure compensation have been rejected by the companies. The victims are left with no option but to pursue legal action." Spoor said Meeran might see an opportunity for a quick profit, but "the problem of justice for South African mine workers is a far bigger and more complex issue than Meeran might appreciate. "There is no doubt whatsoever that there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of South African mine workers suffering from occupational lung diseases that they have not properly compensated for. "There is a heavy legal and moral burden on the mining companies and the state to address this matter." While there was a need for a regional and all-inclusive settlement, there was also a need for legal reform in the field of workmen's compensation, with a significant economic and political component to this problem, Spoor said. Enver Daniels, the chief state law adviser, said it was of critical importance that South Africa did not encourage actions by foreign lawyers that would harm the economy and undermine efforts to eradicate poverty and provide for all and also impair its sovereignty and dignity as a nation. Daniels said the issue of apartheid was an emotional, sensitive one. Throughout South Africa, people, particularly workers, suffered and died as a result of the policies associated with that system. However, South Africa was now a sovereign state, which played a significant role in international affairs. "We have also developed excellent partnerships with all sectors of civil society, including business, to deal with past issues. "The question of damages sustained by South Africans under apartheid, either through their conditions of employment or through other factors, must be dealt with by South Africans in South African courts."

SA land of hope for Zimbabwe workers (Cape Argus, 29/08) -  Zimbabwean Kenneth Khumalo has worked in South Africa for nearly a decade and says the turmoil at home is unlikely to see him return any time soon. With unemployment hovering above 70%, many Zimbabweans have sought work in South Africa and Botswana while thousands of others have  gone as far as Britain, the United States and Australia. The Zimbabwean exodus has gathered pace as President Robert Mugabe's government faces its sharpest economic and political crisis since independence from Britain in 1980. While Mugabe and his political opponents wrestle over how to pull the country out of its mess, more and more Zimbabweans are voting with their feet - joining a flow of economic refugees that poses new problems for both Zimbabwe and its neighbours. Khumalo, born Kenneth Sibanda, adopted the more South African surname Khumalo to get "more of a South African feel", an indication he is ready to stay in his adopted country. "I still have friends and relatives in Zimbabwe, but I only see them once a year at Christmas. There is nothing to draw me back home permanently," said Khumalo, who left Zimbabwe's southwestern city of Bulawayo after leaving school in 1992. Mugabe's critics, led by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) say he has mismanaged the country during his more than two decades in power, leading to acute shortages of foreign currency, food, fuel and - increasingly - patience. White-collar Zimbabweans, who once enjoyed one of Africa's most promising economies, have seen their standard of living drop and many are now leaving the country to take up menial jobs abroad working as bus drivers, street cleaners and hotel workers, often illegally. "It is hard sometimes, you never completely get over the homesickness," said Khumalo, who said he was in South Africa legally.

The influx of Zimbabweans has raised hackles in South Africa, which has its own serious unemployment problem and where locals increasingly accuse foreigners of taking scarce jobs. Figures from South Africa's latest national census show that 41.6%  of adult South Africans lacked formal work in 2001. Among majority blacks, one in two people were unemployed. South African statistics say almost 47 000 Zimbabweans were legally resident in the county in 2001, but officials estimate that about one million more are in the country illegally and say some 3 000 to 4 000 are deported each month. Zimbabwe, too, is struggling to cope with what amounts to a serious brain drain. The country's health and education sectors have been hit particularly hard as salaries for teachers and medical workers fail to keep pace with Zimbabwe's rocketing inflation, currently rated among the highest in the world at nearly 400%. Zimbabwe government doctors went on strike in June, complaining that a
recent evaluation and pay review of public sector jobs had whittled away their already unsatisfactory monthly wage. The Harare-based Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre says more than 479 000 Zimbabweans work outside the country, mainly in South Africa, Botswana, Britain and the United States - but the opposition and human rights agencies say the hardships at home have driven many more people out. South Africa is the nearest land of opportunity and has the added advantage of allowing Zimbabweans to visit home regularly and send back essential commodities unavailable there.

Work may be better in South Africa, but many Zimbabweans still long to return home and avidly read Zimbabwe's newspapers online to track political and economical developments. "It all looks gloomy at the moment, but I believe one day I will be able to return to a more prosperous Zimbabwe," said Thulani Dube, another Zimbabwean who works at the same hotel as Khumalo in Johannesburg's posh Sandton district. Zimbabweans abroad remain divided about what has brought their homeland so low. Khumalo and Dube agree that whoever is to blame, the road to recovery will be long and hard.

Lawsuit looms against gold mining houses (Bloemfontein, Mail & Guardian, 28/08) - Another possible legal suit against South African mining houses loomed on Wednesday when a British legal firm announced its representation of former gold mineworkers. The miners are claiming compensation from mining companies for allegedly contracting silicosis and pthysis (silicosis with tuberculosis) in their mines. Richard Meeran from the London-based law firm Leigh, Day & Co confirmed on Wednesday that they were registering potential claimants. The firm successfully assisted South African miners suffering from asbestosis to claim from Cape plc and Thor Chemicals. When asked how many silicosis and pthysis sufferers were involved, Meeran said they could be at least as many -- or even more -- than the asbestosis claimants. He foresaw registering claimants countrywide, and even across South African borders in Lesotho and Botswana, where migrant workers lived. Meeran said they were "very keen" on constructive dialogue with the mining houses, aimed at an out-of-court settlement agreement. The companies seriously needed to consider establishing a substantial compensation scheme, and he would be inviting them to discuss this with the legal team. "In the meantime we shall continue our investigations with a view to instigating legal proceedings in the near future should the companies adopt an intransigent attitude." He said the country's gold mining companies should have been expecting claims against them since the Cape plc and Gencor cases. Silicosis and pthysis have been recognised in South Africa for almost a century. "I am surprised that they have managed to get away with this for so long," Meeran said. There were striking similarities between the asbestosis and silicosis issues, he explained. Both diseases were caused by the inhalation of excessive levels of dust arising from mining operations. Both could cause debilitating and even fatal respiratory diseases. The evidence of negligence on the part of both asbestos and gold mining industries was overwhelming and shocking, Meeran said.

He said although asbestosis, silicosis and pthysis were compensatable under the Occupational Diseases, Mines and Works Act, the legislation did not provide any compensation for "pain and suffering". Meeran has met this week with former mineworkers in Welkom on the Free State Gold Fields. The meeting was organised by the Bond Victims' Association, a local support group for silicosis and pthysis sufferers. According to group leader Dan Mofokeng several hundred people attended. Meeran said on Wednesday they would have fairly intensive discussions with potential claimants from now on. The Welkom miners were employed at various gold mines in the area, with most of them now being owned by Anglo Gold. Other major companies which did gold mining in the Welkom area included Goldfields and Harmony. Anglogold spokesperson Steve Lenahan said it was difficult to comment as they had not yet been officially notified of any claim. The Occupational Diseases, Mines and Works Act both enabled miners to claim compensation and protected mining companies from civil suits, he said. The companies assisted suffering workers to claim from the state-run fund and provided extensive healthcare services in both urban and rural areas, Lenahan said.A representative from the Chamber of Mines could not be reached for comment.

Stiffer visa requirements for Zimbabweans (Harare, Cape Times, 28/08) -The South African government has imposed stiff visa requirements on Zimbabweans wanting to visit South Africa, demanding a deposit of Z$300 000. The South African High Commission also demands that people applying for visas produce a "letter of invitation" from the person they will be staying with in the country and proof of accommodation. The move, which has been criticised by many Zimbabweans, was introduced because the SA government has grown weary of "fake documents" produced by Zimbabweans. An official in the South African High Commission denied that everyone applying for a visa would be made to leave a Z$300 000 deposit.  "It's only those who fail to meet the other visa requirements," Kennedy Shisvo said "What we've had is up to 60 or 70 people producing letters inviting them to South Africa, all written by the same person at the same address. That's ridiculous." Still, one regular business visitor to South Africa complained that he had been told to leave a Z$300 000 bank guaranteed cheque with the High Commission. Speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared his next application would be refused, he said: "It's all very well, but while you're out of Zim your cheque loses about 2% of its value for each day you're out of the country because of inflation."  Shisvo said the main culprits forging documents to enter SA were the thousands of cross-border traders who roam between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Many sell goods at Johannesburg flea markets before returning to Zimbabwe with electronic goods and food sought after in Harare. Beit Bridge, less than 20 kilometres north of Messina, is Africa's busiest border crossing where hundreds of people wait for hours every day under the blistering lowveld sun for their papers to be processed.

Gauteng launches plans to lure tourists (Pretoria, BuaNews, 27/08) - The Gauteng tourism authority (GTA) has vowed to use September - set aside as Tourism Month - to aggressively sell the province as a 24-hour destination for tourists around the globe. The provincial tourism authority says it will sponsor a number of events including the ongoing South African Fashion Week, Joy of Jazz, wine and gay pride festivals, where it will encourage tourists to spend money on entertainment, at shopping malls, and other interesting tourist attractions in the province. The GTA will use the festivities to entice local and foreign tourists to the country's economic hub, which boasts a vibrant multimillion Rand entertainment industry, a sports crazy community as well as impressive telecommunication and transport facilities and a number of sophisticated world class business facilities, amongst others. Unveiling its plans today to mark the Tourism Month, GTA chief executive officer Terry Tselane said his organisation would use the impressive shopping, business, sports, cultural, historical and heritage sites to attract tourists to the 'pulse' of the country. The authority is currently negotiating its way around the continent's four regional blocks in a persuasive bid to lure tourists to spend their currencies on anything good and fashionable the province has to offer. Tourists from African countries spent about R10-billion in Gauteng last year alone by simply shopping at the province's many clothing, food and manufacturing retail stores. GTA has since started negotiations with Nigeria and Kenya for a deal expected to pave the way for the authority to use the two countries as the venture's launching pad. The provincial tourism authority will also exploit the newly appointed South African tourism managers in foreign countries to facilitate the opening up of western markets particularly in France, United Kingdom and Germany. The 'smart' province attracts traditionally business tourists, who come to the country's economic hub to seal business deals as well as to attend the domestic and international conferences especially in Sandton, Pretoria, Midrand and other attractive places. Last year, Gauteng received 54.6 percent of the total international tourists who visited the country while 63 percent of local tourists made their way to the province otherwise known as 'The place of Gold.'

Agreement to slow outflow of nurses (SABC News, 27/08) - South Africa is about to sign an agreement with two European countries to slow down the outflow of nursing staff to the developed world. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the Health Ministers, says while nurses cannot be forced to stay, their services are at a premium in South Africa. "We are just about to sign an agreement with Britain and with the Netherlands, .... because indeed they're sought after." Poor working conditions and a lack of incentives are some of the reasons why nurses are looking for greener pastures. Ruth France, the head of the South African Nursing Council, says they need to be more patriotic. "We need to instill patriotism into our education of nurses. Nurses must believe that they need to be here with their people looking after the interests of the people of South Africa."  Tshabalala-Msimang says negotiations continue with the ministry of public services and administration on the compensation of nurses, especially those working in rural areas.

African refugees in Cape Town (Cape Argus, 26/08) - Refugees fleeing conflicts in Africa are becoming an increasingly significant element of Cape Town society. They are often ostracised, despised or misjudged. They are called amakwerekwere - strangers - and many have been brutally treated. In the second of a two-part series, the Cape Argus finds out about the lives of two refugees whose hopes of finding a safe haven among African brothers have been destroyed. I will never forget the fateful day I returned home sick from work. I got into bed and asked the people I was living with to help me and buy some Panado and Med-Lemon. I gave them R5 for the medicine, but they bought poison instead. When I took the tablets I immediately lost consciousness. That was when they threw the paraffin on me and set it alight. I woke up weeks later in the hospital's intensive care unit where I was kept alive with the support of oxygen, drips and blood. When I regained consciousness, the doctors told me both my legs had been amputated; it was the only way to save my life. I was shocked and sad, very sad. I wished to end my life. There was very little I could do. I tried to understand how this could have happened to me. When I first came to South Africa I was told that there was a lot of xenophobia between the citizens and refugees, especially in the townships. But I did not believe someone could hurt me merely because I was a refugee. In Angola, it was easy to know who your enemy was; you could see them carrying their guns and shooting at any living thing. It was easier to hide from these people. In Angola, we knew how to stay alive even though it was stressful having to look behind you for fear of being kidnapped. That is what war is all about. But here in South Africa, I did not know who to be afraid of. Other people had been here before me and were living in peace. I did not expect to become a victim again. I tried my best not to anger anyone. I did my job honestly and respectfully, and yet that did not protect me from the hatred of my flatmates. I was in hospital for two years and most of this time I hovered between life and death. It is hard for me to remember this story. It makes me sad and angry.

But I have also accepted the situation and I am trying to move on with my life. Sometimes I feel lonely and isolated. But I trust in the protection of God, who has kept me alive. Nine years ago, when I left Angola, I was only trying to escape a situation that I did not have control over. I was born in 1976 and by then the war in my country had been going on for decades. We tried to get the little education we could. I never thought that one day I would be without my parents. Life with my family was good. I would have been a different person today if things had not changed for the worse. I have never known peace. It was a hard life in Angola and even going out to the shop was a risk. Sometimes people locked themselves up in their homes for weeks or months, not knowing when bombs were going to fall. We young people were always watched by our parents, because we were a target for either the rebels or the government. We could be taken away if we were found in the wrong place at the wrong time. In 1987 I lost my mother to the war. That is when my family started to disintegrate. When my mother was killed, we realised that living in Angola was not safe and not worth it any more. We were scared, but my father thought the best thing to do was to stay and wait for the war to end. There were peace talks all the time, and the population hoped that peace could come at any time. We waited for years but as time went by I began to be afraid for my life. I did not want to end up in the army as did most boys my age. After my mother died, I began to rely on my father for protection. He used to say to me that maybe he was not going to be there all the time. But I hoped he would always be there to protect me. In 1992 my father and my brother were attending a conference in Luanda. The place came under attack and they lost their lives. This was a nightmare for me and my sister. I was 16 and she was only a baby. I was confused and very afraid. I did not know what to do. I took my sister to one of my uncles and I tried to survive on my own. It was hard, but I tried to raise some money that could take me to a safer place. The last thing I wanted was to end up in the army. I prayed to God to show me a way out.

In 1993 I decided to leave my homeland to look for a place where I could forget the traumas of wars. It was difficult to travel as a young person because all they wanted was for us to stay and fight the war. I did not want to think about the war and what it had done to my family. I needed to go away as far as I could. I did not know where I was going to and that's why I could not take my sister. She was too young for me to look after. I left her so I could find a safe place before coming back to fetch her. I crossed the border into Namibia. But I discovered that it was not very safe there, since it is still very close to my country and some people were being sent back. I met some friends who knew about other countries and we decided to travel to South Africa. All I was looking for was safety, to stay alive. I never thought I was running away to my grave. After what happened to me in South Africa, I believe that staying in Angola, even to fight to avenge the death of my family, would have been better. If I was hurt fighting for my country I would feel much better than I do now. But I have to move on. Feeling sorry for myself is just making it worse. Most of the way we travelled on foot and by truck. When I arrived in Cape Town, I immediately wrote to my uncle to inform him where I was. My plan was to raise some money and bring my sister here. When I was a child, I always thought that if I grew up I was going to help my parents with whatever they needed. That dream was shattered when they died. But I made a promise to myself to take care of my sister for as long as she needed me. When I arrived here, I tried to live an honest life. I worked hard to find a job. In the first few years it was very difficult. But I did not give up. I worked hard just to stay alive. I learnt the language and did my best to study to improve my life. In 1998, I found a job at the Waterfront. I decided to rent a place in Salt River, closer to my work. I was sharing the place with some South African brothers.

