January 2003 - Click on the country title above theheadlines for the entire article.
SADC to speed up free trade area
US spells out its free-trade area hopes
Sacu, US to kick start free trade negotiations
Mauritius meeting will discuss trade with the US
US ends special immigration status forAngolans
Zim Farmers eyed for Angolan renaissance
Zimbabwe white farmers not invited to Angola
Angola beckens white farmers from Zimbabwe
Authorities to expell illegal foreign citizens
60 DRC Citizens repatriated
New computerized entry system
Zimbabwe migrants 'flood' neighbour
Botswana grapples with influx of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants
MP urges Batswana to help curb influx of illegal immigrants
Government urged to dispatch troops to patrol Zimbabwe border
Batswana urged to stop selling land to foreigners
Zimbabwean immigration a problem for Botswana
Cross border stock theft
Some receive old age pensions in Botswana and South Africa
Botswana gets interest-free Chinese loan
Disinfection points for illegal immigrants set up
Border villagers wish to return to Botswana
Botswana students in South Africa advised to renew study permits
Zimbabwe crisis is economic windfall for Botswana
Renewed fighting sends thousands fleeingto Burundi
Fighting rages around eastern Congo town
Congolese flee into West Nile
Thousands flee as fighting erupts in DRC
More people in northeast displaced from homes
Crime, poverty and cross-border stocktheft
Rising tide of Lesotho jobseekers may find work in SA
Basotho workers to return to South Africa
Labour agreement with South Africa
Management plan for Limpopo National Park
Police arrest murderers of South Africa
Plan to merge Immigration with Policedraws fire
Ministry to clamp down on foreign students
Asian workers detained
Official denies border post claims
Angolan detainees sent home
Alleged illegal immigrant deported after year in jail
Windhoek backtracks on decision to bar SA airlines
Suspected mafia boss fights forcitizenship
Six arrested for crime against tourists
Johannesburg authorities clamp down on illegal trading
Africa shops in Johannesburg
Foriegners netted in car-theft syndicate bust
Rescue plan for 'Hillbrow-by-the-sea'
Campaign to lure American tourists launched
Workshop on migration of health workers ends
Immigrant sues state for 'brutality'
Allowance for doctors working in rural areas set to increase
Brain drain to brain gain
Plans to keep health workers in SA unveiled
Mozambique delegation visits Mpumalanga
Government might pay more to retain medical professionals
New immigration rules will have negative impact on investment
Government developing strategies to retain health professionals
Foreign inmates strike
Health workers could receive pay hike to combat brain drain
Countries seek to curb migration of health workers
Conference on health brain drain
Nigerians in court for drug possession
SA, Mozambique labour relations set to strengthen
SA, Mozambique sign deal to protect migrant workers
SA and Mozambique sign labour deal
Labour ministers to discuss illegal Mozambican farm workers
Brain gain hitting SA, claims Minister of Labour
Farm inspection flop
Plight of farm workers highlighted
Farmers unhappy about new wage legislation
Investigate immigration says NNP
Labour to enforce farm worker laws
Mdladlana, Moyo visit Limpopo farms
Labour memorandum between South Africa and Zimbabwe
Labour minister hears from farm workers
Illegal immigrants to get labour rights
Few South Africans willing to replace Zimbabwean farm workers
Bid to fight brain drain continues
Border post congestion manageable, says DHA
ID card criticized as instruments ofcoercion
Exiled Swazis starving in SA
Government formulating policy to control foreign business
Judges refuse to return to Swaziland
Over 2700 apply for work permits
King welcomes large number of tourists
New border post with Mozambique
Tourists give vote of confidence to Swaziland
Fresh boost for tourism sector fromZimbabweans
84 Kenyan trespassers jailed
Police in Kigoma nab 18 illegal immigrants
Thousands more refugees seek repatriation
Burundi frees Tanzanian nationals
Last group of Rwandans in Tanzania return home
Negotiations on membership of NacalaCorridor
5,000 refugees to be repatriated from Zambia
Tourism sector set to grow
Rwandan refugees to be repatriated
Clearing agents to blame for border delays
87 Cuban doctors expected in February
Detained foreign aid workers to bedeported from Zimbabwe
Judgement reserved in Todd's passport case
Zimbabwean immigrants swamp Botswana
Five foreign journalists held
Angola beckons white farmers from Zimbabwe
Zim farmers find the grass is greener in Mozambique
Starving Zimbabweans cross borders in desperation
Government steps up security at top tourist resorts
Airzim flight bookings to UK surge
Zimbabweans exploited on farms in SA
Immigration officers to undergo security training
SA labour minister visits Zimbabwe
Trafficking of women condemned
EU assists white farmers with relocation
SADC to speed up free trade area (Mmegi Business Week,24-30/01) - Southern African Development Community's(SADC's) Executive Secretary, Dr. Prega Ramsamy, renewed his callTuesday for the organisation to speed up the implementation offree trade area and to accede to the customs union. "We arenow saying the time-frame should be revisited in light of what ishappening in Africa and the world at large. The Americans are nowtalking about a free trade agreement with SACU (Southern AfricanCustoms Union) countries. This could marginalise SADC, becauseSACU is at an advanced level of development," he said. TheSACU member states are Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africaand Swaziland. The countries also belong to the 14-member state-SADC, which started implementing the free-trade area in September2000. By 2012 SADC is supposed to have brought the tariff levelin all goods and service to zero. "We are going to have areview meeting in 2004 to look at the possibility of shorteningthe time frame of implementation of free trade area withoutjeopardising its fundamentals. We want to see how we can bringall tariffs to zero by 2008 instead of 2012. We should takeopportunities, which are presenting themselves in thisglobalisation process. The region should dismantle the internalbarriers which are there at the moment," he said. Ramsamysaid SADC countries stand to benefit from the American marketthat has a huge population and a high per capita income."The region would benefit through employment creation,infrastructure development which will lead to high livingstandards. We cannot continue with this slow pace ofdevelopment," he warned. Currently SADC is trying torejuvinate its restructuring process by introducing the RegionalIndicative Plan aimed at guiding its strategic plans into thefuture. The 15-year-long term plan which will be reviewed at fiveyear intervals is expected to be given the green-light by theSADC council of ministers which will be meeting Luanda, Angola inFebruary. "The plan will guide us on where we want to be inthe next 15 years and it will also spell-out what we should do toachieve the goals we have set ourselves. This will give us adeeper sense of integration as opposed to shallowintegration," Ramsamy said.
US spells out its free-trade area hopes (Johannesburg,Business Day, 14/01) - US trade representative RobertZoellick said yesterday he hoped a free-trade area accord betweenthe Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) countries and the UScould be negotiated by the end of next year. Zoellick was inPretoria where he had talks with SA's Alec Erwin and the otherSacu trade ministers. He said President George Bush was committedto "strengthening and deepening" relations withsub-Saharan Africa, and that there were new opportunities underthe planned free-trade area, which would take trade relationsunder the existing Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) astep further. Zoellick said a free-trade area would link Sacuwith the world's largest market and lock in access to thatmarket. It would also help attract investment to the region, andfoster regional integration. Unlike the European Union, the USwould seek to negotiate a free-trade area with southern Africafrom which there would be no exclusions. The SA/EU free-tradearea has a number of excluded sectors, notably in agriculture. Hesaid the accord would help to unlock potential in tourism, callcentres and various other industries. "We hope thefree-trade area will help us develop deeper economicrelations," he said. The US was determined to help the Sacunations build capacity to negotiate such an agreement. "Wehope for a level playing field," he said. "We hope wemight be able to create a model for trade and development."The US also was negotiating a free-trade area with Latin America,and Washington knew that it had to deal in both Latin Americanand Sacu with countries at different stages of development."We want things to work for people we want them to be ableto implement the agreement," he said. "At the end ofthe day, our goal is to create jobs here as well as in theUS." He said it would be "politically useful" toconclude free-trade area negotiations by the end of 2004, as Bushwould still be in office, and it should be possible to wincongressional support for a deal. Alec Erwin said last night theaim was to get the negotiations concluded before the end of nextyear. "It would make eminently good sense." Zoellicksaid that Canada and Mexico had found their trade with the USshot up by threefold when they had negotiated freetrade areaagreements with the US, and there should be big benefits forSacu. "The US is committed to opening the door for trade anddevelopment for southern Africa, but countries have to walkthrough the door," he said, referring to the strict humanrights and good governance criteria laid down by Washington.Zoellick said Bush had really wanted to be in SA this week, butthe US had seen the "sharp teeth of terrorism" and thepresident had cancelled his visit to focus on the terroristthreat. In another development, Zoellick gave a guarded welcometo a European Union plan to unblock the discussions in Geneva onnew rules to allow developing nations to obtain generic drugs todeal with public health crises. He said it was "deeplydisappointing" that no deal had been struck before theDecember deadline.
Sacu, US to kick start free trade negotiations(Pretoria, BuaNews, 14/01) - The Southern AfricanCustoms Union (SACU) and the United States (US) have announcedplans to proceed with negotiations for a free trade agreement(FTA). Representing SACU's five-member countries at a mediabriefing in Pretoria yesterday were South African trade andindustry minister Alec Erwin, Swaziland's foreign affairs andtrade minister Abdnego Ntshangase, Lesotho's minister ofindustry, trade and marketing Mpho Malie, Botswana's minister oftrade and industry Jacob Nkate, Namibia's minister of trade andindustry Jesaya Nyamu. The five ministers earlier yesterday metUS trade representative Robert Zoellick to discuss the FTA, whichis designed to lower trade barriers, open markets and stimulateeconomic growth and development. Successful negotiations of anFTA, which are due to start sometime next month, are set tosecure economic benefits from the US' Africa Growth andOpportunity Act (AGOA), which was signed into law by thenPresident Bill Clinton in 2000. Speaking at the briefing,Minister Erwin said the negotiation process had gotten off to apositive start. 'We have been engaged in informal negotiationssince October last year and formal negotiations are set tocommence from early February this year. Although it is adifficult process, we hope to end all negotiations by 2004.'Objectives to be pursued by SACU at the forthcoming negotiationsinclude the expansion of trade and market access opportunities inorder to eradicate poverty and improve living standards. Theywill also address non-tariff barriers that could impede enhancedmarket access opportunities arising from the FTA. Also on thelist of objectives is the promotion of agricultural andindustrial development through enhanced market access and thesupport for broader regional integration processes in Africaunder the framework of the economic recovery plan, the NewPartnership for Africa's Development (Nepad). So far, tradebetween the US and SACU stood at about 8-billion US Dollars andincluded trade in machinery, vehicles, aircraft, medicalinstruments, plastics, chemicals, cereals, pharmaceuticals andwood and paper products. 'The FTA between the US and the fiveSACU countries will provide new opportunities for the people ofall our countries, and will particularly provide a boost toregional economic growth, development and prosperity,' said MrZoellick. He added that the FTA would support the participatingcountries' common objectives in the World Trade Organisation(WTO) and serve as a model for what developed and developingcountries could achieve together through trade.
Mauritius meeting will discuss trade with the US(Johannesburg, Irin, 09/01) - Leaders from almost 40countries eligible for the US African Growth and Opportunity Act(AGOA) will meet in Mauritius next week for the secondUS-sub-Saharan African Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum. Theforum, to be held at the University of Mauritius campus from 15to 17 January, will see the delegations of up to eight membersparticipating in discussions on trade, conditions for investmentand "investing in people". Speakers would include tradeand agriculture ministers from the various countries, as well asUS Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and US Agency forInternational Development Administrator Andrew Natsios, astatement said. There would also be a parallel private sectorevent discussing finance, doing business with the US,agriculture, trade barriers and bio-technology. NGOs would meetbetween 13 and 15 January to discuss AGOA's results. AGOA wassigned into law by former US president Bill Clinton in May 2000to provide incentives for increased trade between sub-SaharanAfrica and the US. An additional Trade Act of 2002, known as AGOAII, focusing on textile benefits, was signed into law byPresident George Bush last August. A report to the US Congresslast year listed the major achievements of the Act. The includedthe opening of 11 new factories in Lesotho and the expansion ofanother eight, resulting in the creation of 15,000 new jobs,making manufacturing employment exceed government employment forthe first time. In Malawi, 4,350 jobs had been created, Mauritiushad gained at least US $78 million in investment and new andplanned investment in Namibia in the clothing and textile sectorwas expected to top US $250 million, according to the report. InSwaziland, it said that at least eight factories had opened,creating 11,000 new jobs. South Africa was one of the top threecountries to benefit from AGOA, bringing US $923 million into thecountry. However, to qualify for the benefits of AGOA countrieswere compelled to meet a list of requirements which were reviewedevery year by a committee, which them submitted recommendationsto the president. These included the establishment of amarket-based economy, a commitment to the rule of law,internationally recognised human rights and workers' rights, theelimination of trade barriers to the US, the implementation ofpolicies to reduce poverty and policies and to eliminatecorruption. The countries must also have implemented commitmentsto eliminate child labour and must meet certain customs and visarequirements.
"It is an unfortunate reality that some investors viewAfrica, and the risks associated with investing in some Africancountries, with a certain amount of trepidation. Countries willhave to pursue economic and political reforms to create thestable and positive investment climate the potential investorsseek," the report said. It cited the setbacks the Madagascartextile industry suffered during last year's political unrest asan example of the importance of stability for a successfuleconomy. However, the Act has come in for criticism because itcan invoke a cap on imports if these threaten the US domesticmarket. It also has strict guidelines for the origin of rawmaterials used in the textile industry. US companies benefitingfrom AGOA, like the trendy GAP clothing chain and Wrangler, havealso been accused of turning a blind eye to the low wages paid bytheir garment suppliers in Africa. Research by the Clean ClothesCampaign has suggested that dramatic growth in Madagascar'sExport Processing Zones has left textile workers faced withlabour laws that are "hardly observed", demands forovertime where "workers have to work the whole nightthrough, and even the next day", and where unions areprotected by law "but are in reality powerless". Jobsmay have been created, but the basic salary is about $24 a month.
US ends special immigration status for Angolans(Washington, Sapa-AFP, 27/01) - The US JusticeDepartment announced Monday that it is cancelling a specialimmigration status for Angolans that allowed them to live andwork in the United States without permanent residency documents.Attorney General John Ashcroft said Angola, effective March 29,would be removed from a list of countries whose nationals enjoyTemporary Protected Status (TPS) due to ongoing conflict or otherextraordinary circumstances at home. In a notice published in theFederal Register, a government gazette, Ashcroft said Angolans nolonger needed TPS because conditions in the country had improvedsignificantly with the signing last year of a peace accordbetween the government and the main rebel faction. "Afterreviewing country conditions and consulting with the appropriategovernment agencies, the Attorney General has determined thatconditions in Angola no longer support a TPS designation,"Ashcroft said in the notice. The United States gave Angolans thespecial status in 2000 and twice extended it. After March 29, theimmigration status of Angolans in the United States will returnto that they held prior to 2000.
Zim Farmers eyed for Angolan renaissance (Luanda,Dispatch Online, 10/01) - The Angolan authorities areconsidering inviting dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers to take oversome of the thousands of Angolan farms abandoned during thecountry's 27-year civil war, reports said this week. "We arenot ruling out the possibility of welcoming these farmers,"the governor of south-western Benguela province, Dumilde Rangel,said on a local Angolan radio station. "They have theknow-how, and if they could work here with us and create jobsthere will be no problem." Rangel said some 4500 farms layabandoned in the Caimbambo area of Benguela alone, and that onlythree percent of a huge swathe of rich farmland there wascurrently being worked. He said despite appeals for people tocome forward to manage the land there had been no takers.Consequently Angolan agriculture had continued to stagnate,despite an acute lack of basic food in the country. Many whiteZimbabwean landowners have been forced to leave the country inrecent months after their farms were taken over by the governmentfor redistribution to poor black farmers. Angola faces amonumental task of rebuilding the country after a ceasefiresigned in April 2002 finally brought to an end a civil war inwhich most of country's infrastructure was totally destroyed.Fighting between government forces and the rebel National Unionfor the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) came to a haltfollowing the death in combat of Unita leader Jonas Savimbi lastFebruary. One of the government's toughest tasks will be to ridAngola of millions of anti-personnel mines. These are said to bescattered throughout the countryside and are a daily threat tofarmers and their families.
Zimbabwe white farmers not invited to Angola (Luanda,AFP, 10/01) - Angola's agriculture minister has deniedthat the government has invited Zimbabwe's dispossessed whitefarmers to take over some of the thousands of Angolan farmsabandoned during the country's 27-year civil war. "We areopen to private entities who wish to work in Angola, but ourministry has not invited in Zimbabwean (white) farmers,"Gilberto Buta Lutukuta told reporters late Thursday. The governorof southwestern Benguela province, Dumilde Rangel, had said theprevious day that the authorities were considering inviting whitefarmers from Zimbabwe, who have had their land seized andredistributed to black settlers under President Robert Mugabe'scontroversial land reforms, to work the land there. "Theyhave the know-how, and if they could work here with us and createjobs, there will be no problem," Rangel said on Catholicradio station Ecclesia. Several white Zimbabwean landowners havebeen forced to leave the country in recent months after theirfarms were taken over by the government for re-distribution topoor black farmers. Last year, the official Jornal de Angolareported that white Zimbabwean farmers planned to settle inAngola's fertile province of Huambo, where 10,000 hectares(24,700 acres) had been made available for them. In a reportpublished in February 2002, the newspaper said the resettlementof white Zimbabwean farmers had been made possible by a contractbetween an agricultural group in Luanda and provincialauthorities in Huambo. An unspecified number of farmers had beenallotted land in Chipipa, a fertile region about 20 kilometers(12 miles) from the town of Huambo, the newspaper had said. Theirpresence would allow the region to resume producing maize forexport. From 1970 to 1971, shortly before Angola's independencefrom Portugal, maize production was at 790,000 tonnes per year,of which 40 percent was exported. Production dropped dramaticallybecause of Angola's civil war that ended in April last year afterraging virtually non-stop since independence in 1975. Some 4,500farms are currently abandoned in Benguela province's Caimbamboregion, where only three percent of arable land is cultivated,despite repeated calls from the Angolan government for farmers tostart working the land again.
Angola beckens white farmers from Zimbabwe (Luanda,Cape Times, 10/01) - The Angolan authorities areconsidering inviting dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers to take oversome of the thousands of Angolan farms abandoned during thecountry's 27-year-long civil war, reports said on Wednesday."We are not ruling out the possibility of welcoming thesefarmers," the governor of south-western Benguela province,Dumilde Rangel, said on a local Angolan radio station. "Theyhave the know-how, and if they could work here with us and createjobs there will be no problem," he said. Rangel said about 4500 farms lay abandoned in the Caimbambo area of Benguela alone.Only three percent of the rich farmland there was currently beingworked. He said despite appeals for people to come forward tomanage the land there had been no takers and Angolan agricultureconsequently continued to stagnate, despite the acute lack ofbasic food in the country. Several hundred white Zimbabweanlandowners have been forced to leave the country after theirfarms were taken over by the government for redistribution toblack people. Angola faces the monumental task of rebuilding thecountry after a ceasefire signed in April 2002 finally brought toan end a civil war in which most of country's infrastructure wasdestroyed. Fighting between government forces and the rebelNational Union for the Total Independence of Angola came to ahalt following the death in combat of its leader, Jonas Savimbi,in February 2002. One of the government's toughest tasks will beto rid Angola of millions of anti-personnel mines said to litterthe countryside, which have become a daily threat to farmers,their families and their stock.
Authorities to expell illegal foreign citizens (Kuito,Angola Press Agency, 07/01) - The Angola's Migration andForeign Services (SME) will start on Wednesday an operation toexpell illegal foreign citizens leaving in the Central BieProvince, an official source has announced. A press note from Smesays that the operation will start in Andulo district, 130kilometres of Kuito city. It will be extended to the localitiesof Dando, Lubia and Cayeye, in Nharea district, where is presumedto exist the major number of foreign illegal citizens, who aresearching for diamonds. In the last months, the North and Southregions of Bie have been registered a great number of citizensfrom Senegal, Mali and Democratic Republic of Congo. PoliceCommand In Bie announced in last December that there are about10.000 illegal foreign citizens, most of them searchers ofdiamonds.
60 DRC Citizens repatriated (Uije, Angola PressAgency, 05/01) - Sixty citizens from the DemocraticRepublic of the Congo who lived illegally in Angola's northernUije province were repatriated in 2002, Angop learned. Theinformation was released recently by the provincial director ofthe Emigration and Frontiers Services, Antonio Ribeiro. Thesource explained that the Drc citizens were repatriated to theircountry through the Kimbata border post, at Maquela do Zombodistrict, some 261 kilometres north of Uije city. The source saidthat the foreigners control process continues, adding that allthose caught in illegal situation will get the boot. TheEmigration Services in the province currently control 112foreigners of various nationalities, 89 of whom are residents and23 authorised workers.
New computerized entry system (Luanda, Angola PressAgency, 03/01) - An automatic system of alert andcontrol of stay and exit of foreigners in the country constitutesone of the innovations the Angolan Migration and ForeignersServices (Sme) has just introduced in the country. This was saidby Sme director, Maria Joaquina da Silva, in an interview toAngop, while assessing the work done by her institution in 2002.It is a modern computerised and reliable system that controls theentry and 30 days stay of foreigners in the country. An alertwill be sounded on the 29th day of stay should there be anirregularity, she said. "After the sound of the alert, areport is withdrawn from the computerised system a notificationis sent to the citizen at the lodger so he/she is informed of thecase", the officer also said. The director also informedthat her sector will increase the number of staff in this areaand divide the Luanda city into work zones for a more efficientcontrol. According to the source, the system will first beinstalled at the Luanda International Airport and later in theprovinces of Cunene and Cabinda, south and north, respectively,as those are the other main entry ports. Maria da Silva statedthat the technology will also be installed at land border posts,after they are equipped with means and required facilities. Inaddition to this innovation, she said, a passport optic readingsystem that permits the identification of the citizen is alreadyfunctioning at the Luanda airport. This includes an internationalembarking and disembarking card that will facilitate passengersattendance and concerned operations. The Sme will also introducea digital file system as from February this year, with a view tomore efficiently serve the public, it was also said. TheForeigners services will also adopt an automatic mechanism forapplication and granting of migratory acts for foreigners first,and later for locals. A new model of self-sticking visas carryinginstructions on the methods of use, Maria da Silva said, addingthere is need for a strict protection of the borders in order tocurb illegal immigration. "We will intensify the combatagainst illegal immigration and forgery of travellers documents,particularly by gangs that are scattered throughout thecountry", she said. She said her department is counting on acooperation from the other forces of order and internal securityorgans and the very population.
Considering the situation of immigration in the country asworrying, the source said according to Sme figures, there areabout 200 to 300,000 illegal foreigners throughout the nationalterritory. In face of this, the institution has alreadyinstructed for a strict control on the borders so that theillegal immigrants are repatriated right from the borders,instead of bringing them all the way to Luanda, Maria da silasaid. She pointed out the land borders as the port of entry wherethere is a heavier flow of illegal immigrants. "With the endof the armed conflict in the country, we can say allindispensable conditions of security and stability are in placefor the work under normal conditions", the director alsosaid. She said her department has been instructed to carry out aninventory on the country's border posts that are out of servicefor their rehabilitation and better serve the control of theterritory. Meanwhile, the immigration officer appealed to allnational citizens who facilitate the illegal entry of foreignersin exchange for money to stop doing so. The border posts withmajor immigration flow are those of Luma and Massabi (northernCabinda province), Santa Clara and Ruacanį, in southern Cunene.The Sme have under their control 76.687 foreigners in illegalsituation. Of this, 28.128 are residents, 37.187 under workingvisas and 1.387 under refugees status and asylum seekers. In2002, the institution issued 97.796 passports, 73.708 transitpasses and 19.307 safe conducts. There was a drop by 27 percentin the number of passports issued in 2002 as compared to theprevious year. This was due to a stricter control on thedocuments required. The SME have sent 232 files containing fakedocuments to the National Police of Criminal Investigation(Dnic). 6.322 foreigners from various parts were expelled fromthe country over illegal stay. 43 acts of foreign citizens weregranted, 10.462 work visas were passed, 1.377 stay permits issuedand 1.862 permits for workers families were also issued. The Sme,under the ministry of interior, was set up on 19 April 1975 anddeals with controlling the entry, exit and stay of passengers andissuing of travellers documents, namely passports, safe-conductsand transit passes.
Zimbabwe migrants 'flood' neighbour (BBC News, 30/01)- Botswana is unable to cope with the massive flow ofillegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, says the head of itsimmigration service. Roy Sekgororwane told the French newsagency, AFP, that Botswana was sending back 1,600 people everymonth to Zimbabwe. Its detention centres are full to capacity buta large number of people are never caught, he said. Botswana andSouth Africa are the richest countries in the region and both aremagnets for people fleeing the food shortages, politicalinstability and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. South Africa alsoregularly repatriates illegal immigrants to Zimbabwe. In bothcountries, they seek work as domestic servants or farm labourers.The region which borders Botswana, Matabeleland, is among theworst hit by the food shortages faced by up to half of Zimbabwe'spopulation, some seven million people. It is also a stronghold ofthe opposition Movement for Democratic Change and people theresay they are refused food aid from the government and arepersecuted for their ethnic group and political beliefs. "Weare seriously losing our battle to deal with this problem. Thisis the worst immigration problem we have ever seen in thiscountry," Mr Sekgororwane said. Some 125,000 Zimbabweanslegally enter Botswana every week, according to a recent estimatebut Mr Sekgororwane says many stay behind after their travelpermits expire. "We are now repatriating two truckloads ofillegal immigrants from Zimbabwe every day, and this costs thegovernment a lot of money," he said. But the head ofBotswana's immigration service admits that this is no long-termsolution. "What has happened is that, to some of them(Zimbabweans), it is like a joke. They just drop their thingsupon repatriation and come back," Mr Sekgororwane said.
Botswana grapples with influx of illegal Zimbabweanimmigrants (Gaborone, Sapa-AFP, 30/01) - Illegalimmigrants from Zimbabwe have become a major problem inneighbouring Botswana, where detention centres are filled tocapacity and about 1,600 Zimbabweans are repatriated every month,officials said Thursday. "We are seriously losing our battleto deal with this problem. This is the worst immigration problemwe have ever seen in this country," chief immigrationofficer Roy Sekgororwane told AFP. He said detention centres forillegal immigrants were filled to capacity, and although about1,600 Zimbabweans were repatriated every month, he believed a"great number" of them remained behind. In addition tothe illegal flow of immigrants, about 125,000 Zimbabweans enterBotswana legally every month, according to an estimate made lastweek. But many fail to return to Zimbabwe when their travelpermits expire, Sekgororwane said. They remain in the country towork, mostly as farm labourers and domestic workers. Botswana andSouth Africa are the most prosperous nations in the region andare prime destinations for illegal immigrants. Zimbabweans arefleeing their country, which has been hard-hit by politicalunstability and food shortages exacerbated by a serious droughtin the southern African region. "We really need support todeal with this because the strategies that we have used in thepast seem to be not working," he said. "We are nowrepatriating two truckloads of illegal immigrants from Zimbabweevery day, and this costs the government a lot of money."Most Zimbabweans cross into Botswana at the northern border postof Ramokgwebana, but many illegally sneak across the500-kilometre (300-mile) fenced border at ungazetted points.There are five border posts between the two countries. Botswanaopposition parties have called on President Festus Mogae and hisZimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe to convene an urgent meetingto discuss the influx of illegal immigrants. "What hashappened is that, to some of them (Zimbabweans), it is like ajoke. They just drop their things upon repatriation and comeback," Sekgororwane said.
MP urges Batswana to help curb influx of illegalimmigrants (BOPA, 30/01) - Batswana have been urged toassist government control the influx of illegal immigrants intothe country. Joy Phumaphi, MP for Francistown East, said onSunday the problem could be dealt with effectively if Batswanajoined hands with government in tackling the problem. Addressinga kgotla meeting at Somerset East in her constituency, Phumaphicalled on Batswana to refrain from harbouring illegal immigrantsand renting out their houses to them. She was responding tocomplaints from her voters about the escalating incidents ofcrime committed by Zimbabweans. They blamed some Batswana forcontributing to the problem by accommodating illegal immigrantsin their homes. On other issues, Phumaphi appealed to Batswana toutilise government schemes such as CEDA to start businesses,including leather treatment projects and dairy farming. Sheinformed them about government's intention to set up a milkcollection centre, leather development and research centre inFrancistown, as well as a BEDIA factory shells during NDP 9. Forhis part, Francistown City Mayor, Peter Ngoma explained that theSomerset East drainage system would be improved this year andadvised orphans and destitute to not only refuse to acceptspoiled or inadequate food rations from suppliers, but to alsoreport such suppliers to the council. He reminded residents toapply for sewerage connection as connection fees will beincreased from P30 to P100 by April 1. In response, residentssaid they could not afford to link to electrify because chargeshad gone up due to the introduction of VAT.
Government urged to dispatch troops to patrol Zimbabweborder (BOPA, 29/01) - Government has been urged todispatch Botswana Defence Force (BDF) troops to patrol theBotswana/Zimbabwe border to curb the influx of illegal immigrantsinto the country. Addressing a political rally in Tlokweng,Botswana Congress Party (BCP) activist Motlhalefi Kgaboesele saidgovernment "wastes too much money on the repatriation ofillegal immigrants at the expense of the country'sdevelopments". Kgaboesele said that at least 1 000Zimbabweans were repatriated each day at government expense. Forhis part, Petrus Bantatetse blamed the government for theproblems that the country's football is going through. He chargedthat "by failing sport the government is failing the youth,the majority of whom are out of school and unemployed, as theyare the ones who need sport" to keep them away frommischief. Bantatetse also accused the Botswana TelecommunicationsCorporation (BTC) of corruption. He described replacing formerexecutive director Letsapa Mojaphoko with a foreigner as uncalledfor while the dismissal of Olebile Gaborone was an act ofcorruption. On other issues, Bantatetse said BCP was opposed to amerger of opposition parties because it "anticipatesconflicts fuelled by some power-hungry politicians". Hiscolleague Jacob Zachariah said a true politician must have thepeople's interests at heart. Director of elections OthaileMabaila said if voted into power, BCP would educate farmers inmodern farming methods in a bid to turn agriculture into the mainstay of the economy and empower rural communities.
