December 2003 - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.
Illegal foreigners expelled
Over 3,000 refugees return home
UN agencies assist with refugees return
Government prioritises resettlement for four million people
Accord on return of refugees signed with South Africa
UNHCR denounces return of asylum seekers to Namibia
2,000 Zimbabweans arrested
Botswana police intensify patrols along Zimbabwe border
Arresting and deporting illegal immigrants
Controversy over deportation of Caprivians
Moves to resuscitate tourism
Zimbabweans immigrants have nowhere to go
Attitude of Botswana/South Africa to Zimbabweans migrants
Foreigners takeover SMMEs
Citizenship amendment bill goes through second reading
Botswana Deporting 1000 Zimbabweans weekly
Zimbabweans to blame for crime, says police chief
Botswana urged to stop crossing borders to buy goods
UNHCR registering Sudanese refugees
600 Taban rebels return from Congo
UN begins repatriation of Congolese refugees
Zambians steal natural resources in Tete
South Africa halts deportation for Christmas
Drug traffickers arrested
New Angolan border post
No bail for Angolan forgery suspect
Police say treason suspects were 'lawfully deported'
UNAM expels 174 Angolan students
Angolan students use fake certificates to study in Namibia
Five-nation parks project
Over 90 foreign nationals sent back home
Home affairs keeps border open for Christmas exodus
Mozambican immigrants risk lives to get home
South Africa halts deportation
Africa is SA tourism's gold mine
African torn apart by xenophobia
Government asked to ease refugees' plight
Skills to refugees go to waste in South Africa
No jobs for refugees in SA
African Refugees have to pay bribes
Plan to boost regional tourist arrivals
Loophole in SA laws could benefit fugitives
Police bust hi-tech forgery factory for fake SA papers
SA Tourism in bid to attract African tourists
Community services for nurses 'will worsen shortages'
Foreigners buy more commercial property
Illegal immigrants caught at Durban roadblock
Tackling infection in mining communities
SANDF soldiers shoot Ethiopian migrants
Judge rules in favour of Zimbabwean refugee
Home affairs client shot by official
Mining industry tackling HIV/Aids head-on
Mozambican migrant arrested
Government policy allows foreign business
68 Swazi women stripped and robbed in South Africa
Burundi refugees on way home
AIDS blamed refugees
Tanzania gears to receive one million tourists
Yemeni, Italians expelled
Commentary on nursing brain drain
Nurses brain drain
Rundown infrastructure at border posts
Development work halted on Zambia, Malawi Border
Immigration laws not effective
Funds needed for border demarcation
Call to amend Immigration Act
Illegal immigrants go underground
Study on border formalities in progress
Volume of traffic at border post rises
Asylum seekers alienated from families
Police officers nabbed in visa scam
Brain drain reaches alarming levels
Greener pastures create passport to corruption
The great exodus continues
Foreign envoys face expulsion
Zimbabweans abroad buy houses
Prospects of recovery in tourism sector bleak
Illegal foreigners expelled (Cabinda, Angop, 28/12) - At least 115 foreign citizens who were living illegally in the provinces of Huambo and Luanda were repatriated on Friday through the border of Cabinda with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Congo Brazzaville. Most of the citizens expelled came from DRC and Congo Brazzavile, while others are Malians, Senegalese and Mauritanians. The border post of Beira-Nova, in Northeast of Ca bind a, was the point from which the DRC citizens were repatriated, while the Massabi post served those from Congo Brazaville and others, with the co-operation of the Immigration Services of those two neighbouring Countries. Twenty five citizens were taken to Cabinda from Luanda and 90 others from central Huambo province. The head of Ca bind a Immigration and Foreigners Services, Manuel Lino, told Angop that the repatriation of the illegal foreigners is going on well.
Over 3,000 refugees return home (Angop, 22/12) - About 3,672 Angolan refugees living in neighbouring countries, are due as from next month to return to the central Bie province, the local coordinator of the Technical Unit for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Mr Felix Gengua said on Sunday, here. Speaking to ANGOP, Felix Gengua, pointed out that those families are located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. According to the official, about 74 families who were living in Zambia have already returned to Bie province, being currently resettled at Kuemba district. Those families are receiving humanitarian assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP) and from other national and foreign non-governmental organisations based in Bie province.
UN agencies assist with refugees return (Angop, 22/12) - The UN Agency, Humanitarian Component of the European Commission, will provide Usd 1.7 million to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to help more than 13.000 Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo to return home. According to a press note that reached Angop today, the assistance will also serve to register Angolan refugees in the Low Congo region. The organisation of landmine dangers awareness seminars is another aim of the agency. The note indicate that the refugees returning on their own to the provinces of Zaire and Uíje will benefit from food assistance. The European Union Humanitarian Component has already provided over a Usd million in the beginning of this year, to assist refugee centres in the northern provinces of Zaire and Uíje.
Government prioritises resettlement for four million people (Angop, 17/12) - The social resettlement of four million Angolans is currently the priority for the Government of Angola, said today in Luanda the vice minister of Social welfare (MINARS), Maria da Luz Magalhães. According to the official, who was speaking at the opening of the National Conference on New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), this includes displaced people, refugees and 300.000 demobilised soldiers and their families. The resettlement of these people into the social life aims at guaranteeing national cohesion and avoiding the creation of definitive crime poles, she emphasised. "Without social reintegration of these part of the population and the rehabilitation of social and economic infra-structures, the expectations set for the objectives of the millennium development will not be accomplished," she stated. Part of the millennium development objectives are the eradication of poverty and hunger, the provision of universal primary education as well as the promotion of gender equity. The reduction in child death rate, improved maternal health, the fight to HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, assuring of a sustainable environment and the promotion of global partnerships for development, are also the proposals for the progress of the millennium. Meanwhile, in Angola extreme poverty line is between 0.70 Us dollars and 1.70 per day. Internationally it is considered as the limit of poverty when it is at two dollars and of extreme poverty at one dollar per day. In 2000, about 68 percent of the Angolan population were considered poor, 26 of whom were in a stage of extreme poverty. The integration of Angola into the group of countries member of the African Union (AU) and into NEPAD project were the main themes discussed at the two-day conference. Members of the Government, Non-Governmental Organisations, civil society and journalists, are attending the conference, organised by the national NGO's Action for Development, Research and International Cooperation (ADPCI). NEPAD was designed by the heads of State of South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Algeria and Egypt in 2002, and its main objective is ridding the African continent from underdevelopment.
Accord on return of refugees signed with South Africa (Luanda, Angop 16/12) - A legal accord for voluntary repatriation of about 13,000 Angolan refugees living in South Africa was signed on Sunday in Pretoria, by the Governments of both countries, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). According to a press note from the UNHCR, the document was signed by Angola's Social Welfare Minister Mr Joao Baptista Kussumua, South Africa's Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the Regional Coordinator of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Voluntary Repatriation of Angolan nationals, Kallu Kalumiya. The agreement establishes the creation of a tripartite commission responsible for the supervision of the implementation of the repatriation process from South Africa to Angola, including the register and organisation of transportations for the returnees to their areas of origin. The convention also compromises the signatories to respect the rights of those being repatriated, as well as the voluntary nature of the repatriation and to facilitate their passage in border posts and to aid the vulnerable refugees in their homelands. In South Africa, the Angolan refugees are mostly concentrated in urbane areas of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Similar accords had been signed with the Governments of the neighbouring Zambia, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana and the Republic of Congo in the past years.
UNHCR denouces return of asylum seekers to Namibia (United Nations, 24/12)- Denouncing Botswana's recent deportation of eight Namibian asylum seekers to their home country, the United Nations refugee agency today pressed the Gaborone Government for an explanation. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also called Botswana's action a violation of its "non-refoulement" policy, which prohibits the forced return of asylum-seekers to areas where they could face danger - a cornerstone of international refugee protection. The Namibians in question could be charged with high treason. The agency said it was neither given a chance to look into the cases nor advised of the deportations. "We cannot accept that these asylum seekers were deported without a chance to explain their case," said UNHCR's representative in Botswana, Benny Otim. After seeking asylum, the eight were removed from a detention centre for illegal immigrants in Francistown on 10 December. The authorities say they lost their claim to asylum after allegedly going back to visit Namibia while seeking asylum in Botswana. Human rights groups agree that some of the men had gone back but stress that they were forced to flee again because of rising tensions in northeastern Namibia's Caprivi Strip. According to these groups, the men were reportedly seen on 15 December shackled and under heavy guard at a local court in a Caprivi Strip town near the border with Zambia. They have since allegedly been transferred to a maximum-security prison in Grootfontein in northern Namibia. UNHCR's Namibia office is watching the case closely.
2,000 Zimbabweans arrested (Daily News, 19/12)- Francistown police have arrested about 2 000 Zimbabweans for various offences, incuding over staying and staying in the country illegally during recent sweeps in the city. Kutlwano Station Commander Superintendent Robert Kalasi said in an interview that they intended to intensify their patrols to reduce crime during the festive season. He said combined patrols, comprising the Department of Immigration, wildlife, customs, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), local police and Francistown City Council officials start at 5a.m. until midnight. Meanwhile, the BDF is planning to intensify patrols along the Botswana/Zimbabwean border to curb cross border crime.
Botswana police intensify patrols along Zimbabwe border (Daily News, 17/12)- Botswana police have intensified patrols along the Botswana/Zimbabwean border after an upsurge in stocktheft cases and damages to the newly built electrified fence between the two countries. Senior superintendent Boikhutso Dintwa of Francistown police said that some Zimbabwean had been jailed after they were found with gumpoles stolen from the fence and fresh meat of livestock they snared in Botswana. He said one Zimbabwean had a pending case of allegedly stealing four donkeys and driving them across the border into Zimbabwe. Vandalism of the electrified fence was common between Matsiloje and Ramokgwebana villages, Dintwa said, adding that some culprits had been arrested with the help of Zimbabwe police. Meanwhile, a resident of Jackals II, Bagisamang Keakantse, blamed Zimbabwean illegals for the rise in house breaking and theft cases, as well as snaring of domestic and wild animals in Tshelagabedi and Jakaclas II areas. Keakantse said the illegals cross into Botswana by cutting the electric fence, snare animals and skin them, before returning to their country with the meat. Zimbabweans are always armed and sometimes use dogs to hunt wild animals. Keakantse said in some case animals were driven across the border, especially at Jackalas II, Siviya, Senyawe and Jackalas One villages.