But sometimes I used to feel that they did not like me because I was not from this country and because I was working nicely and my boss liked me a lot. They used to make angry statements about these things, but I did not know that their hatred was so deep, that they could hate me enough to try to kill me. I trusted them as fellow Africans, and if I had food, money, or drink, we always shared it. I had other Angolan friends whom I could have lived with but I said to myself that a brother is a brother.
I trusted them with my life and they burnt me in my sleep. I am angry but I have forgiven them and I pray that the Lord who kept me alive kept me for a purpose. I pray I will be able to move on with the life I have now. I think about my home but it hurts because there is no one left there for me any more. I cannot go back because it will only bring bad memories. I do not know where my sister is. A lot of people told my family that I had been killed. So they forgot about me after three years of not hearing from me. The last news I heard was that my uncle was no longer in Angola. It hurts to know that the people who did this to me are walking free. No one has ever asked them why they did this to me. I was told that the government couldn't help me because I am not a citizen of this country. It is hard to survive in a wheelchair. It is very hard for someone like me who was able to do things for myself. Now I need a lot of help with my daily needs. I even need help going to the toilet. Sometimes I go for days without food and soap for my body and the basic necessities. Most of my life is spent in the hospital. Sometimes I miss the doctor's appointment because I don't have any transport. Life in the Ark in Faure, where I stay, is hard as most of the residents are disabled themselves and it is very difficult to find someone who can help me. But even though I am in a wheelchair, I have got my hands and I have learnt to use them. I do things that are amazing even to me. I still believe in my future. I am a professional shoemaker now. If I had enough capital I could start a business. I hope someone will help me with tools or money, so I can earn a living.

I hope that some day I can become what I always wanted to be: somebody who can make a difference. I do not have anyone left for me now, but I still want to help myself and the needy people around me, the people who have been there for me. I consider them my family. I was told to take the people who did this to me to court, but there is nothing I can do. I see them all the time. The only fear I have is that they may come back and try to finish me off. I pray for them to change their minds and think of everyone as a human being. We did not come here just for the pleasure. We ran away from the troubles in our countries. We need acceptance and love. The refugee problem is a worldwide one. I cannot say that it is a South African problem alone. We, as people of the world, must accept each other because we do not know where we will meet tomorrow.
I would like to appeal to the South African government to help refugees find a new life. They should give refugees good documents that can help us lead normal lives. The government can also help disabled people. Maybe a small grant can help us feel wanted and useful in society. I also hope that whoever reads my story will reach out and help in any way possible. God bless.

Brain drain shrinks mental care (Johannesburg, Sunday Times, 24/08) - South Africa has only 91 state psychiatrists, each responsible for about 440 000 patients . This week, the president of the South African Society of Psychiatrists, Dr Eugene Allers, said the state had just a third of the psychiatrists it needed, while the private health sector had 234 (a ratio of one to 33 000). Emigration, he said, was the main reason for the shortage in the public sector, coupled with the loss of psychiatrists to private practice. Roughly one in seven South Africans has a diagnosable mental illness, Allers added . The national director of the South African Federation for Mental Health, Solly Mokgata, said: "Without access to services, a lot of people with psychiatric illnesses end up on the street, where they are open to abuse or they end up committing abuses." The national Health Department's policy is to deliver mental care as part of its primary healthcare services, yet professionals this week said these services were often over-extended or simply unobtainable. In the past, psychiatric nurses played a crucial role in managing mental health patients, said Allers. "But now the posts for psychiatric nurses have virtually disappeared." Mental illnesses are usually treatable, with only about 10% of patients needing hospitalisation. Dr Sean Kaliski, head of the Forensic Unit at Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town, said: "We constantly have about 40 to 50 people waiting for observation as we only have 15 beds." South Africa has 19 specialised psychiatric hospitals. Allers said suicide rates were rising in black communities and rural areas. A recent study of 30 suicides in the Transkei linked 87% of them to poverty and 23% to alcoholism. For further information, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on (011) 783- 1474 or visit www.anxiety.org.za

SANDF exaggerates illegal immigration (SABC News, 23/08) - They come to South Africa looking for a better life, but many of the five to 10 million foreigners living here, are without papers. Jabulani Mngomezulu of the SA National Defence Force, says there are thousands from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Nigeria. During a raid for illegal immigrants in the Hillbrow and Berea areas, a suspect was caught driving a suspicious car with no passport and could not understand English. He was booked as an illegal immigrant. Police fight this problem with arrests and deportations. While many ordinary South Africans fight it with stigmatisation and violence. "They call them the foreigners. They say let's grab them..." says Aaron Aasboel, a Hillbrow resident. The never-ending tide of immigrants is a strain on South Africa's limited resources. However, many of those deported find their way back here. Some in search of crime while many just wanting a better life.

Nursing staff leave in droves (Pretoria News, 22/08) - More than a third of the nursing posts at the Pretoria Academic Hospital are vacant and nurses continue to leave. This was revealed by the assistant director at the hospital, Dr Kobie Marais, who said the drop in staff numbers was a clear indication of how the exodus of nurses from State hospitals to private hospitals or out of the country was affecting major hospitals like Pretoria Academic. Other hospitals like Ga-Rankuwa and Kalafong have also seen an exodus of nurses in recent months but it seems that Academic is the hardest hit with 550 vacancies. The hospital has provision for a total nursing complement of 1 600. She said the hospital, like many others in the province, was currently understaffed and people overworked. This year alone, the hospital lost 57 nurses, 22 of whom left for the private sector or hospitals abroad. In Kalafong, 17 nurses have resigned in the past six months, while Ga-Rankuwa lost 34 nurses. The hospitals each have a complement of 900 and 1 500 respectively. Marais said the Academic had to pay between R1,8-million and R2-million a month to agencies which supply them with extra "contract" nurses. She said units like maternity, ICU and theatres - which needed skilled and experienced nurses - were finding it particularly hard to cope.  The Pretoria News recently reported that Pretoria Academic had to send patients needing surgery home as there were not enough beds open to keep them in hospital. Sister Lorraine Verven, of the emergency unit, has been working at the hospital for 23 years. She said she had noticed how the workload had increased as more and more staff resigned from the hospital. "Almost all my friends have left for other hospitals," she said. Verven said that instead of 52 nursing staff that the unit required, there were only 40 nurses. This meant that they had to work as much as 10 hours more overtime than usual trying to keep up with the workload. They normally do about 48 hours overtime a week. "We can't really say we cope well, because more people suffer exhaustion and stress," Verven said, adding that abusive behaviour from patients aggravated the situation. Asked how they managed to continue working under such trying circumstances, Verven said they conducted debriefing sessions in which they encouraged each other. Verven said she was one nurse who would not leave the hospital because "I am needed here. There are people who cannot afford private hospital care. They come to our hospital and they need our care".

Court orders deportation of US fugitives (SABC News, 22/08) - A Cape Town magistrate has ordered the deportation of alleged American bank robbers Craig Pritchert and his common-law wife Nova Gutherie. Arrested in the city on Tuesday, they are wanted for a string of crimes committed in six states in the US. Audrey Johnson ordered their deportation following an application by Derek Vogel, a prosecutor of the local Directorate for Public Prosecutions. Johnson said the couple had offered no objections to their deportation and had given an undertaking not to appeal. Pritchert and Gutherie were released from police custody but handed over to Gideon Christian, a home affairs official. They will remain in custody under home affairs control, and are likely to be on their way back to the US on Monday. Vogel told the court home affairs was entitled to keep them in custody for 60 days, but if the couple were not on their way by Monday, they would be by the end of next week. He said the proceedings were in terms of an extradition treaty between South Africa and the US. The bank robberies were extraditable offences. South Africa had received information from Interpol that the couple were living in Cape Town, and had been requested to carry out "provisional arrests". He said it was discovered after their arrests that they were "undesirable persons", which included prohibited foreigners, in terms of immigration legislation. Vogel said extradition and deportation were two different issues -extradition fell under a treaty between the South African justice department and the foreign country wanting the fugitives, while deportation was a home affairs matter. He said home affairs had notified the couple that they were undesirable persons and had served deportation orders on them. A warrant for their removal had also been drawn up, he said.

Biometric ID system raises privacy concerns (Dispatch Online, 22/08) - Fingerprints, DNA and behavioural characteristics are unique and difficult to forge, but using them to identify an individual in the modern world is legally problematic. This is the argument of Cape Town lawyer Kevin van Tonder in an article in the August edition of the SA Law Society's journal, De Rebus. The Cabinet approved a programme for the establishment of a national biometric identification register, Hanis (the Home Affairs National Identification System), in January 1996. Van Tonder argues that what could be a remarkable tool - useful both for the individual, to allow almost fireproof access to information, and for the state, for example in the tracing of criminals - also holds major privacy concerns. "A key principal of privacy is that, generally speaking, people should have control over their personal information." Van Tonder argues that South African common law has been developed by the Constitutional Court, as regards the constitutional right to privacy, but that more is needed. "Based on the continuum of privacy, it is hard to imagine anything more intimate and personal than one's biometric information. It is submitted therefore that in terms of South African law, as it now stands, biometric information will have to be afforded strict protection under the Bill of Rights." Meanwhile, the SA Law Commission has begun investigating privacy and data protection and South Africans could, eventually, have a Privacy Act. The commission's Ananda Louw told Sapa an issue paper would be produced this year, then a discussion paper and draft legislation, and then, hopefully, promulgated law. "We are at the start of our investigation. Yes, we do have concerns," she said. People are using some biometrics now, only regulated - on a voluntary basis - by the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act. Louw said this was an interim measure which would fall away if a Privacy Act was promulgated.  Van Tonder's article argues that, as always, the weak link is the human one. An information officer might easily, without intending to, release information which at face value appeared innocuous, but which provided "the last piece of a puzzle" to the incorrect recipient.

Van Tonder submitted that any release of biometric information without the individual's consent should be regarded as "unreasonable". "However (the relevant sections of the Promotion of Access to Information Act) will fall short in protecting an individual's biometric record as the information officer of the respective public or private body is, in fact, given a discretion whether to release such information or not. "In applying the provisions of these two sections, information officers will have to formulate in their minds what they consider to be unreasonable." This could lead to a very serious problem - that of identity theft. Recently identity theft of a different kind saw Absa Internet banking clients lose money when a hacker accessed their personal accounts. "Uniqueness and difficulty to forge make a biometrics system a potentially powerful authentication or identification tool. The downside, however, is there is a risk that it will be impossible for a person to repudiate a transaction or repair the situation if something has gone wrong. "Once someone steals your biometric information, it remains stolen for life. There is no going back to a secure transaction." Another concern was that individuals could unintentionally reveal more personal information than was necessary, or wanted. "Iris recognition and retinal scans, for example, may reveal information about a person's health." This could lead to discrimination, as could the data profiling biometrics might allow. Perhaps of greater concern: the use of biometrics could increase personal risk from criminals, who might mutilate body parts in order to take advantage of the access these could give to personal information. Van Tonder argued that current SA law was not robust enough to provide adequate protection to biometric privacy. He submitted that biometric privacy be dealt with specifically in any new legislation. But, how soon will the Department of Home Affairs have Hanis up and running?

SA brain drain not a major problem, claims Erwin (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online, 20/08) - The loss of skills caused by the brain drain is not an acute problem for South Africa's economy, Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin said yesterday on Tuesday at the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (Thrip) awards. "I think the return flow is growing. We should not worry if young people go overseas and get experience. This is a good process... as they can bring back those skills to South Africa," he said. In addition to attracting many skills from Africa, Erwin said South Africa was linking up with international research projects to give the country easy access to the international scientific community.  The Cabinet has also looked at fast-tracking technology-based skills, which includes instituting university reforms, creating centres of excellence and the creation of the Setas, Erwin said. "We are also working with the Department of Home Affairs to establish very broad quota-type provisions in the Immigration Act, making it easier for those skills to come into the country," he said. South Africa's ability to use and manipulate knowledge was increasingly becoming one of its greatest strengths, Erwin said. One programme which specifically looks at improving the country's use of knowledge is the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (Thrip). Established in 1991, the initiative has two main aims: to develop the technology needed to solve industrial problems, and to produce highly skilled people to implement the technology. The initiative aims to foster collaboration among industry, higher education institutions and government science, engineering and technology institutions (SETIs). Thrip is "explicitly designed to link tertiary education with the private sector", Erwin said.  The programme is managed by the National Research Foundation and funded by the Department of Trade and Industry and the private sector. For every rand donated by industry, Thrip donates a rand. So far it has supported more than 250 projects, with grants amounting to R130million, which focus on research at technikons and historically black universities.  It promotes technological know-how within the small, medium and micro-enterprise (SMME) sector.

Thrip also aims to increase the number of black and female students who pursue technological and engineering careers. Erwin said the programme was developed with the introduction of democracy, when the government realised that it had to make some structural changes to develop a manufacturing economy. This could not happen if the country was not capable of generating technical capability and people with skills, he said. Thrip was created to get people excited about technology and to expand capability. It was "designed to create momentum and pull more and more people in," he said. Erwin called the basic strategy "integrated manufacturing strategy", which involved taking things the economy was already doing and linking and upgrading them. "This ability to innovative, create and provide solutions... is important," he said. The overall winner of the Thrip awards was Profr Silvan Luyckx, of the University of Witwatersrand, for her research on the development of hard materials for use in global industry. The project aims to help South African producers of hard materials to compete internationally.  Hard materials are important in industry as the harder a product, the lower the wear. "Technology is going somewhere and South Africa is going somewhere," Erwin said.

Legal battle to protect immigrants from 'arbitrary' detention (Johannesburg, Cape Times, 20/08) - The Constitutional Court yesterday heard arguments in support of a Pretoria High Court decision to make immigration counters at South African ports of entry less threatening to those seeking entry into the country. Advocate Anton Katz, on behalf of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and US citizen Ann Francis Eveleth, was seeking to extend the rights and protection given to "illegal foreigners" arrested within South Africa and detained, sometimes indefinitely, at South African airports and harbours. Stories were rife of South Africans turned away at border posts by officials who alleged their travel documents were false and legal residents with foreign passports having difficulty re-entering South Africa, the court heard. At the heart of the problem were the discretionary powers vested in immigration officials by the Immigration Act. Pretoria High Court Judge Ben du Plessis earlier this year struck down a subsection of the new Immigration Act as unconstitutional and scrapped a phrase from another act. Eveleth was arrested in Sandton last year under the former Aliens Control Act during the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Department of Home Affairs wanted to deport her for working in South Africa after her work permit had expired. During subsequent court battles, which do not form part of the matter before the Constitutional Court, she won her release and the right to work in South Africa. The Constitutional Court must now confirm Du Plessis' s order. Katz conceded that controlling immigration was a legitimate government function. He accepted that control could in some instances lead to would-be entrants' detention pending a review of their status. But he argued that detention could not be "arbitrary" or "without due cause". Katz wanted the Constitutional Court to find that Du Plessis was correct to say "it is not possible notionally or actually to sever the objectionable parts of S34(8) without re-writing the subsection, nor can its unconstitutionality be cured by reading words into the section". In reply, advocate David Unterhalter, for the minister and director-general of home affairs, argued the Constitutional Court should not confirm Du Plessis's judgment for several reasons. He said neither LHR nor Eveleth had the legal standing required to approach the court. He further argued that the Pretoria High Court had misread the law, ignored the appeal process provided therein and taken no notice of international practice. Judgment was reserved.

