February 2003 - Click on the country title above theheadlines for the entire article.
World Bank to fund massive SA-Lesotho conservation project
UNHCR prepares for return of 200,000 Angola refugees
200,000 Angolan refugees wish to return home in 2003: UN
Angola and South Africa discuss visa cooperation
Government concerned about illegal immigration
Refugees in need of assistance
Calls for more contact with Angolans abroad
Investors in Angola will get 15-year tax breaks
Zimbabweans an asset to Botswana says MP
Relations between Botswana and Zimbabweans worsen
Health Minister calls for action against illegal immigrants
200 foreigners to be granted Botswana citizenship yearly
1600 Zimbabweans deported every month
Cross-border smuggling of goods from Zimbabwe
Cross-border crime hits Okavango
Foreign companies monopolize major construction works says MP
Botswana opposition urges tough measures on Zimbabwe immigrants
Reactions to migration from Zimbabwe
Concern about influx of refugees from Zimbabwe
Foreigners complain over Malawi's new controversial land policy
Home Affairs minister on Malawi passport scam
Parliamentary commission investigates detentions in South Africa
Border soldiers stop harassing Mozambican nationals
50 Zimbabwean farmers settled in Mozambique
Mozambique welcomes white farmers
Immigration to become police responsibility
Officials urge public to carry ID
Border post campaign
SA troops to be redeployed along Lesotho border from April 1
Opposition to medical intern training extension
Lawyer challenges new immigration laws
State lawyer concerned about immigration regulations
Concession on immigration regulations
Immigration law must balance state and economic interests
Buthelezi on new Immigration Act
Home Affairs lowers threshold on immigration permit
South African and Zimbabwean officials to meet on Tuesday over Beit Bridge
Trucks stuck at Beit Bridge border post
Zimbabwean involvement in bank heists
MPs revive dispute over law on immigrants
Immigration laws for retirees delayed
Immigration rules hit more snags
Ambrosini admits immigration rule muddle
Court rejects immigration regulations
Slip-up puts new immigration laws on hold
Immigration regulations 'unconstitutional'
New immigration law has no power
State admits it bungled on immigration rule
Cuban doctors lodge complaints
Police make 7000 arrests in East Rand
I hit illegal immigrant to help him, says policeman
Immigration Act hits new snags
Cuban doctors face the axe
Handlers 'shocked' after dog attack
Roodepoort police arrest 63 illegal immigrants
SA needs skills more than foreign investment, says expert
Dog-unit cop claims fears of own safety
Illegal immigrants used as bait
Policeman says handlers not forced to set dog on immigrants
Jailed dog cop testifies against colleagues
More witnesses reject dog policemen's claims
Police accused of ignoring workers, helping farmers
Campaign to draw expatriates home
Dog cops set to give evidence
Dog handlers say they attacked Mozambicans under duress
Comment: Sowing the skills crisis
Trial of "dog policemen" gets underway
Nigerians bust for drugs
Brain drain of nurses continues
Refugees secretly deported
10 Illegal immigrants arrested
Refugees given deadline to leave
Food situation in refugee camps "dire"
Tanzania, Uganda in fresh border dispute
UNHCR's position on Rwandan refugees from Tanzania
Lack of food leads to ration cuts in refugee camps
Immigration arrests 35 foreigners
Farmer sentenced to 30 years for murdering Mozambicans
200 foreigners obtain new permits
Foreigners grab aid grants using Zambians
Todd given ultimatum over foreign citizenship
Beitbridge border post blocked
Labour ministers address migration from Mozambique
Police arrest Rwandan asylum seekers
New Zealand introduces visas for Zimbabweans
Soldiers stop harassing Mozambican nationals
Migrant workers to be made Zimbabwean citizens again
Old Beitbridge border post to reopen
Dubious firm in visa scam
Passport forgery cases prevalent
Zimbabwe hit by influx of refugees
Cuban doctors arrive for two-year tour of duty
Information centres for cross-border traders
Human rights lawyer flees country
South Africans scramble for local properties
Brain drain from health sector continues
Harassed Indians on the verge of leaving Zimbabwe
Life of habitual border-jumper
Tourist arrivals continue to drop
Economic hardships slow down tourism industry growth
World Bank to fund massive SA-Lesotho conservation project (Durban, Sapa, 27/02) - The World Bank has committed US7,3 million (R62 million) towards creating a massive transfrontier conservation and development programme that will encompass areas in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, a spokesman for the project said on Thursday. The project will incorporate several existing parks and conserved areas. The five-year project is a co-ordinated programme between the
conservation bodies of all four regions as well as South African National Parks and is aimed at preserving the globally important bio-diversity of the region and will contribute to community development through tourism. "Even though there are several conserved areas, such as the Ukhahlamba World Heritage Site, Golden Gate National Park, Qwa Qwa National Park, Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve, and conserved areas within Lesotho included in this region, there are large stretches between these protected areas that are experiencing huge threats," said Kevan Zunkel, the project co-ordinator. "So on the one hand we have the magnificent Drakensberg/Maluti mountain range with its vitally important catchment, its eco-systems, its fauna and flora and its rock art - and on the other hand we have, outside the parks, a degraded environment; invasive aliens, soil erosion and rural poverty. This programme aims to put a management strategy in place for the whole region as well as create sustainable economic activity for the people who live there." The World Bank grant will be augmented by portions of the
operating budgets of the four conservation agencies involved, which will bring the real total up to US33 million (about R264 million) over the five years. "We are also working with other government departments, such as the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Department of Public Works, the Department of Water Affairs, and similar departments in Lesotho as well. Apart from the short-term job-creation component, we are also striving to create linkages
with rural communities so that they can appreciate the value of a healthy ecology." The project was initiated by, and would be steered by, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial conservation management agency, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which is the lead agency for the project. The grant comes from the World Bank via DEAT to KZN Wildlife for implementation.
UNHCR prepares for return of 200,000 Angola refugees (United Nations New York, 28/02) - The United Nations refugee agency today said it is racing against the clock to prepare for the repatriation of more than 200,000 Angolans living in neighbouring countries who have indicated their wish to return home. A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva said the agency estimates that more than 200,000 Angolans in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have expressed a willingness to take part in the return movement, which is expected to start in May or June, and nearly half a million Angolans driven from their country by 27 years of civil war could eventually go back. The agency has stockpiled relief items - including blankets, kitchen sets and cans - in Lusaka, Zambia, in preparation for the imminent repatriation, and is purchasing more items this week. Meanwhile, non-governmental organizations working with UNHCR have started looking at transportation, while the DRC's Bas-Congo region will soon organize a "go-and-see" visit for refugee representatives. UNHCR in Angola warns that more information activities, de-mining and mine-awareness training are necessary before the repatriation can start in earnest. The road conditions will also constitute a significant obstacle. So far, more than 90,000 Angolans have returned home following a ceasefire agreement signed in April 2002. "The number of spontaneous returns is now said to have dwindled in some of the provinces with the beginning of the rainy season and the news of an imminent UNHCR repatriation effort," spokesman Peter Kessler said. The agency has launched an appeal for $34.5 million to pay for repatriation and reintegration of Angolan refugees until the end of 2004. So far only $6.5 million has been received.
200,000 Angolan refugees wish to return home in 2003: UN (Geneva, Sapa-AFP, 28/02) - More than 200,000 Angolan refugees living in Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) want to return home this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimated on Friday. Peter Kessler, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters that the figures were based on findings from two surveys in Zambia and DRC last week. Up to 60 percent of an estimated 210,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia are willing to go home this year, he said. While in DRC, estimates indicate that up to 90 percent of the more than 80,000 Angolans in one of the main refugee-hosting areas, Bas-Congo bordering northern Angola, wished to return, he added. DR Congo hosts in total 192,000 Angolans. "UNHCR staff are racing against the clock to get everything ready for the return movement expected to start in May or June," Kessler said. UNHCR said it was planning to help 170,000 Angolan refugees go home in 2003. The UN agency believes that eventually nearly half a million Angolans, who were driven from their country by 27 years of civil conflict, could go home. But it has warned that more demining and mine awareness training is needed before the repatriation can start in earnest. Poor roads are also an obstacle, the UNHCR spokesman said. More than 90,000 Angolans have already returned under their own steam following a ceasefire signed last April. UNHCR has appealed for 34.5 million dollars to cover the repatriation and reintegration of Angolan refugees until the end of 2004. So far, it has received just 6.5 million dollars.
Angola and South Africa discuss visa cooperation (Luanda, Angola Press Agency, 27/02) - The bilateral co-operation and the suppression of visas on diplomatic and service passports will be analysed from Thursday, in Pretoria, South Africa, by Angolan and South African delegations. Angola's Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Joao Miranda, will be leaving today for South Africa, heading a multi-sectorial delegation that will discuss the relations between the both States. The minister will participate in the first bilateral meeting between Angola and South Africa, to debate cooperation initiatives in various sectors between the two countries. At the meeting will also be discussed some legal issues, such as the agreement of visas suppression on diplomatic and service passports and about the investments promotion. The meeting was prepared by the two countries' experts in last August, in Luanda. Angola and South Africa have political-diplomatic and economic relations. In the business sector, South Africa counts with an expressive presence in Angola in trading and building construction.
Government concerned about illegal immigration (Luanda, Angola Press Agency, 23/02) - Home Ministry's Extended Consulting Council held two meetings (Thursday and Friday), in Luanda, in which they agreed on the urgent need to approve a programme to disarm civilian population as well as prevent and combat illegal immigration into the country. At the end of the meeting, they approved a communique that recommended a deep study, with the participation of other institutions, to elaborate a memorandum aimed at finding effective mechanisms to prevent and combat illegal immigration into Angola. For two days the participants to the meeting learned of the draft-project on the civil population disarmament programme and analysed some measures to be taken to stop the proliferation of more fireguns in the hands of civilians, for it is estimated that a third of the Angolan population possesses firegun. Angola has an estimated population of 12 million inhabitants. The communique also appealed to the population to follow the rules on the usage of inflammable products, mainly in the outskirts of the cities, because of the rising number of fire accidents registered daily in the whole country. Regarding criminality, they recommended the Police Force to continue making efforts towards reducing the number of crimes and road accidents, by reinforcing preventive measures. In terms of illegal immigration the figures presented by the director of the Immigration Services, Maria Da Silva, show that there are about 500.000 illegal immigrants in Angola. In closing the event, Home Minister, Osvaldo Serra Van-Dunem, spoke in favour of the need to invest in training, qualifying and improving the police staff, so that they can serve the people better and more adequately. He pleaded for the government to improve technico- material and financial conditions that will allow the modernization of the various police organs.
Refugees in need of assistance (Johannesburg, Irin, 20/02) - Refugees who had spontaneously returned to Angola have found themselves in a desperate situation, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Thursday. UNHCR Angola spokeswoman Lucia Teoli told IRIN that part of the problem was that in some cases refugees had returned to areas that have been cut off from humanitarian agencies due to mine infestation. Angolan state news agency Angop reported that some 8,623 Angolan citizens who recently returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the district of Quimbele, in Uige Province (northwest Angola), were facing difficulties in obtaining food and medical attention. Quimbele District Administrator Paulo Bunga was reported to have described the situation as "rather critical". Teoli said: "For sure the situation is not nice in the areas people have spontaneously returned to. We know that in 2002 more than 87,500 refugees returned from neighbouring countries, most have been registered by our implementing partners and local authorities, however, the number could be higher because we do not have access to all the areas to which they are returning. That's why the government of Angola estimates that about 120,000 refugees have spontaneously returned." Organised repatriation of refugees was to begin in May and June this year. "It was postponed from last year because adequate conditions were not in place [in areas of return and resettlement], we are going to take people back [to areas] where [adequate] conditions are in place. We are increasing our presence in the field, we opened another seven offices in [the provinces of] Uige, Zaire, Kuando Kubango etc. In the meantime our implementing partners have extended activities to these areas, [focussing on] rehabilitating infrastructure ... and trying to put in place conditions for return," Teoli added. She said the UNHCR was "pushing the international community to respond to our appeal to make this operation possible". Funding was needed to begin the rehabilitation of infrastructure in areas of return and to then repatriate people from neighbouring countries. Repatriation would be complicated, given that four countries were involved. But the legal framework for repatriation was now in place and a round of meetings would be held with all the countries involved "to decide all the operational aspects of the repatriation, transport routes, entry points etc. By next month we will have a clear picture of what will happen," Teoli noted. Meanwhile, the influx of refugees continues into provinces which border Namibia, Zambia and the DRC. "[For example] in January there were 2,100 returns into Moxico [eastern Angola] and 1,600 in Zaire [northwest Angola]. But the majority are going back to Moxico province. [And] this does not include returnees in inaccessible areas," Teoli said.
Calls for more contact with Angolans abroad (Luanda, Angola Press Agency, 15/02) - Angolan foreign minister, João Bernardo de Miranda, said Friday, in Luanda, that Angolan citizens living abroad should be given more attention by government. "Angolan citizens living abroad deserve to be given more and permanent attention by the Government, so they can feel always connected with the country," he said. " The minister was speaking at the closure of the 5th Consular Seminar, that started on Wednesday, jointly organized by the Foreign and Home Affairs ministries. " He explained that for such permanent attention to be given, it is necessary, among other actions, a registration and census of Angolan citizens abroad. " "It is necessary for us to find out the number of nationals abroad, how they are and what they do," he explained. " The minister stressed that at the same time there is need for continued combat against illegal entrance of foreigners into Angola, for reasons of national security. " In a different part of his address, the head of the Angolan diplomacy, expressed his thanks to all those entities that have contributed to the reinstatement of peace in the country. " He mentioned and praised the work done by the United Nations and the Peace Process Troika of Observer that comprised Portugal, USA and Russia. "João Miranda seized the opportunity to mention that, although the UN mission in Angola is terminating on February 15, the Government will ensure that other UN agencies in the country continue doing their job towards the development and reconstruction of Angola. " Concerning the seminar, the final communique stresses that the authorities are worried about the increase in the number of illegal immigration into the country. "Mechanisms must be set up to discourage this practise", the minister said, appealing to the people to combine efforts to combat and eradicate this phenomenon. The communique, among other decisions, presses for more financial resources so that Angolan communities abroad can be better assisted.
Investors in Angola will get 15-year tax breaks (Luanda, Dispatch Online, 04/02) - The Angolan government will give 15-year tax breaks to foreign and domestic private sector investors who choose to set up shop in the country, an official said yesterday. The Cabinet has adopted a Bill on private investment which aims to revive the Angolan economy, ravaged by a 27-year civil war that ended in April last year. Capital investment of between $50000 and $250000 for the creation of small businesses, especially in areas of Angola that were hard-hit by the war, will be entirely exempted from customs duties. Large, new vehicles to be used for transporting goods and passengers will also benefit from a 100% import duty exemption, while duty for used vehicles earmarked for the same purpose will be cut by 50%. The Bill passed by the Cabinet also stipulates that investments of less than $5 million should be approved or rejected within 15 days, while those for sums greater than $5 million should be passed within 30 days. The Cabinet also voted to set up an agency for private investment, which will be attached to the president's office and will be in charge of studying applications by investors and encouraging private sector investment.
Zimbabweans an asset to Botswana says MP (BOPA, 27/02) - Botswana should consider foreigners who pour into it daily in search of jobs as an asset that can assist improve the country’s moribund agriculture sector, Parliament heard on Tuesday. Instead of looking at the foreigners as a liability, Nkange MP Ambrose Masalila said such people are an asset that can solve the problem of lack of farm labourers in the country. Commenting on the budget allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture before its approval, Masilila said some foreigners, especially Zimbabweans were happy to accept any form of employment unlike Batswana who shun farm work. He said such people are badly needed in the agricultural sector as Batswana used to be in South African mines and farms. On other issues, Masalila complained about the alarming rate at which donkeys are multiplying in the country, warning that their number and eating habits posed a threat to the environment. He suggested that an abattoir be established to kill donkeys and sell their meat to those who eat it, adding that the move will help keep their number in check. However, MP for Gaborone Central, Margaret Nasha begged to differ on the situation of foreigners, stating that invasion by hundreds of such people at areas such as White City in Gaborone is a problem. She said to the situation is such that residents of the area see the presence of such people as a nuisance because they use any space available for accommodation. Nasha had told Parliament when debating the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs budget the previous day that some of them sleep in the residents’ outside toilets and also harass the residents, as well as the police.She complained that some contractors even use them for cheap labour and requested government to do something about people who come here with no particular destination. Agriculture minister Johnny Swartz also expressed doubt about whether the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs can allow the mass employment of foreigners in the agricultural sector.Swartz said his ministry was in the process of conducting a study to establish why Batswana shun farm work, noting that it will as look into factors such as wages.
The legislator also called on government to find a way in which President Festus Mogae can declare the country drought stricken instead of waiting for the Inter-ministerial report when it is obvious that there is drought in the country. MP for Kgalagadi Lesedi Mothibamele complained that the budget allocated for the National Master Plan for Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development is not enough to meet its requirements. To him, the budget indicates that government has “given in rather too early” and requested for a comprehensive programme that will adequately address the country’s water needs. Bobirwa MP, James Maruatona regretted that while the Ministry of Agriculture has trained more officers with doctorate degrees than any other ministry, the officers have not been able to reach out to farmers partly due to lack of accommodation in rural areas. Maruatona also complained that the ministry’s budget was too small to address the country’s agricultural needs.Joseph Kavindama, MP for Okavango, said Batswana can successfully manage the drought in their country through irrigation schemes and the construction of dams on some major rivers. Kavindama also called for the creation of a farmers’ bank that will assist farmers with soft loans. He criticised the Ministry of Agriculture for the lack of what he called a clear and proper environmental protection system and that potential ostrich farmers have been denied business by land boards who refuse to allocate them land. Kavindama complained about the problem of overstocking in the Maun area because farmers do not have anywhere to sell their livestock and asked government to consider opening the Botswana Meat Commission in Maun.
Relations between Botswana and Zimbabweans worsen (Gaborone, African Church Information Service, 17/02) - The rapid economic decline in Zimbabwe, characterised by rising unemployment, has precipitated an influx of economic refugees from Zimbabwe into Botswana, creating a conflict between nationals of the two neighbours. The worsening relations came into the fore following the death of two Zimbabwean inmates and a Motswana at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital in mid January. The three died from injuries they sustained in a fight between Zimbabweans and Batswana at the Francistown Maximum Prison. Prison warders failed to control the fighting and police and army personnel had to be called in. Although the police is yet to conclude investigations into what led to the fighting, it is an open secret that relations between Zimbabweans and Batswana is deteriorating at an alarming rate. In another incident, three Zimbabweans were seriously injured at the Gaborone Bus Rank when fighting broke out on January 20 between the two groups. Again, police are still investigating the cause of the fighting but some reports claim that a Zimbabwean was caught wearing clothes stolen from a Motswana. The Batswana have openly accused Zimbabweans, most of them illegal immigrants, of stealing. And of late, they have also accused the Zimbabweans of spreading the highly contagious foot and mouth disease. It is claimed that the immigrants, who use illegal entry points, escape the thorough check-points that have been erected along the Botswana's highways, where travellers have to disinfect leather products. But the Zimbabweans claim that their Batswana neighbours, including police officers, harass them and do not accord them justice. Analysts warn that as the economic and political problems in Zimbabwe continue to multiply, its nationals will continue to flood Botswana, causing further hostilities between nationals of the two countries. This is feared may consequently drive a wedge into the two countries' diplomatic relations. Opposition parties in Botswana, most of them who have attacked the government for "having a soft spot" for foreigners, are likely to join the bandwagon of those bashing Zimbabweans.
Health Minister calls for action against illegal immigrants (Mmegi, 14-20/02) - Health Minister Joy Phumaphi has said that residents of the North-East District are besieged by the influx of illegal immigrants, drought and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). "People in the North East are under siege and the influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe should be declared a national crisis. And this is further compounded by the drought situation," Phumaphi told Parliament on Tuesday. Contributing to the debate on the 2003 budget speech, she said the threat posed by illegal immigrants is likely to lead to the collapse of the region's economy and called on Finance Minister Baledzi Gaolathe to intervene. "It should be made abundantly clear that we can no longer condone illegal immigrants," she said. But the MP for Nkange, Ambrose Masalila was a little sympathetic to the Zimbabweans living at Bambazi village next to the border on the other side of Maitengwe village in his constituency. Masalila said the erection of an electric fence along the border is a threat to the lives of the Zimbabweans and that they could be killed when they attempt to fetch water in the Maitengwe River. The river is on the Botswana side, he said and added that the fence would prevent Zimbabweans from accessing the water if erected and it would not be fair. "It is time the two governments come together to discuss this situation," he said reminding MPs that the issue may later turn out to be a big human rights matter. After all, he said, the Zimbabweans are currently allowed to freely cross over to get water. "It is people's lives we are talking about and denying them water or getting them killed by the electric fence could unleash human rights issues and these are innocent Zimbabweans in Bambazi village," he stressed. But his colleagues were less impressed and the Minister of Agriculture, Johnny Swartz's asked whether it was not for Zimbabwe to approach Botswana over the issue. "But those are relatives of my electorates and I have to warn government that there are problems coming here," said Masalila. In reply Foreign Affairs Minister, Mompati Merafhe said that: "We can not just allow people to cross anyway just because they have relatives. That can not be sustained and we have to control human traffic".
On other issues, Masalila decried that the Botswana Export and Development Investment Agency and the Botswana Development Corporation are only confined to Gaborone and do not visit the rural areas. He said the two bodies need to woo investors to rural areas, to reverse rural urban migration. "Let them visit councils and find out how to help them because they have the advantage of land and water such as Letsibogo dam," he said adding that even joint ventures are necessary. "It is something that worries me, that people are trooping to towns because they see lofty enterprises there. People are looking for jobs and if there is nothing in villages, they would not just stay. Please spread the programmes there," he appealed. The MP for Lentweletau, Moeng Pheto appealed for the speedy roll over of the anti-retroviral therapy to other sites because many people require the treatment yet there is no indication of when it would spread-out. On CEDA Pheto said monitoring should be strengthened and warned government to treat the issue of conflict of interest at the CEDA board seriously. "So many accusations are being floated around about the board that there are problems and this should be seriously addressed before it goes out of hand," he said.
200 foreigners to be granted Botswana citizenship yearly (BOPA, 13/02) -Foreigners not exceeding 200 will be granted Botswana citizenship every year, according to a quota system for people wishing to acquire citizenship as announced by Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs this week. The ministry explains that this is intended to control the maximum number of persons that can be granted citizenship in a particular year. The ministry says the quota will be based on merit to be assessed on skill, level of investment/value of contribution to the country, spouse skills, age and family ties or association with Botswana. The ministry says these factors, to be allotted points totalling 100 in all, will be critical in considering applications for citizenship. A minimum score of 70 per cent will be required for an applicant to be eligible. The minimum score required will not necessarily entitle one to be granted citizenship, as other legal requirements must be fulfilled as well, the ministry says. Prospective applicants are advised that applications made in any one year will not be carried over to the next year. Those who have not been successful will have to reapply. Application forms are being revised to take account of the merit assessment and will be used as soon as they are ready. Members of the public will be informed when the revised forms are ready and are urged to contact Immigration and Citizenship offices, nearest to them, for further clarification on how the system will operate.
1600 Zimbabweans deported every month (Harare, The Daily News, 13/02) -More than 1 600 Zimbabweans are deported from Botswana every month, as thousands continue to attempt to escape from the harsh economic climate back home. Roy Sekgororwane, Botswana's acting chief immigration officer, said that country was failing to cope with the massive flow of illegal immigrants from its north-eastern neighbour. "We are now repatriating two truckloads of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe every day. Our detention centres are full to capacity, but a large number of people are never caught," he said. Botswana and South Africa have become the favourite destinations for Zimbabweans fleeing food shortages, unemployment, political instability and economic hardships. South Africa regularly repatriates illegal immigrants to Zimbabwe. In both countries, most Zimbabweans seek work as domestic servants or farm labourers. Sekgororwane said most of the immigrants were from Matabeleland, the hardest hit by the famine affecting about half the country's 14,5 million people. "We are seriously losing the battle in dealing with this problem. This is the worst immigration problem we have ever seen in this country," Sekgororwane said. According to a recent report by the Botswana Immigration Department, about 125 000 Zimbabweans enter the country legally every week, but Sekgororwane said more stayed behind after the expiry of their visitor's permits. "We repatriate two truckloads of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe every day, and this costs the government a lot of money," he said. Sekgororwane however, admitted that the exercise was not a long-term solution to the problem. "To some of the Zimbabweans, it is like a joke. They just drop their things upon repatriation and come back to Botswana," Sekgororwane said. Botswana is reportedly constructing an electric fence along the Zimbabwe border, ostensibly to curb the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. There is speculation that the motive may be to try and curb Zimbabwean border jumpers, although Sekgororwane would not say exactly why his country was erecting an electric fence along its border with Zimbabwe. However, Motlatso Molapitsi, the Botswana People's Party president, early this month was quoted in the Botswana Press as saying there was need to strengthen measures to curb Zimbabwean border jumpers. He was quoted as saying an electric fence would be the best solution. Molapitsi said: "We have to put up some measures to encourage people to cross through the gazetted entry points."
