SOUTHERN AFRICAN MIGRATION PROJECT

Migration News - July 2003

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

Region:
Cross-border crime prevention
Namibia, South Africa to launch trans-border conservation park
Reversing African's brain drain
Zimbabwe, Malawi excluded from regional AIDS project
Cross-border tourism takes off
Trans-Kalahari customs procedures to be eased
African 'peace parks' set to attract 8m tourists
HIV/AIDS, migration and NEPAD
Proposed SADC Free Trade Area has pros and cons 
US funds Nacala Corridor upgrade

Angola:
800 more refugees back from Zambia
Medicins sans Frontiers calls for greater assistance to returnees
Angola MPs to meet with refugees in Zambia
Refugee returns gains momentum - UN agency
Angolans return home as civil war ends
Repatriation of Angolan refugees going smoothly
Situation at border is calm - says defence minister
Defence minister on effective border control
Police expel 450 illegal foreigners
Members of parliament enquire about refugees in Namibia
Focus on repatriation of refugees from Zambia
Angolans going home at last
Four hundred refugees back home from Zambia
Angolan refugees trickle home
Refugees return home
UNHCR starts repatriation of Angolans from Namibia
First Angolan refugees return home from Namibia
First official refugee returns from Namibia

Botswana:
Healthcare workers abandon Africa
Police arrest 153 Zimbabweans
Botswana, Zimbabwe agree to construct border post
Zimbabwe citizens supposedly 'causing havoc'
Botswana steps up border patrols to intercept Zimbabwean immigrants
Illegal Zimbabwean migrants burden Botswana, say police
Concern over illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe
Villagers order Zimbabweans out
Botswana deports 26 000 Zimbabweans in 2002
Botswana president addresses free movement issue
Residents host Zimbabwean traders
100 Cuban health workers coming
Zimbabwean migrants attacked

DRC:
Refugees flee from DRC

Lesotho:
A way forward on HIV/AIDS
Lesotho's new VAT system for goods from South Africa

Malawi:
Tourism drills entry-point officials
Zimbabwe farmers in Malawi

Mozambique:
Alleged car traffickers on trial
Organised crime thieves in Southern Mozambique
South Africa visa restrictions rebound
Traffickers in people illegally released
Illegal Somali immigrants arrested

Namibia:
Immigration officials object to restructuring
Home Affairs minister blocks march
More refugees go home to Angola
Food shortage looms for Osire refugees
More Angolans return
Court lays down law on foreigners' residency
UNHCR starts repatriation of Angolans from Namibian
South urged to target visitors
Conflict brews on immigration revamp
Bid to boost number of Italians visiting Namibia

South Africa:
Epidemic of fraudulent documentation
Border controls may cross boundaries
Limpopo to welcome 30 Cuban doctors
DA criticises government over black skills shortage
Three home affairs officials arrested in Limpopo
Foreigners get help with confusing law
Official charged over ID scam
Cabinet to discuss skills shortage
Brain drain bigger than thought
Poor pay, hard work compounds shortage of nurses
Foreign workers take BP to task for contract cuts
Emigres are keen to return
Youth in UK urged to bring skills home
Redrafting of Immigration Act a boon for foreign buyers
Counting illegal residents impossible, say experts
Migration from Zimbabwe
Police hold 31 illegal immigrants in Bloemfontein
One million people in SA were born elsewhere
Latest census data puts SA population at 44,8 million
HIV testing of miners under fire
No illegal aliens in Bush's entourage
Buthelezi: Bush will respect SA immigration laws
SA awaits report on 12 arrested in Zimbabwe
SA to do its first research of financial impact of tourism
Regional car theft syndicates
HIV rate 30 percent at SA gold mines
Skills gap threatens projects, investment 
Visa regulations stifle Nelspruit trade
Research facility may slow brain drain
Tourism from far east to thrive on new flights
Victims will finally reap benefits
Cubans: FF demands probe
Immigrant 'wracked by pain'
Commentary: SA shuts doors in neighbours' faces
Immigration regulations approved

Swaziland:
Lawyers unhappy government seeking judges from Zimbabwe, Uganda
Feature on anti-Mozambican xenophobia
Away with visas, say border residents
Serious shortage of doctors
Stock theft by South Africans
HIV awareness and trucking industry

Tanzania:
Tanzania calls for speedy amendment of refugees convention
Borders with Malawi, Uganda and Kenya studied
Tourists complain over visa requirement
Tanzania, Malawi to ease border trade
Support for cross-border trade

Zambia:
Zambia threatens to throw out Zimbabwe farmers
MPs to meet with refugees
Mass deportation of prohibited immigrants
32 foreigners deported
Prostitution on trucking route
More Angolan refugees go
Country is a haven of prostitution and child trafficking, says minister
Focus on repatriation of Angolan refugees from Zambia
Angolan refugees return home
UNHCR launches operation to repatriate refugees from Zambia
Angolan refugees in Zambia go home
State to fence off Zambia-Angola border
Brain drain of qualified Zambians slated
Lack of computers at immigration department

Zimbabwe:
Impact of brain drain on health sector
Crossborder traders admit to externalising funds
New birth certificate ruling emancipates women, children
Opposition parties in emigration scam
Exodus of lecturers throws UZ into crisis
Impact of brain drain on Zimbabwe
Brain drain reaches unacceptable level
Brain drain strangling economic development
Government to speed up issuing of passports
Labour retention strategies to curb brain drain
Three former judges join UK immigration department

Region

Cross-border crime prevention (Johannesburg, Sapa, 31/07) - A joint cross-border crime preventive unit is working well in curbing vehicle and stock theft, firearms trafficking and illegal immigration, Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said on Thursday. The Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Committee (SARPCCO) sets the police and strategy for fighting these cross-border crimes. "The police chiefs work closely with Interpol in conducting operations on the borders between South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique." "As a result several important changes have been brought about in the establishment of specialised crime-fighting units and a uniformity had been achieved in matters of training and procedure," she said. Martins-Engelbrecht said a high priority was given to the combating and investigation of cross-border vehicle crime in the region and vehicles stolen in South Africa have even turned up in Europe, she said. Director Melefe Mofolo, Acting Head: Organised Crime, Detective Service said: "A number of luxury vehicles stolen in South Africa and sent over the border to other parts of Africa have recently been brought back into the country and this is evidence of the SARPCCO member countries' commitment towards the killing of the market for stolen vehicles in the region."

Namibia, South Africa to launch trans-border conservation park (Windhoek, The Namibia, 29/07) - A treaty establishing the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Conservation Park will be signed on Friday when South African President Thabo Mbeki visits Namibia. The partnership agreement is aimed at implementing an integrated approach to the management of shared natural resources in the area, as well as promoting cross-border tourism. The conservation area spans 5 921 square kilometres, with the largest portion - 4 326 square kilometres - in Namibia. It includes sections of the Orange River, Fish River Canyon, Huns mountains, Ai-Ais springs and two extensive alluvia/colluvia plains, the Springbok and Koeroegab, in the Richtersveld National Park. It is hoped that the agreement will be a catalyst for further cross-sectoral development in what is an extremely arid region with few development options, and which has been geographically isolated for a long time. The Richtersveld boasts a richness and diversity of flora and because of its variety of species is internationally recognised as a global hot spot of biodiversity. In addition to its natural attributes, the Richtersveld National Park is regarded as a role model for a new approach to conservation which includes local communities in the management of the area. The Transfrontier Conservation Park will be jointly managed as an integrated unit according to a joint management plan. However, the respective governments and other stakeholders still have to agree on its formalisation. The management plan will allow for full participation by the local community through elected members, while each nation will retain the sovereign rights to the land included in the park. One of the main initial challenges of the new park will be the rehabilitation of the diamond mining areas on both sides of the Orange River. Until a decision is taken on a name, something which will be done through public participation, the names of the existing protected areas - the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Game Park and the Richtersveld National Park will be used. The development of the transfrontier park began through talks between Environment Minister Philemon Malima and his South African counterpart Valli Moosa in October 2000. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the two countries in August 2001.

Reversing African's brain drain (Zambia Daily Mail, 23/07) - For thousands of Africans living overseas and seeking ways to contribute to the development of the continent, initiatives aimed at stopping the outflow of professional expertise are offering new possibilities. Now, more than ever before, exists "a major opportunity to transform the historical brain drain ... into a new African 'brain trust'," notes Mr John Sarpong of the Digital Diaspora Network Africa. He was among 130 heads of technology firms, non-profit organisations and UNagencies who launched the network in July 2002 as part of a resurgence of initiatives to reverse the loss of professional skills from Africa. Among those targeted are scientists, medical doctors, engineers, lecturers, economists, technologists and other highly skilled people needed on the continent. African professionals have tended to migrate to western Europe and North America. Many are dissuaded from returning home by the economic and political crises that have bedeviled the continent over the last few decades. Failing economies, high unemployment rates, human rights abuses, armed conflict and lack of adequate social services are some of these factors. The UN Economic Commission for Africa and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimate that 27,000 Africans left the continent for industrialised countries between 1960 and 1975. During the period 1975 to 1984, the figure rose to 40,000. It is estimated that since 1990 at least 20,000 people leave annually. A brain drain is said to occur when a country becomes short of skills when people with such expertise emigrate. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) notes that in Africa, the loss of medical doctors has been the most striking. At least 60 per cent of doctors trained in Ghana during the 1980s have left the country. The phenomenon "is putting a huge strain on the continent," notes IOM deputy director-general Ndioro Ndiaye. To fill the gap created by the skills shortage, African countries spend an estimated $4 billion annually to employ about 100,000 non-African expatriates. "It is high time programmes and policies are put in place to reverse the devastating effects of the brain drain," she says. Increasingly, development planners are seeking ways to reverse the brain drain or retain skilled professionals at home. They include restrictive policies aimed at delaying emigration, such as adding extra years to medical students' training.

Various tax proposals have also been put forward as governments realise that the large numbers of citizens living outside their borders are a potential economic resource. Another strategy is the adoption of international agreements by industrial and developing nations under which wealthy countries pledge not to recruit skilled people from developing states. However, the two most popular strategies involve transferring skills through networks of professionals and intellectuals and the time-tested approach of repatriation. Because many people are reluctant to return to politically or economically unstable countries, some countries are now trying to find other ways to tap the knowledge and skills of their professionals based overseas. The South African Network of Skills Abroad (SANSA) is an example. Through its website, it invites professionals to sign up. SANSA estimates that about 60 per cent of the country's expatriate graduates are located in six countries, with Australia, the UK and the US accounting for more than half of them. It reports that at least 22,000 graduates from five major South African universities resident abroad remain in touch with their universities. A significant proportion of the University of Cape Town's graduates in medicine, commerce, education and engineering, all areas in which South Africa has an acute shortage of skills, are living abroad, SANSA notes. Once professionals join SANSA, they may offer to train their counterparts back home or assist them to conduct research. They could facilitate business contacts and transmit information on research results not available in South Africa. SANSA members may also help to transfer technology to their home country by providing computers and software. Rather than blame departing professionals for the shortage of skills on the continent, SANSA views "these highly skilled South Africans located abroad as a potential asset," notes Mr David Kaplan and Mr Jean-Baptiste Meyer.
In a report for SANSA, they however stress that the success of networks depends largely on the commitment of expatriates. Other programmes to counter the brain drain involve physical relocation of expatriate Africans either to their home countries or elsewhere on the continent. A major limitation, however, is that large sums of money are required. Some expatriates may wish to be repatriated with their entire families. Others may request salaries comparable to what they earn in their host countries, along with up-to-date technological resources.

Another limitation is that repatriation only allows for the return of the individual expatriate and not the knowledge networks to which he or she may belong. Despite such challenges, the Kenya-based Research and Development Forum for Science-led Development in Africa (RANDFORUM) has been exploring ways to repatriate African professionals and intellectuals, as requested in 1999 by the Presidential Forum on the Management of Science and Technology in Africa, a grouping of African heads of state. That year, a task force led by former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, recommended that RANDFORUM identify overseas-based Africans interested in returning home to offer their skills. However, organisations involved in repatriation face the challenge of attracting larger numbers of participants. laM's Reintegration of Qualified African Nationals Programme, which ran from 1983 to 1999, only managed to relocate about 2,000 nationals to 11 countries. Immigration regulations are cited as one of the concerns of potential returnees, notes Chernor Jalloh of laM. People are concerned, for example, about whether they would be able to return to their adopted country once they leave. While past laM programmes focused on permanent relocations, they are now evolving to cater for the needs of those Africans who prefer to remain in their new countries. Instead of permanent relocations, "we now use sequenced visits," says Mr Jalloh, describing some aspects of the newly established Migration for Development in Africa programme. These may be short stays, on a number of occasions to service a particular need, for example, "a request for a specialist doctor in a remote part of Sierra leone," Mr Jalloh told Africa Recovery. The doctor continues to live abroad, returning when needed to complement the work of teams in the African country. Many Africans long to return but their aspirations are "vigorously thwarted by negligent governments whose prioritiesignore national welfare," says Mr. Kwaku Asante Darko a lecturer at the National University of Lesotho.

Mr Darko, a Ghanaian, stresses that until the factors that lead to migration are dealt with, it "would be catastrophic" to expect to solve the continent's manpower shortages through an immediate return of skilled Africans. In addition, the continent needs to provide "a conducive environment which is amenable to positive criticism, free of harassment and persecution," says Rohey Wadda of Gambia's Strategy for Poverty Alleviation Coordinating Office, a national body that oversees development programmes. African countries must be made "more politically, economically and socially attractive to their citizens." Given the international nature of the brain drain and the covert support it receives from developed countries in need of skilled personnel, measures in African  countries to contain it will only succeed with the support of destination countries, notes the Union for African Population Studies, a scientific, pan-African non-profit organisation. It says that pressure must be exerted on developed nations to modify policies on the immigration of professionals from developing countries. Industrialised countries are in growing need of two types of immigrant labour; those willing to do poorly paid, dirty and dangerous jobs that their own nationals scorn, and highly specialised professionals, such as software specialists, engineers, doctors and nurses. The US has 126,000 fewer nurses than it needs and government figures show that the country could face a shortage of 800,000 registered nurses by 2020. As a result, industrialised nations have embarked on massive international recruitment drives. South Africa recently appealed to Canada to desist from recruiting its medical professionals. In the rural province of Saskatchewan, Canada, more than 50 per cent of doctors are foreign trained and at least one in five of the 1,530 doctors there earned their first medical degree in South Africa. According to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, there is a clear need for international cooperation. "There are no easy choices or simple solutions," he says.

Zimbabwe, Malawi excluded from regional AIDS project (The Daily News, 22/07) - Zimbabwe has been left out of a project that is aimed at reducing the spread of HIV/Aids among long distance truck drivers operating along the Beira Development Corridor. Malawi is also said to have been omitted out of the project that is being run by the Southern African Transport Communications Commission (SATCC), which is a grouping of transport ministries in the Southern African Development Community. A Ministry of Transport official, Abbey Mpamhanga, yesterday said Zimbabwe had not been consulted before decisions were taken on how best HIV/AIDS prevalence along the busy route could be reduced. Mpamhanga, who is a director of legislation in the Transport Ministry said: "Zimbabwe and Malawi were left out in the consultation work and we hear the programme is nearing conclusion before it has been started." Mpamhanga was reacting to comments by SATCC project officer Frederico Sarguene that the HIV/AIDS pilot project would be completed before year-end. The SATCC project involves the running of HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns among transport and sex workers with roadside health information units being set along the Beira Corridor route. Sarguene had told a meeting here that: "The programme should be running by November and we hope by then we would be able to bring down the infection rate among the drivers." The SATCC project officer said reports by consultants indicated a high HIV/Aids prevalence rate among the truck drivers in the region of about 56 percent. Mpamhanga said it would be difficult for Zimbabwe to adopt the consultant's report as it had nothing on Zimbabwe. Sarguene admitted there were anomalies in the omission of Zimbabwe and Malawi from active participation of the consultation work. "At least we have a starting point which would be extended to Zimbabwe and Malawi in future." SATCC was formed in 1980 to cater for infrastructural development of the transport sector in the region.
It also sought to rehabilitate infrastructure in the various regional countries that was destroyed in wars that until a few years ago ravaged some parts of southern Africa. It has over the years spread its interests to include the harmonisation of customs exercise procedures to ensure smooth movement of goods and people between SADC member states.

Cross-border tourism takes off (The Namibian, 21/07) - Namibia is taking the lead in mobilising northern neighbours Botswana, Zambia, Angola and Zimbabwe to form a joint tourism initiative. Tomorrow senior government officials from the five countries gather at Katima Mulilo for a four-day meeting to discuss improving cross-border tourism and conservation. Briefing the media on the development objectives of the Okavango Upper Zambezi International Tourism Initiative in Windhoek on Friday, Environment Permanent Secretary Malan Lindeque said the plan is an ideal opportunity for the five countries to take advantage of the region's extensive network of wildlife and natural resources. He believes that if consensus can be reached on harmonising tourism management, the area could become one of the world's premier eco, cultural and adventure tourism destinations. A major objective of the plan is to improve on regional co-operation and integration on issues such as biodiversity, conservation, tourism and trade as well as development planning in other areas. The initiative stems from proposal to the Development Bank of Southern Africa several years ago on establishing a major trans-frontier wildlife sanctuary in the wetlands of the Okavango and Zambezi River systems. The broader concept was endorsed by SADC Tourism Ministers in 2001. Lindeque said that for countries like Namibia and Botswana (and previously Zimbabwe too), which have active tourism industries, the initiative offered an opportunity to look at areas which needed improvement. For Angola, which is rebuilding its infrastructure, it provided a chance to take decisions on the future of tourism in the country. Extensive parks and former hunting areas which have become dysfunctional because of the war, tourism could become an important revenue earner for the country. At present, tourism is Namibia's third largest income earner and the Environment and Tourism Ministry has said it could become even more important in future. "None of the five countries should ignore the positive opportunities for rural development and economic growth," Lindeque said on Friday. Namibia, he said, should aim to upgrade its tourism infrastructure - such as airports in the northern regions - to make them suitable for international use. Access to conservancies and other rural tourism projects also needed more attention. Apart from improving on their individual tourism industries, Lindeque said there was also a lot the five countries could do to stimulate cross-border tourism. This could include designing a similar approach for dealing with tourists in terms of visa requirements, vehicle use and taxes, as well as allowing the cross-border movement of tour operators. Lindeque said it made sense for the five countries to reach consensus on the management of shared resources such as water, as well as wildlife parks which in many cases were separated only by border fences but managed differently.

Trans-Kalahari customs procedures to be eased (The Namibia, 18/07) - Customs formalities will be simplified on the Trans-Kalahari route from Walvis Bay through Botswana to South Africa, after August 1, following an agreement between customs authorities. The agreement will reduce red tape and waiting times, and allow a single customs document to be used by goods carriers. "The benefits include reduction of tedious paperwork ... increased competitiveness and utilisation of the TKC (Trans-Kalahari Corridor) and ultimately the development of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region as a global player," said Bevan Simataa, public relations officer of Namibian Customs and Excise. The new deal will allow a single administrative document for exporters and importers in all three countries, a single set of regulations and the possibility of a single bond as security for payments. A website will be set up, initially hosted by the South African Revenue Services, where goods carriers can obtain more information. Help desks will also be set up. The agreement will require the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the three governments, which is expected to happen very soon, Simataa said. Botswana and Namibia had already given consent to the rules, and South Africa was expected to do so shortly. If successful, the scheme would be extended to all SADC countries. "Traffic has tippled on the TKC since 1998, but we still have 40 per cent spare capacity," said Frank Gschwender, Business Development Executive for the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG).
Addressing the press conference, Gschwender said traffic in 1998 represented only 15 to 20 per cent of the amount the road was designed to cope with. He said the new agreement follows a trial run last year, where companies were asked to volunteer to try to new system out. The trial was not very successful, but valuable lessons were learned. "The benefits were not clear, and there was no actual change in the law," said Gschwender. But he said he feels such problems will be overcome in the new regulations. Theo Lyimo, customs reform adviser for the Southern Africa Global Competitiveness Hub, a USAID-backed initiative which is also participating in the corridor project, said it should not be seen not only in terms of less red tape on one route, but as a subcontinent-wide plan to boost competitiveness.

African 'peace parks' set to attract 8m tourists (Mail & Guardian, 18/07) - The chair of the Peace Parks Foundation of South Africa, Anton Rupert, said on Thursday he was grateful for the US Congress's efforts to support the foundation. He was responding to the US House of Representatives and the Senate having adopted a special resolution on Wednesday supporting the foundation's efforts to facilitate the development of transfrontier conservation areas in southern Africa. Wednesday's resolution states that the US values peace and stability in the global community and in particular Africa. It had long recognised the significance of sustainable economic development and the conservation of biodiversity. "We are sincerely grateful for this support, which is needed now more than ever if Africa wants to take its rightful place in the world economic and conservation fields," Rupert said. "Our goals with peace parks are very clear: protection of biodiversity, economic development, job creation and the promotion of peace and understanding between the countries concerned." A transfrontier conservation area, or peace park, involves two or more countries which, without compromising national sovereignty, allows the free movement of animals and humans across international boundaries within the peace park. The best known example is the Great Limpopo Park which links the Kruger National Park with national parks in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The Peace Parks Foundation is presently supporting South African National Parks with the translocation of 1 000 elephant and 6 500 other animals from Kruger Park to Mozambique. One of the founders of the Peace Parks Foundation was former president Nelson Mandela. In Southern Africa 22 transfrontier conservation areas have been identified and when finalised they are expected to attract some eight million tourists.

HIV/AIDS, migration and NEPAD (Financial Mail, 04/07) - The New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), the blueprint for Africa's regeneration, could worsen the Aids pandemic, warns Metropolitan Life's Aids research head, Stephen Kramer. He says Nepad reports to date have to a large extent ignored the greatest health catastrophe ever to hit the continent.
By failing to recognise the threat of Aids, Nepad will miss a golden opportunity to reduce the risk of HIV and many other diseases that plague Africa. At worst, it could lead to an HIV disaster of even greater proportions. Kramer finds it extraordinary that the Nepad document makes scant mention of Aids. "In planning socioeconomic transformation, HIV cannot be ignored. To do so is to lose a valuable opportunity, place whole populations at risk and reduce and perhaps even nullify potential benefits that may accrue from Nepad," he says. Kramer says the goals of Nepad - accelerated growth, sustainable development and eradication of poverty - could all assist in making the social environment less favourable to the spread of HIV. If Nepad succeeds in achieving political stability in parts of the continent, this on its own could slow the epidemic. "War and strife are known to enhance the spread of HIV by creating refugees, increasing the vulnerability of women and children, and reducing the value placed on life," he says. Nepad could enhance co-ordination, though. "African efforts to fight HIV have been fragmented in the past, but if Nepad allows Africa to put out collective messages on Aids, it could have a huge impact," he says. "It could also reduce the duplication of Aids initiatives, enhance the effectiveness of programmes and give greater certainty to donor agencies." He points out that HIV will present barriers to Nepad's success by causing a loss of skilled people, market uncertainty, reduced economic growth, social instability, reduced literacy and lower school attendance. But even the projects themselves could pose major HIV risks . This is because growth and development lead to migration and a greater mobility of people . Even the construction of a road into a hitherto inaccessible area brings with it truck drivers and possible HIV risks. Kramer suggests every project undertaken by Nepad should be subject to an HIV audit, assessing whether it could worsen the impact of HIV and, if so, how these risks could be managed. "Correctly managed, these negative effects can be mitigated and possibly neutralised, but this requires that planning and strategy be integrated into thinking on all Nepad projects," says Kramer. "A well thought-out strategy may even be able to use Nepad projects to reduce the spread of HIV and enhance existing Aids interventions."

Proposed SADC Free Trade Area has pros and cons (Johannesburg, Irin, 02/07) - Namibia and Zambia would have to restructure trade relations with other regional groupings before they are likely to attain full benefit from a proposed Southern African Development Community Free Trade Area (SADC FTA), a political think-tank said in a recent report. The South African Institute of International Affairs noted that while the proposed free trade area would create a larger market for both countries, short-term benefits would be limited. This was largely because both countries had overlapping economic arrangements with other countries that already grant free trade to some extent. The SADC FTA, a product of the SADC trade protocol, is intended to act as a catalyst for increased regional integration, and facilitate trade and investment flows within the SADC region. It is expected that by 2008, up to 85 percent of all SADC trade will carry zero tariffs, while total liberalisation is earmarked for 2012. The report highlighted the trade relationship between Namibia and South Africa and argued that Namibian consumers may benefit from cheaper agricultural products due to new competition. However, the report noted that reduced import duties from imported SADC goods would initially impact negatively on government revenues. For Namibia to fully gain from the SADC FTA it would have to increase trade with neighbouring Angola, the report suggested. The drawback is that Angola is not part of the SADC FTA. Between 1997 and 2001 Angola provided a market for 87.9 percent of Namibia's exports of beer and non-alcoholic beverages (the main category of Namibia's regional exports) to non-SACU SADC countries. However, trade relations between the two countries suffered a setback, when Angola enforced customs duties to boost revenue. The report said the phasing out of tariffs could revive cross-border trade, and Namibia would profit not only from exports to Angola but also from imports of agricultural products. Some 60 percent of Namibia's population live in the area along the Angolan border. The success Zambia has achieved as a member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) is ironically seen as a potential obstacle to the country taking full advantage of the SADC FTA. The report noted that Comesa had a good track record of practical interventions in trade issues and that Zambia had benefited more from its Comesa-induced trade liberalisation than by being part of SADC. The major challenges for the Zambian economy were to improve both its level of industry, and its capacity to produce regionally competitive high-quality goods and services. "As the SADC FTA takes hold, Zambian firms who are accustomed to operating in sheltered national market will hard hit by the entry of regional suppliers," the report stated.

US funds Nacala Corridor upgrade (Johannesburg, Irin, 01/07) - Namibia and Zambia would have to restructure trade relations with other regional groupings before they are likely to attain full benefit from a proposed Southern African Development Community Free Trade Area (SADC FTA), a political think-tank said in a recent report. The South African Institute of International Affairs noted that while the proposed free trade area would create a larger market for both countries, short-term benefits would be limited. This was largely because both countries had overlapping economic arrangements with other countries that already grant free trade to some extent. The SADC FTA, a product of the SADC trade protocol, is intended to act as a catalyst for increased regional integration, and facilitate trade and investment flows within the SADC region. It is expected that by 2008, up to 85 percent of all SADC trade will carry zero tariffs, while total liberalisation is earmarked for 2012. The report highlighted the trade relationship between Namibia and South Africa and argued that Namibian consumers may benefit from cheaper agricultural products due to new competition. However, the report noted that reduced import duties from imported SADC goods would initially impact negatively on government revenues. For Namibia to fully gain from the SADC FTA it would have to increase trade with neighbouring Angola, the report suggested. The drawback is that Angola is not part of the SADC FTA. Between 1997 and 2001 Angola provided a market for 87.9 percent of Namibia's exports of beer and non-alcoholic beverages (the main category of Namibia's regional exports) to non-SACU SADC countries. However, trade relations between the two countries suffered a setback, when Angola enforced customs duties to boost revenue. The report said the phasing out of tariffs could revive cross-border trade, and Namibia would profit not only from exports to Angola but also from imports of agricultural products. Some 60 percent of Namibia's population live in the area along the Angolan border. The success Zambia has achieved as a member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) is ironically seen as a potential obstacle to the country taking full advantage of the SADC FTA. The report noted that Comesa had a good track record of practical interventions in trade issues and that Zambia had benefited more from its Comesa-induced trade liberalisation than by being part of SADC. The major challenges for the Zambian economy were to improve both its level of industry, and its capacity to produce regionally competitive high-quality goods and services. "As the SADC FTA takes hold, Zambian firms who are accustomed to operating in sheltered national market will hard hit by the entry of regional suppliers," the report stated.

Angola

800 more refugees back from Zambia (Luanda, Angop, 26/07) - More than 800 Angolan refugees began returning Thursday to the country, from the Republic of Zambia, says a document sent to Angop by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The note says that the refugees have crossed the Zambia/Angola border bound for Cazombo village, eastern Moxico province. This is the first big movement of people since the start of the repatriation process of Angolan refugees on June 20th this year. The returnees, some of them out of the country for more than 30 years, will stay their first days in the sheltering centre of Cazombo, where the UNHCR and the Angolan Government operate, in partnership with various UN agencies and other Non-Governmental Organisations. Four returning corridors are working now, namely from Meheba (Zambia) to Cazombo (Moxico), from Kimpese (DRCongo) to Mbanza Congo (Zaire), from Kisenge (DRC) to Lau (Moxico) and from Osire (Namibia) to Calundo (Kuando-Kubango). Until now, more than 7,000 refugees have returned home so far, through the operation organise by the UNHCR, for which received already USD 15 million of contributions from the Angolan Government, Denmark, Switzerland, and Norway. It is estimated that 400,000 Angolan refugees are in the DR Congo, Zambia and Namibia.

Medicins sans Frontiers calls for greater assistance to returnees (Johannesburg, Irin, 23/07) - Médicins Sans Frontièrs (MSF) on Wednesday called for greater assistance to refugees returning to Angola, saying that many had resettled in areas lacking basic services. The MSF-Belgium head of mission in Angola, Fasil Bezera, told IRIN the situation was "extremely difficult" and that more than 60 percent of people who had returned to their areas of origin had no access to medical care, water, shelter or education facilities. The medical relief agency said it had started work in primary health care centres in two transit camps in Moxico Province in the east of the country. "Since the start of the repatriation programme which started in June we have seen more than a 1,000 people. But while we may have access to the refugees when they pass through the transit camps, there are no assurances that people will receive medical care when they leave. In the rest of the province the health infrastructure is nonexistent. Often people in more remote areas are forced to carry their sick relatives over long distances to get to the nearest health facility," Bezera said. Land mine infestation continues to hamper aid delivery in the more remote parts of the province. "Although the main access routes and strategic points such as water resources in the province have been cleared of land mines, our access to remote villages remains limited. We are concerned that during the next rainy season we may even lose the access we have with some villages," Bezera added. Up to 440,000 refugees driven from their homes by 27 years of civil war are expected to return from neighbouring countries over the next few years. According to government figures, 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have made their way home. The movement of large volumes of returnees to areas of origin began in September last year, including to some locations that did not meet the pre-conditions established in the UN's "Norms on the Resettlement and Return of Displaced Populations". Under these norms, returnees must be given seeds and tools to enable them to start growing food, and the areas in which they are resettled should have basic facilities and be declared free of land mines. "Admittedly the challenges are significant, but the government and donors must make sure that these people have the necessary facilities, so that they can live in dignity," Bezara said.

Angola MPs to meet with refugees in Zambia (Luanda, Angop, 22/07) - A delegation of Angolan members of parliament is in Zambia since Monday to learn from Angolan refugees about their worries and wishes in that country. The delegation`s 10 days stay in Zambia is part of a programme of the National Assembly`s foreign affairs commission which has as its objective to enquire into the problems facing Angolan refugees in various African countries. The head of delegation, MP with the ruling MPLA Party bench, Alfredo Júnior, told Angop that "at this stage we have information on the wish of return of a lot of Angolans from Zambia and we need to discuss with them about how they are and their true desires." Accompanying Alfredo Júnior are MP`s Abel Satula and Amaro Nguengo, both with the ruling party and Silvestre Samy, opposition UNITA. The first group of Angolan refugees from Zambia arrived in the province of Moxico (East of Angola) on July 12 this year. Another parliamentary delegation travelled to Namibia on July 14 also with the purpose of enquiring into the plight of Angolan refugees in that neighbouring country, estimated at 3.430. A total of 400.000 Angolan refugees were till June this year in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Namibia.

Refugee returns gains momentum - UN agency (New York, United Nations, 18/07) - More than 5,300 Angolan refugees have gone home from neighbouring countries in the past month as repatriation efforts gain momentum among the 400,000 Angolans who fled their country's decades-long civil war, the United Nations refugee agency said today. More than 30,000 of the 45,000 refugees in Meheba camp in neighbouring Zambia, home to more than 200,000 Angolan refugees, have registered to return home in convoys that should transport up to 1,000 returnees each week, and more are queuing to sign up, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Rupert Colville told a briefing in Geneva. Next week, UNHCR and Zambian officials will meet to plan a return programme from three other camps in the western part of the country. The latest repatriation movement, organized jointly by UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration and the governments of Angola's neighbours, began of 20 June. Two convoys of refugees also returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo this week. Returnees spend the first few days back in Angola in reception centres, where they receive mine awareness training and information on HIV/AIDS. Before leaving the centre, they receive some food, a construction kit to help them set up their homes and basic domestic supplies. Later in the year, they will also receive seeds and farming tools in their home communities. In October 2002, UNHCR launched an appeal for $29.4 million to aid the return of more than 200,000 Angolans over a two-year period (2003/2004) and to date has received just over $15 million of the requested funds.