Batswana urged to stop selling land to foreigners(BOPA, 29/01) - Lentsweletau MP Moeng Pheto has urgedBatswana to stop selling land to foreigners for a song.Addressing kgotla meeting in his constituency, last week, he saidhe was hurt and disappointed by people who sell a valuable andscarce commodity such as land for peanuts. He discouragedresidents of Ramankhung, Dikgatlhong and Kgope to put their landsto good use such as stock husbandry, crop production or piggerywhich had a lucrative market. Pheto warned residents of the threevillages that it was a serious crime to sell tribal land toforeigners. Instead, he urged them to revive the agriculturesector which had dropped from 40 per cent to 2.6 percent sinceindependence. He implored the youth to emulate their counterparts in Letlhakeng who have utilised CEDA funds to startprojects. In their comments, residents of Ramankhung complainedabout the difficult procedure of accessing funds. In otherissues, they said they requested the long promised lower primaryschool classes in their village that will save young childrenfrom walking long distances to school in Dikgatlhong which is5.5km away. Residents of Ramankhung also complained about theescalating incidents of stock theft, the difficulty of recoveringcattle that have crossed into the Kgatleng district, as well asthe destruction of crops by Matimela cattle. They called on theKweneng District Council to intensify its matimela collection,noting that currently its performance was not satisfactory.
Zimbabwean immigration a problem for Botswana (Mmegi,24-30/01) - According to the immigration department,125,000 Zimbabweans cross into Botswana per month - mostly atRamokgwebana border-post -- but a great number of them chose noto go back home. There has also been a surge in the number ofillegal immigrants who cross into the country through ungazettedpoints. "We really need support to deal with this becausethe strategies that we have used in the past seems to be notworking. We are now repatriating two truckloads of illegalimmigrants from Zimbabwe every day, and this cost government alot of money," Sekgororwane said. The immigration departmenthas stepped-up its "mopping exercise" which is aimed atrooting out illegal immigrants in the country. But he said thesystem seems not to be working. "We are now thinking of someother approaches which will involve the department, prosecutorsand magistrates to come together and brain-storm over this issue,given the fact that the swift repatriation system we adopted doesnot work. "The courts would not work either and, it ispractically impossible to implement charge them because we mighthave 10,000 of them in one month and the country does not havethe capacity to try so many cases within a short space oftime," he added. "It is not that we are targeting theZimbabweans. The Zimbabwean illegal immigrants is a nagging issuebecause they are high in numbers compared to people from othercountries. The labour movement is expected to take a strongstance regarding the Zimbabwean crisis in the week ahead of thebudget speech due on February 3. Both Botswana Federation ofTrade Union and manual workers union will urge government to takea position regarding the Harare administration which they believeis responsible for the chaotic economic conditions. "It isdisheartening to see people fleeing their country in such greatnumbers. However, we have to stand together as citizens of thiscountry to make sure that we do not get swamped byZimbabweans," national organising secretary of manualworkers union, Johnson Motshwarakgole said. "We understandthe problem of the ordinary Zimbabwean but they have tounderstand that we as Batswana have to be patriotic as well. Asfar as we are concerned SADC) leaders have failed the Zimbabweansby not attacking the Harare administration for its policies whichhave landed the majority of innocent people in thissituation," he added. Ronald Baipidi, spokesperson forBotswana Trade Unions said if the Zimbabwean crisis is leftunchecked it will scuttle attempts by government to try toalleviate poverty in the country. "We have to come out veryclear on this issue because Zimbabwean are flooding the jobmarket at the expense of the citizens of the country. Thesituation is out of order, we have Zimbabwean maids, herd-boysand farm workers and I think the budget should factor this in andaddress the problems faced by the Batswana who can not getemployment because of Zimbabweans," Baipidi added. "Weare going to have an executive committee meeting over the weekendand one of the issues on the agenda will be the Zimbabwean issuewhich negatively impact on Botswana's economy,"Motshwaraakgole said. He added that, "our problem is thatcheap labour from that country contradicts what we have beenfighting for. They are taking jobs form our people and they donot observe the minimum wage which we even strongly feel that itis too low," he said.
Cross border stock theft (BOPA, 22/01) - Crossborder stock theft continues unabated at Tlhareseleele andRakhuna in the Good Hope Sub-District despite the deployment ofthe Botswana Defence Force (BDF) personnel along the boundarywith South Africa. Farmers in the area reported the loss of 700livestock to theft syndicates reigning in the area. This emergedduring a kgotla meeting at Tlhareseleele addressed by KgosiLotlaamoreng II of Barolong and the area's MP Ronald Sebego aswell as commanders of the Botswana Police Service, Botswana LocalPolice and the BDF. The meeting was as a result of a delegationof Tlhareseleele residents who requested Kgosi Lotlaamoreng toaddress the problem of cross border crime, especially stocktheft.Various speakers at the meeting reported that they lost cattle,goats, sheep and donkeys to South African rustlers fromLehurutshe and Dinokana. They reported that even in the instancewhere the recovered their livestock the thieves would follow themto take and kill the animals in order to destroy evidence. Theysaid there was a local syndicate in Tlhareseleele that connivedwith its South African counterpart that buys animals stolen fromBotswana. They said the stolen livestock had a ready market inSouth Africa. On several occasions, they said, their livestockwas recovered from some people in South Africa but to theirsurprise, the suspects were never prosecuted. Tlhareseleeleresidents further told Kgosi Lotlaamoreng that they knew thelocal thieves; and they have reported them to the police but boththe Botswana Local Police and the Botswana Police Service had sofar ignored their complaints. They added that the police havefailed them, hence the rustlers continued to impoverish thelaw-abiding citizens. Some of the residents said they caught thethieves red-handed but still the police did nothing with it.Another complaint was that the police refused to cross theboundary where their livestock was trekked into South Africa,insisting that they enter that country only at the border post.This gave the thieves plenty of time to escape, thereby making itdifficult to recover the livestock. Thieves raid kraals at night,it is difficult for individual farmers to control them. Theresidents have now vowed to protect their livestock from thievesby hitting back, and possibly killing the thieves. Captain TebogoKeafetole, the BDF Commander at Rakhuna promised the residentsthat the army would reduce crime in the area provided theyco-operated.
For his part, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng urged the BDF and the twopolice services to meet and discuss how best to deal with crossborder crime, especially stocktheft at Rakhuna and Tlhareseleele.Kgosi Lotlaamoreng further called on the residents to co-operatewith the security personnel so that the culprits could bearrested. He said they should refrain from harbouring criminals.He added that South Africans alone could not steal livestock fromBotswana without the assistance of local criminals. Sebego saidit was painful to lose livestock through theft after working manyyears to accumulate them. He urged farmers to work together tofight crime. Sebego warned residents that lung disease that brokeout in the North West District in the 1990s and the recentfoot-and-mouth disease found ther way into Botswana through crossborder rustling. The two outbreaks cost Botswana millions of Pulathat could have been spent on development projects.
Some receive old age pensions in Botswana and SouthAfrica (BOPA, 21/01) - The Commissioner of SocialBebefits, Legaenyana Matlhabaphiri, has charged that someBatswana receive old age pension in Botswana and in South Africa.Addressing kgotla meetings at Suping and Khudu-ya-Majako in theLetlhakeng Sub-District last week, Matlhabaphiri said otherpeople benefit from the old age pension illegally. Matlhabaphirisaid cashing old age pension from two countries as well as otherillegal beneficiaries would be punished if caught. He broughtgood news to the residents of Suping and Khudu-ya-Majako: theycan receive their pensions at Letlhakeng, instead a fartherMolepolole beginning February 2003. Prior to thisarrangements, pensioners travelled long distances and wereexposed to attacked by criminals who wanted to grab their money.Pension officers will travel to Letlhakeng every months to makethe disbursements but pensioners have to be present on theprescribed dates. Matlhabaphiri urged pensioners to always informrelevant officers about their movements to avoid unnecessaryaccumulation of allowances.
Botswana gets interest-free Chinese loan (BOPA, 20/01)- Botswana has received an P18 million interest-freeloan from China to finance the construction of a multi-purposeyouth centre in Gaborone. Foreign affairs and internationalco-operation minister Mompati Merafhe signed the loan agreementwith his Chinese counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan. Tang was on a one-dayvisit to Botswana. Merafhe said at the signing ceremony that theloan, to be released next month, would go a long way in assistingthe development of youth and sports in Botswana. He said themoney was an addition to a similar loan of equal amount, whichChina gave out in the past for the centre. "It1s my hopethat China will continue to send experts to Botswana to assist usin our development efforts," he said. Merafhe briefed Tangon the threat that HIV/AIDS poses to the nation of Botswana."We1re looking at friends like yourselves to assist in thefight against this terrible scourge," he pleaded. Heexpressed gratitude at the work China is doing to promoteSouth-to-South co-operation through the China-Africa Forum, whichhe said would strengthen China1s relations with Africa."Botswana appreciates the role that China continues to playindividually and through the United Nations Security Council inthe resolution of conflicts in our continent, particularly inAngola and the Democratic Republic of Congo," he added. Hesaid Botswana was happy with the positive developments in Angola,as the new leadership of UNITA appeared genuinely interested inseeking a normalisation of the political situation to findlasting peace. Merafhe conveyed condolences to the families ofmembers of the Chinese Medical Team who lost their loved ones ina tragic road accident on Dec. 26, 2002. A doctor and a nursedied while five others sustained injuries. For his part, Tangsaid the past 28 years since the establishment of diplomatic tieshave witnessed smooth advancement of the bilateral relations ofBotswana and China, with frequent exchanges of high level visitsand ever-growing friendship between the two countries. Tang saidPresident Festus Mogae1s visit to China in 2000 breathed new lifeinto the development of bilateral relations in the new century.While in the country, Tang met with Mogae, had lunch with Merafheand visited members of the Chinese Medical Team who sustainedinjuries in the accident before returning home.
Disinfection points for illegal immigrants set up(BOPA, 20/01) - Department of Animal Health andProduction has put disinfection points for illegal immigrants whocross into Botswana. This follows the current situation offoot-and-mouth disease, which has hit the north-eastern part ofthe country. Oreeditse Foda, a veterinary field assistant atSiviya in the North East District told BOPA that the dips are forZimbabweans who cross into Botswana illegally. Foda explainedthat the move is not to encourage Zimbabweans to enter Botswanaat ungazetted points but an effort to stop the transmission offoot-and-mouth disease. Savy Toitoi, councillor for Siviya andJackalas No. 2, called for around-the-clock patrol of Botswana1sboundary with Zimbabwe to stop illegal crossing. Toitoi said heis concerned at the rate at which Zimbabweans burn poles for thefence and destroy the fence that is intended to control themovement of cattle across the border and the resultant spread offoot-and-mouth disease, which inflicts poverty on Batswana.
Border villagers wish to return to Botswana (Mmegi,17-23/01) - Hardly a year after the Bakalanga of Nswazwirequested to be repatriated to Botswana from Zimbabwe, anothergroup of Batswana exiles is reportedly keen to come back home.Bangwato ba ga Mphoeng, are reported to be gearing to approachthe Botswana government to be repatriated from Zimbabwe.According to Professor Neil Parsons, Mphoeng's people moved toZimbabwe after a dispute in 1895 between Khama 111 and his twobrothers Raditladi and Mphoeng. The two brothers were somewhatindependent of mind and powerful in the church. Raditladi wasalso a military leader of the Bangwato. At about the same time,there was a conflict between the Bangwato and the British SouthAfrica Company of Cecil Rhodes. The two brothers exploited theconflict in the hope they would ultimately get the land betweenShashe and Motloutse rivers. "However the BSAC promised themland in Rhodesia if they fought on their side against theNdebeles," said Parsons. When in 1896 war broke out betweenthe Ndebeles and the BSA, Raditladi and Mphoeng fought alongsidethe Rhodesians, who in turn gave them land. However the two soonhad a quarrel and Raditladi decided to come back home. That wasin 1910. Mphoeng's people are now a village of several hundredpeople. And they maintain most names of the dikgotla, includingthe structure of their leadership. A visitor to Mphoeng or Patseas the village is commonly known would be surprised to find suchdikgotla as Goo Tswheu Goo Mere and Kweneng. Talk of Maboledi inTonota or Mokgampo in Mmadinare, and you will find the samedikgotla in Patse. You should not be surprised to find suchfamilies as Sepako, Seeletso, Marumo, Tshweu, or even Raditladiin Patse. While these Batswana have lived in comparative peace -even during the Ian Smith regime, they have sometimes found itdifficult to convince immigration officials in Zimbabwe of theirnationality. "The officials would not accept the fact thatwe are Batswana and wrote on our documents such as the identitycard that we are Basotho. Sometimes they wanted us to change ournames failing which you would not get the card. And if you do nothave that card, you belong nowhere and you will not getanything," said one resident who preferred anonymity. Theresult has been that many of the residents remain in a dilemma -if they jump the fence onto the Botswana side to find food theywill find themselves deported. Their village is less than fivekilometres from Matsiloje, which is the only place from wherethey can find small supplies. But even then it is only possibleto cross - either legally or illegally - when the RamokgwebanaRiver is not flowing. Otherwise they would have to travel 95Kilometres to Plumtree and cross at the Plumtree/Ramokgwebanaborder. Only a few can afford the long trip.
For a long time, residents of the two villages of Matsilojeand Patse have called for a border post and a bridge to be builtbetween their villages. However it seems only the Botswana sideis eager, as already it has built up-to-standard offices. TheZimbabwean side uses an old caravan for an office. Asked if it isnot because life is now difficult in Zimbabwe that some Patseresidents want to be repatriated, Morapedi Mothudi, a resident ofthe village, denied the claim. "Many of our relatives are inBotswana, and when there is a death or a wedding in the family itbecomes very difficult to attend. This has caused us unnecessarysuffering and I can understand those who want to go back,"he said. Mothudi however said he will not come to Botswana as hisparents are buried in Patse. " My children and many othersmight want to go back. I will not blame them. They belong inBotswana, but as for me, I will not leave my parentsgraves," he said. Patse residents' concerns are only amirror of the problems of their cousins and brothers on theBotswana side of the border. So much that Mmadinare chiefPhokontsi Seeletso at one point advocated for the voluntaryrepatriation of these people. "At the time Chris Dambe wasHome Affairs Minister we approached him, having realised theplight of our people in Rhodesia. The matter was looked into, andwe even involved Seloma who with myself went to address theseBangwato. Some of them did indeed repatriate to Botswana,"said Seeletso. Seeletso who is eager to see his people come backhome, said he would be prepared to address them again. The caseof the Nswazwi people remain unsolved and families from bothsides of the border anxiously await the repatriation of those onthe Zimbabwean side. Many of these people do not have any form ofidentification. As a result they often find themselves in troublewith the law. When they are caught for illegally enteringBotswana, they are deported to Zimbabwe where it becomesdifficult for them to prove that they are residents of thecountry. A similar scenario prevails among some of the Batswanain Patse. However according to acting chief Immigration OfficerOmphithetse Sekgororoane, the repatriation of these people mighttake some time as all stakeholders need to be consulted.Furthermore, it is important that proper preparations be done forthe settlement of the people, he said. "It might also benecessary that there be certain concessions, in which case thetwo countries should reach an agreement," he added.Zimbabwe's High Commissioner to Botswana could not be reached forcomment.
Botswana students in South Africa advised to renewstudy permits (BOPA, 15/01) - In a bid to beat theregistration deadline, Botswana students studying in South Africaare flocking to the Department of Student Placement and Welfareto renew their study permits. Ideally this should have done threemonths in advance to avoid inconveniences. Assistant directorMosoma Kgotla told BOPA that from their "orientations beforeplacement, students know very well that they are supposed torenew their permits three months in advance at their respectivehigh commissions in South Africa to avoid last minutecommotion". And one panic-stricken Cape Technikon studentsaid: "I started what has now become my daily journeys tothe students placement and welfare a week ago." He was notsure he would make it in time for registration, as he had torenew his study permit. But despite the students outcry Kgotlaargued that the question of emergencies could not arise because"it is stated on the permits exactly when a permit expiresbut students only come forward when their documents have alreadyexpired, which in essence means they are also no longer valid forrenewal". Kgotla said the normal charge to renew a permitwas P750 but if one waits until it has expired the student has toapply and pay P900 for a new one. "If you take a permitwhich has been expired for six weeks or more to the South AfricanHigh Commission for renewal, you will be charged a penalty of R1000. "As per regulations and laws of South Africa, one couldbe detained and deported unless the amount is paid in full,"he warned. Kgotla, however, only empathised with those that havebeen in bridging or foundation programmes as their permits wereonly valid for a year. He said such students could only apply fornew ones after they have produced their results and admissionletters from an institution where they were going to study, whichthey get early January when their permits expire in December. Hesaid they have to go through the process under pressure but werehelped accordingly. Some students from Mmabatho University toldBOPA that they had been turned back at the Ramatlabama bordergate on the grounds that their study permits had expired eventhough they were going on other business and not study. ButKgotla dismissed the allegations that some students were notallowed to cross into South Africa as visitors, saying it wasjust a story created by students. They were granted the usual90-day visas just like other citizens of SADC countries uponstating that they were visiting or travelling on business, hesaid. He added that if they state that they were going to school,they would be barred as their study permits would be invalid."When one reaches tertiary level they are at a stage wherethey have to be responsible for their actions, that's why wetrusted students enough to let them sign our memorandum ofagreement. "It is your responsibility as the owner of thepermit and passport to make constant reviews of theirvalidity," Kgotla advised.
Zimbabwe crisis is economic windfall for Botswana(BOPA, 06/01) - The Zimbabwe fuel crisis turned into awindfall for the fuel dealers in the North East District whenZimbabwean motorists crossed into Botswana to buy largequantities of petrol and diesel during the festive season. TheRamokgwebana Border post handled long queues of motorists whocame not only to fill their vehicles but buy extra fuel incontainers of 20 litres to take back home. The busiest fuelretailer was the Blue Bells Service Station a few metres from theborder post. Blue Bells Service Station manager Gloria Ntoni toldBOPA that she was happy with the way her business was benefitingfrom the Zimbabwe crisis. She said Zimbabwean motorists had beenbuying selling thousands of litres of petrol and diesel dailysince the middle of December. One Zimbabwean businessman, GirryMarriott, said he had no choice but to buy 1 000 litres becausethere was no fuel in his country. He said Zimbabwean customofficials charge them Zim$600 per 20 litres of petrol. Ntoni saidthey order about 46 000 litres of petrol and 23 000 litres ofdiesel from the Engen depot daily. The retail price for petroland diesel is P2. 33 and P2. 15 per litre respectively. Accordingto Ntoni, her service station handles up to 500 motorists dailyand the influx of Zimbabwean motorists sometimes forced them towork longer hours. Another fuel retail dealer, Ndoni Mahube whosells petrol from Caltex tanks at her shop premises inRamokgwebana said she was unable to meet the demand of motorists.Her supply is only 9 000 litres and sometimes they run out ofsupply in the middle of a high demand. She said most of thecustomers buy in large containers "and the business is verygood but the only problem is the demand is too high".Motorists using unleaded petrol had to travel to Tshesebe asthose near the border do not sell this type. Some Batswanaarriving from holidays in Zimbabwe said they were not allowed tobuy large quantity of petrol in Zimbabwe because of the shortage.They also mentioned shortage of public transport, which hadresulted in bus operators increasing their fares. One Zimbabwean,who stays in South Africa and was visiting relatives in Zimbabwe,Lucy Ndlovu described the situation in Zimbabwe as bad because ofshortage of basic commodities like food and fuel. A seniorcustoms officer at Ramokgwebana Phillip Maswe said the festiveseason was a very busy period for them because vehicular trafficincreased as motorists crossed into Botswana to buy fuel. He saidthis worsened an already congested situation because the borderwas handling many travellers from either side of the border goingto for holidays.
Renewed fighting sends thousands fleeing to Burundi(New York, Irin, 07/01) - A resurgence of fighting inthe Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) South Kivu regionhas sent a new wave of more than 8,500 Congolese refugees intoneighbouring Burundi over the past 12 days, the United NationsHigh Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today. The newfighting originally erupted 26 December in rural areas of SouthKivu, spokesman Kris Janowski said in Geneva. By New Year's Eve,it had engulfed the strategic town of Uvira on the shores of LakeTanganyika, sending thousands of refugees across the border.Burundi already shelters more than 12,000 Congolese refugees froman earlier outbreak of hostilities last October. The latest roundof fighting for Uvira once again pits the Maļ-Maļ militiaagainst the rebel group, RCD-Goma. "There are growingconcerns that authorities of the rebel RCD-Goma - who controlmuch of the Kivu region and various border crossings in SouthKivu - are preventing people from leaving the volatilearea," Mr. Janowski said. "New arrivals in Burundi sayonly those with travel documents are being allowed by the rebelsto leave South Kivu." The majority of those fleeing toBurundi, however, do not have any papers and are forced to crossthe Rusizi River border before dawn when the checkpoints areunmanned. Many say they get to the border by 4 a.m. to cross theRusizi River separating eastern DRC from Burundi. The waters ofthe Rusizi are, however, steadily rising due to the rainy season,raising concerns for the safety of those trying to cross.According to the UN refugee agency, since 26 December, 7,386refugees have registered at a transit site in Rugombo in CibitokeProvince, and 1,200 at another site in Gatumba, Bujumbura Rural.
Fighting rages around eastern Congo town (Bujumbura,Reuters, 05/01) - Several people were killed on Sundaywhen militia allied to the Congolese government staged a freshattack on rebels holding the eastern town of Uvira, spokesmen forboth sides in the conflict said. Fighting has flared around Uviraand parts of northeastern Congo in the past week, dampening hopesthat a peace deal signed in December will stop violence that hassince forced thousands of people to flee their homes. A spokesmanfor the Mai Mai militia loosely allied to the Democratic Republicof Congo government said they had killed four rebel soldiers inan attack on Uvira on Sunday. "Within two or three daysUvira will be under Mai Mai control," the spokesman, ManaceBita, told Reuters. The Mai Mai -- tribal warriors who use"magic" amulets in the hope of warding off bullets --say they want to seize the swathes of eastern Congo occupied bythe country's biggest rebel group, the Congolese Rally forDemocracy (RCD). Rebels and Mai Mai have clashed repeatedly inthe past week, forcing hundreds of people to flee intoneighbouring Burundi. The RCD rebels, who are backed byneighbouring Rwanda, said they had killed about 10 Mai Maicombatants during the fighting. The RCD accuses CongolesePresident Joseph Kabila of breaking the December deal by backingthe Mai Mai and Rwandan and Burundian rebels who they say alsojoined the attack. "The peace deal is now in a state oflimbo because Kabila has violated the ceasefire," RCDSecretary General Azarias Ruberwa told Reuters in the easternCongolese city of Goma, which serves as the rebels' headquarters.The RCD, which is backed by neighbouring Rwanda, recaptured Uvirain late December after three days of fighting with the Mai Mai.The town has changed hands repeatedly in recent months. Congo'swarring parties signed a deal in mid-December to share power andreunify the country that has been sliced apart since war brokeout in August 1998, sucking in six foreign armies. Many foreignsoldiers have pulled out, but local militia violence has surgedin the vacuum. Aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) said onSaturday that about 155,000 people had been uprooted by clashesbetween rebel factions in northeastern Congo in the past fewmonths.
Congolese flee into West Nile (Kampala, The Monitor,05/01) - Congolese rebels fleeing into the West Nileregion may cause insecurity, local officials have said. TheCongolese comprise mostly the Lendu ethnic group, Arua ResidentDistrict Commissioner Okoth-Nyalulu said on phone Friday."Because of what is happening in Congo, people tend to movein and out of [West Nile] with arms. There are factions in Congo.They are armed. The defeated factions are running here,"Nyalulu said. The RDC, however, added that Arua is now relativelycalm after the "deployment" by the UPDF. This, he said,has made Nebbi the current crossing and settlement point for theCongolese. But he would not give estimates of the number ofCongolese getting into the country through West Nile. Contactedfor comment, UPDF spokesman Maj. Shaban Bantariza said Fridaythat no fresh troops have been sent to West Nile. However, hesaid that the army has enough troops in West Nile. "It isnot true that we have sent more troops into West Nile," hesaid. "There is a full force in that region. In fact, it isa full brigade." A brigade is estimated at about 3,000troops. The reports of fleeing Congolese first came up two weeksago when members of Parliament toured the West Nile region priorto the signing of the peace agreement between government and theUganda National Rescue Front rebels led by Ali Bamuze. Yesterday,various news agencies quoted aid groups saying that in the pastfour days, heavy artillery fire has forced 35,000 people from thetown of Makeke toward Beni in eastern Congo. The Congolese Rallyfor Democracy-Liberation Movement is reportedly fighting with theCongolese Liberation Movement and its ally Congolese Rally forDemocracy-National, for the control of resource-rich areas ofIturi and North Kivu provinces.
Thousands flee as fighting erupts in DRC (Beni,Dispatch Online, 03/01) - Tens of thousands of peoplehave been displaced as fighting has flared in northeastDemocratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) Ituri region, despite atruce signed there early this week. Displaced civilians havetaken refuge in camps set up by local churches or have been takenin by local residents, sources said. Humanitarian organisationsare distributing food and medical supplies to the refugees.Several thousand civilians moved on Wednesday after fightingbroke out again, seriously compromising the truce signed betweenthree rebel groups which have been fighting in Ituri for the pastmonth. On Monday, several armed groups, Jean-Pierre Bemba's CongoLiberation Movement (MLC), its ally, the Congolese Rally forDemocracy-National (RCD-N), and the RCD-Liberation Movement(RCD-ML), allied to the government in Kinshasa, signed a pactunder which they agreed to redeploy their forces and to have UNobservers move into a neutral zone between the two front lines.Under the deal, MLC and RCD-N forces were to have pulled back toKomanda and Mambasa, towns 130 kilometres north and south of Benirespectively, by next Tuesday. By Wednesday, they were meant tohave left these towns and to have moved even further away. RCD-MLaccused Bemba yesterday of again violating the ceasefire byattacking its positions northwest of Beni on Tuesday and onWednesday night. Speaking from the front line, RCD-ML chief ofstaff David Lusenge said the most recent attack took place about50 kilometres northwest of Beni, well within the agreed exclusionzone. For his part, Bemba blamed the RCD-ML for starting thefighting, saying the group attacked RCD-N positions on Wednesday."All I can ask is that UN observers deploy on the front lineas soon as possible," Bemba told AFP. He stressed that RCD-Nforces, rather than those of his own MLC, were involved in theclashes. One weakness of the recent truce, which was signed inGbadolite, is that it was not signed by Mai Mai militia groups,some of which are allied to the RCD-ML. On Tuesday, one Mai Maigroup attacked a travelling group of UN observers near Beni,further jeopardising chances of a larger-scale deployment of UNpersonnel. The latest unrest comes hard on the heels of theDecember signing in South Africa by major parties to the DRC warof a peace and power-sharing accord.
More people in northeast displaced from homes (NewYork, Irin, 03/01) - More than 70,000 people haverecently lost their homes in the northeastern part of theDemocratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), swelling the ranks of the33,000 who were previously forced from their residences, theUnited Nations said today. An assessment mission by UN agenciesand non-governmental organizations recently toured the provinceof North Kivu, though not all population centres could beaccessed because of lack of security, the UN said. Many of thedisplaced are heading for Beni and the southern parts of NorthKivu. The results of an assessment mission to those locales areexpected soon. As of mid-2002, a total of 2.27 million persons inthe DRC have been displaced, while there were 346,000 refugeesfrom Angola, Sudan, Rwanda, Central African Republic, Burundi,Republic of Congo and other places, according to UN sources. Thetotal general population affected by conflict and insecurity inthe country was 20 million out of an entire population of 56million.
Crime, poverty and cross-border stock theft (Mopheme,27/01-03/02) - The three are inextricably linked to eachother. The impoverished Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho is in direstraits. It is faced with unprecedented crime rate, especiallystock theft that has left many rural families destitute andclaims the lives of innocent people. The survival of the nationis also threatened by the HIV/AIDS pandemic which stands at astaggering 31 percent , the fourth highest in the whole world. Asthe government intensifies its fight against HIV/AIDS, itsefforts are thwarted and negated by the rampant stock theft whichaggravates the already weak economies of rural families whodepend largely on livestock for cultivation of fields thatproduce food. Absence of livestock means absence of food becausefields will lie barren and produce nothing. Scarcity of foodcauses hunger and starvation which, in turn, make people,especially youngsters vulnerable to dangerous opportunisticdiseases such as tuberculosis and others directly related toHIV/AIDS. The point is further emphasized by the two UnitedNations Special Envoys on humanitarian needs to Southern Africa,James T. Morris and Stephen Lewis, the United Nations SpecialEnvoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa when they say, ' the deathlycombination of widespread food shortages Ā ..spell untoldsuffering for hundreds of thousands of men, women and children inLesotho for the foreseeable future.' In recent times, we haveseen an unprecedented influx of able-bodied men and women to themajor towns like Maseru seeking jobs because livestock that theyused to rely upon to plough their fields and produce food havebeen forcibly taken away by cattle rustlers. Once in major towns,these destitute people engage in unprotected sex just to be ableto put bread on the table at the end of the day. The mostvulnerable in this case are young women who become victims ofunprotected sex and rape. Then the road to the unknown world ofsexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS starts. Retrenchmentof mineworkers from the South African mines and the high rate ofunemployment in Lesotho also exacerbate the problem of cattlerustling, high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other forms of crime.According to UN Special HIV/AIDS Envoy, Lewis, ' the link betweenthe pandemic and food insecurity has become shockingly stark'more and more families are too weak to grow enough food, whilecountless children orphaned by AIDS are being left to fend forthemselves.' This goes to show that had there been cattleavailable, children of people living with HIV/AIDS or thoseorphaned by it would still be able to at least plough the fieldsand produce some food.