Cross-border smuggling of goods from Zimbabwe (BOPA, 11/02) - Officials of the Ramokgwebana border post say the tricks which travellers from Zimbabwe apply to smuggle goods into Botswana are of the highest order. Replying to the assistant minister of Agriculture Pelokgale Seloma's comments on Saturday during his short visit there, the officials said the smugglers, especially Zimbabweans were always a step ahead in their craftiness. They said the goods ‹ dagga and other drugs are prohibited as well as agricultural products, which are restricted because of foot-and-mouth are smuggled mainly to avoid paying the customs duty. Gaongalelwe Kelebonye, senior customs and excise official, said the Zimbabwean smugglers hide the goods among fruits such as mangoes contained in large boxes, inside or among wooden carvings, tyres and cooler boxes. Kelebonye said the smugglers also employ some of the most unorthodox methods such as hiding meat inside stockings or underwear. Often a box that deceptively appears to be containing fruits is declared as such yet buried among the fruits would be items such boxes of tobacco, video or audio cassettes or any other item destined for sale in Botswana. In some cases the smugglers deposit the goods at a spot along the boundary away from the gate, go through the immigration formalities then they trace and pick up such goods once they are in Botswana. Sometimes they strap items of clothing to their bodies to appear pregnant. Kelebonye said another method they use to evade customs duty is by using only one receipt to declare goods for as many people as possible, adding that it beats her as to how and where they get the time to transfer such a receipt from one person to another. Routine inspections often reveal astonishing items such as divination bones, (ditaola) whisks made from horse or tails, which they normally confiscate. She said the Zimbabweans were also in the habit of smuggling themselves into Botswana by hiding under seats of buses or big trucks, adding that recently the routine inspection made a shocking discovery of a hidden baby inside a cooler box. Kelebonye said customs officers are aware of the concerns often raised by members of the public regarding the rate at which goods illegally find their way into the country. However, the officers do the best they can, given the big numbers of travellers and their usually burdensome luggage. She accused the Zimbabwean long distance bus operators of their habit of arriving at the border in one go and very late so as to take advantage of the congestion and the likely omissions that might result from the rush. She said it is clear that the bus operators colluded with their passengers because often goods are discovered hidden inside the buses spare wheels and other parts of their buses. Kelebonye said Ramokgwebana border post was the most cursed of all the other borders. She asked for the introduction of modern and sophisticated detecting equipment for goods inspection because doing the work manually will not solve the problems.
Cross-border crime hits Okavango (BOPA, 11/02) - Residents of Shakawe in the Okavango have complained about the escalating crime in their area, particularly at the Botswana/Namibian border. They were speaking in a kgotla meeting addressed by Ngamiland district commissioner Badumetse Hobona and North West District Council secretary Gaopalelwe Pule recently. Residents urged government to intensify border patrols to arrest the situation as their livestock, especially donkeys and goats were being stolen and taken across the border into Namibia. They stressed that government could not afford to relax because there were possibilities of a fresh outbreak of the cattle lung disease due to unauthorised livestock movement along the Botswana/Namibian frontier. Residents also complained about predators, especially lions, which cross into the country from Namibia at the Mahangu National Park.They requested government to erect a proper fence to keep the lions at bay. Further they complained about a rise in crime at the pickets camps. They alleged that some Namibians sneak into Botswana and steal goods and food at the camps while pickets are still out patrolling the border.
Foreign companies monopolize major construction works says MP (BOPA, 10/02) - Barolong MP, Ronald Sebego says government should formulate a policy that will ensure that Batswana construction companies take part in major construction works in the country. Commenting on the 2003/2004 budget in Parliament last Wednesday, Sebego said a large share of the budget had been allocated to construction works and it "goes without saying that only foreign companies benefit from it" said Sebego. He complained that the citizen economic empowerment exercise was doomed to fail if Batswana continued to get a raw deal in the awarding of government projects. Also, he observed that no Motswana company was benefiting from the haulage sector even though the country was enjoying a construction boom. As a result, he said if he had his way, foreign contractors undertaking major construction works in Botswana would be forced to reserve 30 per cent of their work to citizen contractors to build local capacity. He said it was disheartening to find that Batswana who acquired CEDA loans to buy haulage trucks were not getting any work because the sector was monopolised by foreign companies. Furthermore, foreign companies seemed to be sabotaging local contractors so that they alone continueed to win all tenders and benefiting from the country's economy. On other issues, Sebego observed that the poverty situation in rural areas was compounded by diminishing resources and that lack of enough social welfare officers was also putting a strain on government's efforts to rescue the situation in those areas. He noted that government programmes geared towards poverty eradication would not succeed if adequate social welfare officers were not dispatched to rural areas. In addition, government needed to set goals and targets and strive to meet them because a policy alone could not achieve anything. Sebego told Parliament that government must also have specific strategies to combat poverty because each area had its own specific problems that must be dealt with.
Botswana opposition urges tough measures on Zimbabwe immigrants (The Sunday Mirror, 09/02) - President Festus Mogae is due to visit the country for talks with his Zimbabwean counterpart, President Robert Mugabe, amidst calls by Botswana’s opposition parties for the two heads of state to discuss the “invasion” of their country by illegal Zimbabwean immigrants, The Sunday Mirror has learnt. Reports of Mogae’s imminent visit come as immigration officials from the two countries have just wrapped up a three-day meeting in the south-western border town of Plumtree. “These are regular meetings which we have to discuss issues of mutual concern, and this particular meeting had no connection whatsoever with the calls made by the Botswana opposition parties,” said Boniface Lunga, who is the principal immigration officer in Plumtree. The meeting, which ended on Friday, coincided with media reports in Botswana of opposition leaders calling for the implementation of drastic measures by their government in order to curb the influx of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants into their country. “This is a state-to-state problem, and the only thing that can be done is for our president to convene an urgent meeting with his Zimbabwean counterpart, specifically to discuss the problem of the Zimbabwean illegal immigrants,” Ephraim Setshwaelo, leader of the Botswana Alliance Movement, was quoted by the Mmegi newspaper as having said. Motlatsi Molapisi, who heads the Botswana People’s Party, urged his government to erect an electric fence along the common border, while the Botswana Congress Party urged the government to deploy troops to patrol the border with Zimbabwe to arrest the influx of illegal immigrants into the country. The Botswana High Commission in Harare declined to comment on the utterances by the opposition parties and also dismissed reports that Mogae was due to visit Zimbabwe soon. “We have no information that he’s coming here,” said Mmamosadinyana Molefe, an official with the High Commission.
She said the Plumtree meeting, which was attended by Botswana’s Commissioner of Immigration, Roy Sekgororoane, was just one of the many fora where the two countries’ officials met to cover a spectrum of issues. Sekgororoane had early last week said that his department was “seriously losing out” on its battle to deal with the Zimbabwean problem. Molefe could not readily provide figures on the number of Zimbabweans deported from Botswana, or those held in the country’s prisons. Recently, a violent clash over meals broke out between Zimbabwean and local prisoners at the Francistown State Prison. One Tswana inmate died in the clash while two Zimbabweans were seriously injured and were admitted to the intensive care unit of Nyangagwe Referral Hospital. It is estimated that, owing to the worsening economic hardships, over 10 000 Zimbabweans leave the country every week, in the majority of cases, for regional destinations such as Botswana and South Africa. They have often met with sharp hostility in the receiving countries, where they compete with locals for job opportunities and other social services. The Botswana security arms have in the past been accused by Zimbabwean immigrants of using heavy-handed methods when dealing with them. But as the economic situation in the country continues to deteriorate, the exodus of Zimbabwean citizens to neighbouring countries continues unabated. “It is impossible to close a land border; even at the height of vigilant policing of the borders during the Smith regime, people still found their way out to join the liberation struggle,” Lunga said.
Reactions to migration from Zimbabwe (Harare, Financial Gazette, 06/02) -Botswana's opposition parties have called for a meeting between Presidents Festus Mogae and Robert Mugabe to discuss the influx of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants into the diamond-rich country, it was learnt this week. Their calls come amid revelations that more than 2 000 Zimbabweans fleeing a crushing economic and political crisis are being deported from Botswana every week. Most of the deportees are said to cross into Gaborone and Francistown from the Plumtree border post in search of employment. "This is a state-to-state problem and the only thing that can be done is for our President to convene an urgent meeting with his Zimbabwean counterpart,' said Ephraim Setshwalo, the leader of the Botswana Alliance Movement. "You cannot tolerate a situation where people are raiding the country without proper documents. This is a serious crime and the Zimbabwean government should also treat it as such." Botswana is one of several countries targeted by Zimbabwean professionals and unskilled workers who are no longer willing to tolerate declining living standards and the escalating cost of living. The Botswana authorities blame a surge in crime in that country on Zimbabwean economic refugees. The Botswana People's Party (BPP) said its government should erect an electric fence along the common border with Zimbabwe to stem the tide of illegal immigrants. "We have to put some measures that will encourage people to cross through the gazetted entry points. We can do that by electrifying the fence along the common border," said Motlatsi Molapisi, the leader of the BPP. "The fence will certainly reduce the influx of Zimbabweans into the country. I think we have to look at increasing the penalties imposed on people who employ illegal immigrants in the country," he added. According to media reports, the Botswana department of immigration has admitted that it is failing to contain the surge of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. Roy Sekgororoane, the Commissioner of Immigration, told Meggi, a Botswana weekly: "We are seriously losing out in our battle to deal with this problem. Immigration and the government cannot afford to deal with this problem alone. We need support to deal with the situation."
Concern about influx of refugees from Zimbabwe (Johannesburg, Sapa-DPA, 06/02) - Faced with an influx of Zimbabwean refugees, the government of Botswana has requested urgent help from the Zimbabwean leadership, South African radio reported Thursday. About 160,000 Zimbabwean refugees were arriving monthly - most of them illegal - fleeing hunger, economic crisis, mass unemployment and repression. There were also reports of an increased influx of Zimbabweans in neighbouring South Africa.
Foreigners complain over Malawi's new controversial land policy (Blantyre, Sapa-AFP, 25/02) - Foreigners have complained to the Malawi government about the controversial land policy which bars all non-Malawians and foreign firms from owning land, the lands minister said Tuesday. Thengo Maloya told AFP his office has been getting "a lot of complaints against the new land policy from foreigners but the government will not change its mind on the matter." He said it was time foreigners realised "this is our country and it's us who will set rules on how to run it." "I will not jump around to please a foreigner, I am favouring Malawians because the country belongs to them," the outspoken minister added. Some 4,000 Asians in Malawi have in the past complained about the land policy, which has yet to be passed by parliament, arguing that a clause that bars all non-Malawians and foreign firms from owning land while granting freehold status to Malawians only is discriminatory. The policy allows foreign companies and non-citizens to lease land from government or from private land owners for investment purposes only. Foreign individuals interested in obtaining or retaining a freehold on land would be required to form partnerships with
Malawians or attain Malawi citizenship. Most of the Asians in Malawi still hold British citizenship despite a 1992 immigration law allowing them to seek citizenship of the southern African country. They have complained in the past that converting freehold land to leasehold on the basis of nationality was unfair and would scare away investors from the desperately poor southern African country, which has been hard hit by the drought that has wracked the region. The Asians have also accused Maloya of being a racist for his tough stance on the land policy and refusing to discuss their concerns. "I am not a racist, I am merely a realist. I want foreigners to know their place," Maloya said. He said as long as he was lands minister, the land policy will not be reviewed until it passed by parliament. Malawi is seeking to redistribute idle land to thousands of its citizens.
Home Affairs minister on Malawi passport scam (Blantyre, Malawi Standard, 14/02) - The Ministry of Home Affairs authorities have blamed the country's nationals for aiding Zimbabwean illegal immigrants to obtain local passports saying people of the host state were to blame for failing to protect the integrity of their national identity. Minister for Home Affairs and Internal Security, Monjeza Maluza, and chief immigration officer, David Kambilonjo were clearing the name of the authorities following public outcry about corrupt immigration officers who received bribes from aliens while government was lax and soft in tightening citizenship laws and meting out soft penalties to offenders. Recently, there were reports of an increase in numbers of immigrants from Zimbabwe conniving with their Malawian counterparts whom they meet in cross-border trading activities, and even traditional chiefs to fraudulently acquire the Malawian passport. As many Zimbabweans flee from political and economic instability, scores of them were crossing the borders to access the Malawian passports to travel to the UK taking advantage of the favourable record of the passports and its peace-loving people. About five Zimbabweans were arrested by the police in collaboration with immigration authorities and deported, while three Malawians were also arrested and had their passports nullified for helping the aliens to impersonate. "Why should people point fingers at us when they harbour illegal aliens instead of jealously guarding the integrity of the Malawi passport," charged Maluza. Maluza warned that the rising spate of armed robberies were a result of the influx and infiltration of illegal aliens who provide local criminals with firearms and other dangerous weapons. Investigations by police and immigration found that some local chiefs recommended the Zimbaweans as having Malawian parentage and eligibility for the passport, and were alleged to have been receiving bribes to which immigration officers are said to have succumbed to. But the immigration has since tightened form application procedures. After questioning, applicants were failing to speak the local language correctly, one thing that betrayed them, according to a senior official at immigration, Bryson Bendala.
"Apart from their poor accent, information entered in their application forms regarding age and appearances raised suspicion," said Bendala. Malawi is one of the countries in Southern Africa facing steady influx of foreign aliens and car hijackers from neighbouring Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Government is working together with the Southern Africa Police Chiefs Corporation Organisation and Interpol to curb the rampant car thefts. Presently, due to pressure, the Home Affairs Ministry is reviewing the Citizenship Act to address the passport problem. To be looked into are issues of penalties to offenders, and instituting safety nets to the Act. However, the local people cite corruption among immigration officials as the most critical area alleging that while the true citizens wait for months before securing a passport, foreigners bribe their way to get the travel document. "This is my fifth month since I submitted the forms, but foreigners just walk into the offices and within minutes have their passport processed," said one elderly woman at the Blantyre immigration headquarters. She lamented the $15 fine imposed to culprits as too lenient.
Parliamentary commission investigates detentions in South Africa (Maputo, Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 26/02) - A delegation from the International Relations Commission of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, has paid a three day official visit to South Africa to learn at first hand of the problems affecting Mozambican immigrants and of how the branches of Mozambican institutions in South Africa are functioning, reports Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias". The delegation, headed by Dionisio Quelhas, of the opposition Renamo Electoral-Union coalition, visited Mozambicans held at the Lindela detention centre, who are awaiting deportation. Quelhas urged them to stop crossing the border illegally, reminding them that "this is punishable by law". "We are here to say no to illegality", declared Quelhas. "Whenever you intend to come to South Africa, you should seek to use the legal channels, rather than jumping the border". This is the first time that a Mozambican parliamentary delegation has visited the Lindela detention centre. The visit is believed to result from denunciations in the media of continued South African police brutality against illegal Mozambican migrants. The more than 250 Mozambicans who have been awaiting deportation for the last three weeks did indeed complain to the delegation of ill-treatment at the hands of the police. Among them are detainees who claim they are not illegal migrants at all. They told the delegation they had been arrested for no plausible reason, since they have all their immigration and residence papers in order. They accused the police of extortion. Ben Simango, 34, said "I had a valid passport, but when I showed it to the police they tore it up. They did so after I failed to pay the 500 rands (about 62 US dollars) they demanded. If I had given them that money I would not be here". He explained that he was arrested while coming from his workplace at a building company on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Another detainee, Dionisio de Almeida, complained that he and some of his companions were beaten up by the police. "They beat us with iron bars", he said, also claiming that he was staying legally in South Africa. "I came to study, and I have a valid visa, issued by the South African authorities", he said. "There are times when the police demand payment of more than 500 rands", said another detainee, only identified as Sithole, who showed the deputies wounds in his legs, saying that they were the result of assaults by the police at the Lindela centre. The delegation also visited the female section of the centre, where they found about 50 Mozambican women, some of them with small babies. Addressing this group, one of the women in the delegation, Margarida Machasso, reiterated the dangers of illegal immigration. "Most of you have left the country only to come and suffer in South Africa", she said, insisting on the need to stick to legal immigration channels.
Border soldiers stop harassing Mozambican nationals (The Daily News, 20/02) - Zimbabwean soldiers deployed along the border with Mozambique, have stopped ill-treating Mozambican nationals after strong protests from Maputo. Army and police personnel manning the border post and all illegal entry points have allegedly beaten up hundreds of traders, mainly Mozambicans. The sudden turn of events follows strong protests by Mozambican authorities at the manner in which their nationals were being treated by the Zimbabwean soldiers. The soldiers are deployed along the Forbes Border Post to intercept basic commodities from being smuggled into Mozambique. Commodities such as maize-meal, cooking oil, sugar, soft drinks, bread, cigarettes and flour, which are in short supply in Zimbabwe, have a ready market in Mozambique. Zimbabwean authorities blame the shortage of these goods on Mozambicans who they accuse of buying them in bulk for resale in their country. Petros Jokonya, 23, a cross-border trader, said: "We no longer hear of any beatings." Kossam Karumbi, 26, said: "We no longer have any problems with the soldiers. They have stopped beating us up. In the past they could beat you up and leave you for dead. " Several other Mozambican cross-border traders said the soldiers had stopped the harassment. Last year, two Mozambicans suspected to be illegal cross-border traders exporting basic commodities into their country, were shot dead by members of the army. Following the fatal shootings, diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and Mozambique soured. Upon arrest, illegal cross-border traders are taken to Grand Reef Infantry Battalion in Mutare where they are subjected to further assault before being ordered to pay fines of up to $500 for their freedom. Mougene Candiero, the mayor of Manica in Mozambique, appealed for divine intervention to stop Zimbabwean soldiers from beating up Mozambicans. "God, please help us to remove the soldiers from that border. They are assaulting our people every day," Candiero said last year .Soares Nhaca, the governor of Sofala province in Mozambique, last year blasted Zimbabwean security forces over the same issue.
50 Zimbabwean farmers settled in Mozambique (Maputo, Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 13/02) - So far, 50 Zimbabwean farmers have settled and are working in the central Mozambican provinces of Manica and Sofala, according to Mozambican Agriculture Minister Helder Muteia, cited in Thursday's issue of the daily paper "Diario de Mocambique". Farmers who lose their land in Zimbabwe as a result of the Zimbabwean government's chaotic land reform policy, under which commercial farms have been seized, supposedly for distribution among land-hungry peasants, have been turning their attentions to Mozambique. Muteia said that, besides working in agriculture, the Zimbabwean farmers, whose investments have been authorised by the government's Investment Promotion Centre (CPI), are also involved in other activities, including the sale of agricultural machinery. He reiterated that these farmers have to comply with all the established investment requisites, and do not enjoy any special treatment, despite the controversial politics that determined their exodus from Zimbabwe. "The Zimbabwean farmers who invest in Mozambique are being treated as ordinary investors, and do not enjoy any special status", he said, adding that this helped solve "misunderstandings" with the Zimbabwean authorities, who at one point believed that Mozambique was granting them the status of "political refugees". "All parties came to understand perfectly that these farmers are being treated as investors", explained Muteia. Speaking of the advantages of accepting white Zimbabwean farmers, he said that their investments will create jobs and they will establish partnerships with their Mozambican counterparts. He recalled that, for instance, a Zimbabwean company growing flowers for export in Manica province, is employing 300 people. This has become the first enterprise in Mozambique to export flowers to the European market. Muteia also stressed that accepting Zimbabwean farmers does not entail any risk of local peasants losing their land. He noted that Mozambique has about 36 million hectares of arable land, of which only four million are being exploited.
Mozambique welcomes white farmers (Chimoio, News 24, 02/02) - Mozambique counts on settling white farmers who have lost land in Zimbabwe for its own development, but officials here have also taken precautions to prevent any export of the farm conflict. Cremildo Rundo, deputy head of agriculture and rural development in Manica province, where about 50 landowners are beginning a new life, said: "We see the Zimbabwean farmers as investors, not as refugees." But in exchange, those who lost their farms to the resettlement programme in President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe have to follow strict regulations, many of them embodied in Mozambique's new land law of 1997. This stipulates that no individual owns the land, which belongs to the state. Zimbabweans wanting to start afresh across the border are entitled to rent up to 2 500 acres of land for renewable 50-year periods. "You couldn't have a better life," said Peter Bowen, a 42-year-old who arrived with his wife Vicky in August 2001, in a newly built farmhouse, after six months spent under canvas. From their isolated homestead at the end of a narrow track in beautiful highlands about 30 kilometres from the small town of Catandica, they can see their homeland. But they would not go back to Zimbabwe for anything. "We were harassed by people occupying the land every day," said Bowen, who used to grow tobacco and coffee in northern Zimbabwe, recalling innumerable tortuous discussions with liberation war veterans reclaiming the country's prime land from the white minority. "We knew we would definitely get killed," he added, going on to describe his new neighbours as "incredibly good people", notwithstanding Mozambique's accursed bureaucracy. Regulations were such that "it's impossible to work without breaking rules", he grimaced. He has renounced cash crops to grow potatoes and other products he can sell on local markets.
New arrivals have to create a commercial venture with a minimum capital of $50 000 and get initial tenancies of three years in which they must prove their real readiness to farm and make an economic contribution. Few Zimbabwean farmers have any trouble with Shona, since most of them are fluent in the main language spoken in western Mozambique and in their former homeland, but local officials are also keen to see them learn Portuguese. "The entire country has to benefit from their presence," Rundo said, but he readily acknowledged that "we know that they know their job. "Anyone is free to come to Mozambique and receives strong support from the government." The new farmers are drawn into close contact with the local population, with the authorities insisting on respect for traditional beliefs about sacred forests and secret places of ceremony. Failing to respect these is seen as a serious offence. Once settlers have visited the land that suits them, paid what they should to the state, and filled in a mass of forms, they are taken by officials to visit the chief of the district where they plan to settle. Discussions usually lead to the ceremonial sealing of an agreement on friendly co-existence. The new arrivals must also get used to Mozambican views on fences, which are almost non-existent in the countryside. People who want to build enclosures are not allowed to do so wherever they want. Two years ago, Zimbabwean farmers asked Manica authorities whether they could have a single 440 000-hectare patch of land in the province to share out and work. But the request was turned down by the government, Rundo said, because nobody wanted to see Zimbabweans setting up "ghettos" in Mozambique. The farmers must also employ local people, not workers "from outside", and guarantee a minimum wage of 800 000 meticais ($35).
Immigration to become police responsibility (The Namibian, 25/02) - Minister of Home Affairs Jerry Ekandjo is pushing ahead with plans to transfer the immigration function of his Ministry to the Police. Ekandjo told a meeting attended by the Ministry's top management and immigration officers from across the country recently that he will proceed with the plan, reliable sources informed The Namibian. Ekandjo wants the Police to take over immigration duties, while existing immigration officers will be given jobs in the Directorate of Civic Affairs The move is designed to reduce the Ministry's overtime bill as the immigration department is understaffed, the sources said. The Minister told the meeting that the move came as a result of a Cabinet decision which is "irreversible", sources said. When approached for comment, Secretary for Cabinet Frans Kapofi said he was not aware of such a Cabinet decision. Home Affairs Liaison Officer Mikka Asino said no "progress has been made on the restructuring". The plan is being revived a year after an inter-governmental technical committee rejected it because of legal implications. The committee, consisting of Government legal advisors and top officials, expressed fears that arming immigration officials with rifles and dressing them in camouflage uniforms will portray Namibia as a militarised state to foreign visitors. The Minister told immigration officers at the meeting that those who wanted to perform the immigration function should apply to the Police. "He wants to transfer all immigration officers to the Department of Civic Affairs and recruit untrained Special Field Force members [to do immigration work]. This is going to cost the State severely because it means that you have to start from scratch to retrain Police force members after what you have built over 13 years. Most of the immigration officers were trained in various African countries after independence," said one concerned insider. The Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) said the plans constituted a change in condition of service and "therefore it cannot be left to the discretion of the Ministry". The union said it rejected Ekandjo's plans in their "totality" until there were negotiations on the issue. Napwu Secretary-General Petrus Nevonga told The Namibian that changing the condition of services of its members unilaterally amounted to a violation of the recognition agreement between Government and the union.