Angolans return home as civil war ends (Geneva, IOL, 18/07) - More than 5 300 Angolan refugees have returned home from three neighbouring countries under a UN-sponsored programme that began just over a month ago, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday. About 500 refugees joined the latest convoy on Thursday, leaving the Meheba refugee camp in western Zambia, UNHCR spokesman Rupert Colville said. The group spent the night in the Zambian border town of Kampanda and were due to cross into Angola early Friday, he added. "All the returnees are going back to Cazombo in Moxico province, eastern Angola, he said. The Geneva-based UNHCR organised the repatriation jointly with the International Organisation for Migration and the Zambian authorities. Angolans have also returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia under the programme which began on June 20. They will spend the first few days in Angola at a reception centre receiving mine awareness training and information about HIV/Aids. Before they leave the centre, the returnees are given food, a building kit to help them set up their homes, and some basic supplies. Thousands of other Angolan refugees at Meheba camp have also signed up to return home. Zambian government officials and the UNHCR plan to discuss next week the return of refugees in three other camps in the west of the country. Zambia hosts more than 200 000 Angolan refugees. Thousands of Angolans have already returned home from Zambia on their own since a peace deal was signed in April 2002 between rebels and the Angolan government ending 27 years of civil war.

Repatriation of Angolan refugees going smoothly (Johannesburg, Irin, 17/07) - As over 500 returnees make their way home, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Zambia told IRIN on Thursday it would be scaling up the voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees. Some 509 refugees began the two-day journey home from Zambia at 8:30 am on Thursday, UNHCR spokesman Kelvin Shimo said. According to a UNHCR statement, this was the second convoy to leave from Mahebe refugee settlement, in Zambia's northwestern Solwezi district. Some 387 refugees returned to the Cazombo municipality in Angola's eastern Moxico province in the first repatriation on Friday, 11 July. "UNHCR Zambia has decided that successive Angolan repatriation convoys will be undertaken on a weekly basis. The idea is to adjust the numbers of returnees upwards every week, in coordination with UNHCR Angola, so that as many refugees as possible return before the onset of the rainy season in October/November," the statement added. The agency said it hoped to repatriate about 20,000 Angolan refugees by the end of 2003. Tens of thousands of refugees have returned under their own steam from Zambia since the end of the Angolan civil war in April 2002. Shimo told IRIN the latest group of returnees would spend the evening on the Zambian side of the border and enter Angola on Friday. "The convoy will then proceed to Cazombo reception centre, where the refugees will spend three days before moving to their various areas of origin," he added. The refugees would all receive land mine awareness training, information on HIV/AIDS "and other necessary medical assistance" while at the reception centre. UNHCR would also assist the returning refugees until they could become self-sufficient. "They will receive a supply of food rations, a construction kit to assist in the building of their homes, blankets, soap, kitchen items and buckets.

They will continue to be assisted with food rations until the next harvest in about April next year," Shimo noted. He stressed that assistance would "only be provided upon production of the VRF (voluntary repatriation form) handed to all those departing from Zambia, which will be used as a way of identifying the bona fide refugees" entitled to assistance. "Later in the year, as they prepare for the agricultural season, they will receive seeds and tools in their home communities to support them to become self-reliant," he added. UNHCR said over 25,000 Angolan refugees have so far registered to return from Mahebe, out of a camp population of 45,000. Zambia hosts about 200,000 Angolan refugees. Transportation for the repatriation of the refugees has been provided by the International Organisation for Migration, Shimo said. Repatriation programmes for the 440,000 Angolan refugees in the region, that fled the country's 27-year-long civil war, have also begun in Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Situation at border is calm - says defence minister (Luanda, Angop, 16/07) - The current situation along the border between Angola and Namibia, especially on the Caprivi Strip (North of Namibia) is calm, said Wednesday the Namibian Defence minister, Erkki N'Ghimtina. Speaking to Angop on the fringes of the 10th meeting of the Angola/Namibia Joint Commission for Defence and Security that opened today in Luanda, Erkki N'Ghimtina defended dialogue as the best way to settle defence and security disputes affecting both countries. On the Caprivi Sprit, a southern zone of that country sharing border with Angola was years ago the scene of unrest perpetrated by armed elements who at the time victimized defenseless Namibians. In that region, he added, the mentors of that action who were considered as separatists were taught an unforgettable lesson. The situation is now under control and all has been done to avoid that destabilising activities take place again there, he also stated. To the Namibian minister, consultative meetings between neighbouring countries sharing borders are a requirement as they operate as true pillars for the strengthening of friendship ties existing between the two states. Representatives of the Angola-Namibia Joint Comission for Defense and Security meet annually to discuss matters related to drug trafficking, smuggling of goods, car and cattle theft, document forgery and the like. Attending the ongoing meeting are officers from the two countries' Defense and Home ministries.

Defence minister on effective border control (Luanda, Angop, 16/07) - Angolan Defence minister, Kundi Paihama, said an effective control of the land and sea borders requires the full installation of State administration throughout the country, especially in regions that border with neighbouring countries. Addressing the opening of the 10th session of the Angola-Namibia Joint Comission for Defence and Security today in Luanda, the minister said that because of this, the Angolan Government has paid a special attention to the installation of State authority in locations where its presence is not visible. Kundi Paihama considered as an urgent must the installation of public order and tranquility and strengthening of the fight against goods, car, cattle theft, drugs, guns trafficking and documents forgery. He pointed out that the new political situation enjoying the country permits the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in various sectors to the benefit of the Angolan and Namibian Governments and peoples. "Peace brings about advantages to people from both countries and businesses, because it has already permited free and spontaneous commercial transactions from Namibia to Angola and vice-versa", he stated. The meeting of the Joint Commission for Defence and Security between experts from both countries will close on Saturday after analysing matters related to these sectors. Attending the opening session were the Namibian minister of Defence, Erikki N'ghimtina, ministers of Home Affairs of Angola and Namibia, Osvaldo Serra Van-Dúnem, and Jerry Ekandjo, respectively, Government members, ambassadors and guests.

Police expel 450 illegal foreigners (Caxito, Angop, 14/07) - Fiscal Police in the Northern Bengo Province expelled 450 illegal citizens in the first semester of 2003, the local commander of National Police, Sub-Commissioner, Victor Inaculo, has announced. Victor Inaculo, who revealed it while addressing the ordinary session of the local Government, which took place over the weekend, added that 430 citizens are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, nine from Congo Brazzaville, Swizterland (04), Mali (03), Senegal (03), Cote D'ivoire (02), Guinea Conakry (02) and Central Africa Republic (01). During the first quarter of this year, the illegal foreigns were moving on the Zaire/Bengo, Uije/Bengo, plus Malanje/Kwanza-Norte roads, to reach Luanda, country's capital city. On his turn, Bengo's Governor, Isalino Mendes, has pointed out the necessity of put and end to the illegal immigration and called on the police and Administrators combat it.

Members of parliament enquire about refugees in Namibia (Luanda, Angop, 14/07) - Four members of parlaiment from the National Assembly (AN) travelled on Monday to Namibia to enquire about problems of angolan refugees, estimated to be 3 430, located in various parts of this countries of the Southern Africa's region. Before leaving Luanda, parliamentarian Domingos Jinga, from MPLA, president of AN's Foreign Affairs Commission, said that "members of parliament, as citizens elected by the people" have legal duties of enquiring about the worries of the voters to work in these proposals viewing to better serve the population". The Angolan Government has had conversations with namibian authorities in the sense of minimizing needs of the refugees. According to Domingos Jinga, in meeting with refugees, the delegation will speak of the new climate of peace in Angola, the on course steps for the approval of a new constitution and of the legislation about investment in the country. The national delegation will advise angolans living in Namibia to register themselves in the consulate of Angola in this State, in order for them to benefit from consular and diplomatic protection.

Focus on repatriation of refugees from Zambia (Solwezi, Irin, 14/07) - On Friday last week, some 387 Angolan refugees left Zambia for their country of origin in what has been described as a "historic" repatriation exercise. However, Nyapenzo Kawena was not one of them. After spending close to a decade in Zambia as a refugee she was told she could not make the journey home. Of 500 refugees who would make their way home, 113 were declared not medically fit enough to return to their war-ravaged country. Kawena, aged about 60, and her three grandchildren were not on the list of refugees returning home on 11 July because one of her legs had been amputated after it was damaged in a land mine explosion some five years ago. Also unable to make the journey home this time around was Roza Kwenzo, because she is five months pregnant. She had hoped officials from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), who are facilitating the repatriation, would include her on the list of returnees but she will remain in Solwezi, more than 600 km from the Zambian capital, Lusaka, until after she gives birth. "The strict rule is that no refugee who is deemed to be vulnerable either because of a disability or because of suspected ill health would be allowed to undertake the long journey back to Angola until they are given a clean bill of health by MSF [Medicins Sans Frontiers]," said Kenneth Lingunja, a community development officer with Lutheran World Federation, an implementing partner of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Consequently, the departure gate at Meheba refugee camp, home to about 45,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia, was the site of both joy and pain as some refugees were turned back while others were allowed to leave. Anxiety was written on the faces of the refugees who evidently wanted to return home, in good or bad health, and some wept openly. "What am I going to do now?" asked Kawena through an interpreter as she leaned on her walking stick, despair in her eyes. "I have sold whatever I had to survive on, but now they are telling me I cannot go back home to Kazombo with my grandchildren... all because I have one leg. This is not fair."

Other refugees, returning home at last, had reason to be happy. Davis Kawika, 43, had high hopes for his prospects in Angola. "I have been in Zambia for 33 years and it's the only home I have really known, but going back home to Angola makes me happy because I know the prospects for a better life are greater there. I am a qualified teacher but as long as I am refugee here, I shall remain on contract as an ordinary teacher and never get promoted. In Angola this will change because it is my country," he said. He was "grateful to the Zambian government for providing me with a home away from home," for more than three decades. Ahmed Gubartalla, the UNHCR representative in Zambia described the repatriation, stalled last month because of a land mine threat, as historic. "There are about 200,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia and we hope to repatriate 20,000 this year, and an additional 40,000 next year. This is historical for all of us." Up to 25,000 refugees have so far registered to return home voluntarily from Zambia. "I was born here [in Meheba, Zambia]. I have learnt the traditions here and, really, this is home for me. But Angola is where I come from, so even though I would like to stay, I have to go," said 26-year-old Antonio Sakuhena as he struggled to load his belongings onto the bus. Among the returning refugees are children whose only knowledge of Angola comes from stories told to them by family and friends. "I am told it is a nice country with plenty of fish compared to here, and since I like fish, I am excited about going there," said 10-year-old Kutemba Kafwebu. Angolan refugees poured into Zambia from the early 1960s, fleeing the internal war between the forces of President Eduardo dos Santos and those loyal to the late rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. The death of Savimbi in early 2002 and a subsequent ceasefire agreement sawc calm return to Angola. The returning refugees are aware of the fact that the road ahead of them is bound to be difficult. "It is really up to us to rebuild our country. I intend to get a piece of land and engage in farming, so that I can feed myself and my family when I return home," an eager Sakuhena told IRIN. The UNHCR, in cooperation with the government of Angola and countries of asylum, wants to repatriate up to 440,000 Angolan refugees from Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia. This is the third voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees organised by the UNHCR. The governments of Denmark, Japan and the United States have given financial support.

Angolans going home at last (Lusaka, News24, 14/07) - For many it was a tearful occasion as the first group of 500 Angolan refugees finally returned home from Zambia, the UN High Commissioner of Refugees said on Monday. Kyikyi Myint, a Zambian-based UNHCR field officer, said there were tears of joy on Saturday when the refugees arrived in Angola as part of a massive effort to return tens of thousands of people to the nation, recovering from a devastating civil war. The refugees had left the Meheba refugee settlement, about 600km northwest of Lusaka, in a convoy of passenger and cargo trucks provided by the International Organisation for Migration. They arrived in the eastern Angolan town of Cazombo on Saturday. "When the returnees crossed into Angola, they were welcomed happily by their friends and relatives, who even served them with food and drink. It was a sight of sorrow and joy," Myint said. The international agencies hope to voluntarily repatriate some 25 000 of the 211 000 Angolans who live in Zambia. Until last year, Angola had been wracked by civil war, which followed independence from Portugal in 1975. The conflict left about half a million Angolans in refugee camps across southern Africa. The World Food Programme has said it will feed the refugees for their first two months in Angola. After that, it will become the government's responsibility. The returning Angolans will be provided with blankets, household utensils, mine awareness training, Aids counselling and seeds for the duration of their stay in various reception centres, Myint said. A second convoy of about 1&nsbp;000 Angolan refugees is expected to leave Meheba this Friday. Since the end of the war some 130 000 people have gone back on their own. UNHCR, which has committed $200 toward bringing the refugees home, has also helped 2 000 go back from Congo and Namibia since organised returns began more than three weeks ago. Last month, UNHCR cancelled an initial convoy after a land mine, one of many left over from the fighting, was discovered on the Zambian side of the border. The United Nations eventually hopes to repatriate 450 000 Angolan refugees.

Four hundred refugees back home from Zambia (Luanda, Angop, 14/07) - At least 400 Angolan refugees who lived in Zambia, returned Saturday to their homeland, Cazombo district, in easten Moxico province, a source from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced on Sunday. According to the source, this operation marks the participation of Zambia in this voluntary repatriation programme of around 400,000 Angolan refugees who are put up in the DR Congo, Zambia and Namibia. The newly repatriated refugees, were temporarily lodged at Cazombo sheltering center, under the control of the Government and the UNHCR, in cooperation with several Non-Govermental Organisations and UN agencies. The UNHCR said the operation of voluntary repatriation for 2003 is worth 28.5 million US dollars, out of which 12.5 million is already available thanks to contributions from the United States, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and the European Union.

Angolan refugees trickle home (Luanda, News24, 07/07) - The first of 18 000 Angolan refugees in Namibia have returned home to southern Angola, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees announced on Thursday. The group of 150 refugees left the Osire camp in Namibia on June 30 before making the 1 000km in UNHCR vehicles to Angola's southern Kuando Kubango province. The refugees in Namibia are among about 440 000 Angolans who fled to nearby states including Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia during Angola's 27 years of civil war. The conflict ended in April 2002, when the government signed a peace pact with rebels of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita). The war claimed an estimated 500 000 lives, while millions of anti-personal landmines have maimed thousands of people. 130 000 returned under own steam Since June 20, the UNHCR has repatriated 1 000 Angolans who had taken refuge in the DRC, while an agreement aiming to repatriate an estimated 2 000 Angolan refugees from Botswana was signed at the beginning of June. The UNHCR says, however, that only 1 000 Angolans in Namibia have registered for voluntary repatriation. Altogether about 130 000 Angolan refugees have so far returned home of their own accord, according to the Angolan government. Angola, the UNHCR and countries providing refuge have concluded accords to organise and support the repatriation of the remaining refugees.

Refugees return home (Angola Peace Monitor, 03/07) - The first batches of refugees to be repatriated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, have arrived in Angola to a warm welcome. Since the end of the war, 130,000 refugees have returned on their own, and the formal repatriation programme aims to bring home 150,000 refugees by the end of the year. The voluntary return of the Angolan refugees is one of the key conditions that should be met before elections can be held in the country, but the return has been delayed by financial constraints and security concerns. The return was to have formally begun on 12 June, when a convoy of 500 was due to leave Maheba refugee camp in Zambia for Cazombo in eastern Angola. However, an old anti-tank mine was found on the road between Camapanda and Cazombo and the route had to be rechecked before the United Nations would allow the return to begin. On 20 June, which was World Refugee Day, the repatriation began, with 543 refugees leaving the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for Angola. Two convoys left camps in the DRC in what was described by UNHCR representative Alphonse Malanda as a "well synchronised and timely commencement of Angolan repatriation". From Kilueka and Nkondo camps, 306 Angolans travelled to the border at Luvo, where they were met by the Social Welfare Minister Joao Battista Kussumua. A further 237 refugees were repatriated from Tshimbumbulu camp in Katanga province to Luau. According to UNHCR, when the returnees arrived at reception centres in M'Banza Congo and Luau, they were met with cheers from other Angolans holding banners and welcoming them back home. According to Matthew Brook from UNCHR, "there was quite a good feeling at the reception centre". He continued that "the line of 15 trucks came in, people waited patiently for the registration process and the distribution of relief material to take place." The two reception centres hold a total of two thousand refugees. The refugees will stay at the centres for a short time, receiving information on AIDS and mine-awareness, and receiving reintegration packages which include blankets and basic supplies to last three months. UNHCR intends to run two convoys each week from the DRC, which has an estimated 193,000 Angolan refugees.

A group of 150 refugees on 30 June left Osire camp in Namibia, arriving at Caiundo in Cuando Cubango province on 2 July. Namibia is home to an estimated 24,000 Angolan refugees, although few of these have registered for repatriation. The return from Meheba camp in Zambia to Cazombo is now expected to begin on 11 July. Zambia has an estimated 211,000 Angolan refugees, thousands of whom have lived in Zambia for many years. The funding for the repatriation programme is in a critical situation, with only $9 million being donated out of a requirement of $29 million for 2003. However, UNHCR indicates that it expects a further $12 million to be donated shortly, leaving an $8 million shortfall for the year. Another United Nations organisation, the World Food Programme, WFP, is also in financial difficulties over its Angolan operations. On 13 June WFP warned that donations are urgently needed to fund the transportation of seeds, tools and materials to support the repatriation of Angolan refugees. WFP spokesman in Luanda, Marcelo Spina-Hering, told the UN news agency, IRIN, that "we have been transporting a lot of materials to the transit centres and areas where refugees are going to be settled. It is very important for the refugees, IDPs [internally displaced persons] and demobilised soldiers that the food [aid] reaches them - but also that non-food items reach them, so people can live and regain self-sufficiency," he added. The WFP on 13 June also stated that there had been a drop in the number of people receiving food aid: during June 1.46 million people received food from the WFP compared to 1.53 million in May. It also highlighted a dramatic change of focus. In January some 62 percent of food aid was given under emergency programmes, and this has now dropped to 24 percent. The rest of the food aid is distributed under recovery-oriented activities, such as Food for Work programmes.

UNHCR starts repatriation of Angolans from Namibia (Irin, 03/07) - A first group of 150 Angolan refugees from Osire camp, some 300 km north of the Namibian capital, Windhoek, arrived in the Angolan border town of Katwitwi on Wednesday afternoon. They were on a 1,000 km return journey to a country many of them left decades ago. Katwitwi is in the southern Angola province of Cuando Cubango, which is home to many of the Angolans who had sought refuge in Namibia.
On Monday, June 30, the homeward-bound refugees boarded the first convoy of trucks and buses in Osire camp at the start of the first leg of a 500 km-long journey to the northern Namibian border town of Rundu. After a one-day stopover for customs formalities in Rundu, the convoy set off again for the second leg of the journey to the southern Angola town of Caiundo via the border town of Katwitwi. The excited returnees were seen off by Namibian officials and were expected to arrive in Caiundo on Thursday, July 3. Monday's convoy marks the start of the return operation for Angolan refugees from Namibia, where there are more than 18,000 Angolan refugees. The repatriation movement is organised jointly by Namibia, Angola and UNHCR. Meanwhile regular convoys have continued to assist Angolan refugees to return from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Since the launch of the voluntary repatriation programme from DRC on June 20 - World Refugee Day - some 1,500 Angolan refugees have been assisted home to the northern province of Mbanza Congo and to Luau in eastern Angola. Refugees returning to these areas have been able to regain their homes and farms. But many homes were destroyed in the 27-year-long war that has left other parts of Angola in ruins and littered with landmines. Some of the returnees coming from the DRC are seeing their Portuguese-speaking homeland for the very first time. After decades of exile in DRC, many speak only French and the local language Kikongo. Their reintegration in Portuguese speaking Angola will take some time, particularly for school-age children, who will have to master the new language. Meanwhile, 16 additional trucks for the Angola repatriation operation have arrived in Kisenge in DRC's Katanga province through Zambia. The trucks were sent from Rwanda and should significantly increase the number of Angolan returns from Katanga province to Luau in Angola.

First Angolan refugees return home from Namibia (Luanda, Sapa-AFP, 03/07) - The first of 18,000 Angolan refugees in Namibia have returned home to southern Angola, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) announced on Thursday. The group of 150 refugees left the Osire camp in Namibia on June 30 before making the 1,000-kilometre (600-mile) overland journey, aboard UNHCR vehicles, to Angola's southern Kuando Kubango province. The refugees in Namibia are among some 440,000 Angolans who fled to nearby states including Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia during Angola's 27 years of civil war. The conflict ended in April 2002, when the government signed a peace pact with rebels of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The war claimed an estimated 500,000 lives, while millions of anti-personal landmines have maimed thousands of people. Since June 20, the UNHCR has repatriated 1,000 Angolans who had taken refuge in the DRC, while an agreement aiming to repatriate an estimated 2,000 Angolan refugees from Botswana was signed at the beginning of June. The UNHCR says, however, that only 1,000 Angolans in Namibia have registered for voluntary repatriation. Altogether some 130,000 Angolan refugees have so far returned home of their own accord, according to the Angolan government. Angola, the UNHCR and countries providing refuge have concluded accords to organise and support the repatriation of the remaining refugees.

First official refugee returns from Namibia (Johannesburg, Irin, 02/07) -A group of 150 Angolan refugees arrived in the border town of Katwitwi on Wednesday in Angola's southern province of Kuando Kubango following decades of exile in Namibia, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said. The return marks the launch of the Namibia component of the voluntary repatriation programme, organised by UNHCR in cooperation with the government of Angola and countries of asylum, for the some 400,000 Angolan refugees estimated to be in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Namibia. The 1,000 km journey home will take over three days. After departing Osire camp on 30 June, the convoy travelled to a transit centre in Rundu to clear immigration and customs formalities. On Wednesday the refugees left Rundu for Katwitwi, accompanied by the Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs and UNHCR. After a welcome by the governor of Kuando Kubango province, the returned refugees continued on to an overnight transit centre. They will finally complete this stage of the return process with their arrival on Thursday at a reception centre in Caiundo. The returnees will spend their first few days at the reception centre, where they will be provided with accommodation, food, any necessary medical assistance and training sessions on landmine awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention, UNHCR said. Prior to leaving the centre for their home communities in the districts of Caiundo and Menongue, returnees will be given a supply of food rations by the World Food Programme and various non-food items such as blankets, kitchen items and plastic sheeting. Later in the year, they will receive seeds and farming tools to support them in achieving self-sufficiency. Since the launch of the voluntary repatriation operation on 20 June, more than 1,000 refugees have returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Zaire and Moxico provinces in Angola. Repatriation is continuing this week from DRC, including convoys on Wednesday to M'banza Congo and Luau, while the first convoy from Zambia, carrying some 500 refugees, is expected to leave Meheba camp for Cazombo in Moxico province on 11 July. Additional movements are also planned for the approximately 18,000 refugees still remaining in Namibia.

Botswana

Healthcare workers abandon Africa (Gaborone, Mail & Guardian, 31/07) - The Aids pandemic in Africa is being worsened by the flight of many health professionals to other continents, Botswanan Local Government Minister Gladys Kokorwe warned here Monday at the opening of a five-day conference on the disease. "With the internationalisation of expertise, human resources have become scarce globally," she said. "The movement of health professionals and scientists in search of greener pastures has unfortunately for us depleted our scarce human resource and has left many of our countries in dire need of these health professionals. "And that has had a deleterious effect on the quality of our services." Sixty-seven delegates, including physicians, scientists and laboratory workers from 16 African countries, the Caribbean and the Unites States, gathered in the world's most heavily infected country to work out how to upgrade laboratory quality systems in a bid to fight the deadly disease.In Botswana 38,8% of adults are HIV-positive or have full-blown Aids.

Police arrest 153 Zimbabweans (Bopa, 30/07) - Police in Gaborone and surrounding areas recently arrested 153 illegal immigrants mostly Zimbabweans during a ‘clean-up’ campaign. Some had over stayed in the country, others were working without work permits while another batch was arrested for idling and disorderly. Nine of the illegal immigrants, who entered the country through ungazzetted points, were arrested at Ramotswa. One was apprehended for failing to declare foreign currency, according to police public relations officer Superintendent Solomon Mantswe. He said in an interview that that the operation was performed by different police stations in Gaborone together with the ones at Tlokweng, Sir Seretse Khama Airport and Ramotswa. Mantswe put the blame on some members of the public who harbour illegal immigrants instead of reporting them to the police. He said such people made their work difficult. Through the operation, he said some goods such as an AIWA stereo with three speakers, five knives, car radio, a bicycle and a mobile phone were recovered. Meanwhile a Chinese national at Ramotswa was fined P1 600 for employing eight non-citizens without work permits.

Botswana, Zimbabwe agree to construct border post (Bopa, 28/07) - The choice of Mashambe as an ideal place for the construction of a border post was mutually agreed between the governments of Botswana and Zimbabwe after protracted negotiations. Assistant finance and development planning minister Slumber Tsogwane said in Parliament Wednesday when answering a question from Bobirwa MP James Maruatona. Maruatona had asked the minister to state the exact time during National Development Plan 9 when a border post will be constructed at Mashambe to relocate it to Mmamabaka given the fact that the tarred road from Bobonong to Mabolwe leaves only eight kilometres of untarred road to Mmamabaka at the Shashe River. Assistant Minister Tsogwane said if Maruatona and other stakeholders are prepared to accept the possibility of further delay in the commencement of the project, the government might re-open negotiations with its Zimbabwean counterpart with a view to relocating the border post to Mmamabaka.

Zimbabwe citizens supposedly 'causing havoc' (Mmegi, 25-31/07) - Zimbabwean criminals who regard Botswana as a paradise, are causing havoc in the country. The Divisional Commander for the South Central Division, Senior Assistant Commissioner, Seboifeng Matsietsa told Mmegi that Zimbabweans are giving them a headache. "They are involved in all kinds of crime like house breaking, rape and armed robbery which is usually violent," he said. Matsietsa said they have also arrested Zimbabweans involved in motor vehicle theft, which they engage in to facilitate other crimes. He noted that even in places like Mochudi, Maunatlala and Mahalapye, Zimbabweans are involved in crime. According to the police chief, cases of armed robberies in homes are escalating in Gaborone and in most cases, Zimbabweans were found to be the culprits. Matsietsa cited a recent case in which a Zimbabwean man was shot by a Broadhurst resident whom he was trying to rob in his house. The man who is under police guard, has been admitted to the Princess Marina Hospital. In other cases, house owners are reported to have been robbed after thieves gained access into their homes under the pretence of delivering goods. In other cases, the robbers pretend to be visitors. Matsietsa said thieves who rob people at home are usually armed with guns, knives and pangas, but he said, in most of the cases, they do not use their weapons. "These robbers have a penchant for cell phones. In one incident a robber made away with five cellular phones, belonging to members of one family. He said it appears there is a big market for cellular phones in their country and it doesn't even matter what type of phone it is," he added. According to the Divisional Commander, street muggings have also become prevalent.

In some instances, people have been waylaid when alighting from combis and robbed. Others were caught off guard when staggering from drinking places. But according to the police, no serious injuries have been reported by those who have been mugged. He said muggings were also reported at entertainment centres like Bull and Bush and Chez Ntemba in Mogoditshane. Patrons were ambushed in the parking lot. Matsietsa said even though Batswana are involved in some of the cases, the majority of culprits were Zimbabwean. He revealed that the police have also arrested Zimbabweans with stolen goods. "We find them with all sorts of goods like clothing and electrical appliances," Matsietsa said. Every time they stage clean up operations, Zimbabweans are always fished out. He said some of the Zimbabweans were illegal immigrants. Others, he said, were working without permits whilst there are others who are staying in the country without a means of support. According to the police chief, some of these illegal immigrants and criminals hide in deserted houses and buildings under construction. Some of the Zimbabweans, he said, literally stay in the bush. Zimbabwean nationals are also reported to be crowding local prisons and are also regular customers at magistrates' courts.

Botswana steps up border patrols to intercept Zimbabwean immigrants (Gaborone, Sapa-AFP, 24/07) - Botswana has stepped up border patrols along its border with imbabwe in a bid to stem an influx of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants, a senior immigration official said Thursday. "We have recently started joint border patrols," said acting chief immigration officer Oliver Toteng. "We are repatriating at least 2,500 illegal Zimbabweans a month," Toteng said, but added: "The people that we send back home come back immediately after repatriation." The government has already expressed concern that the repatriation exercise was likely to cost more than a million dollars this year. It built a holding centre in the northern city of Francistown following concern that illegal Zimbawean immigrants were swamping Botswana's prisons while awaiting repatriation.

Illegal Zimbabwean migrants burden Botswana, say police (Gaborone, Irin, 19/07) - The volume of illegal Zimbabwean migrants crossing into Botswana in search of work has created an unwelcome burden for the country’s law enforcement agencies, Botswana police and immigration officials have warned. "They overstretch our facilities and resources because illegal immigrants, once apprehended, have to be placed in temporary shelters like detention centres and prisons," police commissioner Norman Moleboge said this week. "We do not have the manpower to deal with this problem." According to Botswana’s Department of Immigration, 26 717 Zimbabwean illegal immigrants were apprehended and repatriated from Botswana last year alone. "On average the government spends about 50 pula (Z$8 240) per illegal immigrant on repatriation. This includes transportation, feeding expenses and subsistence costs for repatriating officers," said chief immigration officer, Roy Sekgororoane. "We think there is a lack of employment in their country of origin. Whenever they are interviewed, they claim that they are looking for employment," he said. Botswana’s strong economy is luring young Zimbabwean men and women who have few prospects of a job at home as their country slides deeper into crisis. Botswana’s law enforcement agencies conduct patrols along the border with Zimbabwe, as well as urban sweeps, to find illegal migrants. They also hold regular meetings with their Zimbabwean counterparts to address the problem. "To a certain extent they are successful, but we have to intensify our border patrols," Sekgororoane said.

Concern over illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe (Gaborone, Irin, 17/07) -The volume of illegal Zimbabwean migrants crossing into Botswana in search of work has created an unwelcome burden for the country's law enforcement agencies, Botswana police and imigration officials have warned. "They overstretch our facilities and resources because illegal immigrants, once apprehended, have to be placed in temporary shelters like detention centres and prisons," police commissioner Norman Moleboge told IRIN on Thursday. "We do not have the manpower to deal with this problem." According to Botswana's Department of Immigration, 26,717 Zimbabwean illegal immigrants were apprehended and repatriated from Botswana last year alone. "On average the government spends about 50 pula (US $10) per illegal immigrant on repatriation. This includes transportation, feeding expenses and subsistence costs for repatriating officers," said chief immigration officer, Roy Sekgororoane. "We think there is a lack of employment in their country of origin. Whenever they are interviewed, they claim that they are looking for employment," he said. Botswana's strong economy is luring young Zimbabwean men and women who have few propspects of a job at home as their country slides deeper into crisis. Botswana's law enforcement agencies conduct patrols along the border with Zimbabwe, as well as urban sweeps, to find illegal migrants. They also hold regular meetings with their Zimbabwean counterparts to address the problem. "To a certain extent they are successful, but we have to intensify our border patrols," Sekgororoane said.

Villagers order Zimbabweans out (Botswana Gazette, 16/07) - Masunga villagers ordered Zimbabwean nationals living among them to leave the village before sunset last Friday. Speaking in a telephone interview with The Gazette on Monday, Kgosi Christopher Masunga said the villagers made the resolution during a heated kgotla meeting held on the Wednesday, because they were fed up with increasing crime in the village, which he said was mostly done by roaming bands of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants. "To my surprise only 19 people came forward to the Kgotla to declare that they are leaving. The number was too small," he said Kgosi Masunga said villagers no longer want to see foreigners in their villages, especially prostitutes. If any stranger visits the village, the tribal authorities must be notified. Masunga said many cruel incidents of crime had occurred in the village. He cited the case of an a 85 year old man who, while cutting trees in his field, was robbed of his bicycle, tied to a tree, and left exposed through the night. He was found the following day after his relatives had reported him missing and a search party was sent to look for him. The villagers are reported to have formed a mophato (a traditional vigilante group of young men) who will patrol the village in a bid to crack down on the crime. The Officer in charge, Ramokgwebana border Police Post, Mr Mokwaledi Baliki, said most of the Zimbabweans enter Botswana legally as visitors, giving false information on their ability to fend for themselves once in this country. As many as 5 000 Zimbabweans enter Botswana in one day, he said. "We are unable to crack down on crime because we are thin on the ground," he said.
The station commander of Masunga, Police Superintendent Mmipi said the crime level has gone up so high in the area that people fear to go outside their homes, day or night. He said recently two women were robbed, then gang-raped. He advised residents against harbouring illegal immigrants in their houses, warning that they will be fined heavily if found guilty.
Still a couple of weeks ago, the residents of Francistown asked President Festus Mogae to engage his Zimbabwean counterpart, President Robert Mugabe, to stop the influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe into Botswana. Commenting during a kgotla meeting which President Mogae addressed in Francistown East, residents urged him to control the influx of Zimbabweans into Botswana. Kgosi Moyo of Francistown East said crime and prostitution were increasing rapidly and the town was no safe to live in. A resident, Othusitse Masunga, who said Zimbabwe has become a real problem to Botswana said most of the Zimbabweans collude with Batswana to obtain national identity cards. However President Mogae pointed out that the solution lies with the Zimbabweans themselves, especially the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Mogae said the two parties must make compromises and reach an understanding for the benefit of their own people. He told the meeting that Zimbabweans are not inherently bad people, but are being forced by circumstances to do what they are doing. "There are serious problems in Zimbabwe, but they can only be resolved by the Zimbabweans themselves," said Mogae.