Concourt hears argument on Immigration Act (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online, 20/08) - The Constitutional Court yesterday heard arguments in support of a Pretoria High Court decision to make immigration counters at South African ports of entry less hazardous to those seeking entry into the country. Advocate Anton Katz, on behalf of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) as well as land activist and United States citizen Ann Francis Eveleth, was seeking to extend the rights and protection given to so-called "illegal foreigners" arrested within South Africa and detained, sometimes indefinitely, at South African airports and harbours. In the Pretoria High Court in April this year, Judge Ben du Plessis struck down a subsection of the new Immigration Act as unconstitutional and scrapped a phrase from another Act. Eveleth was arrested in Sandton last year under the former Aliens Control Act. The Department of Home Affairs at the time wanted to deport her for working in South Africa after her work permit had expired.  During subsequent court battles she won her release and the right to work in South Africa.
The Constitutional Court must now confirm Du Plessis' order. Du Plessis found that "because there was nothing in the Immigration Act to ensure that the notification or declaration (that the would-be entrant was an illegal foreigner) was made only in respect of persons who were at least reasonably suspected of being illegal foreigners, the powers given to immigration officers were arbitrary". Katz argued that Du Plessis was correct in deciding that section S38(8) in total and section S34(2) in part violated the rule of law enshrined in the South African constitution, as well as everyone's right under Section 12 of the Constitution to freedom and security of the person. Katz conceded that controlling immigration was a legitimate government function.

In addition, he accepted that control could in some instances lead to would-be entrants' detention pending a review of their status. But he argued that detention could not be "arbitrary" or "without due cause". He also wanted the court to award his clients' costs. In reply, advocate David Unterhalter, for both the minister and director-general of Home Affairs, argued the Constitutional Court should not confirm Du Plessis' judgment for several reasons. He said neither the LHR nor Eveleth had the legal standing required to approach the court. Allowing what he called a "boot-strap application" to succeed would lead to "busy-body litigation," Unterhalter said. Unterhalter further argued that the Pretoria High Court had misread the law, ignored the appeal process provided therein and had taken no notice of international practice. Judgement was reserved.

Immigration case should be heard, says Sachs (Business Day, 20/08) - The state has asked the Constitutional Court to throw out an order declaring sections of the Immigration Act unconstitutional because the applicants Lawyer's for Human Rights and Ann Eveleth, spokeswoman for the National Land Committee could not be said to be acting in the public interest.  Judge Albie Sachs questioned this argument and said that there was more civil rights litigation involving immigrants worldwide than any other kind of litigation because of massive social injustice and the fact that foreigners had no political power. "Who else but Lawyers for Human Rights could bring this sort of action?" Sachs asked.  Advocate David Unterhalter, for the state, said that the application was not based on a threat to particular individuals, but a "possible threat" for future immigrants, which made it a hypothetical argument. He said Eveleth, a US citizen who was awaiting the outcome of a review application relating to her residence status in SA, was arrested in Sandton last year under the now defunct Aliens Control Act, not the Immigration Act, which meant she had no interest in the outcome of the case. The full bench of the Constitutional Court heard an application yesterday for confirmation of an order made by Judge Ben du Plessis in April this year in which he found that section 34(8) and 34(2) of the Immigration Act was invalid and unconstitutional. The application is seeking to extend the rights and protection of people declared "illegal foreigners", who are detained sometimes indefinitely on ships, aeroplanes or trains, by immigration officers at a point of entry to SA. Advocate Anton du Plessis, for the applicants, said the sections unjustifiably limited the rights contained in the constitution not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause.

AIDS campaign for truck drivers in pipeline (SABC News, 18/08) - Plans are under way for a major HIV/Aids campaign, which will include counseling, voluntary testing and even treatment for truck drivers. It is feared that as much as 20% of drivers in the road freight industry are infected with the killer virus. Piet Tshabalala, who has been driving trucks for over 30 years, is one of more than 50 000 truck drivers in the country. He says it is a tough job spending days, sometimes weeks, on the road away from home and loved ones. He says the temptation for casual and sometimes unprotected sex with a stranger is high. "I'm worried because truck drivers are dying in numbers and this will cripple the economy,” says Tshabalala. Herman Lemmer, of the Road Freight Association, said: "At the moment we are looking at the extent of it and from there on we will quantify it and look at how much it will cost to intervene and what it will cost not to intervene." Nthari Matsau, a spokesperson for the Health Department, said: "Once the programme has been rolled out and is being implemented they will not be excluded like everybody else. But I don't think that there's any special dispensation for truckers to have them before anybody else." Plans are under way to reduce new HIV/Aids infections among truckers by at least 20% by October next year.

Border protests continue (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online, 15/08) - Between 80 and 100 people were demonstrating for constitutional reform and increased democracy in Swaziland on the third day of a border blockade between South Africa and the mountain kingdom, South African police reported yesterday. Members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) were protesting at the Oshoek border post., but no other border posts were affected, said Inspector Busaphi Sibanyoni. Cosatu spokesman Vincent Mlombo said there was a confrontation between protesters and police at Oshoek when the protesters attempted to march through the border gates. The matter was quickly resolved and protesters were toyi-toying, shouting and marching, but not blocking the border.

Migrants to city of gold find frustration (Diepsloot, Business Report, 14/08) - Paulus Sodi and his family abandoned their home to join Africa's new gold rush, travelling about 300km to seek their fortune in Johannesburg, the country's pounding economic heart. They made it to the outskirts of the city, but like many newcomers found themselves stuck among the makeshift shacks, portable toilets and heaps of rubbish of fast-growing townships and squatter camps like Diepsloot. Sodi, 24, and the two dozen members of his extended family are among hundreds of thousands of other migrants drawn to this country's cities each year, swelling populations and burdening the already stretched provision of housing, jobs and healthcare. Relentless urban drift is a global phenomenon, but throws up particular problems for development in Africa, where towns and cities are growing faster than anywhere else - and nearly three times as rapidly as rural populations. Johannesburg's pull extends far beyond the border, attracting the hopeful poor from neighbouring states and across the continent, many coming illegally and fuelling racial tensions. Many newcomers find Africa's richest city anything but bountiful. Sodi, from the northern town of Polokwane, earns a living selling food and household goods in a corrugated-iron general store, but cannot find other work in Johannesburg proper, a good 90 minutes away by crowded minibus. "People say there are lots of jobs, but there's no nothing," he says. In Diepsloot most live in cramped makeshift shelters, thrown together from corrugated iron, wood and old plastic sheeting. Plumbing is scarce, and residents make do with standpipes and portable toilet cubicles in the street. The government is building new accommodation but struggles to house the migrants who arrive here every week. The population census shows greater Johannesburg - including the once whites-only city, more populous Soweto and many other satellite towns - grew to house nearly 600 000 more people from 1996 to 2001, to 3.23 million. The data, released last month, also showed South Africa's three other main cities grew by a total of nearly a million.

"People gravitate towards economic opportunities, and as it is in every country, those opportunities are concentrated," says Andrew Merrifield, a Pretoria-based researcher with long experience in the economics of regional development. "The first problem is that at the moment there are more people coming than there are housing and services. That is why you see so many urban informal settlements." There are also not enough jobs. The census showed that more than 40 percent of working-age South Africans were unemployed. In places like Diepsloot the figure is even higher. The frustration and poverty of unemployment quickly translates into crime. "When you get this massive influx, you are going to get disruptions," Merrifield says. Johannesburg's pull is an example of a global trend towards urbanisation.  The UN Population Division estimates that by 2007, for the first time, the world's urban population will equal the rural population. Africa faces special challenges. Its urban areas are growing faster than those of any other region. In 2000, no African city contained 10 million people.  A decade later, the UN estimates the sprawls of Lagos and Cairo will together hold more than 24 million people. Smaller centres are also growing, with Nairobi gaining more than 100 000 a year. Starting from an urban:rural ratio of about 3:5 in 2000, the UN reckons Africa's 295 million urban population will grow by some 3.3 percent a year until 2030. That exceeds total population growth of 2.1 percent, and compares to predicted growth in Europe's cities of 0.04 percent. The mass movement presents tricky problems for policy makers on the continent least well placed to fund solutions, says Aloysius Mosha of the University of Botswana.

Shelter is scarce, services are overstretched, and mainstream urban economies are stagnating in many countries as unregulated informal sectors take their place. The pressures of population mean that land is expensive, pushing the poor to the periphery. Transport costs rise and services become patchy as the city sprawls outwards, often relying on space-wasting, single-storey buildings. "Huge amounts of land are being taken for urban expansion," Mosha says. "Housing is inadequate, and the end result is the squatter camps issue. Mosha suggests greater local autonomy and decentralisation, spreading Africa's already thin promise of economic development back into the countryside where the poorest live.

Lack of skills hits building sector (Johannesburg, Business Day, 14/08) -While construction companies have hit hard times mainly because of the rand's strength this year, there is growing concern that the industry will not be able to meet demand in a few years. "The industry will need to double its capacity in about 10 years if government meets its 5% to 6% gross domestic product growth target," says the Construction Industry Development Board's CEO, Spencer Hodgson. The board is a statutory body aimed at enhancing the sector. Economic growth at these levels would require construction growing significantly faster than 5% or 6% a year, says Hodgson. The problem is that the construction industry is not retaining or attracting skills, he says. The board's deputy chairman Pepi Silinga has said there was "an urgent need to address the distressing capacity deficit" in the industry. The small and shrinking portion of matriculants that have mathematics and science as subjects are opting for "lifestyle" careers, and no longer the construction sector, Hodgson says. Henk Langenhoven, head of the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors, agreed that the decline in SA's output of construction skills was worrying. However, Langenhoven said that concern over industry's ability to cope with growth was invalid. He could not foresee economic growth of 5% to 6% materialising. "This is because we need more gross fixed capital investment before we can reach these economic growth levels," said Langenhoven. "And the public sector does not have the capacity to spend this kind of money," he said. He suggested the concern should rather be greater about government's inability to deliver. He said several companies in the sector were, in fact, now considering cutting skilled jobs such as engineers, because the industry was in a poor state. The strong rand, which had taken the steam out of mining projects, together with lack of government spending were the main culprits, said Langenhoven. "There is virtually nothing coming out of the government departments at the moment," he said.

Langenhoven said there was a massive lag between the announcement of the budget in February and actual spending, which was not yet taking place. The proposed Skuifraam dam in the water-short Western Cape illustrated government's inability to deliver projects, said Langenhoven. "This project has been on the cards for eight to nine years," he said. Meanwhile, government's concern over the ability of the construction industry as the creators of infrastructure to cope with future demand, has prompted it to investigate several initiatives. A construction industry week has been mooted by the public works department to raise the profile of the sector and awareness around it. The concern over capacity is also one of the issues on a draft agenda for a construction sector summit expected to take place early next year. Black empowerment and possibly an empowerment charter for the sector will be discussed.

Protesters block Swazi border post (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online, 13/08) - Pro-democracy supporters and trade unionists began protests at the border posts between South Africa and Swaziland yesterday in a bid to speed up constitutional reform and encourage democracy in Swaziland. The protests are being held to coincide with the Global Smart Partnership International Dialogue Summit, a three-day conference on sustainable development, which starts in the Swazi capital, Mbabane, today. At least 15 presidents and former heads of state are expected to attend, including South Africa's deputy president Jacob Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela. Those protesting includes members of the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the SA Communist Party, the Swaziland Solidarity Network, the People's United Democratic Movement of Swaziland, the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, the Swaziland Youth Congress and the Swaziland Democratic Alliance. Cosatu spokespersonman Norman Mokoena said demonstrators were protesting on the South African side of the border only.  Between 300 and 500 Cosatu members - toyi-toying and carrying placards - had been deployed at the Mahamba, Mananga and Matsamo borders.  No demonstrators protested at the Oshoek border yesterday, Mokoena said. The only border post where traffic was affected yesterday appeared to have been Mananga where protesters stopped vehicles the South African side from crossing into Swaziland for a couple of hours, said Captain Mtsholi Bhembe of the Nelspruit police.  Following negotiations with police, they agreed to let cars through but would not allow trucks to cross the border. "About 20 trucks have not been allowed through," Bhembe said. Today, the protest action would be concentrated at Oshoek, Mokoena said. "We are expecting a major turnout, thousands of people, starting at 6am. We will be busing people in from Mpumulanga. Both sides of the border will be blockaded," Mokoena said. There were no protesters on the Swazi side of the border yesterday as they were attending a rally and a march in Mbabane. About 2 000 people affiliated to the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions turned up in Mbabane to demand that the rule of law be respected. They also protested against King Mswati III's multi-million-dollar personal jet, which was seen as an extravagant purchase in a country suffering from a high incidence of Aids and serious drought-induced food shortages last year. SA Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told her Swazi counterpart, Roy Fanourakis, South Africa could not intervene as long as the proper procedures of staging such blockades were followed by Cosatu and its allies.

Residents give helping hand to refugees (SABC News, 12/08) - In an old run-down church in the heart of a poor Johannesburg suburb, refugees seeking asylum are being given a second chance. The more than 150 refugees are being taught English by a group of dedicated volunteers in Rosettenville. Residents have taken it upon themselves to help the nearly 700 refugees living on their doorsteps. Stephen Smith and his wife, Marian, feed and educate the hundreds who have come seeking assistance. Stephen Smith, the director of Papillon Foundation, said: "Some have been shot, some have faced severe dangers back home. They sneak into the country or they come in and they seek asylum and they get strangled up in the system at home affairs." In their own countries they were nurses, lawyers and university graduates. However, here in South Africa they cannot find work because they do not speak English. Papy Kabongo, of the Para-legal Project, Papillon Foundation, said: "The course was designed by the Wits University. It just help them to improve their way of talking or their way of writing." Classes are held for free in the old Methodist Church. Legal advice is also given. Heidi Leoning-Voysey, the head of Community University Partnerships, said: "Our wits language school has been involved in the language education here and we have a volunteer programme, a very active volunteer programme of wits and those students are part of the services that are offered here." There are around 25 000 refugees who are recognised in South Africa, but more than 50 000 applications are pending. Most come from the African continent.

Swazi clan wants border gate reopened (SABC News, 11/08) - About 700 families of the Mahlalela clan divided by the borders of South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland are asking for the re-opening of the Mbuzini Gate near Malelane. The informal gate was erected some years ago in the former electrified fence along the border separating South Africa and Mozambique. The border fence, erected about 70 years ago, was meant to be a deterrent for foot and mouth disease. It then became the international border between the countries. The trouble started when the gate, that the community used to communicate in the three countries, was closed. The gate only allowed pedestrians to cross the border without using the formal border posts. The community has since been compelled to have a chief in each country. In Mozambique alone, there are about 10 villages occupied by the Mahlalela people. Chief Mahlalela says it is high time that the South African government addresses the matter. Meanwhile, Robert Zitha, a provincial director for Home Affairs, says his office will not interfere with international borders. Zitha says that the closure was prompted by the abuse of the gate.

Illegal immigrants refuse to leave (SABC News, 11/08) - Two illegal immigrants due to be deported after squatting outside the Lindela detention camp in Krugersdorp are refusing to leave. They say they want their lost bag first. The mother and son from Ivory Coast were detained a year ago for being in the country illegally, but were released because they did not have proper documents. They nonetheless refused to leave without their bag, which apparently disappeared while inside Lindela. "I'm ready to go back home, but I need my bag. It has everything of mine...without my bag I'm not going," says Kouyo Clementine. While Home Affairs could not say why it took so long to deport them, they say the bag is a delaying tactic. "The department is ready to send them back tomorrow," says Lorraine Makola, a Home Affairs spokesperson.