Officials urge public to carry ID (The Namibian, 10/02) - Members of the public have been warned to carry identification documents at all times when travelling in and around the capital. Youth members of the Khomas Regional Youth Development Programme were stopped while on their way to the Daan Viljoen Resort to take part in a cleaning campaign after they could not provide proper identification at a roadblock outside the capital on Saturday. The incident took place at a roadblock on the Khomas Hochland western bypass. Senior Immigration Officer Flower Shikongo told the group that the purpose of the roadblock was to maintain law and order in the country. "The purpose of these roadblocks is to know who is coming and going into the city," Shikongo said. He emphasised that members of the public made negative remarks about unattended roadblocks and the ability of officials in performing their duties. "What if an accident happens while you are on your way to your destination. How can we identify you or either your family members when you are in hospital or you are found dead at the scene of an accident," he asked. He noted that police officers on duty would be the ones in trouble if any of these scenarios arose. A youth member, Kanghono Erastaster, said they were under the impression that identification documents were only needed when passengers travelled long distances outside the capital.
Border post campaign (The Namibian, 04/02) - Community members in the Omusati Region have called on the governments of Namibia and Angola to open a formal border post at Kashamane in the Okalongo Constituency. Residents recently held a meeting at Onandjaba, close to Kashamane, to discuss the issue. It was decided to set up a steering committee to be headed by the Governor of the Omusati Region, Sackey Kayone, to campaign for a formal border post in the area. Earlier Police Commissioner Elisa Haulyondjaba told The Namibian: "Funds for the restructuring of the Kashamane border post have been a problem, but the Namibian Government is aware of this issue and is working on it already". At present, people in the area have to travel to Oshikango or Mahenene to pass through an official border post and enter Angola. Oshikango is 80 km from Kashamane. Mahenene is 90 kilometres away.
SA troops to be redeployed along Lesotho border from April 1 (Maseru, Sapa, 28/02) - South African troops will be redeployed along the country's border with Lesotho from April 1, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota confirmed on Friday. Lekota said the redeployment decision came after a request by the SA Police Services for help in the combat of cross-border
crime. "To arrest criminals, you need police. However, it is quite evident that the police now needs ongoing and sustained support until they are capable of doing it by themselves," Lekota said. He said the redeployment of troops on the border had nothing to do with the recent announcement that commandos in South Africa would be phased out over the next six years.
He told journalists that the phasing out of the commandos would be done carefully and over time so that proper structures could first be established in their place. When asked about the number of soldiers to be redeployed, Lekota said it would never be constant as it would always depend on how much help the police requested at a certain point in time. It would not be a permanent arrangement and was only meant to assist the police service until it could effectively implement proper border control on its own, Lekota said. He said he had already ordered that troops be made available should the police request their help. SA National Defence Force troops were withdrawn from the Lesotho border during 2002 after the defence force's operational budget was cut substantially. The government has been promising for months now to redeploy soldiers to the border to assist farmers weary of cross-border crime, especially stock-theft. The cross-border crime rate rose significantly after the troops were withdrawn. Lekota said the number of people crossing the Lesotho border had increased from around 10,000 to 800,000 per month since the democratisation of the two countries. Cross-border crime did not increase in the same measure, but it nevertheless intensified. Lekota was part of a South African government delegation who met their Lesotho counterparts on Friday in Lesotho in a bid to contain cross-border crime. Lekota, accompanied by Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula and the new South African High Commissioner to Lesotho, William Leslie, said drug trafficking and stock-theft were the most prevalent border crimes. Among the Lesotho delegation were Minister of Home Affairs Tom Thabane and Sephiri Motanyane, advisor to Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. Lekota said Friday's meeting was the first in a series of similar meetings. The delegations were flown to the Van Rooyens Gate border post near Wepener, where Lekota caused at least one red face when he picked up a loaded cartridge that was apparently dropped by a South African policeman. Lekota found it lying in the veld near a small dirt road along which stolen cars are smuggled across the border into South Africa. Weapons are also frequently smuggled across the border.
Opposition to medical intern training extension (Cape Town, Business Day, 27/02) - The Junior Doctors Association of SA (Judasa) is lobbying the health department to rethink its plans for a two-year internship programme for doctors, saying it will lead to a massive exodus of medical graduates from SA, with devastating effects on public health . Aspirant doctors currently study for either five or six years before graduating, and then do a one-year internship to gain practical experience, followed by a year of community service. But in December last year, the health department endorsed a Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) proposal to introduce a two-year internship programme from 2005. Health department spokesman Sibani Mngadi said the change was prompted by the view that current medical training was too theoretical. For students now enrolled in five-year undergraduate programmes, the first of which was introduced in 1999 at the Universities of Free State and Transkei, the two-year internship will not change the time it takes to become fully qualified. But students on the six-year programmes are facing an additional year, said Judasa vice-chairman Karl le Roux. He estimated that around 25% of medical graduates were likely to leave SA if the two-year internship was implemented , and few were likely to return. Currently if SA medical graduates complete their internship overseas, they can still return to practi se medicine in SA, provided they first complete their community service. Le Roux said Judasa agreed with the HPCSA that new graduates needed more practical experience than a one-year internship afforded. However, instead of a two-year programme, Judasa proposed that the community service programme be altered to ensure doctors obtained a better range of hands-on experience. This could be done, he said, by placing all community doctors in hospital complexes, with six months each in secondary and primary facilities. Judasa would meet the health department to discuss the issue next week.
Lawyer challenges new immigration laws (IOL, 26/02) - South Africa has been leaderless since last Monday, when President Thabo Mbeki went overseas and his deputy, Jacob Zuma, was not duly sworn in as acting president. This meant actions by Zuma as acting president had no legal effect, immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg claimed before the Cape High Court on Tuesday. Eisenberg filed for an urgent interdict after Zuma made a proclamation stating that part of the controversial Immigration Act was to come into effect. This would have enabled Minister of Home Affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi to re-issue the controversial immigration regulations that were declared unconstitutional by the Cape High Court this month. They were set aside because Mbeki's office had forgotten to publish the notice in the Government Gazette. Eisenberg has now challenged the government to prove when and where Zuma was sworn in by Chief Justice, Judge Arthur Chaskalson. The constitution says "before assuming the responsibilities, duties and functions of the president an acting president must swear or affirm faithfulness to the Republic". But government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe said on Tuesday Zuma did not have to be sworn in as he automatically took over when Mbeki was overseas. Indeed, sub-section 90.4 of the constitution, an amendment introduced in 1997, states that "a person who as Acting President has sworn or affirmed faithfulness to the Republic need not repeat the swearing or affirming procedure for any subsequent term as Acting President during the period ending when the person next elected President assumes office". This means that while Mbeki is in office, Zuma - who has acted as president in the past - need not be sworn in again. Without the powers conferred on an acting president, Zuma is unable to declare a state of emergency, declare war or implement national legislation. Eisenberg said in court papers that Zuma appears to have made the proclamation as deputy president, not as acting president. Eisenberg brought the application against Buthelezi but also cited Mbeki, National Assembly Speaker Frene Ginwala, the National Council of Provinces and Zuma as affected parties.
They will go to court next Thursday to argue the issues. Advocates Anton Katz and Johan de Waal, for Eisenberg, will then ask the court for:
* Permission to bring the application on an urgent basis.
* An order that the "new" regulations made by Buthelezi on February 21 are unlawful and unconstitutional.
* An order that Buthelezi must get public comment on the regulations before he can finally make them.
Apart from the point that Zuma was not properly sworn in, Eisenberg further complains that Buthelezi has refused to table the regulations for comment. "We have an interest in the lawful and constitutional administration of all laws, and in particular the immigration laws of South Africa," Eisenberg said. He adds that the public also has a legal right to comment on the regulations. The immigration regulations that Eisenberg claims might look very different if the public is given a chance to comment on them include:
* Visitors who wish to come to South Africa and stay for more than three months will have to prove that they can provide funds of R20 000 per person per month. They will also have to obtain visas.
* Retired foreign nationals who wish to stay for three or four years will have to prove that their estates are worth R15-million and earn at least R25 000 per person.
* To obtain permanent residence a foreign national must be able to prove that he or she has R15-million and can pay a sum of R100 000 to the government.
What the constitution says:
Chapter 5, Section 90
1. When the President is absent from the Republic or otherwise unable to fulfil the duties of President, or during a vacancy in the office of President, an office-bearer in the order below acts as President:
* The Deputy President
* A Minister designated by the President
* A Minister designated by the other members of the Cabinet
* The Speaker, until the National Assembly designates one of its other members.
2. An Acting-President has the responsibilities, powers and functions of the Presidents.
3. Before assuming the responsibilities, duties and functions of the President, the Acting-President must swear or affirm faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution in accordance with Schedule 2.
Oath or solemn affirmation of President and Acting-President.
1. The President or Acting-President, before the Chief Justice, must swear or affirm as follows: "In the presence of everyone assembled here, and in full realisation of the high calling I assume as President of the Republic of South Africa, I ... swear/solemnly affirm that I will be faithful to the Republic of South Africa, and will obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other law of the Republic; and I solemnly and sincerely promise that I will always:
* Promote that which will advance, and oppose all that may harm, the Republic.
* Protect and promote the rights of all South Africans.
* Discharge my duties with all my strength and talents to the best of my knowledge and ability and true to the dictates of my conscience.
* Do justice to all.
* Devote myself to the well-being of the Republic and all of its people.
State lawyer concerned about immigration regulations (Parliament, Sapa, 26/02) - The State Law adviser has cautioned the National Assembly's home affairs committee that the new immigration regulations might be open to a successful court challenge, as they do not appear to be transitional. The regulations from the department of home affairs were gazetted last week and are necessary for the new Immigration Act to come into force on March 12. In a legal opinion sent to committee members on Wednesday, Mr OB Kellner, the principal state law adviser, said he was concerned that "there does not seem to be any indication that the regulations are meant to be of a transitory nature". The procedure followed by the department in drafting the regulations has been at the centre of a row between committee members and home affairs officials. The department has insisted the regulations are a transitional mechanism and will be replaced in terms of Section 7 of the Act, which requires an advisory immigration board be set up within 90 days of the legislation coming into force. A public consultation process will then kick in, including a role for Parliament in drafting new regulations. Kellner said regulation 1(2) and the comprehensive nature of the rest of the regulations tended to indicate the opposite of a transitional arrangement. "If this is so, one wonders what is left to regulate in terms of the procedure established by section seven once the board is in place. It seems to me that the legislature would not have established the elaborate and transparent procedure for making regulations in terms of section 7 if meant to allow the department to make the bulk of the regulations envisaged in section 51 and 52. I fear that a court would come to the same conclusion if the regulations were to be challenged," Kellner said. Kellner suggested a technical amendment to the regulations to avoid a court challenge. A Cape Town immigration lawyer, Gary Eisenberg, is already challenging the validity of the regulations in the Cape High Court. Eisenberg claims that last week's proclamation stating that the Immigration Act will come into effect was invalid because Deputy President Jacob Zuma had not been properly sworn in as acting president when he signed it. Eisenberg also claims that Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi must seek public comment on the regulations before he can finally make them. The matter will be heard in the Cape High Court next Thursday.
Concession on immigration regulations (Cape Town, Sapa, 26/02) - Tension between the department of home affairs and parliament over the regulations for the controversial Immigration Act intensified yesterday, but the department made a slight concession for pensioners in the face of public criticism about high financial thresholds for immigrants. Business lobby groups have protested strongly about the provisions that persons applying for permanent residence should have a net worth of R15 million and an income of R25 000 a month, or R20 million in assets. Even pensioners were to have required a monthly pension of at least R25 000 before qualifying for permanent residence. Officials told the portfolio committee on home affairs that because of the public criticism of these levels, the financial thresholds for pensioners only had been lowered to a net worth of R12 million or a pension of at least R20 000 a month. But the controversial special training levy of 2 percent has been retained for the quota permit, which is aimed at addressing specific skills shortages in South Africa. The Cape Town Chamber of Commerce and Industry has lambasted the thresholds, saying they would discourage foreign nationals from settling in the country, and would also drive out many thousands of people who had settled in South Africa, but could not meet the new requirement. Linda Lamprecht, a tax consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said R15 million, even by international standards, was a large amount of net assets "and thereby only millionaires may apply". In her submission, Lamprecht said a more acceptable limit for a retired couple who owned property in South Africa, as well as transport, would be R10 000. Colin Boyes, the regional deputy director of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he was still concerned about the regulation being retroactive while temporary permits would have to be renewed, prejudicing those already in South Africa. The department presented the committee with a four-page document detailing corrections to mostly typographical and technical errors in the original document on the regulations. But committee members were furious that the regulations would still contain provisions rejected last week.
Immigration law must balance state and economic interests (IOL, 26/02) -The much-vaunted business-friendly Immigration Act has a supposed underlying philosophy of "opening the front door wider, but closing the back door tighter". But it has already run into trouble with the courts, all of which leaves commentators in the business community increasingly worried. The Cape high court ruled last week in the so-called Eisenberg application that the Immigration Act would not be coming into operation on March 12 2003 - at least not on the basis of the series of government notices issued in November and December last year. The ministry of home affairs may however be able correct the errors identified by the court in time to still have the act come into effect on March 12. But the Eisenberg case had challenged the legality of the regulations on a further basis which the court considered it did not need to address at that time. It can safely be predicted that if the act does start on March 12, it will only be a matter of time before the second challenge is relaunched. More than a few commentators consider that the second challenge has a good chance of success. This challenge flows from a requirement in the act that the minister was to issue draft regulations for comment by the public before he could promulgate a final set of regulations. This never happened. The ministry argues that the regulations promulgated in December - and may be repromulgated "as is" - are only "interim" regulations. Home affairs argues that this strategy means that the ministry is not frustrating parliament's intentions. If ever there was a recipe for chaos, it's the prospect of an already notoriously administratively challenged government department and its officials having to remember from one day to the next which act they are applying. So this is a high-risk strategy. Maybe the court will approve home affairs' arrangement and it will all be plain sailing. But just perhaps (and not for the first time) the court will be critical of the ministry's approach. This just drives home the point that however new and wonderful the act might be in principle, business and the public will be dealing with the same old department of home affairs. One of the casualties of these problems is the small medium and micro enterprise (SMME) sector . Its critical role in local job creation is widely acknowledged. But it is not always noted that the SMME sector gets a raw deal from home affairs. This occurs in the law and departmental practices, as well as soon-to-be regulations.
Frequently in this context, small businesses will be bringing in people as partners or the small businesses will be new ventures being established by foreign entrepreneurs. This requires that the department issue a so-called "own-business work permit" (which is called a 'business' permit in the Immigration Act). The applicant is faced with producing an immense volume of material and at considerable cost in time and money. The applicant has to produce comprehensive business plans showing reasonable prospects of success, confirmation by auditors and others that you have the funds both for the project and to support yourself and your family, and that you have the know-how or a successful track record in the field. And there has to be a paper trail to support that claim too. The project has to undergo a feasibility test at the department of trade and industry. Home affairs considers (incorrectly) that trade and industry has a veto power on the proposal. So, if the project is in fact vetoed, you are going to have a hard time changing attitudes at home affairs. Immigration law practitioners like to swap nightmare stories till late at night about problematic applications under this heading. And the difficulties do not change under the Immigration Act. Indicatively, the current regulations now appear to impose minimum capitalisation requirements (of R2.5 million). They may also require "proof" that the business will contribute "to the geographical spread of economic activity". Any rethink of the regulations to the Immigration Act must therefore take a long hard look both at the realities of doing business in South Africa and of the economy's need for competent entrepreneurs in the SMME sector. The regulations need to achieve a balance between the interests of the economy and of the state in controlling migration.
Buthelezi on new Immigration Act (Business Day, 25/02) - Your paper's recent coverage of the immigration regulations was inaccurate, promoting erroneous perceptions which may damage our economy and property markets. While it is correct that the Cape High Court determined that the Immigration Act did not come into force because of the failure to publish the relevant presidential proclamation, it is incorrect that the court passed any value judgment on the contents of the regulations or the process through which they were adopted. Nonetheless, the regulations had to be reissued, which allowed me to reapply my mind to, and change some of their provisions. Everything is now again on course, and March 12 remains the implementation date. It is incorrect that the sojourn of nonworking foreigners in SA is made harder, with special regard to foreigners owning property or retiring here. Any permit available to them in the past will be available in the future on better conditions. The minimum financial requirements for investments in an active business are much lower and are set to R2,5m, and this threshold is reduced whenever any relevant organ of state requests it, depending of the viability of the business. In addition one can avail oneself of about 10 additional types of permits, one of which is bound to fit any type of circumstances. Criticisms underpin the unwarranted belief that those who have worked on this process for five years would not know how to implement our policies. Our policy remains that of opening the front door to nonproblematic foreign visitors of all types, while closing the back door to illegal immigration and undesirable foreigners. Let us give the new system a chance. We will undoubtedly experience initial problems, as happens with any major reform. Thereafter, if any tested aspect of this reform does not meet clients' expectations or our national interest, it can be improved through considered analysis once the Immigration Advisory Board is set up.
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MPHome Affairs Minister
Home Affairs lowers threshold on immigration permit (Parliament, Sapa, 25/02) - Public criticism had resulted in a lowering of the financial threshold for retired foreigners wishing to reside temporarily in South Africa, according to the department of home affairs. However, the controversial special training levy of two percent has been retained for the quota permit, which is aimed at addressing specific skills shortages in South Africa. Acting director-general Ivan Lambinon told the National Assembly's home affairs committee that the new threshold was reflected in the immigration regulations gazetted last week. The Cape Town regional chamber of commerce and industry is among the critics of the previous regulation, which required an income of R25000 a month or a net worth of R15-million. It claimed this would discourage foreign nationals from settling in South Africa, and would also drive out many thousands of people who had settled in South Africa, but could not meet the new requirement. A tax consultant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Linda Lamprecht, said R15-million, even by international standards, was a large amount of net assets "and thereby only millionaires may apply". "Very few individuals will be able to satisfy the condition, thereby precluding many foreign bona fide foreign nationals from retiring in South Africa," she said in a written submission to the committee. The new regulation states that the person wishing to retire must have a net worth of R12-million, providing an income of at least R15000 a month, or demonstrate an income of R20,000 a month in the form of a pension, irrevocable annuity or retirement fund. In her submission, Lamprecht said a more acceptable limit for a retired couple who owned property in South Africa, as well as transport, would be R10000. "It should be noted that with interest rates as they presently are, one would require an investment of only R3-million in a South African bank account to generate an income of R25000 a month."
However, Cape Town regional chamber of commerce and industry regional director deputy director, Colin Boyes, said he was still concerned about the regulation being retroactive. He was referring to the fact that the temporary permit will have to be renewed, and that those already in South Africa will be prejudiced. In a written reply to the UDM's Annelize van Wyk, Lambinon said there had been a great deal of public debate on the issue, which had wrongly identified the retired person permit as though it were the only one available for long-terms visitors. "The truth is that this is a new category of permit which does not replace but merely supplements the other categories of permits, which are still available. Any permit available in the past will be available in the future on better conditions." Lambinon said while the old visitor's permit had to be renewed often, it could now be issued for up to three years merely by showing that one can provide for his or her living expense, calculated at R15000 per month. To satisfy this amount, the rental value of property owned in South Africa could be included. If people wished to retire on such a visitor's permit, they may do so without resorting to a retired person permit, Lambinon said. However, the advantage of the retired person permit was that it did not need to be renewed as often. The new Immigration Act, which replaces the unconstitutional Aliens Control Act, will be implemented from March 12.
South African and Zimbabwean officials to meet on Tuesday over Beit Bridge (Pretoria, Sapa, 24/02) - South African and Zimbabwean border control officials are to meet on Tuesday to find a solution to the current truck congestion at the Beit Bridge border post, the home affairs department said on Monday. Departmental spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said trucks were backed up for about 4km on the South African side of the border post. "We have people milling around the border post who have already been cleared on our books five days ago but are not out of the country yet." The delay was caused by renovations being undertaken on parking areas and roads on the Zimbabwean side of the border post, Mashokwe said. "I am told they are only allowing through about ten trucks a day." Traffic other than trucks was not affected, except to the extent
that frustrated truck drivers were becoming "a nuisance" to other motorists, Mashokwe said. Tuesday's meeting was part of regular interactions between the Beit Bridge border control committees of the two countries - but would this time focus specifically on solving the congestion problem, Mashokwe said. The South African committee was made up of police, home affairs and customs and excise officials. Asked what possible solutions there were to the problem, Mashokwe said: "As far as I am concerned, the Zimbabweans must open on their side. Whatever they are doing must be done fast enough to make it possible for our people to pass through." Truck traffic at the border post was also extensively delayed over the December holiday period. It was then partly blamed on petrol and food shortages in Zimbabwe.
Trucks stuck at Beit Bridge border post (Pretoria, News24, 24/02) - South African and Zimbabwean immigration officials are to meet on Tuesday to find a solution to the current congestion of trucks at the Beit Bridge border post, the home affairs department said on Monday. Departmental spokesperson Leslie Mashokwe said trucks were backed up for about 4km on the South African side of the border post. "We have people milling around the border post who have already been cleared on our books five days ago but are not out of the country yet." The delay was caused by renovations being undertaken on parking areas and roads on the Zimbabwean side of the border post, Mashokwe said. "I am told they are only allowing through about ten trucks a day." Traffic other than trucks was not affected, except to the extent that frustrated truck drivers were becoming "a nuisance" to car drivers, Mashokwe said. Tuesday's meeting would take place at the border post. Asked what possible solutions there were to the problem, Mashokwe said: "As far as I am concerned, the Zimbabweans must open the road on their side. Whatever they are doing must be done fast enough to make it possible for our people to pass through." Truck traffic at the border post was also extensively delayed over the December holiday period. It was then partly blamed on the petrol and food shortages in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean involvement in bank heists (IOL, 21/02) - Illegal Zimbabwean immigrants have been responsible for a spate of bank robberies around the country in the past 10 years, the South African Police Services confirmed on Friday. According to Senior Superintendent Maxwell Thango, Commander of the Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, their investigation has also found that about 80 percent to 90 percent of bank robberies in Gauteng were committed by illegal Zimbabwean nationals. Police believe that the robbers strike in a few places and then flee back across the border to lie low until the "heat" is off. Then they go back into action, in slick, guerrilla-style raids. After being chased away from Gauteng, the robbers have targeted Cape Town and Durban, said Thango. "The groups of illegal Zimbabweans are operating nationally and we have joined forces with other units to deal with them effectively." Thango confirmed that most of the robbers cross the border, making it difficult for the SAPS to catch them. In well-rehearsed and smooth operations, the robbers - armed with guns and crowbars to jimmy open doors and pry open bullet-proof glass screens - force bank tellers to hand over money before fleecing customers and staff of their valuables. And now, the police in KwaZulu-Natal believe local gangs are getting so angry with the foreigners' raids, that they are selling them out to police investigators. In the first two weeks of this month a Zimbabwean gang made off with just over R1-million in Durban. The first bank to fall prey to the gang was the Amanzimtoti NBS where the robbers stole R250 000. A week later the foreigners hit the First National Bank in Florida Road and the Durban North Broadway ABSA bank, within 48 hours of each other, fleeing with more than R900 000. Anyone with information on the gang can contact Crime Stop on 08600-10111 or investigating officers Captain Anton Lockem on 073-1753-706 or Inspector Jack Mulder on 082-8787-669.
MPs revive dispute over law on immigrants (Cape Town, Business Day, 20/02) - A new round of political rivalry broke out in Parliament yesterday over the troubled Immigration Act, just days after the Cape High Court struck down regulations published in terms of the act on the grounds of procedural irregularity. The revived row threatens to further delay the implementation of the act, which Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi touted yesterday as world-class legislation. The act was the subject of bitter rivalry between the African National Congress (ANC) and Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in Parliament when it was passed in a blaze of controversy last year. Yesterday ANC MPs accused the home affairs department of trying to sneak in provisions in the regulations which Parliament had rejected during the act's passage through the National Assembly last year. They said the ANC's national working committee would examine their concerns when it met next week. The act is intended to replace the Aliens Control Act, which determined the procedures for foreign nationals seeking tourist, work and residence permits. It is considered especially vital for business, which has long sought clarity in immigration legislation as it affects their need to employ foreigners, especially in certain hi-tech posts that cannot be filled by South Africans. After this week's court ruling that the regulations issued in terms of the act were unconstitutional on the grounds that the proclamation authorising them had not been signed by President Thabo Mbeki the department shrugged off the defeat as a minor, technical setback. Buthelezi said yesterday: "Someone failed to bring to the printers and publish in the Government Gazette the proclamation which the president executed to bring the act into force." However, the regulations were thrown into further doubt when it emerged that Mbeki had left the country to attend a FrancoAfrican summit in France today and tomorrow, and a summit of the Nonaligned Movement in Malaysia next week without signing the proclamation giving legal effect to the regulations. Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo said: "It (the proclamation) is still being scrutinised and the matter is receiving the attention of the acting president (Jacob Zuma)." In Parliament yesterday, at a meeting of the home affairs committee, ANC MPs clashed with home affairs department officials, and refused to be briefed on the bill by Mario Ambrosini, Buthelezi's political adviser. ANC MP Patrick Chauke said SA was not a "banana republic" that would allow anyone to address the committee on the regulations. Among the concerns raised by MPs were the allegedly much-expanded role and functions of the proposed immigration advisory board, border controls and an apparent attempt to introduce departmental restructuring initiatives already rejected by the committee. Buthelezi remained confident, however, that the regulations would come into force as planned on March 12.