Botswana deports 26 000 Zimbabweans in 2002 (Gaborone, Mail & Guardian, 18/07) - With the economic crisis in neighboring Zimbabwe deepening, Botswana announced Wednesday it had deported 26 717 Zimbabweans who were illegally living in the country last year. Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans have fled over their country's borders into South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana over the last three years to escape chaos in their homeland. Zimbabwe is suffering its worst political and economic crisis ever, with an estimated 70% unemployment, inflation of more than 300% and a simmering hunger crisis. A black market in food and fuel, where inflation is as high as 600%, is thriving. The UN World Food Programme estimates food shortages will leave 5,5-million out of about 12-million Zimbabweans in need of emergency food aid this year. A rash of politically motivated violence has been blamed on ruling party militants loyal to President Robert Mugabe, human rights groups say. The illegal immigrants caught in Botswana and sent home often say they were searching for jobs, said Chief Immigration Officer Roy Sekgororoane.Botswana's authorities routinely conducts border patrols and holds raids throughout the country to find the illegal Zimbabwean immigrants, Sekgororoane said.

Botswana president addresses free movement issue (Maputo, Bopa, 14/07) -President Festus Mogae says while it is true that economies grow where there is free movement of people in Africa this cannot be done over night because of the severe imbalance of economies among African countries. He gave examples of Botswana's economy that is relatively doing well by African standards but is small and therefore would not be able to absorb unskilled labourers from neighbouring Zambia or Zimbabwe which face economic problems. Mogae was speaking in an interview Saturday with Botswana journalists on some of the issues discussed at the summit of the African Union. "Allowing the free movements of people could in short term have tremendous social disruption," he said. The president's remarks followed a call from the Managing Director of the IMF Horst Kohler to African leaders at the summit to open their borders and allow the free movement of people and exchange of ideas to promote economic growth in Africa through regional cooperation. The IMF boss had also urged the leaders to attract investment by creating a climate in which the private sector can develop and prosper. "The legal definition and use of land title would in my view boost private sector activity and job creation in many African countries. Land title can play a crucial role at the very least as collateral for financing of investment", Kohler had said. Asked if the view of Kohler and that of lands minister Margaret Nasha about citizens who sell their land to foreigners and her intention to legislate against this could be reconciled, Mogae explained that investors wanted the security of land tenure whereby they could lease land for 50 to 100 years. He said this was different from the situation where citizens obtained subsidised land and later sell it to foreigners. The president observed that some Batswana even sell tribal land, which was illegal. "Sometimes it was the only good quality land we have. Like the land between Mogoditshane and Metsimotlhabe which is good agricultural land", but was sold as residents plots. Concerning the ratification on the peace and security council protocol that have so far been ratified by 12 out 53 AU member state, Mogae said Botswana had not ratified the protocol because "we have problems with one or two provisions. "We are worry of situations where we could find ourselves at war with people we don't even know. We want arrangements where we can be asked to help". Regarding the government's decision's to lobby for the African Central Bank to be located in Botswana, Mogae said "we are still lobbying. You keep trying until you fail or succeed. We all have made our bids." Mogae returned to Botswana Saturday.

Residents host Zimbabwean traders (Bopa, 08/07) - Masunga residents should not turn their homes into mini hotels or guest houses, police have warned. Hendrick Mmipi, commander of Masunga Police Station, said during a kgotla meeting in the village that some residents accommodate upto 10 Zimbabwean illegal traders for P2 per night. Mmipi said Masunga police recently called some of the culprits to the police station for warning against harbouring illegal immigrants. He said it appears the warning has fallen on deaf ears. He said part of the problem is that the homes do not have toilets. As a result, the illegal guests pollute the environment, a thing bad for the health of everyone in the village. Worse still, Mmipi said, these homeowners do not know the origins of their guests in Zimbabwe, and this creates problems when an illegal alien dies and police find it difficult to trace the relatives of the dead foreigner. The body of a person, believed to be a Zimbabwean, has been in the mortuary of Masunga Primary Hospital while efforts to look for relatives are not successful. Mmipi reminded the residents of Masunga that people who harbour and employ foreigners violate the law. Recently, he added, Zimbabwean illegal immigrants committed crimes ‹ one rape case, one attempted rape case, 10 cases of house-breaking and theft, one case of killing, two stocktheft cases, three robbery cases and one case of stealing a bicycle in the Masunga policing area. He said his charges recently mounted a stop, question and search operation only to arrest more Zimbabweans in possession of knives, axes and picks. He explained, however, some Batswana also commit crime. Mmipi said he, with the help of the district commissioner, asked Botswana Defence Force to re-enforce police operations against illegal immigrants and the crime they commit. Doreen Loeto, matron of Masunga Primary Hospital, said Zimbabwean illegal immigrants have cut the hospital's fence to steal all valuables, including medication for anti-retroviral therapy. Loeto said the hospital's mortuary is congested with corpses of foreigners, mostly Zimbabwean illegal immigrants. Some of the men who attended the meeting resolved to mount patrols to nab illegal immigrants and get them out of their village.

100 Cuban health workers coming (Bopa, 07/07) - The Cuban government has shown keen interest in joining Batswana in their struggle against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This came to light at the signing of a new co-operation agreement between the Ministry of Health and Cuba's ministry of public health on the framework of the fighting against the HIV/AIDS at the Ministry of Health Headquarters in Gaborone last week. The accord was signed by Cuban minister for foreign investment and economic co-operation Marta Lomas and acting health minister Jacob Nkate. IUnder the agreement, Botswana will receive a total of 100 Cuban health workers who will be specifically dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The first 21 health care providers are already in Gaborone and would soon be posted to their stations. All of them will be deployed at the initial four antiretroviral (ATR) sites in the country and will be shared between Ministry of Health and Local Government. Loma told Nkate that her delegation was in Botswana to express the Cuba's commitment to join Batswana in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. She said Botswana and Cuba had been collaborating in many areas, adding that the Cubans were ready to continue supporting Batswana, especially in the field of education and health. Earlier, Nkate expressed his gratitude at the visit by the Cubans and appreciated the assistance Botswana has received and continues to receive from the Cuban government. He commended Havana for assisting Botswana in various areas, especially in the fields of health and education. Nkate said this assistance has now extended to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country. He said the signing of the memorandum of co-operation was a result of the "kind gesture extended to the people of Botswana by the government of Cuba". Nkate said the 100 health personnel would go a long way towards assisting Botswana in the struggle against HIV/AIDS.

Zimbabwean migrants attacked (Francistown, Mmegi, 04-10/07) - Two Zimbabwean illegal immigrants are fighting for their lives at the Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital after they were brutally attacked by axe-wielding Ndebele-speaking thugs. The two assailants who are believed to be Ndebeles, left their victims for dead after robbing them of their valuables at a thicket near the Dumela Industrial site. The bushes around the area have become known as the "slaughter place" because of thuggery. The trouble spot lies along the Francistown-Ramokgwebana road to the border with Zimbabwe. Several human skeletal remains have been recovered by the police near the place. The "bush of hell" as some prefer to call it, has become a popular hideout for thugs. Francistown is one of those cities in Southern Africa that is hit by an influx of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants. Those who are smart enough to beat the attention of the Botswana police, get a lift from Francistown and alight at a place near the Dumela Industrial site, before a police road-block permanently mounted to control the effects of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). Into the "bush of hell" they go, only to come to the police when there is a problem.

DRC

Refugees flee from DRC (Kampala, New Vision, 15/07) - Nearly 1,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have streamed into Uganda via Mpondwe border post, Kasese district, as ethnic clashes defy the UN peacekeepers in the Ituri region. About 182 hunger-striken refugees stormed the border last week amid US President Bush's visit. The refugees, who included Hema, Lendu and Wangite from Bunia and Tchomya, said they were going to Aru, Ntoroko, Bundibugyo and Kampala in search of their kin. They said they would take refugee in Uganda until the situation at home gets better. They started their journey when the UPDF pulled out of the Ituri region. A French-led peacekeeping military force that had since had sporadic clashes with the Lendu-led militiamen loyal to Ituri factional leader, Thomas Lubanga, has since replaced the UPDF. The refugees assembled at Communante Evangelique Au Centre de L'afrique, a Christian mission in Oicha, DRC, before embarking on the trek. "We are told that many more are on the way," a source at the border said. Save the Children Fund (UK) recently rescued 25 unaccompanied children in various parts of Ntoroko county. By yesterday, the group was still camped at Rukoki, Kasese district. The western regional save the children team leader, Be Bantaringaya, said some children had lost both their parents in ethnic battles in Bunia.

Lesotho

A way forward on HIV/AIDS (Maputsoe, Irin, 02/07) - The first time Violet Mofokeng approached other women to talk about sex and disease, it did not go well. "They used to call us names and say 'Those people have AIDS'," said the 28-year-old mother. But Mofokeng is persistent and articulate, and passionate about her work. Each week, she and 200 other volunteer educators canvas their town of Maputsoe, Lesotho, to inform people about HIV and how to protect themselves, to dispel myths and to offer support to those living with AIDS. "It is unusual. We just go everywhere," said Mofokeng. "People think 'You silly people out there talking about it.' But they get used to it." The volunteers wear bright coloured T-shirts saying "Ha Re Thibeleng HIV/AIDS Ha'Moho" (Let us prevent HIV/AIDS together, in Sesotho). They visit neighbourhoods, churches, schools and workplaces, such as the factories that are springing up with increasing frequency. Maputsoe is linked to the South African Free State town of Ficksburg by a bridge across the Mohokare river. This border post is the busiest crossing point between the two countries, with thousands of people passing through each day. For years, the Basotho streamed into South Africa to work in the mines. Now, the flow comes the other way. The US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act has brought dozens of factories to Lesotho, and Maputsoe is one of the towns that has benefited. Each day hundreds of people, mainly women, line up outside factories making garments for Kmart, the Gap, Timberland and Lee jeans, as well as lesser-known knitwear labels. The lucky ones get hired for short-term work. The rest linger outside the factories all day, hoping for an opportunity. The unemployment rate in Lesotho is roughly 51 percent, so even minimal pay (which can range from 180 to 800 maloti per month, roughly US $20 to US $100) is seen as better than nothing. Aid workers say if the women do not find work, prostitution can become an option to earn money and stay in town. In a country with an AIDS rate of 31 percent, the migration of people seeking work helps spread the HI virus.  "AIDS exists and was killing us but we knew nothing about it," explained Mofokeng. "We didn't have enough information."

"People see the funerals held on Saturdays and come to realise that many people are dying," said Martin Molapo, 29, another peer educator. "Now, each and every person seems to be understanding." One block from a large maize mill in Maputsoe is a small brick house that has been converted into a HIV/AIDS resource centre. This centre, with yellow walls covered in colourful AIDS awareness posters, is where Mofokeng and Molapo work, with the Sexual Health and Rights Promotion (SHARP) programme of CARE International. Upon entering the front door, visitors are greeted by a volunteer at a small table with condoms and pamphlets. They receive information on sexually transmitted diseases, counselling, schedules for centre activities, support groups, home-based care and referrals for AIDS testing. The centre is open every day, and its services are free and discreet. "We won't talk about the people who come here and tell their problems to others," said a volunteer named Tau, sitting at the front desk. "Your business is your business." In the living room a TV plays soap-opera style videos about safe sex. Bookcases hold magazines, books and games like Monopoly, checkers and chess create a relaxed atmosphere. Volunteer educators are grouped with their peers, such as migrant labourers, street vendors, fathers, mothers, children aged 10 to 14 and young people aged 15 to 25. Once a week, the groups meet to share their experiences and exchange ideas.  At a June meeting, the 15 to 25-year-old group discussed their challenges: "Some churches don't want to talk about condoms. They only want to discuss abstinence." "We have to be practical. That is not happening." "More than two or three people are dying in each village, so what are we supposed to do? That means we really have to talk about the condoms." "We need to approach the clergy." Mofokeng and Molapo began as volunteers in 2000, the year the centre opened. Each has a high-school education, and no other job. Peer educators receive 180 maloti a month, to help with travel expenses. It is not much pay, but given the lack of jobs, they say, they are glad to be gaining skills that may help them acquire work.  "We have a tremendous love for our country, and to see people dying here, it's not a game to us. We have to do something," said Molapo. "We see the massacre, people dying because of lack of knowledge. It touched us. We just want to support and do whatever we can do."

The centre and its volunteers serve about 3,000 people each year in Maputsoe and surrounding villages. "When I arrived here, I said to myself 'I don't know if I can manage this'," said Mamokete Hlaele, the site manager. "People come from all over to work in the factories or near the border to sell something. The resource centre was quiet and I didn't know if people would come in. But I can say we are succeeding because people are coming to talk about their problems and to watch the videos. I can say we are getting there." A sister resource centre lies on the South African side of the border in Ficksburg. There is also a pair of resource centres at the Maseru-Ladybrand crossing. At busy times, like pay periods and holidays when people will be travelling, SHARP volunteers stand at the borders passing out pamphlets and talking about AIDS.  "The community is so committed to this project," said Hlaele. "They are so devoted. We don't have the money to serve refreshments for the meetings, but they come every time. Some days volunteers just show up to help." The community members have plans to further their impact. They intend to form a community-based organisation to raise money. They have started a vegetable garden and a fish farm, whose profits will support AIDS orphans. They hope to develop an activity centre, where young people can play sports. "You feel you have to help solve someone's problems," said Molapo. "To me it's a pleasure to see someone who came to me with a problem, [and] then be out of the situation. It's a healing. I can see I am doing something for my community." Hlaele would like to expand the project in other districts. "This is the way forward," she said. "The government should support the efforts of the communities and the non-governmental organisations. The government has to join hands with us. We cannot make a difference alone."

Lesotho's new VAT system for goods from South Africa (Maseru, Sapa, 01/07) - The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has introduced a new system of value added tax (VAT) collection for goods bought from South Africa, a government official said on Tuesday. Under the new system, VAT refunds of 14 percent for imported goods will be paid directly to the revenue authority in Lesotho by the South African Revenue Service (Sars). The commissioner of the LRA, Ken Donovan, said Basotho travellers intending to buy goods in South Africa would be expected to collect VAT refund forms at the Lesotho border post to be completed in South Africa before returning. On return to Lesotho, travellers must submit the completed refund forms together with the original tax invoices. Sars would process the VAT refund forms and pay the LRA directly. Donovan said the new system eliminated corruption as the buyers could no longer "fiddle" with claim forms because refunds were paid out directly to the LRA by Sars. Cross-border traders would no longer have to pay the 10 percent general sales tax which they paid previously on merchandise brought in from South Africa. The list of goods exempted from VAT include mealie meal, bread, milk, paraffin, animal feed and fertiliser.

Malawi

Tourism drills entry-point officials (Nation Online, 22/07) - The Ministry of Tourism, Parks and Wildlife feels Malawi’s hospitality image could be enhanced if all people at the country’s entry points are professionally drilled on how to pamper a tourist arriving in the country. “Research has revealed that one of the major problems the Malawi tourism industry has is erasing the bad picture painted by some tourists who may have been mishandled by people of different professions, manning Malawi’s entry points,” said the ministry’s Assistant Director of Tourism (Research & Development) Bright Nyirenda last week. Nyirenda, opening a four-day tourism workshop for Airport police, Immigration, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and Air Malawi officers, said the enticing picture of Malawi as the Warm Heart of Africa could only resurrect if all stakeholders worked as one. “You people who work on the entry points are a window to Malawi. If you make one single mistake in handling these tourists at the borders and airports, then the reputation of Malawi is entirely gone. Now, it is a time that we should not work in isolation, but ensure we together promote the tourism industry,” said Nyirenda. He, however, appealed to the 28 participants not to be dwarfed by the realisation that their posts may have contributed to the decline in the tourist statistics, saying lack of training may have caused such mishandling of visitors. Said Nyirenda: “The reason may have been that we did not know how important these visitors/tourists were to the economy of the country. Now that we know, we are optimistic things would change.” The workshop, the second in a series would, according to Nyirenda, glue the link between different stakeholders in the drive to entice many tourists to Malawi. He said government felt that tourism was one of the possible alternatives to the falling national economy mainstay — tobacco. “The agricultural sector, especially tobacco, which has been the main spinner of our national economy is now airing out. Tourism, then, we feel is a better alternative and that is why government is putting much emphasis in it,” Nyirenda said. The workshop, termed Customer Care in Tourism, is tackling issues like diplomacy, tourism principles and security, among others.

Zimbabwe farmers in Malawi (Mail & Guardian, 20/07) - Zimbabwe’s prolonged political and economic crisis has prompted many of its white commercial farmers to seek a new future in neighbouring Malawi. Zimbabwean farmers are reported to have secured employment and, in some cases, part-ownership on the estates of the tobacco-growing districts of Kasungu, Mchinji and Lilongwe in the central region. Business sources see the arrival of Zimbabweans as a gain for the country, arguing that it underpins this year’s boom in local tobacco production. Other sources complain that Malawians already face land shortages because of high population growth. Tobacco is Malawi’s chief foreign exchange earner and accounts for more than 75% of national revenue. The industry faces the challenge of the anti-smoking lobby in the developed world, spearheaded by the World Health Organisation. Overproduction in some countries, high production costs and a shortage of suitable land are among the problems growers face. The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), the parastatal that oversees Malawi’s industry, has admitted the presence of farmers from Zimbabwe, but said the scale of their influx was hard to assess. Said Godfrey Chapola, TCC general manager: “It is difficult for the commission to assess the number of foreigners because when ownership of a farm changes, registration does not.” Once an estate is registered, registration particulars remain the same even after ownership is transferred. Zimbabwe, once rated the world’s largest producer of flue-cured tobacco, has an ideal climate for the growing of the semi- and full-flavoured Virginia leaf. However, its output has dwindled rapidly because of upheavals in the farming sector. The Malawi government initially rejected proposals to engage white commercial farmers to rejuvenate the tobacco industry, after reports that destitute Zimbabweans had been allowed to resettle in Zambia and Mozambique.However, Malawi recently reviewed its land policy to give land rights to foreigners after intense criticism, mainly from the Asian community.

Mozambique

Alleged car traffickers on trial (Maputo, Aim, 16/07) - An alleged network of traffickers in stolen luxury cars is on trial in the Maputo City Court, after defence lawyers failed to have the case thrown out. Initially, ten people were accused, but the case was dropped against five of them for insufficient evidence. Those in the dock include three businessmen, Jose Apolinario, Antonio Ferreira, and Mohamed Azmal, and a bank worker, Jorge Olson. They are accused of vehicle theft, falsification of documents, and criminal conspiracy. According to the prosecution, the cars involved were stolen in several different countries, and then registered in Mozambique in the names of Jose Apolinario, and various of his friends and relatives. Thanks to the infiltration by organised criminal networks into the Mozambican institutions that deal with vehicle registration, the cars acquired false number plates, or duplicates of legitimate plates owned by somebody else. After denunciations made by the South African police, nine cars (of various types, including Mercedes Benz, Land Rover, Peugeot 806, Nissan and Mitsubishi Colt) were seized by the Mozambican authorities. The defence has resorted to desperate stratagems, arguing that since the thefts were committed in other countries, the Maputo court has no jurisdiction. The lawyers also objected to the documents supplied by the South African police because these are written in English, rather than Portuguese. During Tuesday's hearing Mohamed Azmal admitted that he had sold cars to Apolinario, and that he had traveled from Maputo to South Africa via Swaziland last year using a false passport. He had borrowed the passport of a Cape Verdian friend, Joao Rodrigues, he said, because his own passport had expired. He was arrested in Johannesburg in April 2002. A second accused, Jorge Olson, asked to explain the two stolen cars found in his garage, insisted that one of them belonged to him, but was registered in his mother's name, while a second had been imported by his friend and co-accused Antonio Ferreira from Britain via South Africa, and was to be sold for 30,000 US dollars The case continues on Wednesday.

Organised crime thieves in Southern Mozambique (Business Day, 11/07) - Known to divers as a paradise of coral reefs and pristine white shores, the southern Mozambique resort camps of Ponto D'Ouro and Ponto Malongane are home to about 3000 people eking out their existence in a drought-stricken environment. The 100 people lucky enough to be employed at the resorts earn R15 a day, while piece workers who skin fish may earn more, depending on the generosity of tourists. Locals employed at a lodge claim it can make R100000 in a busy weekend. This community has no tarred roads, electricity or water all promised to it when SA and Mozambican businessmen re-established these resort camps on what is regarded as communal land. There are also no shops so residents have to go to the SA town of Mangusi (at R50 a trip) for necessities. On their return, Mozambican customs officials tax them up to 45% on purchases, including foodstuffs, compelling them to reduce their purchases or to cross the border illegally. They may not bring sugar, cooking oil or gas across the border due to Mozambican legislation that protects its local industries. Locals say the sugar confiscated at the border is sold on the black market, undermining the struggling Mozambican sugar industry. Mozambique's National Sugar Institute reported in 2001 that an estimated 70000 tons of sugar were smuggled in and dumped at cost price on the Mozambican market, but that official exports were increasing, suggesting that the contraband trade was diminishing. Organised crime networks in Mozambique also source sugar from neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Malawi. Zimbabwean price controls on basic commodities encourage sugar smuggling. Zambian traders have joined the market and are exchanging US dollars for Zimbabwean dollars at the black market rate. The money is used to buy cheap sugar and other goods for resale in Zambia.

Senior police officers in Harare have reportedly been implicated in smuggling sugar, alcohol and salt to Zambia and Mozambique in police vehicles. Proceeds are said to be used to buy foreign currency. Intelligence members who unearthed the scam were allegedly transferred, and a suspect who could implicate police, released. Zambia responded by banning trade in Zimbabwean goods, forcing the market underground and losing customs revenue. How can border communities be supported to stem the trade in illegal goods? For Mozambique, trade liberalisation and removing tariff barriers would put more food on the table, allow locals to bring in building material for brick houses and make it cheaper to run and expand small businesses like spaza shops and taverns. Locals want border residents to be registered and allowed daily passes into SA at least until promised facilities materialise. Also mooted to facilitate legal cross-border trade are multiple-entry and trader visas. Unfortunately, procedures for applying for nontariff quotas, as is possible between Mozambique and SA, are not accessible to informal traders. Those who obtained customs exemptions claim corrupt customs officials charge the same rates. Mozambique and SA benefit from this informal trade. About 60% of Mozambican traders employ other people (mainly women), and the SA retail sector is booming in places like Mangusi. Gail Wannenburg is the War and Organised Crime Research Fellow at the SA Institute of International Affairs.

South Africa visa restrictions rebound (Maputo, Aim, 04/07) - The South African government's new entry visa restrictions are discouraging Mozambicans from visiting South Africa - and as an unintended side effect are damaging business in Nelspruit, the nearest large town to the Mozambican border. Inexplicably, the new visa regulations treat Mozambicans as undesirable. Whereas in the past visas could be granted within 48 hours, now would-be visitors have to put their applications in to the South African High Commission in Maputo ten days in advance. The visitors must also prove that they have 2,000 rands (about 260 US dollars) each to spend in South Africa. And if they use a credit card, it is not sufficient to show this at the High Commission. Instead they must go to the trouble of bringing a letter from their bank. In addition, proof of accommodation is required, and sometimes even a letter of invitation. These complications mean that a democratic government in South Africa has made it more difficult for law-abiding Mozambicans to visit the country than the apartheid regime did. The restrictions do not apply to criminals, of course, who will just jump the border fence as they always did. The new visa regulations, introduced in April, coincided with a tightened customs regime in Mozambique. Despite all the talk about moving towards a southern African free trade area, customs cut the general duty free allowance on goods that travellers may bring back into Mozambique from 200 to 50 dollars worth (in addition to the standard tobacco, alcohol and perfume allowances). The result is that well-off Mozambicans who regularly went on shopping trips to Nelspruit now think twice before doing so. The added unpleasantness in obtaining a visa, overzealous behaviour by Mozambican customs officers, plus the rise in the value of the rand mean that many people no longer think it worth while to go shopping in Nelspruit. According to a Thursday article in the South African daily "Business Day", Nelspruit has suffered considerable losses in business and tourism revenue since the new visa requirements took effect.

Barbara Mommen, business manager of the Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism, estimated that Mozambicans were spending between 70 and 90 million rands (about 8-11 million dollars) a month in Nelspruit before the visa regulations were imposed. She found the shabby way the government is treating Mozambicans "highly unacceptable. Mozambique is a neighbouring country and therefore traffic from there should be expected." Naeem Omar, Chief Executive Officer of Valencia Wholesalers in Nelspruit, told "Business Day" that as a result of the decrease in Mozambican shoppers, his business has experienced a decline of up to 15 per cent in sales. "The spontaneous day trip doesn't happen any more," he said. "They're making it virtually impossible for Mozambicans to come through." The hotel industry in Nelspruit is losing around 1.25 million rands a month. Lona Poisson, manager of the Town Lodge hotel in Nelspruit, said that because of the restrictions, "our guests are now staying for shorter periods and weekend bookings from our Mozambican guests are down 60 per cent". Also affected is the Emnotweni Casino at the Nelspruit Riverside Mall. "The problem is very serious and because it affects many of the businesses around us, that indirectly affects us," said Hermann Franken, general manager at the casino and chairman of the Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism. In the light of the protests from Nelspruit businesses, the visa restrictions are now said to be under review.

Traffickers in people illegally released (Maputo, Aim, 04/07) - The two Somali citizens arrested in the district of Moamba, in the southern Mozambican province of Maputo on Sunday for the trafficking of illegal immigrants, have been illegally released from a police station in the Maputo suburb of Infulene, reports Friday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias". But one of them, Sulemane Assane, 40, was later recaptured and detained at another Maputo police station. The second, Ali Adam, remains at large. Assane was recaptured at the Maputo immigration offices, while accompanying a group of Somalis. The two had earlier been arrested in the company of a group of 39 illegal Somali immigrants, in two minibus-taxis, on their way to the Ressano Garcia border post, where they were to cross into South Africa. The other members of the group, including five women and six children, were also detained in the Beluluane police station, in the district of Boane, awaiting repatriation. A source in the immigration services said that the children had been released in order to receive medical care, but denied any knowledge as to how the two recruiters were released. Assane and Adam have been living in Maputo for a number of years, with the status of refugees. They confessed that they had helped hundreds of their countrymen to enter and to leave Mozambique illegally in exchange for money. They had been charged with the crime of recruiting and trafficking in illegal immigrants, and were to be handed to the Mozambican Criminal Investigation Police (PIC).

Illegal Somali immigrants arrested (Maputo, Aim, 01/07) - A total of 39 illegal Somali immigrants, including five women and six children, were arrested in the district of Moamba, in the southern Mozambican province of Maputo, in the early hours of Sunday, reports Tuesday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias". The Somalis were handed over to the immigration authorities, who will provide for their repatriation. Alongside the illegal immigrants, another two Somali nationals, namely Hassan Sulemane, 40, and Ali Adam, 33, who are living in Maputo with refugee status, were also arrested, accused of recruiting and trafficking illegal immigrants into neighbouring South Africa. The entire group was arrested while travelling to Ressano Garcia where they had planned to cross the border into South Africa. The 39 illegal migrants are under police custody in Moamba police station, while the two recruiters were taken to a police station in the Maputo suburb of Infulene, while the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) investigate to try and identify other people involved in similar crimes. The two confessed to being just some of many Somalis in this activity, and claimed many reasons for leaving their country of origin and becoming involved in the trafficking of people. Sulemane explained that back in Somalia he was a high ranking police officer, and has been living in Mozambique, with his wife and six children, for the last five years. He lived first in the western province of Tete, where he owned a mini-bus taxi business. He later came to Maputo, where he has a second wife (a Mozambican) and lives on the proceeds of people trafficking and the selling of cosmetics. "It has been a long time since our country had a government, and many people flee to seek refuge elsewhere", he said. "Most of us, who are here in Mozambique, are working to help our fellow- countrymen get into South Africa". He and Adam confessed to helping many hundreds of illegal immigrants of different nationalities enter South Africa. When they were arrested they had hired two minibus-taxis, operating in Maputo, to transport the group. They explained that the group entered Mozambique through the northern port of Nacala, and they paid 100 US dollars each, for the journey until their destiny, in South Africa.

The two also confessed that they are operating in connivance with some Mozambicans, one of whom they named as Rodrigues Ngomane, resident in the Maputo suburb of Benfica. They blamed their arrest on another Somali, who is also in the same activities, but who belongs a different ethnic group. They claim he denounced them because of ethnic rivalries. "The war in Somalia opposes the Madhiban, a minority ethnic group, and the Habar Gidir, the majority. That fight has been transferred to Mozambique, because that rivalry continues wherever these two groups are, and we belong to the minority group. In Mozambique there is no Somali representation because we do not have a government, and we must help our countrymen to get to South Africa", they said. Joaquim Mestre, spokesperson at the Maputo police command, said that the police are striving to fight against this evil, because the trafficking of people goes hand in hand with the contraband of other forbidden items and other crimes. Pakistanis, Somalis, and people of other nationalities, in connivance with Mozambican officials, are plugged in to important international networks for the traffic in people, and the police believe that they are also dealing in drugs and firearms, which are blamed for the increase of crime in the country. These networks are also believed to supply the child prostitution market, particularly in South Africa. Mozambique is preferentially chosen as a transit country because of the poor patrolling of its long borders that, in some places, do not even have a demarcation fence.

Namibia

Immigration officials object to restructuring (Windhoek, The Namibian, 25/07) - Immigration officers whose main functions are to be handed over to the Police have petitioned Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo demanding that he stop dismantling their division. The petition was to be handed over to Ekandjo yesterday, but he refused to receive it and told Police to block a demonstration by the immigration officials. The border control officers accuse Ekandjo of unilaterally changing their conditions of service. They say he ignored a recognition agreement between the Namibia Public Workers' Union (Napwu) and the Public Service Act. Ekandjo, who refused to talk about the march yesterday, has said he obtained Cabinet approval for the move. He said the main reasons were to prevent immigration officers from going on strike, to have them carry firearms like the Police and generally remove them from being under normal public service rules. The immigration officers said they can be turned into "uniform staff" but that the conditions should be negotiated. Ekandjo, who said he held a staff meeting, refused to listen to their argument, they said. The Minister said his office was recruiting about 400 Police to fill the vacancies to be left by the immigration officers at the borders. Earlier this month, Police Inspector General Lucas Hangula issued a circular asking commanders of various units to identify people for the posts. He said Cabinet had decided to abolish the Immigration Department. The petition accuses Ekandjo of failing to set a good example to the private sector. "If the laws governing this country are made by the Government, and the same Government which is a regulatory body violates those laws, who else can respect them?" asks the petition. They are demanding that the Ministry stops "unfair labour practices", threatening unspecified action.

Home Affairs minister blocks march (The Namibian, 25/07) - Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo yesterday deployed Police and paramilitary officers to block immigration officials from marching to his office to hand him a petition. The move has been criticised as an abuse of power and a denial of people's right to express themselves. Police threatened to use teargas to disperse the marchers whom they pushed and shoved. One slapped a demonstrator and they tried to arrest the immigration officers who tested their patience for about three hours. The Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), which organised the demonstration, said the Police's heavy-handedness was a reminder of "colonial oppression" and a violation of workers' rights.
The immigration officials' petition was to be given in protest over Ekandjo's decision to place their services under the Namibian Police. Ekandjo allegedly warned on Wednesday that he would order Police to stop the march, arrest unionists and immigration officials; judges too, if he was hauled before court. Yesterday, he denied making the threat to arrest judges only after being pressed on the issue. Napwu Secretary General Petrus Nevonga said they were surprised that the march was stopped. They had written to the Police, Ekandjo and the municipality on July 16. They were therefore surprised to be met by a battery of armed Police, said Nevonga. No permission is needed from Police for people to demonstrate although the law enforcers should be informed. "We are not expecting dictatorship in an independent Namibia," Nevonga told Police commander Andries van der Byl. "It is nothing [other] than dictatorship and abuse of power," he said of Ekandjo. "What stops us now from declaring him the enemy of the workers?" A traffic officer was the first to inform about 50 immigration officers who gathered at the Nictus Building along Windhoek's main street that the march had been called off by the Police. Unionists said they were not aware of the cancellation.