IAB discusses strategies to reverse brain drain (Cape Argus, 08/08) - Although it is not clear how many skilled South Africans have left the country, the brain drain is a major economic problem that has to be solved. This was said yesterday at a public meeting of the Immigration Advisory Board under the chairmanship of Professor Wilmot James at the Good Hope building in parliament. The hearing was told that according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa the brain drain was one of the greatest obstacles to Africa's development. The meeting also heard that the board did not have adequate statistics on precise numbers of highly skilled people who had left South Africa, but it was an uncontested fact that numerous doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers and other professionals had left or were leaving. Now the board has instituted a process to establish whether anything can be done to reverse this trend. One suggestion was the notion of brain circulation. It is about skilled people studying or working abroad and then having their skills utilised to the benefit of their home country, whether they return permanently or not. Examples such as India, China and Taiwan were presented. Students there study abroad and later return home, permanently or temporarily, to make a substantial contribution to their economies. William Blankley, of the Human Sciences Research Council, spoke about highly skilled workers in the science and technology field who were leaving the country. He said there was a total lack of human resources in these fields to provide the innovations necessary for economic development. He said highly skilled people would stay if conditions were right, but if they left, the country would not be able to attract foreigners to fill their roles.

Added to this was the skewed nature of human resources development in South Africa. He said that in 2002 only 3,335 of 15,000 African matriculants passed mathematics on higher grade and only a fraction would go into science and technology. This meant South africa was not developing highly skilled black people. Blankley also said it was significant that larger numbers of South Africans were now finding employment opportunities in Africa and not just leaving for the developed countries. Ian Macun, an Immigration Advisory Board member, said the government had created the climate to attract skilled human resources, "but if we are going to understand the problem of the brain drain we need to understand the skills constraints the brain drain has on the economy." He said the brain circulation approach was not sufficient to address the problem. "We have to invest in people because modern economic investment tends to follow skilled human resources." The causes for the brain drain were simple: "We cannot afford to pay the kind of wages these people want; the social conditions, like crime and violence contribute greatly and we do not invest in professional development." The Board's forum is part of a broader process to deal with the long-term effects of the brain drain on the economy.

Invest to curb brain drain (Cape Town, Dispatch Online, 08/08) - The only way to solve the brain drain is for businesses to start investing in their employees, says Ian Macun of the Immigration Advisory Board (IAB). Speaking at an IAB seminar here on the emigration of professional and skilled workers from South Africa, he said countries that received good foreign investment had a strong human resource base. "Investment increasingly follows human resources. For the long-term viability of South Africa, we are going to have to build a stronger human resource base," he said. The most highly-skilled workers tended to relocate for higher wages, or better opportunities for development. "They move so that they can develop, that is a natural thing," he said.They also left because of social conditions. However, the latest census showed government was making progress on improving social conditions, he said. "Investing in workers is expensive, but it is a fairly straightforward solution," he said.

Brain drain worse than thought (Business Day, 08/08) - More than twice the number of people have emigrated from SA since 1994 than official figures from Statistics SA indicated, a seminar on SA's brain drain heard yesterday. William Blankley, chief research manager of the Human Sciences Research Council, told a seminar on the Immigration Advisory Board that Statistics SA figures showed that since 1994, 12000 people had emigrated when in fact the number gleaned from the top five destinations for SA emigrants had shown it to be 24952. Lack of accurate information on emigration appeared to be a critical shortcoming as the board debates the issues around the causes behind the brain drain.  Roshen Kishun, chairman of yesterday's session on the emigration of professional and skilled workers, said the lack of good information hampered the board in making strategic decisions on emigration issues. It had now launched initiatives for government departments, including home affairs, to improve their information systems. Kishun said questions that needed to be answered included why people were leaving, what their qualifications were, who they were and what the issues around their departures were, as well as what was needed was to make it attractive for them to stay in SA, and for skilled people from overseas to come to SA. Ian Macun, head of the labour department's skills development planning unit, said most highly skilled workers left for basic reasons higher wages or better opportunities for development.

Zimbabwe refugee applications for SA shoot up (Cape Town, Mail & Guardian, 08/08) - The number of applicants from Zimbabwe who applied for refugee status in South Africa rose dramatically between 2001 and 2002, according to Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi. In reply to a question from New National Party member of Parliament Richard Pillay, Buthelezi said that there were 13 applicants from Zimbabwe in 2001 but 305 in 2002. The minister said that in 2001 two applicants were granted refugee status and in 2002 none. In 2001 no application was rejected and in 2002 five were rejected.
"The five applications were rejected as their claims were unfounded. They included economic migrants whose intention was to seek employment or persons who had been residing illegally in the Republic of South Africa for some years without applying for asylum and are now taking advantage of the situation in Zimbabwe. The rest of the cases have not been finalised by the various refugee reception offices yet due to staff shortages," the minister said.

Six illegal immigrants arrested at former military base (SABC News, 08/08) - Six illegal immigrants have been arrested at the former Pomfret military base near Vryburg in the North West. The immigrants were allegedly recruited from Namibia and Zimbabwe to work as labourers on farms. The raid was conducted by the police, in the company of Home Affairs officials. They conducted house to house searches, from which they found two illegal weapons and four illegal immigrants, who were hiding in the Esparance, former homes of Pomfret military personnel. The Esparance is former homes of members of the notorious 32-Battalion, which was used by the apartheid Government to fight former liberation movements in Angola and Nambia. Two other illegal immigrants were arrested at Sandhurst farm, just outside Bray. The illegal immigrants were recruited from Zimbabwe and Namibia by the local farmers. Another suspect, who was on the police's most wanted list, in connection with trafficking in dagga, between South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho, was also arrested at Mothibistad near Kuruman.
The raid follows the confiscation of 21 dagga bags at a small rural village of Lokaleng just outside Mafikeng this week.

Swazi border blockade planned (Johannesburg, Sapa, 06/08) - Pro-democracy activists in Swaziland and the South African trade union federation Cosatu plan to blockade the country's border with South Africa next week. The protest, scheduled from Tuesday, was timed to coincide with the four-day Commonwealth Global Smart Partnership summit to be held in the kingdom, Swaziland Solidarity Network spokesperson Bongani Masuku said on Wednesday. The summit is a Commonwealth initiative aimed at promoting technology. Hosted this year by the Swazi government, it was held in Malaysia in 2002. Masuku said the planned blockade of border posts was a protest against the continued arrests of political and union leaders in Swaziland, the absence of the rule of law and the abuse of women "as instruments of satisfying endless royal sexual appetites". The blockades, to be staged on the South African side of the border, would be coupled with mass action inside Swaziland. He did not expect harsh reaction from the South African police "because they know how to co-operate with people”. "But from the Swazi police we don't expect any mercy." Cosatu's Mpumalanga provincial secretary Norman Mokoena said the blockade would be carried out with individual members' cars, trucks and buses.

"We just want it to be absolutely messy," he said. News of the blockade follows renewed controversy over Swazi monarch Mswati III's multi-million-dollar personal jet. Pressure from critics at home and international donors prompted the king to announce last year he would stop the purchase. However German news agency Deutsche Presse Aguntur, quoting a source in Mswati's office, reported this week that the plane would be used to ferry some heads of state from Johannesburg to attend the summit. Swaziland's Attorney General Phesheya Dlamini last month expressed outrage over the "extremely fraudulent" expenditure of $1-million on a marquee and other material for the summit which could have been obtained for free from the Commonwealth. He charged the king's cronies with misusing the Mswati name to get government business.

Employers can stop brain drain (Cape Town, Finance 24, 07/08) - The only way to solve the brain drain is for businesses to start investing in their employees, says Ian Macun of the Immigration Advisory Board (IAB). Speaking at an IAB seminar in Cape Town on the emigration of professional and skilled workers from South Africa, he said countries that received good foreign investment had a strong human resource base. "Investment increasingly follows human resources. For the long-term viability of South Africa, we are going to have to build a stronger human resource base," he said. The most highly-skilled workers tended to relocate for higher wages, or better opportunities for development. "They move so that they can develop, that is a natural thing," he said. They also left because of social conditions. However, the latest census showed government was making progress on improving social conditions, he said. "Investing in workers is expensive, but it is a fairly straightforward solution," he said.

Eastern Cape Home Affairs offices chaotic says new DG (East London, Dispatch Online, 06/08) - The state of Home Affairs offices in the Eastern Cape is disturbing and chaotic. This was the view of Home Affairs director-general Barry Phillip Gilder after inspecting offices in urban and rural areas of the province this week. Gilder arrived on Sunday evening and is expected to be in the Port Elizabeth area today. "The offices in some areas - like the OR Tambo municipality - were scandalous," Gilder said yesterday. "There are no working facilities and some even have no water for staff or toilets. This makes it hard for the staff to work, never mind the people they are serving," he said. The Daily Dispatch reported this year that more than 40 000 children in the province were unable to access their social grants due to lack of identity documents or birth certificates. This has led to the initial child support grant target of 780 000, which was set in 1998, being dropped to 600000 as only 559680 were registered by May this year. The inaccessibility of these and other grants, as well as TB and HIV-Aids, led to the Eastern Cape government allocating R94million towards a food security programme to counter the hunger currently hitting the province. Gilder, who has visited six other provinces in order to familiarise himself with his newly acquired post, acknowledged the critical role his department was expected to play in fighting poverty. I am visiting all the provinces because I want to understand the issues on the ground and there is no better way to do that than this," he said. "The shortage of resources is a big problem," he said. "Some places lack transport and even basic office equipment like photo-copying machines and faxes." With the 2004 elections around the corner, Home Affairs revealed last month that it was expecting the rush for identity documents to escalate by up to 20000 a day. The department has capacity to deal with 8 000 applicants a day, with a turnaround time of two months. It is currently handling about 10 000 applicants a day.

Bringing them home (The Natal Witness, 05/08) - Six months ago, when advertising whizz Angel Jones started the Homecoming Revolution, her campaign to urge young South Africans living abroad to come home and make a difference, she had no idea what a massive response she would get.  Nor did she have a clue that her efforts would see her win the media and communications section of the Checkers Woman of the Year awards. The Homecoming Revolution, which has as its motto, ''Come home and make it even better'', targets the estimated 27 000 young South Africans living abroad, people who, according to Jones, should be putting their skills to use in their home country. From January this year, these young people were the targets of an intensive e-mail campaign aimed at plucking their heartstrings. Since then, they have every few weeks received a different emotive e-mail image with a message to come back and be a ''pioneer'', a ''visionary'' and an entrepreneur in a country that needs them. Jones's campaign has, it appears, had a profound effect. The project's website, aimed at strengthening people's views on South Africa and offering advice on a range of issues, from property and jobs to schooling and banking, receives about 160 000 hits a month. At the end of this month, the campaign will release the results of research conducted among young South Africans living in London. The Homecoming Revolution is a voluntary, non-profit initiative of Johannesburg-based advertising agency morrisjones&co, of which Jones is a partner and creative director. The agency was named as the Financial Mail's Emerging Agency of the Year in 2001. Jones said the Homecoming Revolution is the agency's pro bono account. According to Jones, no fewer than 5 000 people living abroad have shared in-depth stories of their feelings about living far from home. ''People have taken the time to go into the website and really answer us. A recent comment from a young woman living in the Netherlands comes to mind: she wrote that if the longing to be back doesn't go away, then why do we go on punishing ourselves? ''This campaign is working, slowly but surely,'' Jones said. ''I believe it will take a year and a half to convince the people, then another year to start getting them back. It is impossible to measure how many people have gone and how many have come back. I hope that, with sponsorship, we can work that out. But the overall message we are hearing is that people want to come back. Now that we have established that the desire is there, we want to facilitate it. We want to actively put services in place to help those who are deciding to return.''

Jones said the prevailing sentiment among young South Africans who have responded to the Homecoming campaign is that "deep down we would really love to come home but we are deeply concerned about the crime and the job situation''. "'There is an incredible longing for those factors to be 'fixed'," Jones said. ''Some people really want to come back but simply will not until these issues are sorted out. The biggest issue is the perception of crime. With this in mind, we are presently compiling crime statistics for our website. We will also shortly be sharing the stories of people who have returned to South Africa. But we are by no means portraying life in South Africa as perfect." Jones insisted that the Homecoming Revolution cannot take responsibility for "holding people's hands" and laying on jobs for them. ''We want to instil in people the idea of coming home and creating jobs. We will do all we can to generate an entrepreneurial incentive programme by getting as many people as we can to share their stories about how they have started their own businesses. We are igniting the passion. But the gung ho must come from them.'' And there are lots of good news stories. There's the example of the "seven households'', all personal friends of Jones's who, despite the fact that they have great jobs and are "cooking'' in London, will be returning to South Africa at the end of the year for no other reason than that they just want to be home. Then there are the numerous "remarkable'' people - from NGOs, research institutions and other private businesses - who have arrived on her doorstep to offer their skills for the campaign. ''I am convinced that the tide is turning. Our ambition is to have real numbers to prove this.'' Results of research conducted in the United Kingdom, and presently being crunched by Markinor, will be available soon and should provide much insight into migration trends, Jones said. The Homecoming Revolution website will be relaunched at the end of this month and, besides releasing the research results, there will be a strong emphasis on sharing different opinions about returning to South Africa. ''We will also launch the other arms of our campaign - the career arm and the moving arm - as well as announce some exciting new partnerships,'' Jones said.

The career arm will offer an online career search function for people abroad. The moving arm, involving an existing removals company, will offer discount opportunities to people who come home through the Homecoming Revolution website. The second leg of the campaign - comprising advertisements in selected publications featuring the stories of South Africans who have decided to come home - is not yet under way but is planned for the not too distant future, Jones said. ''Our big call in the second phase is for a big sponsor.'' Jones herself has not looked back since returning to South Africa in 2001. After backpacking around the world for about a year, she arrived in London with no money, an out-of-date "very South African'' portfolio and no creative partner. "In England, they employ you as part of a team.'' She had worked in the advertising industry for a couple of years before going overseas and knew that was where her future lay. She managed to get a job as a secretary to the famous advertising Saatchi brothers as they were moving to start their own business, M and C Saatchi in London. As secretary, she spent a lot of time "fetching cappuccinos and dry-cleaning. But, at night, I was writing ads, unsolicited, which I would show them. During the day, I spent a great deal of time sitting in on meetings, taking the minutes and learning. I would then take work home with a view to making my own contribution. I would take in the cappuccino and then slip my script to my bosses.'' It took her a year to link up with an art director and get a job as a writer, after which Jones stayed on at M and C Saatchi for six years before being asked to start the M and C Saatchi branch in Johannesburg. "A year and a half into that, they decided to trim their network, I found an amazing partner and we bought them out and changed the name."Here in Johannesburg, we are living in the heartbeat of Africa. Jo'burg and South Africa are on the brink of an economic boom and perceptions are slowly changing to the belief that if there is anywhere on earth we should be, it is here."

SA to import manpower (The Sunday Mirror, 04/08) - South Africa looks set to go on a massive recruitment drive from beyond its borders as the country works to improve its economic performance. A spokesperson for the ruling African National Congress, Kgatlema Motlanthe, told the Sunday Mirror that his government was seriously looking at ways of improving its skilled manpower base by recruiting from outside the country. The statement followed an admission by the ANC on its homepage that South Africa was experiencing skilled manpower shortages. “To help the country’s need for scarce skills, government’s intervention will recruitment from outside South Africa,” read the homepage announcement. However, the announcement has received guarded responses from some quarters of the South African community. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), a key alliance partner of the ANC, says in principle it is not opposed to the importation of manpower from outside of the country, one of the most industrialised in Africa. Patrick Craven, Cosatu secretary general, however said the move might be misplaced because South Africa has a sufficient human resources base. “We are not opposed to skilled manpower being sourced from elsewhere. We wouldn’t be averse to outside experts with genuine interest to participate in our economy. “However, we do not think that it is necessary to import skills because we have abundant experts here,” said Craven. A social scientist teaching at the University of Witwatersrand, while acknowledging that recruitment of manpower from outside was a global trend, warned against the social and political effects of doing so in South Africa. “There is a likelihood that if the recruitment drive is too massive in the eyes of the local labour market, it could lead to unrest, both social and political. South Africans are a proud people who see themselves as self-sustaining.