The problem of cattle rustling do not onlywreak havoc within the borders of Lesotho. But, it has nowextended its wings into the neighbouring Republic of SouthAfrica. Many a times Basotho cattle rustlers cross into theneighbouring South African farms and steal cattle and otherlivestock and take them into Lesotho. This is common in themountainous district of Mokhotlong where recently there was aclash between Basotho and Zulus in the neigbouring province ofKwazulu-Natal after some gangs of Basotho cattle rustlers stolelivestock from the other side of the South African border andbrought them into Lesotho. A week ago furious Zulu cattle ownersfrom the villages around the town of Underberg in Kwazulu-Natal,South Africa crossed the border into the Mokhotlong districtfollowing the trail of their livestock stolen by Basotho. Thisculminated in a clash between the two ethnic groups that resultedin the burning down of several cattle posts on the Lesotho sideof the border by the Zulus, thus straining good relations betweenthe two groups. As the commander of the Lesotho Defence Force(LDF), Lt.-General Makhula Mosakeng puts it: ' stealing oflivestock from South Africa will in the end affect the goodrelations between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa.Cross border cattle rustling will lead to the demise of thiscountry and our pride as the Basotho nation because in the longrun the South Africans will enter our country on the pretext thatthey want to protect their interests and recover livestock stolenby us, Basotho, from their farms' Lt.Gen. Mosakeng was speakingin Mokhotlong last week following the impounding of about 700cattle, horses, sheep and goats by the Mokhotlong Policefollowing clashes between Basotho and Zulus over livestock stolenin South Africa. He pointed out that, instead of stealinglivestock in South Africa , Basotho should look at alternativeways and means of starting income-generating projects to ensuresustained livelihood of their families. The Deputy Commissionerof Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), Borotho Matsosostrongly condemned cross-border stock theft and appealed topeople living along the Lesotho-South Africa border to cooperatewith the police and members of the LDF in tracking down cattlerustlers and reporting suspicious people or animals to thepolice. According to the Officer Commanding Mokhotlong PoliceStation, Senior Inspector Thabiso Thibeli, the impounding oflivestock by LMPS and LDF from cattle posts in the Mangaung,Bafali, Bafatsana, Nkotoane, Ha Lebopo and other areas last weekfollowed complaints from the Zulus in South Africa that Basothohad stolen their livestock. 'As result they entered Lesotho toreclaim their livestock. In the course of that they stole about400 livestock belonging to Basotho and this resulted in clashesbetween the two groups and we had to intervene. We took alllivestock in the said cattle posts to the Mokhotlong town andsummoned their owners together with their chiefs to come andidentify their livestock and produce proper registration papersfor their animals,' he added.
One old man, Shobololo Lepheana of HaNkotoane pointed out that Basotho cattle rustlers were to blamefor the clashes between Basotho and Zulus over livestock. 'It istrue that some of us Basotho cross into Kwazulu-Natal and steallivestock. So the Zulus also cross into Lesotho to reclaim theiranimals and this leads to clashes between the groups. This can beavoided if we stop stealing their animals. The main culprits areyoung herdboys who look after livestock at our cattle posts. Weappeal to government to strengthen laws regarding stock theft.Stock thieves should be divested of all their human rights asthis practice aggravates the already worse economic situation ofmany families in the country,' he said. As owners of impoundedcattle, sheep and goats came forward to produce papers and claimthem, the stolen ones became very obvious. Even the features ofstolen livestock from South Africa stood out prominently,especially the cattle. They had big horns and were very tall 'the distinctive features of the so-called Nguni cattle usuallyfound in Kwazulu-Natal and not in Lesotho. Nobody claimed themand they would remain at the Mokhotlong police station kraals fora long time to come until they are claimed by their right ownersfrom Kwazulu-Natal. In the meantime, the poor animals face thedanger of dying due to hunger, as one Mokhotlong policeman putit, ' We cannot afford to feed so many animals hence it isimportant for their owners from Kwazulu-Natal to come andidentify them in time.' N.B. Some parts of the story are author'sown opinion.
Rising tide of Lesotho jobseekers may find work in SA(Mail & Guardian, 27/01) - Thousands of Lesothohouseholds have been left without a regular income after thecompletion of the Mohale Dam and with it the first phase of theLesotho Highlands Water Project. This is now placing pressure notonly on the local labour market in Lesotho, but also onsurrounding labour markets in South Africa, says George van derMerwe, representative for the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority(TCTA), which runs the South African part of the project.Commencement of the project's second phase, which should provideemployment opportunities for these workers again, has beenpostponed indefinitely due to a lower than estimated water demandfrom South Africa. The second phase is not expected to start forat least another 10 years, Van der Merwe says. With thecompletion of the Mohale Dam last year, around 8 000 workers losttheir jobs in the subsequent downsizing. These included some ofthe thousands who earlier lost their jobs after completion of theKatse Dam and its supporting infrastructure during phase 1a, butwho were absorbed again in the project's labour force for theconstruction of phase 1b. The mountain kingdom's unemploymentpredicament is being intensified by the ongoing downsizing of themining labour force in South Africa. For decades migrant workersfrom Lesotho have been making a living on South African mines,providing for their families at home. "Every day you hear ofmore and more Lesotho workers who were retrenched on the minesand who had to return home," says South African engineerLeon Tromp, who works as an alternate delegate with the LesothoHighlands Development Authority (LHDA) in Maseru. Sinceconstruction of the Highlands Water Project's first phase startedin the early 90s, the LHDA, which manages the Lesotho part of theproject, became the largest job supplier in the country.Thousands of Basotho were employed and trained during thebuilding of the Katse and Mohale dams, kilometres of undergroundtunnels for the transport of the dammed water to South Africa anda large amount of supporting infrastructure, including roads.Only the number of direct jobs for Basotho created during phaseone were more than 14 000. The Basotho labour cost amounted toR656-million.
Basotho consultants earned R185-million. The local economy wasboosted by an estimated R2,1-billion. Now it is hoped that theretrenched workers who do not find new jobs in Lesotho, willspread to the rest of the Southern African Development Community(SADC) region, using their new skills to find work. However, thereality is that a number of families right across Lesotho arecurrently in jeopardy, Van der Merwe says. Some of them may againbe able to secure a livelihood through the new Lesotho LowlandsProject, a joint socio-economic development initiative by theLesotho and South African governments. The key aim of thisproject is to supply water to Maseru, the surrounding areas inthe Lesotho Lowlands and the eastern Free State towns along theborder with South Africa. According to Tromp the firstconstruction work of the project -- an extensive water supplynetwork including dams and pipelines -- should start at theearliest in 2006. Preliminary studies are now being done. Theconstruction of an interim dam, the Metolong Dam outside Maseru,may already begin as early as 2005. It is hoped that this projectwill solve Maseru's water shortage problem, providing enoughwater for industries such as the city's denim mill. Lesotho,which has a preferential contract to export denim clothes to theUnited States, is currently the third largest producer of denimclothes in the world. Parallel to the Lowlands Project, the LHDAis also still committed to job creation in Lesotho, throughalternative projects such as an ongoing skills developmentprogram. One example is the training of women in dress-making andknitting. These women make, among others, school uniforms -- animportant issue in Lesotho with its British schooling tradition.The construction of roads to isolated villages in the Highlandsis also continuing. These roads service households that wereresettled by the LHDA to make way for the Katse and Mohaledams.The construction is labour intensive and communities arebeing trained to build and maintain high quality gravel roads byhand. The LHDA is also introducing high-valued alternative crops,such as seed potatoes, giant garlic and paprika, among theresettled subsistence farmers, aiming to boost their agriculturalincome.
Basotho workers to return to South Africa (SABC News,03/01) - Thousands of Basotho workers employed in SouthAfrican mines and industries began the "Great Trek" totheir various places of employment today. Rassie Erasmus, thechief immigration officer on the South African side of the Maseruborder post, said a total of 16 temporary assistants had beenemployed to help ease the heavy traffic congestion at the Maseruborder post during the festive season. Erasmus said the heavytraffic movement across the border during the festive season wasdemonstrated by the fact that during the month of December atotal of 344 353 travellers crossed the border in eitherdirection. In a bid to facilitate the smooth travel of Basothoacross the border, South African immigration officials issuedspecial six-month concessionaire travel permits to enable thecommuters to avoid long queues at the border. Some 97 000 Basothowere issued with these permits for the year. The biggest problemfor those crossing the Lesotho-South African border was thattravelers were expected to walk part of the way from either side,before re-boarding public transport onward. Officials said thisarrangement was particularly burdensome for people traveling withsmall children or carrying heavy luggage.
Labour agreement with South Africa (Maputo, Agencia deInformacao de Mocambique, 17/01) - The Mozambican andSouth African labour ministers, respectively Mario Sevene andMebatsisi Mdadlana, signed a memorandum of cooperation in Maputoon Friday covering such areas as migrant labour, job creation,professional training and social security. The agreement alsolays the institutional framework for shared studies and researchinto labour matters, and employment statistics. After the signingceremony, Sevene declared "with this agreement theconditions have been established for better performance by ourinstitutions, particularly the two labour ministries, in solvingthe problems that affect Mozambican workers in South Africa,particularly those in the mining industry and in the agriculturalsector". Sevene said this does not replace any of theprevious labour agreements between the two countries - such asthe 1964 agreement on the recruitment of mine labour, and theagreement between Rand Mutual Insurance (RMI) of South Africa,and the Mozambican National Social Security Institute (INSS) onthe payment of pensions. He described the new agreement as"a working instrument" which would contributeeffectively to solving workers' problems, taking into account thesocio-economic conjuncture in the two countries. He said itreflects the concern of both governments to protect the rights ofMozambican workers, particularly in the fields of training andsocial security, and responds to the desire of South Africancompanies to recruit more Mozambicans. According to officialstatistics, there are currently over 75,000 Mozambicans workinglegally in South Africa. The great majority - around 60,000 - areworking on the mines. But the key issue is that of Mozambicansworking illegally on South African farms. Mozambicans workingillegally in South Africa vastly outnumber those whose employmentis legal. Although Sevene did not specifically mention the issue,a spokesman for the South African labour department, SnukiZikalala, had told reporters earlier that the point of thememorandum was to try to find a solution to the employment ofillegal immigrants, as well as to the abuse and repatriation ofMozambicans. Zikalala said the ministers would also discussallegations that South African employers force Mozambicans toundergo compulsory HIV/AIDS testing as a prerequisite forobtaining employment. "After a month they (the ministers)will then visit some farms, especially in the Nelspruit area, tocheck compliance with labour laws,' said Zikalala. The head ofthe Refugee Research Programme at Witwatersrand University inJohannesburg, Herman de Valle, has estimated that there are about220 000 Mozambicans working (legally and illegally) in Mpumalangaand Limpopo provinces. A statement issued by Mdadlana's officeadded "The Ministers will also explore the treatment of therepatriation of Mozambicans who are in South Africa illegally,with a view to ensuring that this process is done humanely".
Management plan for Limpopo National Park (Maputo,Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 03/01) - Concretemeasures to implement the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park willonly be visible as from the second half of 2002, according toofficials in the Mozambican Ministry of Tourism. Thetransfrontier park covers South Africa's Kruger National Park,the Gonarhezou park in Zimbabwe, and the Limpopo National Park inMozambique. The treaty establishing what will become the largestwildlife reserve in Africa was signed by the presidents of thethree countries on 9 December. According to the administrator forthe Mozambican side of the park, Gilberto Vicente, the Ministryof Tourism is now drawing up a plan for the management of whatwere once "hunting areas 16 and 17" in Gaza province,which are now the core of the Limpopo National Park. "Thedraft is now complete", he said, "and is being revisedby the other bodies involved in setting up the transfrontierpark". Several sub-committees have been set up, Vicenteadded, dealing with, among other matters, finance, wildlifemanagement, and staff training. 40 game wardens are nowundergoing training. The Mozambican side lacks the developedtourist infrastructures that can be found in the South Africanand Zimbabwean components of the park. Vicente said that effortsmust be redoubled to ensure that a basic minimum ofinfrastructure will be in place by the end of 2003. Themanagement plan has among its objective the creation of a pilotwildlife monitoring area. The government has imported over athousand animals of various species from South Africa, in anattempt to restore the Gaza wildlife, after the devastation thearea suffered during the war of destabilisation. Vicente saidthat, after the plan is approved by the government, it shouldattract both Mozambican and foreign companies to invest in theLimpopo National Park.
Police arrest murderers of South Africa (Maputo,Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 01/01) - TheMozambican police have arrested three men accused of murdering aSouth African citizen on 17 December. According to Joao Machava,the spokesman for the Maputo provincial police command, thethree, Carlos Manhica, Mauricio Mahumana, and Sebastiao Honwana,attacked the home of Petrus Johannes Loock, who worked at theMaragra sugar plantation some 70 kilometres north of Maputo city.They tied Loock up, and then gagged him with sticky tape. But theassailants wound the tape so tightly round his head that he diedof asphyxiation. They stole Loock's car, a Toyota Hilux, and tookit to Maputo, where they intended to sell it for 35,000 rands(about 3,500 US dollars). They left the Makarov pistol used inthe crime at the house of Rosa Mahumana, the aunt of MauricioMahumana. The gang then drove to Namaacha, on the border withSwaziland: but the police had been alerted to the crime andintercepted them. Rosa Mahumana was picked up later. Machava saidshe initially denied all involvement, but eventually confessed tostoring the gun used by her nephew. Machava said the police hasalso neutralised a gang of eight highwaymen who had beenambushing vehicles on the Maputo-South Africa road, near theRessano Garcia border post. This group had been attackingmotorists since August.
Plan to merge Immigration with Police draws fire (TheNamibian, 30/01) - A plan by the Ministry of HomeAffairs to merge its immigration division into the Police hasdrawn fire from the Namibia Public Workers Union. The plan isreported to have been revived a year after an inter-governmentaltechnical committee rejected it because of legal implications.Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) Deputy Secretary GeneralGabriel Andumba vowed to fight the move "tooth andnail". "Should they do that it would be regarded as anillegal action," he told The Namibian. "This is inviolation of the recognition agreement signed with Government.Changing the employees' condition of service will be deemed as aviolation of the recognition agreement," said Andumba . Theinter-governmental committee, consisting of Government legaladvisors and top officials, expressed fears that armingimmigration officials with rifles and dressing them in camouflageuniforms would portray Namibia as a militarised state to foreignvisitors. The committee warned Home Affairs Minister JerryEkandjo that the merger could be "successfully"challenged in a court of law. "It is necessary that thematter is discussed with the trade unions," the committeerecommended. The proposed merger must be approved by PrimeMinister Theo-Ben Gurirab as the Public Service Commission (PSC)will have to abolish the immigration division and transferofficers to the Namibian Police. Home Affairs spokesperson MikaAsino told The Namibian yesterday that the proposed new structurefor the immigration division had been submitted to the PSC. Hesaid the new structure was intended to improve conditions ofemployment and service for immigration officers. "One willhave to wait to hear their (PSC) response," he said. Themerger was reportedly prompted by the Ministry's unwillingness topay overtime to immigration officers. "The reasons for thisproposal are the deteriorating discipline, threats of strikeswhen overtime is not paid on time, as well as to enable theMinistry to arm them so that they can protect themselves in theevent they are attacked by illegal immigrants," the Ministrysays in an official document in possession of The Namibian. Theinter-government committee noted that "if the major problemis overtime and strikes", the Ministry can apply to theMinister of Labour for an exemption in terms of the Labour Act."Further, it is doubtful whether the proposal will solve thequestion of discipline. A possible solution is to apply to theMinistry of Labour to declare immigration as an essentialservice, so that they will have no right to strike," itadded. Ekandjo said he could not comment on the controversy as hewas still on holiday. His deputy, Loide Kasingo, said she couldnot deny nor confirm the latest developments.
Ministry to clamp down on foreign students (TheNamibian, 30/01) - The Ministry of Home Affairs hasintroduced stringent measures to curb what it says are abuses ofthe study permit system by foreign nationals. Deputy Director ofImmigration Nkrumah Mushelenga told first-year foreign studentsat the University of Namibia (Unam) yesterday that students foundabusing their study permits will be deported to their countriesof origin and have their permits terminated. "Some of thesestudents apply for study permits under the pretext of studyingand when they come here they engage in other businesses,"said Mushelenga. "We have had cases of students attendingclasses three times a year and when they have applied for degreecourses. When they are arrested at a nightclub or found at aroadblock they produce these study permits," he added."We have an outcry from Namibians that we are denying themplaces in universities and schools while allowing foreignstudents to take their places. Our explanation has always beenthat we admit foreign students on solidarity grounds because weare all Africans but this will put us in a difficult positionwhen we have international students abusing theirprivileges," said Mushelenga. He said the Ministry would notaccept any study applications from individual applicants and allpermits would now be received from the institutions of higherlearning and principals of secondary schools where they had beenaccepted. "The Ministry will however receive study permitapplications coming from our diplomatic missions abroad,"added Mushelenga. To curb abuse of study permits, the Ministrywill evaluate the progress and class attendance of the studentsbefore deciding on the renewal of their study permits.
Asian workers detained (The Namibian, 22/01) - Iiimigrationofficials yesterday detained 58 Asian nationals at the Malaysiantextile factory, Ramatex, outside Windhoek after receiving atip-off that they were working in Namibia without permits. At thesame time sources told The Namibian that Ramatex employs morethan 600 Asians, mostly from Malaysia and the Philippines, at itsWindhoek factory. They indicated that the factory plans to fly in60 more foreigners before the end of the week. Approached forcomment, Ramatex Senior Manager Chua Yeesingo promised to getback to The Namibian before the end of the day but never did.Those detained yesterday arrived in the country from Malaysiabetween January 14 and 18, a source said. The Namibian was toldthat the Asian nationals were only released after Trade andIndustry Permanent Secretary Andrew Ndishishi intervened andpleaded with his Home Affairs counterpart, Niilo Taapopi.According to Ndishishi, the Asians had been issued with temporaryNamibian work permits by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.Ndishishi told The Namibian that the group of Asians wererecruited as trainers. "We have an agreement with them totrain Namibians and it is not possible that they [Ramatex] wouldbring in people illegally here. They are a big company operatingworldwide," Ndishishi said. "The agreement is thatthese people are here to transfer skills," he said.Ndishishi said that at present Ramatex employs 5 800 Namibians.He said Ramatex needed well-trained Namibians in order to producequality garments of a high standard for export. "We needquality controllers to master production. Because of the trainingour people have received from [Asian trainers] we were able tosurpass everybody in Africa," Ndishishi said, justifying thelarge Asian presence. Nkrumah Mushelenga, a Deputy Directorresponsible for immigration, yesterday confirmed that hisofficers had detained the Asians at Ramatex but declined toprovide details. A source told The Namibian that the Asians werebeing brought into the country to train Namibians but allegedthat they were in fact not doing so. He said they were insteaddoing jobs which were supposed to be done by Namibians.
Official denies border post claims (The Namibian,16/01) - The official in charge of immigration servicesin the Karas Region has dismissed allegations that Namibia'sNoordoewer border post was unmanned at times over the festiveseason. John Sheehama was responding to allegations by a SouthAfrican couple who were arrested at a roadblock near Keetmanshoopon their way back home after officials realised that theirpassports had not been stamped at their point of entry. Accordingto a report on the South African News 24 website, immigrationofficials at Keetmanshoop arrested Jacques and Riana Wessels fromDurbanville at a roadblock and locked them up for five hours forentering the country illegally. They were released on N$4 000bail. The report said when the couple appeared in court on Mondaythey were fined N$3 000 and told to leave the country within 48hours. The couple, who were returning from a week-long holiday inNamibia, were also told to pay a N$90 "road tax"imposed on foreign visitors entering the country. The report saidthe couple did not realise that their passports had to be stampedby the Namibian authorities when entering the country after theSouth African authorities at Noordoewer had stamped theirpassports. They said they were not stopped by anyone on theNamibian side of the border. The report said Riana Wessels usedthe toilets at the Noordoewer border post and that her husbandvideotaped the area before they drove on. They said there wasnobody in sight. The couple continued with their holiday withoutsuspecting they had transgressed Namibian law. They were asked toshow their drivers' licences at several places by officials butnot their passports. Sheehama told Nampa yesterday that there wasno way that the border post was not staffed as it operated on a24-hour basis. According to him, the couple never told the courtthat the Namibian border post was unmanned when they entered thecountry.
Angolan detainees sent home (Johannesburg, Irin,09/01) - The Namibian Society for Human Rights (NSHR) onThursday condemned the 'secret' deportation of 74 politicalprisoners to Angola, saying it deprived the detainees of theirright to be reunited with their families in Namibia. The Dordabis74 were arrested in June and July 2000 following allegations thatthey were members of Angola's former rebel group UNITA. Thegovernment accused the group of involvement in a spate of attackson civilians in northeastern Namibia. Since then, human rightsactivists in Namibia have called for their unconditional release,arguing that the constitution provided that persons arrested anddetained should be brought before a court of law within 48 hoursof their arrest. In a surprise move the government handed over 74detainees held at Dordabis to the Angolan authorities on 21December after the Namibian and Angolan authorities reached anagreement on their fate. "The superindent of Kalai on theAngolan side of the border received his fellow Angolans andassured us they would be taken to their various areas of origininside Angola," Commissioner for Refugees Elizabeth Negumbotold IRIN. But the NSHR said although most of the detainees wereAngolan by birth, many had taken up residence in Namibia for manyyears and therefore had a right to remain in the country."The government has yet again violated the rights of thedetainees. Many of them have not been in Angola for years and noware expected to return. To what exactly? They are Namibians andshould have the right to choose where they want to reside,"the executive director of the NSHR, Phil ya Nangoloh, told IRIN.Of the 82 originally arrested, two were released soon afterdetention as they had possessed valid national documents ofAngola. Of the remaining 80, two died in custody and a furthertwo were found to be Namibian nationals. The NSHR alleged thattwo men continued to be detained at Dordabis. Negumbo said themen were being held in custody "until the their exactnationalities are determined in consultation with the Angolangovernment". The government has dismissed allegations thatthe deportation was done 'secretly', saying that the operationwas transparent as it was witnessed by officials from theInternational Committee of the Red Cross and the Angolan andNamibian governments. In November 2002 a tripartite agreementbetween the government's of Angola and Namibia and the office ofthe UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) paved the way forthe return of some 20,000 Angolan refugees living in Namibia. Butthe agreement made no provision for the release and repatriationof the group held in Dordabis. Ministry of Home Affairs spokesmanMika Asino said the decision to send the detainees back home wasin light of the reconciliation process underway in Angola betweenthe government and UNITA.
Alleged illegal immigrant deported after year in jail(Oshakati, The Namibian, 08/01) - Oshakati resident,Liza Amalia Kandoya (26), who was arrested on November 19 2001 onsuspicion that she was an illegal immigrant has been deported toAngola. Kandoya, who was held at the Oshakati Police cells formore than a year without trial, was found guilty on fourimmigration charges by Magistrate Harris Salionga in the Outapicourt on December 30. She was sentenced to 21 months'imprisonment, suspended for five years. Kandoya was alleged tohave provided false information to immigration officers in orderto obtain Namibian citizenship. It was alleged that Kandoyamisled an Oshakati Immigration Officer, Anna Shapaka, when shesaid her biological parents had passed away and that she stayedwith her grandmother in Omufituweelo in the Omusati Region. In aletter to The Namibian, Kandoya's family complained that thecourts had not handled her case fairly. The family said althoughKandoya was deported to Angola she was not given any assistanceand had to find her way across the border within the 48 hours shewas given by the court.
Windhoek backtracks on decision to bar SA airlines(Windhoek, Business Day, 06/01) - The Namibiangovernment has reversed its decision to bar SA Express and SAAirlink from operating scheduled flights for mainly businesstravellers from the capital's Eros airport. The original decisionwas intended to protect the interests of Namibia's ailingnational airline. Top government officials confirmed over theweekend that the decision to bar the two airlines from January 1this year was postponed to March while negotiations between thestate, airlines and the state-owned Namibian Airports Companywhich protested the decision continued. Sources said thegovernment was considering reversing its decision because of thefinancial implications for the Namibian Airports Company. Themove to ban the two SA airlines will cut the annual revenue ofthe stateowned company about 20%. Transport Minister MosesAmweelo said earlier the cabinet had decided to halt allscheduled regional flights by the two SA airlines between Erosand Johannesburg and Cape Town. The two airlines are in directcompetition with Air Namibia, and the move was seen as apatriotic one to save the struggling national carrier. Amweelosaid the decision was aimed at reducing the "safety andenvironmental hazards". However, it is an open secret thatAir Namibia, which flies to SA from Hosea Kutako InternationalAirport, about 40km outside Windhoek, has seen a drop inpassenger numbers because people prefer to use Eros airport,which is 3km from the city. The move shocked SA Airlink CEO RogerFoster, who questioned the decision to stop his airline fromoperating from Eros for "safety" standards, while stillallowing VIPs to continue using the same airport. It is believedone of the airlines is considering legal action against Windhoek.
Suspected mafia boss fights for citizenship (SABCNews, 28/01) - Vito Palazzolo, suspected Sicilian Mafiaboss, appeared in the Cape Town Regional Court yesterday in abattle to protect his South African citizenship, the CapeTimes reported today. Palazzolo faces one fraud charge or analternative charge of contravening sections of the CitizenshipAct of 1949 for allegedly giving the Department of Home Affairsfalse information to secure his South African citizenship. Thecharge sheet alleges that Palazzolo's application for SouthAfrican citizenship was approved and he was naturalised inSeptember 1994. However, it was later discovered that vitalinformation on Palazzolo's application form was allegedly false,which had led to the department instituting criminal proceedings.In 1986, Palazzolo had been convicted in Lugano, Switzerland, ona federal drugs law violation. He was sentenced to three years inprison. His conviction was confirmed on appeal and his sentenceincreased to three years and nine months. In December 1986, hewas granted a 36 hour parole by Swiss prison authorities to spendChristmas with his family, but broke his conditions and came toSouth Africa. He was in South Africa from December 26 that year,until his arrest in Franschhoek on a Swiss international arrestwarrant in January 1988. A month later he returned to Switzerlandto complete the remainder of his sentence. He was brought back toSouth Africa in October 1989, to testify in the fraud trial ofNational Party MP Peet de Pontes, and has remained in the countryever since. Questioned by Scorpions senior counsel Bruce Morrisonyesterday, Ivan Lambinon, the acting director general of theDepartment of Home Affairs said Palazzolo's application was"one of the cases which came up continuously". Hiscross-examination by defence counsel Jan Heunis is expected tocontinue later today.
Six arrested for crime against tourists (SABC News,28/01) - Six people were identified and arrested at theweekend for crimes against tourists in Mpumalanga, police saidtoday. Olga Ballot, a police spokesperson, said the six appearedin the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court yesterday and were remandedin custody. Tsepo Theledi (18), Elvis Chloane (39) and LourensMthinisi (35) were charged with the theft of a firearm. SydneyMabuza (26), and Themba Segage (28), were charged with the theftout of a vehicle while Thabo Khoza (30) was arrested inpossession of a round of AK47 ammunition. Ballot said in additionforeign currency, jewellery, cell phones and credit cards wererecovered at the homes of those arrested. Ballot said the arrestsfulfilled a pledge made by Commissioner Eric Nkabinde on December12 that the safety of tourists in Mpumalanga was of paramountconcern to police. He was reacting to the life sentence handeddown to Prince Mogane for the murder of British tourist DianeConway in October last year. Four men were given life sentencesin January for the gang rape of a tourist and the murder of aMozambican man.
Johannesburg authorities clamp down on illegal trading(SABC News, 27/01) - City authorities are clamping downon illegal trading in a move to rid Johannesburg of crime andgrime. Metro police officers have evicted hawkers from thestreets and pavements in the city's central district. Hawkerswere noticeably not happy with today's evictions. Zaki Kone, ahawker from Ivory Coast says: "We are not happy but there'snothing that we can do. Maybe we the best thing is to fight thembut you see one has to obey and follow the law and come up with agood strategy." Over the next few days, officers from theDepartment of Trade and Industry and Home Affairs will join theMetro officers. Their target - illegal aliens and hawkers dealingin fake goods. "The traders have simply ignored by-laws.They've put up still stalls next to fire hydrants, next to placesof worship, next to bus stops and they've been trading theirgoods next to buildings without the owners' permission,"said CC MacKay, of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. Thegoods that have been confiscated are being stored at a warehousein the Johannesburg Fresh produce market. The hawkers have to payfines ranging between R150 and R500 if they want to have theirgoods returned.
Africa shops in Johannesburg (Sunday Times, 26/01) - Joburgis becoming the shopping mecca of Southern Africa and the city isattracting a new kind of tourist - one who comes mainly to shop.Armed with loads of dollars and a taste for designer brands,these visitors live elsewhere in Africa. And they're shoppinguntil they drop. Unofficial statistics show they're contributingto about 20% of the turnover at Sandton City. More officialfigures, from the shopping centre's VAT office, where foreignerscan process their 14% tax refunds, show the following figures forvisitors from African countries in November, apparently a slackmonth: Nigeria 148, Angola 42, Zimbabwe 49, Zambia 45, Mozambique26, Ghana 38, Uganda 48, Rwanda 10, Ivory Coast 11 and Kenya 44.The figures reflect only those visitors who visited SandtonCity's new VAT refund office, not those who shopped at thecentre. Noel Deacon, chairman of the Sandton City Merchants'Association, explained Joburg's attraction: "If you live ona copper mine in Kitwe [Zambia], your idea of heaven on wheels isto kiss concrete. "You don't want to sit around a pool andhear the birds tweet. You want to see city life in all itsglory," said Deacon. Deacon said traders had observed anincrease in visitors from other African countries in the past 18months. Cees van Velze , manager of the upmarket department storeStuttafords in Sandton City, said his shop hadn't just seen it,it had experienced it. "We took their money," he said.The centre is capitalising on its appeal with a special shoppingfestival - which was launched this week - as well as "ashopping experience", valid until the end of April, whichoffers flight and accommodation packages for as little as R502for three nights in a nearby hotel. The deal also includes aspecial shopping bag per person containing R1 000 worth ofvouchers and discounts. Natasha Starling, marketing officer forSandton City, said the shopping festival was expected "togrow to the scope of the likes of international shoppingfestivals such as that held in Dubai". For travellers fromneighbouring countries, Joburg offered a feast of luxury goods atcomparatively bargain prices, said retailers and travel agents.And these tourists know exactly what they want to buy - it'sbrand names all the way, from Diesel to Nike, Polo, Pringle andLevi's. "First port of call is cosmetics and fragrances,then ladies' fashion - all the brand names - and then men'sfashions - all the brand names," said Van Velze. Hedescribed the shoppers as predominantly male, in Joburg to attenda conference, staying at one of the nearby top hotels andshopping in the late afternoon .