Van der Byl told them to "re-negotiate" with the Ministry as he had "instructions" to prevent the march. "We are not going to allow you to move from here," said Van der Byl. The demonstrators walked. But they did not get far. Only about 100 metres. Then the Police began to flex their muscles. The riot squad arrived in haste to reinforce the Special Field Force, some in blue uniforms and some in civilian clothes. At one stage the Police numbered more than the marchers. They were armed with rifles, handguns, teargas and batons. For more than an hour the marchers could not move as union leaders negotiated with the Police. Eventually the immigration staff sneaked away, one by one and regrouped at the Ministry of Home Affairs in the centre of town. By then the building was heavily ringed by the VIP unit. A barrier tape was soon put up to block the entrance to the offices. Other Police formed a protective chain, pushing demonstrators away from the entrance to the back of the building. Officials from Ekandjo's office said he would meet with the marchers. This did not deter the Police. They hardened their stance and announced over the loudspeaker that they would give demonstrators 10 minutes to disperse. Bystanders were told to get out of harm's way. Nevonga and other union leaders melted away as the Police menacingly formed a straight line. The immigration officials and unionists slowly retreated past the Magistrate's Court, got into vehicles and drove to the National Union of Namibian Workers' (NUNW) offices to decide on how to get the petition to Ekandjo. The Minister said yesterday he would not speak with his staff "on the streets" and intended meeting with trade unions at their office next week, not "through the press". He said accepting a petition from his staff was like a husband and wife dealing with their domestic problems outside home. Asked if he ordered Police to block the demonstration, Ekandjo said: "The Police are there to maintain law and order”.
Nevonga said the matter would be dealt with by the NUNW, the umbrella federation of the Swapo affiliated unions. The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) said the Police violated the Constitution by breaking up a peaceful demonstration. "This is one of those things that shows us that there is a lot of intolerance in our country when officials don't want to let people express themselves," said NSHR director Phil ya Nangoloh. * NBC-TV news reported last night that Namibia Farm Workers Union General Secretary Alfred Angula was arrested at the march. The report said he was charged with obstructing the course of justice and released on N$300 bail later in the day.

More refugees go home to Angola (Windhoek, The Namibian, 23/07) - Another 200 refugees are making their way back home to Angola. Yesterday morning they left the Osire camp which for many has been their home for several years as a result of civil war in their homeland. Today they will undergo extensive immigration procedures and overnight at the Kasava Transit Camp, about 70 kilometres south of Rundu, before proceeding to the Katwitwi border post tomorrow. Three weeks ago the first group of 149 refugees returned to Angola. Satisfied with the pilot operation, officials are now planning to dispatch a group of returnees weekly as from next month. A spokesman for the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Windhoek, David Nthengwe, told The Namibian yesterday that it is "most likely" that the third group will depart Namibia next week, although logistical arrangements have not been finalised. Local officials hope to increase the weekly number of returnees beyond 200, but this is dependent on their Angolan counterparts increasing their capacity to transport and transfer the returnees from the border to Calundu and Menongue. As with the pilot repatriation exercise, this group is being transported by bus, accompanied by officials from aid agencies as well as Police and emergency workers over the more than 800 kilometres from Osire to Katwitwi, west of Rundu. Repatriation is a voluntary process. Many of those who have indicated their willingness to return to Angola are satisfied that peace prevails and the minimum conditions for human habitation exist. Last week about 1 000 people at Osire were registered to return home.

Food shortage looms for Osire refugees (Windhoek, The Namibian, 18/07) -A government ban on the import of maize during the local harvest season is having serious repercussions for the World Food Programme (WFP), which is responsible for feeding refugees at the Osire refugee camp. Food aid which was supposed to be delivered on Wednesday had to be delayed while the WFP sourced additional maize. The ban is intended to encourage local purchasing during the harvest period. On Monday the WFP will deliver about 130 metric tons of maize to the camp - only half the usual monthly amount. As a result individual rations will also have to be reduced from 12 kilograms per person to 6 kilograms. But an even bigger concern for WFP is how it will feed the refugees next month. WFP Head in Namibia, Abdirahman Meygag, told The Namibian that it will not be able to purchase as much maize as is needed with their available funds, because local prices are almost double that of South Africa. "It is very worrisome considering that maize meal is the staple food of refugees. This could affect their nutritional state". Meygag added that refugees are entirely dependent on food supplies from aid agencies, as they have no means of income and no other means to source food. A request to the Namibian Agronomic Board to be excused from the import restrictions has been refused. The WFP has now requested the intervention of the Home Affairs Ministry to plead for this decision to be reconsidered, on the basis that the maize meal is required for humanitarian needs rather than for commercial purposes. The Agronomic Board was not available for comment on the decision. In addition to maize meal the WFP also provides the refugees with pulses, sugar, corn-soya blend and oil. Next week the WFP will also be responsible for feeding the about 250 refugees during their three-day repatriation journey from Osire to the transit centres in Angola.

More Angolans return (Windhoek, The Namibian, 17/07) - The pilot repatriation of 149 Angolan refugees earlier this month proved successful and the next group is expected to depart from Osire Camp on Wednesday. The exact number being accommodated on this trip still has to be decided. Their departure from Namibia will follow a similar programme to the first trip - with a stopover at Rundu before proceeding to the Katwitwi border post, where returnees will have to undergo extensive immigration procedures. The UN refugee agency's Field Officer, David Nthengwe, says it is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees's (UNHCR) intention to see a group of refugees returning to Angola each week from the beginning of August.  The process will continue until December 2004.  With about 800 km to travel to reach Angola, Nthengwe notes that the three-day journey is arduous and people's well-being needs to be ensured.  "What we had planned worked out. We are dealing with humans, we can't take chances. We cannot experiment with moving people," Nthengwe told The Namibian yesterday. Most Angolan refugees in Namibia come from the south-eastern areas of Angola and will be escorted from the Katwitwi border to the towns of Menongue and Calundu by UNHCR Angola. Besides needing to improve water supplies and the type of food stocks taken on the trip, Nthengwe notes that no other difficulties were experienced on the pilot repatriation exercise. "The first movement of refugees was a pilot phase from which all were expected to learn lessons for more effective and better co-ordinated future repatriation exercises of other Angolans at Osire". At present the registration list of refugees who have indicated their willingness to return home stands at about 1 000 and the list continues to grow. In addition to the 20 000 Angolan refugees living at the Osire camp, there are about 400 more who live at Kasava near Rundu. Many of them came over the border with several hundred head of cattle which they graze in the area. According to Nthengwe, this group have indicated that they only wish to return to Angola next year. Repatriation is a voluntary process and many of those who have indicated their willingness to return home are satisfied that peace prevails and the minimum conditions for human habitation exist there. This follows a mission with several refugees undertaken earlier this year, to check on the situation there and give feedback to other refugees at Osire. The UNHCR has given its assurance that it will continue to protect those who do not wish to return at this point, until the repatriation period is over in 2004. However, after this the Home Affairs Ministry is likely to assess the situation of Angolan refugees who remain in Namibia, to determine their reasons for not wanting to return to their homeland.

Court lays down law on foreigners' residency (Windhoek, The Namibian, 14/07) - A legal guideline that foreigners married to Namibian citizens do not need to apply for residence or employment permits to remain in the country and to work was reaffirmed in two High Court orders last week. The orders were given by Judge Gerhard Maritz in cases in which the Chief of Immigration and the Minister of Home Affairs were sued by two couples - each made up of a Namibian citizen who had married a non-Namibian - in order to safeguard the non-Namibian partner's residence rights in the country. In terms of the orders, Ethiopian Girma Tadesse and Rwandan Mediatrice Kayirebwa-Lauschke were declared to be domiciled in Namibia in terms of the 1993 Immigration Control Act. This means that Namibia is now legally considered to be their permanent home. The court also ordered that Tadesse and Kayirebwa-Lauschke are not required to apply for a permanent residence permit or a work permit as the Immigration Control Act demands. Tadesse has been married to a Namibian woman since May last year. He has lived in Namibia since 1991. Kayirebwa-Lauschke came to Namibia as a refugee from Rwanda in 1995. She married a Namibian man in 2001. The couple have a son together. However, despite being married to Namibians and the Constitution's guarantee that such a marriage entitles one to Namibian citizenship, Tadesse and Kayirebwa-Lauschke came up against various bureaucratic difficulties with the legalities of their residence in Namibia. In an affidavit, Kayirebwa-Lauschke said that she, as a refugee, is not allowed to be employed in Namibia, that she cannot study without a study permit, and that she fears being ordered to move to the Osire refugee camp or being forced to return to Rwanda. Last year the Ministry of Home Affairs turned down her application for a permanent residence permit, saying that as a refugee she does not qualify, she told the court. Tadesse explained in an affidavit that he applied to Home Affairs for a certificate of domicile in November in an effort to be able to work lawfully in Namibia. After several enquiries about his application, he was told it had been turned down because he is a refugee.

A Home Affairs official told him he should return to Ethiopia and renounce his refugee status before his application for such a domicile certificate would be considered, he stated in his affidavit. Tadesse and Kayirebwa-Lauschke both approached Legal Assistance Centre lawyer Norman Tjombe for help. He wrote to the Home Affairs Permanent Secretary, pointing out to him that according to his interpretation of the law the two do not need any further documents to lawfully live in Namibia, as they are domiciled in the country. The law defines domicile as the place where the person lives and which he or she considers to be his or her permanent place of residence. In terms of the Immigration Control Act, the Act's requirements that foreigners need to obtain residence or employment permits to lawfully live or work Namibia do not apply to anyone who is domiciled in Namibia. When the Permanent Secretary did not reply to Tjombe's letters, the cases were lodged against the Chief of Immigration and the Home Affairs Minister. Initially the Office of the Government Attorney gave notice that they would oppose the applications, but this opposition was thereafter abandoned, and the orders were granted unopposed.

UNHCR starts repatriation of Angolans from Namibian (Windhoek, UNHCR, 03/07) - A first group of 150 Angolan refugees from Osire camp, some 300 km north of the Namibian capital, Windhoek, arrived in the Angolan border town of Katwitwi on Wednesday afternoon. They were on a 1,000 km return journey to a country many of them left decades ago. Katwitwi is in the southern Angola province of Cuando Cubango, which is home to many of the Angolans who had sought refuge in Namibia. On Monday, June 30, the homeward-bound refugees boarded the first convoy of trucks and buses in Osire camp at the start of the first leg of a 500 km-long journey to the northern Namibian border town of Rundu. After a one-day stopover for customs formalities in Rundu, the convoy set off again for the second leg of the journey to the southern Angola town of Caiundo via the border town of Katwitwi. The excited returnees were seen off by Namibian officials and were expected to arrive in Caiundo on Thursday, July 3. Monday's convoy marks the start of the return operation for Angolan refugees from Namibia, where there are more than 18,000 Angolan refugees. The repatriation movement is organised jointly by Namibia, Angola and UNHCR. Meanwhile regular convoys have continued to assist Angolan refugees to return from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Since the launch of the voluntary repatriation programme from DRC on June 20 - World Refugee Day - some 1,500 Angolan refugees have been assisted home to the northern province of Mbanza Congo and to Luau in eastern Angola. Refugees returning to these areas have been able to regain their homes and farms. But many homes were destroyed in the 27-year-long war that has left other parts of Angola in ruins and littered with landmines. Some of the returnees coming from the DRC are seeing their Portuguese-speaking homeland for the very first time. After decades of exile in DRC, many speak only French and the local language Kikongo. Their reintegration in Portuguese speaking Angola will take some time, particularly for school-age children, who will have to master the new language. Meanwhile, 16 additional trucks for the Angola repatriation operation have arrived in Kisenge in DRC's Katanga province through Zambia. The trucks were sent from Rwanda and should significantly increase the number of Angolan returns from Katanga province to Luau in Angola.

South urged to target visitors (Windhoek, The Namibian, 02/07) - The tourism industry can make a major contribution in the fight against poverty by initiating environmentally sound income-generating projects, says Namibia's Director of Tourism, Albert Mieze. Speaking at the Karas Tourism Conference at Keetmanshoop last month, Mieze said: "We cannot underestimate the contribution of this sector towards poverty eradication and job creation". Worldwide trends indicated that the tourism industry accounted for one in every 12 jobs internationally. Despite an impressive growth in tourism in Namibia, the South was not sharing in the boom, Mieze said. But this could be reversed through aggressive marketing and an increase in the number of attractions and facilities offered, Mieze added. A delegate to the conference, Marian Schelkle, said there were several pressing issues, including litter problems and the unfriendliness of border officials, which urgently needed to be addressed.

Conflict brews on immigration revamp (The Namibian, 01/07) - The Minister of Home Affairs and the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) are heading for a clash over plans to revamp the immigration department. Napwu says the morale among immigration officers has dropped and confusion has set in since Minister Jerry Ekandjo informed them that the core of their work would be handed over to the Police. Ekandjo disclosed to The Namibian last month that 400 Police officers would be trained to take over the control of border posts and other ports of entry from civilian officials, a move that would make immigration officials redundant for the work they have been trained to do. Ekandjo, who is determined to hand over border functions to the Police, said the changes would be made only after the Immigration Act has been amended. Napwu General Secretary Petrus Nevonga has criticised the Ministry saying they were reviving their plan without informing the workers' representative. "Any attempt [to change the department] is totally illegal," said Nevonga, describing moves to take away the duties of immigration officers as "a no-go, a non-starter". "The union cannot allow that to happen," he told The Namibian last week. He added that the plan was being driven by one or two people in the Ministry but that management was divided on the issue. Ekandjo said last month he told immigration officers that preparations for the Police to take over had reached an advanced stage. He wanted the change because of "security reasons" - to allow armed officers to deal with immigration work such as rounding up unregistered immigrants. Ekandjo also wants to give the work to employees who are not allowed to strike.
Police officers are not allowed to strike. But the union said changes could be made so that existing immigration officers are armed, instead of taking away their jobs.

Napwu has rejected the idea arguing that it would change the conditions of employment for immigration officials without their involvement, thereby changing the recognition agreement the union has with Government. "What they are doing has caused confusion among immigration officials. Now the immigration officials throughout the country are demoralised," said Nevonga.
"What is happening is tantamount to a person putting cooking oil into a car. It won't run," he added. Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Niilo Taapopi declined to comment on Nevonga's remarks. About 400 immigration officers will be affected. They will be moved to other divisions within the Ministry if not taken up in the new structure. In 1998, Cabinet agreed to a request by Ekandjo that immigration officers be declared part of the "uniformed staff", which would mean they would be subjected to the same conditions of service as the army and Police. Nothing came of that decision.

Bid to boost number of Italians visiting Namibia (Windhoek, The Namibian, 01/07) - Tour operators and other industry players met recently to discuss ways of boosting the number of Italian tourists visiting Namibia. Convened by the Italian Ambassador Massimo Baistrocchi, the meeting was aimed at promoting dialogue opportunities among the various stakeholders to meet this aim. Tourism is Namibia's third highest income earner contributing 10,5 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Italy is one of the best supporters of the industry with the second highest number of European visitors to Namibia, after Germany. In 2002, an estimated 10 000 Italians visited the country in comparison with 7000 the previous year. However, Baistrocchi said it was necessary to highlight both the positives and the shortcomings in the industry to determine means of encouraging more Italian visitors to the country. Tour operators who specialise in attracting Italian tourists to Namibia said the country has a lot going for it: quality travel, value for money, good infrastructure and good publicity abroad. But they also identified the lack of Italian reading material on the country, the shortage of Italian-speaking guides and the cumbersome travel route to Namibia as problems when it came to convincing Italians to choose Namibia as their travel destination. At present Italians have to fly via Germany to reach Namibia, which has additional cost implications. As far as service delivery goes, concerns were expressed about the country's immigration control. The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) assured operators that it was in consultation with the Home Affairs Ministry to see that the department is better streamlined. NTB Chief Executive Officer Gideon Shilongo said that his company is also working on extending the period during which Italians visit the country. At present the peak season is July and August. He says the NTB is working on expanding its promotional activities especially aimed at the Italian market. Operators noted that Italians are particularly interested in the natural and cultural attractions Namibia has to offer, and that more needs to be done to develop community-based tourism especially in the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions.

South Africa

Epidemic of fraudulent documentation (Johannesburg, Mail & Guardian, 31/07) - Fraudulent documentation in South Africa has reached epidemic proportions and it is now possible to buy a new identity complete with ID book, fake educational qualifications and letters of reference for as little as R300, says Jenny Reid, managing director of corporate security company GriffithsReid. "The raid by police yesterday in Pretoria, where a 'certificate factory' printing fake matric certificates, was uncovered, is unfortunately not that unusual anymore," says Reid. A recent case her company was involved in led to them finding an individual who had purchased a complete new ID in Elandsfontein, where a syndicate had been selling them for R300 a time. "Most of the consumers appeared to be illegal immigrants to South Africa," Reid says. "The syndicate was very well organised, with a system in place whereby they drew upon a source of genuine looking blank ID books, and then simply made up the other details using laser jet printers and photographs of the persons involved," she adds. The syndicate was also very plugged in intelligence wise, and when GriffithsReid swooped on the premises, they had been hastily evacuated. "The South African ID is in fact one of the easiest in the world to forge, and has very few security features that cannot be easily duplicated," Reid says. "In this respect, the new driver's licence card, which has an embedded picture and fingerprint, is a far more reliable method of identification than the ID book. "The only solution to the problem is to ensure that all qualifications and identification, no matter in what form they come, be thoroughly checked out by professionals who are equipped and skilled in the process of fraud detection," says Reid.

Border controls may cross boundaries (Cape Times, 29/07) - Open the land to people! This is the somewhat ambitious motto of the Immigration Advisory Board (IAB), unveiled in Cape Town recently with an admirable first "public consultation".  The board, chaired by Professor Wilmot James, is a new creation in terms of the 2002 Immigration Act. The public consultation examined the constitutional implications of capturing data and recording movements of both South African citizens and foreigners moving through "points of entry" at South African borders.  The question which the IAB was interested in examining was whether capturing data of those crossing borders was a breach of individuals' constitutional right to privacy. On the state side, director A Z B Gous of the Border Police tried to explain why the captured data was needed. He argued that "basic data" was needed for the purposes of maintaining the security of citizens, and that there are some 90 cross-border crime syndicates in operation. These crime syndicates were operated by, amongst others, Mozambicans who freely moved across the border with South Africa. Gous went on to argue that the South African state has an excellent record of protecting data despite the fact that a South African law on data protection is about two years away. Citizens should therefore feel reassured that the data, once captured by the state, would not be abused by the state in other ways. It would have been surprising if the irony of the old-style South African bureaucrat defending the democratic state was lost on anyone in the room. But why the fuss? Why would someone not want the state to capture data recording their entries and exits if they did not have something to hide, as Robert McBride, a member of the IAB, put it? Responding to Gous, the executive director of the Open Democracy Advice Centre, Richard Calland, said that this was to ask the wrong question and to approach the issue from the wrong angle. Perhaps the point of departure should instead be, why should the state hold private information about individuals' movements, and for what purpose? What, precisely, is the public policy objective of recording or storing personal data? The danger is that what appears on the face of it to be a relatively harmless law could in fact lead to an unfair incursion of the right to privacy. Of course, it is to be accepted that once one crosses a border, one is automatically entering a "public sphere" which in and of itself results in the limitation of one's right to privacy.

In addition, there are indeed important human security concerns which need to be taken into account and balanced against the right to privacy. The crux however, as with any constitutional right, is whether the limitation is both "reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society". At present, there is no way of knowing what "basic data" will be captured. All that is known about the system, the state proposes, is that it may possibly throw up in excess of 100 potential questions, a selection of which individuals may be asked. But when does one's privacy become invaded to such an extent that it is "unreasonable" and "unjustifiable"? It is quite easy to envisage a situation in which information about for instance one's HIV/Aids status is requested by the state or where information is cobbled together about citizens' lives based on the answers to such data set questions. The very essence of the right to privacy is that individual citizens are able to move around freely, without their comings and goings being recorded somewhere and without the possibility of such information falling into the wrong hands. Is that not what was one of the most hateful aspects of apartheid - the ability of the state to infringe on and control every aspect of citizens' lives? The difficulty comes though when democratic governments make laws which have the potential to infringe rights in the future. Tempting as it may be to trust those who will be in power in future, safeguards have to be built into laws for the maximum protection of rights. The South African constitution was designed to curb the abuse of state power, so whatever the noble motives of the state in requesting "basic data" from those crossing borders, there is no guarantee that a subsequent undemocratic government will not abuse such a law.Organised crime is on the increase in South Africa and there is no doubt that South Africa has experienced capacity problems in patrolling its borders. The emphasis should therefore be on increased protection of citizens and the resolve to deal with the social problems within South Africa which an increased crime rate represents.

Yet the myriad of violent crimes committed by South Africans against South Africans also needs to be dealt with decisively. The merging of focus on immigration and security could serve to reinforce the xenophobic tendencies existing in some quarters in South Africa, that crime is committed by those who are foreign and "other" and not by "our own". These problems are societal and need possibly to be addressed in a way which seeks to draw people away from crime. The right to privacy and the concomitant right to protect the content of our lives and move freely is what separates democratic societies from autocracies and overbearing states. Our constitution demands minimal state interference in the private sphere. No matter how well-intentioned, attempts by the state to limit this right need to be approached with caution. Where the difficulty lies, however, is that the state also needs to fulfil its obligations to keep citizens secure. Such a balancing of rights needs a healthy realism - a realism premised on the fact that serious action needs to be taken against escalating crime, whilst simultaneously protecting rights. While the IAB has the unenviable task of attempting to advise on the balancing of rights and interests, they, like us, must be resolute as well as realistic when performing their crucial function.

Limpopo to welcome 30 Cuban doctors (Pretoria, BuaNews, 25/07) - Limpopo Premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi will tomorrow welcome 30 Cuban doctors who will be working in public hospitals in the province as part of a bilateral agreement between the South Africa and Cuba. The group will add to 55 Cuban doctors already working in South Africa's public health institutions since 1996. Advocate Ramatlhodi would welcome the Cuban doctors at Knobel Hospital in the Aganang Municipality. A statement released by the Premier's Office said Adv Ramatlhodi would highlight the significant role played by the Cuban doctors and their government in ensuring qualitative improvement in the provision of primary health care and social welfare in the country. The Cuban delegation would be lead by their Deputy Minister for Public Health Fransisco Alberto Durban. Dr Durban would also address a Gala Dinner at the Jack Botes Hall in Polokwane on how Limpopo could enter into business partnership with Cuba to further strengthen the relationship that the two already had. The event coincides with the Cuban National Day and therefore senior government officials, Members of the Provincial Legislature and about 97 Cuban doctors will get together to celebrate this day.

DA criticises government over black skills shortage (Cape Town, Sapa, 24/07) - Government is doing little to remedy the severe skills shortage problem among black South Africans, says Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon. In his weekly newsletter, published on the DA's website, he said the problem was a lack of skilled black professionals - doctors, engineers, lawyers, and scientists. On what could be done to ensure black people make more rapid progress in the economy, Leon said government needed to invest heavily in opportunity, training and education. "It must spend money on improving schools, particularly in disadvantaged areas. It must provide Opportunity Vouchers to young people, that they can use in pursuing higher education and starting new businesses." Leon said recently released Census 2001 figures showed black employees had failed since 1996 to increase their overall share of the top jobs. However, government was refusing to do what was necessary, and
instead of providing equal opportunities, it was "forcing the private sector to achieve equal outcomes". "The skills that South Africa needs cannot be handed out or re-distributed from rich to poor. They have to be learned, and earned," he said. Government's transformation policies, which "put race ahead of ability", were forcing South Africans to choose between either
equality or excellence. The state was also not doing enough to promote skills training. "Its hugely bureaucratic sector education training authorities (Setas) have failed to spend R2,8-billion, nearly 50 percent of the monies earmarked for skills development.  "Instead of encouraging excellence in education, the government is punishing it by trying to prevent school governing bodies from rewarding their teachers. "So when we question why black people aren't claiming a greater share of the top jobs, the answer is not that affirmative action and employment equity policies aren't being implemented. "The truth is that these policies are in fact being implemented, but that they are designed to fail because they do not properly address the core of the problem: the lack of opportunities and the shortage of skills," Leon said.

Three home affairs officials arrested in Limpopo (SABC, 21/07) - Three senior officials from the department of home affairs in Makhado in the Limpopo Province were arrested on fraud and corruption charges today. The officials were arrested for allegedly selling fraudulent ID documents, birth, marriage and death certificates to foreigners. One official was arrested after selling fraudulent ID documents, birth, marriage and death certificates to an undercover policeman. Police say the man will face an additional charge of using a state vehicle to conduct the fraudulent activities. Another two officials were arrested at their place of work. The suspects will appear in court tomorrow. More arrests are expected to follow.

Foreigners get help with confusing law (Business Report, 21/07) - The confusion and misunderstanding over regulations governing property buying and residency in South Africa for foreigners have slowed down the rate of foreign investment interest in this country, says Lanice Steward of Anne Porter Properties. In an effort to clear up some of the misconceptions, Steward has been distributing a booklet from attorneys Buchanan Boyes which, she says, makes it clear that: There are, in fact, no restrictions to property ownership for non-residents - but there are certain requirements to comply with. Contrary to popular belief, the de facto ownership of a property can be achieved by buying shares or a member's interest in a company or close corporation. A non-resident is allowed to borrow only 50% of the property price - the rest has to be paid up-front as part of the initial deposit. Furthermore, any 50% or other loan arrangement for the property has to be approved by the SA Reserve Bank. It is, however, permissible for a foreigner to sign a purchase agreement subject to his getting the loan. When the property is company-owned, a more stringent set of rules is applied to loans. The purchaser is responsible for the payment of transfer costs, the attorney's fees and the cost of registering the new bond. All funds introduced to South Africa to acquire property can be repatriated together with any profit made on the property, provided the title deeds have been registered at the outset as being for a non-resident. Capital gains tax, however, does have to be paid by non-residents who sell their property and they must submit an income tax return to the SA Reserve Bank in the year of the sale. Furthermore, non-residents whose primary residence is not in South Africa have to pay capital gains tax on the full profit and do not qualify for the first R1 million exemption like South Africans. Visitors can now get a permit for a three-month stay and in most cases this can be extended by a further three months, provided the applicant can prove there are enough funds.

Those wishing to stay longer can apply for work permits, business permits, financially independent permits or a retired person's permit. The last named, said Steward, is by far the most popular. To get it the applicant has to prove there is R12m in assets capable of producing an income of R15 000 per month or a reputable annuity/pension fund paying R20 000 per month. The retired person's permit will usually be issued for four years at a time. The "financially independent" permit, however, requires applicants to prove they have a net worth of R20m and, in addition, they have to pay an application fee of R100 000. It is this permit, said Anne Porter, chairman of Anne Porter Properties, which has caused most of the confusion and anxiety among people wishing to live here, many of whom are reluctant to pay so high an application fee. However, consultation with a reputable estate agency can very often lead to an application on other grounds being favourably considered.

Official charged over ID scam (Natal Witness, 21/07) - A Home Affairs official in the kwaMthethwa area, north-west of Empangeni, has been charged with fraud for allegedly taking money from people who applied for identity documents at a satellite post. ANC MP and KZN provincial executive member Nathi Mthethwa said he asked the police to accompany him to the school after being tipped off that people were being made to pay for their ID documents. Mthethwa said these documents should be provided free of charge. "I asked for a police escort, and indeed people were paying R15 upon applying for the IDs," he said. "It was arranged that all those people who were still there be given back their money," said Mthethwa. The money, claimed Mthethwa, was taken from people right under the nose of IFP councillor Timothy Biyela of the Mbonambi Municipality. Mthethwa said Biyela distributed pamphlets telling people to come with R15 to apply for IDs. Biyela admitted asking for people to bring R15 in anticipation of charges for photographs "because we did not know that the taking of IDs had become totally free of charge". A kwaMbonambi Police Station spokesperson confirmed that a case of fraud has been opened against someone in the kwamthethwa area following payments of R15 upon ID applications. He did not know whom the charge has been laid against.

Cabinet to discuss skills shortage (Business Day, 18/07) - The skills shortage SA faces will be a central theme of the cabinet lekgotla, or strategy session, to be held next week, says Roy Marcus, adviser to the minister of arts, culture, science and technology. This signals a growing concern about SA's ability to compete globally and achieve the necessary rate of growth or to resolve the unemployment crisis. He said ministers would confront the "realities" of the skills shortage, and especially those of technical skills. He suggested major SA companies had approved R122bn in capital expenditure, but "can we execute this timeously and efficiently?" He expressed concern there may not be enough technically literate people on the boards of directors of some SA firms, resulting in a failure to make all the right decisions. Marcus said SA's education system would need reform, to recognise the importance of turning out a tech-savvy workforce. He suggested more state money would be needed to help transform SA manufacturing, as occurred in Taiwan. Marcus said South Africans may be better at innovation than at cashing in on that innovation. He said in per capita terms, SA registered more patents than many of its competitors, but was one of the worst in applying research and commercialising inventions. In September government will announce a new research and development strategy.

Brain drain bigger than thought (Johannesburg, News24, 16/07) - The number of qualified South Africans leaving the country for greener pastures may be three times the official figure, the Afrikaans daily Beeld reported on Wednesday, quoting a government statistician. The official, Obed Shigadhla, who works for Statistics South Africa, said the official emigration figures were grossly understated. "Researchers compared Statistics South Africa's figures to those of the five countries of choice they emigrate to, and found that generally 3.5 times more South Africans emigrated between 1989 and 2001 than was officially given," he told the newspaper. Shigadhla said that according to official sources, just more than 58 000 South Africans declared that they had emigrated from the country between 1996 and 2001. About 22% (13 085) were professionals. But only 62% of South Africans completed a compulsory departure form when leaving from the country's three international airports, leading to the under-estimation. "Other people don't correctly complete the forms, or say they are leaving to do contract work and then decide to emigrate without informing us," he added. The "brain drain" is a term used when referring to skilled workers leaving a country to live overseas. Many skilled South Africans emigrate to Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. They are mainly white South Africans with university degrees, and leave because of opposition to the change to a black democratically elected government in 1994 or to flee South Africa's high crime rate and what they see as poor career prospects for their children.

Poor pay, hard work compounds shortage of nurses (Business Day, 16/07) -The current shortage of nurses in SA's public health system will reach critical levels by 2011, when the country is expected to experience a shortfall of nearly 60000 nurses, despite an aggressive recruitment exercise to address the shortage. These are the findings of studies by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), which concluded that there would be a shortfall of 19000 registered nurses in SA by 2011, in addition to the current shortage of 38750. This scenario is likely to cripple the public health system, which experts say is already overstretched to limits that compromise the quality of healthcare in SA. HSRC research director Simon McGrath said SA's public health system was in danger, as an increasing shortage of nurses would further reduce the country's public health service capacity and resources. He attributed the shortages to poor pay and working conditions, emigration and not enough supply to meet demand. He said salary pay and working conditions were, in most cases, the determining factor for the brain drain in the system. The median annual salary of a public sector professional nurse ranged from R83000. "Increasingly, the salaries of nurses are becoming unattractive, especially with poor working conditions. Nursing is a hard, stressful job and workloads are high and the equipment is not being updated as quickly as it should." In addition, the physical nature of the job resulted in illhealth and a high drop out rate. He said there was also a supply issue, with public nursing colleges and universities not producing enough certified nurses to address the shortfalls. There are about 6000 certified nurses filtering through from higher education system a year, while the demand is about 12000.