Arresting and deporting illegal immigrants (Daily News, 17/12)- A senior local police officer at Gerald Estates in Francistown says the process of arresting and deporting illegal immigrants is an endless game. “We deport them, but they come back the same day,” Inspector Lorato Enosa says in an interview on Monday, adding that more often than not they deal with the same people. She said they have established a police station at Gerald Estate to combat increased crime that is perpetrated by criminals among the illegal immigrants. She pleaded with Batswana to stop accommodating illegal immigrants as it is illegal to do so and contributes to crime. Most illegal immigrants claim they fled their country to escape starvation or persecution for involvement in politics. Others claim they returned to collect money owned them by some Batswana. Enosa observed that some Batswana men are exploiting the situation faced by illegal immigrants by turning young girls among them into sex objects. Some of the girls end up having unwanted babies and dumping them, she said.
Controversy over deportation of Caprivians (Johannesburg, Irin, 16/12) -The Botswana government has denied claims by a Namibian human rights NGO that a group of Caprivian "refugees" were "abducted" from Botswana to face high treason charges in Namibia. Presidential press secretary Jeff Ramsay told IRIN on Tuesday that the group of eight Caprivians were "de facto illegal aliens" and had been lawfully deported to Namibia on 13 December. Ramsay said the eight had previously been granted asylum, but had returned to Namibia in 1999, thereby losing their refugee status. They were detained as illegal immigrants when they tried to cross back into Botswana. He said he had "no information" that Namibia had lobbied for their return to face treason charges over the 1999 attack by separatist rebels on the Caprivi capital, Katima Mulilo. The Caprivi region is an arid strip of territory in northeastern Namibia bordering Angola, Botswana and Zambia. Director of Namibia's National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), Phil ya Nangoloh, rejected the Botswana government's position that the detainees had forfeited a right to refugee status. "It doesn't matter how many times they fled if they had a reasonable fear that they could not avail themselves of adequate security in Namibia," he told IRIN. He said at least one of the eight, Mathew Musweu, had been part of a voluntary repatriation programme organised by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in 1999. However, he had allegedly been harassed by the Namibian security forces on the grounds of his separatist sympathies, to the point where he applied once again for asylum in Botswana. "If indeed [the eight] had been in Botswana and went back to Namibia in 1999, any reasonable person, knowing what the [security] situation was at the time, would not be surprised if they went back [to Botswana] again. There were many cases where people were told it was safe, but when they came back they were shot - I know of two cases," ya Nangoloh said. He added that according to the NSHR's records, one of the deported Caprivians, Immanuel Makendano, applied for asylum in Botswana for the first time in 2001, but was instead detained when he crossed the border. The UNHCR Representative for South Africa, Bemma Donkoh, who is also responsible for UNHCR's Botswana office, told IRIN that the refugee agency had only recently been given access to the eight men, and was studying their cases. Their deportation had "come as something of a surprise", and UNHCR would be "seeking a formal clarification from the [Botswana] government".The eight are expected to face trial in Grootfontein in northern Namibia, along with some 120 suspects charged with high treason over alleged separatist activities, Ya Nangoloh said. The first influx of Caprivians arrived in Botswana in 1998 following the discovery by the authorities of a Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) training camp in the home area of Mishak Muyongo, a politician and traditional leader of the Mafwe ethnic group, who had begun to agitate for succession. A repatriation programme was launched by UNHCR the following year, but the CLA's attack on government installations in Katima Mulilo in 1999, which left 12 people dead, led to a fresh influx of refugees into Botswana, straining relations between the two countries. A total of 2,400 Caprivians crossed the border between 1998 and 1999. UNHCR launched a fresh voluntary repatriation drive last year, after the Namibian government guaranteed the security of the returnees. However, a number of Caprivians loyal to Muyongo have chosen to remain in Botswana's Dukwi refugee camp.
Moves to resuscitate tourism (Business Week, 15/12)-The number of tourists visiting Botswana has dramatically dwindled in the past year due to the external political turmoil, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has disclosed. The report is due for release early next month. The report says that the number of arrivals in the country was recorded at 1,917 819 during this year, but people who have registered as tourists at their point of entry were only 197 219 against the 306 908 recorded the previous year. Mostly arrivals were from South Africa with a total number of 658 648, followed by Zimbabwe with 533 421. Most were women. The move has led to much tourism sector-listed companies reporting subdued profits this year, citing the Zimbabwe political crisis and the US-led war on Iraq. "The fall in the tourists is largely due to the external factor that we have no control over. "There was a dramatic decline of tourist arrivals in the country after the September 11 attacks, as well as the war on Iraq. Zimbabwe is also a factor," the Chief Executive of Hotel & Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) , Odirile Merafhe said. The regional and international political crisis saw Afro-tourism - a venture capital tourism outfit - and its peer in the market, Chobe Holdings, announce some downbeat results. However, the sector is embarking on some international campaigns and rolling out some products that are aimed at resuscitating the market. Afro-tourism said it has injected over P2 million in the drive to get draw tourists into the market and is also working on packages that involve the experience of the beach - through its Planet Africa Lodge and wildlife and wilderness in the northern parts of the country, especially in the Chobe and Makgadidkgadi area. "We are continually promoting the country as a safe place even if Zimbabwe suffers problems," Merafhe said.
Zimbabweans immigrants have nowhere to go (Francistown, Mmegi, 15/12)- A 24-year-old Zimbabwean woman - completely in a world of her own - sits on her huge black luggage bag at the Francistown-Ramokgwebana taxi stop. She ponders deeply as to what has happened to her two friends. "Our plan was to leave in the morning by bus for Bulawayo. I have been waiting here for the past four hours and my friends are nowhere to be seen," said a worried Sarah Ndlovu. The last time Sarah and her friends crossed the Ramokgwebana border at the gazetted point of entry was about six months ago. The three women have regularly illegally crossed the border into Botswana from Zimbabwe to find menial jobs. Mostly they go unnoticed. The police, who "trouble illegal Zimbabwean" have never managed to round up Ndlovu and her friends. "I suspect that my friends could have been nabbed by police when they left the houses where they had been temporarily employed as housemaids," contemplated Ndlovu. She added that the three of them have been hired by some teachers at a local secondary school to cook, wash clothes and sometimes to baby-sit. They have been renting a one-roomed house in town and shared it to be able to afford the rent. Their employers have told them to leave because the schools have closed. Wednesday morning was another chance to escape unnoticed. As tough luck would have had it, Ndlovu fears that the police nabbed her mates and took them to the centre for illegal immigrants where border jumpers are kept while awaiting deportation. She finds herself in a serious dilemma. She cannot go back to the house they rented because she could fall in the trap of the police. "I have seen a number of Zimbabwean illegals bundled into police vans before. "We have been very lucky ourselves - until today's incident," she said. When brought to her attention that she had broken the law, she had no qualms. "My brother, have you ever been to Zimbabwe, or read about Zim. "Millions of people in our country are literally starving", she explained. She claims to have been a teacher at a primary school in Zimbabwe before, but was driven by hunger to Botswana in the hope that things would work out here. "Prices are soaring everyday while the value of the Zim dollar plunges almost daily. This is a sad reality isn't it?" she asked. She said that she breaks the law to survive. She finds herself in a fix because her passport shows that she has an entry stamp from the Immigration Department but that she has overstayed. "I cannot risk going into the bush with people I don't know and trust. I would rather hand myself to the police so that I join my mates at the centre until we are driven back home." Ndlovu is one of the many Zimbabwean illegals that are arrested daily. She finally stated that she would rather hand herself over than risk her life. Zimbabwean illegal immigrants fleeing economic realities back home, flock to the city in the hope of getting menial jobs. Daily they traipse the streets and residences in search of jobs. Most of them are women. Male illegal immigrants mainly flock the industrial sites in search of "piece jobs". Most of them are qualified, but because they cannot be absorbed into the labour force back home, they find themselves moving from yard to yard in search of opportunities. They are mostly cheap to hire and are employed at cattle posts and jobs shunned by Batswana. The Francistown Commanding Police District Officer, Boikhutso Dintwa, has seen the many faces of illegal immigrants. His officers have even set up special operations to nab Zimbabwean illegals. "The situation is just like before. We still have them living amongst us and we still arrest them almost on a daily basis," explained Dintwa. The police are worried that their budget for feeding awaiting-trial prisoners while they are locked up, has been under strain because they feed many illegals before handing them over to the Centre for Illegal Immigrants. Government vehicles also transport them, which further puts strain on the budgets.