Tour operator Jean Adolphe of Absolute Africa, who arrangedfor a group of 30 Mauritians to visit Joburg at the end of themonth "purely to shop", said with the Waterberg a meretwo-and-a-half hours' drive away, visitors could "combine ashopping experience with a bush experience". Pankaj Shah,sales and marketing director from Five Countries Travel in Kenya,said from Nairobi this week that the tourists he had sent hereloved the city. "People enjoy themselves in Joburg,"Shah said. "The food and drink is very cheap and eating outand going out is the name of the game," said Shah, rattlingoff a list of top restaurants from Sandton to Bryanston andRivonia. "And they buy lots of designer labels," hesaid. He said the visitors from Kenya were mostly owners ofbusinesses or those who had "cushy jobs" in banks and"the upper socioeconomic level, those with disposableincome". "People just love Johannesburg. They loveeating out and the hotels. Most love to stay at the Michelangeloand the Sandton Sun. They do lots of shopping, walk to theVillage Walk shopping centre and back again, and have a massageor two at the spas. It works well for people," said Shah. Hesaid the only thing stopping even more Kenyans coming to Joburgwas the fact that it took a week to get a visa, which madespontaneous travel difficult. Figures from the Department ofEnvironmental Affairs and Tourism showed that just over threemillion visitors from elsewhere in Africa visited South Africa inthe first nine months of last year, an increase of 7.2% from thesame period the year before. Cheryl Carolus, chief executive ofSouth African Tourism, told the Sunday Times earlier this yearthat visitors from Southern African countries "end upspending more than an average American traveller". Theyshould be "consolidated as the backbone" of SouthAfrica's tourism industry, Carolus said. If Sandton City's dreamscome true, these visitors will be heading their way.
Foriegners netted in car-theft syndicate bust (IOL,25/01) - Three foreign nationals were arrested onSaturday morning in a police swoop on a Gauteng-based car-theftsyndicate, officials said. Council spokesperson Mbangwa Xaba saidtwo Zimbabwean nationals and a Zambian man were arrested whenpolice and members of the organised crime unit raided propertiesin Hillbrow and Randburg in the early hours of Saturday morning.Almost 500 fraudulent identity documents and fake passports wereconfiscated and five vehicles, among them a Mercedes Benz and anIsuzu 4x4, were impounded. Xaba said the cars were linked tothefts in Limpopo and North West province and leads were beingfollowed which would lead to more arrests of top syndicatecriminals.
Rescue plan for 'Hillbrow-by-the-sea' (Weekend Argus,25/01) - Sea Point, once the sophisticated cosmopolitanpride of Cape Town, is now in the grip of seedy underworldcriminals. But various agencies met this week to put together aplan to rescue the suburb. The Department of Home Affairs, thepolice, street people's organisations and city council officialshave devised a plan to remove illegal foreigners who swellcriminal elements, force landlords to maintain their buildings,clamp down on drugs and provide shelters for vagrants. On anygiven night in Sea Point, the hum of traffic is interrupted bythe wail of police sirens, the theme music of the high riseAtlantic seaboard suburb where sex workers ply their trade openlyand drug peddlers sell their deadly merchandise. Residents whoremember the glory days blame the decay on various things,including a lack of policing, the V&A Waterfront, which drewlegitimate business away, and the influx of various elements suchillegal foreigners and local gangsters. They also cite landlordswho have allowed druglords to take over flats and businesspremises. Sea Point is often called Hillbrow-by-the-sea, areference to the Johannesburg flatland that was once alsoswinging and sophisticated but has degenerated into a slum. SeaPoint city councillor Jean Pierre Smit believes the rot iscentred on a small "vrot stretch" on Main Road thatneeds to be sanitised. This week eight men were slain at a gaymassage parlour known as Sizzlers in the heart of Sea Point,focusing attention on the area's decay. To locals, 7 GrahamStreet seemed to be an ordinary suburban house in a quiet sidestreet, a block away from Beach Road's luxury apartment blocks.Many older residents remember a time when there was hardly anycrime and no question of drug trade in the area. When Graaff'sPool, the men-only rock pool, was not a pickup spot but popularamong professional men. Residents enjoyed late night walks alongthe promenade in safety and for many Capetonians, Sea Point was apleasant entertainment area. Heather Tager, a resident for morethan 30 years, recalled a suburb where recreational facilitieswere not centred on alcohol and drugs. "As young people, weuse to go to one of four movie houses, usually followed by avisit to an ice cream parlour or the Dolls House for coffee."There were fewer clubs and pubs, but genteel dinner danceswere popular. People took pride in their businesses and thepavements were neat. These days landlords don't play their partand a bad element has been allowed to move into the area."Tager said the decay reflected the apathy among residents, butshe felt the community should stand together and be morepro-active.
Dennis Tavell, chairman of the Sea Point Ratepayers'Association, said: "Back in the old days there were nohawkers or vagrants or people who would defecate just where theypleased. There were definitely no drug peddlers or informalparking attendants to harass you." A hotel caretaker who hasworked in the area since 1949 and who goes by the name of Jo,often spends afternoons sitting in front of the building greetingpassersby. This is just a block away from were the massacre tookplace. He said Main Road had really changed over the years. Itwas never as busy. Where minibus taxis now operate, there used tobe trams and buses to Camps Bay and town. There were also nobergies living on the streets, no drug dealers standing on thecorners. It was safe to walk around even late at night. "Nowyou have to watch your back even when going to the shop."Smit believes the area has entered a phase of urban decay. But heis optimistic about renewal if the undesirable elements can beweeded out. He said there were three underlying reasons for thechanges that had taken place in the suburb, the first being achange in retail patterns. The Waterfront has drawn business awayand, as has happened in many other suburbs, high streetsdeteriorated as shopping malls took over. The second reason wasthe collapse in police services - the local police station'sresources are down by 70 percent. The third reason was an influxof various new groups into the area. Added to this, there weremore business premises standing vacant than was desirable and anumber of vacant shops had been taken over by "tacky"businesses with no proper signage or even furniture. "Moreworrying are the druglords who have taken over premises and runthinly-veiled operations that have led to authentic businessmenmoving out," said Smit. At a number of blocks of flats andmotels, landlords have become complacent and have leased or evensold flats or rooms to drug merchants. Michael Farr, who headsthe Cape Town Partnership, said the first phase of establishing acity improvement district in Sea Point - in Main Road, fromGlengariff Road to Regent Road - had been completed. From July toDecember, there were an average of 200 arrests a month fordrug-related offences, theft, possession of stolen goods, publicdrunkenness, drinking in public, unruly behaviour and harassmentby informal parking attendants. He said the drugs found mostcommonly on the streets of Sea Point were dagga, mandrax andecstasy. Less common was cocaine. Crack and heroine was a biggerproblem in the city centre. Drugs were rife in Sea Point, saidFarr, but he warned that the problem was prevalent throughout themetropolitan area. "I have been horrified at how very easyit is to buy drugs on the streets of Cape Town." Heconfirmed that various agencies met this week to put together anaction plan to save Sea Point.
Campaign to lure American tourists launched (Sapa,23/01) - A campaign aimed at luring American tourists toSouth Africa, especially in the off-peak tourism period, waslaunched by SA Tourism in New York on Thursday. "Tourism isa vital component of South Africa's economy and as such, it needsto be supported with aggressive advertising and marketinginitiatives that drive the demand for travel to ourcountry," SA Tourism chief operating officer Moeketsi Mosolasaid in a statement. The period between March and June was thecountry's traditional off-peak tourist season. Mosola said theinitiative was aimed at two key segments in the US markets -- the"Upscale Wanderlusters" and "Next Stop SouthAfrica". He said in terms of their profile, "Next StopSouth Africa" travellers were an active and slightly oldertarget market of which 78 percent were over 55 years old and 41percent were retired. This target market had extensive travelexperience and the desire, time and money to support theirvisits, Mosola said. They were the least cost-conscioustravellers, demanded value for money and were expected to belured to South Africa at a starting price of US2999 (aboutR26000). The price included return international flight, 12nights accommodation and safari. The "UpscaleWanderlusters" had -- through intensive research -- beenidentified as being more interested in travel than any other USsegment. They visited destinations they were comfortable with,but also looked for new places that offered both "soft"adventure and relaxation. A predominantly male group (60percent), this target market had an open mind about the world butwas more cost conscious than the first group, Mosola said. Thestarting price was US1999 -- including return internationalflight, eight nights accommodation and safari -- and representedexceptional value for a South African experience. "Thiscampaign will go a long way towards establishing South Africa asa high profile brand within the US market and heighten awarenessof the country as a strong, viable tourist brand," Mosolasaid. Both deals were being promoted through magazine andnewspaper advertising, direct mail, and online and retailpromotions.
Workshop on migration of health workers ends(Pretoria, BuaNews, 23/01) - The three-day CommonwealthWorkshop on the migration of health workers in the East, Centraland Southern Africa (ECSA) region ended on a high note inJohannesburg yesterday. Following serious planning on thecountries' capability to cope with the devastating effects of themigration of health professionals, the workshop decided thatthere was a need for better monitoring and evaluation ofinternational migrations. This included how to establish suchmonitoring and evaluation mechanism within government systems.The main objectives of the workshop, which was organized by theCommonwealth Secretariat in conjunction with the South AfricanDepartment of Health, were to identify and share the experiencesand impact of international recruitment and migration of healthprofessionals in each participating country. The event also aimedat developing strategies for attracting and retaining healthworkers in the respective countries. It was also recommended thatthere was a need to review strategies and actions that were beingexecuted by countries and how effective they had been on alllevels of government. On Monday, the first day of the workshop,the delegates discussed factors that contributed to the loss ofhealth workers due to international recruitment and migration.These included international migration, loss of staff from publichealth services to the private health sector, loss of healthworkers to other sectors and internal distribution problems. Thedelegates also attributed the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic onthe loss of health workers. On Tuesday, participants reviewednational, regional and international steps taken by countries,organisations and agencies to cope with the loss of healthprofessionals. Delegates scrutinised and shared experiences onactions taken by their countries and discussed new approaches forresolving the matter at hand. The workshop was concluded with there-assessing of the countries' available data in order toidentify information gaps, which would allow research andevidence-based actions aimed at monitoring and evaluatingcounties' response to the problems. The gathering ended with areview of a policy and strategic framework for next steps andfollow- up by members.
Immigrant sues state for 'brutality' (The Star, 23/01)- An illegal immigrant who is suing the state must firstprovide security for the lawsuit before he can continue with hiscase against the police. The man, who claims he is Hassan Masud,on Wednesday said in the Pretoria High Court that he had to havean operation to his genitalia after police tortured him. He wasbeing retained in holding cells at the time and claims his criesfor medical help fell on deaf ears. He says he was able to go tohospital only after he was released on bail. The police claimMasud is not who he says he is, and that he is actually PatrickDaudi, an illegal immigrant held for heroin possession. Speakingof behalf of the police legal department, Rene Immelman said hewas arrested on September 20 2001 on drug charges and said he wasHassan Masud, from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).The home affairs department had no record of him but hisfingerprints matched those of a man called Patrick Daudi, who wasearlier repatriated by home affairs, which had no record of himentering South Africa again. Immelman said it was clear that hewas in the country illegally, adding that he had used false namesto avoid detection. She stated that the charge of heroinpossession had earlier been withdrawn due to a police error. Itwas decided to re-charge him, but though the man said he lived inChurch Street, Pretoria, he could not be located. In his damagesclaim against the minister of safety and security, the man saidhe was unlawfully arrested and detained at the Pretoria centralpolice station for 25 days. During this time, the policeallegedly assaulted him by hitting and kicking him all over hisbody. He claimed his genitals were so swollen from his injuriesthat he had to undergo an operation. He is seeking R800 000 for"permanent injuries to his private parts" and generalassault, as well as R100 000 for wrongful arrest and maliciousprosecution.
Allowance for doctors working in rural areas set toincrease (Johannesburg, Sapa, 22/01) - The nationaltreasury has allocated the Health Department funds to increasethe allowances of doctors who work and live in the rural areas.This emerged on Wednesday at the close of a three-dayCommonwealth workshop on strategies for attracting and retaininghealth professionals in the developing world. The workshop, whichwas co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the WorldHealth Organisation and the Department of Health, broughttogether for the first time senior representatives from 11African countries. Kamy Chetty, health department deputy directorgeneral, said the department was also looking into extending thefunds to other categories of health professionals. She said thefunds would become available in the next financial year and wouldhopefully help retain, and even attract, health workers to ruralareas. "What we are looking at also is the issue of definingrural, under-resourced and inhospitable areas. areas where peopleare worried about crime and so on. We are looking at ensuringthat there is a caring environment for health professionals towork in," Chetty said, in reference to other,"non-financial" strategies developed at the workshop.These included strategies to make it easier for doctors fromother countries to work in Africa on a temporary basis by, forexample, cancelling their medical registration exams. Chetty saidwhile she did not know when this would come into effect, in SouthAfrica the Medical and Dental Board was already looking intoallowing for temporary registrations for overseas doctors."What we are also saying is that although migration is anatural phenomenon that can not be stopped, we want to ensurethat it happens in a well-managed way," Chetty said. To dothis, the health department had spoken to the statutory councilsabout using their data bases to find out where registered doctorswere living, Chetty said. She said many local doctors who hadgone overseas were still registered with the Medical and DentalBoard as living and working in South Africa. As far asrecruitment agencies were concerned, workshop delegates signed acode on the ethical recruitment of health workers and in SouthAfrica, recruitment agencies had been included in the proposednational health bill. "With recruitment agencies, what we'resaying is if you say you need staff then we'll send you staff butthey must come back here with the skills they picked upoverseas," Chetty said. She said that research conducted bythe World Health Organisation indicated that many health workersmigrated not only for financial reasons but because they likedtravelling and getting experience overseas. For this reason,workshop delegates had agreed to institute a controlled processof intra-African migration. "In South Africa we've gotgovernment to government agreements with, for example, Cuba andIndia, but at this conference we said we don't need to look atdeveloped countries only, we can exchange health workers withinAfrica as well," she said. Regarding the training of healthworkers, Chetty said work was being done into the training of newcadres of health workers, such as pharmacist assistants. This wasto improve the working environments of health workers who oftencomplained that they were overloaded with work, or that they weredoing work that they shouldn't be doing as professionals."Training impacts on service delivery but also it improvesthe morale of staff and gives them incentive to stay here,"Chetty said.
Brain drain to brain gain (Mail & Guardian, 22/01)- Thousands of South Africans are hitting the runways toforeign destinations that have become inexhaustible asylums forpeople in search of their own economic success stories. However,rather than an unabated continuation of the brain drain, this newGreat Trek could have positive repercussions for the country research reveals that it is possible to reap the benefitsof the movement of South Africans to greener pastures. StatisticsSouth Africa, the governments data agency, has revealedthat in the first 10 months of last year, 9 337 people emigrated.The top five preferred destinations were the United Kingdom (3087), the United States (948), New Zealand (837), Australia (1409) and Canada (298). Broken down by continent, 3 167 SouthAfricans went to Europe, 867 to Australasia and 990 to NorthAmerica. This compares to 3 623 documented immigrants acceptedinto South Africa in the first six months of 2002. A staggering 2956 were considered economically inactive. In 2001, 12 260 SouthAfricans emigrated. The top five destinations were the UK (2491), Australia (1 177), the US (757), New Zealand (688) andNamibia (261). A Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) study tobe launched in September, commissioned as part of thegovernments Human Resources Development Strategy, estimatesthat in 2000, 2 852 South Africans from a total of 10 262emigrated to the UK, one of South Africas most populardestinations. This compares to 2 316 in 1999 out of 8 487, and 2880 in 1994 out of 10 234. The highest emigration was in 1977,when 9 753 South Africans emigrated to the UK out of 26 000.Similar figures followed in 1978 and 1985, dispelling the beliefthat emigration was accelerated with the change of government in1994. However, Tracy Bailey, author of the HSRC study and asenior researcher at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies atthe University of Stellenbosch, said these official statisticsare a serious undercount. She said the unofficial figures mightbe as much as three times higher because of irregularities infollowing emigrants. Statistics SA obtains its figures from theDepartment of Home Affairs, which are collated from airportdeparture forms at Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durbaninternational airports. According to the deputy director generalof Statistics SA, Dr Ros Hirschowigz, the departure forms are notcompulsory and when people do complete them, they are not alwayshonest. The forms give us an idea of people leaving, butnot an accurate picture of emigration, Hirschowigz said.Nick Sheppard, a spokesperson at the British High Commission,said approximately 300 000 South Africans live in the UK atpresent, but that this estimate is based on anecdotalevidence, for reasons cited above. To compound theseinaccuracies, about 800 000 South Africans hold British passportsand do not need assistance to enter the UK and work. Anotherloophole can extend their stay in the UK on the strength ofBritish ancestry. After four years they gain residency and afteranother two, the emigrant can claim a British passport.
Baileys research reveals that although the traditionalpush and pull factors such as crime, lowsalaries, the Aids pandemic, unemployment and declining standardsof health care and education, versus opportunities extended bySouth Africas reintegration into international businessafter apartheid-era isolation remain major factorsinfluencing emigration, the offset of globalisation during the1990s is playing an even bigger role. Globalisation marks theemergence of the knowledge society, where dimensionssuch as patents, research and development have superseded oldermeans of competitiveness, such as labour costs, resourceendowments and infrastructure. Information and knowledgeare now the core features in the world, especially aroundscientific research. This means that anyone who is educated orhighly skilled is also mobile, said Bailey, who alsoconfirmed that emigration is predominantly skills-based, ratherthan race-based. Her study shows that 24% of highly skilledprofessionals who emigrated in 2000 went to the UK. The loss isfelt most acutely in engineering, medicine, accounting andfinancial services. A World Bank study of the manufacturingindustry in Johannesburg shows that 35% of doctors who graduatedfrom the University of Witwatersrands medical school in the1990s have since emigrated. A study of emigration to the UK, US,New Zealand, Canada and Australia by the Paris-based Institutefor Development Research estimates that skilled workersemigrating from South Africa cost the country R67,8-billionbetween 1997 and 2000. The loss of each skilled professional isconsidered to destroy as many as 10 unskilled jobs. This flow hasserious repercussions for the countrys effort to rise abovea 3% economic growth rate, because the country is losing its besthuman capital while spending money on educating replacements. Andwhile other countries have no compunction about creaming offskilled people from South Africa, our government seems to berunning on the spot. Former president Nelson Mandela madeemigration an issue of patriotism, but the government has notmatched this with efforts to attract skills to the country. In2000, 2 439 skilled workers emigrated, but only 331 immigrated,resulting in a net loss of 2 108. There is an argument thatimmigrants will deprive locals of jobs. However, a study by theSouthern African Migration Project (Samp) shows skilledimmigrants will create enterprises and jobs for locals, enhancethe productivity of existing enterprises and pass on valuableskills. Director of Samp and co-author of the study VincentWilliams asked why South Africa should not also gain from animmigration policy that attracts the brightest and best fromother countries.
Why should South Africa be that different? It isimportant to attract immigrants to build the South Africaneconomy, he said. A new immigration Bill, which was rushedthrough Parliament in May last year in order to meet the June 22002 Constitutional Court deadline for its enactment, remains ared herring for keeping skilled immigrants out of the country.The purpose of the Bill should be to make it easier to recruitneeded skilled foreigners, but it is hindered by a quota systemset by skill level, and on requirements that employers withforeign workers train local workers to eventually replace theforeigners. President Thabo Mbeki himself admitted to the Billbeing flawed and that it is insufficient to attract skilledlabour in a country where the skills shortage is between 200 000and 300 000. However, according to Bailey there are new trendsemerging that are challenging the phenomenon of human capitalflight. Apart from the brain drain, we have some evidenceof what we call the brain circulation. This is the return ofpeople to the country after about five years. They go overseas topay off debts or on a gap year and then come back. This isalso known as the brain exchange, where some countries likeAustralia and New Zealand are feeling no loss becausepeople are coming in as fast as they are leaving.Bailey said this is a growing trend, which will eventuallybenefit South Africa. To further reverse the brain drain into abrain gain, the South African Network of Skills Abroad, adatabase for people to access information to ensure that whenthey emigrate they can still contribute skills to the country, isbeing developed by the New Partnership for AfricasDevelopment (Nepad) with a specific human-resource developmentfocus to link expatriate South Africans with local experts andprojects. Another initiative, AfricaRecruit, launched last yearby the Commonwealth Business Council and created in support ofNepad, encourages Africans living outside the continent to bringtheir skills home to help rebuild the continent. There are someprogrammes aimed at drawing top researchers to the country, suchas the University of Witwatersrands Friedland Fellowship,an attempt to reverse the brain drain by offering globallycompetitive, post-doctoral research opportunities to foreignstudents and researchers. Barry Mendelow, a professor at Wits,says: South Africa is an exciting place in many ways, forexample to research health care issues. We need to becomeglobally competitive but also to act as a role model for localscientists.Said Bailey: We need to move away from thebrain drain being necessarily negative and view it as somethingthat is stimulating and which South Africa should be a partof.
Plans to keep health workers in SA unveiled (SABCNews, 22/01) - A plan to keep our doctors and nurseshere has been hammered out at a workshop in Johannesburg. AboutR5 million will be used to try to plug the brain drain of medicalstaff. For many health workers, however, it might be just toolittle, too late. Gabrielle Toweel, a doctor, is leaving. Nextweek she will do her last shift at a Johannesburg hospital,before leaving for England. She is one of many doctors packingtheir bags for more lucrative prospects. It is not only the lureof earning three times her salary that is making her leave.Doctors and nurses are leaving every day for the Gulf states,Britain and North America. South Africa has the highest migrationof health workers in Africa. Statistics South Africa says 377health practitioners left the country last year. However, moretelling is the number of medical certificates applied for in 2002- these are the papers needed to work in another country. Therewere 3 664 applied for - a sign many more want to leave. To tryand stop this, a three-day Commonwealth workshop on strategiesfor attracting and retaining health professionals in thedeveloping world held this week came up with plans keep doctorsand nurses here, especially in the rural areas. The nationaltreasury has allocated the Health Department funds to increasethe allowances of doctors who work and live in the rural areas.The workshop, which was co-sponsored by the CommonwealthSecretariat, the World Health Organisation and the Department ofHealth, brought together for the first time seniorrepresentatives from 11 African countries. Kamy Chetty, theDeputy Director General in the National Department of Health,said the department was also looking into extending the funds toother categories of health professionals. She said the fundswould become available in the next financial year and wouldhopefully help retain, and even attract, health workers to ruralareas. "What we are looking at also is the issue of definingrural, under-resourced and inhospitable areas, areas where peopleare worried about crime and so on. We are looking at ensuringthat there is a caring environment for health professionals towork in," Chetty said, in reference to other,"non-financial" strategies developed at the workshop.These included strategies to make it easier for doctors fromother countries to work in Africa on a temporary basis by, forexample, cancelling their medical registration exams. Chetty saidwhile she did not know when this would come into effect, in SouthAfrica the Medical and Dental Board was already looking intoallowing for temporary registrations for overseas doctors.
"What we are also saying is that although migration is anatural phenomenon that can not be stopped, we want to ensurethat it happens in a well-managed way," Chetty said. To dothis, the health department had spoken to the statutory councilsabout using their databases to find out where registered doctorswere living, Chetty said. She said many local doctors who hadgone overseas were still registered with the Medical and DentalBoard as living and working in South Africa. As far asrecruitment agencies were concerned, workshop delegates signed acode on the ethical recruitment of health workers and in SouthAfrica, recruitment agencies had been included in the proposednational health bill. "With recruitment agencies, what we'resaying is if you say you need staff then we will send you staffbut they must come back here with the skills they picked upoverseas," Chetty said. She said that research conducted bythe World Health Organisation indicated that many health workersmigrated not only for financial reasons but because they likedtravelling and getting experience overseas. For this reason,workshop delegates had agreed to institute a controlled processof intra-African migration. "In South Africa we've gotgovernment to government agreements with, for example, Cuba andIndia, but at this conference we said we don't need to look atdeveloped countries only, we can exchange health workers withinAfrica as well," she said. Regarding the training of healthworkers, Chetty said work was being done into the training of newcadres of health workers, such as pharmacist assistants. This wasto improve the working environments of health workers who oftencomplained that they were overloaded with work, or that they weredoing work that they shouldn't be doing as professionals."Training impacts on service delivery but also it improvesthe morale of staff and gives them incentive to stay here,"Chetty said. This however, is too late for people like GabrielleToweel, but even she plans one day to come back.
Mozambique delegation visits Mpumalanga (Nespruit,African Eye News Service, 21/01) - A delegation ofbusiness people and government officials from Maputo, Mozambique,will visit Mpumalanga on Wednesday to do the groundwork for atwinning agreement that was signed last year. The delegation willbe led by Maputo's governor Alfredo Namitete and will visitagricultural and tourism projects in the province as well asBohlabela Wheels, South Africa's only armaments company owned bya black woman. The agreement covers social-economic issues likehealth care tourism and business, said Mpumalanga premier NdaweniMahlangu's spokesman Sibusiso Shube on Tuesday. "Last years'agreement gave a framework which the two provinces couldfollow," said Shube. "This time there will bediscussions that aim to come up with an action plan." OnWednesday, the delegation will visit sugarcane plantations inMbuzini, the Driekoppies Dam, Matsamo Cultural Village, astrawberry project in Carolina and the Ermelo hospital. Shubesaid the two countries already had national agreements that ledto the development of the Maputo Development Corridor, theMozambique Aluminium Smelter (Mozal) and the US$1,2-billion SasolNatural Gas Project. "The agreements have made Mozambiqueaccessible to Mpumalanga businesspeople and created manyjobs," he said. Shube added that Mpumalanga also hadtwinning agreements with two Chinese provinces that have seenthat country's businesses investing in the province.
Government might pay more to retain medicalprofessionals (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online, 21/01) - Thegovernment might look into the prospect of paying doctors andnurses better salaries in an effort to reverse the brain drain inthe health sector, Public Service and Administration MinisterGeraldine Fraser-Moloketi said yesterday. Fraser-Moloketi wasspeaking at the opening of a three-day Commonwealth workshop inSandton that would look into developing strategies for attractingand retaining health professionals in the developing world. Theworkshop, which was co-sponsored by the Commonwealth, the WorldHealth Organisation (WHO) and the Department of Health, broughttogether for the first time senior representatives from 11African countries. Fraser-Moloketi told the workshop that whiledeveloping countries could not hope to compete with developedcountries in terms of salaries, there were other ways Africacould retain its professionals. These included offering themnon-financial incentives such as enriching their workenvironments and making sure health posts, especially in therural areas, accommodated the needs of the families of healthworkers. South Africa, however, was looking at more direct meansof keeping its doctors and nurses. "We also don't expect oureconomies to compete with the pound and dollar, but we will belooking at paying professionals a better salary. Now it may beeasier for some countries (in Africa) to deal with this thanothers," the minister stressed. Professor William Pick, whoaddressed the conference in his capacity as head of the MedicalResearch Council, said many health professionals left thedeveloping world not for financial reasons but to gainexperience. He said this was found at a recent study of healthprofessionals in six African countries, which was commissioned byWHO and whose results were to be released in about three to fourweeks time. Pick said the study -- carried out in Cameroon,Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe -- was thefirst comprehensive attempt to quantify the migration patterns ofAfrican professionals. He said that because the reasons formigration varied so greatly from country to country, researchersand policy makers needed to look into implementing countryspecific interventions to combat migration. With regards to thephenomenon of intra-African migration, Pick said although therewas a trend for professionals from the poorer north to emigrateto the more affluent south, the effect was negligible.Fraser-Moloketi, for her part, said intra-African migrationneeded to be carefully considered and that South Africa would notbe complicit in the practice of poaching or privately recruitingprofessionals from other countries. She said it was currentlygovernment policy to recruit only in consultation with othergovernments and only in countries such as Cuba, which has anexcess of health professionals and is willing and able to sparesome of them. "We need to look for mechanisms wherebydeveloping countries in Africa can share the resources of otherdeveloping countries. We see this as a commitment to ourcontinent in the spirit of Nepad and the AfricanRenaissance," she said. She said the government was alsotrying to finalise a "scarce skills policy programme"because studies had confirmed that public services were mostvulnerable at the level of skilled workers.
New immigration rules will have negative impact oninvestment (Johannesburg, Business Day, 21/01) - Highfinancial requirements in the recently published Immigration Actregulations have raised fears that SA is effectively barringresidence to retirees and the financially independent. However,the home affairs department says the fees are "notexorbitant" and denies that SA has any policy of restrictingretirees from living in the country. The regulations call forretirees to demonstrate a net worth of R15m or a pension ofR25000 a month. Although high by SA standards, the same is nottrue for many would-be retirees who hail from Germany, the UK orthe US. However, the requirements do upgrade significantly thefinancial requirements for the retired and financiallyindependent, neither of whom pose a threat to the job prospectsof SA citizens. The regulations set a requirement for financiallyindependent persons of a minimum net worth of R20m. Previously,the level used as a guideline was R1,5m. The department alsorequires a nonrefundable fee of R100000. Some immigration lawyerswonder if the level set will effectively restrict retirees andunnecessarily deprive the country of foreign revenue that couldcreate jobs. Much of the Immigration Act, passed after lengthytalks between political parties, deals with the importation ofskills, and this aspect of the act has been welcomed cautiouslyby business. But the lawyers say they are surprised at what theyhave found regarding some of the rarer categories. Bianca Herdin,an immigration consultant at professional services firm Deloitte& Touche, says the regulations change significantly theprocedural aspects of immigration. Before, there were no setparameters, and each case was heard on its merits. Applicantssimply had to demonstrate an adequate, stable income. Now, thelegislation creates a long list of categories, many of which donot exist in any other jurisdiction. The idea is to provide for aclearer and more specific set of regulations that will providepotential immigrants and department officials with a moretransparent process. But the consequence is that some apparentanomalies have emerged. For example, a residence permit forrelatives of citizens requires the local sponsor and the relativeneed only demonstrate an income of R5000. Herdin says thisappears to have been included to ensure constitutionalconsistency as the constitution attempts to ensure families arenot split up. According to official statistics, the total numberof people involved in the foreign retirees and financiallyindependent category is not large. The home affairs departmentsays there were about 110 applications for permanent residence inthe financially independent persons category last year and about339 people in the retired category.