Foreign workers take BP to task for contract cuts (Business Day, 15/07) -About 50 expatriate employees working for BP Africa in Western Cape have accused the multinational oil company of unilaterally canceling their employment contracts and taking a decision to repatriate them without proper consultation. This has put BP at odds with the expatriates who claim their contracts were only due to expire in 2005. They also claim that the repatriation process had not been done in a transparent manner. Elrich Johannes, repatriation manager for BP, denied the allegations. He said employees had been party to discussions with management about the repatriation process since November last year. "It is not correct to say the repatriation is done unilaterally because there were direct conversations with them," Johannes said. He said the decision to repatriate some employees was prompted by a general decline in the economic performance of the Southern African Development Community, which in turn had an adverse effect on BP's performance. An expatriate employee who asked not to be named said the company, while claiming that it was repatriating them to cut costs, had continued to hire foreign workers from Europe. "The average African expatriate costs about R40000 to maintain, while one from Europe costs about R120000 monthly," the employee said. "If it's about costs why is that only some expatriates are affected?" the employee said. Johannes rejected the claim that BP was instead hiring expatriate workers from Europe. "The bulk of overseas expatriates have left, we have repatriated about six workers from overseas," he said. It is understood that the African expatriate employees are employed across various divisions in the company such as marketing, finance, human resources and organisational development. "We are not saying that we don't want to go back, but it is the manner in which the repatriation is being done," said Bukhwele. "There's been no involvement whatsoever on our side, the company has presented us with a decision that was already taken," he said. "The talking is one-dimensional and we are merely asked to react to an already decided issue," Bukhwele said.

Emigres are keen to return (Johannesburg, Business Day, 15/07) - Banking industry headhunters are receiving an increasing number of inquiries from emigre South Africans wanting to return. Véronique Parkin, a partner at international search firm Heidrick & Struggles' SA operation, says many exSouth Africans working in investment banking abroad want to come back here and are in search of high-level jobs in the banking industry. Most inquiries come from the UK, but some are from the US and Australia. The trend is being driven by a depressed London market. Emigres are often keen to return for family and lifestyle reasons and the weather. They also see that SA is looking good, with its sound macroeconomic policies gaining favour with international investors. And they see that there are interesting things happening in SA's financial services sector. Parkin says emigre investment bankers seeking to return have high expectations in terms of the kinds of jobs they want, but are not necessarily looking for sterling or dollar-type salaries. However, the market is competitive and they will not simply walk into top banking jobs in SA, she says. The consolidation of the banking sector over the past couple of years has meant there are a significant number of skilled bankers available, or potentially available, locally. In addition, expatriates who have been brought to SA by international banking groups are often keen to stay on after their contracts expire because they enjoy the lifestyle.
Parkin says when banking industry clients are looking for skilled people with particular specialities, one can be usually be reasonably confident there will be suitable candidates available.

Youth in UK urged to bring skills home (Cape Times, 14/07) - More than 65 000 young South Africans have been granted two-year work/holiday permits in the United Kingdom during the past five years. This was confirmed by Western Cape Premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk who, with his Finance MEC Ebrahim Rasool, attended the opening of the England-based UKkasie festival at the weekend. UKkasie is the biggest Afrikaans festival outside South Africa. His message to South Africans living in the UK was to experience the global employment market, but to "plough back" into South Africa.  Van Schalkwyk said: "Today between 500 000 and a million South Africans live in the United Kingdom. Over the past five years 65 000 young South Africans were granted work/ holiday permits to work in the UK for two years. Last year alone 17 500 such permits were granted to South Africans." He said this should be seen in context that only 40 000 work/holiday permits are granted every year by UK authorities. "Through this young South Africans are getting the opportunity to be exposed to the global employment market - something that must be encouraged. "It is also an unforgettable experience that feeds personal development and enrichment. "But then we must also be forgiven for jealously encouraging young South Africans to plough back that experience into the country of their birth." Van Schalkwyk said with South Africa entering its 10th year of democracy, it was illustrating daily how much could be be accomplished by facing challenges together.  "In the Western Cape we are busy building a world-class province that will ensure hope and dignity for the next decade. We are not blind to the challenges." He said two weeks ago the new Cape Town convention centre opened its doors.  His administration was also involved in developing an international film city, an industry that can generate income of more than R400-million a year.

Redrafting of Immigration Act a boon for foreign buyers (Business Report, 14/07) - Commentators have welcomed the Department of Home Affairs' revision of the Immigration Act to ease the purchase of property by foreign buyers. This follows Cape Town law firm Eisenberg & Associates losing its appeal brought against the act's provisions. However, the department has since revised the act's provisions and invited public participation in its redrafting. Ian Slot, chairman of Seeff Western Cape's licensees, said redrafting of the act would promote direct foreign investment and address skills shortages. "It is a great pity that public participation had come so late in the day as well as under duress, instead of prior to the act's promulgation," Slot said. "It must be clearly understood that when foreign nationals purchase property in South Africa, they make a strong commitment to this country's future. The act's initial provisions would have directly undermined SA's set goals for increased direct foreign investment and would have made it practically impossible for all but the most well-heeled foreign nationals to take up residence in this country," said Slot. "It required significantly increased financial qualifications, as well as some application fees.

Counting illegal residents impossible, say experts (SABC, 13/07) - Two Pretoria migration officers say no method of estimating the number of undocumented residents or illegal aliens in South Africa exists. Dr Pieter Kok and Johan van Zyl, of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) said in the latest council publication (HSRC Review), that it was "virtually impossible" to count illegal aliens correctly. They were responding to the contents of a court application in Pretoria earlier this year in which the Department of Home Affairs senior official quoted figures which were attributed to an HSRC study. In the application, the number of illegal aliens in South Africa was estimated at more than 4 million people. Kok and Van Zyl said in the HSRC Review the disputed figures came out of a poorly conceived and analysed immigration study done in the mid-90s, and which had been publicly withdrawn. On Tuesday the results of Census 2001 were released and Statistics SA said that among others, an estimated one in six South Africans were not counted during the census in October 2001. Despite the undercount, the final figure was believed to be reasonably accurate. The final figure was calculated with adjustments for the undercount, which was uncovered during a post enumeration survey, Stats SA said. Kok and Van Zyl said people who crossed borders without the necessary documentation or overstayed their visa requirements usually attempted to conceal their status, if not their presence and would evade any form of perceived official enquiry, to avoid being identified as illegal immigrants. Their "reluctance to identify themselves for fear of being harassed or repatriated should be understood", they said. A population census would be unlikely to count people who did not want to be counted, and all other surveys would have difficulty in identifying such people.

The only acceptable numbers were the official figures on "overstayers", people who entered the country legally but then violated their visa requirements, they said. The migration experts said the methods used to arrive at the disputed figure contained fundamental flaws. "The surveys asked clusters of households in a national sample if they knew of any illegal immigrants living nearby, but the analysts failed to correct for the probability of several households referring to the same immigrants. " Trying to estimate the number of people who had entered the country without the necessary documentation was an attempt at "counting the uncountable". Kok and Van Zyl also warned that quoting inaccurate information added to the immigration policy problems by fuelling xenophobic sentiments. According to Census 2001, the latest official figures, about 2,3 %, or one million, of the people counted in October 2001 were not born in South Africa. Around 1% of the total of 44,8 million also were not South African citizens, and Dr Ros Hirschowitz, Stats SA deputy director general, said that respondents were not asked whether they were in South Africa legally or not.  Out of the total of 44,8 million people counted, 687 679 gave another member state of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as their African country and a further 228 314 a European one. Of the non-SA citizens, 320 178 had citizenship of another SADC country, 24 983 of an African state outside SADC and 88 761 of a European state.

Migration from Zimbabwe (Mail & Guardian, 11/07) - “I’m under stress,” barks the uniformed policeman into his cellphone. With his free hand, he holds the driver of an overloaded bakkie at a distance. The man is seeking entry into South Africa at the Beit Bridge border post. The policeman summarily ends his call. He is exasperated. A heated exchange ensues, teeters dangerously, but is finally resolved. This is a scene characteristic of South Africa’s far northern border post on the Limpopo River, a congested migration point funnelling disillusioned Zimbabweans into the country. It is not uncommon to see frustrated state officials clashing with immigrants fleeing Zimbabwe’s food shortages and escalating unemployment rate, reported to be above 60%. Seemingly in endless supply, these would-be immigrants arrive at the South African border post at Beit Bridge carrying cumbersome bags filled with personal belongings and makeshift crafts. According to Census 2001, 320 178 citizens from neighbouring Southern African Development Community (SADC) states claim residency in South Africa. It is unknown how many are Zimbabwean, and how many more might be here illegally. Some estimates put this figure at two million. “The census is not about identifying illegal immigrants and refugees but will help us know more about their needs,” explained Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa in 2001 at the Gauteng launch of Census 2001. Charles Bright (33), an immigrant from Lilongwe, Malawi, says immigrants entering South Africa have one simple need: employment. His 3 800km trip to Johannesburg has afforded him an opportunity to see much of Zimbabwe, its animal herds, and even its empty fuel stations.
“I like South Africa,” says Bright. “When I do business here, we do well.” He points to an entourage of family members lingering next to his pick-up. A dishevelled bunch, they have been travelling for two weeks en route to South Africa’s golden metropolis, living mostly off maize and water. “There is no bread in Zimbabwe.” It is the unbearable situation of not being able to provide for a family that prompted Sdumo Ncube (30) to seek employment south of the Limpopo River. Born in Bulawayo, Ncube is a taxi driver based in Musina, an isolated community on the far northern border of Limpopo.

According to Census 2001, Ncube is one of 687 679 people in South Africa claiming birth in a neighbouring SADC country. Contrary to popular opinion, Ncube is here legally — he is married to a South African. Despite the relative stability that his new home offers — bread and fuel are freely available in Musina — Ncube’s adoptive home is by no means a mythical El Dorado. Census 2001 shows that Limpopo has the highest economically inactive population (55,7%) in South Africa, with 21,6% of people between 15 and 65 defined as unemployed. “Many people entering South Africa continue to see themselves as circular migrants, rather than as immigrants,” says Dorrit Posel of the University of Natal in a presentation prepared for the Conference on African Migration in Comparative Perspective, held in Johannesburg recently. “Immigrants come to South Africa for employment or income-generating opportunities for a definite period and have very little interest in staying in the country permanently,” Posel says.It is an insight confirmed by Ncube. “It is not my place here,” he says. “I still visit my relatives [in Zimbabwe] often. I want to go back to Zimbabwe. If it comes right, I’d go back the same day.”

Police hold 31 illegal immigrants in Bloemfontein (Bloemfontein, News24, 10/07) - Police arrested 31 illegal immigrants and found several identity documents, believed to have been stolen, in a rubbish bin during an anti-crime operation at the Bloemfontein taxi rank. Captain Ernest Mayiki said police carried out 'Operation Hlwekisa' at the rank because there was apparently an increase in crime in the area. Southern Free State assistant commissioner Baile Motswenyane said: "We are committed to making the Bloemfontein taxi rank a place that all of us can be proud of - with no crime." Mangaung municipal officials also took part in the operation to assess the health risk posed by food and drink vendors at the rank. Hlwekisa is a Sotho word meaning "to clean up".

One million people in SA were born elsewhere (IOL, 08/07) - About 2,3 percent - or one million - of the people counted during the census in October 2001 were not born in South Africa, Statistics SA said on Tuesday. One percent of the total of 44,8 million were not South African citizens, according to the results of Census 2001, which were released in Pretoria. More than five percent of those who were in Gauteng at that time, were born outside the country. Just over nine percent of whites were born elsewhere, compared to three percent of Indians, 1,6 percent of blacks and 0,4 percent of Coloureds. Out of the total of 44,8-million people counted, 687 679 gave another member state of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as their country of birth, 41 819 another African country and a further 228 314 a European one. Of the non-SA citizens, 320 178 had citizenship of another SADC country, 24 983 of an African state outside SADC and 88 761 of a European state. Gauteng, with 2,4 percent, had the highest proportion of non-SA citizens. Stats SA deputy director-general Ros Hirschowitz said respondents were not asked whether they were in South Africa legally or not.

Latest census data puts SA population at 44,8 million (SABC, 08/07) - The South African population increased by just over 10% between census 1996 and census 2001, this represents an annual average population increase of 2%. In number terms, the population increased from 40 583 573 to 44 819 778. All provinces except the Northern Cape, which lost 2,1% of its citizens, posted increases in population size. The provinces with the greatest increases are Gauteng (20,3%), the Western Cape (14,3%) and KwaZulu Natal (12%). In absolute numbers, KwaZulu-Natal remains the largest province with 9,4 million people followed closely by Gauteng at 8,8 million. The Northern Cape is the largest province by area, but the smallest by population, with only a little over 800 000 inhabitants. The subtantial increase in the populations of the most urbanised provinces, Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal at the expense of the more rural provinces indicates that the country is still experiencing a subtantial urbanisation movement. In the period between 1996 and 2001, the racial composition of South Africa became slightly darker as the proportion of Black people increased from 77% to 79% and the number of White people dropped from 11 to 10%. The other population groups remaining more or less unchanged. The high rate of emigration of White South Africans is partially responsible for this change of ratio. The census does not, however, have any data on emigration, but officials say that about one million people, mainly from the White population, left South Africa between 1996 and 2001. The province with the most Whites is Gauteng where 1,7 million White people make up 20% of the population. KwaZulu-Natal has the largest concentration of Black people (8 million) and the largest group of Indian/Asian people (800 000). The majority of South Africans (52,2%) are female, and in eight provinces the female majority is maintained. The only province where females are only marginally in the minority is in Gauteng (49,7%). The province with the highest proportion (54,6%) of females is Mpumulanga.

HIV testing of miners under fire (Mail & Guardian, 10/07) - A debate around the compulsory HIV testing of miners is set to shake up the mining industry in the coming months. Concerns are that miners whose HIV status is known could be the target of discrimination. The need for a policy around the compulsory HIV testing of mine workers arose from a case that has been postponed in the Pretoria High Court. Central to the case is a decision by the chief inspector of mines and the Ministry of Minerals and Energy about the classification of the death of Jose Mulungu Cossa, a miner who worked for the Rustenburg Platinum Mine. Cossa died in hospital in October 2000, about a month after sustaining knee injuries in an accident in the mine's Turffontein shaft. The chief inspector ruled that Cossa's death was a fatality arising from his injuries in the mineshaft and did not result from his HIV-positive status. Health-e news service reported that the mining company challenged the ruling, which imposed a R60 000 levy, paid over three years, on the mining company. The case was postponed until next January after the parties decided to attempt to develop a policy that would assist in situations where mine workers infected with the HI virus meet with accidents and subsequently die in the process of exercising their duty. "We believe that companies have to be given permission to know the status of their various employees when they appoint them," said Mike Mtakati, spokesperson for Anglo-Platinum. He said compulsory testing would benefit the employees because they can be placed in less hazardous jobs.
"We could, through the various interventions, prolong their lives. We don't have to shy away from the workers who are infected with this disease, but we have a responsibility as a company to help prolong their lives. But we can only do that when, and if, we know their status with regard to HIV/Aids," he said. But compulsory testing creates a problem if it is forced on miners, said Senzeni Zokwana, president of the National Union of Mineworkers. "Testing is good, but we will not support a situation where testing is done against the will of our members." Zokwana said that if the mining companies implemented compulsory testing, those who are HIV-positive would be the first considered for retrenchments. "The issue of placement is not a new one The problem is the mining companies may find that up to 40% of their workforces are HIV-positive; then who will go underground?" A mining-industry committee will debate whether the death of HIV-positive miners should be included in mines' statistics. These statistics are used to determine a mine's safety risk, which in turn results in a specially calculated levy being imposed on the mine. Mining companies stand to benefit from HIV-positive miners being excluded from the statistics, as the greater the risk, the higher the levy imposed on them. Mtakati is adamant that the issue of Cossa and the court ruling has nothing to do with the monetary factor. "It's got absolutely nothing to do with the issue of the levy, but has everything to do with a principle."

No illegal aliens in Bush's entourage (Cape Town, Mail & Guardian, 10/07) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Monday rejected rumours that US President George Bush and the large entourage accompanying him will enter South Africa without respecting the immigration laws. "In fact, the contrary is true," Buthelezi said in a statement on the eve of Bush's arrival on an official visit to South Africa on Tuesday. "Working in close cooperation with US Ambassador Cameron Hume we have designed a process which fully complies with our Immigration Act while facilitating the entry of President Bush and his entourage that addresses the relevant security considerations," he said. The process designed was submitted with various stages of interdepartmental consultation and, thereafter, to the consultation of the Immigration Advisory Board which, in its planning meeting of July 3 "considered and fully and independently endorsed it". "We are grateful for the cooperation of the US Embassy and its ambassador in this matter. "We welcome President Bush and this important opportunity to strengthen the bond of friendship between the government and the people of the United States of America and our own people," Buthelezi said. Bush is scheduled to arrive in South Africa from Senegal on Tuesday night, with an entourage of about 600 people, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.On Wednesday, Bush is scheduled to hold a one-on-one meeting with President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria.

Buthelezi: Bush will respect SA immigration laws (SABC, 07/07) - Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister, has rejected rumours that George W. Bush, the US president, and the large entourage accompanying him will enter South Africa without respecting the immigration laws. "In fact, the contrary is true," Buthelezi said in a statement on the eve of Bush's arrival on an official visit to South Africa tomorrow. "Working in close cooperation with US Ambassador Cameron Hume we have designed a process, which fully complies with our Immigration Act while facilitating the entry of President Bush and his entourage that addresses the relevant security considerations," he said. The process designed was submitted with various stages of interdepartmental consultation and, thereafter, to the consultation of the Immigration Advisory Board which, in its planning meeting of July 3 "considered and fully and independently endorsed it. We are grateful for the co-operation of the US Embassy and its ambassador in this matter." "We welcome President Bush and this important opportunity to strengthen the bond of friendship between the government and the people of the United States of America and our own people," Buthelezi said. Bush is scheduled to arrive in South Africa from Senegal tomorrow night, with an entourage of about 600 people, including Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, and Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor. On Wednesday, Bush is scheduled to hold a one-on-one meeting with President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria.

SA awaits report on 12 arrested in Zimbabwe (SABC, 05/07) - South Africa's High Commission in Harare, Zimbabwe is awaiting a police report following the arrest of a group of 12 South Africans, including four boys between the ages of 10 and 14. They were arrested on charges of poaching on Thursday. The group was returning to South Africa after a hunting trip when they were arrested at the Beitbridge Border Post. The four boys have since been released. The men are members of the Charis Christian Church in Wonderboom.

SA to do its first research of financial impact of tourism (Business Day, 04/07) - New research is being undertaken to assess properly for the first time the impact of tourism on the SA economy, Business Trust CE Brian Whittaker says. The project was conceived by the Business Trust, a big business grouping which focuses on job creation, but will be carried out by Statistics SA, and is being funded by government. "It has been agreed that a set of so-called satellite accounts will be produced, giving detailed data on tourism's impact," Whittaker said yesterday. "These will show tourism's ranking compared to other industries, the number of jobs created by tourism, tax revenues generated, tourism's consumption, its impact on the balance of payments, and the characteristics of human resources in the tourism industry." Whittaker explained that tourism was one of the sectors on which the Business Trust had focused in its job-creation agenda. "SA is the world's fastest growing tourist destination, with a 20,2% increase in 2002 over 2001," he said. "With proper data, you would have more confidence, and you could continue to build a case for supporting the tourism industry, and for our own priorities. "Tourism is seen as a lead sector in job creation and for economic growth, and the statistical foundation must be improved for that intention to be sustained." Whittaker said one reason for the success was SA Tourism's marketing campaign, which was funded by the Business Trust. "This has brought private sector expertise to strategy development, and presented attractive offerings to the international traveller," he said. Business Trust deputy chief operating officer Mduduzi Ndlovu confirmed that the key change in SA's marketing strategy was "that we are spending our tourism budget with more research and focus targeting the right sectors of the population. "The challenge SA Tourism is facing is: how do you spend your marketing money in a smarter way? SA is an attractive place to shop for people from the rest of Africa and we have to market ourselves as the Dubai of southern Africa." Whittaker echoed this view, saying that "Africa is going to be the big story". Ndlovu also stressed the importance of SA Tourism entering partnerships with SA Airways on putting together more affordable packages for visitors, and also of using the resources of SA's diplomatic missions abroad to cut the costs of overseas activities. The Business Trust is to launch a new Johannesburg to Cape Town promotional marathon called The Long Run next month, which coincides with Tourism Month. This will involve runners from both business and government, and will include stops along the way to promote and publicise Business Trust activities. In another development, Whittaker said that a malaria control project which involved spraying in northern KwaZuluNatal, Mozambique and Swaziland which was partly sponsored by the Business Trust, was having a discernible impact. The CE gave the example of the prevalence of malaria along the Mozambique border among children aged from 2 years old to 15 years old dropping from 70% to 20% since the launch of the project in 1999. "In some places, malaria is a bigger killer than HIV/AIDS," Whittaker said.

Regional car theft syndicates (Cape Argus, 04/07) - Nineteen organised crime syndicates from Mozambique alone are preying on South Africans in a multimillion-rand criminal "industry" that spans the region. It is a profit-driven "business" that depends in part on criminals being able to "export" goods - such as hijacked cars - across borders into other southern African countries. They just drive them out openly. This emerged from a presentation at the newly formed Immigration Advisory Board's first public consultation at parliament on Thursday by senior police officer Zirk Gous, director of South Africa's border police division. He argued that police needed to be able not only to record the details of the comings and goings of South African citizens at border posts, but also to store the data so that it could be used to counter potential criminal or security threats in future. This is a controversial proposition since it amounts to an invasion of privacy - outlawed in the bill of rights - and, potentially, risks abuse by state agencies in future, or misuse by others, especially if the state's information systems are hacked by outsiders. The bill of rights does allow for limitations of rights. Against such potential human rights abuses, Gous argued that the state, and the police in particular, had a constitutional obligation to protect citizens, and to assure their security.
This had to be balanced against other constitutional rights. A database of the comings and goings at border posts would contribute significantly to meeting this obligation. Citing hijacking as a practical example, Gous said: "The number of vehicles hijacked annually is about 120 000. "Of these we recover about 60 000."Of the remainder, about 30 percent are being illegally exported. "That's about 20 000 vehicles. "South Africans are shot and killed and maimed in the procurement of these vehicles in serious and violent crime that is driven by profit, and part of this (profitability) stems from their ability to export the vehicles."

The syndicates' modus operandi "is simple: the cars are being driven across the borders openly". The drivers leave with the vehicle and come back by bus or air. "A simple analysis of the data we are talking about (the comings and goings of citizens) could identify the drivers and link us with the syndicates.  "This is just one element."  Gous said: "There are 19 organised crime syndicates just from Mozambique (alone) exploiting this country. "It is organised crime involved in violent behaviour, murdering people, in South Africa. "And better control of the borders would be extremely useful in combating this."  However, there is concern that in the absence of legislation governing the creation and use of databases generally, even apparently innocuous information held by state departments - including data on immigration and emigration of citizens - could be abused. Political analyst Richard Calland of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa said the collection and retention of data should be allowed only where the need for such information, and the way it was to be used, were clearly defined. The Immigration Advisory Board, chaired by Professor Wilmot James of the Human Sciences Research Council, has been formed to advise home affairs on formulating regulations to give effect to the Immigration Act.

HIV rate 30 percent at SA gold mines (Cape Town, Sapa, 04/07) - About three times as many South African gold miners are HIV-positive compared to their diamond-mining colleagues, according to Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Estimates for the country's gold mines are that 30 percent of the workers have HIV. In a written response to a parliamentary question, tabled on Friday, she said the total number of HIV-positive mine workers was not known with certainty. However, some figures were available from studies commissioned by mining companies and the department of health. These showed infection rates varied according to the type of mining operation and the province in which the mine was located. The HIV rates for the various sectors were: Gold: 30 percent; Platinum: 20 to 24 percent; Coal: 15 to 17 percent; and, Diamonds: eight to 11 percent."Generally, these estimates are based on actuarial assessments, voluntary counselling and testing initiatives, as well as estimations from antenatal data from the department," Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

Skills gap threatens projects, investment (Cape Town, Business Day, 03/07) - Capital expenditure projects worth billions of rands are in jeopardy because of a dire shortage of technical skills in the construction industry. This has highlighted shortcomings in government's skills development programme and could ultimately deter foreign investment in certain sectors. It has also made clear the need to continue importing vital skills and has prompted government to look at special measures to make this possible. Roy Marcus, adviser to Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Minister Ben Ngubane, said yesterday that an "alarming" study by petrochemicals giant Sasol had found that construction projects valued at R122bn and due for completion in the next five years were threatened by the skills shortage, which ran to between 15000 and 25000 pairs of hands. "We are going to have to look at some novel, accelerated programmes to address this," he said. Marcus said there was a critical shortage of engineers and project managers, but the shortfall was even more acute at the intermediate level, with woefully inadequate numbers of appropriately trained electricians, welders, plumbers and other artisans. The Sasol study, which looked at projects across a range of industrial sectors, found that in the petrochemicals construction industry alone, the demand for skilled artisans outstripped supply by more than 3500. Closing that gap in the near future appeared a daunting task, as Sasol estimated that only 1000 artisans could be trained every year. Marcus pointed out that employing a semi-skilled labour force not only cost industry in terms of training, but also resulted in rework rates that ran as high as 25%. He said the Sasol study had prompted the National Council on Innovation, which reports to Ngubane, to undertake further research, the results of which would be presented to Ngubane next month. Science and technology director-general Rob Adams confirmed yesterday that discussions were taking place with the home affairs department on relaxing immigration laws as a short-term measure to supplement the skilled labour pool. He emphasised there was no easy fix for the problem, and addressing the skills gap would require a co-ordinated response from government and the private sector. Marcus said the council was in discussions with the relevant sector education and training authorities (Setas) to address the skills shortage at artisan level. This was confirmed by the labour department's deputy directorgeneral in charge of employment and skills development services, Adrienne Bird, who said plans to accelerate skills development at this level dovetailed with the department's strategy to increase the number of young people enrolled for apprenticeships.

Visa regulations stifle Nelspruit trade (Business Day, 03/07) - Until fairly recently, Mpumalanga's capital, Nelspruit, was considered to be a high-growth area, with the retail and hospitality sectors showing steady increases in revenue. Today, that picture has changed dramatically. The town is the first major business centre on the N4 highway that travellers from Mozambique encounter. But it has suffered considerable losses in business and tourism revenue due to the visa requirements implemented in accordance with the Immigration Act which came into effect in April. According to Barbara Mommen, business manager of the Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism, Mozambicans were spending between R70m and R90m a month in Nelspruit before the visa regulations were imposed. The influx of Mozambicans shoppers into the town has declined considerably since. Before April, Mozambicans could get a visa to visit SA within 48 hours. Now they need to apply 10 days in advance at the South African high commission in Maputo, making it more difficult for them to visit SA for just one day. Visa applicants also have to prove that they have R2000 each to spend in SA. Visitors intending to use their credit cards in SA have to bring letters from their banks. Mommen says this is "highly unacceptable. Mozambique is a neighbouring country and therefore traffic from there should be expected." Naeem Omar, CEO of Valencia Wholesalers in Nelspruit, says that as a result of the decrease in Mozambican shoppers, his business has experienced a decline of up to 15% in sales. "The spontaneous day trip doesn't happen any more," he says. "They're making it virtually impossible for Mozambicans to come through." Proof of accommodation and sometimes a letter of invitation are other new requirements for an SA visa to be issued to Mozambicans. As a direct consequence of this, the hospitality industry in Nelspruit has incurred losses of up to R1,25m a month. Mozambicans are now making bookings early but cancel them once the visa is issued. Lona Poisson, manager of the Town Lodge hotel in Nelspruit, says that because of these restrictions, "our guests are now staying for shorter periods and weekend bookings from our Mozambican guests are down 60%". While only 20% of their clientele are Mozambican, the Riverside Mall and Value Mart shopping centres in Nelspruit claim 75% of their turnover came from the visitors.

Sandi Human, centre manager for Old Mutual Properties at Riverside Mall, has noticed that fewer Mozambicans are shopping there. "We experienced a reasonably strong growth in the mall last year and I'm sure that if the situation at the border can be alleviated and the limitations lifted, we will automatically see them coming back, and the economy can only improve." The Emnotweni Casino at the Riverside Mall has also been affected. "The problem is very serious and because it affects many of the businesses around us, that indirectly affects us," says Hermann Franken, general manager at the casino and chairman of the Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism. The chamber has met the regional director of home affairs, to discuss the issue, and the outcome was "cautious", says Mommen. "But he has undertaken to deal with the issue at the highest level." A Mozambican shopper, who did not want to give her name , says coming to South Africa is no longer worthwhile. "Along with the visa issue and duty controls, the price of petrol has gone up, and with the stronger SA currency, nothing is cheap any more. We do not feel that we are compensated any longer and so we are looking at other options." Local government MEC Mohammed Bhabha says the new visa requirements were implemented purely on the basis that stricter measures were necessary to ensure economic consistency and to keep illegal immigrants out. "Unfortunately this has yielded unintended financial and social consequences which are damaging to the region." Bhabha says the requirements are being reviewed by the home affairs department.

Research facility may slow brain drain (The Mercury, 03/07) - Top HIV/Aids academic at the Nelson Mandela Medical School at the University of Natal, Jerry Coovadia, is hoping a new R40-million research institute will create jobs to counteract the medical brain drain from South Africa. Coovadia said the exodus of medical people was "jeopardising the health of the nation". The Doris Duke Research Institute, named for its American benefactor, will be officially opened on July 29 by South African deputy President Jacob Zuma and Doris Duke Foundation president Joan Spero. The institute is a major collaborative effort involving Harvard University in the US and Oxford University in the UK. Coovadia said the main thrust of the research would involve HIV/Aids with 10 specialist laboratories allowing scientists to undertake sophisticated research at molecular and bio-molecular levels. Future research at the institute would also probe tubercolosis, cancers associated with HIV/Aids, children's diseases and complications in pregnancy.

Tourism from far east to thrive on new flights (Johannesburg, Business Day, 02/07) - Tourism from the Far East finally looks set to take off in SA, with two major airline operators announcing yesterday that they would not only resume, but increase flights on these routes. This follows the abatement of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which thwarted benefits from an agreement last year in which SA was given approved destination status by China. Additional flights should see an increase in tourist arrivals in SA from that area, particularly China. Additional flights will facilitate larger tourist numbers in SA and translate into more hard currency earnings for the country. Airlines started resuming flights to Asia following the lift of the last World Health Organisation warnings on travel to Far East destinations on June 24. The last lift applied to Beijing. National carrier SA Airways (SAA) said yesterday it already had restored flights to Hong Kong to the original schedule of three flights a week. SAA spokesman Rich Mkhondo said, however, that the carrier would raise this number to five flights a week from next month. Cathay Pacific, which had cut flights to three a week in April, said it would introduce daily flights from SA to Hong Kong. The operator will start introducing additional flights tomorrow. Another flight at the beginning of August will bring the airline up to the original five flights. British Airways does not fly directly to the Far East from SA, but had also resumed some flights to that region from the UK. SA Tourism said last year that the agreement with China was expected to boost domestic tourism.

Victims will finally reap benefits (Business Day, 02/07) - Former Gencor miners suffering from asbestos-related illnesses, in particular mesothelioma and lung cancer, should receive compensation over the next six months. But others may miss out because of difficulties in tracing them and intricate requirements that are to be met before a claim is paid out. Richard Spoor, lawyer for the asbestos suffers, said proceeds from a trust fund, set up using money received from former mining group Gencor after its miners sued them for compensation, would first go to those who were critically ill. He said so far about 20 former miners had been diagnosed with mesothelioma a lethal cancer which attacks the lining of the lungs and the stomach. These claimants would be given priority when it came to the compensation payments, he said. Those who were not critically ill would have to wait until at least January to give the trust enough time to prepare for the individual claims. There were about 400 people in SA who qualified . There was also provision for dependants' claims, but their relatives' deaths should have occurred in the last five years. Dependants should also be able to provide evidence showing that the cause of death was lung cancer or mesotheliomia. But finding this evidence was not easy, said Spoor. "The difficulty is that some people may have died of this disease without it ever having been diagnosed. "Their deaths may have been attributed to natural causes." Spoor said an accurate diagnosis of lung cancer and mesothelioma was a big challenge for claimants. "There is a serious problem of access to diagnostic facilities, particularly in the rural areas." Added to the problem of diagnosis was an even bigger challenge that of locating former asbestos miners who might qualify for compensation. Many miners were migrant labourers from neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and the former Transkei homeland. "Many are not aware of the fund. Tracking them down is costly and difficult," said Spoor.