“They can easily feel challenged by the influx of foreigners. The resulting feeling is one of inadequacy that might lead to rebellion, particularly against the government,” he said. He said the ANC needed to approach the issue cautiously since that might lose it a significant number of votes in next year’s general elections. There was a wave of xenophobia in South Africa in recent years following an influx of foreigners into the country, particularly Zimbabweans looking for greener pastures. The South Africans accuse the non-citizens of “stealing” their jobs, and widespread clashes between locals and foreigners are often reported. Motlanthe defended the recruitment drive, saying every country in the world would always need to acquire manpower from outside. He said as a fledgling democracy, the country needed to foster and consolidate its manpower catchment area. He dismissed as spurious claims that the move to recruit from beyond South Africa’s borders would have negative impacts on the country. “Talk about South Africans becoming xenophobic results from that kind of thinking spread in sanitary lanes. We should make a distinction between rational policy matters and the irresponsible thinking of some people,” he said. Motlanthe added that the scarcity of skilled manpower in his country was not a result of a skewed education system but a combination of factors, some of them historical. Apartheid South has been criticised for systematically discriminating against and limiting training for non-whites. The country suffered a massive brain drain after the 1994, when it attained majority rule, when whites, who had enjoyed the apartheid privilege of skilled training as opposed to blacks, relocated to European countries. Angelina Murcell, a corporate researcher, acknowledges that the mining industry is one of the sectors worst affected by the trend. Says Murcell: “Diversification from the mining sector as a prime engine of growth continues to show progress although an alarming exodus of young highly skilled whites is creating serious skilled manpower shortages.” More than 10 000 South African experts left for greener pastures abroad in 2000 alone. Skilled workers emigrating from the country are estimated to have cost R67.8 billion in lost human capital since 1997, thereby retarding economic growth. Frustrated by the growing brain drain, the South African government recently went to the extent of criticising the UK for “poaching” its skilled manpower, particularly teachers. Since the late 1990s, more than 8 000 teachers have emigrated to the UK with the help of recruiting agencies.

Dog cops sentenced (SABC News, 04/08) - Two former members of the North East Rand Police Dog Unit in Benoni, Dino Guiotto and Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser, have respectively been sentenced in the Pretoria High Court to effectively three and two years imprisonment. They were earlier found guilty on three charges of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, and a charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice for trying to cover up their involvement. Dino Guiotto and Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser were the last of six former police dog handlers to be put behind bars for the so-called "dog training exercise" in January 1998. Shocking video material recorded on that day revealed how three illegal immigrants from Mozambique were assaulted and attacked by the police dogs. It made international headlines when it was exposed in 2000. Four of the policemen earlier pleaded guilty and are currently serving jail terms. Today Judge Dion Basson sentenced Guiotti to five years imprisonment, of which two years were suspended. Loubser was also sentenced to five years imprisonment, of which three years have been suspended. Another one year imprisonment for both on attempting to defeat the ends of justice, will run concurrently with their sentence. Basson said it was clear that the two men had voluntarily taken part in the training session and the assault of the three illegal immigrants. An application for leave to appeal and one for the extension of their bail conditions were turned down.

Using skilled immigrants will boost economic growth (Business Report, 02/08) - The skills shortage will prevent the economy growing at anywhere near the rates needed to eat into South Africa's rampant unemployment and urgent steps are needed to attract skilled foreigners to the country. Standard Bank chief economist Iraj Abedian estimates that there are at least 500 000 skilled vacancies at any one time. These, he says, affect mainly the public service and institutions (which cannot compete on salaries with the private sector that has become very adept at poaching good people from the government) and the crisis is affecting service delivery. Sitting alongside these vacancies are more than 7 million unemployed people, most of whom are not only out of work but are unemployable in a modern, knowledge-based economy. Abedian's research states that for each skilled vacancy filled, seven other jobs will be created. Because many of these new jobs will be for unskilled workers, this will make huge inroads into the unemployment problem. And, when foreigners come in to fill vacancies, productivity picks up and - if the process is managed properly - skills will be transferred to locals who then are in a position to earn more. Elias Masilela, the head of the national treasury's macroeconomics unit, says immigration is needed to give the economy room to grow at the 6 percent levels needed to battle joblessness. However, he warns that absorbing people from abroad without ensuring skills transfer will either only have short-term benefits or will lead to long-term reliance on foreigners. This is patently not good either economically (foreigners tend to be more expensive to hire and to keep happy than locals) or socially, as it will limit the country's ability to combat the unemployment problem. Abedian says important steps have been taken with the scrapping of the unfortunately named Aliens Control Act, but says there is still "complication and uncertainty" around the new legislation. And, he says, although the government now seems convinced that immigration laws need to be relaxed, he does not think enough political will "has been accumulated to make the drastic moves that are necessary".

The nature of a modern economy is that it is capital, rather than labour, intensive and workers have to be in a position where they can complement technology. This means if labour is either unskilled or untrainable (because of inappropriate or inadequate education) investing becomes a useless exercise. The National Productivity Institute's Ndumiso Matlala says one of the reasons South Africa has failed to attract investment is because when investors look at the economic environment, they want a regular and reliable supply of skills. He says one of the reasons why the motor industry has been so successful in recent years, and other sectors haven't, is because it traditionally has had high skills levels and this has made it easier for manufacturers to expand their operations. Masilela says the economy will not collapse as a result of the skills shortage, but, if we do not do anything about it, the unemployment crisis will be extended and this is likely to lead to a social crisis. Clearly, having a better skilled workforce will push wages up, but this will not be a problem as long as productivity rises and unit labour costs fall. Without upgrading skills, South Africa will be unable to build in real competitiveness, but will have to rely solely on price competitiveness. This can only come about through a constantly depreciating currency. If excessive, this can lead to inflationary pressures, which, as late 2001 showed us, are a whole crisis on their own. But immigration is not the only solution to the skills crisis. Training of locals is very important and the establishment of the Sector Educational and Training Authorities (Setas) are a step in the right direction, although these clearly are not working as well as they could and steps have to be taken to stop certain corporates viewing them as just a tax.

Schooling, also, needs to be made more relevant to employment and people need to be able to find out what the job market really wants. Most importantly, it needs to give people the ability to analyse, dissect and come to conclusions that will allow them to add value. Pure vocational training is probably too narrow as the skills obtained need to be portable from one job to another and from one sector to another. There is a clear correlation between skills and education, and earning power. So allowing immigrants to fill vacancies and ensuring that they and the official agencies, such as Setas and schools, upskill workers will kick off a virtuous cycle of economic growth and job creation that will allow not only an improved standard of living for workers but also for an all-out attack on unemployment. As joblessness is, with Aids, probably the biggest challenge to South Africa's future, this is clearly a policy no-brainer.

SA: Gateway for human trafficking (Cape Town, News24, 01/08) - South Africa has become an important gateway for crime syndicates smuggling people across borders, Interpol warned. The fast-growing international industry is controlled by highly organised crime syndicates who smuggle an estimated 700 000 people a year to wealthy countries, where they often work as slaves for years. Interpol maintains South Africa, with its inadequate legislation, is increasingly being used by these syndicates not only as a thoroughfare for smuggling activities, but also a destination for especially Asians. It is not known how many people annually enter and leave the country in this manner. Interpol says scores of Chinese annually travel to South Africa on false passports. Alternatively they travel to neighbouring countries, such as Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique, from where they illegally slip into South Africa. The recently released US foreign ministry's annual human rights report says the lucrative trade in human beings - in some instances bordering on a modern form of slavery - has an annual turnover of $10 billion (about R100 billion) and is set to soon overtake drug smuggling in terms of financial gain. South African police say traffic in human beings is not illegal in South Africa. "We do, however, probe cases from time to time under common law dealing with kidnapping and abduction," Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said on Wednesday. The US report points out that South Africa probes few cases of traffic in human beings and the country has no programme in place to assist these migrants. Witness protection is only available for the country's own citizens, and most illegal immigrants are deported summarily, preventing them form testifying in court. Neither has the government initiated awareness campaigns. Apart from being a favoured destination for Asians, South Africa also receives its share of women, aged 18 to 25 and destined for the sex industry, from African, Eastern European and former Soviet Union countries.

Interpol says trafficking in humans has become the preferred industry for several crime networks worldwide, who are becoming more sophisticated and are smuggling people at ever-increasing profits. Once the illegal immigrants arrive in the country of their preference, they are at the mercy of the smugglers, who often force them to work for years to pay off their "travel expenses". If an immigrant fails to settle her debt in time, the syndicate coerces her family at home by threatening to kill her. Interpol says smuggling syndicates benefit from the huge profits and the toothless legislation in many countries. There is little risk of being caught and a slim chance of prosecution, compared to other international crimes such as drug trafficking. The US report says at least 700 000 - possibly as many as four million - men, women and children are "bought, sold and transported and detained against their will under conditions similar to slavery". "In the modern version of slavery, known as human trafficking, smugglers use threats, intimidation and violence to force victims into sexual activities or to work for the smugglers' financial gain," the report says. "Some victims responded to advertisements in the belief that they would secure a good job in a new country. Others were sold by family members, friends or a family friend into the modern equivalent of slavery."

Namibia and South Africa create cross-border conservation park (Windhoek, Sapa-AFP, 01/08) - South African President Thabo Mbeki and his Namibian counterpart Sam Nujoma signed a treaty for a cross-border conservation park covering more than 6,000 square kilometres (2,400 square miles) in Windhoek Friday. A second agreement on oil and gas trade, allowing the movement of gas between borders, was sealed by the two countries' mineral and energy ministers at the same occasion. "Today is an important day. It sends out a message to the rest of Africa, we are moving in the right direction to expedite processes leading to integration, also for the SADC region," Mbeki told reporters after a two-hour meeting with Nujoma, referring to the 14-nation Southern African Development Community. Mbeki was in Windhoek for one-day bilateral talks on economic issues with Nujoma. He was accompanied by Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin, Environmental and Tourism Minister Valli Moosa and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, minister of minerals and energy. Nujoma said the treaty was "historic" since it was Namibia's first transfrontier park. "These agreements will encourage the future generations in our two countries and the rest of Africa to work towards the elimination of the artificial borders which were imposed on the people of Africa by colonialists," Nujoma said. The Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park along the Orange River border between the two countries spans spectacular arid and desert mountain scenery, incorporating the Ai-Ais Game Park in Namibia close to the deep Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world, and South Africa's Richtersveld Park. Other areas will be added later to link the transfrontier park with the Namib Desert along the Skeleton Coast of Namibia and the Iona National Park in south-western Angola, totalling 180,000 square kilometres.

Swaziland

Swaziland blockade appears to fizzle out (Johannesburg, Sapa, 14/08) - A border blockade between South Africa and Swaziland to demand constitutional reform and increased democracy in the mountain kingdom was continuing, the Congress of South African Trade Unions said on Thursday. Police, however, reported that there was no blockade and few protesters had arrived at Swaziland's border posts on Thursday. Captain Mtsholi Bhembe said the borders were "very, very quiet" and no protest action was taking place. Cosatu spokesman Vincent Mlombo said the blockade was building up to a joint rally of Cosatu and Swaziland Solidarity Network members to take place on Friday on the South African side of the Oshoek border post. The protests were being held to coincide with the Global Smart Partnership International Dialogue Summit, a three-day conference on sustainable development which started in the Swazi capital Mbabane on Wednesday.  Swaziland police beat and trampled a man to death in the capital of Mbabane on Wednesday during a pro-democracy protest. The man from Mbabane tried to outrun the police but was severely assaulted when they caught up with him. An AFP reporter at the scene reported that seven of about 5,000 protesters were seriously injured when the police beat up protesters and fired rubber bullets and teargas at them. Mlombo said "115 workers were injured in clashes with police on Wednesday, of which 15 are critical. Three comrades were arrested, including Roland Rudd from Bhunja, Swaziland". Swaziland police refused to comment on the arrests. King Mswati III of Swaziland opened the Global Smart event in Ezulwini just south of Mbabane on Wednesday, expressing hope that the gathering would bring Swazis together. About 600 delegates were attending the event, including South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

Swazi border still blocked (Johannesburg, News24, 14/08) - Between 80 to 100 people were demonstrating for constitutional reform and increased democracy in Swaziland on the third day of a border blockade between South Africa and the mountain kingdom, South African police reported on Thursday. Members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) were protesting at the Oshoek border post, but no other border posts were affected, said Inspector Busaphi Sibanyoni. Cosatu spokesman Vincent Mlombo said there was a minor confrontation between protesters and police at Oshoek, when the protesters attempted to march through the border gates. He said the matter was quickly resolved and protesters were toyi-toying, shouting and marching, but not blocking the border. Police were monitoring the situation, Sibanyoni said. Mlombo said the blockade was building up to a joint rally of Cosatu and Swaziland Solidarity Network (SNN) members on Friday on the South African side of the Oshoek border post. The president of Cosatu, Willy Madisha, and the secretary-general of the South African Communist Party, Blades Nzimande, were expected to address the rally, Mlombo said. The protests were being held to coincide with the Global Smart Partnership International Dialogue Summit, a three-day conference on sustainable development which started in the Swazi capital Mbabane on Wednesday. Swaziland police beat and trampled a man to death in the capital of Mbabane on Wednesday during a pro-democracy protest. The man, from Mbabane, tried to outrun the police but was severely assaulted when they caught up with him. The SSN said in a statement on Thursday: "We strongly condemn the police action as unjust, criminal and (an) abuse of authority and blatant disregard to serve the people. The time has come for King Mswati III to allow a democratic process to take place in Swaziland, if needs be he must be pushed to do so by the relevant institutions.

"The time has come for the unbanning of all political parties, the time has come for a constituent assembly to determine the future of Swaziland." The SSN also demanded: "The AU and the relevant structures must act firmly against the dictatorship of King Mswati III and save a nation slowly dissipating because of royal greed and parasitism." An AFP reporter at the scene in Mbabane reported that seven of about 5 000 protesters were seriously injured when police beat up protesters and fired rubber bullets and teargas. Mlombo said: "One hundred and fifteen workers were injured in clashes with police on Wednesday, of which 15 are critical. Three comrades were arrested, including Roland Rudd from Bhunja, Swaziland". Swaziland police refused to comment on the arrests. King Mswati III of Swaziland opened the Global Smart event in Ezulwini just south of Mbabane on Wednesday, expressing hope that the gathering would bring Swazis together. About 600 delegates were attending the event, including South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma. AFP reported that Swazi trade unionists were to seek court permission on Thursday to continue pro-democracy protests on the fringes of the conference.