Overall, according to the Statistics SA, there has been a netloss to the country of emigrants over immigrants since 1994. Thelatest comprehensive survey, completed last year for the 2001calendar year, shows that a total of 901 retired peopleimmigrated. This was up about 100 on the year before, itself anincrease of about 100 on the year before. But the total number ofemigrants has remained fairly steady since 1980 after a hugenumber of people left in the 1970s. Large numbers of peoplebetween 30000 and 50000 came to SA in the 1970s and the early1980s. But the country has been recording a net loss for a numberof years, mainly because the total number of immigrants hasslowed to a trickle of between 3000 and 5000 a year. StatisticsSA cautions that the number of people leaving is unlikely to beaccurate as it is based on a voluntary declaration at thecountry's three main airports. The number of immigrants is muchmore accurately monitored. The legislation is not retroactive, soretirees who have been given residence in terms of the oldregulations will continue to hold it. However, all applicationsnow before the department will be heard in terms of the newregulations, which formally come into effect on March 12. Thedepartment will continue to discuss the regulations withinterested parties, and changes may still be made before then.
Government developing strategies to retain healthprofessionals (Johannesburg, Business Day, 21/01) - Governmentcould consider paying doctors and nurses better salaries toreverse the brain drain in the health sector, Public Service andAdministration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said yesterday.Her statement follows her recent instruction to the KwaZuluNatalhealth department to rescind salary increases awardedunilaterally early in early 2001 to more than 49000 healthemployees with effect from July 1999. Fraser-Moleketi said thatas the provincial health department had not followed publicservice policies and legislative frameworks correctly inimplementing the merit increases. The decision would set adangerous precedent with employees in other governmentdepartments demanding their salary increases be dealt with in asimilar manner. While the provincial health officials will bemeeting public services officials this week to discuss thepractical implications of the directive, Fraser-Moleketi tolddelegates at the opening of a three-day Commonwealth workshop onthe migration of health workers in Sandton yesterday thatgovernment was developing strategies for retaining health sectorprofessionals. The health workshop, which is being co-sponsoredby the Commonwealth, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and thehealth department, brought together for the first time seniorrepresentatives from 11 African countries. While developingcountries could not hope to compete with developed countries interms of salaries they offered, FraserMoleketi said there wereother ways Africa could retain its professionals. These includedoffering them nonfinancial incentives such as enriching theirwork environments and making sure health posts, particularlythose in the rural areas, accommodated the families of healthworkers. However, SA was looking at more direct means of keepingits doctors and nurses, she said. "We also don't expect oureconomies to compete with the pound and the dollar, but we willbe looking at paying professionals a better salary," saidFraserMoleketi. William Pick, professor and head of the SAMedical Research Council, said many health professionals left thedeveloping world not for financial reasons but to gainexperience. He said that this was found in a recent study ofhealth professionals in six African countries commissioned by theWHO. The results were to be released in about three to fourweeks. Pick said the study carried out in Cameroon, Ghana,Senegal, Uganda, SA and Zimbabwe was the first comprehensiveattempt to quantify the migration patterns of Africanprofessionals.
Foreign inmates strike (Johannesburg, News24, 21/01) -At least 35 disgruntled inmates, mostly South Americans,are on a hunger strike at the Modderbee Prison in Benoni, east ofJohannesburg, to protest against their arrest, the Gautengcorrectional services department said on Tuesday. SpokespersonIsaac Motseane said most of the men had been convicted for drugdealing. They began their hunger strike last Thursday, althoughsome stopped on Tuesday. The prisoners complained that they hadbeen sentenced on the assumption that they were drug dealers, andnot because they merely possessed narcotics. The men have beenincarcerated at different times since l997, and are servingsentences of between seven and 25 years. Motseane said thecorrectional services department was not in a position to resolvethe problem because the men's complaints were directed at thejustice department. "It is up to the justice department todecide how it will solve the matter." Motseane said thejustice ministry was informed about the hunger strike when itstarted. Justice ministry spokesperson Paul Setsetse could notcomment on Tuesday night, saying he needed more time to gatherdetails about the prisoners' complaints.
Health workers could receive pay hike to combat braindrain (Johannesburg, Sapa, 20/01) - The government mightlook into the prospect of paying doctors and nurses bettersalaries in an effort to reverse the brain drain in the healthsector, Public Service and Administration Minister GeraldineFraser-Moloketi said on Monday. Fraser-Moloketi was speaking atthe opening of a three-day Commonwealth workshop in Sandton thatwould look into developing strategies for attracting andretaining health professionals in the developing world. Theworkshop, which was co-sponsored by the Commonwealth, the WorldHealth Organisation (WHO) and the Department of Health, broughttogether, for the first time, senior representatives from 11African countries. Fraser-Moloketi told the workshop that whiledeveloping countries could not hope to compete with developedcountries in terms of salaries, there were other ways Africacould retain its professionals. These included offering themnon-financial incentives such as enriching their workenvironments and making sure health posts, especially in therural areas, accommodated the needs of the families of healthworkers. South Africa, however, was looking at more direct meansof keeping its doctors and nurses. "We also don't expect oureconomies to compete with the pound and dollar, but we will belooking at paying professionals a better salary. Now it may beeasier for some countries (in Africa) to deal with this thanothers," Fraser-Moloketi said. Professor William Pick, whoaddressed the conference in his capacity as head of the MedicalResearch Council, said many health professionals left thedeveloping world not for financial reasons but to gainexperience. He said this was found at a recent study of healthprofessionals in six African countries, which was commissioned byWHO and whose results were to be released in about three to fourweeks time. Pick said the study - carried out in Cameroon, Ghana,Senegal, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe - was the firstcomprehensive attempt to quantify the migration patterns ofAfrican professionals. He said that because the reasons formigration varied so greatly from country to country, researchersand policy makers needed to look into implementing countryspecific interventions to combat migration. With regards to thephenomenon of intra-African migration, Pick said although therewas a trend for professionals from the poorer north to emigrateto the more affluent south, the effect was negligible.Fraser-Moloketi, for her part, said intra-African migrationneeded to be carefully considered and that South Africa would notbe complicit in the practice of poaching - privately recruitingprofessionals from other countries. She said it was currentlygovernment policy to recruit only in consultation with othergovernments and only in countries such as Cuba, which has anexcess of health professionals and is willing and able to sparesome of them. "We need to look for mechanisms wherebydeveloping countries in Africa can share the resources of otherdeveloping countries. We see this as a commitment to ourcontinent in the spirit of Nepad and the AfricanRenaissance," Fraser-Moloketi said. She said government wasalso trying to finalise a scarce skills policy programme becausestudies had confirmed that public services were most vulnerableat the level of skilled workers. "In recent discussionswe've looked at engaging labour in confronting this (publicservice vulnerability) problem. This engagement is going to befundamental. We need to reverse the situation,"Fraser-Moloketi said. She said the problem of migration was soserious that at the African National Congress national conferencelast year, one of the ministers pushed for a campaign that wouldtackle what was described as a new form of "slavery" -the movement of workers to the developed world. Whenprofessionals move to the developed world, they are often deniedkey benefits such as pension schemes and medical aid - a problemFraser-Moloketi said needed to be urgently addressed.
Countries seek to curb migration of health workers(Pretoria, BuaNews, 20/01) - The migration of skilledhealth professionals from Africa is a problem that is currentlybeing addressed by a forum of six African countries. TheDepartment of Health is hosting a three-day Commonwealth Workshopon Migration of Health workers at the Sandton Convention Centrein Johannesburg. The workshop, which was formally opened bypublic service and administration minister GeraldineFraser-Moleketi today, is aimed at developing strategies forattracting and retaining health workers in the six countries.Speaking at the workshop, Professor William Pick, head of MedicalResearch Council in South Africa, said the World HealthOrganisation (WHO) initiated a study into the matter. He saidstudies were conducted in South Africa, Uganda, Senegal, Ghana,Cameroon and Zimbabwe. Prof Pick said the studies involvedinterviews with key professionals and individuals, includingnurses, Doctors, Pharmacists, midwives and others within thehealth profession through questionnaires. He said studies werealso conducted among returnees and they were asked, among others,what were the reasons they left their countries and why theydecided to return. The studies looked into the number of peoplewho migrated, their professions (within the health sector), thereasons for their migration, what measures need to be put intoplace to reduce these migrations and what effect does thesemigrations have on a country's healthcare system. According toProf Pick, the results of the studies show that most peoplemigrate in order to gain international experience. Results alsoshowed a trend whereby most people migrate to their formercolonial powers, 'South Africans would go to the United Kingdomwhile the Senegalese would go to France.' 'We have alsoestablished that intra-Africa migration is very low and largelyNorth to South and East to West,' he said. The workshop isexpected to develop specialized plans of action for individualcountries.
Conference on health brain drain (Pietermaritzburg,News24, 20/01) - Government may consider paying doctorsand nurses better salaries in an effort to reverse the braindrain in the health sector, Public Service and AdministrationMinister Geraldine Fraser-Moloketi said on Monday.Fraser-Moloketi's statements follow her recent instruction to theKwaZulu-Natal health department to rescind salary increasesawarded unilaterally in early 2001 to more than 49 000 healthemployees. The increases were backdated to July 1999, but haveyet to take effect. Fraser-Moloketi said as the KwaZulu-Natalhealth department had not correctly followed public servicepolicies and legislative frameworks in implementing the meritincreases, the decision would set a dangerous precedent withemployees in other government departments demanding that theirsalary increases be dealt with in similar manner. Fraser-Moloketitold delegates at the opening of a three-day Commonwealthworkshop in Sandton on Monday that government was developingstrategies for attracting and retaining health professionals inthe developing world. The workshop, co-sponsored by theCommonwealth, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and theDepartment of Health, brought together, for the first time,senior representatives from 11 African countries. Fraser-Moloketisaid while developing countries could not hope to compete withdeveloped countries in terms of salaries, there were other waysAfrica could retain its professionals. These included offeringthem non-financial incentives such as enriching their workenvironments and making sure health posts, especially in therural areas, accommodated the needs of the families of healthworkers. South Africa, however, was looking at more direct meansof keeping its doctors and nurses. "We also don't expect oureconomies to compete with the pound and dollar, but we will belooking at paying professionals a better salary. Now it may beeasier for some countries (in Africa) to deal with this thanothers," Fraser-Moloketi said.
Professor William Pick, who addressed the conference in hiscapacity as head of the Medical Research Council, said manyhealth professionals left the developing world not for financialreasons but to gain experience. He said this was found at arecent study of health professionals in six African countries,which was commissioned by WHO and whose results were to bereleased in about three to four weeks time. Pick said the study -carried out in Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, South Africa andZimbabwe - was the first comprehensive attempt to quantify themigration patterns of African professionals. He said that becausethe reasons for migration varied so greatly from country tocountry, researchers and policy makers needed to look intoimplementing country specific interventions to combat migration.With regards to the phenomenon of intra-African migration, Picksaid although there was a trend for professionals from the poorernorth to emigrate to the more affluent south, the effect wasnegligible. Fraser-Moloketi, for her part, said intra-Africanmigration needed to be carefully considered and that South Africawould not be complicit in the practice of poaching - privatelyrecruiting professionals from other countries. She said it wascurrently government policy to recruit only in consultation withother governments and only in countries such as Cuba, which hasan excess of health professionals and is willing and able tospare some of them. "We need to look for mechanisms wherebydeveloping countries in Africa can share the resources of otherdeveloping countries. We see this as a commitment to ourcontinent in the spirit of Nepad and the AfricanRenaissance," Fraser-Moloketi said. She said government wasalso trying to finalise a scarce skills policy programme becausestudies had confirmed that public services were most vulnerableat the level of skilled workers. "In recent discussionswe've looked at engaging labour in confronting this (publicservice vulnerability) problem. This engagement is going to befundamental. We need to reverse the situation,"Fraser-Moloketi said. She said the problem of migration was soserious that at the African National Congress national conferencelast year, one of the ministers pushed for a campaign that wouldtackle what was described as a new form of "slavery" -the movement of workers to the developed world. Whenprofessionals move to the developed world, they are often deniedkey benefits such as pension schemes and medical aid - a problemFraser-Moloketi said needed to be urgently addressed.
Nigerians in court for drug possession (SABC News,20/01) - Two Nigerian men appeared in the SpringsMagistrate's Court today on charges of possession of drugs valuedat about R15 000, East Rand police said. The men were arrestedlast Friday in Springs together with several other suspectedNigerian illegal immigrants. During the police operationsuspected stolen goods including televisions, video machines,four computers, 15 cellphones and a car radio with a combinedvalue of R100 000 were confiscated. Andy Pieke, policespokesperson, said of the two who appeared today, one receivedR1000 bail and the other was released on a warning. The case waspostponed to next Monday. Two other Nigerians are expected toappear on drug charges in the Springs Magistrate's Courttomorrow.
SA, Mozambique labour relations set to strengthen(Pretoria, BuaNews, 19/01) - Labour relations betweenSouth Africa and Mozambique are set to strengthen following thesigning of an agreement that seeks to provide protection formigrant workers in the two countries. On Friday, labour ministerMembathisi Mdladlana and his Mozambican counterpart Mario Sevensigned the pact, aimed at balancing improvements to bi-laterallabour market efficiencies with the protection and security ofmigrant workers in the two countries. 'This agreement in thefield of labour and employment that we signed today (Friday) isthe foundation for joint action for our joint work for thereconstruction and development of our countries and gives ourpeople the opportunity to embark on individual and collectiveadvancement and development,' Minister Mdladlana said. He addedthat South Africa and Mozambique needed to jointly regulate thelabour market to prevent the illegal employment and exploitationof Mozambicans by unscrupulous South African employers. 'It isthe duty of all Mozambican and South African citizens to fightagainst any sign and all forms of xenophobia,' he said. There arecurrently 72 000 Mozambicans working legally in the country, ofwhich 12 000 work on farms and the remainder in the mines. Atotal of 1 100 Mozambicans receive Compensation Fund payouts fromthe South African Department of Labour. Minister Mdladlana saidthe two countries shared not only similar histories ofcolonialism and oppression, but also similar visions and idealsof a new united and developed region and prosperous Africa. 'Thisshared vision makes a strengthening of the our bonds imperative,not just for the benefit of South Africa and Mozambique, but alsofor the good of Africa and all Africans. 'Since the establishmentof the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation - headed by thePresidents of Mozambique and South Africa - over 20 bilateralagreements have been signed. This is a clear reflection of theimportance of the relationship between our two countries.'Minister Mdladlana also emphasised that the recently announcedSectoral Determination for the Agricultural Sector - settingbasic working conditions and minimum wages for farmers - willapply to all farm workers in South Africa, irrespective ofnationality, when it becomes effective on 1 March.
SA, Mozambique sign deal to protect migrant workers(Johannesburg, Sapa, 17/01) - South Africa andMozambique signed an agreement on Friday aimed at regulating thelabour market and ensure migrant workers from both countries werenot exploited. Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said in astatement the deal also discouraged the employment of Mozambicanswho were in the country illegally and ensured those workinglegitimately were not abused. "This agreement is thefoundation for joint action for the reconstruction anddevelopment of our countries," the minister said at thesigning ceremony in Maputo. His Mozambican counterpart, MarioSeven, was the co-signatory. "It gives our people theopportunity to embark on individual and collective advancementand development." He said the two countries needed tojointly regulate the labour market in such a away that theemployment of Mozambicans in South Africa illegally and theirexploitation by unscrupulous employers was prevented. "It isthe duty of all Mozambican and South African citizens to fightagainst any sign and all forms of xenophobia," Mdladlanasaid. There were currently 72000 Mozambicans working legally inSouth Africa with 12000 work on farms and the remainder in themines, he said. A total of 1100 Mozambicans received CompensationFund payouts from his department. "We share not only similarhistories of colonialism and oppression, but also similar visionsand ideals of a new united and developed region and prosperousAfrica," Mdladlana said. "This shared vision makes astrengthening of the our bonds imperative, not just for thebenefit of South Africa and Mozambique but also for the good ofAfrica and all Africans."
SA and Mozambique sign labour deal (Johannesburg,News24, 17/01) - Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlanaand his Mozambican counterpart Minister Mario Seven have signedan agreement aimed at balancing improvements to bi-lateral labourmarket efficiencies with the protection and security of migrantworkers in the two countries, the department said in a statement."This agreement in the field of labour and employment thatwe signed today is the foundation for joint action for our jointwork for the reconstruction and development of our countries, andgives our people the opportunity to embark on individual andcollective advancement and development," Mdladlana said."South Africa and Mozambique need to jointly regulate thelabour market in such a way that the employment of Mozambicans inSouth Africa illegally and their exploitation by unscrupulousSouth African employers is prevented," he added. There arecurrently 72 000 Mozambicans working legally in South Africa,with 12 000 working on farms and the remainder in the mines. Atotal of 1 100 Mozambicans receive Compensation Fund pay-outsfrom the South African Department of Labour. "We share notonly similar histories of colonialism and oppression, but alsosimilar visions and ideals of a new united and developed regionand prosperous Africa. This shared vision makes a strengtheningof the our bonds imperative, not just for the benefit of SouthAfrica and Mozambique but also for the good of Africa and allAfricans," Mdladlana said. "Since the establishment ofthe Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation - headed by thePresidents of Mozambique and South Africa - over 20 bilateralagreements have been signed. This is a clear reflection of theimportance of he relationship between our two countries," hesaid. Mdladlana also emphasised that the recently announcedSectoral Determination for the Agricultural Sector - settingbasic working conditions and minimum wages for farmers - willapply to all farm workers in South Africa, irrespective ofnationality, when it becomes effective on March 1, 2003.
Labour ministers to discuss illegal Mozambican farmworkers (Pretoria, BuaNews, 16/01) - Labour ministerMembathisi Mdladlana left for Mozambique today to discuss theabuse of illegal Mozambican farm labourers in South Africa.Labour department spokesperson Snuki Zikalala said MinisterMdladlana and his Mozambican counterpart Mario Sevene would signa memorandum of co-operation to try find a solution to theemployment of illegal immigrants, as well as the abuse andrepatriation of Mozambicans. Mr Zikalala said the ministers wouldalso deliberate on allegations that South African employersforced Mozambicans to undergo compulsory HIV/AIDS testing as aprerequisite to getting employment. 'It's going to be a one-dayvisit, and after a month they will then visit some farms,especially in the Nelspruit area, to check compliance with labourlaws,' he said. Mpumalanga's labour inspectors have foundcommercial farmers in the Onderberg area bordering Mozambique whoclaim Mozambican workers were docile, unlike their localcounterparts. Wits Refugee Research Programme head Hernan deValle said there were about 220 000 illegal and legal Mozambicansin Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. De Valle couldn't say howmany were employed on farms. He said that many Mozambicans cameduring the country's civil war and some were continuing to enterSouth Africa in search of jobs. 'You could expect more coming toSouth Africa because of the floods in that country.' Last week,Minister Mdladlana signed a memorandum of understanding with hisZimbabwean counterpart, July Moyo, to find ways of regulatingabout 10 000 Zimbabwean farm workers in Limpopo.
Brain gain hitting SA, claims Minister of Labour(Johannesburg, The Mercury, 14/01) - Compared toZimbabwe, which has lost thousands of professionals in anunprecedented skills exodus, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlanasaid South Africa was experiencing a "brain gain".Mdladlana said most of the people who were leaving South Africawere white professionals. They were leaving for various reasons,including crime and economic factors. "However, consideringthat we are receiving a lot of quality brains from several partsof the continent, South Africa is experiencing a braingain," the minister said. Between January and October lastyear, about 9 000 professionals, including medical practitioners,engineers and teachers, left South Africa to find employmentoverseas. This figure may invoke perceptions of a mass flight ofskills. The latest figures released by Statistics South Africaindicate that last year 9 908 professionals left the country.However, these figures only include self-declared emigrants wholeft South Africa via the three international airports in Durban,Johannesburg and Cape Town. As yet there are no accurate recordsof emigration because such data is submitted on a voluntarybasis. Increasingly, the allure of the British pound and the USdollar have seen international recruitment agencies flourish inSouth Africa. Mdladlana said the indications were that SouthAfrica was attracting skills from Zimbabwe and other Africancountries. "South Africa was experiencing a braingain," said Mdladlana. During his tour of Zimbabwe last weekit emerged that about 5 000 Zimbabweans had left that country tojoin the British army, adding to the massive brain drain.Nhlanhla Masuku, spokesperson for Zimbabwe's National EconomicConsultative Forum, acknowledged that his country wasexperiencing a flight of high quality skills. Masuku toldBusiness Report on Monday that the Zimbabweans had been accepted"because the standard of training here compares pound forpound with that in Britain''. Nick Sheppard, spokesperson for theBritish High Commission in Pretoria, said: "There are peopleof British descent from that country who have joined the Britisharmy, but they have not done so as a regiment or a core group ofZimbabweans. We do not have specific figures of suchpeople." Masuku said the reasons cited for the skills exodusincluded economic and political uncertainty, exacerbated by theland reform programmes. Masuku, who was among variousstakeholders who met with Mdladlana during his visit to Zimbabwe,said Zimbabwe had lost too many people to the West since they hadbeen offered attractive packages. "For instance, a largenumber of technicians, pharmacists, radiographers and engineersget offered packages they cannot turn down. The situation is sobad that very soon we will be without certain professions. Mostof them go to England, New Zealand, Australia and Canada,'' hesaid. Masuku said a classic case was that of 15 000 Zimbabweanstaking up jobs in Quebec in two successive years. He said thebrain drain further attested to the fact that the quality oftraining in the country was very high.
Farm inspection flop (Musina, African Eye NewsService, 13/01) - Farm inspections by South Africa andZimbabwe's labour ministers flopped on Friday when they were metby only three farm labourers dressed in suits and ties on onefarm, and no workers on the other farm. Farm workers' rightsactivists said local labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana andZimbabwean counterpart July Moyo wasted their time as they wereunable to get a proper picture of the abuse farm workers suffer."It was pure window dressing," said fieldworker for theNkuzi Development Association Shirhami Shirinda. "Where haveyou seen a farm worker working in a suit and tie. You could seethe clothes were new and bought to deceive the ministers. Oneworker was even looking very uncomfortable in a pair of newshoes." While the ministers met with the three suitedlabourers at Rudi Vos Farm, they found no workers at MaswiriBoerdery, one of the province's biggest citrus and tomato farms."Their visit achieved nothing. They should have spoken toworkers as they're the ones suffering," Shirinda said. Thefarms are near the Zimbabwean border and the visits, according tolabour spokesman, were meant to give the ministers insight intothe extent of Zimbabwean labour in South Africa and compliance bythe Soutpansberg region farmers to labour legislation. Nationallabour spokesman Snuki Zikalala concurred the visit was a failureand said, "we were not satisfied. We'll still go [back] tothose farms and see what is happening." The ministers did,however, witness the leakiness of the Beit Bridge border postwhen their police escorts nabbed three illegal Zimbabweanteenagers. Meanwhile, a small group of unemployed farm labourerspicketed during the ministers' visit and demanded that SouthAfricans get first option for jobs. Nkuzi organised the picketand the workers also demanded that Mdladlana ensure that theminimum wage for farm workers is introduced at the beginning ofMarch. Mdladlana and Moyo have agreed to sign a memorandum ofunderstanding before the end of July this year, to addresscritical issues like the plight of former Zimbabwean migrant mineworkers, Zimbabwean farm workers in Limpopo and the revival ofthe Joint Task Force on Chrysotile Asbestos. According to SouthAfrica's labour department, there are about 10 000 illegal andlegal Zimbabweans employed on Limpopo farms. The departments oflabour and home affairs have been trying to phase out illegalZimbabwean farm workers in the province for about four years.
Plight of farm workers highlighted (Pretoria, BuaNews,13/01) - At the heart of every migrant worker'sexperience is a long tale of misery characterised by brokenfamily ties and exploitation from working under 'slave-like'conditions, especially when in a foreign country, writesMantshele wa ga Tau. But it seems all of this would be athing of the past, particularly for the helpless Zimbabweannationals working on South African farms, thanks to a mutualeffort by South Africa's labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana andhis Zimbabwean counterpart, minister for public service, labourand social welfare July Moyo. So, when Mr Mdladlana last weekundertook to embark on a three-day working visit to Harare (fromWednesday to Friday), to put final touches and to further cementcooperation on labour and employment as espoused in the proposedMemorandum of Understanding (MOU), his actions spoke volumes. Theissue of thousands of Zimbabwean nationals working on the farms,whose plight cannot be 'heard' or 'protected' because they arenot registered as workers in South Africa, topped the agenda of aseries of bilateral talks between the two ministers. There areabout 10 000 Zimbabweans working on South African farms, mostlyin the Musina area in Limpopo province. These workers are,according to some NGOs representing them, the most abusedworkers, 'almost subjected to slave-like working conditions.'Because they are not registered, the farmers reportedly takeadvantage and exploit them by paying them 'peanuts' or givingthem food in return for hard labour. 'The situation is veryserious, it cannot be left like that. The fact that twogovernments have seen it appropriate to act is most welcomed,'activist Shirhami Shirinda of Nkuzi Development Association saidon Friday during a media tour to some of the farms in Musina.Painting a picture of the seriousness of the Zimbabweannationals, and others like them who illegally crossed boundariesin search of food or employment without proper documents ofregistration, Mr Shirinda said 'when they die farmers easilydisown them.' 'They just dump them in mortuaries as unknownpeople, their families will never get to know their whereaboutsor whether they are amongst the dead or the living. Its verydifficult because we cannot trace their roots. 'God forgive mefor this, but I have found myself having to do something aboutdead bodies being left to rot in mortuaries by farmers. I buriedabout three people last year because nobody would do it. I feelbad because their families will never know anything about it,only God knows,' he said fighting back tears of sorrow. Alarmedat reports of abuse at farms in Musina, Minister Mdladlana lastFriday teamed-up with Minister Moyo to get first hand informationabout the situation there. Limpopo agriculture MEC AaronMotswaledi joined the two ministers.
They inspected border fences, which are said to be porous thuscausing a security threat for farmers and the country at large,and enabling the flow of illegal immigrants into South Africa.The two ministers promised to make sure that their respectivegovernment departments in their countries addressed the matterand treated it with 'urgency.' Though they could not divulgemuch, the two ministers had earlier during their interactions inHarare, 'strategised about what to do about the situation onLimpopo farms'. They made it crystal clear that the issue ofZimbabwean workers on the farms was a very serious one. The issuetops the list of challenges outlined in the MOU, which will besigned into existence in July. In addition, MOU however hopes tostrike a balance on social dialogue processes as well as socialsecurity. Minister Mdladlana pointed out during visits to the twofarms - Vryheid farm and Maswiri Boedery - that when the SectoralDetermination (in South Africa) came into effect on 1 March itwould also seek to protect Zimbabwean farmers as soon as theywere registered. In the South African context, the SectoralDetermination designed by the labour department to protectvulnerable workers (in all sectors) sets conditions of employmentfor farm workers and prescribes the minimum wage farmers arerequired to pay. Depending on the hours labourers have worked andwhere they are geographically located in the country, theproposed payment ranges between R650 and R800 per month - the'most reasonable ever to be proposed by the labour department,'according to the minister. Later after a visit to the farms, thetwo ministers addressed at packed press conference in LouisTrichardt. Mr Mdladlana responded to a question regarding'resistance of farmers to proposed sectoral determination,'saying 'anyone who will resist it would have stopped thinking.'Touching on the issue of land reform, the minister (South Africa)emphasised that 'the country's policy was based on the 'willingbuyer willing selling approach' as outlined in the constitution.''This approach is working for us and there is no going back,' hesaid.
We know that we have to move faster, even AgriSA supports uson this, he added. Explaining challenges in the context of theMOU, Minister Moyo said he had noted that the issue of theOccupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act was the responsibilityof all companies in SA, while in Zimbabwe 'only one organisationwas working on it.' On food shortage in the neighbouringstrife-torn country, Mr Moyo told the media that 'food shortagewas caused by drought conditions' and the entire region wasfeeling the brunt of it.' However, he pointed out that thegovernment was using all resources available to purchase food forthe millions of Zimbabweans threatened by famine. 'Ninety percentof food is bought by the government to ensure both the spiritualand physical survival of the whole population and ultimately tomake sure that peace prevails.' Meanwhile, minister Mdladlanaannounced that he would be meeting ministers of Lesotho andMozambique to share ideas with his counterparts on how best toassist ex-workers and those currently working in South Africa.TEBA Bank, according to Minister Mdladlana still has to paybenefits to ex-workers. While there will be work going on betweenthe two government officials (Zimbabwe and South Africa) torealize the all-important MOU by putting together all thenecessities, the ministers would be bracing themselves to inkinto paper the agreement in July.
Farmers unhappy about new wage legislation(Johannesburg, Business Day, 13/01) - Some landowners inMussina have taken to paying hard-pressed Zimbabwean immigrantsas little as R350 a month. Not everyone is happy about the newlyintroduced sectoral determination for agricultural workers, leastof all the farmers on SA's border with Zimbabwe. The farmers inMussina, who have become accustomed to using Zimbabwean labour,which is plentiful and cheap in the area, have not welcomedsectoral determination which is aimed at improving the income andworking conditions of poorly paid farm workers with open arms.Many Zimbabwean farm workers make the journey over the Limpoporiver illegally to seek out better job opportunities than thoseavailable in their famine-stricken country. The labour departmentestimates that there are 10000 Zimbabwean workers now in SA, manyof them working in the country illegally. Farmers in the areahave taken advantage of this large pool of available labour bypaying lower wages to foreign workers compared to local workerssometimes as low as R350 a month. Many of the farm owners alsoprefer foreign workers, claiming local workers demand more payand find the hard work unappealing. But all this is about tochange. From next month, the minimum wage and basic conditions ofemployment for farm workers will be enforced in SA, which puts afloor on the level of wages a farm worker can earn. Farm workersin the Mussina area, including foreign workers with work permits,should earn a minimum of R650 a month. Farmers are opposed to theminimum wages, claiming that widespread job losses would result.However, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana is not at allentertaining this viewpoint. Speaking after inspecting some farmssituated along the border with Zimbabwe on Friday, Mdladlanawarned farmers not to resist the legislation. "SA has one ofthe most flexible labour markets in the world. While some peopleare resisting (the minimum wages), there are farm workers thatare demanding R2000 a month. "We will implement and makesure people comply with the sectoral determination. People mustnot try to resist it," he said. Mdladlana made the commentsafter a two-day meeting with his Zimbabwean counterpart, JulyMoyo, as part of SA's ongoing bilateral talks with Zimbabwe. Thetwo ministers will sign a memorandum of understanding by June,pledging closer co-operation on matters relating to the labourmarket in both countries. The discussions between Mdladlana andMoyo will look at regularising the exchange of farm labourbetween the two countries. Mdladlana says he will look at ways ofmaking the recruitment of Zimbabwean workers easier for farmersin areas bordering the two countries.