He said the National of Union of Mineworkers whose deputy president Crosby Moni is a representative on the fund was helping to trace former miners. There were also plans to seek the assistance of the Lesotho government to identify potential claimants. By the time it has completed its plans to unbundle its stake in Impala Platinum, Gencor would have paid about R465m in compensation claims. About R40m has so far been earmarked for the rehabilitation of the mines, many of which are based in Northern Cape. Further claims to finance rehabilitation programmes have not been ruled out. But it is still unclear whether the rehabilitation process is the responsibility of government or that of the mining companies. If the process is to be undertaken by government, then the likelihood is that the amount earmarked for rehabilitation will also be used in paying out the victims. The trust's five representatives decide on the amount of payments and who is eligible for compensation. Gencor has one representative on the trust, and so do Gefco and Msauli former mining groups controlled by Gencor. The claimants have two representatives and there is also a professional trust administrator. But the settlement received from Gencor may not be the end of claims for compensation . Spoor said plans were on track to push Swiss company Anova, formerly Eternit, and Duiker which is part of Xstrata to contribute to the fund. "We are having discussions with Anova and are preparing a case against Duiker to prompt them to contribute to the trust fund," he said. "If we can get contributions from the other two companies, the trust should then be in a position to pay out other people who may become sick later." The next five to 10 years are expected to see a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from lung cancer and mesothelioma. The disease takes between 30 and 40 years to show signs. The claims, however, already exclude a large portion of former miners. Out of all the former Gencor workers who might have been exposed to asbestos, only those in whom the exposure resulted in a disability were eligible to make a claim, said Spoor. He readily conceded that the Gencor deal had limitations. "It's not a perfect settlement, not fantastic," he said.

Cubans: FF demands probe (Natal Witness, 02/07) - The Freedom Front has called on Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi to appoint a commission of inquiry into the health department's plans to employ 50 Cuban engineers and technicians. Their appointment is unacceptable at a time when many South Africans are being forced to find work overseas due to a shortage of local jobs and affirmative action, FF labour spokesman Pieter Groenewald said in a statement. "The departments of water affairs and housing will be, or are already, employing Cuban engineers in South Africa.
"It is important to note that this deployment takes place countrywide." Groenewald said his party rejects the government's "discrimination against South African citizens in favour of foreigners".

Immigrant 'wracked by pain' (Cape Town, News24, 02/07) - The regional court has heard how a young Burundi immigrant who died in police custody in 1997, was found in a kneeling position next to a table, wracked by pain. Three inspectors, Winini Kulashe, Grant Braithwaite and Benjamin George, are facing charges of culpable homicide following the death of Jean-Pierre Kanyangwa. He had arrived in South Africa a week earlier. Hussain Bandora, a countryman of Kanyangwa, testified on Tuesday that he and another friend had gone to the customs office with Kanyangwa's passport. He said they found Kanyangwa in a kneeling position next to a table and spoke briefly to him before he was taken by ambulance to Somerset Hospital, but he died on the way. Some of Bandora's testimony solicited heated response from the three accused's legal representatives. The regional magistrate, Chris Naudé ordered that some of the testimony be scrapped. Another Burundi immigrant, Pierre Karibo, testified that he, Kanyangwa and other friends were talking at a stall in Adderley Street on June 2 1997 when three policemen approached them. "Jean-Pierre moved aside to spit and one of the policeman grabbed him and demanded to see his passport. He had accidentally left it at home and was arrested." Karibo said he had acted as kiSwahili interpreter at the customs office in 1995 and recognised the policemen. He walked behind them to find out why Kanyangwa had been arrested. "One of the policemen told me to f...k off." "They left and we immediately made plans to fetch Jean-Pierre's passport and take it to the customs office. When we arrived there, we were told that he had died", Karibo told the kiSwahili interpreter. Zaheer Badrudeen, Paul Marais and Mohamed Salie, an advocate, are appearing for the three men and Sadiqah Haroun is prosecuting. The case continues on Wednesday.

Commentary: SA shuts doors in neighbours' faces (Daily News, 01/07) - The fact that South Africa and its two biggest trading partners on the continent, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, still have visas in place at all is one thing. That South Africa is now tightening visa requirements for nationals of the two countries which are also its neighbours and partners in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is another. Zimbabweans, being driven out of their country by poverty, violence and a repressive government, are finding that their neighbours, seemingly unable to facilitate a political solution to the country’s problems, are resorting to slamming doors in their faces. More than two million Zimbabweans have left their country in the past few years, and many of them have come to South Africa. Hundreds of people are queuing every day outside the South African High Commission in Harare. There have been many predictions that South Africa will face a refugee crisis if the Zimbabwean problem is not resolved soon. But just because people are not massed in UN camps on the border does not mean there is not already a refugee problem. In addition, Zimbabweans shop regularly in northern South African towns to supplement what is available or not back home. In the case of Mozambique, the biggest casualty has been the agricultural centre of Nelspruit. Until recently, the town boomed on weekends as a result of Mozambican shoppers taking advantage of generous duty-free allowances they were able to secure on goods they took back into Mozambique. The concession created a saving of up to 50 percent on the price of the same goods on sale inside Mozambique that are inflated by high duties and value added tax levied on imports. Local authorities in Nelspruit estimated that R30 million (Z$3,2 billion) was being spent in the town each month by visitors from across the eastern border. Two shopping centres said 75 percent of their income was generated by Mozambicans. The Mozambican government’s response to this capital flight was not to examine the root causes of the problem but rather to reduce the duty-free allowance significantly earlier this year, a move that has already dented business in Nelspruit.

This despite the fact that Mozambique, along with other SADC nations, is committed to a tariff-reduction programme over the next decade in terms of the SADC’s free-trade protocol, which will increase the competitiveness of South African goods in the region. South Africa’s new visa restrictions, introduced in April, have resulted in a further decline in business for Nelspruit-based companies. The move also has implications for tourism in the province. Ironically, Mozambique, despite feeling the heat of the South African move, has itself introduced tighter visa requirements for Zimbabweans, and Botswana is said to be considering the same. It is not clear whether these moves will achieve the objective of curbing illegal immigration. But what is clear is that they have serious implications for the SADC’s protocol on the free movement of people, one of the trickiest in the SADC arsenal. SADC secretary-general Prega Ramsamy admits that the protocol is problematic, made so by the different levels of development of member countries. The protocol carries with it a number of thorny issues such as the development of human resources in the region and the free movement of skilled labour to where it is most needed. South Africa seems to be more willing to import skills from outside Africa than to look in its own backyard. Zimbabwe, for example, offers the region a well-educated and skilled pool of labour. So what is to be done? Ramsamy says a gradual approach to the problem is possible. Work is under way on a “univisa” to facilitate tourism in the region. This formula may be extended to include business people and professionals in time, and maybe one day to all people in the region. But recent signs of a retreat into sovereignty, protectionism and xenophobia indicate that day is a long way off.

Immigration regulations approved (Business Day, 02/07) - Officials at the home affairs department must have heaved a collective sigh of relief after the Constitutional Court held last Friday that new immigration regulations, gazetted without public notice or comment, were lawful. The ruling brought an end to months of uncertainty for business and government. This was a decisive win for Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who has spent eight years haggling over the Immigration Act. Last year the law became a bone of contention between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the African National Congress, particularly over sections dealing with proposed immigration courts, work permit quotas and the role of accountants in certifying that a foreign worker's skills were necessary for SA. It appeared that the department was not sure of a legal victory. It hastily appointed an Immigration Advisory Board, as required by the Act, and started public comment procedures on March 14 on what would become the final regulations. All of this was done just three days after a Cape Town High Court ruling declared the regulations invalid because they had not been made available for public comment before they were gazetted. If the Constitutional Court had not confirmed the high court order, the "chaos" mentioned in argument by legal counsel for Buthelezi could have become a reality until the final regulations for the Immigration Act came into effect. The existing Aliens Control Act's regulations are not compatible with the new Immigration Act. But the court cases delayed the implementation of the new Act's regulations and the department would not have been able to do its work effectively had the Constitutional Court not ruled in its favour. The department had to scramble to get new application forms to its regional offices and international representatives, after the Act and its regulations came into force by default on April 7, following an application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court by the minister. Rulings of a previous court are suspended while an appeal is being considered. In a unanimous judgment, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Immigration Act made provisions for Buthelezi to make interim regulations without calling for public comment in order to get the new Act up and running in the required time.
Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson agreed with Buthelezi's counsel that the high court erred in holding that the minister was required to notify the public and give them time to comment before making regulations.

He said the Act provided for two regulation-making mechanisms, one that required public notice after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board. However, since the board had not yet been constituted, the second mechanism came into effect, which gave Buthelezi the power to make regulations without consultation with the public. Chaskalson said it was accepted by both parties that the Act would be unworkable without the regulations, and that existing regulations could not fill that void. The public notice and comment procedure was a long process which could not have been complied with prior to the operative provisions of the Act coming into force. Chaskalson took the minister to task, however, for the manner in which the matter had been handled and ruled that both sides cover their own costs. "The bringing into force of the Act approximately a year after it had been promulgated in circumstances in which the minister was required to make regulations without first engaging the public and the board was unfortunate and precipitated the challenge to the validity of the regulations," said Chaskalson. "The issues raised by the respondent (Cape Town immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg) in these proceedings were complex and not without substance." Buthelezi said after the ruling that he had been vindicated by the court's findings, which served to create certainty and stability for his department. He said the legal challenge was little more than a political effort to undermine him and his department. Eisenberg said he was also satisfied with ruling. "At the end of the day, I got what I wanted an opportunity to comment on the (interim) regulations and make suggestions," he said. "I wanted government to realise that they are accountable and cannot do whatever they want." The regulations, published on November 25 last year, were first thrown out by the Cape High Court on February 17 this year, after they were found to be "unlawful and inconsistent with the constitution of the Republic of SA". The court ruled that the immigration regulations could not be enforced as President Thabo Mbeki had not yet set a date for them to come into effect in the Government Gazette. This was hastily corrected and the regulations were gazetted. The high court again declared the regulations invalid on March 11, a day before they were to come into effect, because Buthelezi had failed to invite public comment prior to promulgation of the new regulations.

Swaziland

Lawyers unhappy government seeking judges from Zimbabwe, Uganda (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 29/07) - Most lawyers in the country are not happy about the reports that government will run adverts in Zimbabwean and Ugandan newspapers seeking Court of Appeal judges. The lawyers feel that government is looking down upon them and such a move clearly shows that government does not trust them in terms of ensuring the smooth and unbiased administration of justice. They feel that government should seek local candidates to fill the posts instead of seeking foreign candidates. "Why go such long distances? I think we have local lawyers who can fill these posts. My problem is that the prime minister, in his infamous November 28 statement accused the former judges of the Court of Appeal of being ignorant oflocallaws and the 'local ways of doing things. He accused them of having been influenced by external forces. I find it strange that they now want foreign judges again. Once the judges fall out of favour with them, they will then turn around and say "after all, they were foreign judges and were influenced by external forces. Another thing, the fact that the November 28 statement has not been retracted fully means that there is still no rule of law in Swaziland. So, only unprincipled lawyers (or judges) would want to be judges in an environment where there is no rule of law," said one lawyer who refused to be identified. When approached for comment, the president of the Law Society, Paul Shilubane said, "I think it's crazy. In fact, it doesn't make sense at all. As far as we are concerned, we do have judges of the Court of Appeal. Government just has to swallow her pride and adhere to their November 2002 judgment. The judges are willing to return only if government adheres to their judgments. In fact, I don't think that seeking foreign judges is a good idea because in Zambia, the English law influences their legal system more. In Swaziland, we use the Roman Dutch Law as our general law." Shilubane emphasised that government should adhere to the conditions that were set by the South African based judges if everything is to get back to normal. Justice Minister Magwagwa Mdluli told the Times that government will be moving from one country to the next within the SADC region in order to get suitable candidates to fill the posts. He disclosed that an advert for judges, magistrates and prosecutors is already running in Zambia and would run for two weeks. The county has been in a judicial crisis since November 28 last year when the prime minister Sibusiso Dlamini announced that government was not prepared to respect two judgments made by the then Court of Appeal. The judges of the Court of Appeal then, in response to government's statement, resigned en masse and the country has been without judges of the Court of Appeal ever since. Attempts to solve the crisis have been futile despite the involvement of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Feature on anti-Mozambican xenophobia (Mbabane, Irin, 28/07) - On an unseasonably balmy mid-winter day that seemed more like seaside Maputo than mountainous Mbabane, Mozambican nationals marched to their embassy to protest discrimination they said they suffer in Swaziland. The largest organised protest to be mounted by Mozambicans in the kingdom occurred last week, triggered by the deaths of two Mozambican street vendors at the hands of rangers - municipal ordinance enforcement officers - in the commercial city of Manzini. "We are being killed for nothing. Right now, there are seven dead Mozambican bodies at the Manzini mortuary, and they are all victims of rangers," a spokeswoman for the group told embassy officials. "We are liaising with the Manzini police to try to establish the cause of these deaths," Mozambique's ambassador to Swaziland, Zacchious Kupela, said in a statement.  Kupela was summoned by Manzini police to help identify the body of Maria Tembe, a street vendor who died when struck by a car while fleeing city rangers who sought to confiscate her wares. A second vendor was reportedly dragged by city rangers to a shack, where he was severely beaten. He died in hospital while undergoing treatment. Mozambicans residing legally and illegally in Swaziland told IRIN they have had enough of the violence and discrimination they claimed were common. "They are killing us! Why? Today, we will kill them!" chanted 100 Mozambicans outside the Manzini police station where city rangers linked to Tembe's death were being questioned. The protestors said they would give the police until the end of this week to turn over the bodies of the vendors for burial in Mozambique. Mozambicans usually keep a low profile in Swaziland. But tensions are not far below the surface and can bubble up, especially in the competition between Swazi and Mozambican vendors for customers, and when the city rangers confiscate the goods of unlicensed vendors, many of whom are from across the border.  According to the Mozambique embassy in Mbabane, some Mozambicans who are in the country do not obtain the necessary licenses because they have no residency documents. The embassy estimates that 60,000 Mozambicans reside in Swaziland.

"A lot are illegal, and they fear if they give us their names we will turn them over to the police, which we don't do. A lot come over the border to be with friends, and stay six months before they get bored and leave," senior embassy official Adrian Aristides told IRIN. But most Mozambicans come to seek work opportunities in Swaziland. Despite its lacklustre economy and widespread poverty, the kingdom is relatively affluent compared to Mozambique. During the height of Mozambique's two-decade long civil war, more than 30,000 Mozambicans fled to refugee camps in eastern Swaziland. The civil war also brought cheap AK-47 assault rifles into the country, which fuelled a rise in crime. Cattle rustling and car smuggling across the porous Swaziland-Mozambique border was rife, and eventually required the permanent encampment of Swazi soldiers to staunch. At the weekend, King Mswati III complained that a high crime rate was chasing away investors. Many Swazis are ready to blame Mozambicans for this state of affairs. "We are not prejudiced against Mozambicans, but they are thieves," said Gabriella Shongwe, an angry Manzini resident. Shongwe's house was broken into twice, and she said neighbours overheard the burglars speaking the language of Mozambique's Shangaan people. "The Mozambicans are exploiting us," said Swazi street vendor Hlob'sile Gama. "They do not buy licenses or rent space at the market, but crowd the pavements and steal our customers." Not all Swazis object to having Mozambicans in the country. "They have enlivened our country with their music and their cuisine. They have made fish eaters out of Swazis with their wonderful prawns. Culturally, Swazis never ate fish before," Max Mngomezulu, a Manzini restaurant owner, told IRIN. "Let's face it, without the Mozambicans, willing to work for the pittance we pay them, most of the houses in Manzini wouldn't have cooks, garden boys and maids," admitted a housewife in Fairview, a Manzini suburb. Swazis have historic ties with the peoples of the northeast, in what is today Mozambique. "Maputo is ours," claimed King Mswati's brother, Prince Bhekimphi Dlamini, referring to the migration of the Swazi people from the environs of modern Mozambique's capital in the 1500s. Government to government cooperation is strong. A second border post, closed during the Mozambican civil war, will soon reopen, connecting Maputo Province with Swaziland's eastern provincial capital, Siteki. Exports from landlocked Swaziland are also increasingly routed through Maputo's rehabilitated port, rather than Durban in South Africa. But as long as crime is high and the Swazi economy is bad, resentment of Mozambican "opportunists" is likely to remain, diplomatic sources said.

Away with visas, say border residents (Swazi Observer, 22/07) - Lomahasha residents are totally against the standing rule that they should have a visa before crossing the border to Mozambique. The residents argue that Mozambique "is just too close to Lomahasha", hence they frequently visit Maputo which they regard as their capital city. The residents complain that they are made to spend a lot of money paying for visas to enable them cross over to that country. The residents reportedly urged both countries to speedily negotiate for the abolition of this requirement. Tom Mahlalela explained to this newspaper in an interview after a meeting on Saturday that the residents were so concerned with the visa requirement that they resolved to petition the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade at a date yet to be announced. Mahlalela said Saturday's meeting was attended by more than 300 residents, including Swazi businessmen trading with Mozambique. "I normally go to Maputo for shopping. There are goods that 1 buy from Mozambican wholesalers and there are those 1 buy from Swaziland. 1 travel to Mozambique at least twice a week," he said. He explained that they would meet again to appoint representatives who would travel to Mbabane to deliver the petition to the ministry. "As you may be aware, it is not the first time we raise this matter. It has been a concern for the past 15 years and we have been singing one song and nobody appears to be interested in addressing our concerns," added Mahlalela. He said the econ-omies of both countries could im-prove if the visa requirement could be done away with. He hoped the foreign affairs ministry would handle the matter to the best of its ability. "It's so fortunate that we'll be dealing with the relevant ministry and we hope the authorities will simply understand our case," said.

Serious shortage of doctors (Swazi Observer, 19/07) - There are currently only three doctors at the Hlathikhulu Government hospital, the third biggest in the country. The hospital with a bed capacity of 400 is facing an acute staff shortage as a result of the exodus of qualified nurses in the country. Nurses at the hospital stated that the workload is so heavy that they have been forced to relinquish some duties, especially those not related to nursing. They have also complained of an extremely high nurse to patient ratio, a factor that would ultimately render the hospital a slaughter house. A nurse stated that there were supposed to be over a 100 nurses at the institute, but there were only 80. She made an example of the Female Medical Ward, where there were over 55 patients and only one nurse manning the ward. "This seriously compromises the quality of service, and I am prone to be convinced that the hospital is slowly being transformed into a slaughter house," the nurse said. She continued that since it was the main referral hospital in the Shiselweni region, it was visited by many patients, and the queues did not paint a rosy picture of what should be the main health centre in the whole region. He added that the nurses' exodus countrywide was very unfortunate, but could not be reversed as the government did not show any commitment to normalising the situation. "Since January, about eight nurses have left this hospital for greener pastures, and they have not been replaced. It should be stated that also part ofthe problem is the lack of cohesion between the hospital's top brass, which includes the Administrator. She continued that there was the problem of medical equipment that took so long to be fixed, citing a case of a broken portable X-Ray machine to cater for those patients who were not able to leave their beds to go for X Ray scans.
"That machine has been lying broken for over six months now. When one inquires from the Matron as to when it will be fixed, she shifts responsibility to the Administrator, who in turn instructs one to go to the Senior Medical Officer. This is so frustrating such that one gives up and does whatever he can do with whatever resources available. Surely then, it can be said there is no high quality care at the hospital, and people with money never even dream of coming to this hospital," he continued.
The nurse continued to say the whole hospital was in shambles as if there were no groundsmen employed. Efforts to draw comment from the administrator Fikile Bulunga drew to a blank, after she could not be located, although she was believed to be within the hospital premises. The Senior Medical Officer could not be located also, and Matron Shiba refused to entertain questions from this newspaper saying it was the Administrator's domain.

Stock theft by South Africans (Mancongco, Times of Swaziland, 05/07) - Swazis are losing what they call their wealth to South Africa as over 200 cattle have been stolen by thieves in this area. The situation has become so serious that residents now spend sleepless nights keeping guard of their cattle. In addition, the residents now carry whistles to alert each other at the slightest suspicion of their cattle being taken. One resident of the area Sikhethile Matsebula confirmed that they are losing their cattle through theft. She said his family had a herd of 15 cattle, but all these were stolen. She said they have even lost hope that they will get them back as they are denied entry into South Africa while following the tracks where the cattle are believed to be sneaked into. "We have tried to follow the tracks across the mountains but the soldiers along the fence threaten to shoot us if we proceed further," she said. She said it was during the Easter holidays that they woke up to an empty kraal one morning. Matsebula said there are tracks that made them believe that the cattle were being driven to South Africa. She said the family has even lost hope of getting the cattle back as those who have been to get theirs after going through the Sandlane boarder came back with nothing. Another resident ofthe area Elliot Dlamini whose cattle were stolen last year, said they no longer sleep peacefully as this continues in the area. The recent theft is reported to have happened last week where a herd of eleven cattle were stolen from a Msibi homestead. He said the cattle are stolen by people from the kraals in the dead of the night and driven to South African farms where they are either slaughtered or reared. Dlamini, who has lost six oxen, said when they proceeded to South Africa in search of their livestock in the company of some of his neighbours, they were able to spot their missing cattle but were powerless to return with them. "When we identified the cattle we were told that they do not belong to us as they had
been branded their own way," he said. Dlamini said some residents returned to the country in great pain and police could not help them. Among the places where the cattle are taken to include Ermelo, Amsterdam and Mfeni while others are believed to be slaughtered locally. Dlamini said some residents find the skins and horns of their stolen cattle in the forests around the area. Another elderly resident Velaphi Kunene who has nothing left in his kraal said they are also prevented to go to the farms as they do not have travelling documents hence they are unable to go and look for theirs. "Some of us do not have travelling documents hence we are unable to go and claim our cattle," he said. Kunene said this is driving them into extreme poverty as they used the money obtained from selling the cattle to meet their needs. He said they are now unable to buy food and the hunger situation facing the country is driving them into extreme suffering. He said community police in the area do not help them, as there is no motivation they get from government. He said if government could provide incentives like uniforms and money to the community police this could stop as they could work hand in hand with the members of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force who patrol along the border.

HIV awareness and trucking industry (Mbabane, Irin, 04/07) - Truckers and commercial sex workers in Swaziland have been targeted in a regional HIV/AIDS prevention programme known as the "Corridors of Hope" initiative. "Long-distance truckers, bus drivers, and taxi drivers have fallen through the cracks in previous AIDS programmes, and they now occupy the 'high risk' category in Ministry of Health studies," Hlobise Ndlovu, marketing and communications manager for the NGO Population Services International (PSI) Swaziland, told IRIN. PSI's partners in Mozambique and South Africa, which distribute condoms and handle the marketing and promotion of AIDS initiatives for other NGOs, will help launch Swaziland's Corridors of Hope programme this week. "It is shocking how many of our drivers are lost to AIDS each year. We can hardly keep up [with] hiring and training new employees. My concern is also with drivers who come back from the road and infect members of our office staff with HIV," the manager of a commercial trucking firm told IRIN. "I can imagine the devastation that is caused at the drivers’ homes when they have sex with their wives. Some of the men are polygamists."  Since most workers spend their time at one location, they can easily be reached by health motivators and AIDS NGOs with educational information and condoms. But, "truckers fall outside these efforts because they are never in one place. They are high-risk for contracting HIV because they find their sexual pleasure wherever they are," said Hannie Dlamini, president of the Swaziland AIDS Support Organisation (SASO). Swaziland's health ministry confirmed in a recent report what was common knowledge in the transportation industry, that truckers turn to prostitutes on the road. To combat the rapid infection rate of HIV/AIDS among them, the Corridors of Hope programme is using commercial sex workers to promote safer sex and distribute free condoms to their clients. "We call the extra condoms 'some for the road'," said "Gloria," one of ten commercial sex workers participating in the initiative at the Lavumisa border post with South Africa. "Gloria" and her co-workers are being trained as peer educators by the Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS). They are given a course in the basics of AIDS and informed about the life-saving benefits, to themselves and their clients, of using and giving away condoms.

"We have 10 other peer educators from Lomahasha, which is Swaziland's border post with South Africa. The greatest number, 20, come from Oshoek, the border post most heavily utilised by truck traffic from the Johannesburg-Pretoria region," Jerome Shongwe, the Corridors of Hope programme director for FLAS, told IRIN. While FLAS trains peer educators, its partner in the initiative, PSI, provides condoms and literature, and handles public relations. The campaign is financed by the United States Agency for International Development. "We are training 40 peer educators, concentrating on the key border posts. But an additional 30 sex workers - 15 from the capital Mbabane and 15 from Manzini - will join the others, because the truckers from other nations hire sex workers at those towns," said Shongwe. The peer educators will also spread the anti-AIDS gospel, along with condoms and pamphlets, among other commercial sex workers. "We wanted actual commercial sex workers, and not professional social welfare workers," said Shongwe. "They are on the front line of high-risk activity. They can save themselves by promoting safe sex, as well as their clients." Peer educators are given a small stipend of R300 (about US $40) a month. "This is not enough to get them to give up their lives as prostitutes, but it keeps them motivated," Shongwe said.
Without a road transport industry, landlocked nations like Swaziland and Lesotho would be in crisis, and export nations like Mozambique and South Africa would collapse economically, say transport industry operators. A healthy transport workforce is vital to national development, as national health ministries have come to realise. "Prostitution is illegal in Swaziland, but government and the police are not interfering with the Corridors of Hope programme," an administrator with the project told IRIN. Mozambican and South African health NGOs involved in the initiative will join their Swazi counterparts at the weekend for a tri-nation celebration of the initiative. "We'll be gathering at the border posts, cheering each other and giving mutual support," promised Ndlovu. Organisers look forward to the largest gathering of public transport vehicles, taxis and buses ever assembled in Swaziland for a parade on Saturday through downtown Mbabane, all carrying anti-AIDS messages. It is hoped the hundreds of truckers that queue daily at the border for customs clearances will get the message.

Tanzania

Tanzania calls for speedy amendment of refugees convention (The Guardian, 30/07) - Tanzania has called for speedy amendment of the 1951 International Refugees Convention to reduce the refugee burden to countries that host them instead of those that generate them. “The way it is now, the convention puts more burden on countries that receive refugees. We think this is not fair and should not continue in that manner,’’ the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Jakaya Kikwete, stated yesterday.  Tabling his ministry’s budget estimates for 2003/2004, Kikwete said it was encouraging that Tanzania’s call has gained support of the UNHCR and many other countries. He said “all that we need now is increased pace of review as soon as possible". On the 500,000-plus refugees currently residing in Tanzania, Kikwete appealed to the international community to immediately address the problem of services to them, particularly food supply. He said it was very saddening that at one point the services fell to the level of 65 per cent of the basic needs of the refugees before increasing slightly to 72 per cent. “The international community should understand that the decrease in food allocations and other basic services to refugees is an impetus for refugees to escape from camps and engage in crime,” he said.  Most of the refugees currently in the country are from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the minister said stability with the coming into place of a transitional government is resuming. On the East African Community (EAC), Kikwete said cooperation among member countries has increased tremendously. He said the salary of members of the East African Legislative Assembly has been raised from 1,000 US dollars per month to 2,000 US dollars each and allowances for East African Court of Justice have been increased to 250 US dollars for the court president, 225 US dollars for the vice president and 200 US dollars for other judges. He also said Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda have agreed on customs duty and external tariffs. “We agreed that products from Tanzania and Uganda will enter the Kenyan market without paying any tariffs, whereas those from Kenya will be charged tariffs to protect products and industries in Tanzania and Uganda,” he said.  On terrorism, Kikwete expressed Tanzania’s distaste over terror alerts from some of the partner countries in anti-terrorism without informing East African countries. “What disappoints us greatly is how the information on possible terrorist attacks are being issued. Even us, allies in anti-terrorism, read about them in the press without any prior notice. It is better for our friends to understand that their statements affect us greatly on the part of tourism,” he said.  Regarding Iraq, Kikwete said it was not right for nations, developed and developing, to ignore the authority of the United Nations. Doing contrary to the UN was dangerous for world peace, he said. He said Tanzania believed that the UN had a greater role to play in bringing about an interim rule, institutional building and bringing Iraq back to democracy.  The spokesman of the Opposition on the Ministry, Khalifa S. Khalifa (Gando-CUF), commended Tanzania’s unflinching stand against the Iraq war.  “It is true that terrorism is a world problem, but the biggest problem is how to interpret who is a terrorist and which is a terrorist act,” he said.  Khalifa said the actions of the United States and the United Kingdom did not only encourage terrorist actions, but were by themselves the worst forms of terrorism in the world history.

Borders with Malawi, Uganda and Kenya studied (The Guardian, 19/07) - Tanzania and Malawi governments have appointed a consultant to do a study on how to contain River Songwe to end border problems between the two states, the National Assembly was told yesterday. Presenting his ministry’s budget estimates for this financial year, the Minister for Land and Human Settlement, Gideon Cheyo, said the consultant was expected to complete the study in December this year. He said his ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation had agreed with the Ugandan government to mark a boundary between the two countries. Experts from his ministry had already been dispatched to the area to survey the border, he said. Cheyo also said that Tanzania and Kenya land experts have inspected the border of the two countries and agreed to survey 20 kilometres of the border in the west of Lake Natron. Cheyo said the experts also agreed to survey Lake Jipe and Ruvu and Pangani rivers as well as to repair destroyed border beacons and add more marks to enable the border to be identified easily. He said the agreement reached between Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda and Kenya would be implemented in this financial year. On sale of government houses, Cheyo said it was expected that by June this year, the National Housing Corporation (NHC) would have already sold 5,004 houses to its tenants bringing in the government about 5.8bn/-. He said 2,907 houses had already been paid for bringing about 3.9bn/-. Cheyo said buyers of 869 house had started to pay. 1,228 have not been paid for yet. He said those who had started to pay should complete their payment by December this year. Cheyo said legal actions would be taken to tenants who would not settled their debts by November 1, this year. On bankers demands to review land laws, Cheyo said the government had discussed with all stakeholders and agreed to make some amendments in some provisions of he new Land Law. He said he was optimistic that after the amendments, banker and other financial institutions, would cooperate with investors who were ready to mortgage their land to get loans. Cheyo said is ministry in collaboration with the Tanzania Investment Centre would start a land bank to motivate investors in the country. He said research had been done in the whole country to earmark areas good for investment. The minister said four million acres had so far been earmarked.

Tourists complain over visa requirement (The Guardian, 05/07) - Some tourists here have complained over the requirement of visa for any foreign tourist intending to pay a visit to Tanzania. Speaking to journalists here recently, tourists currently touring Serengeti, the largest national park, have expressed their concern over the visa requirement. Beugt Endstrom from Sweden said Tanzania could have reached its targeted goal of receiving one million tourists even before 2010, if only it could abolish an unnecessary redtape requiring every tourist to possess a visa even when someone was on a short stay. He referred to Scandinavian countries, saying they have attracted many tourists after abolishing visa requirement for tourists intending to visit their countries. He wondered why Tanzania did not emulate South Africa suggesting that the country, emulates the others. Another tourist from Italy, who preferred anonymity, said together with abolition of visa, there should be an improvement of the infrastructure such as roads, hotels, lodges and telephone communications to capture and satisfy the competitive tourism market. The visitors praised Tanzania, saying she was the most blessed country in the world with extraordinary tourist attractions, ranging from natural, cultural and archaeological features but said most of them were untapped. “If efforts are made to develop tourist attractions, and the infrastructure improved, Tanzania will be in a position to capture the world tourism market,” the tourist said. Another guest Birgita Beugt from Sweden expressed her concern that tourism was one of the Tanzania’s giant sleeping economic activities which if well exploited will contribute a lot to the war against poverty. On the Tanzanian people, the guests said are kindhearted that they reach out warmly to guests, adding that they are friendly, respectful and generous.

Tanzania, Malawi to ease border trade (The Guardian, 04/07) - Presidents Mkapa of Tanzania and Muluzi of Malawi have directed their central banks to establish a single payment system to facilitate bilateral trade between the two countries.  The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Jakaya Kikwete, revealed this yesterday when reading a joint communique issued at the end of a four-day state visit to Tanzania by Dr Bakili Muluzi. He said the two presidents had endorsed a recommendation of the Joint Permanent Commission of Co-operation that the central banks of the two countries to consult and establish the single payment system. On trade, the two leaders underscored the need to increase the volume of trade including cross-border trade between the two countries. Kikwete said President Muluzi and President Mkapa asked the Chambers of Commerce of the two countries to strengthen their co-operation and interaction in various areas, including participation in each other’s trade fairs. On the private sector co-operation, the two leaders underscored the leading role of the private sector to stimulate economic development in the two countries. “The two presidents encouraged the business communities of the two countries to increase interaction including investing jointly in both countries,” Kikwete said. On transport and communications, the leaders directed the ministries responsible for lake and air services to establish and co-ordinate in the area of search and rescue operations. On health, the two presidents emphasised the need for health authorities in the two countries to co-operate closely in the areas of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases and epidemics. Dr Muluzi and Mkapa are happy with the current efforts to identify and implement joint economic development projects with regard to the Mtwara Development Corridor and the Songwe River stabilization project. They called for the need to mobilise resources in order to realise the above development attempts. The two leaders commended the conclusion of the 3rd meeting of the Joint Permanent Commission of Co-operation between Tanzania and Malawi and directed all the sectors involved to ensure timely implementation of all the agreed areas of co-operation. On the political situation in the Great Lakes Region, the two leaders welcomed the understanding reached by the parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conflict and the formation of a transitional government. However, the leaders expressed deep concern at the continuing violence in Eastern Congo, particularly Ituri district and called upon warring parties to stop hostilities. Dr Muluzi and Mkapa welcomed the signing of the cease-fire agreement between the government of Burundi and the CNDD-FDD group of Pierre Nkurunziza last December and urged all parties to the Burundi conflict to cease hostilities. While in the country, Dr Muluzi, accompanied by his wife, Dr Patricia Shanil Muluzi, and six ministers, held talks with his host, opened the 27th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair and addressed the National Assembly in Dodoma. His host, President Mkapa, ministers and a large public, saw him off at the Dar es Salaam International Airport.