Immigration laws for retirees delayed (Cape Town, IOL, 20/02) - New, more stringent financial requirements for people applying for permanent or temporary residence in South Africa or to start small businesses here could be changed if they were found to be too high, Mario Ambrosini, the financial adviser to minister of home affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said yesterday. At a seminar organised by the German, French and British chambers of commerce, Ambrosini said new immigration legislation that had been due to come into force on March 12 would be delayed as a result of a case in the Cape Town high court brought by immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, because the legislation had not been published in the Government Gazette. Ambrosini said the new financial requirements for people planning to retire to South Africa, either as permanent residents or with a permit valid for four years, were regulations and not laws and could therefore be changed. It had been difficult to find people willing to serve on a new immigration advisory board, he said, but as soon as it was in place the board would look at some features of the new regulations. He said these were not designed to keep people out but to open up the country to new arrivals, provided they could prove they were able to support themselves and would not become a burden on the state. The rules did not apply to people who were already permanent residents. "Swallows" - people who came here for up to six months in the year, who could produce a return ticket and often had holiday homes here - would not have to provide proof of income. They could come into the country with a three-month holiday permit that could be extended. Ambrosini said a requirement that anyone planning to retire in South Africa should have an income of R25 000 a month was not unreasonable in view of the exchange rate. "I don't know anyone in the US who has retired on less than $2 000 a month." Julia Willand of International Business Network said anyone planning to set up a business in the country would normally have to invest R2.5 million and meet at least two of seven conditions. However, under certain conditions, the minimum investment of R2.5 million could be reduced after consultation with the department of trade and industry. Wilna Barnard, the facilitation manager at the department of trade and industry, said she could advise people on this.
Immigration rules hit more snags (Cape Town, News 24, 19/02) - Immigration regulations, the subject of a court challenge earlier this week, hit another snag on Wednesday - this time in the National Assembly's home affairs committee as well as the presidency. This comes less than three weeks before the new migration control law is to be implemented. The Cape High Court on Monday nullified the regulations - published last year and which are required for the Act's implementation - because of a failure to publish a presidential proclamation in the Government Gazette. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the implementation of the Immigration Act would start on March 12 "providing South Africa with what is likely the most modern migration management and control system in existence throughout the world". Buthelezi said the High Court problem arose because "someone failed to bring to the printers and publish in the Gazette the proclamation which the president executed to bring the Act into force". The hitch had been corrected and the proclamation was due to be signed and published on Wednesday and the process would be brought back into line, he said. However, presidential spokesperson Bheki Khumalo says President Thabo Mbeki left for France without signing he proclamation. "It is still being scrutinised and the matter is receiving the attention of the acting president (Jacob Zuma)." Khumalo declined to elaborate. At a meeting of the home affairs committee earlier on Wednesday it was clear that African National Congress MPs were unhappy about the proposed regulations. They accused the department of trying to bring issues - rejected during the Immigration Bill's passage through Parliament - in through the back door by way of regulation. The Immigration Act was previously the subject of a major row between the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party-led home affairs ministry, which appears set to continue.
The target of the ANC's ire on Wednesday, was Buthelezi's special adviser Dr Mario Ambrosini who played a central role in drafting the regulations. He was refused permission to brief MPs who insisted he was the minister's "political" adviser and that the department had been called to brief the committee. ANC MPs have in the past repeatedly clashed with Ambrosini. ANC MP Patrick Chauke made it clear that the committee had wanted a briefing from department officials, including the acting director-general Ivan Lambinon. "We are not a banana republic. When the department is called by parliament they must accept that." The appearance of Deputy Home Affairs Minister and former ANC Chief Whip, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, added to the drama. She told the committee she had come to listen so that she too could be briefed. On at least three occasions, Mapisa-Nqakula was forced to intervene, insisting on one occasion that Lambinon and other officials explained the position clearly. She also objected to Ambrosini's attempts to advise Lambinon while she was directing questions to the acting director-general. ANC MPs were also concerned that the regulations were to be published without reference to section seven of the Act, which provides for public consultation and parliament's input. Lambinon explained that the regulations were in terms of a transitional arrangement provided for by section 52 of the Act and that the department had senior counsel opinion that this was the correct route to follow. Only once the Act was implemented and the advisory board appointed within 90 days, did the law require a consultative process. The transitional regulations could then give way to new regulations as set out in section 7 of the Act. "It will be an ongoing issue, we will be looking at regulations continuously," Lambinon said. The committee has asked the department, state law advisers and parliamentary law advisers, to brief it on the subject again next week. Political parties have until Friday to submit written questions. It is understood that the National Working Committee of the ANC will deal with the Immigration Regulations issue at its meeting on Monday, as well as the deadlock between Buthelezi and his ANC cabinet colleagues over the appointment of a new director-general for the department. Immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg earlier this week said he would also challenge the validity of the regulations in court because of the lack of public consultation.
Ambrosini admits immigration rule muddle (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online 18/02) - After travelling through Europe to educate foreign embassy officials on the new immigration regulations, the special adviser to the Department of Home Affairs, Mario Ambrosini, has conceded that there was a huge slip-up and that the regulations have no power at all. Ambrosini said this in an affidavit supporting an application to have a constitutional challenge against the new immigration regulations postponed to give the Department of Home Affairs a chance to correct its mistakes. The application will be opposed by the legal team for Gary Eisenberg, one of South Africa's leading immigration lawyers, who brought the challenge at the end of last year. Months of correspondence, controversy and finally a lawsuit was to come to a head in the Cape High Court. Eisenberg's legal team will argue that the regulations have not been made in the legally prescribed way, which would have afforded an opportunity for public comment. The most controversial of the regulations include:
* Visitors who wish to come to South Africa and stay for more than three months will have to prove (by a statement from a chartered accountant) that they can provide funds of R20000 per person per month. They will also have to obtain visas;
* Retired foreign nationals who wish to stay for three or four years will have to prove that their estates are worth R15million and that they have a monthly income of at least R25000 per person; and
* To obtain permanent residence foreign nationals will have to prove that they have a net worth of R15m and pay R100000 to the government.
Ambrosini said in his affidavit that even though he had been "convinced" that the law empowering the Minister of Home Affairs to issue the regulations had been published in the Government Gazette, it now seemed that it had not. His admission only came after he returned from a journey to Europe where he had to "train" foreign embassy officials in the new immigration regulations. "These regulations have no force or effect and can therefore not be challenged yet," Ambrosini said in papers before court. According to Eisenberg's papers before court the president did issue a minute and made a proclamation authorising the two sections to come into operation, but this proclamation was not published in the Government Gazette. Ambrosini reiterated that he was always convinced that the President's proclamation was published in the Government Gazette. He asked state attorney Lionel Egypt to retrieve the relevant gazette while he went on his trip overseas. It was only on his return and after receiving a report-back of the thorough but fruitless search by Egypt that he realised there had been a huge mistake. "I always assumed that the Gazette existed," he said. "Even after Egypt told me he could not find it, I was still not convinced that the Gazette did not exist". Ambrosini's concession came after the Department of Home Affairs filed a long list of technical objections against Eisenberg's court case -- including a challenge to Eisenberg & Associates' standing before the court.
Court rejects immigration regulations (Cape Town, Business Day, 18/02) - SA's troubled immigration legislation hit another snag yesterday when the Cape High Court nullified key regulations required for the implementation of the act. The regulations still face a second challenge on the grounds that the home affairs department failed to subject them to public a consultation process. If this challenge succeeds, the implementation of the act could be delayed further. The department said in response to yesterday's ruling that it would act swiftly to rectify the legal slip up. The Immigration Act has previously been the subject of a highlevel political tussle in Parliament, which eventually drew in Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and President Thabo Mbeki. Opponents believe the disputed regulations will act as a disincentive to immigration. There has also been a public outcry about certain provisions, such as the requirement that persons applying for permanent residence have assets of R15m and an income of R25 000 a month, or R20m in assets even pensioners require a monthly pension of at least R25 000 before qualifying for permanent residence. The regulations, published in November last year, were, however, nullified after failure to publish a presidential proclamation in the Government Gazette. Mario Ambrosini, special adviser to Buthelezi, said the new proclamation would be published as soon as possible. "It is no train smash," he said of yesterday's court judgment. He also insisted that the regulations would still come into effect on March 12. A full bench of the Cape High Court declared the immigration regulations ultra vires and unconstitutional yesterday because of the lack of a presidential proclamation. However, the court did not pronounce on the other challenge brought by specialist immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg that the public consultation process had been ignored. While conceding that the regulations had not been gazetted and proclaimed, the department disputes that the law requires a consultative process. It has argued that it is empowered to publish interim regulations. Eisenberg conceded that yesterday's judgment was a "pyrrhic victory" which government could soon rectify, but said he would now challenge the lack of public consultations. In his founding affidavit Eisenberg noted that "dissatisfaction with the immigration regulations is widespread". He said that he believed the regulations were "draconian" in some respects , and that the credibility of the legislation should have been tested by consultation.
Slip-up puts new immigration laws on hold (IOL, 18/02) - A misunderstanding and a Cape High Court judgment have forced Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi to back down on his controversial new immigration regulations - for now. This means foreigners will have more time to apply for permanent residency under existing laws that are far more lenient than those due to come into effect on March 12. The new regulations under the Immigration Act were roundly criticised at the time they were drawn up as favouring the very rich. Stipulations include that:
* Foreign visitors wishing to stay for more than three months would have to prove they had a monthly income of at least R20 000. They would also need visas.
* Foreign pensioners applying for permanent residence would have to prove that their estates were worth R15 million and that their income was at least R25 000 a month.
* Foreign nationals wishing to obtain permanent residence would have to prove that they had a net worth of R15m and would have to pay R100 000 to the government.
Ruling in favour of leading Cape Town immigration attorney Gary Eisenberg, who brought the application, Cape High Court judges André Blignault and Dennis Davis found on Monday that the regulations were unlawful and therefore unconstitutional, as the sections making them legal had not been published in the Government Gazette. They also ordered the department of home affairs to pay Eisenberg's legal costs. The judgment came as no surprise after Buthelezi's chief legal adviser, Mario Ambrosini, conceded that the regulations had no power and had been a "huge mistake". Requesting a postponement on Monday, Ambrosini conceded in an affidavit that "these regulations have no force or effect and can therefore not be challenged yet". Ambrosini had mistakenly believed the law empowering Buthelezi to issue the regulations had been published in the Government Gazette, which must happen before an act can come into effect.
Eisenberg said President Thabo Mbeki had issued a minute and made a proclamation authorising the two sections to come into operation, but these were never published in the gazette, even though Buthelezi's regulations were published, on November 25 last year. The court finding will come as a blow to the Department of Home Affairs, which has spent considerable time and taxpayers' money to train its officials in the new laws. But, says Linda Lamprecht, immigration consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the judgment means that foreigners have at least another four months to make applications under the current laws. "The Immigration Act states that the department must go through three periods of consultation and public participation of 21 days each before the final regulations can be adopted, and the department must also give reasons why it hasn't accepted suggestions or comments from the public. If the department follows this process, then foreigners will have at least another four months to apply." The previous legislation doesn't stipulate a minimum amount of money to be introduced by a foreigner starting a business, but requires that the business provide employment, has export potential and fulfils a need in the market. Pensioners only had to prove their monthly income was adequate for their needs. Buthelezi's spokesperson was not available for comment.
Immigration regulations 'unconstitutional' (Cape Town, News 24, 17/02) -The Cape High Court on Monday declared the country's new immigration regulations unlawful and inconsistent with the Constitution, in a ruling on an application brought against Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The urgent application was brought against Buthelezi as a first respondent and President Thabo Mbeki as second respondent by specialist immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg. Eisenberg said after winning the case that the court's ruling effectively nullified the immigration regulations. He said that at this stage the "implications of the order are not known", and said the minister would have to "republish the regulations". In an order delivered by Judge Andre Blignault and agreed to by Judge Dennis Davis, the court declared that the immigration regulations of November 25, 2002 were "unlawful and inconsistent with the constitution of the Republic of South Africa" and therefore invalid. In his judgment Blignault said that the basis of Eisenberg's case was two-fold. Firstly, the immigration regulations were not in force because the President had not yet determined a date for them to come into effect by publication in the government gazette. Secondly, provisions for public comments were not followed in accordance with section seven of the Immigration Act. However, the court did not pronounce on section seven of the act relating to the provisions for public comment. Blignault said that he wouldn't pronounce on section seven because it was of "academic interest only". He said he did not agree with the heads of argument of advocate David Unterhalter, who appeared on behalf of the minister, saying that his case relied heavily on the "matter of prematurity". The court upheld the argument of advocate Anton Katz, who appeared for Eisenberg, when he argued that because the presidential proclamation bringing the act into force was not published in the government gazette, the minister in making the regulations had acted without any power to do so. Blignault also ordered that the costs of the case be borne by the respondents, including the costs of two advocates. According to Eisenberg he brought the matter to court because "he has an interest in the advice he gives to people... and the law in this case was itself unlawful... the public's right to fair comment was threatened". Monday's ruling is the latest twist in the controversial legislation which has been eight years in the making. Last year the law became a bone of contention between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the African National Congress, particularly over sections dealing with the proposed immigration courts, work permit quotas and the role of accountants in certifying that a foreign worker's skills are necessary for South Africa.
New immigration law has no power (IOL, 17/02) - After travelling through Europe to train embassy officials on new immigration regulations, Mario Ambrosini, special adviser to the department of home affairs, has conceded that these regulations have no power at all. Ambrosini said this in an affidavit supporting an application to have a constitutional challenge against the new immigration regulations postponed to give the department a chance to fix its mistakes. The application will be opposed by the legal team for Gary Eisenberg, who brought the challenge in 2002. After months of controversy, an application could soon be heard in the Cape High Court. Eisenberg will argue that the regulations were not made in the legally prescribed way and did not afford an opportunity for public comment. The most controversial of the regulations include:
* Visitors who wish to stay in South Africa for more than three months will have to prove (by a statement from a chartered accountant) they can provide funds of R20 000 per person per month.
* Retired foreign nationals who wish to stay for several years will have to prove that their estates are worth at least R15-million and that they have a monthly income of at least R25 000 per person.
* To obtain permanent residence, a foreign national will have to prove a net worth of at least R15-million and pay R100 000 to the government.
Ambrosini stated that even though he was "convinced" the law had been published in the Government Gazette, as is the legal requirement before an act can come into operation, "it now seems that it has not". Ambrosini said: "These regulations have no force or effect and can therefore not be challenged yet." According to Eisenberg, the president made a proclamation authorising the two sections to come into operation, but this was not published in the Government Gazette. He had asked state attorney Lionel Egypt to retrieve the relevant gazette while he (Ambrosini) went on his trip overseas. It was only on his return and after receiving a report-back of the thorough but fruitless search by Egypt that he realised there had been a huge mistake.
Ambrosini's concession came after the department of home affairs filed a long list of technical objections against Eisenberg's court case.
State admits it bungled on immigration rule (IOL, 17/02) - After months of correspondence, controversy and finally a lawsuit to have controversial immigration regulations declared unconstitutional, the chief legal adviser to the minister of home affairs has finally conceded that they made a huge mistake. Mario Ambrosini said in an affidavit filed late last week, that even though he was "convinced" the law empowering the minister to issue the regulations had been published in the Government Gazette, as was the legal requirement before an act came into operation, this had not been done. His admission, however, only came as he returned from Europe, where he had to "train" foreign embassy officials in the new immigration regulations. "These regulations have no force or effect and can therefore not be challenged yet," Ambrosini said in papers before court seeking a postponement of the challenge filed by leading immigration attorneys Gary Eisenberg from Eisenberg & Associates. Eisenberg asked the Cape High Court to declare controversial immigration regulations made by the minister in November last year to be unconstitutional because the law empowering the minister to make these regulations was not yet in operation. According to Eisenberg, President Thabo Mbeki did issue a minute and made a proclamation authorising the two sections to come into operation, but this proclamation was not published in the Gazette. Ambrosini reiterated he was always convinced the president's proclamation was published in the Gazette. He had asked State Attorney Lionel Egypt to retrieve the relevant Gazette while he (Ambrosini) went on his trip overseas. It was only on his return and after receiving a report-back of the thorough but fruitless search by Egypt that he realised that there had been a huge mistake. Eisenberg will now ask the court to order costs against the department of home affairs. When he launched the litigation against the immigration regulations, Eisenberg said he would not seek costs but only disbursements if he won the case. The new developments had now caused him to change his application.
Cuban doctors lodge complaints (The Natal Witness, 10/02) - Cuban doctors have lodged complaints of gross human rights violations at the Human Rights Commission over the government-to-government agreement between the Cuban and South African governments. The alleged human rights violations include the dismissal of seven Limpopo doctors, which will be opposed in the Johannesburg Labour Court on Monday with an application against the Health Department demanding it honour their contracts. In what the doctors believe is "a revenge attack" after a Special Assignment programme about their plight in December, two Pietermaritzburg specialists were told to expect dismissal letters, while seven Cuban doctors in Limpopo were fired on Friday. In a meeting on Thursday, described as "no match to the Spanish inquisition", Cuban officials allegedly told Dr Mario Menchero, a Cuban orthopaedic surgeon at Grey's Hospital, that he is a "traitor" who does not deserve to be on the Cuban programme. The meeting followed Menchero's cancellation of his Cuban Communist party membership after he openly said he could "no longer support the party's principles". An Edendale surgeon received a similar threat when he refused to send his 15-year-old daughter back to Cuba in January - a requirement of a new contract given to the doctors in December last year. Further action was also taken against the doctor. "They confiscated my house in Cuba and my savings account with my pension money has been frozen. My daughter is very confused," the doctor said, adding that he will not consider separating his family. Of the 10 children who were supposed to return in January after their 15th birthdays, only one eventually got to Cuba. Three parents refused to send their children back, four families absconded in Spain, one child was "late" and missed the plane and another had "a fit" and was given one month to recover. Still recovering from the shock of their dismissal, after being given 48 hours to leave the hospitals where they have been working, are the seven doctors in Limpopo. One of the doctors in Makopane (Potgietersrus), who lives on the hospital premises, was given 24 hours to vacate his house. The Limpopo Health Department said the doctors "opted out of the Cuba/South Africa agreement Opting out of the agreement has implications on relations between the republics of Cuba and South Africa."
The doctors said they are being "punished" because they either applied for permanent South African residence, or requested not to go on the annual compulsory holiday to Cuba, or refused to send their children back after their 15th birthdays. One of the dismissed doctors apparently previously defected to Spain, so as not to lose his South African wife after a threat that his passport would be confiscated in Cuba. A letter from Cuban co-ordinator Dr Jaime Davis, of which the Witness has a copy, informed the Limpopo Health Department that the Cuban Health minister wants these doctors out of the programme because of their request for permanent residence. No Cuban doctor married to a Cuban spouse should be granted permanent residence in South Africa, it states. Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang's spokesman Sibani Mngadi denied suspicions that Cuba threatened to cancel the agreement because they are losing doctors who apply for permanent residence or abscond to other countries. Close to 200 doctors have apparently absconded since 1996. Mngadi said both parties recommitted themselves at the end of last year. "The provinces need more Cuban doctors. Requests from all provinces last month totalled 361 doctors and specialists needed, in addition to about 450 currently working in SA. KZN alone has requested more than 120." In a letter to an Inkatha Freedom Party MP, Tshabalala-Msimang recently declined to reinstate a Cuban doctor in the Eastern Cape after he was allegedly dismissed and thrown into the Umtata prision. She said he was employed under the SA/Cuba government-to-government aggreement and her approval of his request to be reinstated would compromise the relations between the two countries. Davis declined to comment, despite a fax and follow-up call. The "dismissal" of experienced doctors in South Africa, while thousands of South African doctors opt to emigrate, will leave critical gaps. Dr Elmarie Pieterse said the dismissal of her specialist physician husband will have serious implications for the intensive care unit at the Warmbaths Hospital in Bela Bela. "There are currently two patients connected to ventilators. With no other experienced doctor to run the facility, it may as well close down."
Police make 7000 arrests in East Rand (SABC News, 08/02) - More than 7000 people have been arrested for various crimes during police operations on Gauteng's East Rand since the beginning of the year. More than 2000 suspects were arrested for allegedly committing serious crimes such as rape, murder and possession of unlicensed firearms, and about 5000 people were arrested for other offences, including being illegal immigrants. Police discovered more than 7000kg of drugs and seized about two hundred unlicensed firearms.
I hit illegal immigrant to help him, says policeman (The Star, 07/02) -A former policeman charged with taking part in a dog-training exercise using illegal immigrants as bait has testified that he assaulted one of the victims for the man's own protection. Speaking of the 1998 incident - broadcast on SABC television in 2000 - Dino Guiotto told the Pretoria High Court on Thursday that he slapped Alexandre Timane twice as he was being mauled by his dog because Timane was enraging the animal. If Timane had left the dog alone, it would merely have plucked at his clothes, Guiotto said. However, Timane was pushing his hands into the dog's mouth and pulling at its choke chain, and Guiotto feared the animal would snap and seriously injure the Mozambican. Guiotto claimed he was forced by senior officers to take part in the "exercise", and that he pretended to participate while all the time restraining his dog by its leash so that it could not get a proper grip on the victims. Asked by Judge Dion Basson why at one stage he threw Timane to the ground, Guiotto said that if Timane was lying down, he (Guiotto) would "have better control of the situation". He said a study of medical reports showed that his dog inflicted none of the injuries suffered by the three victims. Guiotto and co-accused Nicolaas Loubser testified that they took part in the exercise because they feared for their safety if they refused. They pleaded not guilty to three charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, one of corruption for allegedly trying to bribe the victims, and another of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. Their co-accused, Jacobus Smith, Lodewyk Koch, Robert Henzen and Eugene Truter, pleaded guilty and were convicted in 2001. Smith was sentenced to five years in jail and the other three to four years. Guiotto and Loubser denied statements to the court by Truter and Koch that they had requested the "training exercise" because they needed help with their dogs - which were apparently not aggressive enough. The accused were described as unreliable witnesses by state counsel Christo Roberts. The trial was set to continue on Friday.
Immigration Act hits new snags (Mail & Guardian, 7-13/02) - Controversy continues to dog the Immigration Act, as regulations issued in terms of it by Minister of Home Affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi receive flak from both the ruling party and the opposition. Opposition concerns focus on the high entry thresholds for retired people wanting to relocate to South Africa — a monthly income of R25 000 or a net worth of R15-million. By contrast, the African National Congress’s objections focus on a clause in the regulations allowing the “licence fee” for the employment of foreign workers — 2% of the foreigner’s taxable remuneration, renewable each year — to be waived. The waiver would apply if the Department of Home Affairs, after consulting the labour and trade and industry departments, is satisfied that the employer has a training programme aimed at transferring skills from foreigners to South Africans or reducing reliance on foreign labour. The ANC opposed the initial approach of the Immigration Act, which was to remove the discretion of government officials in the granting of work permits and essentially allow employers to decide their needs. It is understood the party is also concerned about the wording of regulations that allow accountants to vet whether the country requires a foreign worker in a particular skill category. The ANC has argued that the labour and trade and industry departments need to be closely involved in setting limits. The latter is, however, included in the regulations. Commenting on the threshold for pensioners, the Democratic Alliance’s Mike Waters said it was “more than the vast majority of South Africans earn ... It seems an excessive amount.” Buthelezi’s special adviser, Mario Ambrosini, said the figures were based on the “past experience of the discretionary [system]”. He said it was unusual for countries to give residence to retired foreigners. Britain, Italy and Australia, for example, did not allow it. He also said retirees from other countries did not pay taxes in South Africa.The legislation, a major bone of contention between the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party during its passage through Parliament last year, was approved in May. Buthelezi criticised the final version, which includes a quota system for work permits for foreigners.
Cuban doctors face the axe (SABC News, 07/02) - The decision by the Limpopo department of health to terminate the services of seven Cuban doctors with effect from today has left scores of patients including those in the Intensive Care Unit stranded. The department says the seven doctors had opted out of the agreement between South Africa and Cuba. Like many hospitals in the province, Warmbaths, which used to have seven doctors, will be without the services of two specialists. On Monday, the situation will be worse as two will be away on an annual leave while one has left the institution after voluntarily terminating the contract. Some of them had their citizenship stripped off, allegedly after marrying South African women. However, the affected doctors claim that their certificates are still valid until August. The Cuban doctors claim that they are confused and unsure of the truth about the controversy they find themselves in. The department of health said it could not disclose the source that led to the decision to terminate the officers' services. Ishana Hassim, the spokesperson of the lawyers representing the affected doctors, says they are now left with no option but to approach the High Court for an interdict on Monday morning.