Attitude of Botswana/South Africa to Zimbabweans migrants (Mmegi, 12/12)- According to Amnesty International, there are currently about 10.6 million refugees and 175 million migrants in the world. This means almost 3 percent of the world's people have left their home countries, either for economic reasons or to flee from wars and internal conflicts. In the past two years, politicians in Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries have frequently expressed their fears of an exodus of Zimbabweans fleeing the economic and political crisis in their country. These fears have been used to explain why the governments of some of these countries do not wish to take a tougher stand against Zimbabwe or why they do not support the imposition of sanctions against their neighbour. Estimates of Zimbabweans who have entered Botswana illegally range from 60,000 to 800,000. To place the figures in context: Botswana has a population of 1.7 million. In South Africa, visa requirements for Zimbabweans coming to or passing through South Africa have recently been tightened. Holiday visas, for example, can only be obtained if the applicant can prove funds of at least 1000 Rands. The bank where the currency was issued has to endorse the funds in the applicant's passport. Given the chronic shortage of foreign exchange in Zimbabwean banks, those wishing to apply for a South African visa effectively cannot get it. According to the South African department of home affairs, 1471 Zimbabweans applied for refugee status between January 1994 and September 2003. Only 11 of the applications were approved. According to an official from UNHCR the low number of applicants from Zimbabwe is partly attributed to the fear of being rejected or deported if applications are unsuccessful, and partly to a lack of education both on the part of South African officials about the situation in Zimbabwe and of Zimbabweans about the procedure for applying for asylum. The official believes that the vast majority of Zimbabweans entering South Africa are not refugees but economic migrants. Between January 1994 and December 2002, 38,118 Zimbabweans were repatriated from South Africa. This year, between January and September, 41,207 Zimbabweans were repatriated, demonstrating both a marked increase in the number of Zimbabweans crossing the Limpopo this year and the increased efforts of the South African government to return illegal immigrants. Commonwealth secretary-general, Don McKinnon recently said, quoting South African president Thabo Mbeki, that more than 3 million Zimbabweans live illegally in South Africa. As refugee and illegal immigrant populations are notoriously difficult to quantify, finding a tangible basis for these fears is problematic. Consequently, anecdotal evidence of these 'tides of illegal immigrants' fuel xenophobic reactions in neighbouring countries. In Botswana and South Africa, Zimbabwean immigrants are often accused of perpetrating criminal acts. The distinction between migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants is lost. According to the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees (also known as the Refugee Convention), a refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of origin and genuinely risks serious human rights abuses because of who he or she is or what he or she believes. The refugee cannot or will not return because his government cannot or will not protect him. Because of the persecution he would face, a refugee is entitled to be protected against forcible return to his country of origin. An asylum-seeker is a person who is seeking protection as a refugee even though she may not have been formally recognised as one. It normally applies to a person who is still waiting for the government to decide whether she is a refugee. 'The lack of a formal recognition does not make (a refugee) any less entitled to protection of international refugee law,' according to Amnesty International. Asylum seekers and refugees enjoy the same rights as any human being under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including protection against discrimination, work rights, housing, education and freedom of movement. Migrants are people who may have left their country voluntarily, because they fear for their safety, or to escape the threat of starvation. In July, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families came into effect. 'This is an important recognition that migrants' rights must also be respected and protected,' Amnesty International has stated. However, despite numerous declarations and conventions, the trend towards tightening controls over who is allowed into a country and who is not is a global one. 'The right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution - a core principle of human rights protection and the very foundation of international refugee protection - is under serious threat, not least from the same states who were the primary architects of the international refugee regime 50 years ago,' says Human Rights Watch. Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are frequently treated as one entity and become the targets of discrimination and violence, both on the part of ordinary citizens as well as civil servants and police officials. High unemployment rates, the 'brain drain' to countries in the North and overburdened public service infrastructures fuel the fear of immigrants and foster a culture of xenophobia in Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries. Despite evidence to the contrary, many South Africans, for example, believe immigrants 'steal' their jobs. Studies have, in fact, shown that many immigrants create employment by hiring South Africans for small businesses. It is also inaccurate to blame immigrant populations for high crime rates. The attitudes of Zimbabwe's neighbours reflect the need for education about the rights of refugees and migrants. Non-governmental organisations have taken on the task of fighting xenophobia and informing citizens of immigrants' rights. However, governments and politicians set the tone. By using inflammatory phrases like 'exodus of illegal immigrants' and 'tides of refugees', they fan the fears of refugees and asylum seekers from Zimbabwe and other African countries. The consequence: the abuse of the human rights of migrant populations and further persecution. The International Bar Association, an organisation that represents the Law Societies and Bar Associations around the world, and works to uphold the rule of law.
Foreigners takeover SMMEs (Mmegi, 12/12)- The burning question of what constitutes a genuine investor given the massive influx of foreign petty traders became a hotly contested issue this week. Swift Mpoloka of BEDIA felt foreign pretty traders do not add any value to the economy and do not fit the typical description of genuine investors. According to Mpoloka, BEDIA interprets as a bona fide investor someone with the expertise to transform the abundance of Botswana's raw materials into finished products. He said BEDIA does not support the current trend where foreign petty traders are illegally taking over business ventures that were hitherto supposedly preserved for citizens only. Mpoloka was of the opinion that since there is little manufacturing in the country, BEDIA was targeting investment in this sector. This is because the majority of manufacturing ventures have ready markets outside the country, especially overseas through such programmes as AGOA. Mpoloka felt that the problem of foreign petty traders could be located in the lax system of licensing and allocation of business space that are badly in need of tightening and synchronising. "We are busy talking to government about this and another investment code is currently being developed with the assistance of the UNTACD. It is anticipated that such a code will be finalised in the near future". He added that government has recently informed BOCCIM that the code will be completed soon. He felt that an ideal business code would be one emphasising a handsome initial capital outlay. He was of the view that there are different types and levels of real investors who add value to the national economy. These he said are those who invest in immovable property such as real estate. "Those who bring in stock to sell on the street and in shops are definitely not investors," Ebrahim concurred. Mogomotsi Gabaikanngwe, a local contractor felt that "although certain categories of businesses are by law supposed to have been reserved for citizens only under the Trade and Liquor Act, evidence indicates that such reservations are only on paper as they are increasingly being flouted". Various government departments that are responsible for overseeing such business reservations as stipulated in the Trade and Liquor Act "are paralysed and impotent to enforce and police the Act. As a result foreigners from neighbouring countries as well as from the Asian sub-continent, find it easy to operate locally as street vendors, hawkers, owners of butcheries, take aways, bottle stores and retailing of clothes and other assorted paraphernalia, which do not require a substantial capital outlay or expertise to operate", said Gabaikanngwe. Citizen SMMEs believe that the problem lies with the government that has increasingly demonstrated little regard for the interests of its own citizens. Consequently not only is the commercial sector saturated by foreigners and other non-citizens, many up coming local small and micro enterprises are unable to graduate to more ambitious commercial enterprises.
Citizenship amendment bill goes through second reading (Daily News, 10/12)- The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeking to amend the Citizenship Act has gone through second reading in Parliament. Presenting the bill in Parliament on Monday, Labour and Home Affairs Minister Thebe Mogami said it seeks to amend Section 15 of the Citizenship Act to prevent persons over 21 years of age from holding dual citizenship. Clause 3 seeks to amend Section 15 to permit Batswana to retain their Botswana citizenship when they acquire or are bestowed the citizenship of the country of origin of their spouse. This might be as a result of the law of the country of their foreign spouse either requiring them to be registered as a citizen of that country or automatically conferring the citizenship of that country on them as a result of marriage. He said the bill would seek to enable a person wishing to denounce citizenship of another country and require Botswana citizenship to do so. The bill also proposes that an applicant wishing to naturalise only needs to satisfy the minimum requirement of 10 years continuous residential period. The bill is now set to go through the committee stage and then third reading. Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Daniel Kwelagobe also tabled a bill seeking to amend the Constitution. The bill has however been referred to the House of Chiefs for their contribution. The bill would seek to amend sections 77, 78 and 79 of the Botswana Constitution. One of the envisaged changes is the renaming of the'House of Chiefs' as 'Ntlo ya Dikgosi' and substituting words "chiefs, sub-chiefs or headmen," which appear in the Constitution, with "dikgosi and dikgosana".
Botswana deporting 1000 Zimbabweans weekly (Zimbabwe Standard, 7/12)- Botswana President Festus Mogae says his country deports about 1000 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants each week but these people waste no time to sneak back into the diamond rich country. Taking questions in a special BBC global phone in programme, Talking Point, Mogae said Botswana hired a lot of Zimbabwean professionals such as doctors, but got more than it bargained for. "I said earlier to somebody that we are dependent on African professionals and we hire a great many people from Zimbabwe with skills. But there are of course in addition - there are a lots of skilled and unskilled workers who come into the country illegally," said Mogae. "We send about a thousand back every week but they come right back. Well, to the extent that these people are living uncertain lives and so on, I don't think they're helping the situation," he said. Asked whether these illegal immigrants were actually bringing HIV into the diamond-rich country which has the highest incidence of the pandemic in the world, Mogae said: "There's HIV in Zimbabwe, in Zambia and in Botswana, so how can I say they are bringing HIV here when there is HIV here and in South Africa? It's in the region as a whole." But the leader of the stable Southern African state admitted the influx of the Zimbabwean illegal immigrants were to blame for an escalation of problems in his country. "And so I hope that the people of Zimbabwe and everybody will understand and Yes, illegal immigration tends to exacerbate already existing problems - whether it's crime or whether it's HIV/Aids or STDs in general," said Mogae.
Zimbabweans to blame for crime, says police chief (Gaborone, Mail&Guardian, 5/12)- Botswana's police chief has broken ranks with its government by blaming hordes of illegal border-crossers from Zimbabwe for a sharp increase in crime, a daily newspaper reported on Wednesday."The influx of illegal immigrants into Botswana, most especially the Zimbabweans, is a serious problem impacting negatively on the crime scene and undermines crime prevention efforts," police commissioner Norman Moleboge told the Botswana Gazette."Zimbabweans have now become a formidable burden to the police service," he said. "The police facilities are overcrowded by Zimbabweans. Our facilities are flooded... and we are no longer able to maintain a proper upkeep of our offices."Botswanan President Festus Mogae last month vowed to crack down on illegal immigrants and constantly referred to the regional political problems in Zimbabwe without directly naming the country.Botswana is currently experiencing a huge influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe as a result of a political and economical meltdown in the neighbouring country.The country's immigration department has said more than 125 000 Zimbabweans enter the country illegally every month. On an average, only 2 500 are repatriated every month.The police boss said even law-abiding Zimbabweans who entered the country covertly were "draining the resources" of Botswana.The illegal immigrants have been blamed an upswing of crime in the country, including robberies, murders, rapes and petty theft.
Botswana urged to stop crossing borders to buy goods (BOPA, 1/12)-Shoshong MP Duke Lefhoko has urged Batswana to stop travelling across borders to buy goods or brands that are locally available. Contributing to the debate on President Festus Mogae’s state-of- the-nation address in Parliament on November 27, he criticised Batswana for having an inferiority complex and believing that everything foreign was superior. He said they preferred to buy goods in foreign countries while goods of the same quality and brand were available locally. Batswana, he said, must discard the notion that everything that comes from outside is superior. "We must have confidence in ourselves," he said. Lefhoko appealed to opposition politicians not to politicise issues and challenges such as HIV/AIDS, poverty and unemployment. Instead, politicians should explain the situation as it is to the nation and propose solutions to such problems. He said the financial constraints that the country is facing should also be clearly spelt out to the nation. He commended Gaborone West MP Robert Molefhabangwe for his impartiality when discussing issues of national interest. Lefhoko, who is the Assistant Minister of Education, said over P600 million that is owed to government must be recovered and used to address some of the problems. He said stringent measures and supervision must be in place, to avoid cost escalations caused by failure to complete projects on time. Lefhoko is not convinced about the wonders the Performance Management System (PMS) is supposed to perform. "I see very little going on vis-à-vis improvement on PMS." He said time is spent attending workshops at the expense of service delivery. However, he said government should not be rushed into another intervention before seeing PMS and the Work Improvement Teams (WITs) to their logical conclusion. Lefhoko spoke against the unruly behaviour of the youth and urged parents to play their part in moulding their children into responsible adults instead of abdicating such responsibility to teachers. He challenged churches to join hands with government in the fight against HIV/AIDS and commended the Roman Catholic, United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, Seventh Day Adventist Church and Gutara Mwari for doing something about the epidemic. He also complained about people with multiple sexual partners, saying they contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
UNHCR registering Sudanese refugees (UNHCR, 22/12)- The UN refugee agency has registered more than 6,000 Sudanese refugees in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in a bid to improve assistance and prepare the ground for possible repatriation. Last Friday, UNHCR concluded a registration campaign for Sudanese refugees in Orientale province, north-eastern DRC. The 12-day exercise involved 6,535 refugees from Rudu 1 and 2 sites around Aba, and in Ariwara, near Aru. Cheik Tidiane Pouye, who heads UNHCR's sub-office in Aru, welcomed the operation. "This step is very important because it will allow UNHCR to get reliable statistics and to enhance its protection and assistance in various sectors provided to Sudanese refugees," he said. He added that the database being set up could help UNHCR and the international community to better prepare for the voluntary return of Sudanese refugees pending the signing of a peace agreement in Sudan between SPLA (South People Liberation Army) and the Khartoum government. The refugees themselves were pleased with the registration, which will continue in other areas next year. "Thank you very much to UNHCR and to DRC for this operation," said a Sudanese refugee woman living in Rudu 2. "The ration card and the registration give us a feeling of dignity and freedom. Surely, it will ensure better protection for us." She added, "The registration and identification exercise is a window of opportunity. All refugees wish that rebels and the Sudanese government can reach a peace agreement soon so that we can return to our country." Another Sudanese refugee expressed the same concern: "We need peace and nothing else." It is estimated that 80 percent of the 69,000 Sudanese refugees in Orientale province are ready to repatriate once a peace accord is reached at home. In all, the 20-year civil war in Sudan has displaced some 4 million people inside the country and another 570,000 others across the border into neighbouring states. The largest numbers of Sudanese refugees are in Uganda, followed by Ethiopia, Kenya and the DRC.