Blockade successful at Mananga border (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 13/08) - Mananga border post was virtually non-operational as members of the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) successfully blocked movement between South Africa and Swaziland, yesterday. There was no movement of private cars, public transport and commercial trucks at the border post for the better part of yesterday, as a group of over 20 people blocked the South African border's main gate. This led to vehicles from the kingdom being ordered to make a U-turn by the COSATU members. A Swazi Customs and Excise employee (name withheld) said the COSA TU members arrived early in the morning to take up their positions at the border gate as early as 7:30 am. The official said some Swazis were able to enter South Africa immediately after the border gate opened for business at 7 am but that changed half an hour later as the COSA TU members started blocking traffic. The heavy police presence on the South African side of the border did not bother the protesters as they closed the main gate leading to South Africa. "The Swazi protesters arrived later in the afternoon but their stay was short lived as they were dispersed by what looked like the entire Lubombo regional police," said the official. The official added that some few Swazis (less than 10) crossed to the border to join the COSA TU members. "Trucks were parked outside the gate. There was just no movement between Swaziland and South Africa, the only people who crossed were those travelling on foot," said the official. A private vehicle that insisted on being let through from Swaziland was halted by the protesters who nearly assaulted the driver. A total contrast to the scenario at Mananga was experienced at the Oshoek border gate where it was business as usual, with trucks and light vehicles alike moving freely between the two countries. In the late hours of the morning Mario Masuku the president of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and three other members entered South Africa with the hope to join the protesters.

"We are expecting COSA TU to arrive at around 12 noon but for now there is no activity and we are not worried about the current movement," he said. However, the promise of a large group of protesters did not materialise as apparently only about six members of COSA TU turned up at Oshoek. There was a heavy presence of armed South African police on their side of the border while only a hand full of local police were on present on the Swazi main gate. The police on both sides departed immediately after lunch. The country is under 'siege' from COSATU who announced a total blockade of five of the country's border gates beginning yesterday and ending on Friday. The blockades are a sign of support to local worker unions who are protesting the purchase of the king E720 million private jet, rule of law and the taxation of benefits. The rest of the borders information gathered was that some of the vehicles were blocked but as the day progressed things got back to normal.

Labour, opposition groups picket Swazi borders (Johannesburg, Sapa, 12/08) - Pro-democracy supporters and trade unionists began protests at the border posts between South Africa and Swaziland on Tuesday in a bid to speed up constitutional reform and encourage democracy in Swaziland. The protests are being held to coincide with the Global Smart Partnership International Dialogue Summit, a three-day conference on sustainable development, which starts in the Swazi capital Mbabane on Wednesday. At least 15 presidents and former heads of state are expected to attend, including South Africa's Deputy President Jacob Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela. Those protesting include members of the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the SA Communist Party, the Swaziland Solidarity Network, the People's United Democratic Movement of Swaziland, the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, the Swaziland Youth Congress and the Swaziland Democratic Alliance. Cosatu spokesman Norman Mokoena said that the demonstrators were protesting on the South African side of the border only. Between 300 and 500 Cosatu members -- toyi-toying and carrying placards -- had been deployed at the Mahamba, Mananga and Matsamo borders. No demonstrators protested at the Oshoek border on Tuesday, said Mokoena. However, the only border post where traffic was affected on Tuesday appeared to have been Mananga where protesters stopped vehicles on the South African side from crossing into Swaziland for a couple of hours, said Captain Mtsholi Bhembe of the Nelspruit police. Following negotiations with police, they agreed to let cars through but would not allow trucks to cross the border. "About 20 trucks have not been allowed through," Bhembe said. On Wednesday, the protest action would be concentrated at Oshoek, Mokoena said. "We are expecting a major turnout, thousands of people, starting at 6am. We will be busing people in from Mpumulanga. Both sides of the border will be blockaded," Mokoena said.

There were no protesters on the Swazi side of the border on Tuesday as they were attending a rally and a march in Mbabane. About 2,000 people affiliated to the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions turned up in Mbabane to demand that the rule of law be respected, SABC news reported. They also protested against King Mswati III's multi-million-dollar personal jet, which was seen as an extravagant purchase in a country suffering from a high incidence of Aids and serious drought-induced food shortages last year. South African foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told her Swazi counterpart, Roy Fanourakis on Sunday that South Africa could not intervene so long as the proper procedures of staging such blockades were followed by Cosatu and its allies, The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday. The blockades, which will last until Friday, are being held to protest various issues. Among the protesters' grievances are the government's alleged violations of human rights, its refusal to recognise judicial orders, the alleged intimidation of the judiciary and a 30 percent pay increase given to politicians recently. The pro-democracy groups also say it is inappropriate to stage the Global Smart event in an "undemocratic" country such as Swaziland. Protesters held a similar series of blockades in November 2000 when they stopped trucks from entering the kingdom for three days, causing a two-kilometre tailback. The blockade was called off after protesters were invited to meet the government. Mokoena said that following the 2000 blockade, the Swazi government appointed a steering committee to look at constitutional reforms, but it was not an "inclusive process" and certain groups were "deliberately excluded".  "The outcome of the process was not acceptable," Mokoena said. King Mswati III of Swaziland is an absolute monarch who rules the kingdom of one million people by decree. Political parties were banned in 1973.

Cosatu prepares to block Swazi border (Johannesburg, Sapa, 12/08) - Congress of South African Trade Unions members were on Tuesday expected to take part in a blockade of the border between Swaziland and South Africa. Cosatu said in a statement that the blockade would last until Friday. "The protest is in support of the campaign by the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and its allies for democracy and respect for human rights in Swaziland," Cosatu said. "Members of Cosatu and other pro-democracy groups will be forming human chains across the borders and blocking access with buses and trucks and using other legal means to make sure than nobody moves across. "We are asking trade union members working at the border posts, on both sides, to refuse to process visas," Cosatu added. "We understand that the Swazi government has asked the South African government for advice. "We urge the South African government to advise the Swazi regime to introduce constitutional reform and democracy." The protest coincides the Global Smart Partnership Summit which is planned for August 13 to 17 in Swaziland. The SFTU planned to demonstrate for democratic reform at the event.

Borders will operate, says PM (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 08/01) - Government has advised everybody to feel free to use all the country's borders next week. Dismissing the planned border blockade by the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) that begins next Tuesday, the prime minister Sibusiso Dlamini declared it illegal and in violation of international law. "The only time a blockade of this nature could be allowed is during a war," he said last night, assuring business people and travelers alike of guaranteed access to their various destinations. The PM said all Swazi borders are international borders, which are governed and protected by international law. To block them, he said, is not the prerogative of a provincial magistrate court. "We have good relations with South Africa and looking at the protocols of international law, I do no think the SA government would support such a blockade, so we expect all goods to move freely," said the prime minister in an interview last night. He further stated that preparations for the Smart Partnership dialogue were progressing smoothly and that they would have loved to have South African President Thabo Mbeki joining them on this occasion. "We found that president Mbeki already had commitments, but we are expecting his deputy Jacob Zuma. In fact Zuma has always been attending these dialogues. I can recall four dialogues where he has been in attendance," he said. Regarding the blockade, COSA TU was granted an order by the Mpumalanga Chief Magistrate, sanctioning the intended blockade. COSATU's educator and organiser Fana Vincent "Fidel" Mlombo explained that they will be staging 24 hour blockades in all the Mpumalanga Province borders, namely Mananga, Matsamo, Bulembu, Oshoek and Mahamba border, while the KwaZululNatal regional office will block the Lavumisa border. The blockade is to be held in support of their counterparts, the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL) who will be staging demonstrations next week. The demonstrations coincide with the Smart Partnership Dialogue where various heads of state will be in attendance. The federations will be demonstrating to force government to retract the prime ministers November 28 statement regarding the rule of law. They also want an official statement regarding the king's jet and are also calling for the immediate suspension of the taxation of benefits. Of the three demands, the prime minister addressed one of them, and that is of the kings jet. He declared that the project has been officially abandoned by government, which is now negotiating with the supplier on the issue of the deposit paid. The taxation of benefits has already commenced while the issue of the November statement and the release of suspects granted bail by the courts is before the king.

We know nothing about blockade, says Minister (Swazi Observer, 08/01) -Minister for Enterprise and Employment Lutfo Dlamini has lashed out at the country's unionists amidst reports of a proposed blockade of the country's borders next week. The minister said neither his office nor that of the Labour Commissioner (Joshua Mndzebele) had been informed of the pending action. "In any event, no one has a right to blockade a country's borders as this belongs to nationals residing in those countries and not government. "The unionists should bring forth their concerns than engage in such action. After all, unions strive to promote and fight for workers' rights; how are such rights protected if unions engage in blockades?" the minister wondered. Workers affiliated to the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL) with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) will be staging a "mother of all border blockades" from Tuesday to Thursday next week. The blockades are meant to force government address three issues ahead of the Smart Partnership Dialogue commencing next Wednesday. Minister Dlamini said he was ready to engage in talks with the unions if they were aggrieved on any issues. "If they respected the rights of employees they wouldn't engage in blockades. For instance, how truck drivers are expected to operate ifthey (unions) blockade the borders?" he said. "Blockades can't be tolerated because this interferes with the rights of a nation. Swaziland is a sovereign state." However, SFTU Secretary General Jan Sithole termed the minister's statement that his ministry had not been informed on the issues as a "blue lie." Sithole said they followed all legal channels in the issue and the Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC) also failed to deal with the issue. "We are not going to seek permission from the minister for our protests. The only thing we are asking from him is delivery. "Basically we are not answerable to him, but our constituencies." Sithole said they were pushed to seek solidarity from the international community by government's "insensitivity" to their concerns. "This is a laughable matter really; the minister must know that solidarity knows no bounds no country is an island in this world anymore. Minister Dlamini can't use solidarity to suppress rule of law or undermine fundamental rights while hiding under sovereignty," the SFTU Secretary General stated.

Tanzania

Governments agree to open more border crossing points (Nairobi, Irin, 21/08) - The governments of Burundi and Tanzania have agreed to try to open more border crossing points to facilitate the voluntary return of Burundian refugees living in western Tanzanian camps, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported on Wednesday. Under the terms of the agreement, signed on Wednesday at the end of a two-day Tripartite Commission meeting in the Burundi capital, Bujumbura, one border crossing point would be activated. The meeting also agreed on the "desirability" of opening more crossing points, notably in Makamba, southern Burundi, as soon as possible. However, the activation of this point would be subjected to security assessment, UNHCR said. The meeting also recommended that three additional border crossing be activated between August and October: the Murusagamba-Gahumo crossing in Cankuzo Province is to be opened by the end of August, while Manyovu-Mugina in Makamba Province and Mabamba-Gisuru in Ruyigi Province are expected to be activated in September and October, respectively. In other proposals, the Tripartite Commission recommended that UNHCR extend aid to refugees travelling on their own to Rutana Commune in southeast Burundi. For its part, UNHCR said it was currently providing basic aid to spontaneous returnees arriving via Gisuru (Ruyigi) and Mugina (Makamba) entry points. With regard to assisted returnees, UNHCR said that along with transportation from the camps to their communes of origins, they were provided with a return package comprising UN World Food Programme food items and non-food items for three months. It added that special assistance for vulnerable returnees, such as the elderly and unaccompanied minors, was also provided. The commission is scheduled to reconvene in November in Kigoma, Tanzania.

UNHCR recalled that it began assisting the return of Burundian refugees in March 2002. By the end of 2002, 53,283 had returned home - 31,421 with UNHCR assistance. By the end of July 2003, an estimated 48,000 had returned home voluntarily, bringing to an estimated total 100,000 returnees for the past two years. The meeting of the Tripartite Commission took place as Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye was in Pretoria, South Africa, holding his first face-to-face talks with Pierre Nkurunziza, leader of the country's biggest rebel group, the Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie/Forces pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD). The talks are aimed at reaching a power-sharing deal ahead of a regional summit scheduled for Sunday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. "We hope the ongoing peace talks in South Africa will produce a durable peace needed for the restoration of security conditions that will allow UNHCR to assist repatriation throughout Burundi," Stefano Severe, the UNHCR representative in Burundi, said.

Tanzania, Uganda to erect pillars on common border (Nairobi, The East African, 18/08) - Uganda And Tanzania will spend $60,000 to erect pillars along their common border following disputes in the past over who owns what land. Sources in the Ministry of Lands told The EastAfrican last week that the pillars would end the running dispute over the borderline between the two countries. Land disputes on the common border forced led Ugandan leader, Idi Amin to invade Tanzania in the late 1970s in order to regain land which he said had been annexed. Authorities from the two countries will be meeting later this month to discuss ways of handling villagers whose citizenship and property have been affected by the realignment of the borderline. "Some families thought to be living in Uganda are now on the Tanzanian side and vice versa, while others have lost their land to the boundary," said the acting Commissioner of Lands and Surveys, Justin Bwogi. The meeting will also address boundary maintenance by the two countries, the no-man's land and ways to compensate people affected by the demarcation. "Residents who are affected by the boundary will be handled case by case. However, they are obliged to observe the law on both sides," said the Minister of State for Lands, Baguma Isoke. The money raised by the two governments will be used to erect more boundary pillars, which will be "intervisible" by reducing the distance between them from 20km to 60 metres. The money will also be used to replace vandalised pillars.

"The boundary will have a wide trench with 20 metres on either side as no-man's land. The pillars are concrete, densified and intervisible because we want them to give a clear view from the front and behind," said the minister. Most of the pillars erected by the colonial government were vandalised by fortune seekers who thought they contained mercury, which has a ready market throughout the country. Authorities say they do not know why the residents assumed that there was mercury in the pillars. The Ugandan government is also redesigning the border post of Mutukula to build a new town with all facilities, including Immigration Department offices. Mr Isoke said they were taking part of the Prisons Department land in the area to create the new town, which will have amenities like a cargo holding yard, markets, commercial buildings, Immigration and an administration block. It is expected to boost business in the area and make the border busier. The boundary, at a 1-degree south latitude runs through Bukwale, Minziro-Sango Bay forest reserves, Mutukula, Kamwema, Bugango up to River Kagera. Kamwema and Mutukula are border villages with one half in Tanzania and the other in Uganda. The forest reserve covers 849km along the Tanzania-Uganda border and is one of the most important trans-boundary ecosystems in East Africa. It occupies the flat land along the River Kagera, covering an area considered to be the most extensive swamp in East Africa. However, the forest has been degraded by residents who use it as a major source of charcoal, fuel wood and timber for construction materials for the nearby urban areas in Tanzania and Uganda. Mr Isoke said the demarcations would protect the reserve from illegal loggers, adding that policing would be easier.

Immigration clears foreign workers (The Guardian, 15/08) - The Immigration Department said yesterday foreign employees of Broron Technologies, a South African company subcontracted by Vodacom Tanzania Ltd to build base stations and towers, have legal residence permits. The spokesman of the department, Herbert Chilambo, told the press in Dar es Salaam that allegations that the foreign workers were staying in the country illegally and some top officials of the department were covering them up were unfounded. “They (allegations) are not correct at all. These are mere fabrications to spoil the good name of the department and the government,” said Chilambo. “The residence permits given to foreign workers of Broron Technologies Company are genuine and were issued according to the laws of the country, labour regulations and procedures,” he said. The media reported early this week that the foreign workers of the company were in the country illegally and some Immigration officials might have contributed to their illegal stay. Chilambo said the South African company had not registered with the Tanzania Investment Centre, arguing that was not obligatory.  According to him foreign companies were not obliged to register with TIC unless they wanted incentives provided by the centre under the Investment Act of 1997. He said application for residence permits for foreign workers with Broron Technologies passed relevant procedures and authorities including the registrar of companies, Tanzania Revenue Authority, the labour commissioner and the Immigration Department. However, Chilambo said the South African company had registered with Tanzania Investment Centre in July this year under a different name of Bromain Limited. He said Bromain Limited had submitted application for residence permits for their 21 foreign workers. Five out of the number were in the country. He said the foreign workers of the company could get class B residence permits through TIC procedures. The media reports quoted unnamed sources among Tanzanian companies and individuals who alleged that the Immigration Department was giving the foreign workers of the South African company a cover-up. The reports had it that the local companies had written to the Permanent Secretary in the Home Affairs Ministry, Bernard Mchomvu, to inform him on the alleged collaboration between the Immigration Department and officials of Broron Technologies.