Handlers 'shocked' after dog attack (IOL, 07/02) - Two former North East Rand dog unit members accused of setting their dogs on three illegal immigrants were very shocked and upset when they returned from the "training session". This was the evidence of a former colleague, Inspector Werner Small. Small, who was also a "blougat" (junior member of the unit) at the time, told the Pretoria High Court that Nicolaas Loubser and Dino Guiotto told him what had happened that day. "They asked me what to do and I told them to keep quiet about it." He told Justice Dion Basson that the three of them were junior members of the unit at the time, who had no say in anything. He said the older men in the unit worked as a clique and they had a lot of influence. "As a 'blougat' you are nothing. You are afraid of the men up there." Small testified that he worked as a gate guard in January 1998 when the incident occurred. He saw Loubser and Guiotto placing their dogs in the police car. Small said it was odd to him that Loubser took his dog, because the animal was not trained at all. Loubser returned first later in the day and Small could see that he was distressed. Guiotto returned later that evening and he too was visibly upset. Lodewyk Koch, who allegedly ordered the accused to bring their dogs to the training session, was a person with power and not one to cross swords with. Jacobus Smith, Small said, was an aggressive person. Both Loubser and Guiotto earlier claimed that they were forced by their superiors to set their dogs on the victims.
Roodepoort police arrest 63 illegal immigrants (SABC News, 06/02) - The Roodepoort Crime Prevention Unit arrested 63 illegal immigrants in a "swoop and search" operation on the West Rand last night, police reported today. Milicia Bezuidenhout said the operation, lasted from 4pm to 9.30pm, and the seven members of the unit covered an area from the Roodepoort central business district through Braamfisherville and Slovoville. The illegal immigrants were taken to the Roodepoort police station for fingerprinting to establish if they were linked to any crimes. Bezuidenhout said all 63 would be transferred to a holding centre from where they could be repatriated.
SA needs skills more than foreign investment, says expert (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online, 06/02) - South Africa needed skilled people far more than it needed foreign direct investment, Standard Bank group economist Iraj Abedian said on Wednesday. Abedian, speaking on the topic Foreign direct investment (FDI): a curse or a blessing in disguise? told reporters in Johannesburg that attracting such investment brought political prestige. It was seen as a success, regardless of its actual economic consequences. But foreign direct investment was not always a good thing, Abedian said. It was useful when it extended a country's productive capacity, provided net balance of payment gains, and generated local jobs. It was harmful, however, when it came at the cost of entrenching a monopoly, or required subsidies or tax breaks, or had a negative impact on the balance of payments. An example of entrenching a monopoly might be if a state privatised its telephone company, and the foreign buyer insisted on retaining the company's monopoly for a number of years. Abedian said the foreign investment debate in South Africa was "stuck in the 1960s" and should be brought up to date. While it was true that South Africa attracted relatively little foreign investment, attracting it should not be an end in itself. Low investment was not a sign of failure. "It could be a sign of the success of the local capital market," which was a large and developed market. He knew of no capital project that had not taken place because of a lack of finance. Abedian suggested the country change its attitude to skills development and retention. Skilled people - human capital - should be attracted from abroad as well as being educated locally. As much as 40% of Africa's human capital was working in countries outside Africa. They should be retained on the continent. Education was crucial in this regard. "Skilled people are expensive in South Africa". We should "forget about FDI" and attract people. For every professional person working in the country - whether locally born or immigrated - four jobs were created. Some professions created even more jobs per professional. "FDI should be human capital, not financial capital," Abedian said. Financial capital would follow human capital, and not the other way round, he added.
Dog-unit cop claims fears of own safety (Pretoria, News 24, 06/02) - A former police dog-handler testified on Thursday that he took part in a 1998 "dog-training exercise" using illegal immigrants as bait because he feared for his own safety. "I was confused, nervous and terrified," Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser told Pretoria High Court. "It never occurred to me to refuse. I was too afraid." Loubser claimed he and Dino Guiotto were threatened by senior officers with physical violence if they did not take part. They were also threatened with their jobs. Loubser and Guiotto each face three charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, one each of corruption for allegedly trying to bribe the victims, and another of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by allegedly making false registry entries after the incident. The two men have pleaded not guilty. Their co-accused - Jacobus Petrus Smith, Loodewyk Christiaan Koch, Robert Benjamin Henzen and Eugene Werner Truter, pleaded guilty and were convicted in November 2001. Smith was sentenced to an effective five years in jail and the others three to four years. Loubser described Smith as an unstable and aggressive person. "You never knew what he would do next. Sometimes, at braais, he would take out his firearm and fire shots." Smith's dog, Rex, was equally unstable, Loubser testified. "He didn't need encouragement to attack," said Loubser. Smith threatened to set Rex on him and Guiotto if they did not take part in the "exercise". Loubser believed Smith was capable of doing this. Loubser denied statements to the court by former colleagues that he and Guiotto had asked for the training exercise because they needed help with their dogs, which were not aggressive enough. He also denied the session was planned in his and Guiotto's presence at a parade that morning. When confronted with the threat at the scene, he decided to take part, knowing his dog would not bite, Loubser claimed.
The dog was very afraid and never reacted, even when teased at the dog unit. "If you were not threatened, would you have taken part?" he was asked by defence counsel Charles Coetzee. "No, your honour," he replied. The six men were arrested in 2000. SABC television screened a videotape showing some of them inciting their police dogs to bite three illegal Mozambican immigrants on January 3, 1998, near Benoni. They could also be seen assaulting the victims. The men were at the time all members of the police's North-east Rand Dog Unit. The victims were Gabriel Pedro Timane, Alexandre Pedro Timane and Sylvester Cose.
Illegal immigrants used as bait (Pretoria, News 24, 06/02) - A former policeman charged with taking part in a 1998 "dog training exercise" using illegal immigrants as bait testified on Thursday he assaulted one of the victims for the man's own protection. Dino Guiotto told the Pretoria High Court he slapped Alexandre Pedro Timane twice through the face as he was being mauled by Guiotto's dog because Timane was enraging the animal. If Timane left the dog alone, it would merely pluck at his clothes, Guiotto said. However, Timane was pushing his hands into the dog's mouth and pulling at its choke chain, and Guiotto feared the animal would snap and seriously injure the Mozambican. Guiotto claimed he was forced and threatened by senior officers to take part in the "exercise", and that he pretended to participate while all the time restraining his dog by its leash so that it could not get a proper grip on the victims. Asked by Judge Dion Basson why at one stage he threw Timane to the ground, Guiotto said if Timane was lying down, he (Guiotto) would "have better control over the situation". He claimed to have succeeded, saying a study of medical reports showed that his dog inflicted none of the injuries suffered by the three victims. Guiotto and co-accused Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser testified on Thursday they feared for their safety and their careers if they refused to take part. "I was confused, nervous and terrified," Loubser said. "It never occurred to me refuse. I was too afraid." Both men claimed to have been especially afraid of Jacobus Petrus Smith, describing him as unstable, aggressive and a loose canon. They claimed Smith threatened to set his dog, Rex, on the pair of them if they refused to co-operate. Rex was a very dangerous dog, they testified. "He doesn't need encouragement to attack," according to Loubser. Both said they believed Smith was capable of acting out his threat. Guiotto and Loubser pleaded not guilty to three charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, one of corruption for allegedly trying to bribe the victims, and another of attempting to defeat the ends of justice for allegedly making false registry entries after the incident.
Their co-accused, Smith, Lodewyk Christiaan Koch, Robert Benjamin Henzen and Eugene Werner Truter, pleaded guilty and were convicted in November 2001. Smith was sentenced to an effective five years in jail and the other three to four years. uiotto and Loubser denied statements to the court by Truter and Koch that the two junior men requested the "training exercise" because they needed help with their dogs - which were apparently not aggressive enough. They also denied the session was planned in their presence at a parade that morning. Both said they pretended to participate in the exercise, with Loubser testifying he knew his dog would not bite. The dog was very afraid, and never reacted even when teased. Guiotto and Loubser described the incident and cruel and sadistic, but said they had no option at the time but to pretend to participate. Henzen, Truter and Koch testified for the State earlier this week. The six men were arrested in 2000 shortly before the SA Broadcasting Corporation screened a video showing some of them inciting their police dogs to bite three illegal Mozambican immigrants on January 3, 1998, near Benoni. They could also be seen assaulting the victims. The men were at the time all members of the police's North-East Rand Dog Unit. The other victims were Timane's brother Gabriel Pedro Timane and Sylvester Cose. The trial continues on Friday.
Policeman says handlers not forced to set dog on immigrants (SABC News, 05/02) - A second witness today rejected claims by two former police dog handlers that senior officers forced them to set their animals on three illegal immigrants in 1998. Lodewyk Christiaan Koch disputed statements by Dino Guiotto and Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser, his former underlings, that they decided to obey for their own good but tried to "protect" their victims. Loubser knew his dog would not bite in any event, while Guiotto restrained his by a leash to make sure the animal could not get a proper grip on the immigrants, Charles Coetzee, the defence counsel, contended. "That is not true," responded Koch, who is serving a four-year sentence for the same crime. He was testifying for the State. "They asked us for help with their dogs, and we gave it." According to Koch, Guiotto sought assistance after it became apparent that his dog refused to attack, even after attending dog school. Loubser had a young dog, not yet trained, which he wanted assessed to see whether it was fit for police work. It was then decided to arrange a "training exercise" for the two and their dogs, Koch testified. He was the men's shift commander at the time. Such "exercises" were not uncommon, he added. Guiotto and Loubser have claimed they were forced to take part in the session. They said they were told they would lose their jobs at the North-East Rand dog unit if they refused, and were threatened with physical violence. Koch chuckled when Coetzee put to him claims by his clients that he (Koch) had threatened them to the effect: "It will not be the first time that a 'blougat' becomes the 'aappak'. "Blougat" is the term used at the unit to describe new, inexperienced dogs and handlers. An "aappak" is the protective suit worn by handlers when teaching their dogs to attack. Koch denied saying anything to that effect, or of threatening the men with their jobs. "No policeman ever has to carry out an illegal order." Koch told the court Guiotto came to him at a later stage, thanking him for his help with the dog, which has since "tackled" a suspect during an arrest. He said Guiotto and Loubser knew what their "training" would entail, and were present at the planning that morning of the so-called exercise. "We all knew that what we were doing was illegal." He also denied Guiotto and Loubser were under orders. He was accused by Coetzee of lying. Guiotto and Loubser face three charges each of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, one of corruption for allegedly asking their victims for money in return for their freedom, and a third of attempting to defeat the ends of justice for making false registry entries. Their former colleagues - Koch, Eugene Werner Truter, Jacobus Petrus Smith and Robert Benjamin Henzen - pleaded guilty and were convicted in November 2001. Smith was sentenced to an effective five years in jail, and the other three to four years each. The six men were arrested in 2000 shortly before the SABC screened a video showing some of them inciting their dogs to bite three illegal Mozambican immigrants near Benoni on January 3, 1998. They can also be seen assaulting the victims - Gabriel Pedro Timane, Alexandre Pedro Timane and Sylvester Cose. Koch denied Guiotto's claims that he restrained his dog in order to inflict only minimal injuries on the victims. The reason his dog bit only with his front teeth and only clothing, not flesh, was because it was young and just learning to attack, Koch said. Guiotto claimed he did a thorough examination of the video and the medical reports of the three victims, and came to the conclusion that none of the bite marks were inflicted by his dog. The trial continues.
Jailed dog cop testifies against colleagues (SABC News, 05/02) - A former police dog handler convicted with three others of setting their animals on three illegal immigrants in 1998 is to continue testimony in the Pretoria High Court against a former colleague today. Lodewyk Christiaan Koch was called as a witness for the state in the trial of Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser and Dino Guiotto. He and Eugene Werner Truter, Jacobus Petrus Smith and Robert Benjamin Henzen are serving four and five year sentences for the same incident. They pleaded guilty and were convicted in November 2001. Loubser and Guiotto pleaded not guilty, and their trial was separated from that of the others. Truter also testified against his former colleagues yesterday. He disputed claims by Guiotto and Loubser that they acted under duress and did everything they could not to hurt their victims. The two said they were forced by their seniors to take part in what was termed a dog training exercise - and threatened with violence or the loss of their jobs if they refused. Faced with these threats, the men then decided to partake in the "exercise" in such a manner that their dogs would not hurt the victims too badly, the court heard. Guiotto and Loubser face three charges each of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, one of corruption for allegedly asking their victims for money in return for their freedom, and a third of attempting to defeat the ends of justice for making false registry entries.
More witnesses reject dog policemen's claims (Pretoria, Sapa, 05/02) - A third former police dog handler rejected on Wednesday claims by two erstwhile colleagues that they were forced to set their animals on three illegal immigrants in 1998. Lodewyk Christiaan Koch and Robert Benjamin Henzen - serving jail time for the same crime -- told the Pretoria High Court that Dino Guiotto and Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser were party to the assaults of their own free will. Koch disputed statements by his former underlings that they were intimidated into obeying an order to attack, and tried to "protect" their victims. Loubser knew his dog would not bite in any event, while Guiotto restrained his on a leash to make sure the animal could not get a proper grip on the immigrants, defence counsel Charles Coetzee contended. "That is not true," responded Koch. He and Henzen were testifying for the State. "They asked us for help with their dogs, and we gave it." According to Koch, Guiotto sought assistance from his seniors when it became clear his dog refused to attack, even after attending dog school. Loubser had a young dog, not yet trained, which he wanted assessed to see whether it was fit for police work. It was then decided to arrange a "training exercise" for the two and their dogs, Koch said. He was the men's shift commander at the time. Such "exercises" were not uncommon, he added. Guiotto and Loubser claimed they were forced to take part in the session. They said they were told they would lose their jobs at the North-East Rand dog unit if they refused, and were threatened with physical violence. Koch chuckled when Coetzee confronted him with claims by Guiotto and Loubser that he (Koch) had threatened them to the effect: "It will not be the first time that a 'blougat' becomes the 'aappak'. "Blougat" is the term used at the unit to describe new, inexperienced dogs and handlers. An "aappak" is the protective suit worn by handlers when teaching their dogs to attack. Koch denied making any such statement, or threatening the men with losing their jobs. "No policeman ever has to carry out an illegal order." Koch said Guiotto came to him later, thanking him for his help with the dog, which has since "tackled" a suspect during an arrest. He said Guiotto and Loubser knew what the "training exercise" would entail, and were present when it was planned that morning.
"We all knew that what we were doing was illegal." He also denied Guiotto and Loubser were under orders. Henzen largely echoed his former colleague's testimony. Both men were accused by Coetzee of lying. Guiotto and Loubser face three charges each of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, one of corruption for allegedly asking their victims for money in return for their freedom, and a third of attempting to defeat the ends of justice for making false register entries. Their former colleagues - Koch, Henzen, Eugene Werner Truter and Jacobus Petrus Smith -- pleaded guilty and were convicted in November 2001. Smith was sentenced in effect to five years in jail, and the other three to four years each. The six men were arrested in 2000 shortly before the SABC screened a video showing some of them inciting their dogs to bite three illegal Mozambican immigrants near Benoni on January 3, 1998. They can also be seen assaulting the victims -- Gabriel Pedro Timane, Alexandre Pedro Timane and Sylvester Cose. Koch and Henzen denied assertions by Guiotto and Loubser that the video made of the incident was to have been used as a blackmail tool. It was actually made, they said, to show Guiotto afterwards what mistakes he and his dog were making. Guiotto and Loubser denied they watched the video later on the day of the attacks, but Koch and Henzen insisted at least Guiotto did see it. Truter gave evidence on Tuesday -- also rejecting Guiotto and Loubser's allegations. The State closed its case on Wednesday afternoon. The defence is kick off its case on Thursday morning with evidence by Loubser.
Police accused of ignoring workers, helping farmers (Nelspruit, African Eye News Service, 04/02) - Limpopo NGOs and legal researchers have accused local police of deliberately ignoring, mismanaging, and obstructing complaints against white farmers by black labourers or villagers. They say police act harshly against farmworkers accused of petty crimes, but allow farmers to get away with offences such as attempted murder. Activists at the Nkuzi Development Association claim that the police's attitude smacks of racism after they dragged their feet in investigating three farmers accused of attempted murder and employing illegal immigrants. "We always have instances where police act swiftly to address a farmer's complaint of poaching within a week, but they then ignore a farm worker's complaint of attempted murder for months until it's forgotten," said Nkuzi fieldworker Shirhami Shirinda. Nkuzi has lodged a complaint against three police stations with Limpopo police commissioner Calvin Sengani. Provincial police spokeswoman Ronel Otto confirmed the complaints had been lodged. Nkuzi claims that it's still waiting for positive action from Bandelierkop police near Louis Trichardt, who have allegedly refused to investigate a farmer for attempted murder. Bandelierkop police, said Shirinda, rushed to investigate farmer CT Steenkamp's complaint of poaching against six men within a week but have not made any progress in probing him for allegedly shooting one of the poachers. Steenkamp allegedly caught the men hunting kudus on his Schoophoek farm on December 10. The hunters ran away when they saw him and he allegedly fired hitting one of them in the thigh and leg. Phenyani Chauke went to Elim and Polokwane hospitals for treatment and he has since been discharged. The farmer reported the poaching case on the same day that Chauke's relatives laid an attempted murder charge against him. Steenkamp admitted to the police that he pulled a trigger but said he shot a dog. Police have still not gone to the scene, and have only visited Chauke once in hospital, Shirinda said. He added that an investigating officer ate the kudu, which could have been used as evidence in court.
Institute for Security Studies (ISS) senior researcher, Martin Schönteish, said it was impossible to conclude that police were biased unless it was established that they were friends with the farmers. He said the delays in police investigations could be attributed to a number of factors including waiting for ballistic test results, and a decision from the directorate of public prosecutions. "Police may put in more effort [and delay] a case in order to make sure that it's strong," Schönteish explained. Chris Williams, the director for The Rural Action Committee (Trac), however differed with Schönteish. "This unequal justice has a lot to do with power differences between farmers and workers, and police competence," said Williams. Williams said Limpopo's situation was comparable to Mpumalanga's after Trac found a plethora of police apathy and negligence in cases involving workers' complaints, while the NGO conducted research for the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in 2001. "There are some farmers who have 30 charges against them but they still get away, but when something happens against a farmer, the police deploy a task team to investigate," he said. "Police need to be taught how smaller incidents on farms could lead to tragedies. They should start by thoroughly investigating minor charges such as eviction and crimen injuria." Nkuzi has also lodged a complaint against Tolwe police station near Polokwane for allegedly refusing to investigate a farmer who is accused of shooting at a woman in order to chase her off his farm. Shirinda said that Maria Molapo was allegedly told not to come back on the farm after she stabbed a co-worker during a fight. Belkop farm owner Joel Hoogenbosen allegedly instructed the woman to run and fired several times around her. Molapo laid a charge in August last year but police have still not done anything, said Shirinda. "We understand that workers do wrong sometimes, but police need to show the same zeal when dealing with their complaints," Shirinda said. In another incident, Shirinda was forced to act as a policeman at Louis Trichardt police station on December 12 after police said they "didn't know what to do" about a farmer who employed an illegal Zimbabwean. Shirinda had to accompany police to Johannes Jakobs' Ten Trees Farm in Louis Trichardt to question him. After the visit police refused to investigate further and Shirinda had to return to the farm the next day, fill out forms of admission of guilt for the farmer to sign and take his fingerprints. The only work the police did was to stamp the documents to validate them. Shirinda's efforts paid off and Jakobs was fined R500 at the Louis Trichardt magistrate's court. The Zimbabwean, Norman Ndou (26), broke his leg while on duty and couldn't claim compensation because he was illegal and not registered with the department of labour.
Campaign to draw expatriates home (Business Day, 04/02) - Twenty-seven thousand South Africans living abroad have been e-mailed and encouraged to return home. The e-mail campaign is the start of the Homecoming Revolution, a nonprofit initiative launched by Johannesburg advertising agency Morrisjones and specialist IT company The House of Synergy. The slogan of the campaign is Don't Wait Until it Gets Better. Come home and Make it Better. The online initiative was launched alongside a book called SA: Reasons to Believe! by Guy Lundy and Wayne Visser. Visser was responsible for a pledge of allegiance to SA, circulated on the internet a couple of years ago. Lundy, Visser and Morrisjones creative director Angel Jones have all worked overseas and returned to SA. They are concerned about the brain drain and believe SA has a lot to offer. Statistics SA shows that in the first nine years of last year, close to 9000 South Africans emigrated. Workers are being lost in important areas such as teaching, nursing, engineering, accountancy and IT," says Jones. The brain drain costs SA about R2,5bn a year, she says. Jones believes that because of negative perceptions of SA, many expatriates are reluctant to return. "Advertising can change perceptions," she says. The Homecoming Revolution is targeting professionals, artists and students between the ages of 20 and 35 living overseas. Most of these live in the UK (about 28%), followed by Australia (about 17%). Jones says the e-mail campaign will be followed by a poster and print campaign. It is not an attempt to whitewash SA or ignore the problems here, she says. "In our campaign we acknowledge the negatives head on. But we also accentuate the positives such as the people, the can-do culture, the opportunities, the lifestyle and the sense of fulfilment you get from contributing." The campaign is being run on a volunteer basis.
Dog cops set to give evidence (The Sowetan, 04/02) - Three of the four convicted former police dog handlers who were captured on video using three black illegal immigrants as bait during a dog training exercise, are likely to testify against two of their co-accused when the case resume today. The two accused, Nicolaas Loubser (27) and Dino Guiotto (27), appeared yesterday before Judge Diom Basson on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, corruption and attempting to defeat the ends of justice. Basson postponed the case to today to allow Robert Henzen (32), Eugene Trutter (28) and Chris Kock, who have already been convicted and sentenced, to submit their statements as witnesses. Loubser and Guiotto had their case separated from that of their four co-accused after they chose to plead not guilty. In November 2001, Smith was sentenced to an effective five years' in jail, and the other three to four years. He is due to appeal against the sentence. Advocate Christo Roberts, who represents Loubser and Guiotto, requested the court to postpone the matter, pending the conclusion of Smith's appeal case, suggesting that it was likely to impact on his client's case if they were convicted. However, Basson turned down the request and said the case would proceed amid other outstanding matters. The six men were arrested in 2000 shortly before the SABC screened a video showing some of them setting their dogs to attack Mozambicans, Gabriel Pedro Timane, Alexandre Pedro Timane and Sylvester Cose near Benoni on Janury 3 1998. They also assaulted the three. The corruption charge against Guiotto and Loubser refers to the men allegedly asking the three victims for R300 in exchange for their freedom. They have also been charged with attempting to defeat the ends of justice for allegedly making false entries in the police dog unit register and their own pocket books. In these, they allegedly wrote that their dogs bit the men because they tried to flee. The video, which shocked the nation, sparked outrage as many expressed disgust and revulsion. The video showed four dogs attacking the men, who were led out into the veld one at a time while the others were kept in a minibus. The policemen used derogatory terms such as "bastards" and "kaffirs" to refer to the victims. Their appeals for mercy were ignored.
Dog handlers say they attacked Mozambicans under duress (Pretoria, Sapa, 04/02) - Two former police dog handlers accused of setting their animals on three illegal immigrants in 1998 claimed on Tuesday they acted under duress and did everything they could not to hurt their victims. Counsel for Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser and Dino Guiotto told the Pretoria High Court they were forced by their seniors to take part in what was termed a dog training exercise. They were allegedly told they would lose their jobs at the North-East Rand dog unit if they refused, Charles Coetzee contended. The men were apparently told: "You will participate... or you are finished with the dog unit". They also claimed to have been warned: "Either you tackle (the victims), or Rex (one of the dogs) tackles you", Coetzee said. A senior colleague furthermore threatened them: "It will not be the first time that a 'blougat' becomes the 'aappak'." "Blougat" is the term used to describe new, inexperienced dogs and handlers. An "aappak" is the protective suit worn by handlers when teaching their dogs to attack. Coetzee was questioning one of Guiotto and Loubser's former colleagues --Eugene Werner Truter -- who is serving a four-year prison sentence for the same incident. Truter, testifying for the State, denied the two men's claims. Coetzee told the court that Loubser, faced with these threats, decided to participate in the "exercise", but without his dog leaving any bite marks on the victims. "He knew his dog was not aggressive and would not bite anybody." Truter responded that he doubted whether Loubser would have been able to know beforehand how his dog would react. "The aim of the exercise was precisely to determine whether his dog can bite in order for us to decide whether the dog should go for training." Guiotto, Coetzee said, also decided not to hurt anybody. He apparently managed to determine afterwards that none of the bite marks on any of the victims were made by his dog. Guiotto held his dog back by its leash so that it could only bite with its front teeth and not get a proper grip, Coetzee said. "It is my opinion that he did everything in his ability to encourage his dog to bite," Truter responded. He also denied that the two were acting on orders. "On the contrary... there was a request by the two accused to be present." The court also heard that the three victims were made to wash the policemen's cars using their own clothes after the attack. Guiotto and Loubser face three charges each of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, one of corruption for allegedly asking their victims for money in return for their freedom, and a third of attempting to defeat the ends of justice for making false register entries.