600 Taban rebels return from Congo (Kampala, New Vision, 19/12)- Over 600 fighters of Taban Amin have returned to Uganda from their base in Kitona, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The last batch of 200 fighters arrived at Entebbe International Airport at 1.00a.m yesterday aboard two United Nations planes, airport officials said. They said the unarmed rebels were driven in a convoy of UN vehicles to an undisclosed location. "They did not come with arms, the UN under MONUC (United nations Mission in Congo) had already disarmed them," the source added. The source said the ex-rebels were received by officers from the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and External Security Organisation (ESO). Some of the returnees had served in ex-president Idi Amin's regime in 1971-1979. The first batch of the ex-rebels arrived last month on UN planes. Taban and UPDF spokesman Maj. Shaban Bantariza could not be reached for comment. Taban returned home in October, ending a 24-year self-imposed exile. He has since pledged to work with the Government to fight the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony.
UN begins repatriation of Congolese Refugees (Bangui, Irin, 17/12)- The first 301 of thousands of Congolese refugees in the Central African Republic (CAR) returned home on Tuesday under a repatriation programme facilitated by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). "We want the returnees to go directly to their home regions," Jean Kitambala, the director for civil protection and refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Interior Ministry told IRIN. He was in the CAR capital, Bangui, to accompany the returnees. A ceremony marking the beginning of the repatriation process took place at the Bangui Mpoko airport, presided over by CAR Interior Minister Marcel Malonga. Most returnees wore T-shirts written on them "long live Kabila", in reference to Congolese President Joseph Kabila. "I was in Kisangani [northeastern DRC] selling fish when fighting forced me to flee and I arrived here in 1999," Honorine Balanga, a 50-year-old mother of two told IRIN before she boarded a plane for Kinshasa, the DRC capital. "I am going to resume my fish-selling business," she added. Those who left on Tuesday were 77 families comprising 154 children, 78 women and 69 men. They had been in Bangui for three months, awaiting their repatriation, which was delayed because the Congolese government had to ascertain the areas of origin of the returnees to avoid having them turn into internally displaced people in the capital. Kitambala said that about 50 cases of people coming from regions other than Kinshasa had been detected. He said those among the 7,000 Congolese refugees in the CAR who were willing to return home would be repatriated after the signing of a tripartite repatriation agreement among the governments of the CAR, the DRC and the UNHCR. Consultations were reported to be underway on this issue but no date had been fixed for the signing of the agreement. Gabriel Guerebendo, 70, from Kotakoli in the northwestern province of Equateur in the DRC was among the returnees. He has 12 children and was a former director of the Libenge airport in Equateur before he fled to the CAR. Guerebendo arrived in the southern CAR town of Mongoumba, 189 km south of Bangui, in 1999 when the then rebels of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) attacked and captured the town of Libenge. "I am going to Kinshasa because the directorate of civil aviation is there," he told IRIN. He added that he was ready to take up a new position anywhere in the country. Guerebendo was head of a committee of the returnees. He said that before leaving the Red Cross compound in Bangui where they had been gathered, the UNHCR had given each adult returnee 55,000 francs CFA (US $100) and each child some 28,000 francs CFA ($50). Gbodo Mondo, 28, who had just obtained his high school certificate in languages, said he had declined to enrol in the Bangui University "because I want to go and study in Kinshasa". He was visiting relatives in Equateur when war broke out in the province in 1999, forcing him to flee to the CAR. Tuesday's returnees were the first batch of Congolese refugees in the CAR to be repatriated. Their repatriation took place one day after the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner, Kamel Morjane, visited the country and announced that the agency would embark on massive repatriation operations in 2004. Before his departure from the CAR, Morjane, who is currently touring Chad, told a news conference that he had received assurances from CAR leader Francois Bozize that the River Oubangui, which forms the CAR-DRC border, would be reopened specially for the UN agency to enable it to repatriate Congolese refugees returning to Equateur Province, which is across the Oubangui. During a visit to Camp Molangue, 120 km south of Bangui, where a total of 2,960 Congolese refugees have been living since February 2001, Morjane told the refugees willing to go home to patient to allow the UNHCR finalise repatriation arrangement with the two governments.
Zambians steal natural resources in Tete - (Maputo, Aim, 3/12)- The Mozambican authorities in the districts of Chifunde and Zumbo, in the western province of Tete, have complained of illegal exploitation of hardwoods and precious stones by Zambian citizens, reports Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias". They say that Zambians also cross the border to steal cattle, poach wildlife, and encroach on agricultural land. In these illegal activities, they often rely on Mozambican accomplices. Chifunde district administrator David Marizane said that six Mozambicans have been arrested accused of illegally felling logs and exploiting precious stones, that are later sold on to Zambians. "The district authorities, in coordination with the local residents, have been carrying out stricter forestry inspections, since the first half of this year and, thanks to local denunciations, they have been neutralising some people illegally felling hardwoods", he said. He added that "most of the timber is taken by Zambian citizens to their country and, in the bilateral meetings between the governments of the neighbouring districts of both countries, these cases, and those of cattle theft have been discussed. It is hoped that measures will be taken, in a near future, to solve the situation". He also claimed that Zambians are crossing the border in large numbers and occupying agricultural land. Meanwhile, the governors of the districts of Macanga, Angonia, Maravia, and Zumbo, are complaining of increasing crime rates along the borders with Zambia and Malawi, particularly cattle theft. "It is usual to see in our territory cattle stolen from Zambia or Malawi, while cattle stolen on our territory is sold in those two countries", said Herculano Conde, Zumbo district administrator. He added that "besides cattle, the Zambians are most interested in timber, and in poaching". He said that local community committees for the preservation of wildlife "are working well, but don't have enough transport to carry out inspection in the bush. This makes it difficult to detect some of the crimes, particularly illegal logging and poaching". The Tete provincial government has confirmed the reports from the district administrators. It has expressed great concern, saying that it is striving, in coordination with the private sector, to find ways to put an end to such practices, that are depriving the province of its resources. "The province possesses some forest species of great economic value and wildlife resources in sufficient quantities to bring it to a prominent position in the country", said Firmino Augusto, the Tete provincial head of the Forestry and Wildlife Services. He expressed concern that uncontrolled logging, particularly in the northern districts of Tete, will lead to deforestation.
South Africa Halts deportation for Christmas ( Maputo, Aim, 22/12)- The South African authorities have announced that they will stop deporting illegal Mozambican migrants over the festive season. The Ministry of the Interior announced that it found that many Mozambican clandestine migrants were deliberately handing themselves over to the police, in the hope of getting a free ride back home, where they planned to spend Xmas and New Year with their families. The South African authorities have declined to cooperate. The Ministry announced that there will be no further repatriations until after the New Year of migrants, not only from Mozambique, but also from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Malawi, Lesotho, Pakistan and China. The Mozambican consul-general in Johannesburg, Adelino Luis da Silva, told AIM he thought that about 1,000 Mozambicans would be affected by this measure. These are people awaiting deportation at the Lindela transit centre. Earlier in the year, about 800 Mozambicans were being repatriated every fortnight, and it was planned to raise this figure to 1,000 in December. Instead the repatriations have been put on hold until January. "The deportations will be undertaken in early 2004, and we shall put a very rigorous system of control into place along the borders", announced a Lindela official. "These illegals should not think we're going to give them a lift back home". The result of halting the repatriations is that Lindela is now completely full. When AIM phoned the camp, an official said there was no more room in the dormitories. Yet illegal migrants arrested by the police continue to arrive there. Reacting to the Interior Ministry measure, the South African Human Rights Commission expressed its concern, and demanded that the rules and principles governing the state's behaviour towards illegal migrants must be upheld. Mogan Moodliar, the head of the commission's legal services, warned that his institution might sue the government if it holds any foreigners in Lindela for more than 30 days, since this happens to be against the law. "If the Interior Ministry does not evacuate those detainees within 30 days, the commission will present a complaint in court", he said. Between 1994 and last year, the South African authorities deported more than 1.4 million foreigners, the majority of them Mozambicans and Zimbabweans.
Drug Traffickers Arrested (Maputo, Aim, 30/12)- The Mozambican police last week arrested three people at Maputo international airport who were found to be carrying cocaine in their luggage, reports Tuesday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias". The police have not released the names of the three, merely saying that one of them is a Mozambican and the other two are foreigners. 90 capsules containing cocaine were found, and "Noticias" carries a photo of this haul. The route followed by the traffickers was the same as used by others caught earlier this year. They travelled to Maputo from Brazil via Lisbon, and their final destination was South Africa. According to a police source cited by the paper, other police forces cooperated with the Mozambican authorities, alerting them to the presence of individuals carrying cocaine on board this flight. It is thought that the three are part of the same group as Singathawa Mandongana and Zelda Haas, two South African women arrested at the airport earlier this year, and found to be carrying cocaine in their stomachs. A key figure in this ring is believed to be Smart Isac, a Tanzanian travelling on a South African passport, who was arrested at Johannesburg airport earlier this month.