He is keen to avoid a repeat of last year's political falloutwhen the home affairs department wanted to expel about 10000Zimbabwean farm workers from farms in Limpopo, after their workpermits expired. Farmers were opposed to the move, as theycontemplated a loss of cheap labour. Next month's implementationof the minimum wage for the sector would, to some extent, removethis discrimination of Zimbabwean workers as a form of cheaplabour. However, the new minimum wage laws do not stop Limpopofarmers from employing illegal workers on farms. This remains aheadache, not only for the labour department, but for the defenceforce, which patrols SA's border with Zimbabwe, as well as thehome affairs department. Rudi Vos, who heads the Mussina FarmersAssociation, took both ministers on a visit to some border farmsto show how easy it was for Zimbabweans to cross the borderillegally into SA. Vos says more than 50 people each day make thehazardous journey across the Limpopo river and through the gapsin certain parts of the fence separating SA from Zimbabwe.Inevitably, the illegal immigrants make their way onto nearbyfarms, where they may find work from some unscrupulous farmers.Vos says farmers who do not employ the illegal foreigners areunlikely to report them to the police, fearing victimisationafterwards. "Protection for the farmer is a problem. If wereport (the illegal immigrants) to the police, they are arrestedand taken across the border back to their homes. But in a fewweeks they will make their way back to SA," he said. As ifon cue, the police arrive on the scene where the two ministersare visiting a Mussina farm, with three Zimbabwean teenagers,picked up as they crossed over into SA illegally. The youngsters,aged from 14 to 19, made their way across dry sections of theLimpopo river from their village, located about 2km away fromwhere they were picked up. "We have no food and work in ourvillage. Our parents took us out of school so that we can findwork," said one of the boys. The three had hoped to findwork on a neighbouring fruit farm, where seasonal workers areemployed, but for the moment faced the prospect of returning totheir village.
Investigate immigration says NNP (Cape Town, News24,13/01) - The New National Party (NNP) says an assessmentof entry procedures into South Africa needs to be undertakenafter it was reported here on Monday that police in the WesternCape are investigating large-scale gun-running to Iraq. A CapeTown newspaper reported this afternoon that police detectives haddiscovered a multi-million-dollar shopping list for hi-techmilitary equipment in the Fresnaye home of a Finnish fugitivearrested late last year. Police detectives arrested convictedfraudster Sven Peter Fryckman in November last year. He was beinghunted by the Finnish authorities to serve a jail term.Thenewspaper reported that Fryckman was sentenced in 2000 to 18months jail on charges of "aggravated dishonesty by adebtor". Fryckman apparently jumped bail and fled to CapeTown during an appeal to the Finnish Supreme Court. DarylSwanepoel, NNP executive director, said the investigation raisedthe question as to how another fugitive had found a safe haven inSouth Africa following the cases of alleged fraudster JurgenHarksen, who has since been extradited to Germany, and TanzanianKhalfan Mohamed, who had been implicated in the Nairobi bomb. TheNNP said it was concerned with the immigration procedures"which are clearly amiss". The party questioned how wasit possible for immigrants who are fugitives to enter the countrydespite rigid requirements of criminal records. The NNP, whichco-rules the Western Cape with the ANC, said it would also useParliamentary procedures to ascertain whether the immigrationprocedure of the well-known fugitive involved was properlyhandled and what shortcomings there are to tighten up proceduresto ensure that similar situations were prevented in future. WhileSafety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula's spokesperson AndreMartin said he could not comment at this stage, police directorSally de Beer was quoted as saying that the matter had beenbrought to the attention of the national police "and isbeing looked into".
Labour to enforce farm worker laws (Polokwane,Dispatch Online, 13/01) - Labour Minister MembathisiMdladlana said on Saturday his department would vigorouslyimplement the sectoral determination for the agricultural sectoras soon as it becomes effective on March 1. He warned in astatement there would be no tolerance for those who ignored thelaw. The minister was speaking after he had visited two Limpopofarms with the Zimbabwean Minister of Public Service, Labour andSocial Welfare, July Moyo. "South Africans cannot demandthat the rule of law is paramount in Zimbabwe, but flout SouthAfrican laws when it suits them. We will enforce the provisionsof the sectoral determination which not only regulates wages, butall aspects of the employment relationship," Mdladlana said.Mdladlana emphasised that the determination -- like all labourlegislation -- applied to South African and non-South Africanworkers in South Africa. He also dismissed alleged threats bysome farmers to resist the implementation of the determination,describing it as an extremely reasonable law. Mdladlana called onSouth African farmers to stop employing illegal immigrants fromZimbabwe. He warned that the employment of workers in the countryillegally was a criminal offence. The minister committed thedepartment to an ongoing programme of dialogue with role-playersnorth of Soutpansberg regarding the plight of Zimbabweanimmigrant workers and the impact the influx of these jobseekerswas having on business and labour. Moyo said the key issueneeding resolution was for migrant workers to be able to crossthe Limpopo River in an orderly manner and for their activitiesto be regulated.
Mdladlana, Moyo visit Limpopo farms (SABC News, 11/01)- Membathisi Mdladlana, the Minister of Labour, todaysaid his department would vigorously implement the sectoraldetermination for the agricultural sector as soon as it becomeseffective on March 1. In a statement he warned that there wouldbe no tolerance for those who ignored the law. The minister wasspeaking after he had visited two Limpopo farms with JonathanMoyo, the Zimbabwean Minister of Public Service, Labour andSocial Welfare. The ministers arrived in Limpopo yesterday afterstaging bilateral discussions in Harare and visiting re-settledZimbabwean farms. "South Africans can not demand that therule of law is paramount in Zimbabwe, but flout South Africanlaws when it suits them. We will enforce the provisions of thesectoral determination which not only regulates wages, but allaspects of the employment relationship," Mdladlana said.Mdladlana emphasised that the determination - like all labourlegislation - applied to South African and non-South Africanworkers in South Africa. He also dismissed alleged threats bysome farmers to resist the implementation of the determination,describing the determination as an extremely reasonable law.Mdladlana also called on South African farmers to stop employingillegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. He warned that the employmentof workers in the country illegally was a criminal offence. Theminister also committed the department to an ongoing programme ofdialogue with role-players north of Soutpansberg regarding theplight of Zimbabwean immigrant workers and the impact the influxof these job seekers is having on business and labour. Moyo saidthat the key issue needing resolution was that migrant workersare able to cross the Limpopo river in an orderly manner and thattheir activities were regulated. Moyo added that while the issueof cross-border migration had been a key area of discussion withMdladlana, they had focused on a range of issues, many of themcovered in a Memorandum of Understanding that would be signed inJune 2003.
Labour memorandum between South Africa and Zimbabwe(Harare, The Herald, 10/01) - Zimbabwe and South Africahave drafted a memorandum of understanding in various areasregarding labour issues, a Cabinet Minister said yesterday. TheMinister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde JulyMoyo, told journalists in Mvurwi that it was understood thememorandum of understanding would be signed by June. "Thedocument will represent the interests of the two states as thebiggest trading partners in Africa," said Cde Moyo. "Wehave to administer labour knowing fully well that our economiesare integrated, so we have to share information." Cde Moyowas speaking after touring three resettlement areas in the MazoweDistrict with the visiting South African Labour Minister, MrMembathisi Mdladlana. Mr Mdladlana arrived in the country withhis delegation on Tuesday night to discuss the memorandum ofunderstanding between the two ministries. Cde Moyo said thememorandum of understanding would make the two countries exchangeviews on a number of issues such as labour reforms. "Labouris a dynamic process, so we need to update our laws," saidCde Moyo. "We will also exchange information on sectors suchas mining. We are looking at exchanging views on how to deal withthe issue of farm workers to alleviate their poverty because theyare living in squalid conditions." The memorandum ofunderstanding would also address broader issues of co-operationwithin the Southern Africa Development Community, the AfricanUnion and the international community. He said the memorandum ofunderstanding was being drafted within the framework of the JointCommission between Zimbabwe and South Africa that also looked atvarious sectors. Mr Mdladlana said he had learnt a lot fromZimbabwe, especially from the tour of the three farms. Thedelegation toured Devondale Farm Plot 1 owned by an indigenousfarmer resettled under the model A2 scheme, Chaddsley Farm wherea white commercial farmer is co-existing with resettled farmersand Dawe Farm given to former farm workers.
Labour minister hears from farm workers (Musina,African Eye News Service, 09/01) - South Africa andZimbabwe's labour ministers are expected to be met by disgruntledfarm residents on Friday when they inspect farms in theSoutpansberg area in South Africa's Limpopo province. A SouthAfrican farm workers and land rights NGO, Nkuzi DevelopmentAssociation, indicated on Thursday that it was mobilisinghundreds of jobless farm residents to picket when local labourminister Membathisi Mdladlana and his Zimbabwean counterpart JulyMoyo visit the region. Nkuzi fieldworker Shirhami Shirinda saidthe picket would be in sympathy with both local and Zimbabweanfarm labourers who suffer abuse at the hands of brutal farmers."Police are also to blame," said Shirinda."They're often reluctant to help abused Zimbabwean farmworkers. Zimbabweans are regarded as having no rights," headded. Shirinda said jobless South Africans would try explain tothe ministers that they should be given priority for employmenton the farms, and that farmers should stick to labour lawregulations. Mdladlana and Moyo's visit will focus on the extentof foreign labour in South Africa and the level of compliance tolabour legislation, said national labour spokesman Snuki Zikalalaearlier this week. Zikalala said Mdladlana and Moyo would sign amemorandum of understanding that would allow Zimbabweans to applyfor valid documents to work on farms in South Africa. He said thememo would ensure that the Zimbabwean government knew whatcriteria South Africa would use to deport illegal workers.Zikalala said that there were about 10 000 legal and illegalZimbabweans employed in the Soutpansberg. Farm workers' rightsactivists claim that farmers prefer employing foreigners becausethey have no unions and accept very low wages unlike theirinformed local counterparts. The departments of labour and homeaffairs have been trying to phase out illegal Zimbabwean farmworkers in the province for about four years. In 2001 homeaffairs issued about 5 000 work permits to Zimbabwean nationalsthat were already employed in the country and declined to grantadditional visas in a bid to increase the number of South Africanfarm workers in the area. Farmers however claim that labourofficials have failed to provide them with local workforce, andtherefore continued to hire Zimbabweans. Agri-North chairman JohnWilliams said that there was a shortage of young South Africanswilling to work on farms. Williams said that local youth opted towork in the cities.
Illegal immigrants to get labour rights (SABC News,09/01) - South Africa and Zimbabwe are taking steps toregulate the status and working conditions of illegal Zimbabweanimmigrants working on South African farms. The move is aimed atstamping out the exploitation of cheap foreign labour by givingthem the same labour rights enjoyed by South African workers. Themigration of Zimbabweans into South Africa goes back manydecades. Initially, they crossed the border to work in the mines.However, after 1994 they have became a source of cheap labour onfarms. It's estimated that there are currently more than 10 000Zimbabwean illegal immigrants working on farms in Limpopoprovince alone. Membathisi Mdladlana, the South African LabourMinister, said: "I don't want employers to say they don'twant to employ South Africans because they are expensive, insteademploying cheap Zimbabweans. They must benefit from minimum wagesand conditions." Zimbabwe is South Africa's largest tradingpartner. The two governments says there is a need for them towork together to regulate their labour markets. July Moyo, theZimbabwe Labour Minister, said the two economies are next to eachother so it is important for the two to interact. The twoministers are to lead a joint delegation of labour officials andimmigration experts to inspect several farms in Limpopo Provinceon Friday.
Few South Africans willing to replace Zimbabwean farmworkers (Musina, African Eye, News, Service, 08/01) - Labourauthorities are struggling to find South Africans to replaceillegal Zimbabwean workers on farms in the far northern areas ofLimpopo, says Agri-North chairman John Williams. Speaking aheadof farm inspections by labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana andhis Zimbabwean counterpart July Moyo in the Soutpansberg regionon Friday, Williams said about 10 000 legal and illegalZimbabweans were employed in the region. The departments oflabour and home affairs first tried to phase out illegalZimbabwean farm workers in the province about four years ago. Theexercise followed complaints from farm workers' rights activiststhat farmers shunned local labour in favour of cheap foreignlabour. In 2001 home affairs issued about 5 000 work permits toZimbabwean nationals that were already employed in the countryand declined to grant additional visas in a bid to increase thenumber of South African farm workers in the area. The labourdepartment undertook to help farmers find South African workers,but have been unable to find many. "One farmer even providedthe labour department with a truck to find him about 100 workers,but they came back a week later with only one person,"Williams said. Williams said young South Africans weren't keen towork on farms anymore and were opting to find work in the city.Labour spokesman Snuki Zikalala said Mdladlana and Moyo wouldsign a memorandum of understanding that would allow Zimbabweansto apply for valid documents to work on farms in South Africa."Farmers will also have follow procedures and be able toprove that they couldn't find enough South Africans to fill thepositions," Zikalala said. He said the memo would ensurethat the Zimbabwean government knew what criteria South Africawould use to deport illegal workers. As part of the inspection onFriday, the ministers will investigate whether the influx ofZimbabweans in the province is a result of political turmoil andstarvation in their home country. Zikalala added that farmerswould have to comply with the newly introduced minimum wage ofR800 per month in metropolitan areas and R600 in rural areas asfrom March this year. Marc Wegerif, an executive director ofNkuzi Development Association, said many farmers were currentlypaying South Africans far below the minimum wage and Zimbabweanswere getting even less. "Now that there's a minimum wage itwill be interesting to see if farmers comply because they've beensaying that local workers are expensive," said Wegerif.
Bid to fight brain drain continues (SABC News, 03/01)- Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the Health Minister, hasre-iterated that her department is working around the clock tofight brain drain of experienced health professionals by thedepartment. Tshabalala-Msimang says the ministry is working on astrategy to retain health workers based on a financial andnon-financial packages. She says they are working closely withother Commonwealth members to complete recruitment strategy ofhealth professionals.Meanwhile the Health Department and Financehas set aside more than R60 million to improve security at healthcentres throughout the country to protect health workers. MolefiSefularo, the North West Health MEC, says security at some of thehealth centres is a serious concern that needs urgent attention.
Border post congestion manageable, says DHA (Pretoria,Dispatch Online, 01/01) - Problems at border postsbetween South Africa and her neighbours have been largely sortedout, and congestion was now "manageable", theDepartment of Home Affairs said yesterday. "The queues areshorter and the service faster," departmental spokesmanApollo Gopolang told reporters here. "There were a lot ofproblems, but in the past seven to 10 days we were able to sortthem out." The busiest border post is Beit Bridge situatedbetween South Africa and Zimbabwe. It has seen close to 9000travellers passing through between December 24 and 2pm on Monday.Gopolang said the congestion was the result of "seasonalmigration" in the Southern African region, which is normalfor December and April. "During this period the sojourn(sic) of people into South Africa and other neighbouring statesis characterised by tourist tours, returning migrant labour, andfestive season trading." As a result, human resources atports of entry are over-stretched. However, the border controlauthorities of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland andBotswana have agreed to extend service hours for privatetravellers during the festive season. The department hasfurthermore deployed extra staff at the busiest ports of entry.Gopolang said the department was engaged in talks with the SANational Defence Force and SA Revenue Service to ascertain howthey could help ease congestion. "We are also communicatingwith our counterparts across the borders to see what assistancethey can offer. He said the department was committed to renderingan effective service.
ID card criticized as instruments of coercion (Timesof Swaziland, 26/01) - It's started, the erosion of anyremaining civil liberties that the government left in placesimply because they had been overlooked. The ID card system isthe tool that is being used to deny any remaining notion thatSwaziland's authorities might actually have any concept of humanrights. We predicted last year that the ID cards would be used tocontrol the people- although we were hoping our fears would turnout to be misplaced. Contrary to received opinion, it doesn'tfeel good to be able to say, 'we told you so'. But we did. Soon,without an ID card you quite simply will cease to exist in thiscountry. Without an ID card you won't be able to do anything-geta job; get a driving licence; open a bank account; get a placefor your child in school; register a birth; get married or evenbury a body; and so on, ad infinitum. Moreover, you won't be ableto stay in just any area you choose: 'You were born in Macetjeni?Then you must show allegiance to Prince Maguga...' and so on. TheID cards are in actuality Swaziland's version of South Africa'snotorious pass law system, a tool created by a gove nment for thebluntly obvious purpose of controlling its people. This was madeclear by the reports this week that by April 1St 2003 'no-onewill be paid' unless they have an ID card. This is not an optionbut an order. By April 1st 2003 you must have an ID card if youwant to do anything at all. By contrast, if you were born herebut want a passport you can forget it; if you've lived here allyour life, but want citizenship you can forget it; if you'veinvested in the country but want to settle here you can forgetit-at this point there isn't even a citizenship board inexistence. Naively, some people think that the ID card systemwill 'weed out the undesirables'-meaning the drug traffickers andtheir ilk-but these kinds of people are exactly those who willhave no trouble at all in getting an ID document; no, if any'undesirables' are weeded out, most likely it will be thoseconsidered by the authorities to be 'progressives' or'troublemakers'-anyone in fact, who will not toe the officialline. Already the card system has become an instrument ofcoercion.
Exiled Swazis starving in SA (Times of Swaziland,13/01) - As many people wined and dined on ChristmasDay, it was a different story altogether for the 54 evicteesexiled in South Africa who were wondering where their next mealwould come from. The evictees are those from Macetjeni andKaMkhweli areas that were moved with their chiefs Mliba Fakudzeand Mtfuso II Dlamini, to make way for double chief PrinceMaguga. he evictees reside at a former South African DefenceForce school called Ngagana. They have been starving since themiddle of October 2002 after the donated food they were given inAugust 2002 ran out. Chief Mliba said from mid October they hadbeen living from hand to mouth and going around Secunda beggingfor crumbs. He said they are presently being sustained by kindneighbours who give them whatever they can spare from theirfamilies. "In terms of food and enjoyment, we only heardpeople talking about Christmas and New Year," Chief Mlibasaid. "We had no food to enjoy Christmas, let alonesomething to drink. The last time the South African Council ofChurches, our sole benefactor since the Red Cross pulled out,gave us food was in August. That food was wholly consumed by midOctober and since then we have been starving and struggling tomake ends meet," Chief Mliba said. He said in the beginningof December 2002, their plight was alleviated a little bit whenthe South African Social Welfare Office gave them foodstuffs. Hesaid although they were grateful for the donation, the mainproblem was that in the food parcels there was a lot ofvegetables and very little mealie meal. He said everybody knowsthat no one can live on relish alone but needs porridge to gowith it. Chief Mliba said they are very grateful to their kindneighbours more so because Secunda is not an affluent society butsome people still find it in their hearts to donate food to them.On medication, Chief Mliba said they do not have a problembecause they are given free treatment in the health centres inthe area. Asked why the South African Council of Churches pulledout from helping them, Chief Mliba said they had not obtained aclear explanation. He said at least the Red Cross had explainedthat it had run out of funds, as there were many other needypeople it had to cater for in South Africa. He said althoughthere has been no clear explanation from the Council of Churches,each time they enquire they are promised that help would beforthcoming soon. He said Chief Mtfuso, himself and theirsubjects hope that the humanitarian help would be resumed soonbecause things are really tough for them.
Government formulating policy to control foreignbusiness (Times of Swaziland, 13/01) - The government isin the process of formulating strategies that will control theinflux of foreigners in the Small business sector in Swazilandreplacing Swazi business people in the process. According to agovernment source close to the matter, the policy will mainlyfocus on the loopholes that make it easy for foreigners to enterthe small business sector and further find ways to promote Swaziparticipation in the small enterprise sector. This will alsolimit the number of foreigners that already exist in the smallbusiness sector especially retail," said the source.Identified as the major reasons for easy entry for foreigners isthe fact that when most Swazis in business fail to keep up withthe ever-increasing rental for properties they lease theirproperties to foreigners. The places end up being occupied byforeigners who are in a better position to pay the large amountand offer the rentals needed. "Swazis are given lessassistance that can place them at a better position to run theirbusinesses successfully," said the anonymous source. Howevera policy that will deal with issues of access to finance,business training and linkages will soon be designed by the Smalland Medium Enterprise. The policy will further deal with theproblems common in most Swazis that of lacking the capacity torun a business efficiently.
Judges refuse to return to Swaziland (Times ofSwaziland, 12/01) - The judges of the Court of Appealwho resigned en masse in November are not prepared to serve thecountry again. All six of the South African-based judgesconfirmed to have tendered their resignation letters in protestagainst the prime minister Sibusiso Dlamini's statement thatgovernment will defy two of their judgements. Interviewed, thejudges mentioned in no uncertain terms that it will be uselessand a complete waste of time to serve in a country where there isabsolutely no respect for court rulings. The Court of Appeal usedto comprise of Justice Leon JP, Justice Browde JA, Justice SteynJA, Justice Tebbutt JA, Justice Beck JA and Justice Zietsman JA.Judge President Leon decried the constitutional and judicialcrisis in the kingdom, saying no sane judge' would want to sit ina Swaziland Court of Appeal. "I expect the Court of Appealto be treated and respected as the highest court in the land butthat is not the case in your country," Leon said. "Tome, there is no rule of law in Swaziland." The judges notonly accused the premier of interfering with court judgements butof having completely ruined the rule of law in the country. Theywondered where the PM got the power to overturn court rulings.The Court of Appeal ruled that commissioner of police EdgarHillary and Lubombo deputy regional commander Agrippa Khumalomust be committed to jail for 30 days for contempt of court. Theyalso repealed Decree No.2 of 2001. In defying the ruling, thepremier claimed that he was preventing imminent bloodshed in thecountry. The former Appeal Court judges reiterated that they haveno intentions of coming back to the country to preside over casesas Appeal Court judges. Justice Leon JP - I'm not prepared toserve in your country again for the simple reason that courtjudgements are not respected but defied by the very samegovernment. Maybe I can consider helping Swaziland once thepremier withdraws his statement pertaining to the overturning ofcourt rulings. Justice Browde JA - I don't see myself sitting onthe bench of the Court of Appeal of Swaziland. This is becauseyour prime minister has demonstrated to us that there is norespect for the rule of law. The judgement we made speaks foritself and I fail to understand why the PM opted to overturn it.Justice Beck JA - The current conditions in Swaziland arecurrently unworkable. There is no point in having a Court ofAppeal because the very same government does not obey itsjudgements. The PM should change his present position if he hopesto have outside judges sitting as the Court of Appeal. JusticeSteyn JA - I don't imagine myself sitting in the Court of Appealin Swaziland. I've a name and reputation to protect hence Icannot allow people like your government to ruin all that I have.I fully concur with all that has been said by the judge presidentLeon. Justice Tebbutt JA - His wife had this to say: "Myhusband will never waste his time and go back to Swaziland. Rightnow, he is busy in Botswana and will only be back at the end ofthe month."
Over 2700 apply for work permits (Times of Swaziland,08/01) - While the Training and Localisation exercise isgaining momentum, companies continue to source professionalworkers or expertise from outside the country as evident in thenumber of work permit applications processed. Up to December2001, the Training and Localisation department received andprocessed 2719 work-permit applications that are ultimatelysubmitted to the Immigration Selection Board. The ministry ofenterprise and employment has stated that the departmentcontinued to scrutinise, on a daily basis, applications for workpermits that are then submitted to the relevant board. A ministryreport added that the department has also conducted scheduled andad hoc visits to industries with a view to encourage localisationand also to attend to some specific but undisclosed complaints.Although the nature of the posts that require foreign applicantswas disclosed, a member of the localisation committee, JimsonGwebu, stated earlier that his committee recommends applicants tothe immigration department for work permits. A source, a labourconsultant, submitted that there is a huge shortage of engineers,tool- makers and other experts in the Swazi labour market, hencemost firms source skilled labour from outside the borders. Theconsultant who was once attached to a parastatal before joiningthe private sector stated that as much as there is a good numberof Swazis who have engineering or other expertise qualifications,most employers seek for experience, not certificates. Speculatingon the industries that seek for expatriates, the consultant notedthat the country's manufacturing industry is stagnant, addingthat it is most likely that it is the sugar and pulp industriesthat have definite need of highly skilled labour because of thenature of their operations. "These industries sell theirproducts to international markets and to abide by the expectedstandards which are normally stringent, it is only logical toemploy people who have that kind of exposure," he explained.He noted that another factor that will slow the localisationprocess is the fact most of the country's highly skilled labourpersonnel leave the country for better opportunities and areusually employed on contract and as a result, companies in needof such services have to get alternatives.
King welcomes large number of tourists (Times ofSwaziland, 08/01) - His Majesty the King has welcomedthe increased number of tourists who visited the country whilethe nation was at the height of its national prayer, Incwala. Hesaid these visitors didn't only came to see the ceremony but alsoparticipated on it while at the same time they learnt of theSwazi culture. Speaking when he was dispersing close to 10 000regiments here yesterday the king said it is good that theylearnt the Swazi culture so that they could go back to theirvarious countries and explain how the country observe thisculture. "I have seen a number of them in all the royalresidences we visited, from Ludzidzini, Ngabezweni, Mpumalangaand Buhleni. They were there in great numbers, showing that theywere still with us and God and ancestors will bless us seeingthat we allowed them to be part of us. "But they must knowthat those songs we sung with them are sacred and could not besung anywhere else except during this time only," the kingsaid. His Majesty said it surprises him that visitors take somuch interest to know about Swazi culture and find that localstake a back seat as they are supposed to learn from them and notthat visitors become experts of Swazi culture. "They shouldbe coming here to learn about our culture and learn from us andwe will not be fools by sticking to culture," he stated.Commenting about this year's attendance, His Majesty said he hasbeen pleased with the turnout, which included not only men, buteven Lutsango (elder women) and timbali (young girls) attendedthe ceremony which was good. The king also said he was furtherimpressed by the lusekwane boys (tingatja) who showed greatenthusiasm and understanding of the culture, saying the future ofthe custom looks good as these boys would take over once theelders had gone. "I was informed that they were given theirown field to weed at some point and did exceptionally well whichwas commendable indeed. And this year unlike years gone by theyhave stayed behind until all the Incwala activities are completedhence they are leaving with us today. I thank the elder regimentsfor teaching the way we do things," the king said. He saidit is important that when the country engages on nationalassignments regiments put more effort in order to make thisIncwala ceremony a success it has been. His Majesty stated thatSwazis should stick to their culture and deal with orphans in thesame way they did years gone by when such people used to be takencare of. "There used to be no orphans and I hope if wecontinue to observe our culture we can stop it again. I hope thatas you go home today we will achieve good yields and the hungerthat is said to be affecting us would be a thing of the past."I should remind chiefs to revive umdumezulu (a rite forgathering of fruits and food) where all chiefs would take to theking all the fruits and food they have produced to thank him forgood yields. By the time they return home rains would be pouringagain and there wouldn't be any starvation ever again," theking said. He said while other ways of doing things are good theyshould not deviate from Swazi culture as when even Jesus came heconfessed that He has come not to destroy culture and customs butto fulfil them and make them flourish. The king reminded theregiments about respect and its power to unite a nation.
New border post with Mozambique (Times of Swaziland,06/01) - The Mhlumeni border might finally be openedbefore the end of the month. The opening of the border has beenpostponed several times by the Mozambican government as a resultof a series of problems, which the Mozambique government faced.The second secretary at the high commissioner's officer here inMbabane, Aristides Adriano mentioned that one of the problemswhich they were facing was a shortage of water which they havesince addressed. "The border might be opened in the next twoweeks. The people there are busy with the construction at theborder and they have already started working on the road,"he said. He mentioned that they will be visiting the placesometime this week to see how it is progressing. Building at theSwazi side was completed a long time ago and the opening of theborder post which will help develop the tiny Siteki town, hasbeen delayed by the snail pace construction at the Mozambicanside.
Tourists give vote of confidence to Swaziland (Timesof Swaziland, 02/01) - 2002 has been a year of trauma,controversy and unrelenting bad international publicity for ourkingdom. But rather than shun Swaziland, tourists are arriving inrecord numbers this week. It's a good reminder that the kingdomhas many positive qualities the world has not forgotten. For atourist from Hamburg, Germany. which is presently shiveringthrough sub-freezing temperatures, the kingdom of Swazilandappears to be a paradise. "For Swazis who live amid thisbeauty of mountains and valleys, maybe you take it for granted,but I can assure you this is a lovely and peaceful place thatrestores the spirit of tired persons," said Hans Schmidt. Hewas one of thousands of foreign visitors who flocked into thekingdom around Christmas. He and his fellow country people, willbe here at least through the New Year. They will be joined byfolks from Belgium, Britain, the Netherlands and other (atpresent wintry) European countries, some Americans, some Asians,and a lot of South Africans. The presence of South Africans isparticularly instructive. After all, there is no shortage ofspectacular scenery (much identical to our own) just across theborder. So, what draws them here, when they could be havingholidays in their own Durban or Nelspruit? "It is quiet inSwaziland," said Ernest Shaumburg, a resident of Mpumalanga,the South African province not usually associated with a lot ofnoise. But the truth is, despite the controversies of 2002,including the $72 million jet purchase for His Majesty, the"rule of law" crisis as government disregards courtrulings it dislikes, and a mother's lawsuit against the palace topress for the return of her daughter she said was abducted tobecome an inkhosikati, these events have had little impact on theoutward appearance of Swaziland. All of the above news storieswere played out in the media. They were important, but they didnot touch people physically, as a national mass action workersstay-away might have done on December 19-20 if anyone had caredto participate, which few did. The banks were a mess, but somehowtourism survived. And while the jet debate, the Xena Mahlangucase, and the crisis of the courts played out in the media, fewpeople came in contact with these issues unless they happened togo by the courts or parliament.