Support for cross-border trade (Dar es Salaam, Sapa-AFP, 01/07) - Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa said on Tuesday that Tanazani and Malawi should promote cross-border trade. "It is important for the two countries to promote trade and economic relations," Mkapa told a state banquet in honour of visiting Malawian President Bakili Muluzi. "We need to do more to encourage trade between our two countries. Our people have spearheaded a very strong, albeit informal, trading relationship over the years. "We should move on to the next stage and formalise this trade," Mkapa said. Mkapa also said his government had the obligation to facilitate Malawi's access to the sea in the light of its landlocked position. "We do not take this obligation lightly. I want to reassure you, Mr. President, of our unwavering commitment to safeguard that interest for the people of Malawi," he said. But Mkapa pointed out that it was more economical for Malawi to use Tanzania's southern port of Mtwara which was nearer, rather than Dar es Salaam, where it was channelling its cargo at present. He said the port was now undergoing rehabilitation as part of the integrated infrastructure envisaged under the Mtwara Development Corridor initiative that involves Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. Mkapa also said the two countries were members of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional vehicle for shared development and integrated economies in the area. Mkapa, who next month becomes the chairman of SADC, listed peace and security, including developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) among the challenges the organisation faced. "We note with great satisfaction that the interim government that derives from an all-inclusive Inter-Congolese Dialogue has been fully constituted. "We encourage all the parties in DRC to stay the course of peace, and we urge the international community to fully discharge its responsibilities for peace and security in that country, and the Great Lakes Region," he said.

Zambia

Zambia threatens to throw out Zimbabwe farmers (Harare, The Herald, 29/07) - Zambia's Department of Home Affairs is threatening to throw out of the country some white Zimbabwean farmers because they do not have the necessary immigration documents. The farmers, however, deny that they are staying in the country illegally. They claim they are still "looking around" and would approach immigration officials soon. Mr Jones Mwelwa, spokesperson for the Immigration Department said on Sunday more than 100 Zimbabwean farmers entered Zambia on tourist visas at the height of the land reform programme in Zimbabwe. Mr Mwelwa said the farmers planned to settle and farm in the fertile Mkushi area in central Zambia. "Some of the farmers entered Zambia on the pretext of visiting, but they have no legal immigration documents. We would like to help them to resettle here, but they have to adhere to the laws and get the necessary permits," he said. Mr Mwelwa warned that the farmers would be prosecuted and deported if they continued to stay in Zambia illegally. He also disclosed that the immigration was in the process of compiling a list of names of all Zimbabwean farmers who entered Zambia on the pretext that they were coming into the country as investors. "We are making the final touches to the list of their names and once we establish who they really are, we are going to kick them out of this country to where they came from. "Most of these farmers came in last year on the guise that they were visiting relatives," said Mr Mwelwa. The immigration public relations officer said most Zimbabwean farmers did not have enough money to buy farms in Zambia. "Most of the farmers who came to Zambia are satisfied with the quality of the soil. They can grow tobacco or produce other agricultural products here, but they do not have enough money." The Zambian government, through the Immigration Department, is demanding US$220 for a hectare of land. Mr Gregory Kings, one of the farmers who is scouting for land in Zambia, said the farmers are also looking at land in northern Zambia and would apply for permits soon.

Mr Kings admitted that some of the farmers did not have enough money to buy land because of the way they left their farming land in Zimbabwe. He alleged that Zimbabwean farmers, white and black, had money in the bank but their accounts were frozen when they left the country for Zambia. And when sought for a comment, Zimbabwe's High Commissioner to Zambia, Cde Cain Mathema said it was not true that the farmers did not have money. Cde Mathema said: "They have money in banks in the countries they came from. They have been doing this since the start of the land empowerment programme. Claims that they do not have money or land is day light lying." He said if there were any farmers who were affected by the land reform programme and had fled to Zambia, they were welcome to return to Zimbabwe because there was still lots of land for real farmers who were willing to co-operate with the Zimbabwean Government. Cde Mathema charged that the farmers were just making a fuss out of the whole thing because as far as he was concerned the land reform programme had successfully been implemented and the main objective of empowering locals had been achieved. Several white Zimbabwean farmers had trekked into Zambia during the implementation of the land redistribution programme claiming political instability as the main cause of their move to Zambia. However, the Government of Zimbabwe has made it clear that every farmer who is interested in farming will be allocated a piece of land. Those with farms that were designated were allocated land elsewhere, in line with the land resettlement programme.

MPs to meet with refugees (Luanda, Angop, 22/07) - A delegation of Angolan members of parliament is in Zambia since Monday to learn from Angolan refugees about their worries and wishes in that country. The delegation's 10 days stay in Zambia is part of a programme of the National Assembly's foreign affairs commission which has as its objective to enquire into the problems facing Angolan refugees in various African countries. The head of delegation, MP with the ruling MPLA Party bench, Alfredo Júnior, told Angop that "at this stage we have information on the wish of return of a lot of Angolans from Zambia and we need to discuss with them about how they are and their true desires." Accompanying Alfredo Júnior are MP's Abel Satula and Amaro Nguengo, both with the ruling party and Silvestre Samy, opposition UNITA. The first group of Angolan refugees from Zambia arrived in the province of Moxico (East of Angola) on July 12 this year. Another parliamentary delegation travelled to Namibia on July 14 also with the purpose of enquiring into the plight of Angolan refugees in that neighbouring country, estimated at 3.430. A total of 400.000 Angolan refugees were till June this year in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Namibia.

Mass deportation of prohibited immigrants (The Post of Zambia, 19/07) -The Immigration Department and Permanent Human Rights Commission is arranging for mass deportation of prohibited immigrants to their respective countries. Department spokesperson Jones Mwelwa said there were currently 281 foreigners in detention throughout the country. He said the detainees of different nationalities were pending either prosecution or removal. Mwelwa said the Immigration Department arrested 38 foreign nationals during the week from which two were prosecuted and three others paid K1080, 000 each as an admission of guilt fine. He said a total of 32 prohibited immigrants were deported to Congo, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Meanwhile Mwelwa said the paper type Immigration Permits shall cease to be valid on July 31, 2003. He said holders of such permits shall thereafter be deemed illegal immigrants in the country and immigration laws shall visit them. Mwelwa said there shall be no deadline extension. "Those who have applied and are in possession of receipts but whose permits are still in process shall be deemed as having complied with the deadline and that their status in the country is legal," he said. And Mwelwa said permit issuance programme was going on smoothly. He said 9,952 applications had been received up to June 30, 2003. Mwelwa said 8,020 permits had been issued and collected, 488 under process and 1,444 pending collection.
He said collection was at provincial offices and that so far Kasama, Mongu, Luapula and Copperbelt Provinces had been covered.

32 foreigners deported (The Times of Zambia, 18/07) - The immigration department this week deported 32 foreigners and arrested 38 others for entering the country illegally. And a total of 281 foreigners of different nationalities were currently in detention countrywide pending prosecution and deportation. Immigration Department spokesman Jones Mwelwa yesterday said the 38 illegal immigrants arrested during the week were picked up from different places throughout the country. And the 32 deportees were taken to Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe. Two other illegal immigrants were prosecuted, while three others were fined over K1m each as admission of guilt. Mr Mwelwa also said the department has issued over 8000 new permits from the total 9,952 applications received up to June 30, 2003 to replace the paper type permits which would become invalid this month.. "Therefore. the holders of such permits will be deemed to be illegal immigrants in the country and the relevant laws would be applied on them," he said . He advised the holders to observe the deadline seriously as there would be no more extension of the period. "Those who have applied and are in possession of receipts but whose permits are still in process shall be deemed as having complied with the deadline and that their status in the country is legal." And on the permits issued, Mr Mwelwa said of this, 488 were currently being processed, while 1,444 were ready and pending collection by applicants from provincial centres. So far, the exercise has covered Kasama, Mongu, Mansa and Ndola. The department said the issuance of new permits was going on smoothly. Meanwhile, the department had started working with the Permanent Human Rights Commission (PHRC) to arrange for the mass removal of aliens from the country to their respective countries of origin.

Prostitution on trucking route (The Times of Zambia, 18/07) - Picture yourself at the border town of Chirundu more than 100 kilometres south east of Lusaka. From the Zambezi lakeside entry point into Zimbabwe, the area is laden with numerous trucks waiting for clearance prior to departure for either side pending sojourns to South Africa or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here is a land of opportunity for several girls from various Zambian towns eking out a living as prostitutes. It is quite an experience gazing one or two in the face and without blushing declare themselves whores. When this writer suggested to pose for a photograph with at least two of them, there was no objection but one of them as an afterthought said perhaps her brother in Lusaka working for Zambia Air Force (ZAF) would get worked up over the personal expose! We struck a compromise: That there would be no real names used but pseudonyms to disguise identity. "Most men here refuse to use condoms. If you insist, they reduce you to as cheap as KS,OOO per turn because without this rubber we fix the charge at KSO,OOO," disclosed Flowerbed Munthu. She revealed that she and many other girls had trekked from various towns such as Kabwe, Mufulira, Chingola and Lusaka to earn themselves money. This trend had become a permanent feature for them as the truck drivers that pass through Chirundu had foreign exchange on offer. They would in their surveillance exploits stand on the hilltop watching the trucks as they roll in, identifying "customers" some of whom are familiar while others are not. "There are so many truck drivers to choose from. Depending on the relationship, one could be chosen as a permanent boyfriend," Flowerbed explained. She said this with an unflinching sign of ashamed reaction so uncommon among black African women.
She would look a man in the face and explain how she goes about her sex trade at Chirundu. Flowerbed said she was later joined by her eight-year-old daughter recently with whom she has been living. Asked whether this lifestyle would not lead to her daughter's moral perversion, Flowerbed shrugged her shoulders and said:

"Well, I think by now she knows that I am a prostitute. If one is ashamed by what gives them money, how are they going to eat?," she asked with above average make-believe sophistry. Her friend Hope Kaponya took prostitution with a pinch of salt though because she knew she was taking a risk by alluding to sex without condoms. "I accept 'this job' knowing my life depends on it although I know it is dangerous but the decision must be based on the fact that I have to make a living. For example, the time I have spent talking to you could be a loss because some man out there would have given me some money," Hope disclosed. Asked to recount dangers apart from the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases (STls) and the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic, she recalled an episode when a "customer" refused to pay and she was adamant on her demands. He beat her and even stole some shoes from her. She said the risks were glaring because sex could be demanded behind a tree, building or inside one of the parked trucks anywhere and this sort of adventurism costs K30,OOO. South African truck drivers are particularly preferred because they give rands or United States dollars. This trend has spelt a manifestation of prostitution in border towns like Nakonde on the Tanzanian border, Chipata (Malawi) Kazungula (Botswana), Livingstone and Chirundu (Zimbabwe), Kasumbalesa (DR Congo). The point to point framework forms zones which constitute a project network for the alleviation of the cited health hazards including social rehabilitation for prostitutes. The Cross Border Initiative (CBI) mooted in 1999 under the joint sponsorship of the United States Aid for International Development (USAID) and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has initiated an HIV/AIDS prevention project at Chirundu. Technical support emanates from the Family Health International (FHI), the Regional HIV/AIDS Programme (RHAP) and the Project Support Group (PSG). CBI is targeted at commercial sex workers (CSWs) and their clients such as long­distance drivers considered one of the high risk groups for the HIV/AIDS infections in border areas. The three project components of the CBI are treatment of STIs which promote HIV infection, condom promotion and behaviour change communication (BCC) in five border sites and one inland location. These are Chirundu, Kapiri Mposhi, Kasumbalesa, Livingstone, Katete and Nakonde. On July 16, the United States ambassador Martin Brennan and the Japnese counterpart Hiroyuki Ishi visited the Chirundu (CBI 11) project.

Richard Mubukwanu from the Society for Family Health (SFH) explained the concept behind the project. There was a process of identifying sex workers and helping them to get treated at the local hospital through the project. "We look for new sex workers every time and monitor them. There is a queen mother who usually has influence over a given group of girls. This one assists in regulating organisation and dissemination of information to us," Mr Mubukwanu said. At the introductory meeting held at the Chirundu "Blue House" (project office), both ambassadors and their supporting staff were briefed on the logistics regarding information delivery on "safe sex." During the same function, Japanese ambassador Mr Ishi revealed that the infection rate in his country was less than two per cent. But now, the rates were rising considerably due to some members of the population that may have visited places like California and other European cities. However, the Iow infection rate has been ascribed to the large condom industry in Japan which had ensured safer sex. He recalled that on the advent of the AIDS scourge emergence, he wrote the first article for a local newspaper in Japan in 1982. The project distributed leaflets on prevention and awareness to invited guests. This included a cassette recording designed to serve as promotion material. The tape features local musical legends like Paul Ngozi, Mulemena, Amayenge to mention a few. The referral centre has timely recordings indicating the number of truck drivers monitored periodically. Here prostitutes are given cards which enable them to trace their clients and encourage them to receive treatment for possible STIs. The project centre also promotes recreation as members play pool, engage in weight lifting and drama activities. On arrival, the entourage was greeted by a colourful parade of netballers and former cast. On the surface, one soon realises that to cope with lucrative promiscuity is a battle that goes mere persuasion of starved women. One of the girls admitted there should be an alternative to prostitution but who lays the groundwork for the transformation process? This could be a starting point for the wayward girls of Chirundu. Health Minister Brian Chituwo underscored Government concern over the STIjHIVjAIDSjTB pandemic on the CBI launch in Lusaka on July 17, 2003 by disclosing that the 2000-2005 Zambia strategic plan identifies commercial workers as being one of the high risk groups to both STI and HIV infections. He noted that patients with STIs are two to nine times more likely to be infected with HIV infection. He said the justification of the CBI project lay in the fact that with heavy trucking on the highways, a number of towns and market centres have developed to become overnight rest stops for truck drivers and their assistants.

Various trades have developed around these rest stops to service the truckers among which are commercial sex activities, drinking spots and entertainment centres. Poor socio-economic situation across the country, lack of job opportunities and other income generating activities lead many adolescent girls and young women into the sex trade with the truckers. "This Cross Border Initiative (CBI) is therefore, a concerted effort to control HIVjAIDS among the high risk groups in border areas," stressed Dr Chituwo. Phase one of the CBI began in 1999 after successful implementation as a pilot project and was accomplished on March 31, 2003. An assessment of the project first phase indicates that a high number of commercial sex workers and their partners are now accessing STI care voluntarily and that the percentage of those who report condom use at the last sexual encounter has increased tremendously. The Government is fully committed to combating the HIVjAIDS scourge through a multi-sectorial response based on the principles of partnership. As Zambia recognises the impact of the notorious pandemic, it is vital that the country learns from what happened in Uganda where the infection wreaked havoc on a population that had sat on its laurels. A stitch in time saves nine, so the English postulate.

More Angolan refugees go (The Times of Zambia, 17/07) - More Angolan refugees from Meheba refugee camp in Solwezi yesterday left for home under a voluntary repatriation exercise. The second voluntary repatriation convoy comprising 509 refugees left for home a week after the first convoy of 387 refugees returned to Angola following the return of peace to that country. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regional representative Ahmed Gubartalla said in a statement yesterday that the second convoy of 245 male and 264 female refugees was also destined for Cazombo. Mr Gubartalla said UNHCR had decided that successive Angolan repatriation convoys would be undertaken on a weekly basis depending on absorption capacity in Angola to increase the number of returnees. "In co-ordination with UNHCR in Angola, our aim is to have weekly increased convoys so that as many Angolan refugees as possible return home," he said.. He said the idea was to have many refugees repatriated before the on-set of rains in October/November and that for this year alone 20,000 refugees would be taken back home. Mr Gubartalla said over 25,000 Angolan refugees had registered to return home under the voluntary repatriation programme to last two years. He said returnees would spend the first few days in Angola at a reception centre where they would receive mine awareness training, food rations, construction kit among other items. He said the returnees would also receive farming in-puts based on voluntary repatriation form. Zambia hosts about 200,000 Angolan refugees in Mayukwayukwa, Nangweshi, and Ukwimi camps while others are self-settled in urban areas.

Country is a haven of prostitution and child trafficking, says minister (Lusaka, The Post, 16/07) - Zambia is a haven of prostitutes and child traffickers because of relaxed laws, said sports deputy minister Gunston Chola yesterday. Officiating at a two-day workshop at Lusaka Taj Pamodzi Hotel on how to combat prostitution and child trafficking, Chola challenged the law enforcement agencies to be active in their work. The workshop was organised by Movement of Action for the Protection of Young People Against Destitution and Exploitation (MAPODE) and attracted participants from the civil society and law enforcement agencies. "We are all feeling the pangs of the prostitution problem at hand," Chola said. He urged the Police Service to follow up some cases identified by MAPODE in their research findings. "Given the rise of prostitution in Zambia, the laws are relaxed and the country makes a good haven for them and child traffickers," Chola said. He said because of the high number of prostitutes that had migrated to Zambia from different countries, the country no longer had 73 tribes due to the influx of illegal foreigners. "We have tolerated law breakers for a long time," Chola said. He wondered how foreigners obtained forged passports and managed to stay without authorised documents and yet the police, immigration and other law enforcement agencies were around. Chola said when going to France, immediately a visitor landed, government officials collected the details of such a particular visitor, a method which he said helped to monitor the influx of illegal visitors into that country. He said the fight against corruption, bribery and other evil vices in a nation needed to start with visitors if it had to be won. Chola said the workshop came at a time when child sexual molestation, rape, abuse of children and trafficking for prostitution had become a fast growing problem in society. "Hardly does a day pass without us having to read media reports of a child or youth that has been raped, sexually molested or such cases being tried in courts," he said. Chola said the MAPODE research report on trafficking of children and young people for commercial exploitation and labour had come at time when the country was directing its efforts towards addressing the issue. He hoped the research findings would assist stakeholders to direct both efforts and resources to finding the right intervention in order to mitigate issues that were impacting negatively on the children and future generation.

Chola was happy that the workshop would mobilise a wider consensus and draw an agreed strategic plan of action that would result in implementing the activities meant to mitigate the compounded ills in society. "Government is committed to ensuring the protection and prevention of the children, our future resource from abuse and destruction," said Chola. Speaking earlier MAPODE director Merab Kiremire said the research revealed that 60 per cent of the prostitutes in Zambia were grade 12 school leavers. Kiremire said the research also found that 89 per cent of prostitutes were also involved in child trafficking of girls between the ages of 14 and 18. She said the prostitutes were now sophisticated such that they could speak good English and cross borders to ply their trade. Kiremire said the research found that most of the children trafficked for prostitution did not live for over five years in the system before dying because of the abuse inflicted on them. "Prostitutes don't fear HIV/AIDS and in most cases customers want naked (unprotected) sex and they offer just that," she said. Kiremire said the research also revealed that apart from child trafficking, prostitutes were also involved in human organ trafficking and human skin trade. "These prostitutes, inject the poor girls with some drugs. After sometime, the poor girls' skin start peeling off and the prostitutes then collect the dried skin and sell it," said Kiremire.

Focus on repatriation of Angolan refugees from Zambia (Solwezi, Irin, 14/07) - On Friday last week, some 387 Angolan refugees left Zambia for their country of origin in what has been described as a "historic" repatriation exercise. However, Nyapenzo Kawena was not one of them. After spending close to a decade in Zambia as a refugee she was told she could not make the journey home. Of 500 refugees who would make their way home, 113 were declared not medically fit enough to return to their war-ravaged country. Kawena, aged about 60, and her three grandchildren were not on the list of refugees returning home on 11 July because one of her legs had been amputated after it was damaged in a land mine explosion some five years ago. Also unable to make the journey home this time around was Roza Kwenzo, because she is five months pregnant. She had hoped officials from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), who are facilitating the repatriation, would include her on the list of returnees but she will remain in Solwezi, more than 600 km from the Zambian capital, Lusaka, until after she gives birth. "The strict rule is that no refugee who is deemed to be vulnerable either because of a disability or because of suspected ill health would be allowed to undertake the long journey back to Angola until they are given a clean bill of health by MSF [Medicins Sans Frontiers]," said Kenneth Lingunja, a community development officer with Lutheran World Federation, an implementing partner of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).  Consequently, the departure gate at Meheba refugee camp, home to about 45,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia, was the site of both joy and pain as some refugees were turned back while others were allowed to leave. Anxiety was written on the faces of the refugees who evidently wanted to return home, in good or bad health, and some wept openly. "What am I going to do now?" asked Kawena through an interpreter as she leaned on her walking stick, despair in her eyes. "I have sold whatever I had to survive on, but now they are telling me I cannot go back home to Kazombo with my grandchildren... all because I have one leg. This is not fair."

Other refugees, returning home at last, had reason to be happy. Davis Kawika, 43, had high hopes for his prospects in Angola. "I have been in Zambia for 33 years and it's the only home I have really known, but going back home to Angola makes me happy because I know the prospects for a better life are greater there. I am a qualified teacher but as long as I am refugee here, I shall remain on contract as an ordinary teacher and never get promoted. In Angola this will change because it is my country," he said. He was "grateful to the Zambian government for providing me with a home away from home," for more than three decades. Ahmed Gubartalla, the UNHCR representative in Zambia described the repatriation, stalled last month because of a land mine threat, as historic. "There are about 200,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia and we hope to repatriate 20,000 this year, and an additional 40,000 next year. This is historical for all of us." Up to 25,000 refugees have so far registered to return home voluntarily from Zambia. "I was born here [in Meheba, Zambia]. I have learnt the traditions here and, really, this is home for me. But Angola is where I come from, so even though I would like to stay, I have to go," said 26-year-old Antonio Sakuhena as he struggled to load his belongings onto the bus. Among the returning refugees are children whose only knowledge of Angola comes from stories told to them by family and friends. "I am told it is a nice country with plenty of fish compared to here, and since I like fish, I am excited about going there," said 10-year-old Kutemba Kafwebu. Angolan refugees poured into Zambia from the early 1960s, fleeing the internal war between the forces of President Eduardo dos Santos and those loyal to the late rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. The death of Savimbi in early 2002 and a subsequent ceasefire agreement sawc calm return to Angola. The returning refugees are aware of the fact that the road ahead of them is bound to be difficult. "It is really up to us to rebuild our country. I intend to get a piece of land and engage in farming, so that I can feed myself and my family when I return home," an eager Sakuhena told IRIN. The UNHCR, in cooperation with the government of Angola and countries of asylum, wants to repatriate up to 440,000 Angolan refugees from Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia. This is the third voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees organised by the UNHCR. The governments of Denmark, Japan and the United States have given financial support.

Angolan refugees return home (Solwezi, The Times of Zambia, 14/07) - The first batches of refugees to be repatriated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, have arrived in Angola to a warm welcome. Since the end of the war, 130,000 refugees have returned on their own, and the formal repatriation programme aims to bring home 150,000 refugees by the end of the year. The voluntary return of the Angolan refugees is one of the key conditions that should be met before elections can be held in the country, but the return has been delayed by financial constraints and security concerns. The return was to have formally begun on 12 June, when a convoy of 500 was due to leave Maheba refugee camp in Zambia for Cazombo in eastern Angola. However, an old anti-tank mine was found on the road between Camapanda and Cazombo and the route had to be rechecked before the United Nations would allow the return to begin. On 20 June, which was World Refugee Day, the repatriation began, with 543 refugees leaving the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for Angola. Two convoys left camps in the DRC in what was described by UNHCR representative Alphonse Malanda as a "well synchronised and timely commencement of Angolan repatriation". From Kilueka and Nkondo camps, 306 Angolans travelled to the border at Luvo, where they were met by the Social Welfare Minister Joao Battista Kussumua. A further 237 refugees were repatriated from Tshimbumbulu camp in Katanga province to Luau. According to UNHCR, when the returnees arrived at reception centres in M'Banza Congo and Luau, they were met with cheers from other Angolans holding banners and welcoming them back home. According to Matthew Brook from UNCHR, "there was quite a good feeling at the reception centre". He continued that "the line of 15 trucks came in, people waited patiently for the registration process and the distribution of relief material to take place." The two reception centres hold a total of two thousand refugees. The refugees will stay at the centres for a short time, receiving information on AIDS and mine-awareness, and receiving reintegration packages which include blankets and basic supplies to last three months. UNHCR intends to run two convoys each week from the DRC, which has an estimated 193,000 Angolan refugees.

A group of 150 refugees on 30 June left Osire camp in Namibia, arriving at Caiundo in Cuando Cubango province on 2 July. Namibia is home to an estimated 24,000 Angolan refugees, although few of these have registered for repatriation. The return from Meheba camp in Zambia to Cazombo is now expected to begin on 11 July. Zambia has an estimated 211,000 Angolan refugees, thousands of whom have lived in Zambia for many years. The funding for the repatriation programme is in a critical situation, with only $9 million being donated out of a requirement of $29 million for 2003. However, UNHCR indicates that it expects a further $12 million to be donated shortly, leaving an $8 million shortfall for the year. Another United Nations organisation, the World Food Programme, WFP, is also in financial difficulties over its Angolan operations. On 13 June WFP warned that donations are urgently needed to fund the transportation of seeds, tools and materials to support the repatriation of Angolan refugees. WFP spokesman in Luanda, Marcelo Spina-Hering, told the UN news agency, IRIN, that "we have been transporting a lot of materials to the transit centres and areas where refugees are going to be settled. It is very important for the refugees, IDPs [internally displaced persons] and demobilised soldiers that the food [aid] reaches them - but also that non-food items reach them, so people can live and regain self-sufficiency," he added. The WFP on 13 June also stated that there had been a drop in the number of people receiving food aid: during June 1.46 million people received food from the WFP compared to 1.53 million in May. It also highlighted a dramatic change of focus. In January some 62 percent of food aid was given under emergency programmes, and this has now dropped to 24 percent. The rest of the food aid is distributed under recovery-oriented activities, such as Food for Work programmes.

UNHCR launches operation to repatriate refugees from Zambia (New York, United Nations, 11/07) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today launched a voluntary operation to repatriate Angolan refugees from Zambia - host to nearly half the total number of Angolan refugees in the region. Convoys from Zambia - home to some 200,000 Angolan refugees - will take returnees to parts of their homeland that meet certain pre-conditions, including a relatively low level of landmines and availability of basic services such as schools, health clinics and potable water. Many areas of Angola do not yet have good relocation conditions in place and UNHCR is working with the country's Government and other partners to open up more areas for return in the coming months. "With the start of repatriation from Zambia we now have in place four return routes to Angola," UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski said in Geneva. "There are two return routes from the Democratic Republic of Congo - from the Bas Congo southwards into Mbanza Congo in northern Angola and from Katanga Province to Luau in north-eastern Angola. We opened up a third route from Namibia into the southern Angola province of Cuando Cubango." Returnees will spend their first few days home at a reception centre where they will receive mine awareness training, HIV/AIDS information and medical assistance, where needed, UNHCR said. They will also receive a re-integration package with food rations, a construction kit to assist in building their homes, and basic household supplies. The government of Angola estimates that some 130,000 Angolans have returned home on their own since last year.

Angolan refugees in Zambia go home (Lusaka, Sapa-AFP, 10/07) - Around 500 Angolan refugees are this week due to leave Zambia for their home country under a voluntary repatriation programme, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency here said Thursday. They will be the first out of more than 200,000 refugees returning from neighbouring Zambia after a peace deal was signed last year between rebels and the Angolan government, said Kelvin Shimo of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). "This will be a pilot programme that will begin this Friday," Shimo said. The displaced Angolans were initially scheduled to leave Zambia last month but the exercise was cancelled after UN officials discovered a landmine on the proposed route to Angola, Shimo said. The UN agency is expected to repatriate around 40,000 Angolans this year, while another 30,000 or so will be moved to their home country early next year. Some 10,000 Angolans have already trekked home from Zambia on their own since the peace deal was signed in Angola ending 27 years of civil war.

State to fence off Zambia-Angola border (Zambia Daily Mail, 09/07) - Government says it intends to fence off Zambia-Angola border to avoid further spread of Cattle bovine lural Phenomena which is threatening the beef industry in the country.
Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Mundia Sikatana, said a team of agriculture officers would soon be sent to Western Province. The exercise is expensive but it will create employment for the locals who will be fencing off over 1,000 kilometres.  Mr Sikatana said that government had budgeted for the cordon line which stretched from Sesheke to Zambezi to guard against animals from crossing into Zambia. The minister said although the exercise had been hampered by budget constraints, funds would be released soon. He said the exercise required resources for vaccinations, fencing and personnel to contain it. Mr Sikatana was, however, optimistic that the disease would be contained following the relative peace in Angola which has seen refugees going back to their country. The disease came through Southern Province from Namibia spreading into Western Province from Angola. Meanwhile, the minister says there has been overwhelming response from defaulters who owe the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) following the good harvest this year.

Brain drain of qualified Zambians slated (Zambia Daily Mail, 05/07) - President Mwanawasa says highly qualified Zambians have been a disgrace because they have abandoned the nation at times when their services were needed to contribute towards national development. Mr- Mwanawasa said most "so-called" highly qualified Zambians had spent all their time and energy writing papers and carrying out researches which did not even benefit the nation. He said Zambia was a country that needed development and academic rhetoric would not get the nation anywhere. "It is important that this knowledge is used for the benefit of the nation and not themselves. We want to benefit from their knowledge and it will not do for them to continue writing papers and conducting researches without benefiting the nation," he said. Mr Mwanawasa was speaking after he swore-in new Finance and National Planning Minister, Ngande Magande, and Legal Affairs Permanent Secretary Getrude Kalulu. Mr Mwanawasa said his assessment was that the country would benefit from the experience of Mr Magande. He said he took long before making the decision because he had to be careful to ensure that a proper person was picked. The President said it would be retrogressive for the Minister of Finance to be changed frequently. He said his administration wanted continuity and perpetuity. Mr Mwanawasa said he would depend on Mr Magande as chief economic advisor and urged him not to hesitate to advise him (Mr Mwanawasa) whenever he saw that the President was taking the wrong path. He admitted having sent Mr Magande to Washington before his appointment and that he had no apologies to make about this. "I was very satisfied with how you performed. I have no doubt that you will continue to perform in the same manner even after being appointed minister." Mr Mwanawasa said Mr Magande was a Zambian and qualified to be appointed member of Parliament and minister. "Therefore, you are not owned by any individual or political party, but the people of Zambia. That to me has been my guiding principle," he said. And Mr Mwanawasa directed Ms Kalulu to provide legal advice to government apart from performing her administrative duties. He said it was essential that the Ministry of Legal Affairs ticked and be able to advise government on various matters. Meanwhile, Mr Magande has said he was going to the Ministry of Finance with a mission to empower Zambians to create employment and wealth. He said he believed in planning and he would consult officers at the ministry for him to be able to map out his strategy properly. "I am a man who believes in planning and I was a chess player at one time and when you play the game, you devote a lot of time on planning how to move the pieces. I want good ideas from young people and I will be asking questions as to what you want to do," Mr Magande said. On the K611 billion budget overrun, Mr Magande said the issue was immediate and he hoped to consult people in the ministry to establish how it came about and how it could be balanced. He said being a former director of budget, "this is not a problem to me."