Kenyans threaten Tanzanian jobs (The Express Online, 14-20/08) - Tanzanian youths might not be able to withstand competition posed by their Ugandan and Kenyan counterparts in the labour market, when laws are eventually harmonised to allow cross-border labour mobility in East African region. The warning came from no less than the Minister of Labour, Youth Development and Sports, Juma Kapuya, who said Tanzanian school graduates are "half-cooked" compared to their Kenyan and Ugandan counterparts and therefore "stand no chance of competing when regional integration is finally effected." "In November, our presidents will sign a protocol that will allow cross-border labour mobility, but I wonder whether our youths will be able to compete. Kenyans will come here, but will our guys go there and compete for jobs?" Kapuya wondered.
The Minister was addressing the youth on the occasion of World Youth Day in Dar es Salaam Tuesday. Also present was the Chairman of Youth Vision Association, John Mnyika, who criticised Tanzanian students for studying to pass examinations rather than preparing themselves for the job market. "Most students study to pass their examinations and get certificates only," he said, adding: "When they get into labour market they fail to live up to the challenge." Similar concerns were also echoed by former Trade and Commerce Minister Iddi simba in Dar es Salaam, when clarifying on his controversial uzawa concept, which generated mixed reactions. Contributing to a seminar organised by the Association of Youth Parliamentarians, Simba said, by November this year, East African Community member states would sign the EAC customs union framework, but the policy for protecting economic interests of indigenous Tanzanians was yet to come out. He observed that Tanzania being a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) would also fall under the SADC customs union, but no sound preparations for protecting the economic rights of poor Tanzanians had been done. "Under the coming customs unions, we shall be talking about free labour market, meaning our hawkers (machinga), food vendors (mamalishe), clerks and other labourers will compete on equal footing with foreigners looking for same jobs," he warned. "How is Tanzania prepared to protect its job seekers in the wake of free labour market? How are we prepared to take up this challenge?" he asked.
The challenge according to some big employers is serious especially since Kenyan in particular, make better employees compared to Tanzanians in every aspect. "Kenyans are better communicators, are more motivated and harder working," one local hotel PR Manager told The Express on condition of anonymity.

Immigration bosses may have acted improperly (The Guardian, 11/08) - Some bosses in the Immigration department may have greatly contributed to the alleged illegal presence of foreigners, employees of Broron Technologies, a South African sub-contractor of base stations and towers for Vodacom Tanzania limited, sources have said. Sources among Tanzanian companies and individuals with relevant skills who are infuriated by the presence of the firm because it had grabbed their jobs and contract, alleged over the weekend that the Immigration department was giving the foreign firm cover-up. They now want stern measures taken against Immigration department officials and have already written to Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs, Bernard Mchomvu, notifying him on what they have alleged as collaboration between the Immigration department and Broron Technologies directors and staff. The letter dated August 6, 2003 and made available to this paper is copied to Permanent Secretary in the President’s Office, Inspector General of Police and Director General of Prevention of Corruption Bureau. The locals want Mchomvu to reprimand Immigration department officials for allegedly granting questionable permits to officials of Broron technologies, adding that the firm was operating in the country for the past three years, allegedly without proper registration with relevant authorities, like the Tanzania Investment Centre, which were binding prerogative for any foreign firm. In their letter, they allege that prior to commencement of their business operations in Tanzania, Broron was supposed to obtain, among others, a certificate of incorporation, tax payer identification number, (TIN), value added tax certificate (VAT), business licence, memorandum and articles of association, local bank account and contract of lease.
The letter further alleges that it was disappointing to note that although the immigration department was informed on the issue sometime ago, it appeared the information had landed on deaf ears. It highlights a Mwanza incident in which immigration officials, on two different instances reportedly arrested employees of Broron on permit related cases, but released them on alleged corrupt environment. It further alleges that on July 17, some immigration officials arrested four Broron officials who did not have proper documents for their stay in the country, but were released after mutual understanding between the two parties, in which each of Broron staff allegedly parted with USD 600.

Information reaching this paper from Mwanza hinted over the weekend that some immigration officials in Mwanza last Tuesday arrested two officials’ employees of Broron on permit related issue. They are Alex Shinondo, a Zambian national and Benson Kelly, a South African, but released them on the same day with an explanation that the officials s were communicating with the head office. Our Mwanza sources said the two do not possess proper work permits and were still in the country. When contacted for comments, the Mwanza Region Immigration Officer, Rashid Matana said he was not aware of the matter but promised to follow it up with his officials and get back to PST today. Speaking to PST last week, Mchomvu said the Government was putting final touches to the establishment of an alien’s board, which would ease the current problem-laden permit issues. He was reacting to our published story about the alleged illegal presence of Broron Technologies in the country, adding that with the board in place, the perceived irregular issuance of permits and all complaints on foreigners taking over jobs could be minimized. Mchomvu said he had directed the immigration department to investigate the whole Broron issue and directed the reporter to meet the relevant director. When contacted over his mobile phone, the Director of Immigration Services Kinemo Kihomano declined to comment and instead directed the reporter to spokespersons in the department. However, when contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the Immigration Department, Herbert Chilambo declined to comment. Commenting on the issue, Director of Investment Promotion in the Tanzania Investment Centre, (TIC) Emanuel Ole Naiko, wondered how Broron, which was not registered by TIC, went ahead and obtained residence and work permits. “I was just asking myself, how possible were company’s officials given work permits while the firm lacked TIC certificate? he queried, adding that all contractors working in the country must register with TIC. Citing, he said while Songas was registered with TIC, its pipeline contractor was also registered with TIC, which enabled its staff to get permits. He said, just as Vodacom was registered with TIC, so would Broron Technologies, which worked for the cellular company. When contacted yesterday, The Broron’s Country Representative Lance Houghton declined to give any comment.

Government to repatriate 1,167 Rwandans forcibly (The Guardian, 01/08) -A total of 1,167 Rwandans have been stripped of their refugee status and will be returned to their country forcibly, the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Captain (rtd.) John Chiligati, told the National Assembly yesterday. He said the 1,167 Rwandans were among 2,300 refugees who refused to be repatriated home last year following restoration of stability in the tiny central African country that led to return of 28,000 refugees. The deputy minister said 145 refugees have been found to have sufficient reasons for them to stay here like being married to Tanzanians and hence the Minister for Home Affairs was considering their citizenship applications.
Lucas Seleli (Nzega MP-CCM) wanted the government to deport all refugees who refuse to return to their homes, accusing some of them of crime in their country. Deputy Minister Chiligati said it was impossible to forcibly repatriate all refugees in the country because that was contrary to international conventions to which Tanzania is a party. He said, however, that it was possible under some circumstances to force refugees to go to their homes. “For instance, it is not possible to repatriate Burundian refugees who are in the country because the situation in their country is still volatile. But there was no need of having Rwandan refugees here because Rwanda was stable and peaceful,” he said. Seleli also wanted to know factors that made refugees like those at Ulyankulu and Mishamo in Tabora who do not return to their home countries and do not apply for citizenship. Chiligati said the laws and regulations do not compel a refugee or foreigner to apply for citizenship.
“Therefore, a refugee who does not want to return home nor apply for citizenship, it is obvious he cannot be granted one ... the government may strip him/her the refugee status and deport him/her,” he said. Meanwhile, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Pius Msekwa, yesterday ordered MP Seleli to apologise for his comments that the Luo and Masai in the north and the Yao, Ngoni and Makonde in the south were refugees. Seleli had said when asking a supplementary question that the tribes were refugees - but peaceful unlike those in western part of Tanzania. Deputy Minister Chiligati urged Seleli to apologise for calling those tribes refugees. “This is unacceptable, these are fellow Tanzanians. Seleli apologise to Prof. Sarungi (a Luo) for calling them refugees,” he said. Parseko Kone (Simanjiro MP - CCM) asked the speaker to order the Nzega MP to apologise for injuring them. When asked to apologise, Seleli started by saying that there were parliamentary reports (hansards), that the tribes were refugees. But following a threat by the Speaker to order the Sergeant at Arms to take action against him for non-compliance of his order, Seleli then apologised.

Zimbabwe

Crossborder traders in panic banking (The Sunday Mirror, 25/08) - There is unprecedented panic banking of cash in Mutare following a seven-day government ultimatum to people holding large sums of money, banks in the city say. City bankers told the Sunday Mirror that hordes of suspected cross border traders and cash hoarders who had externalised money mostly in neighbouring Mozambique had thronged banks depositing large sums of money since Monday. Cross-border Traders Association national chairman, Killer Zivhu last week expressed unreserved appreciation of the government’s move of affording Zimbabweans that had either externalised money or withheld large amounts of money the one week grace period to bank their money “without conditions”. “We really appreciate the move by the government and that would allow our members to bring back into the country millions of dollars kept beyond our borders without any fear,” said Zivhu. The government last week promulgated the “Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Promotion of Banking Transactions) regulations, 2003, Statutory instrument 171 of 2003, which makes it a criminal offence for any individual, amongst other restrictions, to bring into the country money exceeding $50 000 after the expiry of the grace period today. The new law allows individuals and organisations holding Zimbabwean currency outside the country to bring back the cash in any amounts without questions being asked. “Following the announcement of this law banks have recorded an unprecedented influx of money hoarders and some cross-border traders coming to bank money in large quantities. The ratio gap between deposits and withdrawals is slowly closing even though there may not be an immediate solution to the bank notes crisis,” said one banker who preferred anonymity. The panic banking of money has seen some city banks raising their maximum daily withdrawals that had for long been pegged at between $5 000 and $10 000 to $30 000 and above. City supermarkets have also confirmed a sharp increase in the number of Mozambicans using large amounts of money in purchasing goods to dispose of hoarded cash.

Since the beginning of the currency crisis four months ago, there has been an outcry by Mutare residents who blamed the crisis on the externalisation of Zimbabwean money in Mozambique. However, contributing to a recent debate on the Presidential address in parliament, Zanu PF Murewa North member of parliament, Victor Chitongo warned against heaping all the blame on crossborder traders. “In my opinion there is no sabotage at all, some people did not do their work timeously. The central bank (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) should shoulder the blame for the cash shortage and not hide behind the externalisation of the local currency as the main cause of the crisis. “The money in circulation is just not enough given the existing inflation figures and the RBZ should have printed more money,” he said. Economic experts echoed Chitongo’s sentiments saying the bank notes shortage was linked to the spiralling inflation rate as traders were pegging prices of their commodities at the parallel market rates, resulting in too much money chasing a few goods.

Zimbabwe, Mozambique agree to slash visa fees (Mutare, The Daily News, 18/08) - Zimbabwe and Mozambique immigration chiefs on Thursday signed a bilateral agreement here to slash visa fee requirements by more than 50 percent for nationals from the two countries to ensure effective economic development. A visa issued in three days for a single entry that used to attract US$50 ($41 200 at official rate) will now cost US$20 ($16 480) while a double entry visa, which was pegged at US$70 ($57 680), was slashed by 50 percent. A visa valid for six months issued in three days will now cost US$45 ($37 080) from the previous US$200 ($164 800). Elasto Mugwadi, Zimbabwe's chief immigration officer, on Thursday said the new visa fees would be effective from 1 September 2003. The Zimbabwean official said there should be a total abolition of visas between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, adding that the reduction in visa fees was a step towards complete abolition of visas for nationals of the two countries. Mugwadi said: "This review is the starting point, then we will slowly move towards achieving that goal (of totally abolishing visa requirements). "It had become a concern to both countries that the visa fees were too high. They were an impediment to business development between our countries." Mugwadi's Mozambican counterpart, Panachande Idrissa Momade, said the bilateral agreement was by mutual consent. Momade said: "This most certainly is going to make the life of businesspeople and the ordinary man easier." The latest development comes in the wake of previous unsuccessful attempts by the Zimbabwean foreign affairs office to abolish and relax the visa requirements through the Zimbabwe-Mozambique Joint Commission. The Mozambicans had in the past reviewed their visa fees upwards on numerous occasions, which had impacted negatively on efforts to have the visa requirements abolished altogether. Both Mozambicans and Zimbabweans have common interests in business, as most local goods have a ready market in the former Portuguese colony. In Mozambique there is ready cash, which is scarce in Zimbabwe, for essential commodities and hardware goods as Mozambique is rebuilding its infrastructure destroyed by a civil war that stretched for nearly two decades.

SA tightens visa requirements (The Financial Gazette, 15/08) - South Africa is now demanding a hefty $300 000 cash guarantee deposit before issuing out a visa to Zimbabweans intending to visit that country, The Financial Gazette has established. The new requirement is aimed at curbing the influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa, which is now home to an estimated 25 000 locals. An official with the South African High Commission said the cash deposit would be refunded on return. "It is true that we are now demanding that money, but we have since forwarded your enquiries to South Africa for in-depth clarification as to what has led to that," said the official. No official response had been received at the time of going to press. A recent study funded by the United Nations Development Programme showed that over 500 000 Zimbabweans are leaving in the diaspora for various reasons. Most of them are running away from volatile political and economic conditions that have reduced the once robust local economy into a basket case. Professor Christopher Chetsanga, who directed the study said the large numbers, constituting Zimbabwe’s loss of skilled and highly educated manpower is a phenomenon policymakers cannot ignore. Chetsanga said: "Furthermore, efforts to provide Zimbabwe with specific skills, through improved educational opportunities, may be rendered futile unless measures are taken to offset the pull factors attracting highly educated Zimbabweans to emigrate." Although official statistics put the number of Zimbabweans in South Africa in the region of 25 000, experts said the figure could be more in view of the large number of illegal immigrants. A number of governments are taking tough measures to curtail entry by Zimbabweans into their countries. Recent media reports say Zimbabweans entering some parts of Botswana were now being screened to curb crime. The United States of America and Britain have also tightened their visa requirements after experiencing a huge influx of Zimbabweans attracted by their stronger currencies. Analysts said the cash demands by foreign missions could worsen the cash crisis now in its third straight month.

More white farms being listed for acquisition in Zimbabwe (Bulawayo, Sapa-AFP, 13/08) - While the Zimbabwe government says it has successfully completed its controversial fast-track land reforms, white-owned farms continue to be listed regularly for compulsory acquisition. This week the latest list of 152 properties which the government intends to acquire was published in the state media. The new list came out after it was revealed at an annual congress of a small group of embattled white farmers still remaining in the country -that agricultural production levels have fallen by over 50 percent in Zimbabwe over the last few years. The Zimbabwe government embarked on its fast-track land reform exercise three years ago, taking land from whites and giving it to landless blacks as a way of correcting colonial imbalances which left 4,500 white farmers owning some some 70 percent of the country's best farmland. To date, government says it has resettled 210,000 peasant farmers and 14,880 commercial farmers on 11 million hectares (26 million acres) of formerly white-owned land. The eviction of white farmers has been partly blamed by aid agencies and critics for Zimbabwe's worst famine in living memory which left about two thirds of the 11,6 million people facing severe food shortages. The government blamed the food shortages on the drought which hit the region last year. This year, while other countries in the region have harvested enough food to export some of it, at least half of the Zimbabwe population still need humanitarian assistance to stave off hunger this year.
Last month the government launched an international appeal for more than 700,000 tonnes of food aid. Among the farms listed to seizure this week were six properties belonging to one of the wealthiest and most powerful business empires in Africa, the Oppeinheimer family.  The Oppeinheimer family controls two of Africa's richest companies, the Anglo American Corporation and De Beers, the continent's diamond mining giant.