Their former colleagues -- Truter, Jacobus Petrus Smith, Lodewyk Christiaan Koch and Robert Benjamin Henzen -- pleaded guilty and were convicted in November 2001. Smith was sentenced, in effect, to five years in jail, and the other three to four years each. The six men were arrested in 2000 shortly before the SABC screened a video showing some of them inciting their dogs to bite three illegal Mozambican immigrants near Benoni in January 1998. They can also be seen assaulting the victims -- Gabriel Pedro Timane, Alexandre Pedro Timane and Sylvester Cose. According to Truter, Guiotto's dog had just completed a course and needed to training because it would not bite. Loubser's dog had not yet undergone the training, and they wanted to see whether the animal was fit for police work. Truter said the two men were at a parade that morning where the "training exercise" was planned, and raised no objections. It was apparently arranged that any member of the shift making an arrest that day would contact the others to arrange a training exercise using the detainees as bait. Such "exercises" were apparently not unusual, and Truter testified that his commanding officer knew about them. Coetzee said his clients denied prior knowledge of what the training exercise would entail. He said they were fetched by Henzen and Truter, not knowing where they were going or for what purpose. He accused Truter of fabricating evidence. Koch, who started testifying late in the afternoon, echoed Truter's evidence that Guiotto and Loubser knew what was going to happen. He said Guiotto and Henzen had approached him for help with Guiotto's dog after they attended a crime scene and the animal refused to attack. The trial continues on Wednesday.
Comment: Sowing the skills crisis (Mail & Guardian, 04/02) - South Africa is haemorrhaging skills at a rate of 10 times its ability to importskills. This has to be cause for concern, especially as official figures have to be optimistic. Forex regulations encourage permanent émigrés to fib — forex allowances for emigration are much less generous than for temporary sojourns abroad. As a South African academic, I felt the need to build experience offshore. I saw an Australian job advertisement. A few e-mails later, and I was invited for an interview. Once an offer was made, it was a formality to get not only a work permit, but permanent residence. My brain gets a much-needed holiday. The Australians think I am a workaholic, and I get to build “international experience”, which for some reason always looks good on a CV and might even translate into something useful in my ability to contribute in South Africa. So there are gains all round, yet immigration and emigration are seen in South Africa as matters of high patriotism or xenophobia, depending on your perspective. Contrast my ease of relocating to Oz with the situation in South Africa (my post remains vacant six months after I left), where work permits are very hard to arrange, and permanent residence next to impossible. Can it be any surprise that the net loss of skilled people is so high? What is the government doing wrong? There are several issues that deter skilled immigration, while making South Africa both unattractive as a place to do skilled work, and lacking in capacity to developskills.
First, the government has half-heartedly embraced globalisation. It accepts the logic of opening markets, so it also has to recognise thatskills are a global commodity, and wealthy countries have no compunction about strip-mining poorer countries of skills. The new immigration policy has made some things easier (assuming the new law takes effect), but is still based on the flawed premise that importing a foreigner means putting a South African out of work. The proposal in the new immigration law that companies must train staff as the price for bringing in a skilled immigrant is rubbish. The skills we most need are those that go with an advanced education and experience — not a six-week in-house training programme. In any case, a business is not the best environment for developing skills. If immigration is equated with a skills shortage, why not work harder at building education?
Second, South Africa is not an attractive environment for skilled work. The government’s irrational stance on HIV and Aids is but one example of a strongly anti-intellectual bias from the top. Worse, South Africa is not a society that appreciates a job well done. A big issue that I found in practice made it very hard to focus on the high-skill aspect of my work is the general malaise in the “service” sector. I found myself spending up to half my time chasing after errors in accounts and failure to deliver services as promised. This malaise extends to the private sector; I came to dread dealing with an insurance claim, or signing a contract for any kind of service. Perhaps it’s just me: I can’t leave a half-baked piece of work undone, even if it’s someone else’s job — but the general attitude of sloppiness cannot contribute to an atmosphere of appreciating a skilled job — and hence job satisfaction for the skilled. An important effect of this don’t care attitude is that it sabotages processes necessary for building a local skills base — improving education, replacing the apartheid-inspired hierarchy by one based on appropriateskills for the job, and turning around the apartheid-era view of jobs especially in the public service as sinecures for the well-connected.
Third, higher education is under threat. The restructuring of universities and technikons is a positive step, if a bit late; hundreds of millions of rand have been wasted on non-viable institutions, while the country’s best institutions have decayed. A society that invests in intellectual resources is spoken of, but not embraced. Corporatisation of academia, in which everything has to have a utilitarian economic goal, is making South Africa an increasingly unpleasant place to be an academic. My own field, computer science, has suffered an additional blow. The new higher education funding model, which has received almost no publicity in the face of the trauma of restructuring, cuts government funding for computer science students by 40%, to less than half that of other laboratory sciences. It seems our government must needs shoot itself in both feet: once by copying fads that don’t make sense, and the other by refusing to go with trends which do. What can be done?
A big issue that the government and society as a whole has to grasp is evaluating reality against goals. It is no use to talk about an information society, then cut funding for computer science students. It is no good to talk about the need to compete globally, then put yourself at a huge disadvantage by making skilled immigration harder than in a developed country. Immigration policy needs to be more realistic. If we wring our hands in horror at the cost of producing a medical graduate, who scarpers to wealthier climes, why should we not conversely be ecstatic that we have scored a skilled immigrant at the expense of taxpayers in another part of the world? There is no way that an open immigration policy for skilled immigrants will take away jobs. If skilled emigrants outnumber skilled immigrants by a factor of 10, we can’t educate and train people fast enough to make up the difference. Higher education needs to be seen as a resource, rather than a drain on society. The countries with the most successful economies also happen to be those which have not messed with the traditions of higher education, developed over millenia. Those countries also happen to be skills magnets. What’s more, they also happen to be employing an increasingly high fraction of the skilled people produced by South African academic institutions. Finally, the culture of non-work in the service sector needs to be addressed. Aside from personal frustrations such as mine, the cost to the economy of a skilled person standing in queues for hours is not trivial. Further, South Africa is a society lacking a sense of national pride, except in ephemeral situations, like winning a major ball game. No society has ever succeeded without a strong sense of national self-esteem — and South Africa is not going to achieve that with a don’t care attitude. It all seems pretty obvious — but none of this represents great photo-ops for the politicians — except possibly the notion of building national pride. But even that is too easily subverted to trivia like winning an Olympics or World Cup bid: easy solutions which in the end achieve very little. Perhaps it’s to be expected that when problems appear to be impossibly hard, a trivial solution is grasped at. Win a World Cup bid, offer to stage the Olympics — but don’t put serious thought into theskills crisis. But the hard problems are solvable. It’s just a matter of having the will to face up to them. And that requires a change in mindset from the government, where skilled but critical members of civil society would be seen as allies, not a threat to fragile egos.
Philip Machanick is a South African academic at the University of Queensland, Brisbane
Trial of "dog policemen" gets underway (Pretoria, Sapa, 03/02) - The trial of two former police dog handlers accused of setting their animals on three illegal immigrants in a 1998 "training exercise", is to get underway in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday. Initially scheduled to start on Monday, the matter was delayed to allow the State time to obtain witness statements from three other accused in the case, who have already been convicted and sentenced. Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser and Dino Guiotto are to face three charges each of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, one each of corruption, and another of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. The trial is expected to take all week. The two men have earlier pleaded not guilty. Their trial was separated from that of their four co-accused in the case, Jacobus Petrus Smith, Lodewyk Christiaan Koch, Robert Benjamin Henzen and Eugene Werner Truter -- who all pleaded guilty. Smith was in November 2001 sentenced to an effective five years in jail, and the other three to four years. Smith has been granted leave by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein to challenge his sentence, but the matter is yet to be enrolled. The other three convicted men are currently working on a review application after prison authorities refused an application to convert their prison terms to correctional supervision. Christo Roberts, for Guiotto and Loubser, on Monday asked the High Court to postpone the trial pending the finalisation of these other matters. Decisions in those cases could have an effect on sentencing of his clients (should they be convicted), he argued. Henzen, Koch and Truter have been listed as potential State witnesses in this week's trial. The six men were arrested in 2000 shortly before the SABC screened a video showing some of them inciting their police dogs to bite three illegal Mozambican immigrants near Benoni in January 3, 1998. They could also be seen assaulting the victims. The men were at the time all members of the police's North-East Rand dog unit. The victims were Gabriel Pedro Timane, Alexandre Pedro Timane and Sylvester Cose. At their trial, Smith, Koch, Henzen and Truter claimed their actions were part of an exercise to teach Guiotto's dog to bite on command. Such sessions were not uncommon, they said, and had been happening for years. The corruption charge against Guioto and Loubser refers to the men allegedly asking the three victims for R300 in exchange for their freedom. They have also been charged with attempting to defeat the ends of justice for allegedly making false entries in the police dog unit register and their own pocket books. In these, they allegedly wrote that their dogs bit the men because they tried to flee. Judge Dion Basson turned down the application for a postponement.
Nigerians bust for drugs (The Sunday Times, 02/02) - Four Nigerians were arrested this week for dealing in drugs at the Sunnyside Hotel in Hillbrow, Joburg. Sergeant Sanku Tsunke said the Hillbrow Crime Intelligence Unit carried out a raid after getting information from local people about drug dealing at the hotel. Police confiscated about 900 ecstasy tablets and 286g of dagga.
Brain drain of nurses continues (The Sunday Times, 02/02) - Private hospitals are pulling out all the stops to keep nurses from taking up lucrative offers overseas. Salary incentives and training programmes are just some of the carrots being dangled before staff to keep them loyal. Take Medi-Clinic. In the past year, the hospital group, which employs 6 500 nurses, lost about 200 people to overseas postings. Last year it started a service bonus scheme. The company pays loyal nursing staff a 14th cheque. The scheme will cost Medi-Clinic R20-million for the financial year ending March. Danie Meintjes, Medi-Clinic's director of human resources, says a skills shortage cannot be remedied simply by paying people more - nurses need to be brought into the system and kept there. In a bid to encourage nurses to stay in the country, Network Healthcare Holdings (Netcare) offers their nurses the opportunity to work overseas for four to six weeks at a time on Netcare projects such as Operation Cataract, which was undertaken in the UK in November, and an orthopaedic project in the UK coming up in July.
The company is running a campaign to transform the image of nursing into a stimulating career choice which offers diverse and exciting opportunities. Says Netcare's Eileen Brannigan: "We promote the fact that one can travel the world on a nursing ticket. Young people love to travel, and most eventually come back enriched and better professionals." Nurses who are prepared to do weekend and night duty receive higher pay. Performance-based pay, including an incentive scheme that rewards good patient care and long service, has been introduced. Netcare is currently training more than 2 000 entry-level nurses - it runs five training schools throughout South Africa. It is also recruiting nurses from other countries on fixed-term contracts. More than 200 highly skilled nurses from India are willing to come to South Africa but, says Brannigan, the process involved in bringing them here is laborious. The company must first get permission from the Department of Health, work permits from the Department of Home Affairs and then register the nurses with the SA Nursing Council. "We have been trying to process the first applicants for over nine months. We are now awaiting the go-ahead from the nursing council." Management at Afrox Healthcare, another major private hospital company, was not available for comment. But the company says in its 2002 annual report that the loss of experienced nursing staff is a major issue. The company adds that aside from the time and energy devoted to retaining nursing staff, it cannot compete with the salaries offered overseas, which are "extremely attractive in rand terms". Private hospital companies find it hard to compete because nurses' salaries abroad are paid in stronger international currencies.
In addition, private hospitals operate in a price-regulated environment, which makes it difficult for them to increase their rates to cover higher salaries for nurses. Medi-Clinic's Meintjes says a nurse can go abroad on a two-year contract and earn enough money to pay off a mortgage . The shortage of nurses is made worse by the fact that government has cut back the budget for training and reduced the number of training colleges for nurses. Private hospitals have picked up much of the slack. Medi-Clinic, which has been training nurses for more than 10 years, is spending upwards of R40-million to train 700 nurses a year. Women also have more career opportunities to choose from. Not too many years ago nursing was a major opportunity, says Meintjes. It takes four years to qualify as a registered nurse, about the same time as it does to become an IT specialist or an accountant. But these careers pay considerably more. In South Africa the shortages relate particularly to nurses with post-basic qualifications, or experience in intensive care, theatre, and neo-natal intensive care. Nursing Update, the journal of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), is overflowing with adverts for nursing positions in the UK (where the training background is similar), Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Saudi Arabia also pays big money. A recent ad for a post in the UK offers between R256 000 and R448 000 a year, while in Saudi Arabia nurses can earn an annual, tax-free salary of R228 000 to R360 000. Compare this with a local nurse whose starting salary after four years of training is about R62 400 to R64 800 a year. Thereafter, depending on experience and qualifications, an average nurse working in the ICU department or theatre will earn R84 000 to R96 000 a year. Research commissioned by Denosa says that unblocking government processes will help the situation, for example by unfreezing posts more quickly to replace nurses who have emigrated.
Refugees secretly deported (Swazi Observer, 18/02) - The 40 refugees who for close to six months were detained at the Sidvwashini prison have finally been repatriated and government has kept the matter a well-guarded secret to avoid further diplomatic embarrassment. It has been established that government has bowed to pressure from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR's) authorities in South Africa, who are said to have criticised the manner in which the issue was handled. Most of these aliens came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The volatile refugees, who demanded to be deported last year claiming Swaziland offered no opportunities for them to develop themselves, adding that the country was a threat to their lives because of its high HIV infection rate, have finally been granted their wish to leave.
The refugees caused diplomatic tensions when they made insultive comments against the country, inviting the ire of Home Affairs Minister Prince Sobandla, who threatened to hasten their exit. The refugees were later made to spend a long time at the Sidvwashini prison, where they caused further problems demanding to be allowed to sleep in the same cells with their wives.
It has been gathered that the refugees left the country in different groups between September, November, December last year, while the last group left last month. It is understood that the refugees were deported to their countries of origin, while others were sent to countries of their choice. Sidvwashini Correctional Services Officer-In-Charge John Tsabedze confirmed the departure of the refugees. "The refugees were taken by government officials and as I speak none of them is still here," he said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has kept this issue a well guarded secret, despite that Prince Sobandla promised to inform the nation when the refugees depart. Reasons for the secrecy could not be ascertained. Commissioner of Refugees Pricilia Shabangu said the Minister was the right person to comment on the matter. She disclosed that the minister was ready to release a press statement concerning the matter. "My office prepared the statement a long time ago, but due to the sacred Incwala ceremony the minister has not been able to release it," said Shabangu. According to Shabangu, the minister, who is currently out of the country, will soon clarify the matter.
10 Illegal immigrants arrested (Times of Swaziland, 05/02) - Ten illegal immigrants were arrested in the month of January.
Most of the immigrants are South African nationals who have remained in the country illegally. They were all charged with contravening section 14(2) of the Immigration Act 17 of 1982. They are: Francesca Alice Chibwe (43) she entered the country in January 17,2003. Ntokozo Dlamini (17) of South Africa he entered in the country on January 17, 2003.
Julia Mdluli (50) of Krilly South Africa. She entered the country on January 20,2003. Bongani Teddy Mokgotho of South Africa he is said to have entered and remained in the country on January 10,2003. Brian Chibwe of Zambia (18) he is said to have entered the country on January 17,2003. Sophia Zwane (50) she is said to have entered and remained in the country on January 14, 2003. Mavis Simelane (48) she is said to have entered the country on January 14,2003. Nokuthula Mamba (48) of South Africa entered and remained in the country on January 14,2003. Ephraem Mama (38) of South Africa entered the country on January 15,2003. Noah Mduduzi Mabuza (30) of South Africa is said to have entered and remained in the country illegally.
Refugees given deadline to leave (The Express, 27/02-05/03) - Following a tripartite meeting between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the governments of Rwanda and Tanzania, it was announced that the remaining 2,000 Rwandan refugees in Tanzanian camps will leave this Sunday. At the meeting, held on 13th February, it was agreed that there would be a period of two weeks for "sensitising" the remaining refugees on the situation in Rwanda in order to try and persuade them that it is safe for them to return, UNHCR said. "We are satisfied with the agreement, because it takes into account the individual situations of the asylum seekers," Ivana Unluova, the UNHCR spokeswoman in Oar es Salaam, said. "There will still be certain groups that are allowed to remain in Tanzania, if they can prove their case." Unluova said these included refugees due to be resettled in a third country, Rwandans who had married Tanzanians and those who had special protection concerns. Meanwhile, those who wished to return, would do so, supported by UNHCR. The Tanzanian home affairs ministry, which has been pushing strongly for the repatriation, believes that it is safe for the Rwandans to return.
"The government of Rwanda has reassured us and, having seen the real situation for ourselves, we are satisfied that this is the case," Omar Ramadhani Mapuri, the new home affairs minister, told media Wednesday. He said anyone who did not fall into any of the special categories would be treated as an ordinary immigrant. "After the two weeks, we will have the liberty to lift the refugee status, and the normal immigration laws of Tanzania would apply," he said. Mapuri said, contrary to some beliefs, intermarriage between Tutsis and Hutus was not a problem, "but an advantage as you are protected by both sides", and that the Rwandans remaining in the camps for fear of being accused of having taken part in the genocide should return, "as there are good arrangements" in Rwanda for those who acknowledged their role.
Food situation in refugee camps "dire" (Dar es Salaam, Irin, 19/02) - Lack of funding to feed the 500,000 refugees in Tanzania's refugee camps is leading to a "dire" situation, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) told IRIN on Wednesday. Both agencies have described the situation as the "worst ever", and said it had led to repeated calls for donor action. Furthermore, the Tanzanian authorities have reacted by warning that they might expel the refugees if the situation were to get out of hand. "The situation is dire," said Ivana Unluova, the UNHCR spokeswoman in Tanzania. "We have never seen it this bad, and we are extremely concerned as to how long this situation can be maintained." She added that UNHCR had been trying to mobilise donors, and that some donations in kind and cash may be in the pipeline. But, she added, "It takes a long time for the food to reach the camps." WFP said it would do its best to ensure that - although rations had already been halved - it would never run out of food. "Physically running out of food is not an option, and it will not happen," Mario Leeflang, a WFP official, told IRIN. "Our last official projection shows that we will run out of food in April, but we have made arrangements to borrow from WFP's Malawi operation, as well as from our development projects in country." He said a 16,000-mt shipment of food from the United States was due to arrive in June. "The donors have responded too late," he said. "We sent out appeals in September, but have had no contributions since the EU allotment in July last year. We usually plan six months in advance, so even when there is money, it takes time for the food to actually reach the refugee camps, and we need a steady flow." Leeflang described the prospect of having to maintain the 50-percent ration cut on a long-term basis as "unacceptable". The Tanzanian government agrees and has told WFP that the reductions in rations should only be a temporary measure, because the government is concerned about the impact this scenario might have on Tanzanians living near the camps. "We are afraid that we may have riots in the refugee camps because of hungry refugees," Omar Ramadhani Mapuri, the minister of home affairs, told IRIN. "They might then leave their camps and run rampant in the villages." "We have said that we would not be prepared to be put into such a situation, and the alarm has been sounded. Should things deteriorate to this extent, we may have to consider the possibility of repatriating the refugees forcefully," he said.
Tanzania, Uganda in fresh border dispute (Nairobi, The East African, 03/02) - Tanzania and Uganda are once again quarrelling over border demarcation following last week's reports that boundary beacon No. 32 had been destroyed by unknown people. There were also claims that some Ugandan citizens had built homes on Tanzanian territory. According to reports from Kagera region in western Tanzania, the damaged beacon was located at Bubare village. The two governments have since last week been holding talks to resolve the dispute. The Kagera Regional Commissioner Maj-Gen (rtd) Tumainieli Kiwelu confirmed that the beacon had been destroyed, but said it had not been established who did it. "The beacon was damaged by unknown people. The two governments consider this as an act of thuggery," he said. Maj-Gen Kiwelu said that the dispute, which has been going on for the past 24 years, was being discussed by the Ministries of Lands of both countries. However, to ease the problem, it had been suggested that more pillars be constructed to demarcate the border. Maj-Gen Kiwelu said this would reduce the distance between pillars from the current one after every 15km to one after every 5km. Efforts by Tanzanian and Ugandan officials to resolve the border dispute hit a snag when a technical committee appointed to re-map the boundary aborted in June 2000. Tanzania was unhappy with some of the issues raised by Uganda during a meeting at Mutukula, Tanzania. Uganda claimed that the boundary extended about 300 metres, which Tanzania disputed. Some beacons were removed by the forces of Uganda's deposed dictator Idi Amin during the 1978/9 war over similar claims. After the aborted June 2000 meeting between two teams headed by Tanzania's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, D. Mmari, Uganda's Minister of State Baguma Isoke and some land experts at Mutukula border post, Uganda claimed that "it had been discovered that the one latitude passes 300 metres inside her territory." But Maj-Gen Kiwelu said last week that the argument that the one-latitude extends 300 metres into Ugandan "was not a consensus because it had not been lodged officially." An information officer in Tanzania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, S. Makongoro told The EastAfrican that the ministry "had no official information of the matter," while the Acting Director of Survey and Mapping in the Ministry of Lands and Human Settlements, Zablon Maselle, was not available for comment. The June 2000 meeting advised Uganda to write an aide memoire stating that it was disputing the present border. In the 1,355-page book, African Boundaries: A Legal and Diplomatic Encyclopedia, Ian Brownlie (1979) asserts that a one-degree south latitude was only referred to in the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890, while the present boundary lines were derived from the Anglo-German Agreement of May 14, 1910 and that the one-degree south latitude was "artificial."
The agreement described the Tanzania/Uganda border as follows: "From the confluence of rivers Kachwambwa-Kakitumba and Kagera, the boundary follows the course of River Kagera as far as the second crossing of the parallel one-degree south by the river Kagera between boundary pillars Nos26 and 27." Then it follows the line of boundary pillars along the one degree south latitude as far as the intersection of this line with the western shore of Lake Victoria. The book, one of the major references on national boundaries in Africa, says further: "The one degree south latitude from the Kenya tri-point westward across Lake Victoria and toward the boundary of the Congo- was marked by pillars by a Boundary Commission of 1902-1906 and the results recorded in an Anglo-German Agreement signed on July 18, 1906, but was not ratified. The alignment is also described clearly in Articles 1 and 2 of the draft, Anglo-German Agreement of 1914 (Kenya-Tanzania; section 3(c)." However, it cautions the two countries that the question of the re-demarcation of the border requires attention and that "there were technical problems which could become a basis for more or less accidental border incursions by military patrols and consequent threats to peace." In 2000, Maj-Gen Kiwelu officially informed President Benjamin Mkapa of the border dispute and how it affected relations with Uganda. He advised that the matter be resolved "quickly and amicably." Tanzania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation described claims of the new "discovery" of the border between the two countries in 2000 as "baseless because the border issue was concluded in late 1970s after the Uganda-Tanzania war." It argued that in 1978, the former Uganda dictator, Idd Amin Dada ordered his army to invade Tanzania and annex River Kagera to Uganda. This led to a war between the two countries that toppled Amin. After that war, the border dispute was resolved through the Kampala and Mogadishu Accords. The two countries have since 1979 been in consultations over how to replace the beckons destroyed or removed during the war.
UNHCR's position on Rwandan refugees from Tanzania (Nairobi, Irin, 03/02) - The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will not provide assistance or international protection to Rwandans moving from Tanzania to Uganda, an official of the agency told IRIN on Monday. News organisations reported last week that the influx into Uganda of Rwandan refugees from Tanzania had overwhelmed screening capacity at Uganda's border posts. But the UNHCR public information officer in Uganda, Bushra Malik, told IRIN that the agency considered these Rwandans entering Uganda from Tanzania differently. "UNHCR's position remains that irregular movers who have previously found protection in Tanzania will not be provided with assistance nor international protection by the Office of the UNHCR in Uganda," she said. News organisations reported that Tanzania expelled Rwandan refugees who had been living in the country since the 1994 genocide, saying that their status had expired. Tanzania expelled Ugandan refugees two years ago, despite the fact that they had been in the country for three decades. Some of the Rwandan refugees are suspected to have participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. News agencies reported last week that refugee camps in western Uganda were overwhelmed, and that Uganda had closed the status-determination post at Bugango in Mbarara District, forcing the refugees to use the Mutukula post.