But what of the other more pervasive crises of 2002? The foodshortage and AIDS? These were also "out of publicview." In the case of AIDS, this was bad for public health,but good for the image of a nation that wishes to appear normal.If more people learned their HIV status, or admitted they hadAIDS, and if families were understanding and supportive,treatment could be obtained and new HIV infections would bereduced. But HIV and AiDS are very much hidden matters. Peopleget sick, and disappear from view. Because they haven't giventhemselves treatment, they die quickly. Visitors to Swazilandhave no way of knowing from outward appearances that this smallcountry of ours has the highest HIV infection rate in all ofAfrica. The food shortage is also an invisible crisis. Thanks tothe good work of the National Emergency Task Force and food donororganisations like the WFP, the crop failures of January did notlead to starvation in December. People are getting food.Humanitarian assistance has blocked famine. Quick andunconditional humanitarian assistance coming to us this yearshowed that the world cares about us, despite governmentcontroversies. The tourism rise shows foreigners are fascinatedby our country - physically and culturally. It all has to do withlack of violence here. Had the stay-away proven confrontational,had tear gas flown and street battles raged, had many arrestsbeen made and property damage inflicted as in past stay-aways,all of this would have reduced tourist numbers, because the massaction was called just days before Christmas, and coincided withthe Incwala, which draws many visitors. But none of thathappened. To its credit, the police also stayed-away. Of course,no one can be provoked if there is no one present in the firstplace, but even the demonstrations attended by up to 500 peoplecould have turned ugly if police had broken them up. Tourism isup at the end of 2002 because it was way down at the end of 2001.The reason again was fear of violence. 2001 saw Osama bin Ladin'sAl Queda terrorists inflict costly "collateral damage"on Swaziland by reducing our valuable tourism revenue. They didthis by using commercial airlines, the type tourists depend on toget to their destinations, to murder more than 3000 people in theUS. Three months later, at Christmas 2001, people were stillnervous about getting onto planes. All holiday traffic was downlast year, including visitors by road from South Africa. No oneseemed to want to leave home. South Africans, who comprise thebulk of visitors to Swaziland, were stunned by the rapiddepreciation of the rand, which went from R8.50 to one US dollarin November to R13.l0 to a dollar in early December. Financialinsecurity does not put people in a holiday spending mood.
This week, the rand is back at R8.50 to a dollar. For howlong, no one knows, but it is holiday time now. The result: arecord 24 000 visitors poured through Ngwenya border post fromDecember 21, the day after the stay-away, through Boxing Day.(Less than a tenth of that number arrived through the otherborder posts: 2000 at Mananga, 2600 at Lomahasha and 1300 atLavumisa.) Of course, not all these arrivals were tourists. Manywere Swazis returning home from South Africa. But it could beargued that if Swaziland were an undesirable destination at thistime, plans for a holiday return would have been postponed.Customs authorities were pleased that their decision to extendborder crossing operating hours proved worthwhile. MoreMozambicans are arriving as tourists and on shopping expeditions.This is an interesting and even historical development: As ourneighbouring country recovers from decades of civil war andpost-war poverty, incomes are rising, and Mozambicans, who wereonce political and economic refugees here and had a badreputation, are boosting our own national economy with theirspending. The Ezulwini hotels' managers are ecstatic. Bookingsare full through New Year. The game parks and resorts are alsobusy. To some people, it appears odd that anyone would want tovisit our country, which is beset by so many problems. Buteverything is relative. The ones who think things are bleakesthere need to get out more, and see how dismal life can beelsewhere - places where poverty is not alleviated by ourbeautiful scenery, where government scandals are not restrictedto news stories but affect people personally and negatively. AIDSis everywhere in Africa. The tourists coming to Swaziland thisfestive season are like a referendum, a vote of confidence in thequalities that make our country unique and desirable.
Fresh boost for tourism sector from Zimbabweans (TheFinancial Times, 29/01) - Zimbabweans are set to bring anew tourism idea to Tanzania that has never been thought abouthere. Development of wildlife ranches is the idea, and a numberof Zimbabwean investors are said to have shown interest inventuring into this sector. The Director of Investment Promotionof the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), Emmanuel ole Naiko, saidthat he believes the tourism sector would be boosted if wildliferanching is introduced. This kind of investment could increasethe diversity of tourist attractions in the country as theinvestors are even ready to bring in wild animals from SouthAfrica. He noted that already there are some investors fromZimbabwe who have visited his office with the intention ofstarting up business as soon as possible. He said that some ofthese potential investors have proposed an elephant trainingprogramme. Tourists would pay to ride on these trained elephants. Riding elephants is very common in Zimbabwe although itsounds very new over here, he noted. Tourists havegot different ambitions. There are some tourists who come justfor adventure, others for horse and elephant riding, while othersjust go to the beach to have fun, he continued. Mr Ole saidthat if such activities were accessible to the residents of Dares Salaam, many residents, and business people would flock tothose areas over the weekend. He added that there are eight snakeparks in Arusha which are very successful and they were alsointroduced by Zimbabweans.
84 Kenyan trespassers jailed (The Guardian, 25/01) - The84 Kenyans who were arrested in Lake Victoria for various crimeshave been sentenced to between three and six months in jail. TheMara Regional Commissioner, Ambassador Nimrod Lugoe, toldjournalist here that the Tarime District Magistrate's Court sentthe Kenyans to jail after they failed to pay fines imposed onthem after they were convicted on trespassing charges. Hementioned some of their misdemeanours as looting and illegalfishing. Also arrested were 32 Tanzanians who were also punishedalongside the foreigners. Ambassador Lugoe dismissed as nonsenseallegations that the Kenyans were harassed. Instead he said everymeasure taken against them was in keeping with the laws of theland. The Regional Commissioner said the Kenyans were arrested inTanzanian waters, dismissing the Kenyans' earlier claims thatthey were picked within the Kenya waters. He mentioned fourdifferent areas within Lake Victoria where they were arrestedusing two Tanzanian boats. The Regional Commissioner saidTanzania and Kenya were friendly nations such that it wasimpossible for Tanzanian soldiers to illegally enter the Kenyanterritory to hunt for suspects. Ambassador Lugoe added thatalthough the Kenyans are now serving jail terms, the governmentwas consulting with Kenyan government over the issue. TheRegional Commissioner has already written the Nyanza ProvincialGovernor in Kenya to travel to Musoma for talks on the matter,but until yesterday there was no response to the invitation.Earlier reports had it that government officials from Kenya hadtaken the initiative to travel to Tarime to meet district leadersand discuss the fate of the arrested Kenyans and their propertybut no meeting took place. Migori District Commissioner, UkurYatani, had failed to meet Tarime DC, Pascal Mabiti, because thelatter was said to be in Dar es Salaam. Demands from Kenya arefor the release of all the arrested persons, who are said to befishermen, with their 52 fishing boats and other property worthmillions of shillings. Yatani is reported as saying the accused'srelatives, after failure to raise enough money for fines, haveasked their government to facilitate the safe return home oftheir loved ones as well as their property.
Police in Kigoma nab 18 illegal immigrants (TheGuardian, 22/01) - Police in Kigoma have arrested 18immigrants in an on-going operation to nab suspected illegalaliens. The arrested persons are from neighbouring countries ofBurundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). KigomaRegional Police Commander, Boniface Mngongolwa, said the searchfor illegal immigrants is being conducted hand in hand with ahunt for persons suspected to be involved in armed robbery. Hesaid the 18 suspects were arrested at Katonga and Kibirizi areas.The police commander said the operation in the region would goon, targeting particularly areas along Lake Tanganyika. CommanderMngongolwa said three-quarters of inmates in Kigoma prisons wererefugees and illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, 1,960 refugees fromBurundi and DRC have entered Kigoma Region between January 11 and15 this year. They have been placed in various camps in KibondoDistrict as well as at Kibirizi in Kigoma town. Kigoma Regionhosts thousands of refugees from Burundi and DRC. The refugeesfled their countries due to clashes between government and rebelforces in the two countries. Peace negotiations in the twocountries are going on, but have not yet born any meaningfulresults to convince the refugees to return home.
Thousands more refugees seek repatriation (Dar esSalaam, Irin, 09/01) - Over the last week, about 3,000Rwandan refugees that had previously tried to avoid forcedrepatriation operations have stepped forward, seeking help toreturn home, the spokeswoman for the Office of the UN HighCommissioner for Refugees in Tanzania told IRIN on Thursday. Therefugees, who either changed their nationality to enable them tolive in Burundian refugee camps or escaped into Tanzanianvillages, are now re-registering as Rwandans and demandingrepatriation, in accordance with the recently completed voluntaryrepatriation operation, the spokeswoman, Ivana Unluova, said."These people either declared themselves as Burundians orthey simply disappeared from the camps during the forcedrepatriation of Rwandan refugees in 1996," she said."We knew there had been some that did this, but had no ideaof the extent of the numbers." She said that UNHCR wouldbegin repatriating these refugees "as soon as possible"and that the final tally of newly registered Rwandans could reach12,000 as more refugees follow suit. Overall, she added, therepatriation process had taken place "by and large withoutany excesses or problems" and that this new caseload and thelarge numbers of returnees in November and December - some 19,000- was more a result of favourable conditions than pressure fromeither the Tanzanian or Rwandan governments. "There wasobviously the strictly presented deadline that was set by theTanzanian government, but we agreed to it. The primary factor wasthe intense information exchange," she said. "Thebiggest help has been the positive developments inside Rwanda.The refugees have been told about them by missions to the campsof fresh returnees and some have seen them for themselves,"she said. "Also, once the first big groups started leaving,I think the operation gained momentum and there was a pull-factoras people's neighbours, families and friends began to leave.Furthermore it was helped, to a certain extent, by an improvedrepatriation package." Humanitarian agencies concur withUNHCR's view on the repatriation process. "Pressure wasthere, in a verbal form, but the refugees went home willingly andthe process went smoothly and calmly," Mark Wigley, deputydirector of Norwegian People's Aid, one of UNHCR's implementingpartners in Ngara, told IRIN. "I was there in 1996 and thiswas nothing like that," he said. "People needed alittle impetus but there was no intimidation at all, and peoplestarted going home. All that remain are some 50 people who, forsome special reasons, believe that they can not go back."
Burundi frees Tanzanian nationals (IPP Media, 07/01) -Burundian authorities yesterday handed-over threeTanzanian nationals who were arrested by the Bujumbura governmentsoldiers on December 15, last year. The Burundi Deputy Chief ofDiplomatic Mission to Tanzania, Juvenal Hatungimana, told TheGuardian in Dar es Salaam yesterday that everything had beensettled between the two countries' authorities for handing-overthree Tanzanian nationals to Kigoma Regional authorities.Hatungimana stated that the handing-over occasion was done atManyovu in Kigoma yesterday. He, however, clarified that thethree Tanzanians were not arrested by Bujumbura soldiers inconnection with cattle rustling. Hatungimana, declined todisclose the actual reason behind the arrests. The Tanzanians whowere handed-over at Manyovu yesterday to the Kigoma RegionalCommissioner, Aboubakar Mgumia, are Neema Moses (24), Joseph Elia(28), both from Kibande Village and Steven Joseph (23) who isfrom Bweranka Village. The Burundian Governor of MakambaProvince, Col. Gabriel Bunungu performed the handing-over.Earlier reports said that Burundian soldiers charged that thecaptured Tanzanians were among a group of cattle rustlers whostole at least 50 cows from the tiny Central African country,last December. After the handing-over ceremony yesterday, the twocountries held a meeting to deliberate on security situationalong the Burundi-Tanzania border. On several occasions,Burundian soldiers who have been heavily armed and deployed alongthe Burundi-Tanzania border have been `arresting' Tanzaniansallegedly for cattle rustling or helping armed rebels fromBurundi." Two years ago, Burundi army soldiers captured over20 Tanzanian fishermen on Lake Tanganyika, alleging that theywere part of armed gunmen from CNDD-FDD or PALIPEHUTU-FLN. Lastweek, the Tanzanian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs andInternational Cooperation, Dr Abdulkadir Shareef, had asked theBujumbura administration to release all three Tanzaniansunconditionally. "If we can't solve occasional borderproblems amicably, we might find ourselves in an unhealthysituations," Dr Shareef was quoted as saying. Tanzania,however, is currently hosting direct ceasefire negotiationsinvolving the Burundi transitional government of President, MajorPierre Buyoya, and CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza. The SouthAfrican Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, is facilitating the talks.
Last group of Rwandans in Tanzania return home (NewYork, United Nations, 03/01) - The last of more than500,000 Rwandans in Tanzania have returned home, marking the endof one of the most dramatic refugee exoduses in the turbulenthistory of Central Africa, the United Nations High Commissionerfor Refugees (UNHCR) said today. A final group of 3,200 refugeescrossed the border into Rwanda from Tanzania last Friday, saidUNHCR spokesperson Ivana Unluova. They were the last of 535,000Rwandan Hutus who fled in mid-1994 as the Tutsi-led RwandanPatriotic Front overran the country, putting an end to masskillings by Hutu extremists that left at least 800,000 Tutsis andmoderate Hutus dead. An estimated 1.3 million Rwandans fled towhat was then eastern Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of theCongo), while more than half a million escaped to Tanzania, UNHCRsaid. In Zaire, tens of thousands perished in a cholera epidemicthat swept through huge, makeshift refugee camps near Goma in thesummer of 1994. Most of the refugees went back to Rwanda fromboth Zaire and Tanzania in 1996. However, at the onset of lastyear, Tanzania still hosted an estimated 24,000 Rwandans, inaddition to more than 400,000 from Burundi and the DemocraticRepublic of the Congo. In September, Rwanda, Tanzania and UNHCRreached an agreement to repatriate the remaining Rwandans by theend of the year. During the final weeks of 2002, officials fromthe UN agency worked around the clock to register those rushingto sign up for return ahead of the 31 December deadline.
Negotiations on membership of Nacala Corridor (Maputo,Zambezi Times Online, 24/01) - Negotiations for Zambiato become the third country to join the Nacala DevelopmentCorridor "are going well", according to officialsources contacted by AIM. The transformation of the Nacala portand rail system in northern Mozambique into a "developmentcorridor" dates from 28 September 2000, when PresidentsJoaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Bakili Maluzi of Malawi signedan agreement on the matter. That agreement left open thepossibility of other countries joining. Negotiations on theinclusion of Zambia in the development corridor took place thisweek in Maputo between Mozambican, Malawian and Zambian experts.A source close to these negotiations told AIM "The talks aregoing well, and certainly an agreement to incorporate Zambia intothe Nacala Development Corridor could happen at the investorsconference due to be held next month in Nacala". There aresome technical details to be sorted out - such as thegeographical limits to those parts of Zambia's territory thatwill be served by the Development Corridor. Furthermore, theZambian rail network does not yet physically connect with theNacala railway. For that to happen a new 30 kilometre stretch ofline must be built between the Zambian town of Chipata, andMchinji, on the Malawian border. Last November, the ZambianDeputy Minister of Transport, Willie Nsanda, said that a map hadalready been drawn up showing the areas to be covered by theNacala Development corridor. This included the Northern, Easternand Central provinces, as well as the capital, Lusaka - in all,about half the country. The railway, from Nacala, through Nampulaand Niassa provinces in Mozambique, and then across Malawi, is atotal of 795 kilometres long. But currently no trains can reachMalawi from Nacala because a major accident blocked the line atMutivaze, 30 kilometres west of Nampula city on 5 January.Locomotives and wagons, derailed in a storm caused by tropicaldepression "Delfina", have yet to be moved. A sourcethat has been following closely the work to re-open the lineconfirmed press reports that a crane hired from Malawi to helpclear the track had broken down. However, it has now beenrepaired, and the work is continuing, he said. This sourcedeclined to forecast any date for the conclusion of the work andthe re-opening of the line. Meanwhile, Mozambican TransportMinister Tomas Salomao, has gone to Nampula to assess the damagecaused by "Delfina", not only to the railway, but alsoto roads and bridges in the province. He will also look into thepreparations for the February's investors' conference on theNacala Development Corridor.
5,000 refugees to be repatriated from Zambia (Nairobi,Irin, 20/01) - A tripartite agreement has been signedwith the governments of Rwanda and Zambia to begin the voluntaryreturn by air of more than 5,000 Rwandan refugees in Zambia, theOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reportedon Friday. The accord, signed in the Rwandan capital, Kigali,follows the repatriation to date of more than 23,000 Rwandanrefugees living in camps in Tanzania. The UN refugee agency saidits office in Zambia would immediately begin preparing profilesof the more than 5,000 Rwandan refugees in Zambian camps,including their areas of origin, ahead of the airlift to Rwanda,expected to begin in April. UNHCR also said it would launch aninformation campaign in Zambian camps where many of the refugeesare located, to inform them of plans being made for their returnhome. In this vein, a technical working group that met onThursday recommended that a delegation of the Rwandan governmentand recent returnees visit Zambia before the end of March tospeak to refugees about the situation in their home districts. Inthe meantime, UNHCR is collecting data on other Rwandan refugeesin countries throughout Africa, to be used for an appeal todonors for funds to facilitate organised repatriation movements,returnee monitoring and reintegration of Rwandans. An estimated60,000 Rwandan refugees are scattered across many countries inAfrica, the UNHCR says. Speaking at the Kigali meeting, UNHCR'sRegional Coordinator for the Great Lakes region, Wairimu Karago,expressed hope that the agreement would "reflect thelegitimate wishes of the refugees to return home in safety anddignity", as well as act as the blueprint for othertripartite arrangements for the voluntary repatriation of Rwandanrefugees. She said that UNHCR had changed its policy from merelyfacilitating to actively promoting voluntary repatriation toRwanda, adding that this policy would be harmonised andimplemented across African in a consistent manner. Karago saidthat concrete steps that the Rwandan government had taken toensure that conditions were conducive to the voluntaryrepatriation of Rwandan refugees had vindicated this change inpolicy. As an example, she cited the recent release from custodyof 40,000 persons facing various allegations connected to the1994 genocide and the commitment by Rwandan authorities toimplement, judiciously, the process of the Gacaca traditionalcourt system. UNHCR said that it expected to sign more agreementswith Rwanda and countries hosting Rwandan refugees in Africa.
Tourism sector set to grow (Lusaka, Zambezi Times,07/01) - Sustainable development that ensures thatresources are used equitably and efficiently for both the currentand future generations is the way forward for Zambia. This schoolof thought does not, however, tally with the economic structureof Zambia because for decades the mainstream economic activityhas been mining in which copper mining has been the majoractivity. Copper mining is a wasting asset whose end is imminentalong the way. Fortunately Zambia is endowed with a lot ofalternative economic resource bases in different sectors. Overthe last five to 10 years these sectors have come up as potentialreplacements of the copper industry. The tourism industry is onesuch sector. It is obvious that a lot still needs to be donebefore the sector could compete favourably with well-establishedAfrican tourist industries such as those in Kenya, South Africaand Zimbabwe. An appropriate focus has been established for theindustry. Recent developments and change in Government policy inthe sector have resulted in increased tourist arrivals andinvestment, which have lead to increased employmentopportunities. According to Chief Mukuni of the Toka Leya peoplein Livingstone, Government treated tourism as a stepchild andconcentrated on other economic activities leaving tourism to fendfor itself. Giving a comparison between Zambia's tourist capitalLivingstone and Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe, the chiefexplained that from history Livingstone was an industrial andadministrative base while Victoria Falls town has always been atourist centre. As a result the infrastructure in theneighbouring town is well-developed and accustomed to tourismwith adequate accommodation, and a variety of tourist activities.Zambian tour operators running helicopter flights and otherservices rely heavily on tourist accommodated in Zimbabwe tocross over to use their services. United Air Charters managingdirector Ignatius Lindeque confirmed that a large number of hiscustomers cross over to Zambia from Zimbabwe. But now that theindustrial base in Livingstone has shut down because ofcompetition and the liberalised economy, there is a discernibleshift towards the tourism industry. The establishment of newlodges is ample evidence of this shift. In addition, theliberalisation of travel industry and the prevalence of peace inthe country have also contributed to increased tourist arrivals.Ministry of finance economic reports over the years show that amajor constraint in the performance of the sector has been thedeteriorating state of infrastructure in terms of tourist accessroads, unreliable local air network, and insufficient financialresources.
Despite these, however, the trend oftourist arrivals and investments has steadily increased over theyears. Last year's the solar eclipse, as well as the Organisationof African Unity (OAU) Heads of State summit accounted for muchof the growth in both arrivals and earnings. In 1993 Zambiaregistered 582,967 tourist arrivals with 415,697 being domestictourists and 167,271 being international visitors. The sectorgenerated US$ 52.4 million in that year, a modest increase of $ 3million from the $49.24 million in 1992. In terms of investmentthe sector received K2.4 billion in 1993 with 58 tourism licencesissued, registering an increase over the 1992 figures when only34 licences were issued and total investment amounted to K0.5billion. During the next three years the sector suffered a slumpmainly due to a reduction in the number of domestic touristarrivals. For example, in 1995 total tourist arrivals, bothdomestic and international, was only 108,435 and a year laterthis number fell further to 95,621. The revenue generated in 1996was only US$ 30.9 million. The pledged investment in the sectorwas slightly over K10 billion with the potential of creating 582jobs in the sector. The tourism sector at this point in the 1990decade was in recession as all indicators dropped drastically.The drop in tourist arrivals was a function of the harsh economicconditions experienced during the period. This led to the povertyincidence to increase to well over 70 per cent. Secondly the 1996presidential and general elections gave Zambia a poorinternational standing as a tourist destination. Hence fewinternational arrivals were registered. However, the sectorrebounded with the peaceful passing of the elections seeing anincrease of international arrivals in 1997 of 279,825representing a 476 per cent increase, although domestic arrivalsonly grew by 64 per cent to 77,237. The sector revenue accrualsincreased by 104 per cent to $63 million in 1997 from $30m in1996. Interestingly from this point the international arrivals inZambia has far outstripped the domestic arrivals. The point beingthat the poverty situation has not improved among the potentialZambian tourists from the local market, in spite of the fact thatthe image of Zambia as a peaceful tourist destination hasimproved. International tourist arrivals now average 400,000 peryear while the domestic tourists, because of lack of resources,average 100,000 per year. Chief Mukuni, who has welcomed therecent developments in the tourism sector, believes that thecoming of Sun Hotels to Zambia has helped put the country on theworld map. He does not believe that this alone is enough. Thechief claims that there are too many levies on tour operators inthe country thus making the tourism product in the country tooexpensive.
The sector in 1999 realised revenuestotalling $85.2 million, after recording 580,781 total arrivalsand investment pledges of $64 million. By 2000 the tourismindustry's value-added increased by 12.1 per cent and in 2001this increased by 24.2 per cent. The revenue in 2001 reachedUS$117.1 million up from the 2000 figure of $111.0 million. Thesector is poised for growth in the years to come as indicated bythese trends. However, a lot more incentives have to be given tothe sector so that the 1993 levels could be attained. Secondlythe sector is very volatile as was experienced last year when theterrorists hit New York and international tourists cancelledtheir bookings. This affected the sector adversely but thedomestic clients could have cushioned the impact but for theerosion of effective demand locally. The tourism sector alonecannot attract visitors because many other sectors - botheconomic and social - directly influence a visitor's stay in acountry. These would include security, amenities, andinfrastructure to mention a few. The 2002 budget theme on tourismis to improve on these auxiliary factors which, though not underthe sector, can influence and enhance the performance of thesector. For example, Livingstone District Council director ofplanning Clement Chisanga recognises the role the council playsin the tourism industry. Mr Chisanga says the city council has asolid waste problem and is involving the private sector to tacklethis problem. The council has also prioritised street lights andthe human resource development to ensure that the rightdevelopment projects are being constructed. Tourism as aneconomic sector has proved to be lucrative to the private sectorand has also created a number of jobs. Furthermore, providedthere is adequate control on environmental and ecologicaldegradation, the sector is a renewable resource from which allthe future generations can benefit. This sector could be Zambia'smain economic activity given the necessary incentives. Thetourism development master plan due to be finalised this year,according to the budget speech, could be the way forward topoverty reduction and job creation and sustainable development.
Rwandan refugees to be repatriated (Lusaka, ZambeziTimes, 08/01) - The governments of Zambia and Rwandawill next week sign a tripartite agreement with the UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the voluntaryrepatriation of Rwandan refugees in Zambia. Peter Mumba,permanent secretary of Zambia's Ministry of Home Affairs, said ina statement Wednesday that the signing would take place in Kigalifrom Jan. 15 to 16, 2002. The meeting among the three sides wasbeing held in the context of agreed international standardsregarding the repatriation of refugees, according to the Zambianofficial. Mumba said it has generally been agreed by theinternational community that conditions in Rwanda had improved towarrant the return of Rwandan refugees. This was supported by thefact that there had been organized voluntary repatriations ofRwandan refugees from other countries such as Tanzania and theDemocratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Currently, Zambia ishosting about 5,000 Rwandan refugees, the majority of whom werein the refugee camps. Mumba said once the agreement was signed,Zambia would expect the UNHCR to facilitate the voluntary returnof those willing to do so in accordance with established norms ofrepatriation of refugees. Zambia signed a tripartite agreementwith Angola and the UNHCR on Nov. 28, 2002 for the repatriationof Angolan refugees in Zambia which was scheduled to start in Maythis year. Zambia presently houses about 250,000 refugees who aremainly from Angola and the DRC.
Clearing agents to blame for border delays (ZambiaDaily Mail, 03/01) - The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA)says clearing agents have been delaying clearance of trucks atborder points due to their holding on to documents withoutsubmitting them to the authority on time. ZRA public relationsmanager Daniel M'soka said this in an interview and clarifiedthat customers attributed the delay to the authority and yet itwas their clearing agents to blame. "Clearing agents do notquickly clear the trucks, as they hang on to papers telling theircustomers that they were cleared and have already submitted toZRA," he said. Mr M'soka urged the businessmen and truckersin particular to make sure that their clearing agents weretelling the truth. He complained that the image of ZRA wassuffering because of this trend by the clearing companies. He,however, said ZRA has increased the labour force at its borderpoints due to the public's general perception that it wasunderstaffed at the entry points. Meanwhile, Mr M'soka furthersaid that the inflow of Zimbabwean goods whose ban was revoked bythe Minister of Commerce Bates Namuyamba last year was still low.He said the parallel rates slapped on the products has kept thehigh inflow of goods from the neighbouring country in check. MrMsoka pointed out that the authority would be strict onconsummates as that was a sophisticated trend smugglers used tobring in goods into the country. He also disclosed that ZRA wouldsoon introduce measures that would not allow people hangingaround their ports once their goods were cleared. He said sometruckers had a habit of staying at the port despite being clearednoting that HIV/AIDS was prominent in border areas. He said oneof ZRA's resolutions in the year 2003 would be to be pro-activewith HIV/AIDS policy.
87 Cuban doctors expected in February (Lusaka, ThePost, 01/01) - Eighty-seven Cuban doctors are expectedto arrive in the country by February this year, disclosed Cubanembassy charge de affairs Carmelina Rodriguez yesterday.Rodriguez said the long awaited doctors would finally be in thecountry as the Cuban and Zambian governments had now finalisedeverything. She said the Zambian government had committed itselfto meeting the conditions required for the Cuban doctors to workin Zambia. "The Zambian government also agreed to pay forthe air tickets for them to come," Rodriguez said. She saidZambian officials had in July last year been to Cuba for therecruitment of the 87 doctors. Meanwhile, Rodriguez said Cubanshad achieved a lot in the last 44 years amid relentlesssubversive and aggressive actions against it since the triumph ofthe revolution in 1959. In a message to celebrate Cuba's 44thanniversary of the triumph of revolution which falls today,Rodriguez observed that a rigorous and merciless economicblockade had been imposed on Cuba for a long time now. She saidthere have been attempts to impose political, technical, andscientific isolation on Cuba. "These conditions have lastedfor more than four decades and continue to persist today,"Rodriguez said. "But the difficulties have served us not tocomplain, but to get up on the difficulties, to look forsolutions to the problems." She said in spite of thesetbacks emanating from the economic blockade imposed by theUnited States and natural disasters in 2002, Cuba has continuedadvancing and developing important programs of economicdevelopment and social justice. Rodriguez said the economy grewmodestly in 2002. She said, however, that Cuba's sugar industryin the year suffered a setback of 70 sugar mills. She said theentertainment and tourism industries were playing an importantrole in the economic development. Rodriguez said in spite of thenegative effects that the tourism sector faced after September11, 2001, the sector has experienced a modest growth of 3.8 percent. Rodriguez said Cuba was also developing the pharmaceuticalindustry and the biotechnology products. She said the largenumber of scientists working in the country's hundreds ofresearch centres was testimony to the progresses achieved in thefield of health. "They have obtained advances in theresearches to obtain a vaccine against the AIDS, and againstcertain of cancerous tumours," she said. She said infantmortality has remained below eight children per 1,000 birthswhile life expectancy was at 75 years. "We have eradicatednumerous epidemic and endemic illnesses such as poliomyelitis,diphtheria, measles, among others," Rodriguez said.Rodriguez said the educational sector achievements were alsoremarkable. "Today the total number of students ineducational institutions including primary school, junior highschool, senior high school, special education is 2,623,300, andthe number of students in the universities is already 201,257,the number of educational centres 31,343," she said."Besides that, this past year thousands of schools wererepaired. We even started the recovery of health institutions,thousands of housings affected by the two hurricanes werereconstructed."
Detained foreign aid workers to be deported fromZimbabwe (Harare, Sapa-AFP, 28/01) - Five foreign churchaid workers arrested last week in Zimbabwe on suspicion of beingundercover journalists were Tuesday ordered to leave the country,a member of the group said. "We are checking out of thehotel and we are going to Harare and being deported ... we arebeing escorted by immigration (officials)," KathleenKastilahn, told AFP via telephone from the small mining town ofZvishavane in southern Zimbabwe. The five - two Germans, a Finn,an American and a Kenyan - were picked up by police on Fridayalong with a local journalist working for the independent dailyin Zvishavane, in the drought-hit south of the country. They aredue to leave the country on Wednesday. Police on Monday chargedthem under the country's stringent media law for operatingwithout accreditation, although the group said it was in Zimbabwefor a field trip organised by the Lutheran World Federation, achurch-based aid agency. Foreign journalists are required toapply for accreditation with the government at least a monthbefore their intended trip to Zimbabwe. The local journalist,Fanuel Jongwe, has not yet been accredited although he submittedhis application last year before the deadline for deadline forsubmissions expired. Only Jongwe appeared in court. "Theyhave been allowed to go without any formal charges being laidagainst them," said Gugulethu Moyo, a lawyer for the localjournalist accompanying the group. The Zimbabwe government,international and local aid agencies are currently distributingemergency food aid to some of the estimated eight million ofZimbabwe's 11.6 million people threatened by famine.