In Zimbabwe they are believed to have owned the largest tracts of land by a single family or company. Two years ago in 2001, the government forcibly acquired over 35,000 hectares of land from the Oppeinheimer-owned Debshan ranch. Officials said the Oppeinheimer family owned land in Zimbabwe that is almost the size of Belgium. The family has disputed the allegations arguing that its owns only 137,314 hectares of land in Zimbabwe, when Belgium's total area is 3,051 900 hectares. The latest listing of the Oppeinheimer farms comes after President Mugabe announced that his government had completed the land reform in the country in August last year. So far the government has acquired more than three-quarters of the farms owned by the 4 500 white commercial farmers. White farming officials say fewer than 300 white commercial farmers remain on their farms. Some of the farmers have relocated to neighbouring countries while others have emigrated overseas.  Many of the white farmers have taken legal action against the government but still await judgement on their cases.

Skills lost in "internal" brain drain (Harare, Irin, 13/08) - Chamunorwa Chirova is a new type of Zimbabwean entrepreneur - he makes his money by illegally selling fuel on the thriving black market. It was not a job he anticipated when he graduated eight years ago with an engineering degree from the University of Zimbabwe. Until two years ago he was working at a beverage firm, struggling along in the depressed formal economy, when the economic crisis and rising cost of living made him reassess his future. "The salaries were so small, and we were working shifts as a result of reduced production. This meant our salaries were sometimes cut," explained 35-year-old Chamunorwa. In the meantime, government price controls on basic commodities had created a booming black market. He decided to resign and take his chances there. Now he supports his two children by selling fuel illegally on the street to desperate motorists, on behalf of dealers who have licences from the authorities to import the scarce commodity, while keeping an alert eye on the police. They are trying to stamp out the black market as it diverts fuel from the official outlets, where it is more than three times cheaper than the street price of Zim $1,500 (US $1.80) a litre, but seldom available. The fuel shortage resulting from the government's crippling lack of foreign exchange has kept Chamunorwa in business. Despite the risks, he has been able to buy an old pickup truck with his earnings. "It's better than nothing, and I almost earn five times what my colleagues I left at that firm do," he said. Tabeth Zuze, 25, made a similar decision to try her hand in the parallel market. She graduated from teachers' training college in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo only last year, but did not relish the idea of working in the rural areas, living in a one-roomed house with no transport, no clean water - and worse - no teaching aids, including even chalk.

She now owns two flea market stalls in Harare's city centre, selling plasticware and china imported from South Africa. "I earn enough to pay rent and buy food. I can [turn over] up to Zim $200,000 [US $244] a month," she said. Teachers in Zimbabwe earn an average of Zim $150,000 (US $183). A recent report by the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre has shown that nearly 500,000 Zimbabwean professionals have left the country since 1990 in search of better opportunities overseas (See IRIN report: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=35578). But an internal movement of skilled Zimbabweans is also under way, robbing the country of much-needed capacity, and shrinking the government's tax revenue base. Both Chirova and Zuze represent the phenomenon of the "internal brain drain" - trained professionals who have remained in the country but chosen not to utilise their skills in formal careers. The impact is felt throughout the professions. One lawyer told IRIN that his firm lost two junior lawyers this year alone. "The guys are now cross-border traders, selling sugar, cooking oil and clothes to Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. They say they earn at least US $5,000 every month," he explained. The average salary for a junior lawyer is Zim $450,000 (US $549). Social worker Michael Phiri said Zimbabwe's formal sector is increasingly understaffed as professionals seek opportunities elsewhere. In many rural communities where he has worked, clinics were manned by orderlies because nurses drifted to urban areas to look for alternative jobs, or joined the legion of Zimbabwean health care workers employed abroad, typically in Britain or South Africa. "Education is no longer a guarantee of employment, nor a good salary, as the economy is now more and more informal," Phiri said. Chivora and Zuze deliberately opted out of formal employment. But for most Zimbabweans, the country's shrinking economy has left them with little other choice.

Zimbabwe's unemployment rate is estimated at 75 percent and is expected to reach 90 percent by the end of 2003. According to George Making, a human resources consultant, 400 companies closed in 2002 alone, leaving at least 350,000 people jobless. Estimates put the number of formal jobs lost at over 800,000 since 2000, employment agent Tapiwa Chikudo told IRIN. The losses were mainly in the agriculture, construction and manufacturing industries. In addition, over 250,000 school leavers join the job market every year. One independent researcher believes Zimbabwe's decline has been so severe that the economy would need to grow by an unprecedented 25 percent over five years to achieve a reasonable recovery. "For Zimbabwe to recover to levels where it can generate sufficient jobs and wealth to ensure the repayment of loans on one hand, whilst allowing a significant improvement in the conditions of life for a poverty stricken and AIDS-ravaged population, the economy must sustain a minimum of a 25 percent economic growth rate over a space of not less than five years," said the researcher with the NGO, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development.

Crossborder traders to hold exhibition in Zambia (The Herald, 12/08) - Local crossborder traders are this month billed to hold an exhibition in Zambia in a move to showcase their activities across the Zambezi.  Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association president Mr Killer Zivhu said the exhibition would be held on August 30 and include more than 100 delegates.  Mr Zivhu said they had to limit the number of exhibitors owing to a high turnout of aspiring participants.  He said local exhibitors will be sharing the stage with those from the Common Market of East and Southern Africa (Comesa).  The Zambian showcase comes after the association failed to secure funds to penetrate the Angolan market were they intended to hold a similar exhibition. "Though the association failed to engage the Angolan market that is at the moment looking lucrative there was need for us to look for another alternative," said Mr Zivhu.  Following the end of the civil war in Angolan many investors identified the attractive market and needed to explore it and this has also become a chance to the Zimbabwean cross border traders to take advantage of the opportunity. Mr Zivhu said the failure to exhibit in Angola is attributed to lack of funds mainly foreign currency and tour to Zambia is successful then they will use that money to rearrange the trip to Zambia. The goods to be exhibited in Zambia includes clothes mainly the Africa attire, craft and paints and the newly invented machines for processing freezits.

Mr Zivhu said they are trying to move away from the traditional items they used to trade, that were finished goods. "We want to diversify to goods which are manmade in a move to promote the informal sector which at the moment employees the largest number of people in the country. "If the trading shifts to craft, clothes and paintings it will limit the shortage of the basic commodities and market goods from the informal sector to find their market in the region", Mr Zivhu. Cross border traders are at the moment involved in the trading of basic commodities that since disappeared from the market. The Government banned the export of basic commodities early this year after the city of Mutare was reported to have run out of most of the basic commodities owing to hoarding by traders from both Zimbabwe and Mozambique. There are some cross border traders who have been opting to trade in foreign currency exchange on the black market than in the consumer goods and this has gone a long way in perpetrating both the parallel market and foreign currency shortages. The Zambian market is likely to be flooded with Zimbabwean traders due to they are now diverting from South Africa because of the newly introduced tough visa conditions for the Zimbabweans intending to travel to South Africa. Most of the traders who were doing business in South Africa are reported to be making inroads into the lucrative market in Botswana, Zambia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Brain drain hits Zimbabwe's health service (Mail & Guardian, 23/08) - Shepherd Mhofu is disgusted. Recently qualified as a doctor, he is doing his residency at Harare's Parirenyatwa hospital. “I have to perform D and Cs [womb scrapes] on women without anaesthetic. I must tell families of critically ill patients that they must buy intravenous drips and medicines. We must perform surgery without gloves," said Mhofu (26) inhaling deeply from a cigarette. "I see patients suffering and dying needlessly because we are working in an unprofessional environment. The medical school should have trained us to work in medical conditions from 200 years ago." Mhofu said he is not paid enough to feed his family, let alone buy a car. "We are paid so little that all of us in the medical profession think about going overseas," he said. "I don't want to go, but I want to work in modern conditions. I want to be paid enough to support my family. That means I must go to Britain, or maybe Australia." Zimbabwe's brain drain has hit the medical profession particularly hard. More than 80% of doctors, nurses and therapists who graduated from the University of Zimbabwe medical school since independence in 1980 have gone to work abroad, primarily in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, according to recent surveys. The exodus has badly affected the country's crumbling health system. The country has fewer than half the 1 500 doctors needed to staff government hospitals adequately. The University of Zimbabwe is operating with less than 50% of its lecturers. The medical school is so badly affected that the annual intake of new stu dents has been reduced from 120 to 70. "Even that is not helping," said one lecturer. "My department has dropped from 12 lecturers to three. The standards of teaching are dropping too."

President Robert Mugabe has accused Britain of "stealing" doctors and nurses from Zimbabwe. "We have created the environment that allows the upliftment of nurses. That's why even Britain comes in the dead of night to steal our people. They are recruiting pharmacists, doctors and nurses," he said last year. But Zimbabwean doctors dispute Mugabe's assessment. "We are not being stolen," said a bitter Mhofu. "We are seeking better pay and better standards. No one can blame us for that. The government would rather spend money on the army and on riot-control vehicles and on new Mercedes-Benz. If some of that money were spent on the health system and our salaries, then we could stay here." Harare paediatrician Greg Powell, chairperson of the Child Protection Society, complains the brain drain includes social workers. "Britain is actively recruiting our social workers to the point where our department of social welfare is about to collapse," said Powell."This means our treatment of Aids orphans is breaking down. We are seeing professional recruitment of our social workers by British agencies. They are offered salaries 20 times greater than what they get here. The result is we have 20 children ready to go to foster homes and it is delayed because there are no social workers to do the reports. British recruiters are directly responsible for that. They are pillaging our human resources."

More Zimbabweans seek refugee status in SA (Cape Town, The Daily News, 11/08) - The number of applicants from Zimbabwe who applied for refugee status in South Africa rose dramatically between 2001 and 2002, according to South African Home Affairs Minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. In reply to a question from New National Party MP Richard Pillay, Buthelezi said that there were 13 applicants from Zimbabwe in 2001 but 305 in 2002. The minister said that in 2001 two applicants were granted refugee status and in 2002 none. In 2001 no application was rejected and in 2002 five were rejected.  "The five applications were rejected as their claims were unfounded.  "They included economic migrants whose intention was to seek employment or persons who had been residing illegally in the RSA for some years without applying for asylum and are now taking advantage of the situation in Zimbabwe.  "The rest of the cases have not been finalised by the various refugee reception offices yet due to staff shortages," the minister said.

Lecturer exodus threatens universities with collapse (The Daily News, 07/08) - I read with interest the story about the exodus of lecturers from the faculty of medicine at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ). Let me say that the medical faculty is just one typical example as the situation is the same in other departments like mathematics, physics, chemistry and pharmacy, to mention just a few. In the department of mathematics at the UZ, about nine lecturers had left by 1 July 2003 with the majority of them having left by 1 January 2003. That figure does not include the graduate research assistants who also left, abandoning their studies for greener pastures in the United States, South Africa or our very own private sector, where they are working as  actuarial trainees.  As I write, one of my colleagues has just left Zimbabwe in the past 24 hours for a similar post in South Africa. Those lecturers who are still in Zimbabwe are here because of these various reasons:
-they are still processing their visas or passports;
- they are busy looking for alternative employment elsewhere in or outside the South African Development Community; and
- some lecturers have business interests in the country and don’t see any need to relocate for purposes of getting better remuneration.
If the Ministry of Higher Education does not act now, then there is a possibility that some departments may close down by January 2004. Most of the vacant posts created by this mass exodus cannot be filled by Zimbabweans due to the scarcity of academics who meet the minimum qualifications. The foreigners too cannot fill the vacant posts due to our poor economy and the poor salaries that lecturers are paid. This means that most universities are now operating with skeletal staff, which results in overworking the lecturers. For instance, in the area of statistics, I don’t know any academic remaining in the country today with a PhD in statistics. I am challenging anyone in Zimbabwe with such a qualification and practising as an academic to respond to this letter. In most cases when posts are advertised in the Press, there are two scenarios: the first one being that there will usually be no respondent for the advertised posts, and the second scenario is that all the applicants won’t meet the minimum requirements for the job. Surely, the government should do something now before the state universities collapse completely.
K Mutangi, Department of Mathematics, Bindura University of Science Education

Cross-border traders complain of harassment (The Herald, 06/08) - Cross-border traders yesterday accused some members of the public of harassing them for contributing to the cash crisis by externalising millions of dollars in local currency.  This follows the admission by Cross-border Traders Association president Mr Killer Zivhu that members of his association had stashed large sums of money outside the country.  There were reports that the traders were being physically and verbally assaulted by some members of the public in Chirundu, Plumtree and Beitbridge.  A cross-border trader who declined to be named said members of the public in Beitbridge assaulted her recently. "About three women approached me and started assaulting me after accusations of externalising local currency and I had to run for dear life," she said.  However, she could not explain why she failed to report the case to the police. Mr Zivhu confirmed that some members of his association had been  assaulted. "Even I have been denounced by some members of the public in the city centre for keeping large sums of money outside the country," he said.  "Now I am trying to avoid passing through bank queues because people are always pouring scorn on me saying, we should bring their money back."  Criminals, Mr Zivhu said, had taken advantage of the situation by mugging cross-border traders on the pretext that they were punishing them for holding onto large sums of money.  He said the public needed to understand that members of his association had taken the money out of the country through ignorance.  "We were not aware that this would have such an impact on the economy and we are still waiting for Government to give a guarantee for the traders to return with the $500 notes in bulk," Mr Zivhu said. Police spokesman Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said they had not yet received reports of cross-border traders being harassed.  The Government recently said it would phase out the $500 note in favour of a new note and gave a deadline of two months to enable people to return the money to the banks.  The shortage of cash continued yesterday with most banks in Harare limiting withdrawals to between $5 000 and $20 000. Some people who were interviewed said they were disgruntled with the cash limit, as this could only cover bus fare. The queues appeared to be shorter but moving slowly and a few individuals were allowed in at a time at most building societies. By mid-afternoon, most commercial banks had closed their doors with only a few automated teller machines issuing cash.

Cross-border traders criticized (The Herald, 01/08) - Cash-strapped Zimbabweans yesterday lashed out at cross-border traders who on Wednesday admitted to hoarding billions of cash in foreign lands. The Herald was yesterday inundated with calls by people demanding that the Government should prosecute the traders who had stashed away billions of dollars in $500 bank notes. The president of the Cross-border Traders Association, Mr Killer Zivhu, said on Wednesday traders had stashed away billions of dollars in Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Herbert Murerwa, could not be reached for comment on whether the Government would permit cross-border traders with huge sums of money outside the country to repatriate it through the country's embassies. But sources said the ministry was expected to issue a statement on the issue today. The shortage of bank notes continued yesterday. There were long queues of people outside banks although there was an increase in the number of automated teller machines providing cash. By close of business, queues were still long in and outside banking halls and at ATMs, but not as long as they have been in the past two weeks. Banks and building societies were still giving limited cash of between $5 000 and $60 000. "We have seen an increase in the number of people and retailers banking some cash. "At today’s pace the situation could improve within a week or two,’’ said a bank manager who declined to be named. Mr Hamilton Wushe of Mutare said the Government should arrest the cross-border traders and prosecute them for "sell-out behaviour’’. "Cross-border dealers were promoted by the Government as part of affirmative action but today they become unpatriotic and externalise our bank notes. "There is no better method of dealing with them than merely arresting them for what they have done,’’ he said. Spokesman of the Retailers Association of Zimbabwe, Mr Willard Zireva said: "We are very concerned about the cash problems the people are facing in this country. "We are no longer charging for the use of bank cards when buying from our shops. "We want to encourage plastic cash than liquid cash,’’ he said.

This page last updated 22 October 2003.