Lack of food leads to ration cuts in refugee camps (Arusha, Irin, 03/02) -Starting this week, refugees in Tanzanian camps will have their rations cut by up to 50 percent due to the lack of any "major food contributions" over the last six months, an employee of the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Monday. "Our pipeline is running on empty," Mario Leeflang, WFP pipeline officer, told IRIN from the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. The only major contributor, he said, was the United States, which had donated of 16,000 mt last week. The ration cuts, which amount to a 50-percent reduction for all cereals and 25 percent for the Corn Soya Blend, are the second stage of ration cuts which began in November 2002, and which WFP has described as "extremely serious" and likely to lead to a decline health levels. Rations were cut to extend the supplies in country, Leeflang said, "when we see nothing coming on the horizon - and that is the situation we have. Even the contribution from the US will take up until June to arrive, so what we have in the country is extremely limited." Even if donors stepped forward immediately, he said, it would take four months at the earliest to resolve the situation. Meanwhile, the WFP is expecting increased malnutrition and a decline in the refugees' health status. "The refugees will receive just over 1,200 kilocalories per day - that speaks for itself," he said. "But we are also entering the lean season, so the little crops the refugees are allowed to grow in the camps will be severely limited." On the positive side, he said, the refugees had been receiving full rations for over a year so "their nutritional status is as good as it can be". Most had experienced ration cuts in the past, he added, and were confident that, once the pipeline situation improved, the rations would return. Observers put the lack of interest in the Tanzanian camps down to the long-term nature of the programme, the Ethiopian and southern African food crises, as well as the possibility of a war in Iraq and the consequent humanitarian situation. Two weeks ago, ECHO, the European Commission Humanitarian Office, approved a 10-million euro (US $9.26 million) donation, but this was not expected until later in the year, when WFP would use the ECHO money to buy crops from Tanzanian farmers to feed the refugees, Leeflang said. "So even if the money was available tomorrow, we couldn't do much, because there aren't large quantities of maize available on the free market at the moment," he said.
Immigration arrests 35 foreigners (The Post of Zambia, 25/02) - The Immigration Department in Lusaka over the weekend arrested and detained 35 foreign nationals from various townships for illegally staying in the country. Immigration public relations officer Ibvuta Lungu yesterday said the 35 illegal immigrants would appear in court soon. He also said 75 Congolese and 13 Tanzanians were removed to their respective countries last Friday. Lungu said two Congolese nationals, Rammy Mayombo and Raymond Manda last Friday were fined KI00, 000 each by the Solwezi Magistrate Court for illegal stay in Zambia. He said foreign nationals who chose to stay in the country illegally would not be spared once caught.
Farmer sentenced to 30 years for murdering Mozambicans (Maputo, Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 19/02) - A Pretoria court has sentenced a South African white farmer to 30 years in prison for murdering three Mozambicans whom he had employed in the Northern Province last year, reports Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily paper "Noticias". The delegate of the Mozambican Labour ministry in South Africa, Pedro Taimo, said that the trial and conviction of the farmer was the result of pressure by the Mozambican community on the South African authorities. Describing the sentence as "very heavy", Taimo said that a faction of white South African extremists had worked to prevent the case from being brought to court. In a second case, another farmer, P.J. Maritz, from the Komatipoort area, was arrested by the South African police last week for fatally injuring one of his Mozambican employees, on 8 February. Taimo said that Maritz confessed before the police to using a vehicle deliberately to run over the victim, Jotamo Manjate, in the presence of other employees as a punishment for his absence from work the previous day. "The reasons he presented make no sense at all. He declared that Jotamo had been absent from work on the previous day and had to be punished for that. He is under arrest and we will press for him to answer before the court", Taimo said. As for the Mozambican authorities' efforts to curb the number of cases of unjustice against Mozambican citizens in South Africa, particularly those living and working illegally on farms, Taimo explained that the Algos contracting agency has been working to legalise many Mozambicans in the areas of Kwazulu-Natal, Nelspruit, and Empangeni. About 40,000 Mozambicans in these places have been granted residence permits. "Now there is space for people to come to live and work legally in South Africa and stop adventures, that usually result in situations that complicate people's lives", he said.
200 foreigners obtain new permits (The Times of Zambia, 13/02) - More than 200 foreigners have been issued with the newly-introduced permits since the exercise started on February 3. Deputy chief immigration officer Phabian Chibwe said the department had been besieged by scores of people wanting to change their permits. Mr Chibwe urged affected persons to utilise the three-month period given to surrender old permits for the new ones with enhanced security features. The deadline for phasing out old permits is May 3. "The department will not allow people to come and change their permits after the date has elapsed because we have given them much time. Delaying just brings about congestion and pressure," he said. The permits cover employment, visiting, entry, study and certificates of status as established residents and are expected to earn government K5 billion in revenue. Mr Chibwe said the department had also embarked on an exercise aimed at educating the public on the new permits. Meanwhile, three Chinese nationals and an American of Camerounian origin have been denied entry into the country by the Immigration Department for not having visas. Immigrations department public relations officer Ibvuta Lungu said in an interview yesterday that the four were refused entry at Chirundu border post for not meeting the requirements. Mr Lungu said the American was denied entry for having exhausted his initial 90 days visiting period.
Foreigners grab aid grants using Zambians (The Times of Zambia, 07/02) -Government says about 80 per cent of aid grants meant for Zambian entrepreneurs end up in the hands of foreigners. Finance and National Planning Deputy Minister Felix Mutati said in Chongwe on Wednesday that it was unfortunate that Zambians had allowed themselves to be used as fronts to access developmental funds meant for them. The minister was reacting to concerns by the Chongwe business community that small and medium scale business enterprises had no access to developmental funds like the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA) grants. But Mr Mutati said statistics available from his ministry indicated that Zambians were, instead of applying for grants to develop their own investments, allowing themselves to be used merely as fronts by foreigners. "We noted that about 80 per cent of the aid grants like the JICA grants are actually utilised by foreigners while Zambians remain fronts," the minister said. And Mr Mutati has appealed to the business community not to abuse the K5 billion tourism development fund set aside for the development of tourism enterprises by Zambians. "Don't be used as fronts to access the K5 billion set for you in this year's Budget, its meant for Zambians to create tourism ventures," he said. The minister also said that this year's Budget would respond to the needs of the small and medium business associations through the provision of necessary prerequisites for their development. He said the K6.9 billion set aside for the uplifting of infrastructure in three tourist resorts was one way of assisting small businessmen who wanted to venture into tourism. He said the money would be spent on upgrading support structures in the Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and the Kafue National Park to ease efforts by prospective Zambian investors. The Chongwe business community charged that this year's Budget was not supportive of private entrepreneurship saying the private sector needed Government support. Chieftainess Nkomeshya of the Soli people said the pre-Budget consultative process was not all encompassing resulting in the national Budget being received with mixed feelings by the people. The Chieftainess said in Chongwe on Wednesday that the people of Chongwe had received the Budget with mixed feelings because it did not fully address the issues that affect them. She told Mr Mutati that it was important that the views of the people were accommodated before the Budget was formulated and going back to explain the outcome of the Budget when it was announced in Parliament. The Chieftainess said the most thorny issue that had remained of concern to her subjects was the issue of agriculture which she said needed to be addressed with the seriousness it deserved.
Todd given ultimatum over foreign citizenship (The Daily News, 28/02) -The Supreme Court yesterday gave author and human rights activist Judith Todd two days to renounce her New Zealand citizenship by descent or risk losing her Zimbabwean citizenship. Justice Luke Malaba made the declaration in his judgement in a matter in which Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar-General, was challenging a High Court decision ordering him to renew Todd’s passport. Todd is a shareholder in Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, the publishers of The Daily News. She was issued with a passport in August last year after High Court judge Sandra Mungwira ruled in her favour when she challenged Mudede’s refusal to renew her passport saying she was a citizen of New Zealand because her parents were born there. Judith Todd was born in the then Southern Rhodesia in 1943 to Sir Garfield Todd and Lady Grace Todd who are both late. The two came to the country as missionaries and settled at Dadaya Mission where Judith was born. She became a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth. On a date not disclosed in the court papers but before 6 January last year, Todd applied for the renewal of her Zimbabwean passport. Mudede, through his officers, refused to renew the passport alleging that Todd was a citizen of New Zealand by descent and demanded that she should renounce the foreign citizenship before her Zimbabwe passport could be renewed. Todd argued that she could not renounce New Zealand citizenship which she had never possessed. “She said she had always been a Zimbabwean citizen who had fought for human rights and liberation of her country,” Justice Malaba said. Justice Vernanda Ziyambi concurred. Justice Malaba said the Supreme Court could not grant an order sought by Mudede to declare that Todd had lost her Zimbabwe citizenship. “At the time the application was made, Todd had not lost her Zimbabwe citizenship because the expiry of the period of six months from the date of commencement of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act 2001, which would have brought about the loss of her Zimbabwe citizenship, had not occurred,” the judge said. “At the time Mudede refused to renew Todd’s passport, she was a citizen of Zimbabwe. She would only have lost her Zimbabwe citizenship after the expiry of the six-month period on 6 January 2002. As a citizen of Zimbabwe she was entitled to a Zimbabwe passport. The refusal to renew her Zimbabwe passport on the grounds that she also held New Zealand citizenship by descent which she had not renounced when in fact the period within which she was required to do so had not expired, was unlawful.”
Beitbridge border post blocked (Harare, BBC, 27/02) - A four-kilometre long truck traffic jam on either sides of the Beitbridge border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa has fuelled tensions and tempers. Officials from both countries met on Wednesday in a high-level dialogue in an attempt to sort out the problem. Hundreds of truck drivers have been caught in the frontier no-man's-land. Many have already cleared customs on the South African side but have been forced to wait for up to a week to get through Zimbabwe immigration and customs. At times over the past few days, the traffic jam has stretched for up to seven kilometres (4.5 miles) on both sides of the busy border post. The problems are reportedly the result of a decision by the Zimbabwe authorities to expand their parking space for trucks and to renovate the main road leading to the crossing. Construction workers at the site said the work was progressing slowly because of shortages of diesel, cement and other commodities in Zimbabwe. The effect is that only 10 trucks are being allowed to cross the border each day. Meanwhile, about 40 trucks carrying fuel, food, chemicals and cars destined for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi join the long queues every night. According to witnesses, the smell of rotting food, fuel and urine fills the air. Enterprising street traders have capitalised on the congestion, providing food for the waiting drivers at inflated prices. It is hoped that Wednesday's meeting between a high-level delegation from South Africa's Department of Home Affairs and Zimbabwe border control officials will help to break the deadlock. A South African spokesman said it was up to Zimbabwe to open up its side of the border and let the traffic through and do it fast to ease the blockages. Other traffic such as cars and pedestrians are able to get through the border post with relative ease. Many hundreds of Zimbabweans do not bother with the formalities and slip across the border and the Limpopo River at night to evade detection and arrest. However, recent reports in the South African media have highlighted the plight of some illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe who are so desperate that they want to be arrested by the South African authorities. That way, they can enjoy at least one solid meal in South Africa's police cells before being deported back to Zimbabwe.
Labour ministers address migration from Mozambique (The Herald, 26/02) -The Mozambican Minister of Labour, Dr Mario Sevene, is expected to arrive in the country today on a four-day visit to review labour and social issues affecting Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The meeting comes a few weeks after the Mozambican Labour Ministry’s request to be assisted in the setting up of Social Welfare Institutions for orphans, the elderly and the disabled persons. Dr Mario Sevene will meet with his Zimbabwean counterpart, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde July Moyo, to discuss the structure and functions of the ministry. Some senior Mozambican officials that included the Director of Studies and Co-operation, Mr Ilidio Caifaz, head of the Department of Migratory Labour, Mr Armando Manhica and a Labour Attache at the Mozambican Consular office in South Africa, Mr Pedro Taimo are already in the country. Officials in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare yesterday said that the two ministers were expected to address the critical issue of Mozambican migrant workers and map out a social plan. "On top of the agenda is a social plan for the Mozambicans currently working in Zimbabwe mainly in farming areas. "The two ministers are expected to focus on the issues of work permits and other related immigration matters." The resuscitation of the Labour attache post in the Mozambican High Commission in Harare will also be on the agenda. A memorandum of understanding is expected to be signed under the auspices of the Permanent Joint Committee of Co-operation between the two countries.
Police arrest Rwandan asylum seekers (The Daily News, 21/02) - Seventeen asylum seekers from Rwanda were arrested on Monday in Mutare while 58 other foreigners have been languishing in cells at the Harare Central Remand Prison for about two months now awaiting deportation. The 58 were arrested after they allegedly flouted immigration laws. The other 17 were arrested by soldiers along the Mozambican border and taken to Grand Reef Infantry Batallion about 20km north-west of Mutare before being handed over to the police. They allegedly entered the country secretly through illegal entry points. Brian Makomeke, the police spokesperson for Mutare district, said the refugees were later referred to the Refugee Transit Centre in Waterfalls, Harare. In Harare, Elasto Mugwadi, the Chief Immigration Officer, yesterday said of the 58 detained at Harare Central Remand Prison: "They will be held pending deportation. Those with money can buy their own air tickets and leave the country, but those without will have to stay there until we find money to buy them tickets. "At times diplomatic missions chip in to help us deport their nationals but most of the time we depend on the tax payers' money after having received authority from the Treasury Department." However, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Isaac Mukaro, said he was unaware refugees were being held at the remand prison. "I do not know anything about that," he said before referring all questions to Mugwadi. Frankie Meki, the spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Prison Services, said: "We are just custodians. They come through the immigration office and we provide accommodation for them until they go wherever they are destined to go. "In some cases, those who have been deported returned to Zimbabwe because the hosting country may have reservations about those people and we are forced to keep them here on three meals a day." Meki said there were 28 Mozambicans, two Malawians, 15 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, six Rwandese, one Zambian, one Palestinian, one Sierra Leonean, one Nigerian, one Ugandan, a Zambian and another from Burundi, currently being held at the remand prison. Meanwhile, the Rwandans are believed to have come from Tanzania where they were expelled and many are trekking to Zimbabwe. More than 300 refugees arrived in the country last month from Tanzania up from an average of 50 a month while another 1 000 are camped at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge.
New Zealand introduces visas for Zimbabweans (The Financial Gazette, 20/02) - The government of New Zealand has with effect from tomorrow suspended a visa waiver for Zimbabweans travelling to that country, it was learnt yesterday.
The waiver has been suspended for one year and Zimbabweans travelling to New Zealand will have to secure a visa before they attempt to enter that country, which previously had no visa requirements for travellers from Zimbabwe. Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to South Africa Catherine Grant said her country was following the example of several other states that had taken similar measures against Zimbabwean travellers. The announcement by New Zealand follows the introduction of visa requirements by Canada, Britain and Ireland, which have been hit by an influx of economic refugees and asylum seekers from Zimbabwe, who are fleeing a worsening economic crisis and political instability. Grant, whose diplomatic mission services both Harare and South Africa following the closure of the New Zealand embassy in Zimbabwe in 2000, said by telephone from Pretoria: “A number of factors have been taken into consideration before introducing these visa requirements. “We basically want to be on top of the situation regarding people who do not qualify getting into New Zealand.”
She said the visa requirement would be reviewed after one year. Zimbabweans who intend to travel to New Zealand will be required to apply for their visas through the high commission in South Africa. Under the new requirements, Zimbabweans residing in New Zealand with temporary permits will from tomorrow be able to apply for 12-month open work permits even if they do not yet have job offers. Due to political instability in Zimbabwe, work permit requirements were relaxed for Zimbabweans who were in New Zealand by April 30 2002, did not want to return home and had a job offer in New Zealand. Those able to obtain visas to enter New Zealand will continue to be eligible for temporary entry residence, which is standard policy in that country. Grant said there were about 2 385 Zimbabweans with temporary entry permits in New Zealand, but said the number was probably higher because a large number of Zimbabweans had entered the country during the visa free period. She said Zimbabwe had also recorded the highest number of people seeking refugee status in New Zealand last month, although she could not provide statistics. New Zealand is one of several Western countries that have slapped President Robert Mugabe and his top hierarchy with travel sanctions in protest at what they say is his fraudulent re-election in last March’s presidential election. New Zealand, along with the United States of America, Canada and the European Union, which have also imposed smart sanctions against the Zimbabwean leadership, has also questioned the government’s human rights record and commitment to the rule of law.
Soldiers stop harassing Mozambican nationals (The Daily News, 20/02) - Zimbabwean soldiers deployed along the border with Mozambique, have stopped ill-treating Mozambican nationals after strong protests from Maputo. Army and police personnel manning the border post and all illegal entry points have allegedly beaten up hundreds of traders, mainly Mozambicans. The sudden turn of events follows strong protests by Mozambican authorities at the manner in which their nationals were being treated by the Zimbabwean soldiers. The soldiers are deployed along the Forbes Border Post to intercept basic commodities from being smuggled into Mozambique. Commodities such as maize-meal, cooking oil, sugar, soft drinks, bread, cigarettes and flour, which are in short supply in Zimbabwe, have a ready market in Mozambique. Zimbabwean authorities blame the shortage of these goods on Mozambicans who they accuse of buying them in bulk for resale in their country. Petros Jokonya, 23, a cross-border trader, said: "We no longer hear of any beatings." Kossam Karumbi, 26, said: "We no longer have any problems with the soldiers. They have stopped beating us up. In the past they could beat you up and leave you for dead. " Several other Mozambican cross-border traders said the soldiers had stopped the harassment. Last year, two Mozambicans suspected to be illegal cross-border traders exporting basic commodities into their country, were shot dead by members of the army. Following the fatal shootings, diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and Mozambique soured. Upon arrest, illegal cross-border traders are taken to Grand Reef Infantry Battalion in Mutare where they are subjected to further assault before being ordered to pay fines of up to $500 for their freedom. Mougene Candiero, the mayor of Manica in Mozambique, appealed for divine intervention to stop Zimbabwean soldiers from beating up Mozambicans. "God, please help us to remove the soldiers from that border. They are assaulting our people every day," Candiero said last year .Soares Nhaca, the governor of Sofala province in Mozambique, last year blasted Zimbabwean security forces over the same issue.
Migrant workers to be made Zimbabwean citizens again (IOL, 20/02) - President Robert Mugabe has moved to restore rights to about two million migrant workers from neighbouring states who were stripped of Zimbabwean citizenship just before the March 2002 presidential election. The gazetting of regulations restoring their citizenship follows claims by President Thabo Mbeki last weekend that quiet diplomacy was working and that Mugabe had undertaken to restore some of the human rights undermined by recent legislation. But human rights activists dismissed the moves as "cosmetic". Legal amendments had targeted the migrant workers, who mostly worked on white commercial farms, because they were suspected of having joined their white employers in supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Mbeki said at the weekend that Mugabe had agreed to review repressive legislation. Civic groups said Mugabe now had to also repeal draconian media and security laws.
Old Beitbridge border post to reopen (The Chronicle, 18/02) - The old Beitbridge Border Post that was closed about three years ago will be reopened in about two weeks’ to facilitate the importation of emergency food into the country through South Africa, the Matabeleland South Joint Operation Council announced in Beitbridge yesterday. Members of the council, who include the Officer Commanding Matabeleland South, Senior Assistant Casper Khumalo, his deputy Ass Comm Godfrey Musariri, Commander One Brigade, Brigadier General Miuke Sango and officials from the President’s Office were in the border town to familiarise themselves with facilities. The Council said the Government had decided to reopen the border post to speed up the clearing of vehicles carrying relief food. “We have received instructions from Harare to open the border post so that trucks carrying food are not delayed at the border. The vehicles are taking long to clear at the new border post because of congestion,’’ said Ass Com Khumalo. The old bridge was closed in 2000 after the opening of the new bridge. Snr Asst Khumalo warned other truckers that might want to abuse the system to evade normal checks that measures had been put in place to ensure that only trucks carrying relief food used the old border post. A report submitted by the District JOC revealed that ZIMRA, working with the Department of Immigration and the police, had already set up structures ensuring that only trucks carrying emergency grain would be allowed through the old post. The authorities, the meeting heard, had already communicated with their South African counterparts on the issue. The bulk of imported maize comes via South Africa using the Beitbridge border post. The JOC team is on a twoday tour of the border area to assess the security situation and check on crimes like border jumping and smuggling along the border. The team continues its tour today with a visit to Mphoengs, Madhlambuzi and Plumtree.
Dubious firm in visa scam (The Daily News, 17/02) - Some unscrupulous people purporting to be well connected overseas and at local embassies, are swindling desperate Zimbabweans out of their hard-earned cash with claims of facilitating employment and travel documents. Last week a number of people complained that they lost money ranging from $5 000 to $350 000 which they had paid to a “travel agent” called McEmmanuels Investments (Pvt) Limited. The company advertised in the Press that it processes employment and travel documents to countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America. “I left my passport on 13 December 2002 and paid US$150 to get a USA visa,” said a woman from Mabelreign who wanted to be identified only as Spiwe. “My understanding was that I would get my passport after a week.” Spiwe said when she went back to the company she was told to come later and she did that on several occasions but to no avail. “I have not received my passport up to this day,” she said. “To make matters worse, I understand the company has since moved from its previous premises and I cannot locate them.” When a Daily News crew visited the Fifth Floor of LAPF Centre, where the company was reportedly operating from, they were told that McEmmanuels Investments had been evicted for defaulting on rentals. Repeated efforts to get a comment from Emmanuel Muzondi Moyana, who is said to be one of the company’s directors, were fruitless. His mobile number was now being answered by a lady who claimed to have bought the line from someone else. There are reports that Moyana has since moved from his Highfield home in Harare to Mutare. Receipts which McEmmanuels Investments issued to its clients do not have contact telephone numbers. One of the McEmmanuels Investments’ clients said they had reported the matter to the police. “I managed to recover my passport in a drawer when the company was still operational, there were many passports in the drawer,” said the client. “I am sure that is where they used to keep the passports. But some people have not recovered both their passports and their money.” Police confirmed the matter.
One police officer said: “We received the report about Moyana. However, he is on the run. We will publish his picture in the Press. He is around, but he moved from Highfield where he used to stay.”
Passport forgery cases prevalent (The Herald, 17/02) - A Harare magistrate this week said cases of forgery of the Zimbabwean passport by both locals and foreigners are on the increase. "Offences of such nature have become so prevalent and deterrent sentences should be imposed on offenders," Harare provincial magistrate Mr Garikai Churu said. He said this while sentencing a Cameroonian national, Paul Njike (29), who was arrested in the Avenues area with a forged Zimbabwean passport. He fined Njike $50 000 or five months for contravening the Immigrations Act. In addition he sentenced him to a five-month wholly-suspended prison term on condition that he should never commit the same offence again. Court 5, which deals with statutory offences at Harare’s Rotten Row Magistrates’ Court has since January this year handled more than 60 cases of such nature. Among the cases is that of a Chitungwiza man who was found in possession of 71 fake passports. The man, Gilbert Zamu (30), was arrested while processing the fake passports at his house in St Mary’s. Another Harare woman, Nadine Nibitanga (26) appeared before the same magistrate facing charges of forging a passport belonging to one Kaze Nancy. She was arrested on February 4 at the Harare International Airport while trying to go to France using the forged travel document.
Zimbabwe hit by influx of refugees (The Daily News, 15/02) - There is an unprecedented influx into Zimbabwe of asylum seekers from the Great Lakes region, a United Nations official has said. Tapiwa Huye, the assistant programme officer at the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office, said: “The influx is unusual. The Transit Centre is full and we are looking for tents to accommodate the asylum seekers.” Huye said more than 200 of the new asylum seekers are crowded at the Transit Centre in Waterfalls, Harare, while another 100 have been settled at Tongogara Camp in Chipinge. The Waterfalls transit camp was designed to accommodate 60. Tongogara Camp, the only refugee camp in Zimbabwe, is full to capacity with more than 1 000. Huye said the majority of the asylum seekers were Rwandans who have been expelled from Tanzania. He said 300 asylum seekers had entered Zimbabwe in one month alone, up from an average of 50 arrivals a month before the latest developments in Tanzania. There are about 10 000 refugees in Zimbabwe, mostly from the troubled Great Lakes Region. “The problem we have now is that camp accommodation has all been taken up,” Huye said. Last month, the government said it was aware of the movement of refugees, particularly Rwandans, into Zimbabwe. “We had the information even before the end of last year and we knew it would affect us,” said Petros Chitsunge, a programme officer, in the office of the Zimbabwe Commissioner for Refugees. “The Rwandan refugees do not want to go back because they know they will be in danger.” The Tanzanian government expelled about 30 000 Rwandan refugees on the grounds that “peace and stability” had now returned to their country. But the refugees were wary of returning to Rwanda fearing retribution by the Tutsi -led government of President Paul Kagame. The UNHCR officials in Harare yesterday said Zimbabwe was seen as a safe haven for asylum seekers, particularly those from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Conditions in neighbouring Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia are said to be bad because the refugees are confined to camps in remote areas. In Zimbabwe conditions for refugees are relatively better as they are allowed to integrate with the community.