New Angolan border post (Namibian, 29/12)- The Ministry of Home Affairs has agreed to declare this settlement an international border post from early next year.Last Monday the Deputy Director of Immigration, Aliens and Border Control, Nkrumah Mushelenga, accompanied by the Chief Immigration Officer for the North, Nikanor Ekaku, told a large gathering of residents here that the Government had heard their demand and approved it.Although the news came as a welcome Christmas present to the residents, and the business community in particular, lack of Government money to pay for immigration and Customs officers' accommodation has meant that their offices and housing will be provided by the business people of Okalango.The Chief of the Ombandja Traditional Authority, Mathias Walaula, told Mushelenga that his Traditional Authority had already provided a plot on which immigration and Customs offices could be constructed.The Kashamane border post is between the existing Oshikango and Mahenene border posts.Demands for the declaration of Omweelo wa Kashamane as an international border post have been mounting since 2000 and early this year villagers, led by the Vice Chairman of the Omusati regional branch of the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Robby Amadhila, met at Onandjaba village, close to Kashamane, in Okalongo constituency (Omusati Region) to discuss the matter.That meeting was also attended by the Governor of Omusati Region, Sackey Kayone, Omusati regional councillors and traditional leaders.Residents in Omusati Region and from Cunene in Angola had complained of long journeys to the Oshikango, Mahenene and Ruacana border posts when travelling from Angola to Namibia or vice versa.
No bail for Angolan Forgery Suspect (The Namibian, 19/12)- An Angolan national at the centre of a suspected forgery scam in which fake academic qualifications were allegedly supplied to Angolan students in Namibia was refused bail in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.The chance that Manuel Jose Adriano (28) could return to Angola if he was released on bail appeared to weigh heavily with Magistrate Elina Nandago when she dismissed Adriano's bail application.She remarked that if Adriano was convicted on the charges of fraud, forgery and uttering [presentation of forged documents] against him it was obvious that he would face a "heavy and serious sentence".Adding that there was nothing that would prevent him from absconding if he was released on bail, she concluded that it would not be fair to grant Adriano bail.Adriano had told the court that he would be able to post up to N$10 000 in bail, with the money to come from his parents-in-law.However, the Magistrate commented, even if Adriano was released on bail of N$1 million or N$2 million which had been provided by his family, he would still not have lost anything if he absconded.Adriano now has to appear in court again on March 4.He has been in custody since his arrest on September 22.He is accused of having supplied Angolan students at the University of Namibia, the Polytechnic of Namibia and the International University of Management in Windhoek with forged academic qualification certificates.During the bail application, the Police officer investigating the case, Chief Inspector Oscar Sheehama, told the court that so far 106 Angolan students at the three tertiary institutions had been found to be using false qualifications.All of the students with forged qualifications questioned by the Police had pointed to Adriano as the source of their fake documents, which are claimed to have cost them between US$300 (N$1 890) and US$400 (N$2 500) each, Sheehama added.Adriano has denied involvement in the alleged scam.He said he had done nothing more than help some Angolan students in Namibia to get their academic qualifications translated at the Angolan Embassy in Windhoek.
Police say treason suspects were 'lawfully deported' (Namibian, 12/12)- Conflicting claims continued to be made yesterday over the circumstances in which eight Namibians, including seven Caprivi high treason suspects, were returned to Namibia from Botswana late last week.While the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) continued to describe it as an "abduction", the Namibian Police and a spokesman for the Office of the President of Botswana yesterday maintained that the group were lawfully deported because they had broken one of the conditions attached to their asylum in Botswana.The eight people involved are Progress Kenyoka Munuma (39), Shine Samulandela (35), Manepelo Manuel Makendano (52), Vincent Swaniso Siliye (35), Vincent Kasha Sinasi (43), Sinjabata Alex Mushakwa (41), Diamond Samunzala Salufu (53) and Mathew Musweu Tembwe (39).Only Tembwe has not been charged with high treason and transferred to the High Court at Grootfontein, where 120 people face charges based on accusations that they were involved in a plot to separate the Caprivi Region from Namibia.According to a Police spokesperson, Chief Inspector Angula Amulungu, the Botswana authorities informed their Namibian counterparts in a letter that the eight Namibians were returned to Namibia because the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees no longer applies to them.The Convention is supposed to provide protection to refugees, and to guarantee that they would not be returned to the country from which they had fled out of fear for their safety.Amulungu quoted from a section of the Convention to elaborate on the Botswana government's explanation on the handing over of the eight: it states that the Convention will no longer apply to any refugee "if he has voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the country of his nationality. The UN's IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Network) news service also reported this week that Jeff Ramsay, Botswana's presidential press secretary, had said the group were "de facto illegal aliens" in Botswana.They had previously been granted asylum in Botswana, but returned to Namibia in 1999, losing their refugee status.They were detained as illegal immigrants when they crossed back into Botswana, Ramsay was quoted as having said.IRIN also quoted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' representative in South Africa, Bemma Donkoh, who is responsible for the refugee agency's Botswana office, as saying that the UNHCR had only recently been given access to the eight and was still studying their cases.Their deportation had "come as something of a surprise", and the UNHCR would be "seeking a formal clarification from the (Botswana) government", Donkoh was quoted as having said.In the latest of a series of media statements that the NSHR has released on the issue since the weekend, the rights organisation charged that the eight were "deliberately deported" before they were to be interviewed for refugee status.NSHR Executive Director Phil ya Nangoloh said that Botswana's image of being "an unshakable bastion of refugee protection" had now been tarnished and dealt "a lethal and heavy blow" by the return of the Namibians to the country that they had fled from.
Unam expels 174 Angolan students (Namibian,18/12)- The University of Namibia (Unam) has expelled 174 students, most of them Angolans, after it was discovered that they had enrolled with fake Grade 12 qualifications.Unam's Director of Communication and Marketing, Edwin Tjiramba, announced in a media statement yesterday that 165 Angolans and nine Namibian students had been deregistered with immediate effect.The decision was taken by the executive committee meeting of the university's Senate on November 27.Unam and the Police launched an investigation into the scandal after The Namibian disclosed in August that many Angolan students had been using fake Grade 12 qualifications to study at the institution for years.Information available at the time pointed to the existence of a shady syndicate, comprising Angolan nationals and some Unam staff, which allegedly sold fake Angolan 'matric' certificates with inflated pass marks as a means of gaining access to the university.The culprits apparently presented copies of Angolan certificates or declarations issued in lieu of certificates purported to have been issued by the Angolan Education Ministry and lost.The original documents were in Portuguese, but were translated into English and certified as true copies of originals by the Angolan Embassy in Windhoek."From the side of the university, it was extremely difficult to suspect anything wrong with the certificates as they contained seals and stamps of the Angolan Embassy and all of them looked genuine," the Unam statement said.According to Tjiramba, five of the nine expelled Namibian students were in the Faculty of Economics and Management Science, two in the Faculty of Science, and one each in the faculties of Humanities and Medicine.Since the scandal was uncovered, only one student has been arrested in connection with the scam - even though at one stage Unam conceded that some of its staff might have been involved.
Angolan students use fake certificates to study in Namibia (Namibian, 17/12)-A total of 106 Angolan students studying in Namibia were found to have used forged academic qualifications to gain entrance to tertiary education institutions in the country, a Police officer told a Windhoek court yesterday.The qualifications were reported to have been bought for between US$300 and US$400 each (between N$1 890 and N$2 460 at current exchange rates).All the students who were questioned over their false papers pointed fingers at a fellow Angolan, Manuel Jose Adriano, as having been the supplier of the fake qualifications, Chief Inspector Oscar Sheehama told Magistrate Elina Nandago in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court.Sheehama was testifying for the State in opposition to a bid by Adriano to be released on bail.Adriano (28) has been in custody for about two and a half months, having been arrested in September and charged with fraud, forgery and uttering.He denied involvement in the claimed qualifications scam when he testified in support of his bail application yesterday.According to Adriano he is himself also a student in Namibia.He told the court that he had lived in the country since 1993, and that he no longer has family ties to his country of birth.Both his parents were killed in the Angolan civil war, he has two brothers attending school in Windhoek and living with him, and he has fathered two children in Namibia, he related.When asked by his lawyer, Andre Louw, what he knew of the alleged qualifications scam, he told the court that he had only helped some Angolan students to get certificates of their academic qualifications translated at the Angolan Embassy in Windhoek.His involvement was limited to taking the students' documents to the embassy, where he handed them in and after a few days again collected the documents and the translations thereof, Adriano said.He added that he had no knowledge whether the documents that the students brought to him were authentic or not.Sheehama informed the Magistrate that out of 180 Angolan students at the University of Namibia, 52 were found to be using false academic qualifications.Another 37 students at the Polytechnic of Namibia and 17 students at the International University of Management in Windhoek were also discovered to have been using fake qualifications, Sheehama said.At an alleged buying price of US$300 to US$400 per forged certificate, the forger would have earned between US$31 800 (about N$202 000 at the current exchange rate) and US$42 400 (N$269 000) from the students whose use of false qualifications has been uncovered so far.All of the students who admitted that they had used fake documents implicated Adriano as the source of the qualifications, Sheehama said.Some also claimed that Adriano had encouraged them to abandon their studies with the aim of avoiding detection when they started realising that an investigation into the use of forged qualifications had been launched.Sheehama is set to continue with his testimony today.Public Prosecutor Brian Chaka has told the Magistrate that the State is opposing the granting of bail in the public interest and on the grounds that there is a risk that Adriano will interfere with State witnesses or abscond if he is released.