Judgement reserved in Todd's passport case (TheChronicle, 28/01) - The Supreme Court has reservedjudgment in an application by the Registrar-General, Mr TobaiwaMudede, seeking an order reversing the High Court decisioncompelling him to renew the expired passport of Zimbabwean bornMs Judith Todd. The court reserved judgment in the matter inwhich the Minister of Home Affairs is listed as the secondappellant to consider the submissions made by both counsels. Lastyear, Ms Todd successfully challenged Mr Mudede at the High Courtto have her expired passport renewed. She had been refused by MrMudede to renew her Zimbabwean passport after it had expired onthe basis she had not renounced her entitlement to New Zealandcitizenship. The lower court ruled in Ms Todds favoursaying she was a citizen of this country and that she could notbe stripped of her citizenship. Through his lawyer, Mr SimpliciusChihambakwe of Chihambakwe Mutizwa and Partners, Mr Mudede isseeking the decision of the lower court to be nullified claimingthat the court had misdirected itself in its judgment. MrChihambakwe, in his submissions, told the court that Ms Todd losther Zimbabwean citizenship in terms of the Zimbabwe CitizenshipAct, hence, she was not entitled to a Zimbabwean passport. Sinceboth her parents were born in New Zealand, Mr Chihambakwe said MsTodd became a New Zealand citizen, according to the law of thatcountry. Thus the respondent held dual citizenship and it was not a question of the respondent having a claim to NewZealand citizenship, but was a New Zealand citizen, said MrChihambakwe alluding to the British Nationality and NewZealand Act 1948. He said Ms Todd was a New Zealand citizenby descent and had not renounced it in terms of the law of thatcountry. But in his response, Advocate Adrian de Bourbon who wasinstructed by Mr Bryant Elliot of Gill Godlonton and Gerransargued the appeal was devoid of merit and urged the court todismiss it with costs. In his heads of argument, Adv de Bourbonstated that the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act does not require aperson who has a claim to a foreign citizenship (which he has notexercised) from renouncing that claim. The provisionclearly only requires the renunciation of a foreign citizenshipactually held, said Adv de Bourbon. He said his client doesnot hold the citizenship of any other country but of Zimbabwe,her country of birth. Ms Todd, the senior counsel said, wasentitled as a constitutional right to be issued with a passportby Mr Mudede so long as she remained a citizen of this country.Adv de Bourbon said that the foreign law alluded to by MrChihambakwe could not persuade the superior court to reverse theHigh Court decision arguing it was without foundation. Whatis persuasive is the manner in which a legal principle of law hasbeen dealt with by judges in other countries, not whether or nota particular set of facts give rise to legal consequence in somejurisdiction, said Adv de Bourbon.
Zimbabwean immigrants swamp Botswana (The SundayMirror, 26/01) - The Chief Immigration Officer, RoySekgororwane Wednesday expressed worry that Zimbabwean illegalimmigrants fleeing from their collapsing economy are swamping thecountry. We are seriously losing out on our battle to dealwith this (Zimbabwean) problem. Immigration and government cannotafford to deal with this problem alone. We need some support todeal with the situation, Sekgororwane said. His commentscome at a when the country is faced with the worst immigrantproblem in history as thousands of Zimbabweans flee from theircountry. According to the immigration department, 125,000Zimbabweans cross into Botswana per month - mostly atRamokgwebana border-post but a great number of them choseno to go back home. There has also been a surge in the number ofillegal immigrants who cross into the country through ungazettedpoints. We really need support to deal with this becausethe strategies that we have used in the past seems to be notworking. We are now repatriating two truckloads of illegalimmigrants from Zimbabwe every day, and this cost government alot of money, Sekgororwane said. The immigration departmenthas stepped-up its mopping exercise which is aimed atrooting out illegal immigrants in the country. But he said thesystem seems not to be working. We are now thinking of someother approaches which will involve the department, prosecutorsand magistrates to come together and brain-storm over this issue,given the fact that the swift repatriation system we adopted doesnot work. The courts would not work either and, it ispractically impossible to implement charge them because we mighthave 10,000 of them in one month and the country does not havethe capacity to try so many cases within a short space oftime, he added. It is not that we are targeting theZimbabweans. The Zimbabwean illegal immigrants is a nagging issuebecause they are high in numbers compared to people from othercountries. The labour movement is expected to take a strongstance regarding the Zimbabwean crisis in the week ahead of thebudget speech due on February 3.
Both Botswana Federation of Trade Union and manual workersunion will urge government to take a position regarding theHarare administration which they believe is responsible for thechaotic economic conditions. It is disheartening to seepeople fleeing their country in such great numbers. However, wehave to stand together as citizens of this country to make surethat we do not get swamped by Zimbabweans, nationalorganising secretary of manual workers union, JohnsonMotshwarakgole said. We understand the problem of theordinary Zimbabwean but they have to understand that we asBatswana have to be patriotic as well. As far as we are concernedSADC) leaders have failed the Zimbabweans by not attacking theHarare administration for its policies which have landed themajority of innocent people in this situation, he added.Ronald Baipidi, spokesperson for Botswana Trade Unions said ifthe Zimbabwean crisis is left unchecked it will scuttle attemptsby government to try to alleviate poverty in the country.We have to come out very clear on this issue becauseZimbabwean are flooding the job market at the expense of thecitizens of the country. The situation is out of order, we haveZimbabwean maids, herd-boys and farm workers and I think thebudget should factor this in and address the problems faced bythe Batswana who can not get employment because ofZimbabweans, Baipidi added. We are going to have anexecutive committee meeting over the weekend and one of theissues on the agenda will be the Zimbabwean issue whichnegatively impact on Botswanas economy,Motshwaraakgole said. He added that, our problem is thatcheap labour from that country contradicts what we have beenfighting for. They are taking jobs form our people and they donot observe the minimum wage which we even strongly feel that itis too low, he said.
Five foreign journalists held (News24, 26/01) - Zimbabwehas arrested five foreign journalists for allegedly entering thesouthern African country under false pretences, and might chargethem under tough media and security laws, police said on Sunday.The five from the United States, Finland, Kenya and two fromGermany were "picked up" on Saturday together with aZimbabwean reporter from a private daily newspaper aftertravelling to Zimbabwe's central district of Zvishavane on theirassignment, the police's chief spokesperson said. AssistantCommissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said the police were not yet readyto release details of those detained, but it was investigatingthem on a number issues. "Technically, they are not yetunder arrest, but we picked them up on information that theyentered the country under false pretences, declaring that theywere working for some aid agency, and had come to monitor fooddistribution," he said. Bvudzijena was responding to areport in the official Sunday Mail newspaper that somejournalists were under arrest. "Our laws say foreignjournalists must apply to come into the country, and thesejournalists also have some interesting documents suggesting theycould be on some clandestine mission," he said. "If wecharge them, we could charge them for entering the country underfalse pretences or under the Public Order and Security Act whilethe local journalist could be charged with assisting incontravening national laws," he added. The Sunday Mail saidthe foreign journalists were "suspected to have been sentinto the country to secretly write stories aimed at tarnishingthe image of the government." The Zimbabwean government haswaged a relentless campaign against the Western press in the pastthree years, accusing some journalists of spearheading a hatecampaign against President Robert Mugabe's government. Last year,the government passed tough media laws to a clamour of protestfrom media freedom organisations, banning foreign journalistsfrom being based permanently in Zimbabwe and requiringjournalists to apply to come into the country for short periods.Media houses and Zimbabwean journalists are obliged to apply to agovernment-controlled media and information commission forpermission to operate and work in the country. The law punishes"abuse of journalistic privilege," such as publishingfalsehoods, with fines and up to two years in prison. More than adozen journalists have been charged under the media laws,including a US citizen and correspondent for Britain's Guardiannewspaper, Andrew Meldrum, who was acquitted last July of chargesof reproducing a false story. Meldrum, a Zimbabwe permanentresident, is challenging his subsequent deportation from thecountry. In November, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court reserved judgementon a challenge by journalists against the media laws.
Angola beckons white farmers from Zimbabwe (Luanda,The Sunday Mirror, 18/01) - The Angolan authorities areconsidering inviting dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers to take oversome of the thousands of Angolan farms abandoned during thecountrys 27-year-long civil war, reports said lastWednesday. We are not ruling out the possibility ofwelcoming these farmers, the governor of south-westernBenguela province, Dumilde Rangel, said on a local Angolan radiostation. They have the know-how, and if they could workhere with us and create jobs there will be no problem, hesaid. Rangel said about 4 500 farms lay abandoned in theCaimbambo area of Benguela alone. Only three percent of the richfarmland there was currently being worked. He said despiteappeals for people to come forward to manage the land there hadbeen no takers and Angolan agriculture consequently continued tostagnate, despite the acute lack of basic food in the country.Several hundred white Zimbabwean landowners have been forced toleave the country after their farms were taken over by thegovernment for redistribution to black people. Angola faces themonumental task of rebuilding the country after a ceasefiresigned in April 2002 finally brought to an end a civil war inwhich most of the countrys infrastructure was destroyed.Fighting between government forces and the rebel Union for theTotal Independence of Angola came to a halt following the deathin combat of its leader, Jonas Savimbi, in February 2002. One ofthe governments toughest tasks will be to rid Angola ofmillions of anti-personnel mines said to litter the countryside,which have become a daily threat to farmers, their families andtheir stock.
Zim farmers find the grass is greener in Mozambique(Maputo, IOL, 17/01) - A total of 55 white farmers fromZimbabwe have settled in the fertile central Mozambique provinceof Manica after being evicted from their farms under PresidentRobert Mugabe's controversial land reforms, the Mozambicanprovincial governor said on Friday. The number of white farmersnow settled in the province, which shares a border with easternZimbabwe, is up from around 30 farmers settled by September lastyear, said governor Soares Nhaca. Most of Zimbabwe's whitefarmers, who three years ago numbered around 4 500, have beenevicted from their farms under Mugabe's land reform programme,which aims to resettle their land with new black farmers. Nhacasaid each of the successful applicants in his province is given a50-year lease on 1 000 hectares of land. Under Mozambican law,land belongs to the state and cannot be bought or sold. Nhacasaid most applicants are allocated land in the less populateddistrict of Barue, in central Manica province, where there isless chance of land disputes. He added that in all cases thelocal communities are consulted before a farmer is given land.Farmers who request large land holdings have been turned down forfear of creating a Zimbabwe-style land conflict. White farmers inZimbabwe previously owned 30 percent of the most arable land,which the government blamed on colonial-era land laws thatfavoured whites over the indigenous black majority. According toofficial figures, Mozambique has more than 35-million hectares ofarable land, of which only about 10 percent is utilised.
Starving Zimbabweans cross borders in desperation(Dispatch Online, 14/01) - Zimbabweans are desperateenough to risk their lives crossing a crocodile-infested river,three barbed wire fences and an electric fence in attempts toescape the border police -- and their country's woes. "Thepeople that we catch are in the worst condition ever," amilitary source told AFP at the Beitbridge border post betweenSouth Africa and Zimbabwe. "They come from further north, sothey walk much further, and where previously they would carrysome of their personal belongings with them, they now have justthe clothes on their bodies." Zimbabwe is in the throes ofcrippling food shortages which threaten more than two-thirds ofthe population of 11,6 million. Food riots broke out in two townslast week, causing four injuries and 34 arrests. The shortagesare mainly attributed to a drought which has ravaged southernAfrica. But critics also blame President Robert Mugabe's landreforms, in which white-owned commercial farms were seized forredistribution, worsening the food crisis. Some 2500 "borderjumpers" are arrested and deported every month -- close to100 a day -- as they try to avoid the security forces on thefrontier between South Africa and Zimbabwe. "Some just comeover because they buy food in the border town of Messina and thenget themselves caught for the free ride home," the militarysource said. An old copper plaque at the border post, faded bythe heat of the sun, explains that Beitbridge was erected"for development of communications in Africa and for thefurtherance of public and educational objects". Named afterGerman-born mine magnate Alfred Beit, the 500-metre-long bridge-- built in 1924 -- retained its colonial name after democraticelections in South Africa in 1994. These days it has become moreof an umbilical cord between the two southern African nations asmore Zimbabweans legally stream across the border to buy basicfoodstuffs such as maize and fruit, supplies that are no longerfreely available in their own country. Some use pick-up trucksand cars, but many are unable to afford taxi fares and have towalk long distances. South African border officials said close to9 000 travellers passed through Beitbridge between Christmas Eveand New Year 2003. "The people of Zimbabwe are reallysuffering," remarked a South African National Defence Forcesoldier posted at the bridge which carries traffic between SouthAfrica and Zimbabwe. He was checking the passport of an ageingwoman, carrying fruit and a small bag of maize on her head. Ayear ago she might have been carrying a 50kg bag of maize, butwith the Zimbabwean dollar losing value daily, many can now onlyafford to buy 10kg packs.
But not only locals are affected by the depreciating currency.Zambian businessman Ignatius Mooya used to trade in Harare, butis now travelling to South Africa with his truck driver, hopingto make new business contacts. "We used to trade in Harare,but we use American dollars to trade and while Mugabe has fixedthe rate at 150 Zim dollar to one American dollar the real rateon the street is over Z$2000 for US$1. "We have to do thingsabove board so it means we lose money," Mooya explains.Malawian resident Mark Visser, who was on holiday in SouthAfrica, said he would avoid Harare on his way back home."When we came down some of our friends were robbed by peoplenext to the road. They threw something in the road to make apuncture in the wheels, and then when my friend pulled over theycame under the pretence that they wanted to help him. But theytook their money and extra petrol," Visser said. "Itseems to happen mostly around Harare and it seems people arelooking for fuel, so we will just avoid it." South Africanholidaymaker Jan Faber, returning from Mozambique via Zimbabwe,said finding food or petrol in Zimbabwe was not an easy task."The biggest problem is the food; there is nothing in thestores. You also find many petrol stations with no fuel signs andlong lines at those which have fuel," Faber said.
Government steps up security at top tourist resorts(Dispatch Online, 11/01) - The Zimbabwe government hasstepped up security at its top tourist resorts ahead of the WorldCup cricket matches due to be played here next month, state radiosaid yesterday. Six of 54 World Cup matches are scheduled to beplayed in the Zimbabwe capital, and the country's second largestcity of Bulawayo in February and March. Measures have been put inplace to make the country "a safe tourist destination",the radio said. It reported Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi assaying those who planned to visit the country should "ignorethe falsehoods being peddled by the country's detractors" onthe security situation. The England cricket team is set to play amatch here on February, 13 despite pressure from Prime MinisterTony Blair's government to boycott the fixture. The England andWales Cricket Board said they would monitor the securitysituation. There have been growing concerns over security herefollowing food riots last week, and the murder of an Australiantourist at Victoria Falls.
Airzim flight bookings to UK surge (The Herald, 09/01)- Air Zimbabwe has experienced a surge in flightbookings to United Kingdom since the end of the holiday.Twenty-five passengers had to be booked for yesterday's flightafter failing to secure seats on Monday. Sources said most of theairline's flights to London are fully booked. An official withAir Zimbabwe said people who had visited the country during thefestive season were now returning to their bases, hence theincrease in passengers. "As you will appreciate, there isquite a substantial number of Zimbabweans staying abroad who hadcome for the Christmas and New Year holidays. "Also, theinitial problems paused by the introduction of visa requirementsfor visitors to UK are slowly disappearing as people are becomingmore and more aware of what is required of them," theofficial said. The introduction of visa application fee and theincrease in airfares had dented bookings for the nationalcarrier.
Zimbabweans exploited on farms in SA (The Herald,09/01) - South Africa has recognised the rampantexploitation of Zimbabweans on farms in that country and isinstituting measures to end their misery. This was said by thevisiting South African Labour Minister Mr Membathisi Mdladlana inHarare yesterday. He castigated white commercial farmers in hiscountry for exploiting the Zimbabweans. "We do not want asituation where whites exploit our people and cause them to fightamong themselves," Mr Mdladlana told journalists. "Wedo not want a situation in which workers on farms are ill-treatedjust because they come from Zimbabwe. "I want thoseZimbabwean farm workers to benefit from the minimum wages andother basic conditions for workers." Mr Mdladlana said theSouth African government was taking measures to regularise theemployment of Zimbabwean farm workers to protect them from abuse.The Zimbabwean workers, he said, were being treated assub-humans. "The Zimbabwean farm workers must be treated ashumans. The only way is to regulate their recruitment and stopthe illegal recruitment being done by farmers. "Theseworkers are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and theirdignity is not protected." The South African government, MrMdladlana said, had drafted a sectorial determination for thefarming sector that would ensure all farm workers got the sameminimum wage. Work permits would be introduced for the Zimbabweanfarm workers to regularise their stay in South Africa. He saidthe white farmers were recruiting Zimbabweans illegally andputting them on holding farms to replace their South Africanworkers. "They fire their South African workers and replacethem with Zimbabweans taken from these holding farms because theysay the Zimbabweans are not expensive. "We are trying tolocate some of these farms they call holding farms because we donot know exactly what is happening there." Mr Mdladlana saidthe creation of such holding farms posed a security risk forSouth Africa. "We are discovering weapons on these farms andthese farmers may be using misery and poverty to incite peopleagainst us," he said. There are at least 15 000 estimatedZimbabweans working on farms in the Northern Province of SouthAfrica along the border. Mr Mdladlana said he was against asituation where some of these workers were being deported.
Labour, Public Service and Social WelfareMinister Cde July Moyo said South Africa should learn fromZimbabwe which regularised the employment of migrant workersafter independence. "We had a lot of migrant workers fromcountries such as Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique and we quicklymoved in to regularise them by giving them identify cards,"said Cde Moyo. "Minimum wages were for all workers withidentity cards and the employers could not threaten them. Thosewho came to Zimbabwe are enjoying the same conditions with thosefrom Zimbabwe." Mr Mdladlana arrived in the country onTuesday night to discuss a memorandum of understanding betweenthe two ministries. His delegation was yesterday briefed on thestructures of the Labour, Public Service and Social WelfareMinistry and the operations of the National Social SecurityAuthority. Both Ministers said they expected to learn a lot fromtheir talks, the second such meeting after a similar one held inSouth Africa last year. The memorandum of understanding wouldtouch on issues such as labour laws and the assigning ofofficials to the other country. A joint delegation of officialsfrom both countries is today expected to visit a resettlementfarm in Mazowe after holding a meeting with the National EconomicConsultative Forum. The delegation is also expected to visitthree South African farms in the Northern Province whereZimbabweans are working. They would also inspect the border fencethat was cut to enable Zimbabweans to jump the border into SouthAfrica.
Immigration officers to undergo security training(Harare, The Herald, 08/01) - Immigration officers willundergo security training similar to that of police at the end ofthis month, the Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Kembo Mohadi, saidyesterday. In an interview, the minister said the immigrationofficers would be recruited for training in batches according totheir positions. The ministry had already submitted its proposalsfor the training programme while the police were to assist in thevarious security aspects. The programme is being implemented inthe light of recent global terrorism threats and the need toflush out undesirable elements from the country. "It is arequirement that immigration officials receive such trainingbecause they are responsible for vetting all sorts of people withdifferent motives. "Some come with the aim of destabilisingthe country while others are criminals who bring drugs into thecountry," said Cde Mohadi. The minister said the trainingprogramme would expose immigration officials to various networksin the region and enable them to trace and identify undesirableindividuals coming into the country. He said some people withcriminal records and some under- qualified expatriates had in thepast entered the country owing to the laxity of security at theports of entry. Cde Mohadi said there was need for close liaisonof all security departments in the country to ensure that peaceand tranquility is secured. The training programme would ensurethat the country's peace and stability is maintained withoutundermining their professional conduct in the manner of receivingvisitors coming into the country. He said the training programmewas in line with similar programmes all over the world whereborders were manned by police officers. Cde Mohadi dismissedreports that the British intelligence wanted to remove theGovernment, saying whoever wanted to cause mayhem in the countrywould have to be prepared to face one of the most formidable andwell-trained security personnel in the region.
SA labour minister visits Zimbabwe (Harare, TheHerald, 07/01) - The South African Minister of Labour,Mr Membathisi Mdladlana, is expected in Harare today on afour-day working visit. The visit is aimed at discussing labourissues in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. During his stay in thecountry, Mr Mdladlana is expected to meet his Zimbabweancounterpart, the Minister of Labour, Public Service and SocialWelfare, Cde July Moyo, who will brief him on the ministry'sstructure and functions of specific departments. The SouthAfrican labour minister will also be briefed on the operations ofsuch entities as the National Social Security Authority, thenational employment councils, their functions, and challenges.Labour representatives of the two countries will discuss issuescontained in a draft memorandum of understanding. On his wayhome, Mr Mdladlana is expected to visit some commercial farms inthe Limpopo farming area where some Zimbabweans are employed asfarm workers.
Trafficking of women condemned (Harare, The Herald,04/01) - Women church leaders in Zimbabwe have declaredwar on abuse of women and children treated as sex workers. Theconcerned groups said the practice was denigrating the status ofwomen in society. Most young women are lured into the old-ageprofession by lavish promises of fortune and glamour, whichinclude better education opportunities and well-paying jobs.Zimbabwean women church activists who recently attended a meetingin Malawi to consider ways of tackling the vice said delegatesfrom various religious organisations denounced trafficking ofwomen for sex work and all forms of discrimination against womenand children. According to reports presented at the meeting, manysuch women did not even know what awaited them in the newenvironment. They only anticipated a life full of fun andluxuries. However, locally, the Government and interest groupshave been promoting the empowerment of women and uplifting theirsocial status. This has forced legislators to enact a law banningthe procurement and detention of persons for purposes ofprostitution locally or outside the country. The provisions arecontained in the recently enacted Sexual Offences Act. Amongother things, the law suppresses brothels and prostitution anddiscourages the spread of HIV/Aids. It criminalises any personwho either runs a brothel, lives on earnings of prostitution,solicits or engages in pimping. Regional head of Interpol, SeniorAssistant Commis-sioner Frank Msutu, said besides drugtrafficking, the world police had extended its operations tocover human trafficking and child pornography. He said thevictims of trafficking were women and others who qualified forwork outside the country where they ended up working underinhuman conditions. Snr Asst Comm Msutu, who heads the Interpolbureau in Harare, said the region had also been invaded by childpornography on the internet. Detectives around the world lastyear arrested more than 130 people in a crackdown on childpornography. Officers from 20 countries took part in theoperation code-named "Operation Landmark" after 10months of investigations targeted at the internet. Trafficking ofwomen is posing a big threat to the future of the girl child insouthern Africa. Mozambique and Malawi are leading in theregister of trafficked women, while Zimbabwe and South Africarecorded the highest number of brothels. Poverty is being singledout as the main driving force, where orphaned young girls areforced into the sex trade to fend for themselves by the relativesof their deceased parents. However, women activists are notsitting idle. They have developed a network of non-governmentalorganisations to lobby other groups in the Sadc that covers 14countries to rescue the girl child.
They have undertaken to collaborate withthe police and immigration authorities, tracing the syndicate andexchanging information on the ways to curb the trend. Already inMalawi, eight NGOs have been identified as members in thenetwork. The activists from East and Central Africa expressedtheir condemnation through the African Women in DevelopmentNetwork at their recent meeting in Malawi. They denounced therecruitment of women and children for sex work. The 25participants from member countries spoke strongly against thepractice in their resolution, saying although syndicates involvedin trafficking of humans were few, they had evidence that thepractice was rampant in the region. The meeting heard that womenand young girls were being trafficked to Europe and Arabcountries. The network noted that despite efforts to empowerwomen in development, the majority across the globe hadinadequate knowledge and skills for advancement in education,training, socio-economic standing, leadership anddecision-making. "Cases of smuggled women and girls are nowrampant. This is a serious violation of women's rights, pushingthem into the evil of prostitution. There is need to form localpoints around the region to rescue the girl child," thewomen said in one of their resolutions. In Nigeria, up to 10 000women are trafficked to Europe, especially Italy, every year.Researchers have said poverty is the driving force behind theexodus of some women who had the blessings of their parents. AWomen Trafficking and Child Labour Education campaign has beenlaunched to rehabilitate women traumatised in the trade andencouraging young girls to pursue education and learnincome-generating skills. Many corpses of women have beendiscovered after they had been killed or committed suicidebecause of frustrations, the NGOs claimed in their resolu- tions.Churches and governments were urged to lead the campaign againstHIV/Aids and its dangers to which the trafficked women wereexposed as they engaged in unprotected sex that is said to earnthem money. The 15-member Economic Community of West AfricanStates has pledged to tighten laws on human trafficking. The WestAfrican region has earned notoriety for rampant humantrafficking, especially in children and women. Nigerian PresidentOluse-gun Obasanjo described human trafficking as a new form ofslave trade. He said the problem is a scourge similar to theslave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries. "The fightagainst it will take some form of doggedness as the fight againstthe slave trade," he told a recent meeting on humantrafficking attended by 24 African countries, representatives ofthe United Nations agencies and the African Union. Nigeria,Africa's most populous country, is one of the main sources ofhuman trafficking, with thousands of Nigerians, mainly women andchildren, sold abroad for prostitution, according to statistics.As many as four million people are traded against their will eachyear to work in one or another form of servitude, according tothe UN. The US State Department estimates that some 50 000 womenand children are brought to the United States to be forced intoprostitution, bonded sweetshop labour and domestic servitude. InLos Angeles alone, there are between 4 000 and 5 000 women fromforeign countries engaged in prostitution, according to theCoalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, a public advocacygroup.
EU assists white farmers with relocation (SundayMirror, 04/01) - The European Union (EU) is reportedlyassisting Zimbabwean white commercial farmers who have movedtheir farming operations to other countries with capital finance,The Sunday Mirror has established. The farmers, who number about2 000, are also being given attractive incentives by thegovernments of the countries in which they have found new homes,it emerged this week. A Zambian minister of State confirmed tothis paper that the EU was bankrolling the white farmers, wholeft Zimbabwe after their properties had been acquired bygovernment for resettlement under the ongoing land redistributionexercise. The farmers sent out an SOS to the European Unionsaying they were finding it difficult to relocate since theycould not sell off their assets in Zimbabwe. They also pointedout that the Zimbabwean government had not paid them theircompensation, he said. The EU is disbursing the moneythrough an international financial institution and the debt isreportedly supposed to be repaid over a five-year period, thesource said. He added that the EU had decided to help the farmerson the premise that its overture would help improve the foodsecurity situation in Southern Africa. Even though no officialcomment could be obtained from the European Union, individualmember countries dismissed the claim that the bloc was financingthe farmers. Delphine Delieux, a spokesperson for the BelgianEmbassy in Zimbabwe said: We are not aware of such aprogramme (of funding the farmers). I dont think we woulddo that even if the farmers were Belgians. The EU wasconcentrating on alleviating a food crisis that hit southernAfrica because of the current drought in the region, Delieuxsaid. About 14 million people in the region are in need of relieffood to avert starvation, donor agencies have estimated. Some ofthe farmers have found new homes in Southern Africa as well asother African countries, while others are relocating to Canada,Europe and Australia. Some members moved to New Zealand,Australia, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda andTanzania, to carry on farming. The countries could accommodatethem, Colin Cloete, president of the CommercialFarmers Union said. Zambia, as well as Mozambique, hasproved to be an instant favourite of the moving farmers. AZambian High Commission official in Harare said it was commonknowledge that evicted farmers were relocating to Zambia. Shesaid many farmers were reportedly still visitingZambia to look at the available land and to determine suitableagricultural operations. There is plenty of farmland inZambia. As a matter of policy, the farmers and other investorsare being given incentives. But they have to buy their ownequipment since our government does not have the money, shesaid, without elaborating on the nature of the incentives. Shecould not provide the exact number of white farmers who had movedto her country Cloete said: We hear that commercial(agricultural) companies are supporting farmers settling inZambia and not the EU. Tobacco companies want to retain thefarmers skills and increase that countrysoutput.
Peter MacSporan, who was CFU president between 1995 and 1996,confirmed that he relocated to Zambia late last year. Thereis plenty of land in Zambia, but finance is a major problem. Iwas not compensated and government stopped me from moving myequipment. It is like starting from scratch, MacSporansaid. The CFU said it was aware of nearly 120 farmers that hadbeen offered compensation by government, so far. MacSporan saidhe was going to grow tobacco, as well as seed and commercialmaize. He owned Diandra Farm in Darwendale, about 50 kilometreswest of Harare. No one like that (EU) is supporting us. Weare raising our own capital from Zambian banks and somecommercial tobacco companies are assisting us, he said. Headded that Zambia produced a mere five million kilogrammes offlue-cured tobacco every season, a mass the farmers from Zimbabwewant to significantly increase. MacSporan said: Zambia hasgreat potential in agriculture, I am sure it will benefit fromour settling there. Zimbabwes economy did not supportcommercial agriculture and there are fuel and foreign currencyshortages. In Zambia, we can get inputs and we are paid inforeign currency. He said he was aware of other evictedfarmers planning to move to either Mozambique or South Africa,mainly to engage in horticulture and cereal production. The CFUsaid out of last years 3 200 members, the union was nowleft with between 1 100 and 1 200 farmers on its register. Twoyears ago, CFU membership stood at 4 500. About 700 membersare able to farm at the moment, Cloete said However, heapplauded farmers moving into the southern Africa region, sayingtheir combined skills would be retained. He said while a nucleuswould remain in the region, the majority of evicted farmers weregoing to leave Africa.After leaving Africa the majority ofthe farmers wont produce anything. Because of theirbackground, most will not be able to take up professionaljobs, MacSporan said. Agriculture industry sources say someof the evicted farmers who migrated to the United Kingdom, weregetting employed as petrol attendants, truck-drivers, shopassistants, among other jobs, mainly because of their limitededucational backgrounds. Meanwhile, government reported thatabout 10.2 million hectares of land were acquired and over 300000 black farmers had been resettled on the land under the landreform programmes A1 model, with another 54 000 receivingland under the A2 model for commercial agricultural production.
This page last updated 26 February 2003.