The Rwandans, predominantly Hutus, have been staying at Ngara Refugee Camp in Tanzania since 1994.
Cuban doctors arrive for two-year tour of duty (The Herald, 15/02) - Seventy-four Cuban doctors and medical specialists arrived in the country yesterday on a two-year programme which will see them deployed in provincial and district hospitals. The medical practitioners, who included 50 general medical officers and specialists in urology, dentistry, gynaecology and paediatrics are expected to ease the critical shortages of doctors and specialists in the country. The Cuban Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Buenaventura Reyers-Acosta, said the arrival of the medical personnel follows an agreement signed in Havana last year between President Mugabe and the Cuban President Fidel Castro. "President Fidel Castro agreed to increase the number of doctors in this important field to help the people of Zimbabwe. "Sixty doctors are currently back home on holiday but they will be joining this group in a few months’ time," said Mr Reyes-Acosta. The head of Cuba’s Medical Brigade, Dr George Bustillo, who has been working in the country for the last two years, said the doctors would be deployed in various hospitals where their services are needed. "Our doctors can work anywhere. Their obligation is the welfare of the patients and they are happy to be in Zimbabwe," Dr Bustillo said. The doctors are expected to undergo a three-month training programme to grasp the working environment in Zimbabwe and master the basics of local languages. In the last four months, more than 30 local doctors have left the country to work in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Botswana. Although this is blamed on the harsh economic conditions prevailing in the country, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said the doctors should be grateful for what the Government did for them and plough back into the community. Most doctors, according to the Hospital Doctors Association, had just graduated from the school of medicine where the Government has poured in millions of dollars in various training programmes. Doctors in Cuba are not rich and only leave their country under various government programmes. "We are in Africa of all the places because we co-operate with our government and nothing beats that kind of understanding and patriotism," one Cuban doctor said yesterday.
Information centres for cross-border traders (The Chronicle, 13/02) - The Cross-Border Traders Association of Zimbabwe has embarked on a multi-million dollar project to set up business information centres for its members. “We are opening information centres. We want to form a network which will give members information on cross-border trading,” said the chairman of the Cross-Border Association of Zimbabwe, Mr Killer Zivhu. The first information centre would be set up in Masvingo next week with other centres set for Bulawayo, Kariba and Harare. Mr Zivhu said more than $30 million had been spent on the Masvingo centre. Bulawayo has received more than $5 million. Mr Zivhu said the information centres would serve as a onestop centre, disseminating information on marketing, Government regulations, transport costs to various destinations and where to get foreign exchange, among other things. “We will have videos of people doing business outside the country so that people can see for themselves the kind of business environment we operate under,” said Mr Zivhu. He said while the money to equip the centres came from donors, the association would fund the day to day activities of the information centres. A large number of Zimbabweans are now involved in cross border trade, buying and selling from countries like Botswana, the DRC, and South Africa. The Government has already increased the value of goods that do not need export licensing from $5 000 to $50 000 as part of incentives for the cross border traders.
Human rights lawyer flees country (The Financial Gazette, 13/02) - Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer allegedly tortured while in police custody, has fled Zimbabwe after receiving death threats following his acquittal last week on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. Shumba, who spoke to the Financial Gazette soon after his appearance at the Harare Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday, said his life was threatened immediately after he left the court. He said: "I have sent my wife to collect my personal items because I can’t even go home. My phone has been tampered with and my life is at risk. I will be moving out of the country shortly because of the death threats I have just received." Shumba, who left Zimbabwe last Thursday, is believed to have flown to Botswana before travelling on to South Africa. He was arrested last month along with his brother Bishop, opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator Job Sikhala and Sikhala’s aide Innocent Kanjedzana. At the time of the arrest, Shumba was taking instructions from his client Sikhala on a case in which the MDC parliamentarian was accused of assisting to burn down a bus owned by the state-controlled Zimbabwe United Passenger Company. Shumba, who was accused of compiling a document that detailed plans to topple President Robert Mugabe’s government, and his colleagues told the magistrates’ court that they were tortured while in custody. Government and independent medical reports confirmed the allegations, resulting in Harare magistrate Caroline-Ann Chigumira last week throwing out the charges against the four. She said the state’s evidence-in-chief, the document allegedly written by Shumba, was obtained under duress and was therefore inadmissible. During the hearing, the state did not deny that the four were tortured. Shumba said after his acquittal, four men clad in dark suits approached him outside the Rotten Row building that houses the magistrates’ court and threatened him with death. He said the four told him that although he had been acquitted, they would silence him forever "in (their) own way".
Shumba said: "They told me: ‘so you think you’ve won? Do you think you are going to survive? You think we were joking when we told you we would kill you?’" The human rights lawyer and Sikhala say the state security agents who tortured them in custody constantly threatened them with death if they continued to be involved in Zimbabwean politics. "After my experiences and the subsequent death threats, I doubt if my safety can still be guaranteed, hence the decision to leave," said a visibly shaken Shumba. There was no immediate comment on the issue from the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said: "Any person who has been threatened should report to the nearest police station, that is the standard procedure. This idea that he (Shumba) is out of the country because of any threats he might have received is very misleading." The government has in the past denied condoning the torture of political opponents in prison and the police recently launched investigations into allegations that Shumba and his colleagues were tortured while in police custody. Sikhala this week told the Financial Gazette: "Shumba’s decision is understandable in that he is not a politician but a lawyer, and any threats on his life are bound to shake him, while some us are prepared to die fighting. "After eight hours of torture, we were told that we would be killed if we made the issue public. But there is no way we could allow such acts of criminality go unknown. It’s better to die while the whole world hears the truth."
South Africans scramble for local properties (The Daily News, 11/02) - A consortium of South African business persons has reportedly put together more than one billion rands, which is more than $7 billion at the official exchange rate, and $120 billion on the parallel market, to acquire properties in Zimbabwe. The move has not gone down well with the local business community which lambasted government for its continued dilly-dallying on the persistent economic crisis. One captain of industry questioned South Africa’s sincerity in helping resolve Zimbabwe’s problems saying the strategy was to make the country a cheap investment destination open to exploitation and manipulation. He said: “Honestly, the strategy is to see us becoming very cheap on the international scene so that they buy us off in the process.” The scenario puts to naught the much talked about hype on the properties market which has seen an average house in the low-density areas selling at more than $150 million. Other dissenting voices in the real estate business said the South African move was a wake up call to government, not to be guided by political nuances, but by economic imperatives. A property consultant said: “It is high time those in politics, became more business minded when articulating issues and refrained from political rhetoric.” While concern was being raised about the worsening economic climate, pro-active Zimbabweans urged the government to allow commercial properties to be quoted in hard currencies. As the macro-economic environment continues to deteriorate, the properties market had become the latest victim with revelations that Zimbabwean properties had become the cheapest on the regional market. Investigations by The Daily News showed that despite a surge in prices over the past few years, internationally, local properties were faring badly. Analysts attributed the drop in prices to the depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar against major currencies. John Spicer, managing director Gainsborough Seef Zimbabwe said foreign buyers were finding it much easier to acquire properties in the country. He said even Zambian properties were fetching better prices than those in Zimbabwe.
Spicer said: “At the moment and probably in the foreseeable future, local properties would remain the cheapest on the regional market and foreign buyers would scramble to buy.” The Seef boss said buyers in South Africa and United Kingdom were acquiring properties in Zimbabwe with a view of disposing of them when the socio-political, economic environment stabilised. South African buyers were taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s weakening currency to acquire commercial premises in Harare’s central business district. When the economy improved, he said, prices would start firming and foreign buyers would dispose of the properties.
Brain drain from health sector continues (The Herald, 10/02) - AT least 32 doctors and scores of other health professional workers have resigned at Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals over the past four months compounding the shortage of staff at the two referral hospitals. Scores of nurses have also reportedly left to work in the United Kingdom and neighbouring countries as the brain drain in the heath sector continues. Some health workers disclosed that most doctors who have left the country were within a group that had just qualified from the school of medicine. They also said that the number of Zimbabwean health professionals working in other countries continued to increase. Some doctors at Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals said they were coping despite the staff shortages but were being overworked. According to the Hospital Doctors Association, a referral hospital needs about 55 registrar doctors, 35 junior resident doctors, 30 senior resident doctors and about 22 senior consultants. At least 24 senior resident doctors at Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals have resigned since September last year while two junior resident doctors also left. Four doctors undertaking specialist studies also left together with two general practitioners. The Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr David Parirenyatwa said he was not aware that so many doctors had left the country while others have gone into private practice. "Loss of health practitioners is, however, a continuing problem. We are currently bonding nurses so that they can plough back to the nation," Dr Parirenyatwa said. He said his ministry wanted all health workers to stay and work in the country. To this end Government was making concerted efforts to ensure their working conditions were improved. "It, however, remains a fact that in the near future we will not be able to match with salaries in Europe. We are two worlds apart." Dr Parirenyatwa said despite Government’s inability to match the salaries in Europe, it remained health workers’ obligation to pay back for the training they received with State support. He said Government was expanding training programmes to ensure the country had adequate health staff. "We will put appropriate measures to ensure that we keep our trained staff but this does not mean that we will use draconian mechanisms," he said. When The Herald visited the two hospitals patients were having to endure long queues.
The chief executive officer of Parirenyatwa Hospital Mr Thomas Zigora said the institution was doing its best to cope under the circumstances. He, however, could not disclose the number of doctors and other personnel who had resigned from the hospital. "Resignations are not extraordinary but as usual we are doing our best to cope with the work load," Mr Zigora said. The refusal by health professional workers to work overtime has further worsened the situation. According to a spokesman of the workers Mr Trust Chivasa, the Government had not yet reviewed their salaries except the 80 percent salary increase they got last month. Mr Chivasa said morale was still low among workers while patients continued to suffer. There are only two dentists and two dental therapists at Parirenyatwa Hospital. Three dentists have since gone into private practice and 15 students who are expected to complete their studies in April this year are said to be helping out at the dental clinic. Harare Hospital dentistry is currently relying on one dentist and two are said to have left for greener pastures. There are no dental therapists at Harare Hospital and dental tutors are having to chip in and help. Mr Chivasa said a referral hospital needs about 16 radiographers but Harare Hospital has only seven. Owing to the shortages, radiographers at the two hospitals are said to be attending to serious cases only. The two hospitals have also lost five laboratory scientists who have resigned.
Harassed Indians on the verge of leaving Zimbabwe (IOL, 10/02) - Zimbabwe's small but thriving Indian community is considering fleeing their homeland to escape police harassment and intimidation. In ongoing cloak-and-dagger operations over the past month, private homes and businesses in Mutare, Bulawayo and Harare have been raided by the police, tax investigators and members of President Robert Mugabe's shadowy Central Intelligence Organisation, notorious for dubious activities. Law enforcers are using the country's draconian and repressive laws to raid and confiscate foreign exchange, jewellery and anything which they say might contribute to the "sabotage of the economy". Large amounts of foreign currency, mostly American dollars, documents, computers, jewellery and transaction records of prosperous Indian businesses have been confiscated "for investigation". These actions have led Indians to fear that they are the targets now that white farmers have been "neutralised". This comes as the sub-Saharan country slowly disintegrates, in a time when fuel, basic commodities and foreign exchange are scarce. Said a rich industrialist from Harare: "We are Zimbabwean. Illegal activity or not, humanity and compassion must prevail. But what do we do in a failing economy when wealth is scarce; getting bread is an arduous task." A Harare businessman who was found to have $35 000 (about R280 000) had the money confiscated. His lawyers are fighting for its retrieval but they are aware that because it was illegal for him to have this amount of foreign exchange in his possession, he stands little chance of it being returned. Police are presently auditing data from computers, from which authorities hope to find business transaction using foreign currency. A Mutare businessman, getting ready to emigrate with his family to Australia, pointed out that the Zimbabwe-born Indians had contributed to the economy and given millions of Zimbabwean dollars to keep Mugabe in office. Indian families, businessmen and industrialists tell of being disturbed at odd hours or while they are closing their shops. They say that in Mutare 10 shops were hit almost simultaneously. Authorities, armed with search warrants, entered homes and shops and even checked kitchen cupboards. Chief Wayne Bvudzijena, the Harare police commissioner, said the raids were the result of the implementation of the Public Order Safety Act introduced last year to deal with political turmoil and "economic sabotage", blamed for crippling the once buoyant economy. Bvudzijena said: "The searches were legal. We had warrants. The authorities identified culprits who were committing crimes against the economy."
There were suspicions that some Indian businesses were dealing illegally in foreign exchange and this had prompted discussions within the government which then drew up a list. "The Indians are not the only targets. Any group dealing with foreign exchange will be prosecuted. It is a police matter and nothing to do with the government. "It doesn't matter how long these people have been living here. If they break the law, they must pay. Our investigations are not only concentrating on foreign currency. We are looking for tax dodgers also," said Bvudzijena. Insiders within the ruling Zanu-PF say, however, the raids are a desperate attempt to try to seize as much money as possible so the country can buy fuel and major industrial equipment needed to keep the once thriving economy running. A Harare business tycoon was adamant the raids were a desperation move by the government. "For many, import and export businesses have suffered because they say the bank has no money, and they can't do business. And when the bank does have currency, the exchange rate allocations are limited, and in fact are unrealistic. "The black market is thriving in this economy," he said from his home. "This crisis has opened the way for the black market. Suddenly we are living under a different set of rules. It's as though we are not wanted here." With annualised inflation having peaked to an all-time high of 200 percent last month and the IMF expecting it to soar to 500 percent by June, Zimbabwe's economy is now close to total collapse. Dozens of factories failed to re-open at the end of the annual holiday break last month leaving hundreds jobless, while the acute foreign currency shortages have left companies with no money to import spares and meet other production costs. Companies are no longer able to buy foreign currency on the black market as the government has outlawed any forex transactions outside the controlled official market. Agricultural output, the mainstay of the economy, is expected to fall by half this year due to a combination of drought and Mugabe's violent land seizures. With an unemployment rate of 70 percent and the economy expected to contract by seven percent this year, according to the government's own figures, Zimbabwe is now ranked by the IMF as the fastest-shrinking economy in the world. With authorities hot on their heels, of businessmen, several meetings have been held with senior members of Mugabe's advisers who recently listened to the queries raised by the minority groupings. Jonathan Moyo, the information minister, would not comment.
Life of habitual border-jumper (Musina, IOL, 07/02) - Of all the extreme coping mechanisms that wretched Zimbabweans are resorting to in their perennial battle against hunger, Norman Sithole's is probably the most extraordinary. He has never owned a passport in his life. Yet every other day he illegally jumps the border from Beitbridge on the Zimbabwe side to Musina in South Africa, taking an open route that guarantees he will be arrested by troops from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Police Service. He says he does this with one aim - to spend a night at the police station in Musina and get his supper free. Sithole has been maintaining this "lifestyle" for the past four months. He speaks highly of South African prison food where he gets meat, porridge and bread, unknown in Zimbabwe jails and increasingly scarce even beyond the bars. He has run out of options for survival in his homeland. "I have no work. I can't afford anything. You may not believe it but the truth is that since moving to Beitbridge I have only managed to eat decently from this police station," he says. The 60 other Zimbabweans who sit with Sithole in the jail at Musina police station awaiting deportation last Friday wore faces of permanent misery as they relate stories about their plight back home. Many with children to feed in Zimbabwe say that despite being caught and facing deportation, they would not give up on their efforts to settle in South Africa to find jobs. The captured immigrants cynically refer to the police trucks parked outside their jail ready to deport them, as the "Air Zimbabwe fleet". "They move so fast in getting us back to Zimbabwe, but as soon as we are dropped there, we are already planning our next move to come back," says Marco Sigauke, who has been arrested and deported 12 times but is not giving up. Sigauke, a 29-year-old qualified elevator technician, says he gave up his job at home because hyper-inflation of almost 200 percent in Zimbabwe had rendered his income completely worthless. "After paying rent, I was left with no money to buy food. I could not even afford underwear. "After I lost my wife last year to another guy who could buy her food, I decided I had no future in Zimbabwe and have been trying to get work here," he says vowing to keeping returning until he gets to Johannesburg to find work.
Robert Moyana walked more than 1 200km for four weeks from Eastern Zimbabwe to Beitbridge to attempt his illegal entry into South Africa in search of work. He too had become frustrated with his pay as a general labourer, which was not enough to buy basic foodstuffs to feed his wife and four children. He dreamt of finding a job in South Africa and sending money home to feed his family. He was arrested on his first attempt. Nineteen-year-old Tony Mude says he was among those who trained to participate in President Robert Mugabe's violent campaign for re-election in March last year. He was based in Zvishavane and says he was put off by the brutalities he witnessed at a camp in a small mining town. "We rounded up young girls whose parents supported the opposition and raped them at night. "Some girls were kept as sex slaves for the youth leaders. We were given dagga to gather enough courage to beat up opponents. I could not stand it," says Mude, who later ran away from the camp and is equally determined to start a new life in South Africa. Rosemary Mavese clutched her two children in the jail as she related the story of her endless misery. Lack of food at home had forced her to illegally cross the border. She did not think the situation in Zimbabwe was sustainable for much longer. "It will explode soon and I did not want to be caught with my children in the crossfire," she says. The huge numbers arrested during our three day stay in Musina did not mean the South African army and police are stamping out the problem. Many more are breaching the security cordon and are flooding into the country undetected. Home affairs and defence officials have no idea about the exact figures of those successfully entering the country. Superintendent Clifford Steyn, the station manager of Musina police station, says the number of illegal immigrants crossing into South Africa had doubled over December 2002. "It's a major problem. It's immense. The influx increases by the month."
Asked whether he was gearing up for a greater influx over the next few months as Zimbabwe's woes worsen in view of the latest drought and President Robert Mugabe's sustained mismanagement, Steyn says: "How can we gear up? It's crisis management. We take it as it comes." Captain Tol Snyman, the officer in charge of army operations in Musina, says 98 percent of people illegally crossing this border into South Africa are Zimbabweans. The rest are from other SADC and Central African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. "It's a vicious circle. We arrest and deport them but they come back," he says. In 2000, the army alone arrested 26 742 illegals. The figure fell to 19 932 in 2001 and plunged to 18 033 in 2002 but Snyman said that the decline does not mean fewer illegal immigrants are coming into South Africa. "The decline is because fewer troops are now deployed to fight illegal immigration, mainly because of budget constraints," he says. "If we get more troops, we will arrest even more," he says. Other commitments like the deployment of the South African army in Burundi have diverted resources from Snyman's unit. Because it is not always possible to repatriate the arrested illegal immigrants on the same day of the arrest, many are kept overnight and fed while in police custody. So it is possible that some, like Sithole, just come in for food, he says. "Some are arrested so many times that they end up dampening the morale of troops. "You can imagine the frustration when you arrest and deport the same person over and over again," says Snyman. He has heard that quite a few border jumpers have been eaten by crocodiles as they try to cross the Limpopo particularly when the river is high but has no confirmed figures. In January 2003, a total of 1 381 illegals were arrested by the army alone. Steyn says the police cannot deny food to the habitual border jumpers like Sithole as a way of punishing them and forcing them to stay in Zimbabwe. "I can't do that. It's immoral. You can't fight them by starving them. "You should see some of them when they come here. They are terribly dehydrated and weak," he says. He too feels the police definitely need more manpower to deal with the influx of immigrants but says that it would not stop the problem.
The real solution is political and therefore "out of my realm". "If a man is hungry, nothing will stop him from trying to get food," he explains. Both Steyn and Snyman say the influx of the illegals had resulted in a marked upsurge of crime levels around towns in the Limpopo province, particularly theft, house-breaking and common robbery. Snyman says the illegals were making a large impact on South Africa in other ways. They were key spreaders of diseases like yellow fever and malaria. The costs of patrolling the border and repatriating were also high. Apart from the costs of feeding the illegals, more than R200-million is spent annually on repatriation costs alone. It costs R225 000 a month to maintain the fences. A private corporate security management company was quoted last week as saying that South Africa now has eight million illegal immigrants of whom half are Zimbabweans. Steyn says some of the illegal immigrants provided cheap labour for South African firms. The illegals interviewed accused some white farmers in Limpopo of taking advantage of their plight. "Some of the farmers give us jobs and work us like slaves. When pay day comes, they call in the police saying we are illegal immigrants and we are arrested and chased away without pay," says 27-year-old Lovemore Chiswere, who described life on the mostly white-owned commercial farms in the province as being akin to life in a concentration camp. But the ministry of home affairs has since legalised the status of about 20 000 illegals on the farms and they can now work in the country without fear of deportation. This should give them the security to resist exploitation.
Tourist arrivals continue to drop (Victoria Falls, The Daily News, 06/02) - Tourist arrivals in the country’s premier resort town of Victoria Falls continued to decline as the political and economic situation deteriorated. Arrivals in Victoria Falls and other domestic resort destinations, were severely affected by Zimbabwe’s battered image abroad wrought by the chaotic land reform programme, drought and the deteriorating political situation. The decline was compounded by the country’s erratic fuel supply situation. Last month an Australian tourist was killed in the town and this has also reduced tourist arrivals. Despite the general slump in arrivals, however, operators in Victoria Falls reported this week that even after recording subdued business, they enjoyed in recent months better volumes of tourist arrivals from the southern African region, mostly from Zambia and Botswana. Zambians were taking advantage of their firming currency enjoying an unprecedented strength over the overvalued Zimbabwe dollar. The Zambian kwacha is presently pegged at 0,018 against the Zimbabwean dollar at the official rate. However, on the black market the kwacha currency fetches Z$4. Stanlake Mwanza, a Zambian visiting Zimbabwe, said he could now come to the country more often because of the increased affordability. “There are better tourist facilities here, and the rates and prices are very affordable.” However, he complained of xenophobic tendencies by some Zimbabweans. “Zimbabweans don’t want to accept the fact that their dollar is now weaker than the kwacha. Every time they see you spending money in their country they say you are a black market dealer,” Mwanza said.
Economic hardships slow down tourism industry growth (The Chronicle, 05/02) - The tourism industry, which showed positive signs of recovery in 2002, is optimistic that this year could bring good tidings but the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism has warned that problems such as the fuel crisis, commodity shortages and reduced operational viability could slow down activity. ZCT president, Mr Shingi Munyeza said there had been an increase in the number of international arrivals in 2002 compared to the previous year and signs of recovery were tentative but good. Although levels of international arrivals were still below those experienced in the period 1998/1999, it was hoped a steady growth in yearonyear increases could be enjoyed, despite prevailing obstacles. “Tourism operators are fortunately very optimistic people and their outlook at present is a positive one, but the problems facing us need to be addressed if we are to achieve survival and then meaningful growth,” he said. “In addition, efforts to market Zimbabwe across the world must be stepped up significantly if we are to compete with other destinations that are selling themselves well and have experienced positive results from doing so.” ZCT, which is the voice of tourism operators in the country, pledged to support initiatives by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in marketing Zimbabwe in the international market. “Zimbabwe must become much more visible from a tourism perspective, not only with a presence at international travel shows and advertising and editorial media coverage of our tourism product, but also with the appointment of travel attaches at ZTA offices in key source markets and with the development of sales and marketing materials that show our tourist attractions at their best,” said Mr Munyeza. ZTA’s responsibility is to market Zimbabwe and funds for its activities are sourced from a levy applied on the sale of tourismrelated goods and services, collected by tourism operators. “Tourism promotion requires inputs of foreign currency and it is in the best interests of the country that forex is made available for this extremely worthwhile cause. The amounts of foreign currency earned by the country from serious marketing are such that the amount needed for promotional expenditure, which is relatively small, is a good investment ,” he added. Feedback from tourism operators show that chief concerns at present include the ongoing fuel crisis and the shortages of essential commodities, ranging from gas for cooking to products such as milk and flour.
“These problems must be addressed and resolved so that our operators are free to concentrate on building up their businesses and generating touristsourced benefits for Zimbabwe,” said Mr Munyeza. ZCT has been holding discussions with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on the need to introduce special incentives to ensure survival, and eventually the recovery of the sector. The sector has immense potential to earn substantial amounts of foreign currency, create employment and generate income in local communities. The ZCT chief said his organisation was also concerned at the effects of travel warnings and advisories in a number of source markets. Last week the United States State Department issued a travel warning advising its citizens against travelling to Zimbabwe.
This page last updated 9 April 2003.