Five-nation parks project (The Namibian, 1/12)- Cabinet has given the green light for Namibia to take part in establishing a cross-frontier conservation and tourism project in league with its four northern neighbours - Botswana, Zambia, Angola and Zimbabwe.The project will group 14 national parks and game reserves, together with conservancies, game management areas, tourism and hunting concessions into a vast conservation zone covering 278 000 square kilometres.The initiative aims to improve regional co-operation and integration on issues such as biodiversity, conservation, tourism and trade as well as development planning.The proposed zone includes tourist attractions such as the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, and the Kafue wetlands as well as considerable tracts of riverine habitat along the Okavango and Zambezi Rivers and their tributaries the Kwando, Chobe, Linyanti and Quito.In January, Namibia is due to present the other four countries with a plan for realising the Okavango Upper-Zambezi International Tourism (OUZIT) initiative.The Development Bank of Southern Africa proposed the idea several years ago, and the broader concept was endorsed by SADC tourism ministers in 2001.In July, southern African heads of state met at Katima Mulilo to discuss ways of improving cross-border tourism and conservation.Botswana was given the task of identifying where the project money would come from.But Cabinet has ordered the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to do the same.The MET has not yet produced cost estimates for the project, but Government has indicated that the Treasury may be called on to provide funding support so that the Caprivi Region, which has been lagging behind in tourism development, can benefit.Angola is preparing a list of natural resources throughout the vast area, to be presented at the January gathering, while Zimbabwe is assessing the countries' various natural-resource management regulations.Namibia's Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Trade and Agriculture, and the National Planning Commission, have also been told to make submissions about the project.The OUZIT initiative has been billed as an ideal opportunity for the five countries to take advantage of the region's extensive wildlife and natural resources to become one of the world's premier cultural, adventure and ecotourism destinations.
Over 90 foreign nationals sent back home (Rundu, The Namibian, 1/12)- A Namibian Immigration Tribunal Hearing has ordered over 90 illegal immigrants deported back to their countries of origin, Senior Immigration Officer Dominic Simasiku confirmed here yesterday.Simasiku told Nampa that the group included 69 Zambian nationals.They were deported via the Wenela border post near Katima Mulilo on Saturday.Nineteen Angolan nationals and two Botswana nationals were also deported at the weekend.Simasiku said a South African and three Tanzanians were expected to leave the country by this morning.Most of the foreign nationals were apprehended at Grootfontein, Ohangwena and Katima Mulilo.
Illegal immigrants go underground (The Herald, 29/12) - Illegal immigrants who had become notorious in Harare’s Avenues area have gone underground following a swoop by the police to flush out criminals. Illegal dealing in foreign currency and precious metals, prostitution and other shady deals had become rife in the Avenues and most people blamed these on the sudden influx of foreigners from different parts of Africa. Their arrival had also irked locals who found themselves pushed out of the heart of Harare by the foreigners who can afford paying rent in foreign currency now preferred by most property owners. The immigrants, mostly from the Great Lakes region, West Africa and some Sadc countries had flooded the Avenues area where they rented flats in foreign currency. Locals renting some flats in the area who paid their rentals in the local currency were being evicted in favour of the foreigners who paid in foreign currency, particularly in United States dollars. "The police rounded up most foreign nationals and things are getting back to normal, we were living in a contradiction with landlords also demanding rentals in forex from us the locals," said bank teller Mr Edward Moyo who has lived in the Avenues for the past three years. Mr Moyo said criminal activities had become rampant in the Avenues. "Vices like prostitution were also being promoted by the foreigners because they had ready cash," he said. Most of the foreigners come to Zimbabwe as refugees but escape from holding camps with some opening up small businesses in the city. There are an estimated 10 000 refugees in the country with about 1 000 at the Waterfalls Transit Centre in Harare awaiting vetting. Most of the foreigners lived at flats along Samora Machel where they were also involved in illegal gold buying, changing counterfeit foreign currency on the parallel market and drug dealing. The foreign nationals have also been alleged to be duping locals to buy counterfeit money of both foreign and local currency. Counterfeit bearer cheques have of late been intercepted in pubs and hotels in the capital city and it was alleged foreign nationals manufactured them. A Harare motorist recently lost close to $750 000 after buying petrol mixed with water from some West African nationals at a hotel in the Avenues area. Prostitution has also gone out of hand at the hotel where the peddlers rent rooms for months to entertain locals and mostly foreigners who were reported to be paying as much as US$50 for a night with the prostitutes. However, the foreign currency has come at a price for some of the prostitutes who find themselves having to sleep with a group of foreigners after being drugged and risking contracting the HIV virus that leads to the incurable Aids disease. "It is better that the police continue to clean this area out of the foreigners because they are sometimes up to no good," said a 24-year-old prostitute who refused to be identified. She said her colleague who used to rent a room at the hotel recently went blind after her client suspected to be of West African origin threw some unknown acid on her face after they argued about what currency he should have used to pay her. "The woman was drugged and had acid thrown into her face following a heated argument over money. The woman had demanded to be paid a fee for services rendered in foreign currency. Panic gripped the capital, particularly the Avenues area a few weeks ago following the discovery of female human body parts.
Study on border formalities in progress (The Herald, 25/12)- The Southern Africa Transport and Communication Commission (SATCC), an organ under the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) together with the African Development Bank (ADB) is set to co-ordinate a study on border formalities next month. The study, which would cover several borders, was expected to help in coming up with a framework that would be used to facilitate cross-border trade within countries in the region. A principal administration officer in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Mr Muzi Muzite, said that the participating border posts include the Forbes/Machipanda border post near Mutare, Machipanda/Kuchamano border post to the north of the country, the Zobwe/Mwanza border post between Mozambique and Malawi, among others. "A tender was floated to select a company that would conduct the study and an adjudication process was done some weeks back where one of the international companies won the tender," he said. The study was expected to look into the restrictions at the border posts and the different policies that are used at the different border posts in a bid to come up with a harmonised format that would facilitate trade rather than retard it. The issue of border restrictions has been at the centre of complaints by both Zimbabwean and Mozambican business people who are seeking to have the restrictions relaxed. The Zimbabwean and Mozambican officials apply different border controls which makes it difficult for cross-border traders or other people to clear the two borders in the shortest time possible. Part of the problem has been the absence of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries on the Beira Corridor initiative, which was supposed to stretch from Harare to the Mozambican port city of Beira through Mutare, and the Mozambican towns of Manica and Chimoio. The initiative, which was supposed to see the development of industrial clusters from Harare to Beira, has been on the cards for several years. The two countries only signed a letter of intent a few years ago. A similar initiative called the Maputo Corridor, linking the Mozambican capital, Maputo, and the South African economic capital, Johannesburg, is already fully operation. The two countries have a MOU which establishes the initiative. Harare and Beira are already linked through a rail network and a fuel pipeline that runs through the course of the corridor. Most of Zimbabwe’s fuel supplies are transported through the Beira Corridor.
Volume of traffic at border post rises (The Herald, 24/12)-The volume of traffic at Zimbabwe’s main entry border point, Beitbridge is increasing as the Christmas and New Year holidays draw near, the Department of Immigration said yesterday. An immigration official at Beitbridge told The Herald in a telephone interview that the volume of people and traffic at the border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa was increasing. He said most Zimbabweans working in South Africa were heading home for the holidays and the border post was expected to be busy throughout the week. "A lot of people are passing through but it is too early for us to give figures," said the official. He said scores of South Africans were also crossing the border everyday to visit places of interest like Great Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls and tourist attraction centres. Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president Mr Shingi Munyeza recently said most hotels in the country were fully booked for the festive season. "The occupancy rate has risen in recent months. Indications are that all our hotels will be full as we approach the festive season," said Mr Munyeza. About two million Zimbabweans are working in the formal and informal sector in South Africa and most of them travel back home to spend the festive season with their families.
Asylum Seekers alienated from families (Harare, The Herald, 22/12)- Thousands of Zimbabweans who sneaked into the United Kingdom under the guise of seeking political asylum have found themselves alienated from their families as they can no longer return to invest or attend important family functions. They bunched themselves with bona fide refugees and asylum seekers from beleaguered countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia and secured permits to live and work in the UK. However, this has proved costly for most as they have found themselves marooned on the island and unable to return to Zimbabwe, even when there are genuinely compelling circumstances like the deaths of their parents, siblings or spouses. Asylum seekers and refugees, under the UN Convention and Protocol relating to the status of refugees, cannot return to frontiers where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion". Bogus Zimbabwean asylum seekers who sneak into the UK claim that they were being persecuted for their political opinions. Asylum seekers are issued with passports and travel documents that allow them to travel to virtually any part of the world except to their country of origin by the contracting state, and they are accorded the same benefits and treatment enjoyed by nationals of the country giving asylum, except voting. However, some Zimbabwean "asylum seekers" had fraudulently obtained passports of neighbouring countries so that they could sneak back into the country through these countries. From there they either bribe immigration officials or brave the lions in the Trans-Zambezi National Park to get back to Zimbabwe, the land of their alleged genocide and persecution, and see their families without being detected by British immigration officials. Most people have expressed concern at this apparently high level of alienation and identity crisis. "This kind of self denial is worrisome," said Mrs Gladys Mutero of Harare. "These people will not accept that they are Zimbabweans even when it is clear that they cannot do without coming back home." The wife of the late Professor Canaan Banana, Mrs Janet Banana, and his two sons could not attend the funeral and burial of their father in Mzingwane, Matabeleland South. Prof Bananas sons, Martin and Michael, said they feared to lose their jobs while Mrs Banana is bound by her status as a political asylum seeker. Only one member of the Banana family, Nathan, managed to travel from the UK to attend his fathers funeral. Following charges of drug abuse in the UK former Caps United goalkeeper Ernest Chirambadare was faced with deportation but he claimed that he was an opposition MDC activist and his life would be in danger if he were to be deported. Former ZBC reporter Tichaona Sibanda alleged genocide in Zimbabwe and sources said he can no longer come back home to attend important family events. A man from Murewa who left behind his wife and children could not come back home when his father, two brothers and sister died. The man entered the UK after claiming that he could not go back to Zimbabwe because he would be persecuted. Political asylum has become the cheap pretext for most Zimbabweans intending to travel to the UK, with organisations like the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees encouraging people to be explicit in asking for asylum. Economic refugees without any political significance masquerade as victims of political violence and allege victimisation and "genocide". They secure residence in the UK under "exceptional leave to remain" status which allows them to stay in the country while their applications are being assessed. Following an upsurge in criticism against the Labour governments lenient immigration policies which saw immigration doubling in six years, the British government disbanded the ELR and introduced the more stringent "humanitarian protection" policy which effectively plugged the influx of bogus refugees and asylum seekers. In 2002 alone, more than 103 000 asylum seekers are reported to have poured into Britain, with at least 70 000 being rejected and granted with an asylum amnesty.