Lack of computers at immigration department (The Times of Zambia, 04/07) -The Immigration department says the delay in computerising its system is greatly hampering its work and slowing down the process of data compilation on investors coming into the country. Immigration Department public relations officer Jones Mwelwa said in an interview yesterday at the ongoing Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF), that the department was still using manual methods of compiling data. He said with the increasing need for quick data compilation on investors, the department needed computers to make its work easier. "We need a more efficient system to compute data on investors to cope with the current flow of investment in the country," Mr Mwelwa said. Mr Mwelwa said since the government introduced more investment policies, the department had faced difficulties accommodating all the relevant information required by prospective investors. He appealed to the Government and donors to help with the money needed to speed up the computerisation exercise and make work easier for the department. He said the department had a critical role to play in promoting secure and safe investment in the country by screening incoming investors and creating a conducive atmosphere. Mr Mwelwa also urged the public to assist the department in flushing out prohibited immigrants by reporting cases of illegal residents to the authority. "All those harbouring illegal immigrants will also be prosecuted because it is a crime under our laws to hide criminals," Mr Mwelwa said. He said the department had a duty to ensure immigrants were making a contribution to Zambia with their skills, professions and capital. Mr Mwelwa said the theme, 'Opportunities in economic diversification" was in conformity with the department's objectives as it was part and parcel of the process of ensuring a conducive environment was created for the immigrants to make a meaningful contribution to the country. "When the investors come into the country, the first people they meet are immigration department personnel who will screen them and gauge whether their contribution would be beneficial to the nation or not," he said. Mr Mwelwa said the immigration department ensured the various areas of economic diversification like agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, mining and gemstone mining were attracting the right investors. "We have a very important role to play in the economic process of the country," he said.

Zimbabwe

Impact of brain drain on health sector (Johannesburg, Irin, 31/07) - Zimbabwe's main public hospital, Harare central, does not inspire confidence. Its shabby exterior is dotted with broken windows and leaking pipes. The wards themselves are little better, epitomising the decline of this country's once proud health system. Outside visiting hours the relatives of the patients wander the grounds. Many spend all day at the hospital, simply because they cannot afford the bus fare to make more than one journey. Chido Rugare is typical of those whiling away the time before she can again visit her sick daughter, Maria, in the ward. A round-trip bus ride from her home in the high-density suburb of Mufakose is far too expensive, so each day she walks the 17 km to be with her daughter. Maria has meningitis and can no longer look after herself unassisted. "Every day I have to prepare food from home and come and feed my daughter. I also have to bath her, since she can longer do that on her own," said Rugare. What she also cannot do is afford the Zim $257,000 (US $313) worth of drugs prescribed by the doctors.  Zimbabwe has entered its fifth successive year of economic decline, which has whittled away the ability of households to make ends meet. The country faces critical shortages of foreign exchange, inflation has reached 364 percent and is forecast to hit over 500 percent by the end of the year. Five million Zimbabweans, more than half of the population, are in need of food aid. Even if Rugare could afford the drugs her daughter needs, there is no guarantee they would be available in the poorly-stocked hospital pharmacy. Harare central is where the city's poor, who cannot afford health insurance, are forced to come. Within its morale-sapping walls, there seems to be more dying than curing. The high death rate is linked in part to AIDS. Recent estimates indicate that around 34 percent of Zimbabwe's 15 to 40 age group is HIV-positive, and more than 2,500 people die every week of AIDS-related causes. Poverty and poor nutrition accelerate the process. "Most of our beds are occupied by people suffering from AIDS. In the children's wards there are children who are suffering from kwashiorkor," said a senior matron who asked not to be named. She noted that most of the children with kwashiorkor are from Mbare and Epworth, the poorest suburbs of the capital.

The morgue at Harare central receives the daily toll of the dead. It is overflowing and the stench is inescapable. "The refrigerators sometimes do not work and they also have no capacity to keep the bodies well," said an attendant who declined to be identified. "We no longer go inside there. If you bring your relative you have to find somewhere to put them yourself, or we will charge you if you want us to do that," he added, leaning on the wall outside the morgue as he ate his lunch. The morgue is also a place of business for a number of undertakers who hang around waiting for clients. When relatives come to claim the body of their deceased, they are immediately propositioned with offers of cheap coffins, body dressings and transport. Harare central, like most other health institutions in the country, is in dire need of medicines, equipment and medical supplies. In addition, there is a serious shortage of professional staff, from nurses and doctors to pharmacists. Nurses at the hospital complain that their working conditions are deteriorating. Apart from salary disputes causing walk-outs, the nurses say they are fed up with seeing their patients die as a result of the shortages. "Almost on daily basis we lose at least three babies in our ward," said nurse Maude Chitambo. "Sometimes we work without gloves, sometimes there are no drugs for patients and food is rationed. When we see patients dying, this affects us as well. "Most of the time there is only one qualified nurse for each ward and the rest will be students. When we face emergencies, students sometimes have to take over duties normally done by qualified staff," she explained. Almost half the nurses trained in Zimbabwe are lost annually to better paying jobs in South Africa, Britain, Australia and the United States. Harare central and Parirenyatwa, the country's two biggest hospitals, share a single neurologist and other specialised staff. The problems at the health institution seem to affect all departments. In the laundry room, the steam cleaners had not been working for a week. "The laundry is just piling and now relatives have been asked to bring clothes from home," a matron said. Heaps of rubbish mount up around the hospital. To cut costs, the hospital retrenched a number of cleaning staff and hired a private company, but the company's workers often strike. Last month junior doctors were again on a work stoppage. Their demand, like the nurses', was that their conditions must be improved.  Zimbabwe's parliament has acknowledged the impact of staff shortages on the country's health centres. But Health Minister David Parirenyatwa has argued that the country's economic crisis makes it difficult for the government to invest in health. He concedes that the situation is unlikely to improve in the near future, and the haemorrhage of skilled staff abroad will continue.

Crossborder traders admit to externalising funds (The Herald, 31/07) - Crossborder traders yesterday admitted to being among people who have externalised billions of dollars in $500 notes and pleaded with the Government to facilitate the return of the bank notes through the country's embassies. After the Government announced the phasing out of the current $500 bill within the next 60 days as part of measures to thwart the prevailing cash crisis, crossborder dealers panicked and requested their association to approach the State. Zimbabwean dealers in Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique have requested permission to bank the money at embassies for onward transmission to the country. This is apparently because it is difficult to bring the cash home in bulk through the border posts. President of the Crossborder Association of Zimbabwe, Mr Killer Zivhu, said Zambia alone had many billions of Zimbabwe dollars in $500 notes, followed by Botswana and Mozambique. "I have not rested today. Our members are phoning me from all over the region asking for such things as banking at embassies for onward banking back home. "As I am talking to you I know of someone in Zambia who has $50 million cash in $500 notes and he does not know how to return the money home since the border posts allow in only $15 000 cash," said Mr Zivhu. "If the Government does not do something about the conditions of returning the money, many of our members will not be able to bring back the money within the 60 days and we will end up burning the money or throwing it into the dustbin." Mr Zivhu said many people had already started packing the money in boxes but had no idea how best to return the money home because 60 days was too short a period. "Our dealers carry mainly $500 notes which they keep in boxes and I know so many such people who are desperate to bring back the cash.

"If we cannot bank money with the embassies then the Government should relax the Customs and Excise regulation which restricts a person from coming into the country with more than $15 000 in cash." The Herald could not get comment from the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, but one of the security companies which carries cash to banks, Chitkem Security, yesterday confirmed an increase in business. "Fine, we carry cash everyday but it is in boxes and locked up so we would not know how much we have carried but certainly there has been an increase in business today. Today there has been an increase in jobs and an increase in the number of consultations on how much we charge for carrying cash from retail outlets to banks," said Chitkem managing director, Mr Victor Chitongo. However, Harare accountant Mr Benedict Mabundu believes that the Government should curtail the bank notes shortages by throwing higher denominations such as $5 000 notes into the market. "Phasing out the current $500 note in order to print yet another $500 note is expensive and would require more foreign currency."

New birth certificate ruling emancipates women, children (The Standard, 28/07) - Judity Nenya, a single mother, says she has been struggling to get a passport for her six-year child, born out of wedlock, for the past five years because the father of the child emmigrated to the United States. Although Nenya managed to enrol the child at a local primary school, she was unable to apply for a passport for him because the Registrar-General's Office insisted that the father's consent was needed first.  Since the father, Nyasha Gombakomba, was no longer resident in Zimbabwe, Nenya was forced to seek redress at the courts.  She was only able to acquire a passport after High Court Judge, George Smith, ruled in April this year that the mother of a child born out of wedlock had a legal right to acquire a passport or birth certificate for her child as long as she is the legal guardian.  "The father has no say in the matter. The mother does not need to obtain his consent," ruled Justice Smith.  In another case, Rumbudzai Cleo Katedza versus Adrian Tulani Chunga, Justice Smith also ruled that Chunga's consent was not necessary in changing the name of a child the two had out of wedlock. The two cases have opened flood gates to thousands of single mothers who were finding it extremely difficult to obtain birth certificates and passports for children born out of wedlock.  Since the ruling in April, scores of women have successfully obtained birth certificates for their children without hassles. An official with the Registrar General's Office said it was now easier for single mothers to obtain birth certificates for children born out of wedlock.  "There are a few women who have come after the ruling. However, I would like to point out that most people are not aware of it, even some officers here do not know that a single mother can now get a birth certificate for her illegitimate child," said the officer.  Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, could not be reached for comment. Prior to the ruling, mothers of children born out of wedlock found it difficult to obtain a birth certificate of their children without the consent of the father. As a result, several thousands of children in Zimbabwe were failing to acquire birth certificates, particularly in the country's rural areas.  Some children even failed to write Grade Seven examinations in the past because they could not obtain birth certificates.

Despite the fact that Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child-which provides that a child shall have a right to a name and nationality at birth-about 30% of children have no birth certificates, according to Unicef.  It is estimated that Zimbabwe, one of the countries in the world hardest hit by the Aids pandemic, has more than 780 000 orphans.  The Birth and Legislation Act of 1986 makes it mandatory for every Zimbabwean to have a birth certificate. However, the Act does not cater for vulnerable children such as orphans and those born out of wedlock.  For example, before this landmark ruling, it required both parents to be present for a child born out of wedlock to obtain a birth certificate.  Several children and women's organisations welcomed Justice Smith's ruling saying it would go a long way in solving the problem of birth certificates for orphans or children with a single parent. Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) director, Emilia Muchawa, said the ruling came as a relief to most single mothers who have been failing to acquire birth certificates for their children.  "It is a milestone as far as the rights of women and children are concerned. It means that most children, who had no birth certificates because they were born out of wedlock can now easily get them without problems," said Muchawa. Child Protection Society director, Doreen Mukwena, said although it was possible for women to obtain a birth certificate for children born out of wedlock before, the ruling has made it easier. "Because of the patriarchal society we live in, it was very difficult and also seen as taboo for women to obtain certificates for children without the consent of the fathers," said Mukwena, whose organisation has been advocating for easier birth registration for children since 2000. Mukwena said the possession of a birth certificate was not only a legal requirement but also a fundamental right that no child should be deprived of. The government has gone further to say it would now decentralise departments that issue birth and death certificates. Some Zimbabweans have however urged the government to launch educational campaigns to sensitise mothers and guardians of children of the new directives regarding birth certificates.

Opposition parties in emigration scam (The Chronicle, 25/07) - Close to half a million Zimbabwean professionals through the assistance of opposition parties have emigrated to overseas and neighbouring countries, where some of them have taken up menial jobs, Chronicle learnt yesterday. A United Nations Development Programme funded study undertaken by the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) revealed that 479 348 skilled Zimbabweans were now working outside the country. Some opposition parties notably MDC and the dormant Liberty Party of Zimbabwe have in the past two years helped locals emigrate to countries such as United Kingdom, United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia on claims that they were facing political repression in the country. SIRDC was contracted by the National Consultative Forum to measure the rate and level of the ‘brain drain’. The majority hold university degrees while 20 percent of them are masters degree holders. Hardesthit are the health care and the education sectors, as Zimbabwean trained professionals in those sectors are in demand the world over. It was also established that over the past four years the brain drain escalated to alarming levels.
The study team said it was aware that there were some ‘diasporants’ it failed to contact due to a number of reasons, indicating that the figure might be even much higher. Most Zimbabweans who had left the country since 1990 are in the United Kingdom (36.8 percent), Botswana (34.5 percent) and South Africa (4.6 percent). The researchers felt that the number of Zimbabweans in South Africa accounted for by the study was’ a gross misrepresantion of locals in that country as the majority of who were illegal immigrants.’ “As illegal immigrants they have no defined places of abode, constantly on the run from law enforcement agents so we were not able to interview them so as to include them in our catchment,” said researchers. “During a visit to South Africa, the report’s authors also found out that a lot of Zimbabweans in the diaspora have changed their citizenship thus could not find an appropriate manner of handling the case of Zimbabweans in South Africa. Many Zimbabweans readily mix with South Africans because of the similarity of their last names.”

“Our view backed by data from this study is that there are probably more Zimbabweans in South Africa than in the UK.” A number of countries including the United Kingdom have imposed stringent visa requirements on Zimbabweans following an influx of locals into those countries in search of jobs. “An examination of the professions of those who are leaving shows that a sizeable proportion of them are doctors, teachers and nurses,” the report said. “Infact, the health care sector is the most affected.’ In some countries such as South Africa and Botswana the upsurge in the number of Zimbabwean immigrants has fueled xenophobic sentiments towards locals. Botswana deported 26 717 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe last year alone and on Tuesday immigration and police officials in that country said they were overwhelmed by the number of Zimbabweans entering that country illegally. Some Zimbabweans have also lost millions of dollars to bogus travel agencies who charge them fees on the pretext that they would facilitate their entry into overseas countries. In another worrying development, the study revealed that the poor performance of the national economy had resulted in what the authors termed “the internal brain drain’ as by professionals have resorted to running small businesses to make a ‘quick buck’ “The deteriorating economy in Zimbabwe has forced some lecturers, medical doctors and scientists to operate minibuses and operate beer parlours,” the report said. “It is a form of internal brain drain to architects, accountants and pharmacists underemployed.”

Exodus of lecturers throws UZ into crisis (The Daily News, 21/07) - An exodus of lecturers over the past few years is threatening to cripple teaching at the country's biggest higher learning institution, the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), the Daily News established yesterday. Hardest hit by the shortage of teachers were the faculties of medicine, arts, law, social studies, science, agriculture and engineering, with teachers said to have left for higher paying jobs in the private sector or at foreign universities in Britain, New Zealand and Canada. Some of the faculties have already suspended several courses because there are no lecturers to teach students. Association of University Teachers (AUT) secretary-general James Mahlaule said: "The UZ operates with a maximum of about 1 400 lecturers but right now we have less than 50 percent of lecturers remaining. "The situation is pathetic, people are resigning in their numbers. Some are going overseas while others have joined industry. Most courses now have part-time lecturers." Mahlaule said the AUT was planning to meet Higher and Tertiary Education Ministry officials to make proposals on how conditions at state universities could be improved in order to retain staff at these institutions. He did not say when the meeting would take place. The AUT official said: "Right now, we are meeting in Gweru as AUT members from all state universities. We want to come up with a position on our conditions of service and salaries. "We will make our recommendations to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education because we feel there are a lot of issues that lecturers want addressed as a matter of urgency." Years of underfunding and in some cases mismanagement have seen conditions for teachers and students at the UZ plummet. Lecturers have in the past staged work stoppages to press for improved working conditions and higher salaries, while student riots for better learning conditions have almost become routine at the UZ. "This is no longer a secret that we have a crisis waiting to explode. The very few men and women who are here are just waiting for their chance to leave like everyone else," said one lecturer, who spoke on condition he was not named.

Impact of brain drain on Zimbabwe (The Zimbabwe Independent, 18/07) - The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Herbert Murerwa has blamed the ongoing brain drain in government for the continuous failure to implement various policies timely. "There are delays in project implementation and we are the first to admit this," Murerwa told business executives gathered for the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) workshop on project financial management on Tuesday. The workshop was attended by more than 200 project directors and finance managers of ACBF-supported projects in Anglophone Africa. "Zimbabwe is faced with implementation problems because there is a huge and serious staff turnover in government at the present moment," Murerwa said. Zimbabweans are resigning from the civil service to venture abroad to countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa and Australia. These nations have stronger currencies when compared to the Zimbabwe dollar now said to be worth only two cents its 1995 level due to hyperinflation. The currency continues to depreciate weekly, sending black market rates soaring in cities and towns. Murerwa said because of the staff turnover, projects remained incomplete, riling donors. He said this could be a major reason why some donors had developed a negative attitude towards funding projects in Zimbabwe because there were no follow-ups. "In Zimbabwe there is a mixed response to implementation of projects," Murerwa said. "There are delays in enforcing agreements and long discussions on the clarity of some grant conditions. The planning and monitoring staff are constantly changing jobs leading to confusion because the Finance ministry, which implements these decisions, receives incomplete documentation. Sometimes documents just go missing."

He said the Zimbabwean civil service was "very mobile" because of its good educational qualifications. "There is sometimes oversight on planning stages and delays in entry into force of agreements. These appear to be emanating from failure to effectively discuss clarity." The minister said there was also inadequate planning and managerial capacity in government as well as weak coordination where project implementation responsibilities were charged with officials. In his remarks the ACBF executive secretary Soumana Sako had delegates in stitches when he took a swipe at Africa's politicians, saying they were "bad financial planners because they only plan for elections". "Even if you tell them that you need finance that will make your country the greatest in the world, politicians won't care unless the money will help their election campaign," he said. In Zimbabwe, the ACBF extends financial support to the Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit within the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the National Economic Consultative Forum and the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa. The main objective of the workshop was to enhance the performance of ACBF-supported projects and programmes through sharing of information on lessons, practices and procedures on project implementation and management.

Brain drain reaches unacceptable level (Harare, The Financial Gazette, 17/07) - At least 500 000 professionals have slipped out of Zimbabwe because of the worsening political situation and the biting economic recession that has left a trail of devastating effects on industries and services that rely on critical skills. A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded study, which government is understood to have been frantically trying to edit before it is made public, painted a gloomy picture on the Zimbabwe's future if the loss of professional and skilled manpower to mostly the United Kingdom (UK), South Africa and Botswana continue unabated. The excessive loss of professionals has left a decimated pool of the workforce, which is suffering the double impact of HIV/Aids pandemic, killing about 2 000 people weekly. The Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) conducted the study under contract with the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF). Brain drain has dealt a hammer blow on the health sector, which has been virtually deserted by nurses and doctors against the backdrop of an acute shortage of drugs. An estimated 63,6 percent of the emigrants are health professionals followed by education at 11.8 percent. Engineers, finance and agriculture experts make up the balance. There are now more scientists working outside Zimbabwe's borders than the 20 000 working locally because very little is spent on research and development. A paltry 0.2 percent of the gross national product is invested in research yet an average one-percent is required.
Of the 479 348 Zimbabweans living abroad, 176 400 reside in the UK, 165 375 in Botswana, South Africa (22 050), United States of America (33 075), Canada (16 298) and other countries (66 150). South Africa could be having higher numbers because there are a lot of illegal immigrants, who are constantly on the run from law-enforcement agents. Some have also changed their citizenship. Most of the people in the diaspora hail from Mashonaland (26.7 percent) with Matebeleland coming second at 24.4 percent.

Midlands constitute 17.4 percent, Masvingo (16.3 percent) and Manicaland (15.1 percent). In his foreword, project director, Professor Christopher Chetsa-nga said brain drain had reached "unacceptable and unsustainable heights." He said: "Each year Zimbabwe loses thousands of talented professionals crucial to its development needs. "Most of these young professionals abandon their professions in Zimbabwe, often for menial underemployment jobs that advance the socio-economic interests of their host countries." About 61.6 percent of the Zimbabweans living abroad are male with females constituting the balance.
About 76.7 percent are married, 19.8 percent single, 2.3 percent divorced/separated, while 1.02 percent are widowed. Nearly 34.1 percent hold bachelors' degrees. Twenty-eight percent are graduates from the polytechnic, while 19.5 percent are holders of masters degrees. About 4.9 percent have PhDs, diplomas (2.4 percent) and vocational training certificates (8.5 percent). The study noted that 12.5 percent of the Zimbabweans do not want to return home, while 25 percent are undecided.
At least 34.5 percent of emigrants who responded to questionnaires cited low salaries as the major reason for leaving the country, while 32.5 percent said it was the skewed exchange rate. Twenty-nine percent said they were looking for better career advancement opportunities. They, however, suffer discrimination and are often relegated to third class citizenship. Juvenile delinquency has also increased among children of parents living abroad who now lack guidance. Coupled with this are marriage breakdowns among those living separately for their spouses. "It is also feared that a high increase in the spread of HIV/Aids will occur when husband and wife re-unite after a long absence from each other," the report said. Zimbabwe had to employ Cuban doctors who are paid in foreign currency.

The study warned against setting up legal barriers to the emigration of educated professionals saying it would only encourage illegal emigration. "Enacting necessary reforms that make staying at home attractive and rewarding for educated Zimbabweans can arrest the brain drain problem. There is no alternative to this problem if the brain drain is to be arrested," it said. There is also need to win back the confidence of the large community of Zimbabweans in the diaspora, particularly after failing to participate in the disputed March 2003 Presidential election. "They felt abandoned when no clear provision was made for them to vote during the March 2002 presidential election. They want to be counted among Zimbabwe loyalist who work for the good of their motherland," the study noted. Zimbabwe can also develop skills export and import policy that promotes and provides the framework for the training of human resources in Zimbabwe for the labour markets for both target countries and Zimbabwe. Both the private and public sectors have a role to play in formulating national policies to utilise skills and other resources of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora for the development of the country. The parallel market has to be eliminated by establishing a sustainable effective exchange rate. United States has introduced special visas (HB-1 visa) and higher salaries to attract African professionals and is earning about US$100 000 a year from each visa holder. It is however, estimated that an overseas worker on average can remit home over US$500 per month. Zimbabwe can therefore, benefit a minimum of US$18 billion a month If 25 percent of each individual salary is remitted into the economy.

Brain drain strangling economic development (Harare, The Herald, 14/07) -How low can one sink for the love of money and how much are you prepared to give up to earn the (British) pound? As the bug of 'getting rich quicker earning the pound' catches up with many Zimbabweans, thousands of trained professionals are trading their prestigious jobs for menial shifts in developed countries, particularly the United Kingdom. Among them is Gerald Kireso (not his real name), a qualified lawyer, who left his job with a local firm last year in search of greener pastures in the UK.  However, the pastures were not that greener as Kireso found himself having to drive garbage collection trucks instead of a previous prestigious office job. Before joining the overseas exodus, his parents envisaged a brilliant career ahead of him. However, such dreams have now been shattered. Kireso cannot practice as a lawyer in the UK because he does not have a working permit. And when he made the decision to go to that country he also decided to give up his status and self-respect as a lawyer. Yes, back home with the proceeds from UK, Kireso has managed to build a nice house in the suburb of ZimRe Park, popularly known as "kumapondo" in reference to the pound. He has also invested in various businesses, a price for throwing away self-respect and status. Over the past few years Zimbabwe has witnessed an upsurge in the number of professionals living the country in search of greener pastures. Apart from the UK, the professionals are also heading to United States and Australia. Many of these graduates, with the exception of some nurses, doctors and pharmacists fail to be absorbed in their mainstream professions because of lack of the required paperwork, hence, they end up doing menial jobs. Such odd jobs include ironing clothes, sweeping and looking after the elderly at old people's homes. "You have to swallow your pride and do the menial jobs otherwise living in the UK can be quite a nightmare for you," said a former teacher who returned recently from UK. She said some Zimbabweans were regretting leaving their professions in that country because they were failing to make ends meet in the UK. "Some of them want to come back but they having nothing to show for their stay in the UK so they are soldiering on with the hope that they either build a house or do something of significance back home," she said.

In the UK, she said, it was common to see former Zimbabwean teachers and other professionals working as security guards. The rate at which Zimbabweans and other foreigners have been flocking to UK in recent years has forced the host country to consider introducing Aids tests for asylum seekers in a bid to halt the Aids tide. Statistics made public recently by the UK government showed that 54 193 people were HIV-positive in Britain - with the number rising by about 10 percent a year. The report indicated that some hospitals were spending their Aids budgets treating "imported" nurses. Hospitals officials said a couple received treatment worth 11 000 pounds a year for the rest of their lives. However, while the Zimbabwean professionals are playing in greater role in the development of the UK's economy, the impact of the brain-drain back home has been far reaching.  Indeed, Zimbabwe is going through its worst economic difficulties in history and there is no doubt that the brain drain is compounding the situation.  The exodus is stalling the country's development because of the huge deficit in manpower that retards economic development.  The health sector has been the worst affected by the exodus of qualified staff.  Even the bonding system introduced by the Government a few years ago has failed to effectively halt the brain drain.  It is a fact that the brain drain in the health sector has crippled the health delivery service as the remaining personnel is struggling to cope up with the huge workload. The situation has been compounded by the shortage of foreign currency to procure medical drugs. 
The Government has found itself in a situation whereby it trains personnel for other countries. President Mugabe last year castigated Britain for "coming at the dead of the night to steal" nurses, doctors and pharmacists.  "We have created the environment that allows that upliftment of nurses. "That's why even Britain comes in the dead of the night to steal our people," he had said. It is estimated that at least 70 000 highly qualified Africans leave their home countries annually.  With the fast ageing population, western countries have become increasingly dependent on migrant workers to fill the void.  A report by the Pollution Research Group at Natal University in South Africa shows that Africa has lost a third of its skilled professionals in recent decades and it is costing the continent $4 billion a year to replace them with expatriates from the West.  The brain drain, the report says, has strangled growth of the economy and nurtured poverty in the African countries.

Government to speed up issuing of passports (Harare, The Herald, 08/07) -The Government is working hard to speed up the issuing of passports while it has also started decentralising issuing of registration documents.  The Minister of Home Affairs Cde Kembo Mohadi said the Registrar-General's Office had started decentralising the issuing of birth certificates and other national registration documents to ensure that they were accessible to people especially in the rural areas where the centres will be within a radius of five kilometres. "We are also working hard to clear the backlog of issuing passports. Within the next five weeks we will resume issuing passports after only a week from the date of application," said the minister. Long winding queues have become a common sight at passport offices where some people are even sleeping in the queues to submit application forms. This has been attributed to the number of people who are leaving the country to look for jobs in neighbouring countries or overseas. Cde Mohadi said the decentralisation programme started last month and his Ministry was recruiting more officers to man the new offices. "We are establishing offices at health institutions, schools and any other Government or local authority establishments where we can access office space," he said. "We want to ensure that everybody has access to the offices and do not walk long distance to acquire birth certificates and other national identity documents." Cde Mohadi said some officers have already been deployed to district hospitals to ensure that parents could get birth certificates for their newly born children. He said this was to ensure that there were no long queues at provincial offices. "This has also been an inconvenience especially to parents who had to travel long distances to get these important documents," he said. There have been complaints that a number of schoolchildren do not have birth certificates, something, which has been described as a great inconvenience. Some people have travelled long distances at great cost to either district or provincial registrars' offices only to be sent back because they do not have the required documentation especially on orphaned children. 'The restructuring programme has been completed and the structures are set. "We are now approaching different ministries to rent their premises in the rural areas so that we can speed of the issuing of these documents," said Cde Mohadi.

Labour retention strategies to curb brain drain (The Sunday Mirror, 06/07) - Comprehensive strategies are required to incentivise the corporate and public sectors to make full utilisation of labour, adopt labour retention policies to curb the current pervasive brain drain, the central bank has said. It had been noted that the number of artisans (skilled labour) in the country at the moment was dwindling at an alarming rate due to brain drain and the HIV/Aids scourge. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe notes that Zimbabwe, as an emerging economy, richly endowed with a highly trained labour force, should put in place enhancing strategies to arrest the current decline in output and productivity. Put simply, productivity is the relationship between output and input utilisation, inputs of which are mainly labour, capital and technology. The central bank said output and productivity have followed a cyclical pattern with productivity rising and falling in tandem with economic performance. According to the central bank, healthy and safety of workers is also an integral component the labour retention framework, particularly in light of the adverse impact of HIV and Aids, which has negatively affected both the productivity and supply of labour. Labour analysts also note that Zimbabwe has been suffering a shortage of skills at the top end of the market such as engineers, IT specialists, medial personnel but the skills crisis is now taking alarming proportions because of labour flight to neighbouring countries and abroad. Analysts also point out that the shortage of top end skills in Zimbabwe could be because the country is lagging behind in innovation and technology, but it is mostly to do with mobility of professionals around the world. In Zimbabwe, production techniques are labour intensive and therefore it is legitimate to use labour productivity as a measure of productivity in the economy. Labour productivity shows how productively the most important factor of production, labour, and is used to generate output. “This confirms the fact that a country’s productivity growth plays an important role in helping it achieve economic growth and higher standards of living,” the central bank said.

A combination of particularly deterministic factors such as high inflation, acute foreign currency shortages, low investment, low levels of capacity utilisation, fuel and electricity problems has adversely affected productivity in the economy. Consequently, both productivity and economic activity have contracted sharply from their peak in 1996. Economists also note that growth in productivity is the main source of higher economic growth and global competitiveness. In newly industrialised nations, such as in Asia, where there has been a surge in economic growth over the past three decades, illustrate how productivity works. But in Zimbabwe, government’s economic programmes suffer the risk of being stillborn unless the worsening skills crisis is addressed. Artisans play an integral part in every aspect of innovation, manufacturing and engineering production. It had also been noted that backbone of such industrial entities such as manufacturing has to be artisans and in developed economies, all workers on the shop floor are artisans, and even the smallest of all companies needs someone with artisan skills.Inversely, the RBZ said, slackened growth, stagnation and decline, often closely intertwined with loss of global competitiveness accompany a slowdown in productivity improvement. “Productivity, is, thus a vehicle by which the basic resources of labour, capital, materials and energy are transformed into goods and services,” the central bank said.

Three former judges join UK immigration department (The Daily News, 03/07) - Three former Zimbabwe High Court judges who resigned at the height of clashes between the government and the Bench over the rule of law and property rights on farms seized by the government from white farmers without paying compensation have joined Britain’s immigration authority as adjudicators, The Daily News established yesterday. A spokeswoman for the British High Commission in Harare confirmed that former justices James Devittie, Michael Gillespie and David Bartlett were now working for Britain’s immigration department. The former judges resigned from the Bench between 2001 and 2002, without disclosing the reasons they were stepping down for, although both left after handing down judgments viewed by many to have been unpalatable to the government. The high commission official who was responding to questions by this newspaper said, “Mr David Bartlett, Mr James Devittie and Michael Gillespie were appointed as immigration adjudicators by the UK’s Immigration Authority last year. “These positions are filled through open competition. Any British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen, with appropriate legal qualifications and experience can apply.’’ Nearly all of Zimbabwe’s former Bench led by former chief justice Anthony Gubbay, which was highly regarded for its professionalism and fierce defence of justice and the rule of law, have now either resigned or left through old age after several bitter clashes with President Robert Mugabe and his government especially over the government’s controversial land reforms. Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF viewed judgments by the Gubbay Bench demanding that they implement just and transparent land reforms as an attempt to forestall redistribution of land in the country, a charge the Bench denied. Mugabe called on judges he said were opposed to his land reforms to resign while some pro-government militants were allowed to harass and intimidate the judges. When he resigned, Gillespie said he was doing so because he could not continue sitting on the Bench when the government was attempting to compromise the independence of the judiciary and bend the rule law to suit its political goals.

Gillespie also blamed the executive of encouraging the breakdown of the rule of law by frequently disobeying court orders it felt were not in line with its political programme. The judge wrote: ‘’The judges have been threatened publicly by war veterans with attacks upon, and occupation of their homes. “A judge, finally, who finds himself in the position where he is called upon to administer the law only as against political opponents of the government and not against government supporters faces the challenge to his conscience: that is whether he can still consider himself to sit as an impartial court.” The government denied the charges levelled against it by Gillespie. Devittie did not give reasons why he was stepping down but resigned weeks after a election victory in Buhera North constituency by Mugabe loyalist Kenneth Manyonda against opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Devittie nullified the election result because of violence during the campaign period by ZANU PF supporters. Two MDC activists Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika were murdered during the run up to the election allegedly by war veteran Tom Kainos “Kitsiyatota” Zimunya and state Central Intelligence Organisation operative Joseph Mwale. Devittie also then ordered the Attorney General to prosecute Mwale and Zimunya who were identified as the alleged murderers. The two are still to be prosecuted almost two years after Devittie’s recommendation that they be brought before the courts. Bartlett, who also did not give reasons why he was leaving the bench, resigned after he had ordered the Attorney General’s office in November 2001 to investigate Parliament Speaker and Mugabe confidant Emmerson Mnangangwa over allegations that he illegally authorised the release of a hard core criminal from jail when he was Justice Minister. However, a government inquiry released early this year exonerated Mnangagwa of any wrong doing.

This page last updated 15 September 2003.