Police officers nabbed in visa scam (The Sunday Mirror, 21/12)- A Police officer was last week arrested at the British High Commission in Harare for allegedly receiving $500 000 and US$300 ($247 000 at the official rate) from a visa seeker so that he could allow him easy access to the British visa section. Police also picked up five other police officers and six soldiers for questioning.The arrests followed a tip-off by members of the public.“This morning a police reaction group conducted a raid at the British offices in an effort to gather first hand information about corrupt activities reported to have been taking place at the offices.“As a result of the raid we arrested a police officer suspected to have received money from a certain individual who wanted him to facilitate easy access to the British Visa Office,” said police superintendent Oliver Mandipaka. He said the police officer is in detention at Harare Central police station.Mandipaka confirmed that five other police officers and six soldiers were picked up for questioning and investigations were under way. They were also picked up at the British offices.Meanwhile, the police have discouraged members of the public from giving police officers bribes to facilitate the unscrupulous acquisition of visas.“It’s an offence for members of the public to do so and those caught wanting will be charged together with the police officers,” he said. Mandipaka said the arrests were a clear indication that police authorities would not sit down and watch while officers were committing crimes.“We will not sit down and watch officers committing crimes. We will prosecute them as per our promise,” he added.There was an outcry by visa seekers and members of the public that police officers were involving themselves in criminal activities especially at the British High Commission and that traffic police were pocketing bribes from some unscrupulous commuter omnibus drivers. Some police officers are reportedly pocketing large sums of foreign currency from illegal foreign currency dealers after arresting them.They reportedly release the criminals and target them when they are paid.These offences are rampant at Roadport, the British HC as well as the South African visa offices.Hundreds of Zimbabweans throng the British and South African visa office everyday in an effort to escape the hard economic situation in Zimbabwe. This is in spite of the fact that the embassies have tightened visa requirements.
Brain drain reaches alarming levels (Zimbabwe Independent, 19/12)- Government's failure to address political problems in the country has resulted in a massive brain drain of skilled labour that is critical to economic recovery, a study released last week has shown. It said the brain drain had reached alarming proportions. "The study confirms the widely held view that the level and trend of the brain drain in Zimbabwe has reached unacceptable and unsustainable heights," the study said. The study examined the trend, rate and level of brain drain, together with push factors in Zimbabwe and pull factors abroad. "Each year Zimbabwe loses thousands of talented professionals crucial to its development needs. Most of these are young professionals who abandon their professions in Zimbabwe, often for menial jobs that advance the socio-economic interests of their host countries," the report said. The professionals mostly involved include doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, financial experts, and other skilled people. The study was prepared by the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre under contract to the National Economic and Consultative Forum, funded by the United Nations Development Programme. Most of those leaving go to Britain, the United States, Australia, South Africa and Botswana. "The large numbers constituting Zimbabwe's loss of skilled and highly educated manpower are a phenomenon that policymakers cannot ignore," the study said. It said in the past four years this brain drain had escalated in magnitude to levels that had serious implications for the country's capacity to deliver on the sustainable development front. There are about 20 000 scientists and engineers in Zimbabwe and more are needed. "There are now more Zimbabwean-born scientists and engineers working in the diaspora than there are in Zimbabwe. One reason for there being fewer scientists left in Zimbabwe is that government and private-sector spending on research and development (R&D) is only about 0,2% of the gross national product. This is one of the lowest percentages of funding for R&D support in the world," the report said. The health care sector is the most seriously affected. Many are leaving because health care and education spending cuts have denied them reasonable salary levels. The United States, for instance, is using special visas (HB-1 visa) and higher salaries to attract African professionals with technical expertise. As a result it is estimated that the United States economy gains about US$100 000 a year from each HB-1 visa immigrant. Zimbabweans in the diaspora expressed disappointment that government did not have a policy framework to involve professional Zimbabweans in national development. Most of them are viewed by government as disloyal and were denied their voting rights in the March 2002 presidential election. "The resistance was made worse by an article that claimed that the government of Zimbabwe was working on a scheme to tax Zimbabweans in the diaspora," the report said. The study said the reason certain professionals were leaving Zimbabwe was that working at home was synonymous with supporting the current government and not the people. It said nothing could force them to work in Zimbabwe but their desire to serve their country. "Many professionals leave Zimbabwe for the brighter opportunities offered abroad, complaining that Zimbabwe is too corrupt and needs more politicians of high moral standards," said the study. The economic crisis has forced professionals left in the country into moonlighting. "The deteriorating economy in Zimbabwe has forced some professors, lecturers, medical doctors and scientists to operate minibuses, taxi cabs or operate beer parlors. It is a form of internal brain drain to have many architects, accountants and pharmacists underemployed," the study said. The majority of Zimbabweans in the diaspora since 1990 are in the UK (36,8%), while 3,4% are in Canada. Botswana leads the region with 34,5%. Although data from South Africa shows a smaller proportion there (4,6%), it is believed this is a gross underestimate because the majority of them are illegal immigrants.
Greener pastures create passport to corruption (Harare, Irin, 18/12)- Zimbabweans trying to leave the country in search of economic opportunities are having to deal with government officials whom they allege are turning their plight into profit, IRIN has learnt.Rising incidents of graft by public officials has coincided with Zimbabwe's worsening economic conditions, according to the anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI). It ranked Zimbabwe as among the world's most corrupt countries in a report released in October.The organisation claimed corruption was rampant in both the private and public sectors, but said the perception among ordinary Zimbabweans was mostly that public office was being used for personal enrichment. The authorities dismissed TI's findings, accusing the group of partisanship. Zimbabwe's economic problems took a sharp turn for the worst when pro-government militants, led by veterans of the country's liberation war, began illegally invading white-owned farms in 2000. Investors and donors turned away from the country in protest at the lawlessness, resulting in the current acute shortages of foreign currency and fuel, and the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities. Almost 70 percent of the labour force is unemployed, and the inflation rate, now officially at 526 percent, is expected to reach 700 percent by the end of March 2004. Exactly how many Zimbabweans have emigrated over the past three years remains unclear, but the queues remain long outside the passport office in the capital, Harare. It is not uncommon for people to spend the night outside on the pavement, to ensure at least getting into the building the following day.The delays that characterise the application process have been complicated by corruption. Twenty-seven year old Anne Kamba told IRIN she had come to the passport offices for the past five days, but was finding it difficult to obtain an application form. "Senior authorities here tell us that application forms are there in abundance, but, surprisingly, when we ask for them from the relevant offices, we are told that they have run out," she explained. "What I have since discovered is that some officials are deliberately withholding the forms as a way of forcing us to buy them from them or their middlemen. They have formed syndicates with young men who loiter at the [entrance] gate and approach us, saying they have the forms. But where do these people think we will get the money from in these times of hardships?" According to Kamba the "middlemen" asked for Zim $200,000 (about US $250 at the official exchange rate of Zim $824 to the US dollar) for a passport application form, which they shared with passport control officials."In some cases, passport seekers do not even have to visit these offices. Everything - from the application to the collection of passports - is done for them while they are at home. These are the people who are prepared to pay large sums of money, which sometimes runs into millions of [Zimbabwean] dollars," she added.Kamba, a qualified primary school teacher with three years' experience, hopes to join her sister in the United Kingdom. She told IRIN that low wages and poor working conditions had made her decide to seek employment abroad. Zimbabwe is experiencing a debilitating flight of professional and skilled people escaping the country's economic meltdown, with the health and teaching professions most affected by the brain drain. Those unable to leave have turned to "moonlighting" as a way of supplementing their meagre incomes, while others have seen opportunity in the crisis and are turning it to their own advantage. Constable Stan Mapiye (not his real name), a security guard at the central passport office, is among a handful of individuals who have benefited - he manages to net almost Zim $80,000 (US $100) daily."I am glad this country is going through an economic crisis, because to me it is a blessing in disguise," he told IRIN. "I am able to make so much money because there are thousands of desperate people who come here every day to look for passports in order to seek greener pastures abroad."Mapiye, a junior police constable, earns an official gross monthly salary of Zim $140,000 (US $175). For around Zim $10,000 (US $12), Mapiya is willing to move a person to the front of the long queue of passport seekers. "These days, it's your money that talks. There is no need for you to sleep in a queue in order to get your passport," he said. A senior passport officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was difficult to monitor the activities of subordinates because of pressures of work. "Even though we condemn corruption in the strongest terms, there is no guarantee that employing people to monitor the situation at the gate and in the corridors will help, as these people might end up collaborating with the rotten eggs in our midst," she said.John Makumbe, Transparency International's local representative, attributes escalating corruption to a "breakdown of the justice delivery system".He said because of poor remuneration, the police, magistrates and judges were resorting to bribes in order to make ends meet."The whole justice system, right from the Supreme Court to the lowest courts, is in shambles. There are no monitoring and retributive mechanisms to ensure that those who would have been found on the wrong side of the law are punished. The situation is made even more pathetic by the fact that those who should enforce and interpret the law are also corrupt," Makumbe alleged.He called on the government to create an independent anti-corruption commission to tackle graft in both the public and private sectors.
The great exodus continues (The Standard, 14/12) - An armed police officer confidently struts on the broken-down pavement while he gazes at the reflection of his AK 47 on the long glass doors at the entrance of Harare’s Corner House Ñ the offices of the British High Commission to Zimbabwe. Three other equally armed police officers menacingly stand a distance away, their eyes hovering on hundreds of people who form a snaking queue waiting for the hard-to-get visas at the mission. Among the scores of people is Nomore Gore, an unemployed but qualified telecommunications technician. “I have been there before, we (Zimbabweans) have taken over London like our own country,” Gore says. “You have university graduates like myself who have failed to get employment at home relocating there because we have no choice,” he says. “The bad politics and economic meltdown here is the reason why many of us are going these far-flung places even though we love our Zimbabwe,” he says while jostling for a vantage position in the winding queue. Gore says despite the stringent British visa requirements and a steep rise in airfares, the UK remains one of the most favoured destinations for Zimbabweans seeking relief from economic hardships at home. This is evident by the increasing number of people visiting the British High Commission in search of visas in the past fortnight. At some point, the mission reportedly asked the riot police to contain the situation after an increasing flood of Zimbabweans seeking visas besieged its offices, some sleeping on the pavement outside. Though an official comment from the British High Commission could not be obtained, it was clear the recent wave of visa seekers was unprecedented, taking into consideration the high visa fees required. Scores of people mill around the offices each working day these days. A few days ago, before security was stepped up, many would even sleep at the office’s entrance. Such is the desperation of many Zimbabweans who want to flee from the country, once the envy of the region. Across town, at the South African High Commission offices, chaotic scenes of Zimbabweans desperate to get visas, are now a thing of the past, thanks to the introduction of restrictive visa requirements. The SA government last month imposed a new visa regime which requires Zimbabweans to show proof of 1 000 rands in the form of traveller’s cheques, in response to the growing numbers of people entering their country. “Since the new visa regime was introduced not too many people come here anymore,” said a security officer manning the premises. “One can simply come and apply for his visa in no time as long as he is armed with proof of the thousand rands,” he added. The new arrangement has however, adversely affected the business of middlemen, who were charging to facilitate the quick issuance of visas. One of them, a middle-aged man donning a well-worn shirt and faded jeans and standing a few hundred metres away from the South African High Commission’s offices, says before the new visa regime, his business was good.
“It’s true that there are not too many people coming here anymore. But I reckon if you go to Limpopo River you will see them,” he says, punctuating his remarks with a shrill call to advertise his business. But crossing the border into the “Promised Land” down south is risky business. The illegal Zimbabwean emigrants have to crawl through the wilderness that lies between the two neighbouring countries before they are halted by the rushing waters of the Limpopo, one of the largest rivers in Southern Africa. In the river are hippos and crocodiles that lie in ambush, waiting to topple rickety boats to get at their human cargo. If one is lucky to cross the river, there are still miles and miles of twisting barbed wire to trascend and worse, there is also the danger of being caught by patrolling South African National Defence Force soldiers who are ready to shoot any fleeing aliens. Jeremiah Ndou, the South African High Commissioner in Harare, says his country has however eased the rules governing Zimbabweans living on the border with South Africa. “We have devised special permits for Zimbabweans living in Beitbridge to be allowed to do shopping across the border in the northern border town of Musina and return home without having to travel to Harare for visas,” said Ndou. “We have also set up other functions for informal traders to be allowed into South Africa, without showing the 1 000 rand requirement, if they can convince the immigration officers that they will be able to raise such an amount for their upkeep “It is understood and felt by all that the foreign currency situation is severe that is why we have to map out strategies to halt the recession,” Ndou told The Standard in an interview recently.
Foreign envoys face expulsion (The Financial Gazette, 11/12)- A caucus meeting of ZANU PF parliamentarians last night resolved to boot British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand diplomats out of the country — a move immediately condemned by political observers as "retrogressive".The parliamentarians had met to endorse Cabinet approval of a ZANU PF decision to withdraw the country’s membership from the 54-nation Commonwealth "club" of mainly former British colonies. However, the party had by last night brought to parliament a decision to withdraw the country’s membership from the Commonwealth as the first step towards introducing a ban on the four countries’ missions. The motion was moved by Foreign Affairs Minister, Stan Mudenge, but was shot down by opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who argued that President Robert Mugabe had been expelled from the Commonwealth. The motion was then amended by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and immediately seconded by ZANU PF MP Philip Chiyangwa. The maverick politician then moved the caucus decision to close down the diplomatic missions of the four countries. Parliamentary sources said a charged exchange had ensued after opposition MDC members vigorously opposed the motion. The outcome of the heated debate could not be established at the time of going to press as Parliament was still in session. The move by ZANU PF MPs marked an intensification of a row between President Mugabe and the "white" members of the Commonwealth "club", whom he accuses of being racist and bent on effecting regime change in Zimbabwe. Observers, expressed apprehension over the planned expulsion of the four countries’ missions, and said the decision would create more problems for Zimbabwe than could be imagined. "I have strong doubts that action of such a nature would get support from the President," said political commentator, Heneri Dzinotyiwei, of the Zimbabwe Integrated Programme. "Remember, (President) Mugabe is out of the country. These are views being expressed by the MPs but I would be very surprised if Mugabe endorses such a decision despite the fact that he is in a fighting mood," Dzinotyiwei said. "ZANU PF is paving the road to Armageddon," warned Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, currently lobbying for a new national constitution. "The decision shows what people have been saying about the extent to which ZANU PF is determined to destroy this country. Why target a few individual countries and not the whole grouping that expelled the country from the Commonwealth?"
Zimbabweans abroad buy houses (Zimbabwe Independent, 5/12) - Property experts say most transfers are now being effected by Zimbabweans living abroad especially in the United Kingdom which has a very strong currency. More than a million Zimbabweans have fled the country in search of better standards of living and access to foreign currency. The locals have skipped the country for countries with stronger currencies such as the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and also neighbouring South Africa and Botswana. Money sent home is traded on the thriving parallel market. A spokesperson for the Association of Building Societies of Zimbabwe this week said inflation, currently standing at 525,8%, had made it extremely difficult for Zimbabweans living here to afford properties some of which have shot up to $1 billion. "Of more concern is the increase in mortgage advances which does not appear to have kept in line with inflation and this is largely due to house prices out-stripping income earners' ability to afford meaningful loans," the spokesman said. "Many property transfers were a result of external funding raised by Zimbabweans presently outside the country and making provision for their future in Zimbabwe." He said the mortgage statistics revealed some interesting facts. The number of mortgage accounts in June 2001 was in the region of 63 000. At the end of June this had grown to approximately 65 500, a paltry 4% increase. "Evidently this is not a significant increase and in fact, in June 2002 this had decreased to some 60 000 accounts," he said. The portfolio balance by monetary value at the end of the financial year 2001 amounted to $10,2 billion and by the end of June 2002 this had increased to 417,1 billion and by the end of the financial year to June, the figure had further increased materially to $33,4 billion.
Prospects of recovery in tourism sector bleak (Financial Gazette, 4/12)- The tourism industry, smarting from the country's political turmoil that has prompted an economic meltdown, appears headed for a cul de sac as confusion about reliable tourist inflow figures and the sector's ability to recover continue to dominate debate. Government's high-handed approach to the recovery of the crucial foreign currency earner, once touted as the country's fastest growing industry, is seemingly failing to stabilise the sector amidst the deteriorating situation. In 1999, at the onset of the country's land reform campaign, Zimbabwe racked in a total of US$700 million in foreign currency earnings. Sadly, in 2002, the industry was depleted ten-fold, earning as little as US$70 million. The land seizures, meant to resettle landless peasants, and the parliamentary elections that followed in the same year saw the country attracting bad publicity as international media blasted what they termed the "barbaric" course of the land reform policy. Zimbabwe became a pariah state overnight, with international financiers closing their door to any business with the country. Tourism suffered dearly, and when reputable international airlines including Lufthansa and Qantas pulled out, citing dwindling international tourist arrivals in the country, government began trying to stem the haemorrhage. Hotels frequently talk of rising occupancy levels, but experts explain that it is due to the domestic market and the coming festive season and not because of increased international tourism. The Minister of Tourism, Francis Nhema, in trying to fend off criticism of the ministry's failure to turn around the sector, has said that domestic tourism is good for the country after all and should be vigorously promoted. However Eric Bloch, a Bulawayo-based economic consultant, said: "Domestic tourism is good for Zimbabwe because it generates income but there are other aspects it does not satisfy. For instance, international tourists come with much needed foreign exchange that boosts the country's foreign currency reserves. Domestic tourism does not satisfy the safari side as local tourists do not normally go on safari. They might go to a hotel but international tourists utilise safaris. Safari operators are suffering because they are probably having very low or no patronage at all." Gwenda Wawn, voted Tourism Personality of the Year 2003 for her sterling work in promoting the sector, said the current situation still demanded that the country go on a massive international campaign to attract international tourists, create a Zimbabwean tourism emblem and find ways of getting international funding. Wawn, who also works for a local tour operator, said: "We have been drastically affected by press reports and we are in the process of coming up with a symbolic logo that will be Zimbabwean." South Africa, one of the best-packaged tourist destinations on the continent, is enjoying huge returns from tourism through the 'Proudly South African' emblem. The emblem is designed in the form of the national flag embedded within a circle that is virtually seen in almost all of the country's international campaigns. "The other problem is that we need huge funding to fuel our campaign if we are to succeed in targeting Europe, America, and the Far East. It will be very difficult for Zimbabwe to go it alone," Wawn said. South Africa has in the past few years prioritised tourism as a potential foreign currency earner and the results have been overwhelming, South Africa's initiative has grown in leaps and bounds, spurred by a unique partnership between the government, international community and the local business fraternity. Instead Zimbabwe presents a contrast: there is no close and harmonious interaction between government and the local business community and the low profile Zimbabwe Tourism Expo (ZTE) held last month is testimony to this. The ZTE is held annually by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) to link local tourism players with international markets but this year most participants felt that the event was not adequately prepared for. Worse still Zimbabwe does not have any hope of securing any meaningful international support. The country remains cut off from crucial International Monetary Fund balance-of-payments support that in turn has reduced international investment confidence. This has led to a deep-seated economic crisis that has seen the inflation rate jump to 525.8, one of the highest in the world. A striking example of how much African countries need the assistance of the international community in tourism promotion is Kenya. Terrorist attacks and alerts of more terrorist attacks devastated the East African country's famed tourism industry. At one time British Airways suspended flights to Kenya, but though these have since resumed, Kenya is still struggling to exorcise the ghost of the terror attacks. The country launched a tourism recovery package last month, assisted financially by the European Union, and it has already started to send attaches to vital tourism markets to attract increased tourist inflows. Again, industry players said, this presents a lesson for Zimbabwe that has made several attempts to broaden its appeal on the international arena by sending attaches to Kuala Lumpur, the Middle East and South Africa, but unfortunately these ventures are crippled by the shortage of funds. Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of Information and Publicity, launched a video and song in South Africa to market the country's premier tourist resort, the Victoria Falls. Bloch said that the forays to South Africa helped because they enhanced regional tourism but said that Zimbabwe still needed to repair its damaged international image. Bloch said:" International tourists need to be assured that there is enough fuel for travelling, that the police will not stop them at roadblocks and strip them of their foreign currency, they need to know that flights will not be cancelled unnecessarily." A ZTA official said that tourism has raised about $30 billion up to June this year as compared to $19.7 billion last year during the same period. This appeared to be a factor of inflation and the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar against the greenback rather than increased foreign currency earnings. Zimbabwe Sun Limited (ZimSun), the country's biggest hotel and leisure chain group, presented unaudited financial results for the six months ended September 30 2003 that painted a gloomy picture. "Patronage from traditional source markets remained weak during the period under review. A softening of attitude by tour operators is being experienced, with some consumers and travel agents still to be educated that Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe are still safe destinations." ZimSun said that room occupancy on the other hand dropped from 45 percent during the same period last year, sharply contradicting claims by the ZTA that hotel occupancy was at its peak. But Bloch said: "The figures being churned out in the market are creating a wrong impression because people give out statistics that are selective and that suit their plans, those statistics can only come from the information department and they are not reliable."
This page last updated 24 February 2004.